Increasing Diplomatic Distrust Across Radcliffe Line In Sub-Continent

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 N Khan

Although both India and Pakistan never had friendly relations since their creation in 1947. The persistent mistrust between the two neighboring countries over various key issues has defied numerous international attempts at resolution and entered its most dangerous phase when both India and Pakistan openly blaming each other for supporting and funding the terrorist activities across the Radcliffe Line.

Both are well aware of this material fact that they cannot change their neighbors even then both hesitated to exercise their diplomatic muscles to ease the bilateral tensions. No serious efforts has ever been made in this regard to create a fear free environment in the world’s most thickly populated region. Fog of fear and mistrust are as old as the political age of both the countries. There were several occasions in the history when both could have negotiated a peaceful resolution of the conflicts and have progressed forward to establish trust instead of bullying. If there were some measures taken in this regard, they were merely on piece of paper under international diplomatic pressure but these accords were never accepted from either side passionately. For instance, Tashkent agreement of 1966 lost its credibility and validity only after six years when both fought another war in Bengal in 1971 and as a result Bangladesh came into being and Pakistan Army had to surrender amid defeating and humiliating circumstances.

1972 Shimla Accord between Z.A. Bhutto and Mrs. Indra Gandhi also could not prove to be a lasting and defining doctrine as the definition and explanation of the articles and clauses have different meanings in the diplomatic and self-explanatory lingo across the Radcliffe line.  1989 uprising in Indian held Jammu Kashmir again fueled the mistrust and both confronted each other internationally through their diplomatic muscles by the harsh words of intervention in the internal affairs, terrorism support, human rights violations and so on. 1998 proved to be another catastrophic year in bilateral rigidities when both tested their nuclear weapons one after another thus blowing the whistle for a deadly catastrophe in the region. Soon after the nuclear experiments both take the U-Turn and signed another treaty at Lahore, Pakistan declaring to move forward theoretically but ended up fighting a war at the Peaks of Kargil in Jammu Kashmir in 1999. Again During the Vajpayee and Musharraf regimes both countries came close to each other for a short period of time but the Confidence Building Measure could not last longer and 26/11 Mumbai attacks swept the dust of friendly relations under the old carpet of animosity. All the blames for the attacks were leveled against both the State and non-state actors from the territory of Pakistan.

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Pakistanis buy Dubai property worth $379m in three months

DubaiBY AAMIR SHAFAAT KHAN

KARACHI: Pakistanis remained in pursuit of real estate in Dubai in the first quarter of 2015 as third biggest amount of foreign property transactions $379 million came from Pakistani nationals.

Pakistanis purchased properties worth over $4.3 billion (16bn dirhams) in 2013 and 2014 in Dubai.

Read: Pakistanis bought property worth 16bn dirhams in Dubai

According to data released by Dubai Land Department in April 2015, Pakistani nationals made transactions worth $379m (1.392 billion dirhams) during the first quarter of 2015.

In terms of investor numbers, however, Pakistanis stood second with a total of 953 investors, only behind Indians with over 1,000 investors.

Also read: Capital flight to Gulf states worries govt

Pakistanis also make up the second largest non-Arab nationality in the UAE.

Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1183845

Pakistan – “The state is not on its way to course correction”

Pakistan

Pakistan

Arif Hasan, architect, planner, social activist, points to social and political changes taking place in Pakistan and why the state does not consider these when making policy

By 

The News on Sunday: (TNS) Do you think that having lost its sole monopoly over violence, the state of Pakistan needs to redefine itself?

Arif Hasan (AH): It is a wrong question implying that the state is justified in having a monopoly over violence. Why should it have such a monopoly? State can adopt violence only when there is epic impediment to the execution of the functions of the state, or if violence is necessary in generating peace against those who are disruptive and when all courses of negotiations and peaceful resolutions fail. Some states are oppressive. They should be overthrown.

TNS: Has the state of Pakistan come to a point where it needs to lay down new goals for the country? Does the national interest need to be redefined and how? Do we need a new social contract?

AH: Pakistan is no longer what it was 25 years ago. There have been huge social, political changes. And these are not considered when dealing with policy.

There has been an eclipse of feudalism. Led by the collapse of the local system of commerce, governance, the panchayats, thejirgas, the patels, the numberdaars. They are no longer present. Moreover, the state has not tried to fill this gap. As a result of this change, many things have happened.

In the rural areas, the link between caste and profession has broken. The village artisans who provided services through barter system today work in cash. They have migrated to urban areas. The rural areas are entirely dependent on the urban produced goods. That is a very big change.

Another change is mobility. People move all over for trade and commerce. Where once roads used to be empty, today they are full of trucks. The Anjuman-e-Tajiran in various cities/towns has become an important political player. They are in constant negotiation with the state.

