India to sign deal with Iran on Chabahar port project soon

India will soon formalize a deal with Iran over investment in the country's southern Chabahar port.

India will soon formalize a deal with Iran over investment in the country’s southern Chabahar port.

India is moving closer to finalizing a crucial plan to invest in Iran’s southern Chabahar port – a project that would open a new economic corridor rival to what China plans to do in Pakistan’s Gwadar port. 

India’s Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari is expected in Tehran within the next few days to formalize a deal for the project, the New Delhi-based Business Standard newspaper reported.

India is also likely to engage in discussions with the US to secure a waiver of sanctions on activities at Chabahar, the report added.

“Talks about the proposed speed and manner in which the US government plans to free up the sanctions might also be on the cards, so that India does not run the risk of attracting punitive sanctions,” it said.

Read more » Press Tv
See more » http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/04/25/408007/Iran-India-Chabahar-Corridor-Trade-economy-sanctions-washington-zarif-kerry

Bangladeshi PM announces money, flats and cars for cricket team after Pakistan thrashing

Photo credits: AFP

Photo credits: AFP

Jubilant over her cricket team’s performance in the World Cup and home series against Pakistan, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced flats, cars and prize money for the Bangladesh cricket team.

Read more » Breaking News Pakistan
See more » http://www.breakingnewspak.com/bangladeshi-pm-announces-money-flats-and-cars-for-cricket-team-after-pakistan-thrashing/

Pakistan sends relief goods for quake victims in Nepal

130BY DAWN.COM | IRFAN HAIDER

KATHMANDU: Four Pakistan Air Force (PAF) aircraft carrying rescue and relief assistance, including a 30-bed mobile hospital, for Nepal left for the earthquake-devastated country Nepal on Sunday.

Two C-130 aircrafts have landed at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu and two more are expected to reach Kathmandu on April 27.

In line with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s directive, the two C-130s which reached Kathmandu today are carrying a medical team of doctors and paramedics, a 30-bed hospital, medicines, tents, water, dry food, and a search and rescue team with equipment

The relief team and equipment have been put together with the collaboration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan Army, PAF, National Disaster Management Authority of Pakistan, the embassy of Pakistan in Kathmandu, the embassy of Nepal in Islamabad, and the Nepalese authorities.

The Pakistani ambassador and other embassy officials were present at the airport to facilitate and extend logistical support to Pakistan relief assistance team.

Courtesy: DAWN
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1178334/pakistan-sends-relief-goods-for-quake-victims-in-nepal

Sabeen, the one who never backed down

HASSAN BELAL ZAIDISabeen01

The fingers type, but I don’t feel them moving. The ears sense a commotion, but I cannot hear. The eyes fight back tears, but it’s futile to resist.

How can you feel, how can you react, how can you respond, when the news ofa friend’s death hits you, right between the eyes?

But Sabeen was far more than a friend, she was a beacon; an island of calm in a sea of madness.

The Second Floor, conceived and modelled in her own image, was the physical embodiment of her intangible love for all things; food, the arts, knowledge and ideas, and, of course, people.

As bleeding heart liberals go, Sabeen’s was the bloodiest heart I have ever come across. Sabeen did a lot more than just help people. She championed causes, thought outside the box and wanted, with every breath, to make a difference.

Also read: Sabeen Mahmud — a profile

A leading light of the #PakistanForAll and #ReclaimYourMosque campaigns, she was usually the first to hit the streets and the last to go home.

When they came for the Shias of Alamdar Road, she was at Numaish from the very beginning to the bitter end.

When they came for the Christians of Peshawar, she was right there at the heart of the human chains that protected churches on Sunday mass.

Always one to challenge convention, always one to take the unpopular stand, always one to side with the underdog; Sabeen Mahmud never backed down from a fight.

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Pakistan – Director T2F Sabeen Mahmud shot dead in Karachi

sabeen

Sabeen Mehmud was a left oriented democratic thinking intellectual and a restless soul of Sindh. She was a feminist, and human rights activist.

BY DAWN.COM

KARACHI: The director of The Second Floor (T2F), Sabeen Mahmud, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Karachi on Friday.

Sabeen, accompanied by her mother, left T2F after 9pm on Friday evening and was on her way home when she was shot by unidentified gunmen in Defence Phase-II, sources confirmed. She died on her way to the hospital. Doctors said they retrieved five bullets from her body, which has now been shifted to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.

Her mother also sustained bullet wounds and is currently being treated at a hospital; she is said to be in critical condition.

T2F had on Friday organised a talk on Balochistan: ‘Unsilencing Balochistan Take 2: In Conversation with Mama Qadeer, Farzana Baloch & Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur.’

Sabeen had left T2F after attending the session, when she was targeted.

T2F, described as a community space for open dialogue, was Sabeen’s brainchild. In an interview with Aurora, she referred to it as “an inclusive space where different kinds of people can be comfortable.”

