Russian church: The fight in Syria is a ‘holy war’

Read more » Al Arabiya
See more » http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/09/30/Church-says-Russia-fighting-holy-battle-in-Syria.html

NAWAZ PRESENTS 4 POINT FOR PROMOTING PEACE WITH INDIA

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has presented on Wednesday, four points agenda in the United Nation General Assembly (UGNA) as an initiative step to promote peace with India.

1. Pakistan and India formalize and respect 2003 understanding of a complete ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC)in Kashmir
He called UNMOGIP’s expansion to monitor the observance of ceasefire.

2. We propose Pakistan and India reaffirm that they will not resort to the threat of force under any circumstances

3. Steps must be taken to demilitarize Kashmir

4. Pakistan and India should agree mutually to withdraw troops from Siachen Glacier

Read more » Baaghi
See more » http://www.baaghi.tv/nawaz-presents-4-point-for-initiating-peace-with-india/

Saudi Foreign Minister tells Assad to go or face ‘military option’

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has said that his country might consider military options in Syria to remove President Bashar al-Assad. He stressed that a political solution leading to his departure would be preferable.

Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad must leave office or face being pushed out by force, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said Tuesday, warning of stepped up support for Syrian rebel groups.

Jubeir rejected Russian calls for an international coalition to help Assad fight the self-styled “Islamic State” group (IS), and said the Syrian leader’s best option would be to step down.

“There is no future for Assad in Syria, with all due respect to the Russians or anyone else,” Jubeir told reporters in New York after meetings with Saudi Arabia’s allies.

Two options

Jubeir said that there were two options for a settlement in Syria from a Saudi perspective.

“One option is a political process where there would be a transitional council,” he said, describing this as the “preferred option.”

“The other option is a military option, which also would end with the removal of Bashar al-Assad from power. This could be a more lengthy process and a more destructive process, but the choice is entirely that of Bashar al-Assad,” Jubeir warned.

Jubeir would not be drawn on specifics of what the military option would look like, but noted that Saudi Arabia was already supporting “moderate rebels” in their battle against Assad.

He added the best option would be for Assad to accept the principles of the Geneva I agreement signed at a peace conference in 2012, laying the groundwork for a transitional government.

Under this plan, he said, Assad would immediately cede power to an executive council made up of both members of his regime and of opposition figures.

Cooperation with and criticism of the West

The Saudi minister would not say what Western and Arab opponents of Assad’s regime may or may not do to counter the new military buildup in Syria by Russia , Assad’s closest ally along with Iran.

“We’re not talking about (it),” he said.

Read more » DW
Learn more » http://www.dw.com/en/saudi-foreign-minister-tells-assad-to-go-or-face-military-option/a-18750101?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf

US consulate launches website in Sindhi language

KARACHI: U.S. Consul General Brian Heath officially launched the Consulate’s first-ever Sindhi language web site at his residence in Karachi.

According to an official press release, leading Sindhi writer and social activist Dr. Suleman Shaikh shared the stage. In addition, Sindhi musicians performed at the event, which was also designed to showcase Sindhi culture.

“We are very proud and excited to launch our first-ever Sindhi language web site,” said Mr. Heath. “This follows on the successful launch of Mission Pakistan’s Urdu language web sites earlier this month.” U.S. Consulate Karachi, he added, has been issuing press releases, posting on Facebook and tweeting in Sindhi for more than a year.

“Having Consulate Karachi’s web site completely in Sindhi,” said Mr. Heath, “is an important step in helping us reach out to the 60 million Sindhi speakers in both Pakistan and overseas. Now, they will be able to read about the Consulate’s activities and assistance efforts in one of Pakistan’s oldest and most important languages.” The Consulate, he said, wants Americans and Pakistanis to “get to know each other better.”

Guests included prominent Sindhi personalities, such as journalists, media owners, social activists and cultural figures.

To visit the U.S. Consulate General Karachi’s web site, go to sindhi.karachi.usconsulate.gov.

