An excellent initiative by the provincial government of Sindh.

Friday sermons to be provided by Sindh govt: Soomro

SUKKUR – Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister on Religious Affairs Abdul Qayyum Soomro announced yesterday that Friday sermons will be provided to the mosques throughout Sindh from Religious Affairs Ministry to deal with extremism and sectarianism.

Read more » The Nation
See more » http://nation.com.pk/national/18-Jan-2016/friday-sermons-to-be-provided-by-sindh-govt-soomro

Iran receives $400m frozen funds along with $1.3bn interest

BY ANWAR IQBAL

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama confirmed on Sunday that the United States had lifted certain nuclear-related sanctions from Iran after the Islamic Republic successfully implemented a deal signed in July last year.

At the same time he announced a settlement between the US and Iran at The Hague, in which Iran received $400 million in funds frozen since 1981 plus $1.3 billion in interest. This, he said, would save US money and time, as there was no point in dragging out this dispute and continuing to pay interest on the money.

“Now that Iran’s actions have been verified, it can begin to receive relief from certain nuclear sanctions and gain access to its own money that had been frozen,” said Mr Obama while addressing his nation from the White House.

“And perhaps most important of all, we’ve achieved this historic progress through diplomacy, without resorting to another war in the Middle East,” he said.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1233733/iran-receives-400m-frozen-funds-along-with-13bn-interest?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+dawn-news+%28Dawn+News%29&utm_content=FaceBook

Oxfam says wealth of richest 1% equal to other 99%

The richest 1% now has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined, according to Oxfam.

It uses data from Credit Suisse from October for the report, which urges leaders meeting in Davos this week to take action on inequality.

Oxfam also calculated that the richest 62 people in the world had as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population.

It criticised the work of lobbyists and the amount of money kept in tax havens.

Oxfam predicted that the 1% would overtake the rest of the world this time last year.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35339475

Meet the 22-Year-Old Physics Genius That Harvard Believes is the Next Einstein

Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski was only 14 years old when she stepped foot into MIT’s campus offices seeking approval one morning for the single-engine plane she built.

 

Fast forward eight years and the 22-year-old is now an MIT graduate and Harvard Ph.D. candidate interested in answering some of the most complex questions in physics, according to Yahoo.

The first-generation Cuban-American woman has already received job offers from Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, and aerospace developer and manufacturer Blue Origin. NASA has also shown interest in the young physicist. Pasterski’s study seeks to explore black holes and spacetime and she is particularly concentrated on explaining gravity through the context of quantum mechanics.

Read more » Next Shark
See more » http://nextshark.com/sabrina-pasterski-22-mit-grad/

Fatima Bhutto: America’s Moral Hypocrisy on Terrorism

Pakistani poet and author Fatima Bhutto responds to President Obama’s speech announcing the death of Osama bin Laden, arguing that Obama appeared to ignore suffering caused by America’s ongoing war on terrorism. “In perhaps the grossest pronouncement of triumphalism,” says Bhutto, “we were told that we were either with President Obama in celebratory euphoria, or not.”
—–
In the Opening Address at the 2011 Sydney Writers Festival, Fatima Bhutto, scion of the Pakistani political dynasty, addresses the current state of her country. Her talk focuses on Pakistan’s love/hate relationship with the United States and, in this way, reminds us of their parallel “nervous breakdowns.”

Pakistan is, at once, a country plagued by natural disasters, endemic political corruption, religious fundamentalism and is claimed by many to be the central headquarters of Islamist terrorism. Bhutto sees this condition Pakistan suffers as a plain result of crippling conspiracy-theorizing and manifesting as paranoiac nuclear armament.