Women have emerged out of nowhere in public life. This trend is rapidly increasing. They dominate the public sector universities. Gender roles have changed. Extended family is disappearing.

All these changes require new society values and new governance structures, so that they can be consolidated.

TNS: What has led to these changes?

AH: All the reasons described above. Our population has increased 600 per cent since independence. There is technology/invention, cash has replaced barter, there are new varieties of seeds, farm sizes have become smaller, and the landless village labourer cannot afford the village’s dependency on urban produce.

Since 2000, over twenty universities have been established in small towns of Pakistan. Those who are studying in these universities are men and women from surrounding areas and villages. We have more people who are educated now. TV has also contributed in changing the values. Court marriages have increased. Migration abroad has also contributed to change in values. According to our study, migration and remittances have caused the breakdown of the family system.

All these factors have contributed to this change. Furthermore, you cannot close a country off from changes that are taking place all over the world. All these factors may lead to turmoil unless we can support them.

Also read: “On its own, no military can deal with political problems” — Ejaz Haider

TNS: The failure of the state is often pitched against a functioning society. Do you see the two at variance with each other or connected since we also witness a deeply conservative and overly patriotic society which could only be a product of the state?

AH: We have a conservative and patriotic state with an ideology and a value system. But trends in society are unconsciously changing. And this change is unconsciously challenging the traditional value system.

Our so-called Islamic values are being violated all the time. We see roadblocks (protests) against injustices and women are active in these roadblocks; be they against karo-kari, excesses by the wadera, water shortage or anything.

These things were unheard of before. It shows that the society is fighting back. They are fighting back conservatism with contemporary values.

Media projects a lot of injustices against women, but they do not project the changes taking place, nor are they projecting the role models who are challenging these traditional barriers. Role models, too, are just individual cases, like Malala.

The problem is that not only the state, even the opinion makers and academia are not grasping these changes. They are constantly dealing with conditions, not with trends. Societal changes need to be understood, articulated and brought into consciousness. Right now, these are not being articulated at all.

TNS: How can they be articulated, when there is such limited space for dialogue?

AH: Who says there is no space for dialogue? Nobody is stopping people from reaching out. We are in a trap. We keep talking about jihad, cruelty of the state and society, and no doubt all this is there. We are talking about all this in the framework of nostalgia.

The past was a period of elitist politics. This is a period of populist politics. Karachi was the way it was because it was colonial port city being governed by colonial elites. Today, it is run by populist political parties.

The past was a very oppressive system, and it went on because people used to accept the oppression. Now there is freedom, most importantly, freedom to choose. The only thing is that people do not know what to do with this freedom.

Don’t miss: What must the state do?

TNS: To repeat a cliché, the institutional imbalance is said to have harmed Pakistani state. Do you think this institutional imbalance is on its way of course correction?

AH: The institutional imbalance has harmed Pakistan. This imbalance is located in the very foundation of this country, which has been a consistent actual and perceived threat from India. And India, too, has done everything possible to help with the development of this perception.

No, it is not on its way to course correction. Our political establishment is far too weak, corrupt and very much involved in seeing its class interests served.

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Islamic State says it could buy nuclear weapon from Pakistan within a year

NuIn the latest issue of its propaganda magazine, Dabiq, the Islamic State (IS) has suggested that the terrorist group is expanding so rapidly that it will buy its first nuclear weapon from Pakistan within a year.

The article, which the group attributes to British hostage John Cantlie, says that the IS surpassed its roots as “the most explosive Islamic ‘group’ in the modern world” to evolve into “the most explosive Islamic movement the modern world has ever seen” in less than twelve months.

The British photojournalist, Cantlie, is often used in the terrorist group’s propaganda and has made appearances in several of their videos, including a YouTube series called “Lend Me Your Ears”. Cantlie has been IS’s hostage since the past two years.

Read: IS claims responsibility for bombing at Saudi mosque

In the piece title “The Perfect Storm”, the militant group mentions other terrorist organisations such as Boko Haram, which recently pledged allegiance to the IS, uniting across the Middle East, Asia and Africa to create one global movement.

The article claims this arrangement of groups has happened at the same time as IS militants have seized “tanks, rocket launchers, missile systems, anti-aircraft systems,” from the US and Iran before turning to the subject of more extreme weapons the group is not in possession of – such as nuclear weapons.

“Let me throw a hypothetical operation onto the table,” the article continues. “The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their wilāyah in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region.”

“It’s the sum of all fears for Western intelligence agencies and it’s infinitely more possible today than it was just one year ago.

“And if not a nuke, what about a few thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explosive? That’s easy enough to make.”

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/891121/islamic-state-says-it-could-buy-nuclear-weapon-from-pakistan-within-a-year/

Pakistani paradox

CharityBY IRFAN HUSAIN

PAKISTAN is a country of paradoxes: while we rank 105th in terms of Gross National Income (GNI), we are placed fourth in the world for the amount we give to charity as a percentage of our per capita income.