Courtesy: Geo Tv + KTN
Read more » http://www.geo.tv/article-199029-US-consulate-launches-website-in-Sindhi-language

Pakistan’s army Hail to the chief

Politicians are overshadowed by a publicity-seeking general

THE image of a mustachioed man with peaked cap and a chest full of medals is becoming hard to avoid in Pakistan. It is splashed across the posters of a politician competing in a by-election in the eastern city of Lahore. It looms large on giant billboards in the port city of Karachi, apparently paid for by adoring citizens. And it is a rare day when Pakistan’s chief of army staff is not pictured on a newspaper front page. He has even entered the colourful repertoire of artists who decorate the nation’s trucks and rickshaws.

The apotheosis of General Raheel Sharif (pictured, wearing beret) makes it harder than ever for his unrelated namesake, Nawaz Sharif, who is prime minister, to claw back powers from an army that has directly and indirectly controlled Pakistan for most of its history. Nawaz Sharif’s election victory in 2013 resulted in the country’s first transfer of power from one civilian government to another. But the extent of his authority is debatable: the army is reasserting itself.

This marks quite a turnaround for an institution that eight years ago was so unpopular that off-duty soldiers in the most restive areas were advised not to wear their uniforms in public. The long rule of General Pervez Musharraf, a coup-maker, had seriously tarnished the army’s prestige. A particular setback was the violence unleashed in central Islamabad in 2007 when General Musharraf decided to clear out a pro-Taliban mosque in the heart of the city. The army was humiliated in 2011 when the public discovered Osama bin Laden had been hiding next to the country’s officer-training school and that American special forces had been able to penetrate deep into Pakistan to kill him.

Today the army is riding high, buoyed by an improvement in security following a decision in June 2014 to launch an all-out campaign against the Pakistani Taliban. Many credit General Sharif with taking the initiative. Operation Zarb-e-Azb has seen key towns in the former Taliban sanctuary of North Waziristan retaken by the state. Militants have been hunted down elsewhere, particularly in Karachi, which had been a major centre of Taliban activity. All this work has helped cut militant violence by nearly half in the last nine months, according to the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, a think-tank in Islamabad.

At the same time the army has been waging a public-relations war, promoting General Sharif as a star. The media dutifully report on his every visit to the front lines and publish photographs of every honour-guard he inspects during his numerous overseas trips.

Read more » The Economist
See more » http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21667980-politicians-are-overshadowed-publicity-seeking-general-hail-chief

US ‘willing to work with Russia and Iran’ on Syria

President Barack Obama has said the US is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict in Syria.

He told the UN General Assembly in New York compromise would be essential for ending the long civil war.

But he said realism required a “managed transition” away from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to an inclusive leader.

He and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is a key ally of Syria, are to hold rare talks later.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34378889

Saudi nets $16.5 bn from pilgrims: paper

By AFP

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia raised $16.5 billion from Muslim pilgrimages this year to Mecca and Medina in the west of the kingdom, a Saudi newspaper reported on Thursday.

Al-Hayat, citing religious tourism sources, said a total of 12 million pilgrims visited Islam’s holiest sites during the annual hajj which took place this year at the end of October or for the year-long umra, or minor pilgrimage.

The pilgrims – including 3.1 million who made the hajj, including 1.7 million from abroad, according to official figures – spent 62 billion riyals ($16.5 billion), a rise of 10 percent over 2011 because of increased costs, it said.

News courtesy: DAWN
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/762515/saudi-nets-16-5-bn-from-pilgrims-paper

Pakistan, Afghanistan are not brothers: Ashraf Ghani

Pak-Afghan ties are not like a relationship between two young brothers, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said. According to Waqt News’ report Ghani said that the bilateral ties are those strictly between two states.

In a statement he said: “Terrorism is equally destructive for Pakistan and Afghanistan.” He further said that Pakistan should adopt the same policy for all kinds of terrorism.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have been re-experiencing hostility over the last few months. Terrorism in both states and the ensuing blame game is the major factor behind this enmity.

Read more » The Nation
See more » http://nation.com.pk/national/28-Sep-2015/pakistan-afghanistan-are-not-brothers-ashraf-ghani

The search for Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan

Sixty-five years after the death of its founding father, Pakistanis are still searching for Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s vision for the country – and a missing historical speech.

During much of its existence, Pakistanis have been encouraged to believe that Mr Jinnah created Pakistan in the name of Islam as a theocratic state.

Others have disagreed, arguing the founding father wanted a Muslim-majority but secular and progressive country.

The debate over the two competing and contradictory visions has intensified in recent years as the country reels from growing Islamic extremism and Taliban militancy.