Conceived as a bookstore and café patterned after the old coffeehouse culture of Lahore and Karachi, The Second Floor — or T2F, as everyone calls it — says on its website that it was born out of a desire to enact transformational change in urban Pakistani society.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Nasreen Jalil, while talking to DawnNews, condemned Sabeen Mahmud’s killing and demanded the government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, taking notice of the incident, has asked the Additional Inspector-General Karachi Police to submit a report on the brutal murder, DawnNews reported.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1177956/director-t2f-sabeen-mahmud-shot-dead

Pakistan: Bahawalpur to have $1.5bn world’s largest solar power plant

Solar energyBY KHALEEQ KIANI

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has awarded $1.5 billion contract for its largest solar power project of 900MW in Bahawalpur to a Chinese company which has the biggest solar power plant of only 170MW back home.

After concluding a final round of meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Water and Power Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif on Wednesday, Zonergy Company Ltd President Yu Yong told journalists that his company had a total portfolio of 1,200MW of solar plants in China and the largest one was 170MW plant in Xinjiang.

He said the company had an association of over 17 years with Pakistan. Previously, it had been engaged in telecommunication sector through another company ZTE since 1998.

Read: Pakistan plans huge desert solar park to fight energy crisis

He explained that Zonergy was not a subsidiary of the ZTE, but one of the largest shareholders in the ZTE was also the largest shareholder in Zonergy.

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Smart Money to Follow China’s Massive Investment in Pakistan

KSEThis (China’s $46 billion investment in Pakistan) can not be purely politically driven. Beijing is commercial: CEO’s, not think tank intellectuals, travel with politicians. Barron’s Asia

Spurred by Chinese investment, the smart money is taking notice of Pakistan as an attractive investment destination. The investors are looking at the fact that Pakistani stocks have been outperforming both emerging and frontier markets for several years. The benchmark index of the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE100) is up more than 20% in the last 12 months, according to NASDAQ.com.

Pakistani Shares in 2015: After a dismal March, MSCI Pakistan rebounded strongly this month, returning 9.1% so far. In April, the iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF (FM) rose 4.3%, the WisdomTree India Earnings Fund (EPI) dropped 1.2%, the iShares MSCI India ETF (INDA) fell 1.9%, according to Barron’s Asia.

KSE-100 Performance: In 2014, the KSE-100 Index gained 6,870 points thereby generating a handsome return of 27% (31% return in US$ terms), making Pakistan’s KSE world’s third best performing market. Total offerings in the year 2014 reached 9 as compared to 3 in the year 2013. After a gap of seven years, Rs 73 billion were raised through offerings in 2014 as compared to a meager Rs 4 billion raised in 2013. Foreign investors, that hold US$ 6.1 billion worth of Pakistani shares -which is 33% of the free-float (9% of market capitalization)-remained net buyers in 2014.

Read more » http://www.riazhaq.com/2015/04/smart-money-to-follow-chinas-massive.html

Pakistan, the Saudis’ Indispensable Nuclear Partner

The author teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.

The author teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.

By

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistani Parliament, even while stating its commitment to protect the territory of Saudi Arabia, recently adopted a resolution not to join the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen. Many Pakistanis are worn out by the Taliban insurgency at home and oppose intervention abroad, especially to fight an enemy whose name they are hearing for the first time and risk worsening relations with its backer, Iran.

The foreign affairs minister of the United Arab Emirates, Anwar Gargash, blasted the decision as “contradictory and dangerous and unexpected,” accusing Pakistan of advancing Iran’s interests rather than those of its own Persian Gulf allies. Pakistan was choosing neutrality in an “existential confrontation,” he said, and it would pay the price.

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Karachi’s Avatar

Akhtar BalochKarachi, Sindh has been home to a long, red history of communists, Avatar Hangal is one of them. Akhtar Balouch, Blogger

BY AKHTAR BALOUCH

Every time the generous people at Dawn publish one of my blogs, I start receiving phone calls from friends in the dozens. Write about this, one would say, as another would insist on a different topic.

Many complain: why haven’t you written about this or that so far? Why did you miss this or that great personality from Karachi?

It always pleases me to receive these messages and calls, while at the same time I am saddened by the limitation of resources. But as our dear Hasrat Mohani said:

Hai mashq-e-sukhan jaarii aur chakkii kii mushaqqat bhi
[As the pen’s labour continues, so does the labour to survive.]

A senior journalist and a serious human rights activist Zaman Khan phoned me from Lahore, asking me to write about A.K Hangal. He was also kind enough to forward me an interview with Mr Hangal.

The name might not be as well-known in Pakistan, but the face would certainly look familiar to many. Hangal was seen in more than 300 Bollywood films, playing supporting roles. Apart from being an actor, Hangal was also a staunch communist.

He wished to see India transform into a communist state after the Partition. Because of his views, he had to spend two years in jail in Karachi. He also spent some time in the Hyderabad Central Jail, Sindh.

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Investing with confidence: Chinese say their money is safe in Pakistan

pak-chinaBy Shahram Haq

ISLAMABAD: Chinese businessmen have said investments they are putting in Pakistan are safe as both the countries enjoy excellent relations at government and public level.