As a result, some 45,000 not-for-profit organisations flourish across the country, making life a little less unbearable for millions. One of them is the Rasheed Memorial Welfare Organisation, located 35 kilometres north of Hyderabad towards Mirpurkhas.

I visited Rasheedabad, the organisation’s ongoing project in the heart of lower Sindh’s mango belt, a couple of months ago on the urging of an old friend who works there. Iqbal Samad is an ex-general manager of Pakistan Railways who, together with his wife, have made the community their home.

When I entered the walled township, I was amazed by its cleanliness: there was not a scrap of paper or a plastic bag in sight. This to me always indicates an attention to detail that is sadly missing in most of our public spaces. While showing me around, Iqbal bent down to pick up a candy wrapper in full view of a group of schoolchildren.

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Russia Just Closed NATO’s Land Corridor to Afghanistan

putin wBy RI Staff

“The graveyard of empires” just got a little bit more graveyardy: Medvedev has‬ canceled the decree that allows ‪NATO‬ forces to use Russian territory as a transit corridor to Afghanistan. The decision comes just as it was revealed that the U.S. plans on extending its already over-extended “stay” in Afghanistan

Read more » Russia Insider
See more » http://russia-insider.com/en/russia-just-closed-natos-land-corridor-afghanistan/ri7078

Islamic State burned a woman alive for not engaging in an ‘extreme’ sex act, U.N. official says

slaveryBy Ishaan Tharoor

Amid all the Islamic State’s  atrocities — its massacres of civilians, its beheading of hostages, its pillaging of antiquities — the systematic violence the jihadists have carried out against countless enslaved women and girls never fails to shock. For months now, we’ve heard appalling testimony from women who escaped the Islamic State’s clutches, many of whom endured rape and other hideous acts of violence.

Zainab Bangura, the U.N.’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, recently conducted a tour of refugee camps in the shadow of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, war-ravaged countries where the Islamic State commands swaths of territory. She heard a host of horror stories from victims and their families and recounted them in an interview earlier this week withthe Middle East Eye, an independent regional news site.

“They are institutionalizing sexual violence,” Bangura said of the Islamic State. “The brutalization of women and girls is central to their ideology.”

Bangura detailed the processes by which “pretty virgins” captured by the jihadists were bought and sold at auctions. Here’s a chilling excerpt:

After attacking a village, [the Islamic State] splits women from men and executes boys and men aged 14 and over. The women and mothers are separated; girls are stripped naked, tested for virginity and examined for breast size and prettiness. The youngest, and those considered the prettiest virgins fetch higher prices and are sent to Raqqa, the IS stronghold.

There is a hierarchy: sheikhs get first choice, then emirs, then fighters. They often take three or four girls each and keep them for a month or so, until they grow tired of a girl, when she goes back to market. At slave auctions, buyers haggle fiercely, driving down prices by disparaging girls as flat-chested or unattractive.

We heard about one girl who was traded 22 times, and another, who had escaped, told us that the sheikh who had captured her wrote his name on the back of her hand to show that she was his “property.”

Estimates vary, but there are believed to be somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 women enslaved by the Islamic State. Many are Yazidis, a persecuted minority sect that the extremist Islamic State considers to be apostate “devil-worshippers,” in part because of the Yazidis’ ancient connection to the region’s pre-Islamic past. The jihadists’ treatment of Yazidi women, in particular, has been marked out by its contempt and savagery.

Here’s Bangura again:

They commit rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and other acts of extreme brutality. We heard one case of a 20-year-old girl who was burned alive because she refused to perform an extreme sex act. We learned of many other sadistic sexual acts. We struggled to understand the mentality of people who commit such crimes.

Hundreds of Yazidi women and girls have escaped their captors, either by running away, or being ransomed and rescued by their families. Bangura has urged international assistance in providing proper medical and “psychosocial” support to the escaped women, who have experienced terrible trauma.

News courtesy » The Washington Post
Read more » http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/05/22/islamic-state-burned-a-woman-alive-for-not-engaging-in-an-extreme-sex-act-u-n-official-says/?tid=sm_fb

‘Have to Neutralise Terrorists Through Terrorists': Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

ParrikarBy All India | Press Trust of India

NEW DELHI:  Asserting that only “terrorists can neutralize terrorists,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said India will take pro-active steps to prevent a 26/11-type attack planned from foreign soil.

“There are certain things that I obviously cannot discuss here. But if there is any country – why only Pakistan – planning something against my country, we will definitely take some pro-active steps,” Mr Parrikar said, adding those steps could include pressure tactics.

Using the Hindi phrase “kante se kanta nikalna (removing a thorn with a thorn)”, the Defence Minister also said, “We have to neutralise terrorists through terrorists only. Why can’t we do it? We should do it. Why does my soldier have to do it?” he said, refusing to elaborate. Mr Parrikar made the remarks during a programme organised by a private news channel.