At the heart of this debate are some public addresses of Mr Jinnah given around the time of the partition of India in 1947.

Transcripts of those addresses have been available in Pakistan.

Crucial speech

The archives of state-owned broadcaster, Radio Pakistan, also contain cranky old audio recordings of most of those speeches, except for one: his address to the Constituent Assembly in the port city of Karachi on 11 August 1947, three days before the creation of Pakistan.

Extract from 11 August 1947 speech –  If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.

I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community, because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on, and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalis, Madrasis and so on, will vanish.

Indeed if you ask me, this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence and but for this we would have been free people long long ago.

No power can hold another nation, and specially a nation of 400 million souls in subjection; nobody could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, nobody could have continued its hold on you for any length of time, but for this. Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this.

You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state.

For liberals in Pakistan, it was a crucial speech in which Mr Jinnah spoke in the clearest possible terms of his dream that the country he was creating would be tolerant, inclusive and secular.

“You are free. You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan,” Jinnah declared. “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”

Continue reading The search for Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan

Catalonia vote: Pro-independence parties win elections

Pro-independence parties in Spain’s Catalonia region have won an absolute majority in regional elections, near complete results show.

With nearly 100% of the votes counted, the main separatist alliance and a smaller party won 72 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament.

They said earlier a majority would allow them to declare independence from Spain unilaterally within 18 months.

The central government in Madrid has pledged to block such moves in court.

With 99,67% of the votes counted, the “Junts per Si” (“Together for Yes”) won 62 seats, while the far-left separatist CUP party is expected to secure 10 mandates.

“We have won,” Catalan regional President Artus Mas told his cheering supporters late on Sunday.

After a celebration rally, the pro-independence camp’s leaders told the BBC’s Tom Burridge that they would now proceed towards the creation of an independent Catalan state.

But the road ahead is controversial and anything but clear, our correspondent adds.

The pro-independence parties said ahead of the vote that they considered it a de facto referendum on independence from Spain.

They argue that the Spanish government has consistently refused to allow a legally recognised referendum to take place, ignoring an unofficial vote backing independence in November 2014.

Opinion polls suggest a majority of Catalans favour a referendum on independence but are evenly divided over whether they want to secede.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34372548

US On The Ropes: China To Join Russian Military In Syria While Iraq Strikes Intel Deal With Moscow, Tehran

by Tyler Durden

Last Thursday, we asked if China was set to join Russia and Iran in support of the Assad regime in Syria.

Our interest was piqued when the pro-Assad Al-Masdar (citing an unnamed SAA “senior officer”), said Chinese “personnel and aerial assets” are set to arrive within weeks. To the uninitiated, this may seem to have come out of left field, so to speak. However, anyone who has followed the conflict and who knows a bit about the global balance of power is aware that Beijing has for some time expressed its support for Damascus, most notably by voting with Russia to veto a Security Council resolution that would have seen the conflict in Syria referred to the Hague. Here’s what China had to say at the May 22, 2014 meeting:

 For some time now, the Security Council has maintained unity and coordination on the question of Syria, thanks to efforts by Council members, including China, to accommodate the major concerns of all parties. At a time when seriously diverging views exist among the parties concerning the draft resolution, we believe that the Council should continue holding consultations, rather than forcing a vote on the draft resolution, in order to avoid undermining Council unity or obstructing coordination and cooperation on questions such as Syria and other major serious issues. Regrettably, China’s approach has not been taken on board; China therefore voted against the draft resolution.

In other words, China could see the writing on the wall and it, like Russia, was not pleased with where things seemed to be headed. A little more than a year later and Moscow has effectively called time on the strategy of using Sunni extremist groups to destabilize Assad and given what we know about Beijing’s efforts to project China’s growing military might, it wouldn’t exactly be surprising to see the PLA turn up at Latakia as well.

Sure enough, Russian media now says that according to Russian Senator Igor Morozov, Beijing has decided to join the fight. Here’s Pravda (translated):

According to the Russian Senator Igor Morozov, Beijing has taken decision to take part in combating IS and sent its vessels to the Syrian coast.

Igor Morozov, member of the Russian Federation Committee on International Affairs claimed about the beginning of the military operation by China against the IS terrorists. “It is known, that China has joined our military operation in Syria, the Chinese cruiser has already entered the Mediterranean, aircraft carrier follows it,” Morozov said.