“The global investments we make in any country depend on the nature of relationships between China and the particular country,” said Orient Evertrust Capital Group’s Chairman Jiang Xue Ming, while talking with The Express Tribune.

“Since Pakistan and China have excellent relationships, so we feel our investments in this country are completely safe,” he added.

A group of Chinese investors is currently in Islamabad as the Chinese president is arriving in Pakistan today (Monday) to sign some 50 different accords worth $46 billion, majority of which are energy based.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/872766/investing-with-confidence-chinese-say-their-money-is-safe-in-pakistan/

Sufism won’t solve Pakistan’s problems

sufi_sachalUsing Sufism to counter religious terrorism is not the solution to Pakistan’s problems – and it’s risky.

By Bina Shah

Religiously motivated violence has steadily haunted Pakistan over the last 10 years, with the rise of militants and extremists who believe it’s their holy duty to wage war on non-Muslims. The latest horrific episode: The Lahore church suicide bombing on March 15 which killed 16 Christians; two Muslim bystanders were also lynched and burned to death by an angry mob in the aftermath of the bombing.

As the author of the novel “A Season For Martyrs”, which examines the fusion of Sufi tradition with the power structures of Sindh, I have watched with caution as western think-tanks have thrown up Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam with an emphasis on tolerance, peace, and love, as a means of combating this ideology of violence. Yet, I strongly believe that this is a misguided policy; using Sufism to counter religious terrorism is not the solution to Pakistan’s problems.

Since 9/11, Pakistan has witnessed the weakening of state institutions, the confusion of political leadership, the uncertainty of whether or not to continue to nurture or disown the state’s “strategic assets”, that is, religious militants it has sponsored – and the relentless attacks by the Taliban and other militants against civilian, military, police, and minority targets.

Secularism as solution?

Many Pakistani liberals posit secularism as the solution: They theorise, or fantasise, that going back in time to erase the dictator General Zia-ul Haq’s Deobandi imprint on Pakistani society – in other words, to eliminate his Islamisation project from both the statute books and the annals of history – will ease Pakistan’s pain and bring this divided country back together again.

On the other hand, western think-tanks, ever concerned with the rise of militancy in Pakistan and its ramifications for western interests, decided that Sufism could be a means of countering hardline radicalism in the Muslim world.

A 2007 RAND report urged western governments to “harness” Sufism; similar reports emerged from the Heritage Foundation, the Libforall Foundation and the Nixon Center, supporting the idea that Sufism, with its “politically moderating” effect, could supplant Salafism, whose local expression in Pakistan is the Deobandi movement.

Muslim and other scholars hit back at this plan, calling it misguided. The peaceful Sufi/violent Salafi dichotomy, they argued, did not stand up to scrutiny; Sufism could be used as much to advocate violence as Salafism.

In Pakistan, even Barelvis, a moderate sect influenced by Sufism and opposed to Deobandism, have enacted or supported violence. The murder of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was committed by Mumtaz Qadri, a Barelvi, in 2011; Barelvi clerics have rallied for his cause ever since.

Still, this didn’t stop the Pakistani government from trying out the formula: It formed a Sufi Advisory Council in 2009 to try and spiritually convince radicals to lay down their arms.

Since then, shrines and Sufi leaders have continued to be attacked all over Pakistan: the Baba Farid shrine and Sakhi Sarwar shrine in Punjab, Lahore’s most famous Data Darbar shrine, the shrine of Sheikh Taqi Baba in Balochistan; and the assassination of the Sufi leader Faqir Jamshed in Dera Ismail Khan, in northwest Pakistan.

Complete reversal

The work of Farzana Shaikh, a Chatham House fellow and author of “Making Sense of Pakistan”, represents a complete reversal from the discourse taking place about Pakistan’s problems with extremism among its liberal intelligentsia: That religious extremism has come about because of the religious right wing’s stubborn certainty that being a Pakistani equates to being a conservative Sunni Muslim, and that violence is a way of eliminating from the fabric of Pakistani society those people who don’t fit that definition.

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China Readies $46 Billion for Pakistan Trade Route

xijBeijing plans to pour $46 billion into infrastructure projects, open new trade routes

By SAEED SHAH in Islamabad and JEREMY PAGE in Beijing

Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to unveil a $46 billion infrastructure spending plan in Pakistan that is a centerpiece of Beijing’s ambitions to open new trade and transport routes across Asia and challenge the U.S. as the dominant regional power.

The plan, known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, draws on a newly expansive Chinese foreign policy and pressing economic and security concerns at home for Mr. Xi, who is expected to arrive in Pakistan on Monday. Many details had yet to be announced publicly.

“This is going to be a game-changer for Pakistan,” said Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s planning minister, who said his country could link China with markets in Central Asia and South Asia.

“If we become the bridge between these three engines of growth, we will be able to carve out a large economic bloc of about 3 billion living in this part of the world…nearly half the planet.”