But Bhutto finds not all the fault lies at home. She speaks to the West’s hypocrisy with regards to its aggressive “freedom fighting”, including its ever-mounting use of Drone strikes under Obama’s presidency and the civilian casualties which are beyond measure. – Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Fatima Bhutto is an Afghan-born Pakistani poet and writer. She studied at Columbia University and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. Bhutto is the granddaughter of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and niece of Benazir Bhutto. She graduated from Columbia University in 2004, majoring in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, and from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in 2005 with a Masters in South Asian Government and Politics. Her books include Whispers of the Desert, 8.50 am 8 October 2005 and, most recently, Songs of Blood and Sword. She is a regular contributor to the New Statesman, The Daily Beast and The Guardian. For More details, please click this link » Youtube

Courtesy: Live Leak + FORA.TV
Read more » http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=c2c_1366507845#QIEkaIexV9KzzpIZ.01

Raheel, not Nawaz, Sharif Holds the Key to the India-Pakistan Peace Mystery

The idea of improving relations with India does occur to the Pakistani army but it is not sure about the terms of engagement

BY

The news of Masood Azhar’s possible detention in Pakistan left me with the same feeling I had when reading a story in my childhood about Sheikh Chilli, a man who built castles in the air. What if he hadn’t shaken his head so violently that the basket of eggs didn’t come crashing down, as did his dreams?

Even as I sat down for an interview soon after, Pakistan’s federal minister for privatisation claimed the news of the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief’s detention was not verified. He had come from a meeting with other ministers in which none vouched for the news of the arrest. In fact, the minister stated that the Ministry of Interior had advised him to be non-committal. The statement from the office of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spoke of action against the JeM but was guarded about any specifics. So why did someone in authority leak the news of Azhar’s detention to the Pakistani media?

Read more » The Wire
See more » http://thewire.in/2016/01/17/raheel-not-nawaz-sharif-holds-the-key-to-the-india-pakistan-peace-mystery-19455/

 

China launches new AIIB development bank as power balance shifts

Walmart to close 269 stores in U.S., South America

Retail giant says it’s not planning to close any Canadian stores

Walmart is closing 269 stores, more than half of them in the U.S. and another big chunk in its challenging Brazilian market.

The stores being shuttered account for a fraction of the company’s 11,000 stores worldwide and less than one per cent of its global revenue.

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/walmart-closing-stores-1.3405511

Unable to afford marriage expenses, young men go for ‘misyar’

RIYADH — Experts said more and more Saudis are opting for the “misyar” marriage due to unaffordable living expenses, Makkah daily reported.

The misyar is a type of marriage contract carried out normally according to Islamic customs but with the stipulation that the couple give up certain rights of a normal marriage, such as living together, the wife’s right to housing and living expenses and the husband’s right to housekeeping.

Family consultant Nasser Al-Thubaiti said most young men do not have the means to get married while most young women have high expectations of their marriage.

“The rate of divorce is increasing and the rate of polygamy is decreasing. More and more marriage officiators are willing to sign misyar marriage contracts now. It is a way for men to get married without having the liability of dowry and family support,” said Al-Thubaiti.

Sultan Al-Saleem, a marriage officiator, said many engagements have been dissolved and it is becoming a trend.

Read more » Saudi Gazette
See more » http://saudigazette.com.sa/saudi-arabia/unable-to-afford-marriage-expenses-young-men-go-for-misyar/

Drought takes six more lives in Tharparkar, toll rises to 67

By HANIF SAMOON

MITHI: Six more children died from various diseases in different hospitals of Tharparkar district of Sindh in past 24 hours, raising the drought death toll to 67 since the start of this month.

A newborn died in Mithi Civil Hospital, five more minors lost lives in remote village of Diplo and Chhachhro talukas of district .

Meanwhile, scores of children were brought to the hospitals in Mithi, Diplo, Nagarparkar, Islamkot, Chhachhro and other towns of the district for treatment.

Parents and relatives of patients also complained about lack of healthcare facilities and attitude of doctors and other paramedical staff.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1233203/

The Pakistani Dystopia

BY

Imagine a country that is embroiled in a long and bloody conflict with its neighbor, and each time its democratically elected Prime Minister tries to reach out and make peace, his own army launches an attack to make sure the peace doesn’t take hold. You might think you were trapped inside a dystopian movie. Unless, of course, you’ve been to Pakistan, where this happens all the time.