According to him, Iran may soon join the operation carried out by Russia against the IS terrorists, via Hezbollah. Thus, the Russian coalition in the region gains ground, and most reasonable step of the US would be to join it. Although the stance of Moscow and Washington on the ways of settlement of the Syrian conflict differs, nonetheless, low efficiency of the US coalition acts against terrorists is obvious. Islamists have just strengthened their positions.

As Leonid Krutakov told Pravda.Ru in an interview, the most serious conflict is currently taking place namely between China and the US. Moscow may support any party, the expert believes, and that is what will change the world order for many years.

Clearly, one has to consider the source here, but as noted above, if Beijing is indeed set to enter the fray, it would be entirely consistent with China’s position on Syria and also with the PLA’s desire to take a more assertive role in international affairs.

Meanwhile, it now looks as though the very same Russian-Iran “nexus” that’s playing spoiler in Syria is also set to take over the fight against ISIS in Iraq, as Baghdad has now struck a deal to officially share intelligence with Moscow and Tehran. Here’s CNN:

Iraq says it has reached a deal to share intelligence with Russia, Iran and Syria in the fight against ISIS militants.

The announcement on Saturday from the Iraqi military cited “the increasing concern from Russia about thousands of Russian terrorists committing criminal acts within ISIS.”

The news comes amid U.S. concerns about Russia’s recent military buildup in Syria and would appear to confirm American suspicions of some kind of cooperation between Baghdad and Moscow.

We’d be remiss if we failed to note the significance here. The entire narrative is falling apart for the US, as Russia and Iran are now moving to transform the half-hearted Western effort to contain ISIS into a very serious effort to eradicate the group.

Read more » Zero Hedge
Learn more » http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-09-27/us-ropes-china-join-russian-military-syria-while-iraq-strikes-intel-deal-moscow-tehr

China pledges $2B to help developing countries

Also promises to forgive debt owed by countries in greatest need

By Thomson Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced on Saturday that Beijing will establish an assistance fund with an initial pledge of $2 billion to help developing countries implement a global sustainable development agenda over the next 15 years.

“China will continue to increase investment in the least developed countries, aiming to increase its total to $12 billion by 2030,” Xi told a sustainable development summit of world leaders at the United Nations.

“China will exempt the debt of the outstanding intergovernmental interest-free loans due by the end of 2015 owed by the relevant least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing countries,” he added.

The fund would help pay for such things as health care, education and economic development.

News courtesy: CBC
Read more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/china-fund-poorest-countries-1.3245286

Nick Clegg: British people don’t want ‘Che Guevera Corbyn’

Former Deputy Prime Minister says Britain will never elect a Jeremy Corbyn government

By Martin Chilton, Culture Editor online

Nick Clegg says the British people will never elect Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister and have no desire for “Che Guevara” politics.

The former Deputy Prime Minister, who led the Liberal Democrats from 2007 to 2015, told the audience at the Hay Festival Segovia: “It was totally unsurprising, almost inevitable, that the Labour Party elected a leader from the hard left but they will never win an election under Jeremy Corbyn as leader. I have seen this frequently in my time in politics: when political parties just talk to themselves they always end up losing. There is no groundswell for Jeremy Corbyn. A couple of thousand people seeing him in a hall on a rainy Thursday in Leeds is not a revolution.”

Then, in a reference to Guevara, the Marxist revolutionary leader of Cuba, Clegg added: “The British people aren’t going to look for Che Guevara in the next election. Labour may have a politically motivated group whose voice will be ever more shrill and loud and amplified by social media but there is a whole sea of people, millions of voters, who don’t engage with politics. I think roughly only 20-25 per cent of the population are strongly engaged in politics, whether that is going to meetings with Corbyn or being foot soldiers for UKIP but the vast majority of people are broadly sceptical and bored by politics and they are the ones who count in elections. When the Labour Party realise that they can have their sanctimonious debates, throwing rocks, but that it won’t make them win, then maybe they will change again. But that could be a long time. I remember a time when the Conservatives were considered stuffed and Tony Blair was in sway but the pendulum has swung. Who knows, it might take another 15 years for it to swing back for Labour.”