Read more » THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
See more » http://www.wsj.com/articles/china-to-unveil-billions-of-dollars-in-pakistan-investment-1429214705?mod=e2fb

China to build Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline: report

gas pipe lineISLAMABAD: In an attempt to curtail Pakistan’s severe energy shortage, China has agreed to build a pipeline bringing natural gas from Iran to Pakistan. The final deal is to be signed during the long-sought visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping to Islamabad in April, Pakistani officials said.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/866893/china-to-build-pakistan-iran-gas-pipeline-report/

Despite an alarming history of human rights abuses, the U.S. is poised to send a huge amount of firepower to Pakistan’s military

An US-made super cobra attack helicopter launching a sidewinder missile in 2007.

An US-made super cobra attack helicopter launching a sidewinder missile in 2007.

The State Department Just Okayed $1 Billion in Helicopters and Missiles to Pakistan

BY

As social media erupted earlier this week with news that Hillary Clinton was spotted at a Chipotle, the department she used to head quietly approved a massive weapons sale to a U.S. ally whose military has a long record of human rights abuses. On April 6th, the State Department green-lit a nearly $1 billion arms sale to the government of Pakistan. The proposed deal includes 15 Viper attack helicopters, 1,000 Hellfire missiles and all the technology and training needed to operate them.

But some observers worry that the Pakistani military’s dismal humanitarian record – including in ongoing operations – should raise red flags for the U.S. In June 2014, Pakistan launched a massive operation purportedly to clear militant groups from North Waziristan, an impoverished tribal region where the central government has little control and offers few services. Although Pakistan has prohibited journalists from entering combat areas, many observers say the military has done nothing to limit civilian casualties.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-state-department-just-okayed-1-billion-in-helicopters-and-missiles-to-pakistan-20150417#ixzz3Xfcp5oCz

Pakistan should stay away from military intervention in Yemen

By Talat Masood

The question that was on everyone’s mind is: is Saudi Arabia really threatened by Yemen’s internal turmoil? It couldn’t be: probably the determinants influencing the Saudis were a fear of Iranian expansionist policy and the possibility of events in Yemen spilling over and having a destabilising impact on the Saudi regime. After all, the rationale that launching a military invasion was necessary to restore Abu Mansour Hadi, is only half the truth. Finding little support from the masses and under military pressure from Houthis, Hadi fled the country. There is no international law or practice which suggests that a country may take upon itself the right to invade another when its government is removed by internal public unrest or a coup. If that is the criterion, then Pakistan should have been invaded several times as military rulers have overthrown many democratic governments. After 9/11, the invasion of Afghanistan was UN-mandated and enjoyed legal cover. When the US, as an unchallenged superpower, unilaterally invaded Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein, it was practising the doctrine of exceptionalism. In case of Yemen, the military operation under international law can be termed an aggression.

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The Gargash guff

By Shahzad Chaudhry

Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s junior minister for foreign affairs, has sent Pakistan a warning – of there being serious consequences of our ‘neutral’ stance on the ongoing war in Yemen. In simple words, the minister is angry that Pakistan has declared in its consensus resolution by parliament that it will not join the GCC coalition against the Houthis in Yemen.

One can understand the minister’s anguish. By his count it was a done deal that when a sheikhdom beckons, Pakistanis only ask: ‘how soon?’ There can never be another response; at least none other than a wholesome submission to the wishes of our Gulf masters – till now that is.

The minister seems to have missed the point altogether. This is what the resolution means: That Pakistan sees no imminent threat to the security of Saudi Arabia in this ongoing strife. That the Houthis, in the flush of initial success, seem to have momentum on their side but are severely restricted in their capacity to overwhelm the entire length and breadth of Yemen. They can hardly be a threat to the Saudi landmass. That, unresolved and un-ceased, the internal factional strife in Yemen, with the visible propensity of its neighbours to fish in Yemen’s troubling waters, has the making for a more permanent divide in the Muslim world. That, Pakistan would not ever be a party to such consequence of divisions and fissures that over time will become irreparable. We would rather be the voice of unity and cohesion. Itself a composite society of Muslims with different denominational attachments, it remains of vital essence to Pakistan to remain united in the war against terrorism. It cannot afford to invite disaffection.

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Et tu, Pakistan?

By Faisal J. Abbas

The record needs to be set straight on a few issues relating to the recent Pakistani parliament vote to remain neutral with regards to the war in Yemen.

First and foremost, Pakistan is a sovereign country, a close ally, a dear friend and a strategic partner to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf in general. Now, there might be a few question marks around PM Nawaz Sharif’s commitment from the beginning and his decision to take the matter to parliament; however, the Pakistani people representatives have spoken and they decided that this is not their war, full-stop.

On the other hand, it is quite understandable that the decision might have shocked many observers; given the enduring belief (or myth as it turned out to be) of Islamabad’s bottomless commitment as a military ally of the Gulf, one must also put things in perspective and not over-estimate the impact that such a decision might have on Operation Decisive Storm itself or other geo-political realities relating to Pakistan and the GCC.