When asked what the government’s reaction would be in the event of an attack similar to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks or the 2001 Parliament House attack, he said the best response would be to ensure it does not happen.

The minister said that the Army has been given orders to neutralize infiltrators trying to enter India. “I can only say that anyone trying to infiltrate will be neutralised,” he said.

The minister also said that instructions had been given to take precautions to ensure there was no “collateral damage” and that no Indian soldiers lost their lives.

“Take precaution there is no collateral damage. Don’t touch civilians,” he said.

Asked what had changed from the previous government’s tenure, the minister said, “Porosity on borders is less; intelligence has improved”.

Mr Parrikar also said he would stand by the Army at any cost if they were right.

News courtesy: NDTV
Read more » http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/have-to-neutralise-terrorists-through-terrorists-defence-minister-manohar-parrikar-765218

Saudis ‘to get nuclear weapons’

HatafBy Toby Harnden, Washington, and Christina Lamb

SAUDI ARABIA has taken the “strategic decision” to acquire “off-the-shelf” atomic weapons from Pakistan, risking a new arms race in the Middle East, according to senior American officials.

The move by the Gulf kingdom, which has financed much of Islamabad’s nuclear programme over the past three decades, comes amid growing anger among Sunni Arab states over a deal backed by President Barack Obama, which they fear could allow their arch foe, Shi’ite Iran, to develop a nuclear bomb.

The agreement, which is due to be finalised by the end of next month and involves the permanent members of the UN security council and Germany, is designed to roll back part of Tehran’s nuclear programme in return for an easing of UN sanctions.

There are concerns that Saudi Arabia joining the nuclear club might provoke Turkey and Egypt to follow suit.

News courtesy:» The Sunday Times
Read more » http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/world_news/Middle_East/article1557090.ece

Lake destroyed by the drainage projects

Devastation in Sindh & they say water is being wasted.

Devastation in Sindh & they say water is being wasted.

By Maria Soomro

Manchhar lake , one of the Asia biggest fresh water natural lake has been turned into a saline water pond through ill conceived, non participatory and corruption riddled chain of Right Bank Outfall drainage Projects ( RBOD-I, RBOD-III, RBOD-II) carried out by WAPDA. The Drainage projects in the absence of good governance generate only destruction. Because, participatory development , proper operation and maintenance of projects are pre conditioned with deeply rooted culture of good governance in any country.

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Focusing on an obsolete approach of energy generation

By Maria Soomro

Now a days , many so called experts have been laying stress on the building of dams as the solution to energy crisis.The stress has been seemingly laid on building Kalabag dam in order to generate more energy and increase agricultural productivity. Reality is different.The best experts in the science of Hydrology consider Building dams an obsolete approach towards controlling floods, energy generation and enhancing agricultural productivity.

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Pakistan court jails hate cleric for five years

indoctrinatedA 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

Its hard to believe Pakistani Govt Was unaware on Axact Degree Scam – New York Times

questA Rising Tide of Bogus Degrees

By

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

CEO of Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh Photo credits: Social media

CEO of Exact Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh – Photo credits: Social media

By Kasim Osmani

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.

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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.

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Russian President Putin will visit Pakistan soon

Putin accepts invitation to visit Pakistan

Putin accepts invitation to visit Pakistan

BY IFTIKHAR MASHWANI

ISLAMABAD: Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Pakistan soon to boost bilateral relations between Pakistan and Russia.This was disclosed by Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Sunday in Islamabad.
He said the date is not finalized for Putin visit, but Pakistan already invited Russian President and he accepted the our invitation. Pakistan and Russia have great potentials to boost their relations in all Fields including social,economic and defense and strategic sectors. Pakistan and Russia are important countries of the region and both countries can play pivotal role in the stability in the region.

In the present circumstances, Russia become a most important country for Pakistan. Now Russia is no longer ignored by Pakistani policymakers. Ties are warming up between Islamabad and Moscow in the past few years as geo-strategic ties have been changing the world over.

When the relationship was set to emerge, Pakistan and Russia have been repairing their fences hard hit by the hard Cold War realities. China in the Pakistan-Russia framework is a guarantor and an honest broker. These relations have been fast emerging against the backdrop of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) where Pakistan stands as an observer but trying to seek full-membership of the organization, hopefully this year when the organizations will meet in Russia.Russia already ready to support Pakistani membership in the SCO. Beijing guides Moscow toward Islamabad.Russia,China and Pakistan will becomes strong regional allies for all level.

Read more » World Tribune Pakistan
See more » http://worldtribunepakistan.com/2015/03/08/russian-president-putin-will-visit-pakistan-soon/

“If you find a train arriving late, set your watch right. Trains don’t arrive late these days!” in Pakistan.