Read more » The Telegraph
See more » http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/hay-festival/11893359/Nick-Clegg-British-people-dont-want-Che-Guevera-Corbyn.html

Reports: Chinese ships head to Syria

Translated by Kristina Rus

China deploys troops to help Russia in Syria

Remember the joint military exercises of Russia and China in the sea and on land? With landing on shore and fighting against terrorists?

And here is the answer to the question of why they trained together.

Rusvesna:

“An Arab news source [Al Masdar News] reports that a military contingent of the PRC is on the way to Latakia and will arrive in Syrian ports any day. Chinese transport with military cargo was spotted on Tuesday morning, passing through the Suez canal.

Information about the Chinese military experts heading to Tartus was confirmed by the commander of the Syrian army. The report concludes that Moscow will create in Syria an anti-terrorist coalition that will become the alternative version of the military alliance formed by the US  for dropping supplies to ISIS. Military entrance of China into the struggle for Syria will be an important addition to today’s statement by the Iranian Foreign Ministry. At a press conference with “Russia Today” deputy foreign minister of Iran, Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated that Iran will fight ISIS together with Russia. Notably Amir talked not just about an alliance, but a creation of a broad military coalition.

“We welcome the Russian President’s proposal on establishment of a common front in a fight against terrorism and are even ready in realizing this initiative to carry out joint operations and cooperate together,” – said deputy foreign minister of Iran.

That Russia will fight terrorists with Iran’s hands, English resources have been writing for a week. And the joining of China into the support group has exceeded all imaginable expectations. The presence of the international coalition significantly changes the balance of power in favor of Moscow, untying Russian hands for direct military action in the Middle East.”

It seems that Russia has finally returned to the Middle East.

Courtesy: Fort Russ
Read more » http://fortruss.blogspot.com.ar/2015/09/reports-chinese-ships-head-to-syria.html

Opening for Pope Francis, Shakira Sings “Imagine There’s No Heaven… and No Religion, Too”

by

On Friday, before the United Nations General Assembly began its meeting in New York City and before Pope Francis delivered his message to representatives from all over the world, singer Shakira (who, like the Pope, hails from South America) kicked off the festivities by performing “Imagine” by John Lennon.

That is, she sang a song with the lyrics “Imagine there’s no Heaven… and no religion, too.”

Intentionally or not, it was a powerful Humanistic message from the pop star to the star Pope.

It’s much better than the Cee Lo Green version of the song, which he once sang on TV with these revised lyrics:

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And all religion’s true

(via Peter Mosley)

Courtesy: Patheos
Read more » http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2015/09/26/opening-for-pope-francis-shakira-sings-imagine-theres-no-heaven-and-no-religion-too/

These photos of a Pakistani University will blow your mind

KARACHI (Web Desk) – IBA (Institute of Business Administration) is the oldest and most prestigious business school in Pakistan.

In the past 10 years IBA was undergoing a huge makeover under the leadership of former Governor State Bank, Dr Ishrat Hussain who is the current Dean and Director of IBA.

Finally, after years of construction and hard work, the masterpiece is ready for the world to see. IBA has become so amazing that it might not feel like a university in Pakistan. It looks like something out of every university student’s fantasy. Take a look at these photos:

Read more » Daily Pakistan
See more » http://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/viral/is-this-real-these-photos-of-a-pakistani-university-will-blow-your-mind/

Will cut off tongues of writers for insulting Hindu gods: Sri Rama Sene

The epic Hindu literature are followed by millions of Hindus, as sacred texts. People will not tolerate the belittling of the Ramayana characters, who are worshiped. They will cut off the tongues of writers if they do not stop insulting Hindu gods,� Siddalinga Swami said.

By Aravind Gowda

A day after right-wing outfit Sri Rama Sene founder Pramod Muthalik said that he will sue Kannada writers for naming his organization as a conspirator behind the killing of renowned writer and rationalist Dr MM Kalburgi, its state convener has now threatened to cut off the tongues of writers if they continue to “insult” Hindu gods.
Siddalinga Swami told reporters in Kalburgi in north Karnataka that Hindus were hurt by the comments of the litterateurs like Professor KS Bhagwan and Chandrashekhar Patil, who allegedly spoke ill of Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Read more » India Today
See more » http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/will-cut-off-tongues-of-writers-for-insulting-hindu-gods-sri-rama-sene/1/479760.html

India to begin largest military exercise near Pakistan border in October

By Ali Zain

ISLAMABAD (Staff Report) – India is preparing to begin country’s largest military exercise in Rajhastan region near to border with Pakistan to test the readiness of world’s second largest standing army in October.