As accurately pointed out by Saudi military spokesperson Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri last Friday, Pakistan’s participation would merely be an “addition to the coalition”; however, Islamabad’s non-participation “wouldn’t affect the coalition work.”

Indeed, Saudi Arabia – with more than a 100 fighters jets deployed – is very much capable to continue the airstrikes unilaterally if needed be, and the presence of three (or even a dozen) Pakistani fighter jets, a few vessels will not really make a difference.

The only situation where Pakistan’s participation might have been useful would have been if a ground operation was decided. However, as pointed out numerous times by General Asiri, there are no indications, whatsoever, at this stage that boots on the ground are required. (And if there was such a need, then Pakistani troops would certainly be an addition, but would definitely not affect the mission if Islamabad declines.)

Now as for PM Sharif’s cryptic statement yesterday, which on one hand said that Pakistan “doesn’t abandon friends and strategic partners,” but on another, upheld his parliament’s vote to remain out of the war in Yemen; such statements are similar to the meaningless ones repeated by other ‘allies’ who huffed and puffed pledging over the past few weeks not to allow any harm to fall upon Saudi Arabia and to defend the Kingdom at any cost.

Such heroic statements are certainly heart-warming, but putting aside the lip-service, what needs to be made clear is that Saudi Arabia doesn’t need help in defending itself against a militia which – if put together in one place – might struggle to fill the recently inaugurated al-Jowhara football stadium in Jeddah.

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How Pakistan should respond

pakistan-federal-assemblyBy Mosharraf Zaidi 

Pakistanis have become so accustomed to walks of shame that we surprise even our closest and dearest friends when we walk away, instead of getting in the wrong bed at the wrong time.

The GCC military operation in Yemen is the wrong bed at the wrong time. Ever since hostilities between Houthi rebels and government forces roped the Saudi-led coalition into action, the assumption in the GCC capitals was that Pakistan would be Pakistan: irrationally loyal friend, to the end. Here at home, with Operation Zarb-e-Azb still on, a complex war of attrition with many terrorist groups only beginning, and an opposition that keeps smelling blood, the assumption was that Pakistan had to focus on Pakistan: first, second and third.

What seemed to be common sense to many in Pakistan simply didn’t read the same way to the Saudis or the Emiratis. Reactions to the historic parliamentary resolution opting to stay out of Yemen clearly indicate that what seemed to be common sense in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, didn’t read at all that way here in Pakistan.

PM Sharif could have easily manoeuvred Pakistan into a domestic crisis by choosing to dive in all the way with the Saudi call to arms from day one. Instead he set out on a painstaking and intricate series of steps that have led to the difficult and correct decision of choosing not to commit troops to Yemen. So now what?

Well, now, in the great tradition of all heroes, our leader finds himself in the thankless position of having to follow up his courageous gambit with a series of even more difficult and complex decisions. Pakistani democracy has created an unprecedented opportunity for itself, no matter how much of it we may ascribe to GHQ. History may or may not remember PM Sharif for the grandness of the decision to not go to Yemen, but it will probably not forget or forgive him if he allows this opportunity go a-begging.

The opportunity? To transform both our relations with the GCC and wider Arab world, and more importantly, to transform our fiscal and economic decision-making culture. Here are the five things PM Sharif needs to get to work on, all urgent and inescapable, to make this decision count.

First, he needs to assuage the Emiratis and the Saudis. If we expect our Saudi and Emirati brothers to be understanding of Pakistan opting to not heed a call to arms from the GCC, then we can certainly find it in our hearts to be understanding of Anwar Gargash’s angry tweets. Over-the-top over-reactions to a single official’s tweets are going to make a bad situation worse.

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Kuwaiti daily launches scathing attack on Pakistan

Islamabad’s stand on Yemen crisis has exposed ‘blackmail masks’, editorial says

Manama: A Kuwaiti daily has come out with a stinging criticism of Pakistan, accusing its leaders of political blackmail and of failure to deliver on their pan-Islamic pledges, in an unprecedented attack.

“The Pakistani stance that was adopted through the parliament’s decision to remain neutral has dropped the blackmail masks about protecting sacred Islamic sites and sharing a common destiny with Muslim countries,” Ahmad Al Jarallah, the editor-in-chief of Al Seyassah daily, wrote in a front page editorial on Sunday.

“The slogans were merely political blackmailing tools and Pakistan thought it could use them to feed its crisis-hit economy. The Gulf countries were well aware since the beginning that the assistance it providing to Pakistan was merely to help quell the rampant extremism there and to help Islamabad overcome the poverty that has largely contributed to the emergence of terrorist groups that are a strategic threat to the Gulf and Islamic security,” Al Jarallah wrote.

The editor said that Pakistan had bowed to Iran amid concerns it would suffer a defeat at the hands of the Iranian religious leaders whom he accused of expertise in generating terrorist groups.