“If you find a train arriving late, set your watch right,” remarked a smart young porter.

“If you find a train arriving late, set your watch right,” remarked a smart young porter.

Railway decay seems reversing

BY NASEER AHMAD

KARACHI: “If you find a train arriving late, set your watch right,” remarked a smart young porter hurrying down the platform overloaded with several pieces of a passenger’s luggage. “Trains don’t arrive late these days!”

I recently set off from Rawalpindi by Tezgam for Karachi. Exactly at 8.30am it whistled and after a few seconds a second whistle blew and the train began to chug. A relative texted me the train’s travel timetable. All along I checked it with the train’s arrival at the various stations, and everywhere it was ahead of schedule.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1182830/

FIA takes Axact employees into custody, seizes equipment following Nisar’s orders

CEO of Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh Photo credits: Social media

CEO of Axact Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh. – Photo credits: Social media

By Qamar Zaman / AFP / Web Desk / Sameer Mandhro

ISLAMABAD: Around 45 Axact employees were arrested on Tuesday as Federal Investigation Agency raided the offices of the software company in Karachi and the twin cities.

The move came shortly after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar ordered FIA to probe into the special report published by The New York Times alleging the software company was earning tens of millions of dollars by selling fake degrees around the world.

“If the said company is involved in any such illegal work which can tarnish the good image of the country in the world”, a ministry statement said.

Soon after, FIA teams comprising IT experts sealed Axact’s offices in the twin cities and registered a formal inquiry into the Axact scandal, sources privy to the development told Express News.

Read: INYT special report: Fake degrees earn company millions

According to Express News, employees were evacuated from the software company’s head office in Islamabad. Further, around 45 employees were rounded up, including HR and PR managers, to be taken to FIA headquarters.

The arrested Axact employees were shifted to FIA’s cyber-crime wing office.

The seven-member FIA team also seized hard disks, computers, other electronic equipment and documents belonging to the IT firm. The bags and mobile phones of department heads in Islamabad have also been seized.

“A report will be compiled after carrying out digital analysis to ascertain if the electronic equipment was used for illegal activities,”sources said.

After gathering evidence and rounding up employees, the FIA team is now headed to the software company’s second office in the capital.

The FIA also raided Axact’s call centre in Rawalpindi and seized voice call recorders and other devices. Axact’s call centre regional director Colonel (retd) Jamil was taken into custody.

A second team under the supervision of FIA Deputy Director Kamran Attaullah has raided Axact’s Karachi headquarters.

The FIA teams have left Axact’s Karachi headquarters. Speaking to the media after the raid, Deputy Director Kamran Attaullah said, “Investigations are still underway. We will let you know further details later.”

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/888790/chaudhry-nisar-orders-inquiry-into-axact-scandal/

The Pakistani man accused of making millions from fake degrees paid 26 cents in tax last year

Photo credits: Social media

Photo credits: Social media

The only son of a lawyer, Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh grew up in a religious, middle-class Pakistani household with one ambition: He wanted to become the richest man in the world.

“Even richer than Bill Gates,” Shaikh told his employees in a speech last year.

Read more » Quartz
See more » http://qz.com/406701/the-pakistani-man-accused-of-making-millions-from-fake-degrees-paid-26-cents-in-tax-last-year/

Fake Diplomas, Real Cash: Pakistani Company Axact Reaps Millions

Photo credits: Social media.

Photo credits: Social media.

By

Axact makes tens of millions of dollars annually by offering diplomas and degrees online through hundreds of fictitious schools. Fake accreditation bodies and testimonials lend the schools an air of credibility. But when customers call, they are talking to Axact sales clerks in Karachi.

Seen from the Internet, it is a vast education empire: hundreds of universities and high schools, with elegant names and smiling professors at sun-dappled American campuses.

Their websites, glossy and assured, offer online degrees in dozens of disciplines, like nursing and civil engineering. There are glowing endorsements on the CNN iReport website, enthusiastic video testimonials, and State Department authentication certificates bearing the signature of Secretary of State John Kerry.

“We host one of the most renowned faculty in the world,” boasts a woman introduced in one promotional video as the head of a law school. “Come be a part of Newford University to soar the sky of excellence.”

Yet on closer examination, this picture shimmers like a mirage. The news reports are fabricated. The professors are paid actors. The university campuses exist only as stock photos on computer servers. The degrees have no true accreditation.

In fact, very little in this virtual academic realm, appearing to span at least 370 websites, is real — except for the tens of millions of dollars in estimated revenue it gleans each year from many thousands of people around the world, all paid to a secretive Pakistani software company.

That company, Axact, operates from the port city of Karachi, where it employs over 2,000 people and calls itself Pakistan’s largest software exporter, with Silicon Valley-style employee perks like a swimming pool and yacht.