This week, Pakistani officials said they had detained Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a militant group, for his alleged role in overseeing the attack on an Indian airbase in the city of Pathankot earlier this month. The attack left seven Indians dead. Jaish-e-Mohammed is one of several Pakistani militant groups whose members routinely cross into India and carry out attacks there, for the ostensible purpose of prying loose Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state.
Azhar’s detention is almost certainly a farce, staged to placate foreign leaders. If the past is any guide, Azhar, who has been detained many times before, will soon be free and able to carry out more attacks. This is the way it has worked in Pakistan for years.

The attack on the airbase in Pathankot, on January 2nd, came little more than a week after the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, flew to Lahore to meet the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, for a surprise summit. It was the first visit by an Indian leader to Pakistan in twelve years. By all accounts, the meeting went well. That’s an unqualified good; both countries possess nuclear weapons, and their unresolved disputes, especially over Kashmir, could have terrifying consequences. India and Pakistan have already been to war with each other four times.

So why would Pakistani-based fighters follow up a feel-good summit with a cross-border attack? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time, or the second, or even the third.

In 1999, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took a bus across the border to meet Sharif, and the two men pledged that peace would prevail between their two countries. Less than three months later, Pakistani soldiers, dressed up like jihadis, crossed the Indian border in the Himalayas and captured several Indian army posts. The Indian army repelled the invaders but the fighting, centered around the town of Kargil, came dangerously close to spinning out of control. It doesn’t appear that the Pakistani military, which orchestrated the attack, ever bothered to ask Sharif for permission.

In July, 2001, Vajpayee invited the Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf, who had recently declared himself Chief Executive after seizing power from Sharif in a military coup, to the Indian city of Agra to talk peace. Three months later, Pakistani-based guerrillas mounted an assault on the Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly building, and two months after that they launched a brazen attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi. Indian troops were nearly ordered to cross the border, but the crisis was defused.

In September, 2008, Pakistan’s first elected leader in nine years, President Asif Zardari, made a series of peaceful overtures to India. Two months later, Pakistan-based terrorists attacked the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and other targets in Mumbai, killing more than a hundred and fifty people and wounding more than three hundred.

I’m not the first person to notice that Pakistani militants regularly try to sabotage peaceful relations between their country and India. Aparna Pande, at the Hudson Institute, has put together a chronology of these attacks.

Read more » The New Yorker
See more » http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-pakistani-dystopia?mbid=social_facebook

Are we discovering Jaish only now?

By Ayaz Amir

Islamabad diary

Maulana Masood Azhar, founder and leader of Jaish-e-Muhammad – an outfit dedicated to ‘jihad’, the liberation of Kashmir and similar heady stuff – has been one of our more enduring ‘jihadi’ symbols, a long-standing fixture on the ‘jihadi’ scene.

He was arrested in India in 1994 and spent years in Indian prisons. When an Indian civilian aircraft was hijacked in December 1999, the hijackers demanded the Maulana’s release. The plane was flowing to Kandahar.

Maulana Azhar, Omar Saeed Sheik
h, serving a sentence in Hyderabad jail for his role in the killing of the journalist Daniel Pearl, and Mushtaq Zargar, the third militant, were flown by Indian authorities to Kandahar and handed over to the Taliban, then ruling Afghanistan. The then Indian foreign minister, Jaswant Singh, flew to Kandahar to supervise the handing over of the militants and the freeing of the passengers.

The Taliban brought Maulana Azhar and his two companions to the Pak-Afghan border at Chaman where they were said to have ‘disappeared’. Maulana Azhar was later seen being hailed as a hero and feted at various places. It took some time for the military government of Gen Pervez Musharraf to realise that this glorification of someone freed as a result of a hijacking was not something to celebrate…at least not openly. The Maulana reduced his public profile.

Jaish hit the headlines once more when along with the Lashkar-e-Taiba it was accused of being behind the attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001. On the one hand Pakistan was fully engaged with the United States in the ‘war on terror’ and here was this huge distraction caused by our ‘jihadi’ friends. Indian and Pakistan troops took up battle positions on the border.

There is thus a long history attached to Maulana Azhar. Since ‘jihad’ at one time was a sub-franchise of our school of national ideology based in Aabpara, Islamabad, it is not too far-fetched to infer that the Maulana and our strategy handlers have known each other for a long time.