“There is no doubt that the Pakistani leadership has made a mistake by betting on Iran, and even its fear from Tehran is not grounded in reality since the Iranian claims about military and missile capabilities and the nuclear programme are not more than a game,” Al Jarallah said.

“The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries do not need Pakistan. In fact, Pakistan needs them in various areas. The GCC can defend its security, particularly following the alliance with other countries such as Jordan and Egypt. Pakistan needs to look carefully at the Iranian plots, especially its attempt to scare the world with its military capabilities.”

The Pakistani parliament last week voted not to take part in the Saudi Arabia-led military operation to defeat Al Houthi rebels and restore Yemen’s legitimate government.

Read more » Gulf News
See more » http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/kuwait/kuwaiti-daily-launches-scathing-attack-on-pakistan-1.1490430

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar’s befitting response to UAE’s Foreign Minister, Anwar Gargash

Nisar rebukes UAE’s minister over remarks ‘hurting self-respect’

ISLAMABAD: (Dunya News) – Interior Minister of Pakistan Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has on Sunday rebuked the United Arab Emirates (UAE) minister over remarks that has ‘hurt the self-respect of Pakistanis’. He said that Pakistan is an honorable nation and “it is alarming that UAE’s minister is threatening Pakistan”, reported Dunya News.

In a befitting response to UAE’s Foreign Minister for State Anwar Gargash, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said that Pakistan had brotherly relations with the UAE, like Saudi Arabia, but the statement made by UAE’s minister was in contradiction with diplomatic norms. He said that the statement was unacceptable and equivalent to hurting Pakistanis’ self-respect.

Read more » Dunya News Tv
See more » http://dunyanews.tv/index.php/en/Pakistan/273433-Nisar-rebukes-UAEs-minister-over-remarks-hurting

UAE Minister Threatens Pakistan: Twitter reactions

By Malik Omaid

Late night yesterday, UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash responded on the Pakistan parliament’s resolution to stay neutral in the Yemen crisis. The minister was literally throwing tantrums on Twitter on this decision and threatened Pakistan for its consequences. Pakistani twitterati responded to his tweets and gave their views. Some are selected for our readers.

Read more » PakTeaHouse
See more » http://pakteahouse.net/2015/04/11/uae-minister-threatens-pakistan-twitter-reactions/

UAE slams Pakistan vote on Yemen – Warns of heavy price for ambiguous stand.

Dubai — The UAE on Friday strongly condemned a Pakistani decision to stay out of the conflict in Yemen, rejecting Saudi demands for Islamabad to join its military coalition against Houthi rebels.

“The Arabian Gulf is in a dangerous confrontation, its strategic security is on the edge, and the moment of truth distinguishes between the real ally and the ally of media and statements,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash tweeted after a unanimous resolution passed by a special session of Pakistan’s parliament.

The resolution, however, backed the government’s commitment to protect Saudi Arabia’s territory, which has so far not been threatened by the conflict.

Gargash said Pakistan is required to show a clear stand in favour of its strategic relations with the six-nation Arab Gulf cooperation Council, as contradictory and ambiguous views on this serious matter will have a heavy price to pay.

“This is nothing but another chapter of laggard impartial stand,” Gargash said, criticising identical views held by Turkey and Iran about the armed conflict in Yemen, as affirmed by the Turkish foreign minister, who had said a political way out of the crisis is the responsibility of Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Tehran seems to be more important to Islamabad and Ankara than the Gulf countries, Gargash added. “Though our economic and investment assets are inevitable, political support is missing at critical moments,” Gargash said.

“The vague and contradictory stands of Pakistan and Turkey are an absolute proof that Arab security — from Libya to Yemen — is the responsibility of none but Arab countries, and the crisis is a real test for neighbouring countries.”

The Pakistan parliament resolution turned down long-standing ally Riyadh’s request for troops, ships and warplanes, saying: “Pakistan should play a mediating role and not get involved in fighting in Yemen.”

“Parliament of Pakistan…underscores the need for continued efforts by the government of Pakistan to find a peaceful resolution of the crisis,” the resolution said.

“(Parliament) desires that Pakistan should maintain neutrality in the Yemen conflict so as to be able to play a proactive diplomatic role to end the crisis.”

Read more » Khaleej Times
See more » http://www.khaleejtimes.com/mobile/inside.asp?xfile=/data/nationgeneral/2015/April/nationgeneral_April110.xml&section=nationgeneral#.VShFRQQcvla.twitter
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More details » DAWN 
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1175284/uae-warns-pakistan-of-heavy-price-for-ambiguous-stand-on-yemen

Analysis: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has to walk a thin line between Saudi pressure and Pakistani fears

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During the first Gulf War in 1991, Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, dispatched Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia, where they became a part of the U.S.-led coalition confronting Saddam Hussein. At the time, the decision was unpopular at home, with criticism coming not just from the political opposition but also the then sitting army chief.