Axact does sell some software applications. But according to former insiders, company records and a detailed analysis of its websites, Axact’s main business has been to take the centuries-old scam of selling fake academic degrees and turn it into an Internet-era scheme on a global scale.

As interest in online education is booming, the company is aggressively positioning its school and portal websites to appear prominently in online searches, luring in potential international customers.

At Axact’s headquarters, former employees say, telephone sales agents work in shifts around the clock. Sometimes they cater to customers who clearly understand that they are buying a shady instant degree for money. But often the agents manipulate those seeking a real education, pushing them to enroll for coursework that never materializes, or assuring them that their life experiences are enough to earn them a diploma.

To boost profits, the sales agents often follow up with elaborate ruses, including impersonating American government officials, to persuade customers to buy expensive certifications or authentication documents.

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Thar: Walking miles in their shoes

tharBY AMAR MEHBOOB

Of all the changes that have taken place in Thar in recent years, cellular phones have had the most profound impact. They have connected communities separated by centuries and miles of sand dunes.

I could have sworn it felt like the carnival was in town, but the villagers of Sakri joked it was my wedding instead: “All these people have come to take a look at you, as if you were a bride,” smiled my guide Dilip Sodha, a bheel school teacher. “All you need now is aghoonghat.”

And thus started our journey. I was the bride that everyone was just ecstatic to see, the virgin who had not walked the Thar. Will he be able to do it? Is he crazy? Can he even walk a mile? Why does a man who can cross the desert in his jeep in a matter of hours want to walk with us, the penniless? Is there money involved?

But I was entering another dimension; this was my personal wormhole to discovering what the human spirit really entails. Is it about “conquering the final frontiers” or “boldly going where no one has gone before”? Or is it something more down to earth, about the indomitable will to survive and to persevere against the harshest of conditions.

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Islamic State ‘seizes Iraqi city of Ramadi’

Isis-led Sunni rebels have seized large swathes of north-western Iraq

Isis-led Sunni rebels have seized large swathes of north-western Iraq

The Iraqi city of Ramadi has fallen to Islamic State (IS) after government forces abandoned their positions, officials say.

The police and military made a chaotic retreat after days of intense fighting.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32773780

Occupy The White House

Sen. Bernie SandersBy Justin Akers

The Revolution

Bernie Sanders is a socialist who has somehow managed to land a spot in the US Senate, the most deliberative, prestigious body of government in a nation that is at the helm of a globe and space-spanning capitalist empire. It is an act of political genius for someone to have accomplished such a feat in an era of neoliberal hegemony. He is obviously astoundingly good at politics, but he conceals his political skill with a gruff, grandpa-next-door demeanor.

A zealot is someone who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their ideals. Sanders is a socialist zealot. If you take the time to watch him speak, you will quickly come to realize that he is passionately driven by socialist ideals. That is to say, he is passionately devoted to justice.

Never before in the history of the United States has such a prominent, establishment political figure espoused such a radical economic philosophy in such a sustained and public manner as what you are about to witness in the months ahead.

The Bernie Sanders campaign is incredibly significant, and it is revolutionary.

There are some socialists and radicals out there who want to count all the ways that Sanders is not a “true” socialist. They say he isn’t radical enough. But the purists are missing the point entirely: Sanders is openly socialist, he is already in the Senate, and he is aiming for the Presidency. Socialism is out now, on the Presidential campaign trail.

Read more » Films For Action
See more » http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/occupy-the-white-house/

Pakistan is a country of ghosts. ‘In Pakistan, anyone and everyone can be a target’

Fatima Bhutto

Fatima Bhutto

BY FATIMA BHUTTO

Pakistan is a country of ghosts. They are everywhere, the victims and the perpetrators both. On Wednesday morning, six gunmen wearing police uniforms stopped an Al Azhar Garden bus carrying 60 Ismaili Muslims in Karachi. The bus picked up Ismailies from the housing society dedicated to their community on the outskirts of the city and drove them to work. It was a journey the passengers made every day.

The gunmen boarded the bus. Sub ko mar dalo, one of them is reported to have said. Kill them all. By the time the gunmen got back on their motorcycles and fled, they had murdered 43 people.

Also read: At the receiving end of fanaticism

Who were the dead?

Ismailis, a peaceful community of Muslims, share a closeness with the country’s Shia minority and are thus victimised. Seventy per cent of Pakistan’s Muslims are Sunni. And in this predominantly Muslim country, it is no longer Hindus or Christians who face the largest threat of violence from orthodox and radicalised groups but Shias.

They call it a Shia Genocide now; around 1,000 Shia citizens of Pakistan have been killed in the last two years, according to some estimates. (But to those who use the word ‘genocide’ comes the reply: but they kill Sunnis too. What about them? This is the answer to so many questions now. What about the others? So many groups are in danger now, it is impossible to count them all.)