According to Pakistani officials New Delhi has formally informed Islamabad about the military exercise as part of ‘prior permission’ protocol that exchanged with neighboring countries ahead of any major military movement in no-war days.

However any kind of reservations from Pakistan would not affect the Indian plan.

Media reports suggest that India is planning to test its nuclear weapons, heavy artillery and drone planes in real war-like situation on Western border. As many as 30,000 troops will take part in the military exercise.

For the first time Indian forces will use information especially the images of ‘enemy compounds’ provided by satellites and drones, ground and airborne radars at the same time.

The military exercise, which will peak towards end-November, will also include a major airdrop of paratroopers behind  ‘enemy lines’.

Pakistani defence analysts said that India has been carrying out such large military exercises at least once in four years since many decades. Pakistan doesn’t need to worry about such large scaled exercise instead it should only focus on its own readiness, they said.

News courtesy: Daily Pakistan
Read more » http://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/headline/india-to-begin-largest-military-exercise-near-pakistan-border-in-october/

The new political (dis)order

BY ZAHID HUSSAIN

HOW does one describe the present political power structure? Diarchy? Not really. Some call it a hybrid or more precisely a civil-military partnership. Neither of the two fully defines the existing power matrix, with the civilian authority fast losing its relevance to the swelling support, real or hyped, for the military.

It is more a political disorder — not civil-military cohabitation. The balance of power has long tilted towards the military, yet neither Sharif the prime minister nor Sharif the general is actually in the driving seat. Can this tenuous power calculus last long? It cannot. But it is hard to predict how and what kind of change is in the offing.

It seems extremely difficult for Nawaz Sharif to regain lost ground amidst governance failure and the breaking down of consensus among the major political parties to defend the democratic political process. It was this unity that had protected the system during the PTI-Qadri dharna last year.

But that episode had also exposed the vulnerability of a set-up devoid of any effective leadership and competence. The perception of civil-military leadership being on the same page was mere eyewash. Pictures of the prime minister in a huddle with the army chief every other day did not hide the growing strains over major issues.

The military’s deepening involvement in state affairs and public expectations could lead to a slippery path.

Meanwhile, the clout of the military has grown further in the aftermath of the Peshawar school massacre and the formation of apex committees to oversee the implementation on the National Action Plan. The prime minister appeared quite happy with the military taking over the entire responsibility of internal security as well, but this has political ramifications. The broadening of the Karachi operation further enhanced the military’s role. That also caused an end to the politics of ‘reconciliation’ between the PML-N and the PPP that had helped the last parliament complete its term and the unprecedented transfer of power from one elected government to another.

Continue reading The new political (dis)order

Manchar Lake: Toxic water, dead fish fill Asia’s largest freshwater body

BY ZOFEEN T. EBRAHIM

Fishing communities can no longer survive on Asia’s largest freshwater lake after a massive artificial drain has contaminated water and destroyed fish stocks

A lifetime spent in a houseboat may seem extraordinary to many, but for 101-year old Haji Wali Mohammad it is the only way of life he knows. Mohammed and his family of 500 people live on 48 houseboats that form a village — also known by his name — on Manchar Lake in Sindh.

Manchar is one of Asia’s largest freshwater lakes, spread over 200 square kilometres it expands to as much as 500 square kilometres during the monsoon rains. The average depth is between 2.5 to 3.75 metres.

Continue reading Manchar Lake: Toxic water, dead fish fill Asia’s largest freshwater body

On World Peace Day, a new song shows friendship transcends Pakistan-India ire

‘Na Rokay Koi,’ sung by Ali Aftab Saeed, gels well with a sweet video directed by him and Aarti Shrivastava

This International Peace Day, singer Ali Aftab Saeed and Indian filmmaker Aarti Shrivastava have worked together to bring to us a new anthem of Pak-India friendship, titled ‘Na Rokay Koi’.

Through this musical medium, Ali and Aarti have told a simple story of two college friends who parted ways to return to their home countries.