So either we are first-rate idiots or we take the rest of the world to be peopled by idiots. For does it take a degree in advanced mathematics to see that if there is an adventure across the border – such as the attack on the Indian parliament, or the Mumbai attacks in 2008, or the Pathankot attack now – the finger of suspicion will be pointed not at someone from outer space but at our own ‘jihadi’ apparatus, which we all recognise is very powerful with its tentacles spread far and wide, and their present or erstwhile godfathers?

When Mumbai occurred the handlers of the attacks were seen to be operating from Pakistan. The Pathankot attack takes place and the Indians say the footprints go all the way to Pakistan. Either we say the Indians are talking nonsense and then we stick to our guns or we recognise the gravity of this charge. If Pakistan, not official Pakistan but the soil of Pakistan, was connected in any way with Mumbai, if there is any connection now with Pathankot, what will make us realise that this is embarrassing for Pakistan?

Continue reading Are we discovering Jaish only now?

US President’s predictions regarding security of the region are not accurate – Sartaj Aziz

Govt will overcome the threats posed to CPEC project: Sartaj Aziz

 

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said on Friday that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will ensure stability, progress and prosperity in the region besides linking Pakistan and China as well as other regional countries with one another.

Speaking a seminar in Islamabad today, he said CPEC would help Pakistan overcome energy crisis, adding projects related with CPEC would infuse new life in infrastructure.

He assured that Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary level talks will be held soon. The adviser confirmed that no meeting took place in Paris between the National advisers of both the countries.

While talking about Obama’s speech, he stated that US President’s predictions regarding security of the region are not accurate however; Pakistan is conducting decisive action against terrorism and is hopeful of further peace and stability.

 

Read more » DunyaNewsTv
See more » http://dunyanews.tv/en/Pakistan/317845-Govt-will-overcome-the-threats-posed-to-CPEC-proje

A Jewish ISIS Rises in the West Bank

They reject modern political states and their institutions. They want to return to an imagined earlier era of religious order. They are extreme, fundamentalist, and violent. What separates so-called Hilltop Youth from young Jihadis?

By Hillel Gershuni

To be a Hilltop Youth is to first disaffiliate with all establishments in Israel.Especially the settlements. These young Hasidic-looking men and women make their homes out of trucks, cars, trailers, caves—anything suitable for a makeshift shelter—atop the hills of Judea and Samaria. They see themselves as connected to the Land of Israel, not to any of the institutions of the Israeli state. The very violent group among them consists of no more than a few dozen core members and a few hundred more who support them in public demonstrations and on social media. Some in Israel refer to them in disgust and horror as “Jewish ISIS,” and while there’s a great distance between Al Baghdadi’s practice of beheading, burning alive, and massacring thousands of people and the violence of extreme members of Hilltop Youth, there is indeed a deep connection between the two phenomena.

ISIS is not just a state—it’s an idea, and a powerful one: throwing away modern norms and acting to revive the golden age of the Islamic Caliphate. And just like the Caliphate, the methods to achieve it are pre-modern: “Din Muhammad Bissayf,” the religion of Muhammad is [enforced, spread] by the sword. The success of such cruel methods within the blurry borders of Iraq and Syria has drawn young enthusiastic Muslims from around the world to Syria. Similarly, ideas of reviving the thousands-of-years-old Kingdom of Judea draw young enthusiastic men and women to the hilltops, where the leaders and idea-men of the Hilltop Youth promise their followers a sense of authenticity in a post-modern world. As with ISIS, this authenticity is predicated on destroying all institutions of the State of Israel, which is undeserving of recognition.

Hilltop Youth abandon the communities in which they were raised to live in trucks in uninhabited regions of the Judean Hills. In their nativist ideology, they are the real Jews upholding the “true” Jewish way, and they encourage each other to strive with violence and terror against non-Jews in order to retaliate against Arab terrorism and to establish a pure Jewish existence on the land of Israel. The State of Israel is evil, and the religious communities and ideologies that support it are misguided, they believe. Their nativism perceives the State of Israel and its supporters as “Erev Rav,” a Kabbalistic term that refers to people who look like Jews but have the souls of enemy gentiles.