Mosques attacked

In January, a blast ripped through a Shia mosque in Shikarpur district of Sindh and killed 60 people. In February, a Shia mosque in Peshawar was attacked with grenades. Another 20 people were killed there. In the spring, there were target killings and assassinations — successful Shia professionals, doctors and religious leaders, activists, anyone, everyone. And now this.

A country of ghosts

We cannot look at the dead too long — only long enough to check that what ended their lives will not end our own. Fatal lists swing wildly from the specific to general. Are you Hazara? Are you Shia? Are you an Ahmedi? Any of the above will get you killed.

Are you a nationalist — a cloak provincialists wear — Sindhi or Baloch perhaps? Are you an apologist? For America? For our neighbours? For the War on Terror? Are you a non-Muslim (minus extra points if polytheist)?

Maybe, then. Fifty-fifty chance.

But then there are the wild cards. Are you a schoolchild at an Army public school? Are you a poor man or woman — overheard saying something not quite right, something that maybe someone might consider blasphemous? Are you a woman who talks too much? Or an activist who is, well, active?

Anything possible

Anything is possible in Pakistan today. And those who are violent and powerful, we know from history, can hurt anyone.

Soon, are you a liberal? Supporters of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf party, young Pakistanis living inside and outside the country, already troll the Internet attacking anyone vaguely critical of their values. ‘Libido’ — they call liberals, like that’s a bad word. Every journalist that criticises their party is a ‘lifafa journo’, implying the only reason to raise a bad word against them would be money, rather than common sense.

Soon, like in Bangladesh, you will be asked: Are you a writer?

There is violence everywhere here — in threats and in action. Everywhere.

But who is to blame? Those are the other ghosts.

Every province that suffers horrendous attacks suffers amnesia too. Sindh’s phenomenally corrupt government mounted a defence against its sin of not protecting the 43 dead — terror happens all over the country, the Chief Minister said, it happens in Khyber Pukhtoon Khwa and Punjab too.

The media fought over who exactly was the worst, reducing politics to the level of maturity found in graffiti. “The PM craves for food while Karachi bleeds!” a TV channel tweeted, noting that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not cut his day short to fly to Karachi and attended a lunch meeting instead. (The Chief of Army Staff, Raheel Sharif — literally everyone has pointed out — did cancel his plans and was in Karachi by evening.)

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New British Energy Secretary Plans To ‘Unleash Solar Revolution’

Solar energyEnergy secretary Amber Rudd plans to ‘unleash solar revolution’

Amber Rudd, the new energy secretary, says more households should have solar panels on their roofs

By , Energy Editor

Millions more homes should have solar panels on their roofs, the new energy secretary has suggested, vowing to “unleash a new solar revolution” across Britain.

Ms Rudd indicated she would back the continued expansion of household solar panels, which are heavily subsidised by consumers through levies on energy bills.

“I want to unleash a new solar revolution – we have a million people living under roofs with solar panels and that number needs to increase,” she told her local newspaper, the Hastings & St Leonards Observer.

Read more » The Telegraph
Learn more » http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/solarpower/11606820/Energy-secretary-Amber-Rudd-plans-to-unleash-solar-revolution.html?utm_content=buffer41fce&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on terrorist attack on Ismailis in Pakistan

HarperOttawa, Ontario – 13 May 2015 – Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement on the terrorist attack on Ismailis in Karachi, Pakistan, that killed many people and injured several more:

“Canada condemns the cowardly terrorist attack on a bus carrying Shi’a Ismaili Muslims in Karachi.

“It is particularly chilling that gunmen opened fire indiscriminately, murdering many Ismailis regardless of their gender or age. It is an affront to everyone who cherishes religious freedom. We urge the Government of Pakistan to bring the perpetrators to justice and to ensure that all religious minorities in the country are protected and their religious freedom guaranteed.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Laureen and I offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who perished in this murderous attack. We also offer our heartfelt prayers that those injured may have a speedy recovery.

“I have worked closely with His Highness the Aga Khan over the years and know first-hand of the peaceful nature of the Shi’a Ismaili community here in Canada and around the world. We mourn with His Highness and the entire Shi’a Ismaili Imamat who have consistently stood for peace, pluralism and religious freedom.”

News courtesy: http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2015/05/13/statement-prime-minister-canada-terrorist-attack-ismailis-pakistan#sthash.SA9slwmZ.dpuf

World Sindhi Congress (WSC) condemned the terrorist attack on peaceful Ismaili Community of Sindh

Bus2We condemned the terrorist attack on Peaceful, Humble, Down to earth, cooperative, enterprising members of Aga Khani-Ismalili community of innocent citizens of Sindh and stand with the grieving families. We salute the driver (who was injured himself ) of the bus who drove the bus to nearby hospital to save numerous lives.
PPP administration completely failed to protect its citizens. It is absolute failure of Rangers and Sindh Police. Rangers should held accountable along with Police. Sindh spent sizable amount of budget on Rangers and all they are doing is running water tanker business in Karachi.
We demand de-weaponization of Karachi and stoppage of the mass exodus of illegal immigrants in Sindh.