But a wedding convinces Zahra, the friend from Pakistan, to reunite with her Indian friend. Leaving a note for her father, she packs up and heads out to the other side of the border.

Nuclear technology – China’s next great export?

By 

For China, the prize on offer in the UK is not the investment in Hinkley Pointor Sizewell B but a controlling stake at Bradwell in Essex. This could be the first Chinese-designed nuclear power plant in the West, a massive breakthrough for China in promoting global exports of its nuclear technology.

So far its customers have been confined to countries like Pakistan, Romania and Argentina with the developed world opting for American, Japanese and French technology.

But the Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, has said that China will be part of building the next generation of UK nuclear power stations and that having Chinese design up and running in the UK would give other countries confidence on safety.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-34319122

Confronting injustices

By Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

There are the many so-called nationalists who allegedly espouse the cause of Sindh. How many of these so-called nationalists succeed in defending Sindhi rights is apparent from the degree of rights Sindh enjoys vis-à-vis Punjab

Colonisation, like slavery, degrades humans because both deprive them of freedom and the ability to live up to their potential. This degradation continues until slaves and the colonised understand the reality of their situation and begin resisting injustices. Resistance is the only salvation available to them. Rosa Luxemburg said, “Those who do not move do not feel their chains.” They have to move to know they are chained.

Last week, the Sindh finance minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, threatened to block the gas supply to Punjab if Sindh’s due share was not respected. He said that Sindh produces 70 percent of the total gas produced in Pakistan and, under Article 158, has the first right to use it. It seems the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government has been in a deep slumber as this injustice has been going on since gas discovery in Sindh. It is only now when the inherently corrupt and privileged establishment has started taking offence at the PPP people taking more than a fair share of the windfall of that corruption, turning a few screws not for the people’s benefit but to increase its share that the Syed Murad Ali Shahs have woken up. Sadly, they will surely sleep again when the pressure eases.

Naseer Memon, the chief executive of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), in his paper ‘Oil and gas resources and rights of provinces: a case study of Sindh’, says: “Sindh and Balochistan together contribute more than 93 percent of the national gas production and therefore can be considered an energy basket of Pakistan.” To prove that Punjab devours most despite Article 158, he quotes the Pakistan Energy Yearbook 2008 table, which says: “Sindh consumed only 46 percent of its production whereas Balochistan consumed just 25 percent while Punjab utilised a staggering 930 percent against its production in the national output of gas.” Punjab produced 68,608 million cubic feet (MMCF) but utilised 638,008, which was 930 percent more in 2007. This consumption is a lot higher now. Punjab has 2,162 operational CNG stations compared to only 587 in Sindh, the largest producer of natural gas.

Read more » Daily Times
See more » http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/20-Sep-2015/confronting-injustices

French intellectual supports France’s civil nuclear cooperation with Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Dr Pascal Boniface, eminent French intellectual and Director of the premier French think-tank, Institute for International and Strategic Affairs, has supported France’s civil nuclear cooperation with Pakistan, on the pattern of the U.S.-Indian civil nuclear agreement, saying that ‘Pakistan as a country of 200 million people with nuclear weapons has a pivotal role to play in the most strategic part of the world’.

He made these remarks during a guest lecture on ‘France, Europe and Changing Global Scenario’ at the Pakistan-China Institute, which was chaired by Ambassador Masood Khan, Chairman, Institute of Strategic Studies.

Senator Mushahid Hussain, Chairman of the Senate Defence Committee and who is recently-elected as Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), was also present on the occasion, while the lecture was attended by the Ambassador of France, Mrs. Martine Dorance, and Belgium Ambassador, Verheyden, as well as heads of think-tanks, university professors and scholars of international relations, former Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar and former head of ISI, Lt Gen (r) Asad Durrani.

Dr Boniface also criticised the Iraq War since it was ‘destabilising for the Arab World’, and he welcomed the Iran Nuclear deal terming it as ‘a rare defeat for the powerful pro-Israeli lobby in the United States’.

Senator Mushahid Hussain, while exchanging his views, praised the French role in world affairs, whose architect was the great French statesman, the late President General Charles de Gaulle. He said that countries like France and China, together with Pakistan, would be ‘key players in the emerging multipolar world’.

Read more » BUSINESS RECORDER
See more » http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/108/255098-french-intellectual-supports-frances-civil-nuclear-cooperation-with-pakistan.html