Read more » Tablet Mag
See more » http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/196516/jewish-isis-in-the-west-bank

Where I’d Head Now If I Was A New Expat In China: Urumqi

Op-Ed Commentary: Chris Devonshire-Ellis

Twenty years ago, as weird as it may seem today, no one wanted to be posted to China. The country, still fresh from the Tiananmen incident, was something of an international pariah, and trade was only just beginning to pick up. No one was sure which direction China would take – retreat back into a closed shell, or reform and develop. While the answer now is obvious in terms of what happened, back in 1992 much of China was still waiting to be discovered, and expats were rather thin on the ground.

Someone visiting Wuxi, for example, would be greeted as a seasoned traveler upon their return home and as someone who would take risks and seek adventure. Twenty years ago, nearly all of China was like that – mysterious, romantic, and full of the allure of the ancient orient. Today, China is full of expats and businessmen, and many have traveled around with the mantra: been there, done that. Yet growth today is not necessarily in the obvious cities. With two airports, a maglev, and miles of highways, bridges, buildings, and port facilities, Shanghai as a contemporary city is built out. All that remains in terms of business opportunities there are the service industries – selling to the city’s inhabitants. Even manufacturing is long gone, pushed out to less romantic, yet far more cost-effective destinations such as Ningbo, Hefei and Yiwu.

It’s the same story in other primary locations too. Beijing is slightly different due to its status as a national political capital, but cities such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen and even Wuhan and Chengdu are being finished off, nothing left to develop now except a sales market. Not that that’s a bad thing – Chinese consumerism is expected to turn sharply up, especially in the third and fourth-tier cities where the newly established middle class want to acquire Nike shoes, LV bags, iPhones, and drink coffee at Starbucks.

But the true prize, in my opinion is even larger: Central Asia. I’ve just returned from two weeks travelling across Mongolia, Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang, assessing just how far these regions have come and how they are poised to develop. Mongolia as a country has just been rated one of the top investment destinations for the next 10 years by Global Finance Magazine, and of course we have already set our stall out there concerning monitoring the country through our Mongolia Briefing facility. As concerns more general investment potential though, the country is limited to expertise in mining, and remains currently a big-ticket destination for investment dollars. Central Asia is a different matter. Comprising a huge area, the region is not officially defined, yet certainly includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Add to these a looser definition of Central Asia and you include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang Province. There would be some mileage in stretching the region to include Iran as well, in addition to parts of Russia’s Siberia. But the principal financial, communications and logistics hub servicing all of that? Urumqi.

Xinjiang also offers the romance that I loved about China 20 years ago

Read more » China Briefing
Learn more » http://www.china-briefing.com/news/2012/08/21/where-id-head-now-if-i-was-a-new-expat-in-china-urumqi.html

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China and the World Economy in 2016: “Sell Everything”

NH Poll: Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton in every major voting bloc

Bernie Sanders now leads Hillary Clinton by 14 points in New Hampshire, according to the latest Monmouth University Poll of likely New Hampshire voters who are likely to vote in the first-in-the-nation primary in February.

Fifty-three percent of these voters choose Sanders, compared to 39 percent for Clinton. And the new poll shows that Clinton has also lost her edge over Sanders among registered Democrats, women and older voters. Sanders has now surpassed her with these voters, while holding onto his lead among registered independents, men and younger voters.

Read more » CBS News
See more » http://www.cbsnews.com/news/nh-poll-bernie-sanders-leads-every-major-voting-bloc/

UNDERSTANDING IRAN-PAKISTAN RELATIONS

By Sattar Rind

Persian, now Iran’s, history goes back to the Iron Age – the world’s oldest continuous major civilization, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 4000 BC, at least.

Iranians are assumed to be Aryan and lived in the existing central Asian steppe area. In ancient history they had observed different emperors. However, Cyrus the Great was the first Persian Emperor in history who embraced all the previously civilized states of the ancient Near East and vastly expanded Persian rule and made part of the existing Iran. It was the largest empire that had ever been seen in this world.

Seleucid emperors were the next to Cyrus, then the Parthian and the Sasanians who governed Iran for more than a thousand years.