News courtesy: Via facebook wall of WSC

Aga Khan shocked by attack on Ismailis

Karim Agha Khan

Karim Agha Khan

BY DAWN.COM

The spiritual leader of the Ismaili community His Highness Aga Khan expressed shock and sorrow over the attack on a bus carrying Ismailis near Safoora Chowk in Karachi which left 43 dead and 13 wounded.

“This attack represents a senseless act of violence against a peaceful community. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the families of those killed and wounded in the attack,” said a statement posted on the Aga Khan Development Network website.

The statement said that Ismailis are a peaceful global community that live in harmony with various other ethnic and religious groups across the world.

The statement added that other Ismaili leaders in Pakistan are currently involved in an emergency operation to help the survivors of the attack.

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43 killed in attack on bus carrying Ismailis in Karachi

By AGENCIES | IMTIAZ ALI

KARACHI: At least 43 people were killed and 13 others wounded on Wednesday when armed men opened fire inside a bus carrying members of the Ismaili community near Safoora Chowk in Karachi.

Sindh Police Inspector General Ghulam Haider Jamali said that 60 people were on board the bus when six gunmen entered and executed 43 passengers.

He added that the armed men used 9mm pistols in the massacre. The attackers managed to flee after the attack.

Hospital sources have so far confirmed that the dead include 25 men and 16 women. Police officials said that there were no children among the casualties.

All victims were shot from a close-range.

Rana M Razzaq, a security coordinator at the Memon Medical Center, told Dawn that, “One young girl hid and survived. Three or four others who were brought to the hospital have survived…the rest are all dead.”

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1181698/43-killed-in-attack-on-bus-carrying-ismailis-in-karachi

Ex-intelligence man told US about Osama’s hideout: author

bin ladenBY ANWAR IQBAL

WASHINGTON: The United States got to Osama bin Laden with Pakistan’s help, but disclosed the operation in a manner that made the country look like a villain, according to Seymour M. Hersh, an American investigative journalist and author.

“They helped. They totally helped. They helped a great deal,” said Mr Hersh when Dawn asked him if he believed Pakistan helped the US reach the Al Qaeda leader.

In a story published in the London Review of Books on Sunday, Mr Hersh described the official US version of the so-called “Operation Neptune Spear” as a work of fiction, a fairy-tale.

Know more: Pakistani officials reject claims of ISI handling bin Laden

He noted that the White House still maintains the mission was an all-American affair, and that senior generals of the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were not told about the raid in advance.

“This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account. The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll (the author of “Alice in the Wonderland).”

He argues that if Bin Laden would seek a hideout he would not go for a resort town forty miles from Islamabad.

Would OBL consider it “the safest place to live and command Al Qaeda’s operations?” he asks. “The most blatant lie was that Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders – (retired) Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (who was chief of the army staff at the time), and Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI – were never informed of the US mission,” writes Mr Hersh.

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Arabian Peninsula: Finding the Linkage of Conflict in Yemen: A Historical 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 N Khan

The present day conflict in Yemen has taken the lives of thousands of unarmed civilians including women, children and elderly. Loss of property, food insecurity, shortages of livelihood are deepening the humanitarian crisis among the growing fears The political instability in Yemen is very much rooted into and blended with the traditional tribal cum political history of Arabian Peninsula. Authoritarian rule in the entire Middle East (except few countries) has been one of the major sources of political crisis of the region and Yemen is not an exception in this regard. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always been backing and supporting the unpopular regimes and dictators in Yemen for decades to safeguard her own geography from any political activism against the Saudi Royal Family. The roots of the crisis in Yemen can be traced down the rocky roads of historical developments in the region. During the peak of Cold War when the entire world was divided into two camps with both Soviet Union and United States leading their respective Communist/Socialist and Capitalist camps. This Cold-War rivalry also impacted the political and administrative trends of the Arabian Peninsula. In the beginning of 1960,s in the greater Middle East and Arab World Soviet camp was regionally headed by Egypt (Gamal Abdel Nasser) advocating a pan-Arab socialist ideology with democratic processes,  while the other led by Saudi Arabia, represented the more Western-oriented yet conservative and authoritarian regimes. The civil war in Yemen (1962-1967) played a critical role in shaping the dimensions of conflict in the country and also impacted the entire region. It started after a popular uprising followed by a military coup that overthrew the theocratic Zaydi Imamate regime. The coup was supported by Egypt both politically and militarily. During this civil war after the coup d’état in Yemen the revolutionary republicans were supported by Egypt and the Royalists were supported by Saudi Arabia, thus making Yemen a battle ground for proxy interests.

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