Sharif is prime minister AGAIN and faces a similar dilemma: whether to accede to a Saudi request for Pakistani combat troops, fighter jets and warships to join its 10-nation coalition assembled to stop the Houthi revolt in Yemen and thwart the ambitions of their alleged backers in Iran. This time, Sharif is confronted with almost as much hostility as he was a quarter century ago. The target isn’t the U.S., but the opaque and one-sided nature of Pakistan’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Since Monday, Pakistan’s parliament has been raucously debating the Saudi request, with a usually fractious opposition uniting against a Pakistani intervention. Several speakers said they consider Saudi Arabia a “brotherly” country but bridled at the suggestion that Pakistan should be dragged into a possibly ruinous foreign war that could worsen relations with Iran and risk further inflaming sectarian tensions at home. Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, a member of the Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party, was angry at the suggestions that the Pakistan army were mere mercenaries. “My army is not a rent-an-army,” Bilour said.

Sharif is also on the defensive after a flurry of reports from Saudi news sources claiming Pakistan had already agreed to be part of the coalition. The reports,  which Islamabad has not explicitly denied, sparked concerns that Sharif’s government had made a commitment to the Saudis without informing the Pakistani public.

“We demand Nawaz Sharif tell us the truth,” Imran Khan, the former cricket legend turn opposition leader, told reporters outside parliament this week. “I don’t know what agreement Nawaz Sharif has done in Saudi Arabia. But I do know that the Pakistani people’s needs are more deserving than Saudi Arabia’s territorial boundary.”

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Pakistan’s all-weather friend counsels caution

By M.K. Bhadrakumar

The opinion of an “all-weather friend” should always count. Will Pakistan take China’s estimation of the Yemen situation seriously before crossing the Rubicon to meet Saudi Arabia’s expectations from it? Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who just returned from a visit to Riyadh leading a military delegation, told the parliament in Islamabad on Monday, “Saudi Arabia has asked for combat planes, warships and soldiers.”

Yet, in an extraordinarily frank assessment, Xinhua news agency flagged over the weekend that Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen is motivated by its narrow self-interests and do not rest on any principles. The commentary attributes four motives to the Saudi intervention, which it says, was “by no means an impulse (sic) decision by Saudi leaders, but reflects their strategic consideration in various aspects.”

One, heightened security concerns over a possible spillover of terrorist (read al-Qaeda) activities in Yemen would have worked on the Saudi mind. Two, the intervention in Yemen serves “to divert attention from the increasingly fierce power struggle among the royals, and provides the new leader (King Salman) a chance to establish his authority.” (Emphasis added.)

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US okays attack helicopters, hellfire missiles for Pakistan under $1 billion sale

WASHINGTON The US State Department has okayed Foreign Military Sale to Pakistan for AH-1Z Viper Attack Helicopters and AGM-114R Hellfire II Missiles as part of around one billion dollars deal.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a country vital to US foreign policy and national security goals in South Asia, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency said on Monday. The helicopters and weapon systems will provide Pakistan with military capabilities in support of its counterterrorism and counter-insurgency operations in South Asia, the defence agency noted. This proposed sale will provide Pakistan with a precision strike, enhanced survivability aircraft that it can operate at high-altitudes. By acquiring this capability, Pakistan will enhance its ability to conduct operations in North Waziristan Agency (NWA), the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and other remote and mountainous areas in all-weather, day-and-night environments. Pakistan will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces.

Islamabad had requested a possible sale of 15 AH-1Z Viper Attack Helicopters, 32 T-700 GE 401C Engines (30 installed and 2 spares), 1000 AGM-114 R Hellfire II Missiles in containers, 36 H-1 Technical Refresh Mission computers, 17 AN/AAQ-30 Target Sight Systems, 30 629F-23 Ultra High Frequency/Very High Frequency Communication Systems, 19 H-764 Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems, 32 Helmet Mounted Display/Optimised Top Owl, 17 APX-117A Identification Friend or Foe, 17 AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems, 17 AN/ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispenser Sets, 18 AN/APR-39C(V)2 Radar Warning Receivers, 15 Joint Mission Planning Systems, and 17 M197 20mm Gun Systems.

Also included are system integration and testing, software development and integration, aircraft ferry, support equipment, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, US government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated cost is $952 million. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region. The principal contractors will be Bell Helicopter, Textron in Fort Worth, Texas; General Electric in Lynn, Massachusetts; The Boeing Company in Huntsville, Alabama; and Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, Maryland.

Meanwhile, in a reference Islamabad’s close ties with major powers, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the US defence companies are engaged in a three-way tussle with Russia and China to sell weapons to Pakistan, complicated by the need to avoid upsetting neighbor India and its even larger arms’ import market.

News courtesy: Daily Times
Read more » http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/07-Apr-2015/us-okays-attack-helicopters-hellfire-missiles-for-pakistan-under-1-billion-sale

Iranian guards killed on Pakistan border

Eight Iranian border guards have been killed in a clash with gunmen near Pakistan

Eight Iranian border guards have been killed in a clash with gunmen near Pakistan

Eight Iranian border guards have been killed in a clash with gunmen near Pakistan, Iranian media say.