Following the Sasanians, Iran once again unified as an independent state in the fifteenth century, this time from a Sufi saint family from Azerbaijan, a person named Ismail, who politically manipulated his followers – the Shiite militants Qizilbash, and had captured Tabriz and declared himself as Shah of Azerbaijan, becoming founder of the Safavid Dynasty in July 1501.

Since then this dynasty never looked back and ruled Iran until the Islamic revolution of Imam Khomeini on April 1st, 1979 ended their rule forcibly exiling the King Raza Shah Pahlavi from Iran.

At their peak the Safavid Dynasty ruled and controlled all of modern Iran, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Armenia, most of Georgia, the North Caucasus, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Syria, as well as parts of Turkey, especially Anatolia, Macedonia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the existing Afghanistan and Pakistan up to Indus valley.

His followers, Qizilbash, preferred to be called the ‘army of Haider’ – a name of Hazrat Ali – the first Imam of Muslim Shiites. Thus they developed Shiite Islam as the official religion of the empire which marked a great turning point in Islamic history.

However, the new Islamic state of Iran and its spiritual leader Imam Khomeini was the first head who enhanced more militancy in an already militant Muslim sect but was intolerable for the Arabs as they were for centuries rivals of one another.

But mostly it was the Arabs – being tribal oriented they used to taunt and hate civilized people. It is a trait of tribal people and could be observed still today in the same situation.

Iran undoubtedly has a great rich heritage – art, poetry, music and collective manners. They always remained proud to their civilization and history – what great philosopher Friedrich Hegel termed them “the first Historical People.”

Perhaps due to this or many other reasons, the Arabian people for centuries never liked the Iranians. It is not a secret but an open fact. It is even being said that the Iranians became Muslim, but in their own way. It was not ‘Arabized’. The Persian remained Persians. In a sense, Iranian Islam is a second advent of Islam itself, a new Islam sometimes referred to as Islam-i-Ajam.

Again this conflict and rivalry went in opposite directions to each other on the issue of the Islamic sect. The Shiites are the second largest Muslim sect in the Muslim world. Nevertheless in this conflict Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab worsened at a great level, especially if we look at a concise history then we could not forget the massacre of Karbala, believed to be led by the Al-Saud leader Abdul Aziz Ibn Al-Saud, the son-in-law of Ibn Wahhab.

He damaged Imam Hussain’s tomb (the Grandson of Muhammad (PBUH) and son of fourth Caliph Hazrat Ali of Muslim history), it is claimed, in return, one man killing him by a stiletto in revenge.

For the existing Pakistan, Iran was the first country that accepted Pakistan as a sovereign state and never went against one another. They developed the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) which later changed into the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and widened with many other Central Asian countries as members.

Both countries when required supported each other either locally or internationally. As Iran was a natural ally and was given the status as ‘Most Favorite Nation’ for trade purposes, both helped each other in wars, in different ways. The relationship within the countries though remained very cordial but reached its peak in the days of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

However in the Zia era even if both countries never intended to damage one other at state level, a resentment was for the first time noticed in the relationship between the two.

The reason was obvious in that Zia was the ultraconservative and very close to the Wahhabi school of thought and perhaps was the first Pakistani ruler of such mentality who tried to be part of the Saudi Arabian ideology and impose the same ideologue in Pakistan fearing the new Islamic revolution of Imam Khomeini may influence the people. It was him who sent 40 thousand army personnel to defend Saudi Arabia from the internal and possibly external threat in 1980, although it was condemned as an act and not accepted by the people of Pakistan, even including army personnel within the ranks.

Zia however was claiming the Iranian revolution as Islamic but he was the person who had created sectarian groups, protected and enhanced them to kill the Shiite Muslims in Pakistan. This could still be observed today. It is believed that when Zia met with Imam Khomeini in Iran he tried to recognise his role for Islamic service but Khomeini, without caring for diplomacy, snubbed Zia that he knew him and was the puppet of Saudi rulers, playing an important role on their behalf killing Shiite Muslims in Pakistan.