They were shot dead after the attackers crossed into Iran’s Sistan Baluchistan province, according to reports.

The gunmen then fled back across the border, Iranian official said. The identity of the attackers is not known.

Sistan Baluchistan has seen frequent clashes in recent years between Iranian security forces and drug smugglers and Sunni rebel groups.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32200996

Pakistan – ‘I fear for my life': Man ‘detained’ by wife set free by court

By IMRAN GABOL

LAHORE: A sessions court on Saturday got a man kept in illegal detention by his wife recovered and set him at liberty, allowing him to go with his brother.

The detainee, Syed Ali Raza, told Additional District and Sessions Judge Naveed Iqbal that his captor Mahwish alias Mahi “is my wife”.

“I do not want to live with her anymore. She kept me locked in a room of the house where she herself or her servants would often give me a sound thrashing. She neither allows any member of my family to see me nor permits me to make a call to them. I fear for my life,” Raza submitted before the judge.

Syed Wasim Abbas had, in a habeas corpus petition, alleged that his younger brother was illegally detained by his employer, Mahi, who was not allowing Raza to leave his ‘workplace’ and subjecting him to torture while threatening him with dire consequences.

When a court bailiff raided Mahi’s house to recover the detainee, the woman present there revealed that she was his (Ali Raza’s) wife and not the employer.

In a statement recorded before the bailiff, Mahi said she and Raza contracted marriage seven months ago. The woman also revealed that she was four-month pregnant and wanted to live with her husband.

However, Raza begged the bailiff to take him to the court as he faced life threat from his wife who “often takes me to the police station where officials thrash me at her behest”.

Before the court, Raza admitted to have married Mahi but requested that he be ‘set at liberty’ and allowed to go with his petitioner-brother.

The judge, Naveed Iqbal, allowed Raza to go with his family and disposed of the petition.

The judge observed that the man could file a separate case if he wanted action against his wife.

Courtesy: Dawn, April 5th, 2015
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1174046/

Pakistan – Punjab Launching First Responder Dolphin Force

Punjab Police is launching a first responder service by name of Dolphin Force (DF). DF will be equipped with modern gear including high speed bikes, mini-buses with field support, body mounter cameras, GPS locators and special radios. Each unit will be strategically stationed at different locations of the city and their movements will be monitored and controlled through satellite systems. This will enable them to reach at any location within a short period of time through help of central command and control center.

The new force will be trained by Turkish experts and the project is expected to cost around 900M.

Read more » PKPolitics
See more » http://pkpolitics.com/2015/04/02/punjab-launching-first-responder-dolphin-force/

MQM’s Amir opened fire on ‘Mohabbat-e-Sindh’ rally

KARACHI: A Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) worker in an investigation report presented in court confessed opening fire over Mohabbat-e-Sindh rally in Karachi, ARY News reported.

According to details, a report of investigation with MQM worker and the party’s administrative committee member Amir alias Sarphata was presented in Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Wednesday.

Sarphata, who was arrested during the Rangers raid on Nine Zero, confessed firing upon ‘Mohabbat-e-Sindh’ rally in Karachi, which killed six people and injured 22 others.

The confessional statement says that MQM’s then administrative committee in-charge Hammad Siddiqui ordered him to sabotage the rally which he accomplished with the help of other party workers namely Mubashir, Faisal, Manzoor alias Majjoo, Amir, Kamran Kala and Shahzad.

Related: MQM leader Amir Khan’s revelations

Amir Sarphata was arrested from MQM headquarters ‘Nine Zero’ along with a lot of other suspects in a Rangers raid on March 11. He was employed in Health Department in 1997 and was made party’s sector in-charge in 2012.

The court after the hearing, granted remand of Amir Sarphata to Rangers till April 7, 2015.

News courtesy: ARY News Tv
Read more » http://arynews.tv/en/mqms-amir-opened-fire-on-mohabbat-e-sindh-rally/

A New Language for Pakistan’s Deaf

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KARACHI, Pakistan — With one national language, Urdu, four provincial tongues (Sindhi, Punjabi, Pashto and Balochi), and nearly 300 regional dialects, Pakistan’s linguistic diversity is like a beautiful carpet, interwoven with threads ancient and young. The regional languages developed over thousands of years, while Urdu came from northwestern India in the 12th century. Then, in 1947, English was made an official language as a legacy of British rule in India.

Now a small group of educators of the deaf intends to add one more language — this one not spoken. It is called Pakistan Sign Language, and its creators just may succeed in spreading its use across the country.

Schools for the deaf have existed in Pakistan since the 1980s; one of the largest in Karachi is the Absa School and College for the Deaf, where initial research was conducted to develop Pakistan Sign Language, or P.S.L., as it is known here. A Pakistan Association of the Deaf, with chapters in many cities and towns, was formed in 1987, when deaf people in Pakistan were not just misunderstood; often they were shunned or ostracized by people who considered them mentally handicapped and unsuited for normal life.

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