Following this Zia started believing that it would be better for him not to give any space to expanding Shiites in Pakistan. Another factor was also involved that somehow most Shiite communities or almost all were supporting Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto either directly or indirectly.

Whatever happened in the Zia era in the recent past or what is currently going on against the Shiite people in Pakistan, one thing it is very clear and important to note is that the people of Pakistan, from the depths of their hearts, are not interested in being part of any proxy war against the natural ally and neighboring country Iran. This is something every ruling authority in Pakistan knows.

Therefore on each occasion in the past, Pakistan has been a very close ally to the US and Saudi Arabia, but has never opposed Iran. In the recent action of Saudi Arabia killing a Shiite leader, Nimr al-Nimr, a spat between Iran and Saudi spread throughout the world, most Gulf Cooperation Council Countries (GCC) disconnecting diplomatic ties with Iran. But for Pakistan it would be impossible due to the people of Pakistan, as it would be difficult for security reasons.

The Balochs of Balochistan have been fighting for their independence since 1948 and have a long history of fighting against the Pakistani army. The total bordering area of Pakistan is connected with Iran from the Balochistan province. There is also a Baloch province in Iran. In the past, and especially in 1974 against the Baloch insurgency, Iran helped Pakistan giving guns, helicopters and fighter jets to curb such an uprising.

If Pakistan decided to go against Iran it could be possible that Iran supports Balochistan. We know the proverb ‘Enemy of the enemy is a friend’. Shiite Muslims are the second largest sect and cover more than 20% of the populace of Pakistan and would be aggravated by this, no Pakistani leader being in a position to provoke them. Thus it will be observed there is no possibility a Pakistan leader will stand up for Saudi Arabia, openly at least. However, it is said that only God knows the secrets of the inner core of the soul.

Courtesy & Thanks » Tuck Magazine
Read more » http://tuckmagazine.com/2016/01/12/understanding-iran-pakistan-relations12172/

 

Pakistan will not send ground troops as part of Saudi-led military alliance: Aziz

BY DAWN.COM

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, on Tuesday said Pakistan will not send ground troops to Saudi Arabia or any other country after having joined the 34-state Islamic military alliance led by Saudi Arabia.

In a briefing to the National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee at the Parliament House, Aziz said all matters between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have been settled.

He said Pakistan will be sharing intelligence with Saudi Arabia to counter terrorism.

Aziz told the committee that Pakistan is playing its role to diffuse tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1232480/

F-16 sale delayed in US Congress

BY ANWAR IQBAL

WASHINGTON: The US Congress has stalled a planned sale of eight new F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, although the Obama administration is still trying to undo the hold, congressional and diplomatic sources told Dawn.

The hold reflects the growing anti-Pakistan sentiments on Capitol Hill where it is now a routine to see strong attacks on Pakistan and its policies during congressional hearings.

Lawmakers used clarification and information notices to delay the sale. The administration also received a “hold” notice from the Senate, using this legislative process to delay floor action on the proposed sale to Pakistan.

Read more »DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1232401/

The China – Pakistan Economic Corridor: India’s Dual Dilemma

By Sajjad Ashraf

The Chinese commitment to invest US$46 billion into Pakistan is driven by two main considerations. China’s current $4 trillion foreign trade and 7 million barrels of daily oil imports are largely dependent upon sea-lanes that can be choked by competing powers. Convinced that the U.S. is seeking surrogates to contain its rise, China is seeking alternate and less vulnerable routes. Second, China has finally decided that its troubled but reliable (even dependent) friend, Pakistan, has problems that can best be handled by investing in its power sector and infrastructure development. In the process, as a part of its larger One Belt, One Road (OBOR) strategy, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) gets a priority because this is the only network that connects China to the Arabian Sea –shortening its maritime distance with the energy rich Persian Gulf market by over 10,000 kilometers.

Kalrkahar, Chakwal, Punjab.

The extent of China’s commitment betters the US$12 billion (estimated to be $120 billion in 2015 dollars) Marshal Plan used to rebuild several European countries after World War II. Some on-going Chinese aided projects are now incorporated into the CPEC. This large infusion of capital, if utilized properly, can potentially change the regional power equation.

Read more » China U.S. Focus
See more » http://m.chinausfocus.com/article/3719.html

Rangers raid The Nation resident editor’s house

Rangers officials raided the house of Salman Masood The Nation’s Resident Editor in Islamabad earlier this morning looking to search the premises. The officials arrived without any documents or warrant and said that a “terrorist search operation is underway”. A civilian man among the officials said he is from the “intelligence” without revealing his identity. The officials reiterated that it was a routine search operation.

Read more » The Nation
See more » http://nation.com.pk/islamabad/12-Jan-2016/rangers-raid-the-nation-editor-s-house

Enormous 5,000-Year-Old Harappan Stepwell Discovered In Kutch, India

People of ancient India were famous for building highly impressive step wells. The architecture of the wells varies by type, location and age.

Now, archaeologists excavating in one of the largest Harappan cities, Dholavira, in Kutch have unearthed a 5,000-year-old step well that is huge is size.

It is three times bigger than the Great Bath at Mohenjo Daro. The site represents the largest, grandest, and the best furnished ancient reservoir discovered so far in the country.

See more » Message To Eaagle
http://www.messagetoeagle.com/enormous-5000-year-old-harappan-stepwell-discovered-in-kutch/

Read more: http://www.messagetoeagle.com/enormous-5000-year-old-harappan-stepwell-discovered-in-kutch/#ixzz3wzZawQUu

Lady Cadets of Pakistan

ON THE FRONT LINES OF GENDER EQUALITY WITH PAKISTAN’S LADY CADETS

By Aeyliya Husain

Lady Cadet Wardah Noor, a slim 24-year-old Pakistani with deep-set eyes and an erect bearing, has pinned all her hopes on becoming a soldier.

“I found my civilian life to be slow moving and unsatisfying,” she told me one evening in September after a full day of class and training exercises at the prestigious Pakistan Military Academy (PMA). Raised in a middle-class home, Wardah had already earned a college degree in computer science but found little opportunity in her small village in Pakistan’s Punjab province, where horse-driven carts were still the primary mode of transportation. She craved discipline and structure. She wanted, she realized, to join the army.

Read more » VICE
See more » http://www.vice.com/video/lady-cadets-of-pakistan

Pakistan should’ve nothing to do with Saudi-led sectarian ‘anti-terror coalition’

Every country holds its national interests before anything else

By Umer Ali

“Pakistan enjoys close and brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and attaches great importance to their security,” Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif said in a meeting with Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince, Muhammad Bin Salman yesterday.

“Any threat to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity would evoke a strong response from Pakistan,” he further added.

This is the second visit of a Saudi official in three days to Pakistan. These recent visits came in the wake of rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Read more » The Nation
See more » http://nation.com.pk/blogs/11-Jan-2016/pakistan-should-ve-nothing-to-do-with-saudi-s-sectarian-anti-terror-coalition

WoW: Women On Wheels in Lahore, Pakistan.

PAKISTAN-WOMEN-RIGHTS-BIKES
Photo credits: AFP.

About 150 women motorcyclists after completing training with the collaboration of Special Monitoring Unit on Law & Order and City Traffic Police participated in the Women on Wheels (WoW) rally in Lahore.

The rally, a move to encourage female bike riding, was also attended by Austrian Ambassador Brigitta Balaha, prominent lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir.

Read more » DAWN
See more »http://www.dawn.com/news/1232091/wow-women-on-wheels-in-lahore

Railways fiscal deficit reduced considerably: Shahbaz Sharif

LAHORE: The financial deficit of the Pakistan Railways has been reduced and its operations have been improved considerably, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Saturday.

He was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the recently-completed double railway track from Lodhran to Raiwind at Premnagar. With the dualisation of track from Lodhran to Raiwind, the entire railway line from Lahore to Karachi has been doubled.

“The railway’s deficit has been brought down from Rs37 billion to Rs27 billion. The deficit will be further cut by more than Rs3.5 billion during the current year. Due to railway administration’s efforts, the number of passengers has been increased by 15 million,” he said.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/1024904/railways-fiscal-deficit-reduced-considerably-shahbaz-sharif/

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