Tag Archives: campaign

Bernie Sanders: Campaign Will be ‘A Movement of Millions’

BY ANDREW RAFFERTY

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders formally kicked off his underdog White House bid on Tuesday, promising to build a grassroots movement of millions ready “to stand up and fight back.”

“Here is my promise to you for this campaign. Not only will I fight to protect the working families of this country, but we’re going to build a movement of millions of Americans who are prepared to stand up and fight back,” Sanders said in the first major speech of his campaign. “We are going to take this campaign directly to the people – in town meetings, door to door conversations, on street corners and in social media.”

Read more » NBC News
See more » http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/bernie-sanders-campaign-will-be-movement-millions-n365001

#No more ghosts: Facebook campaign sparks revolution in education sector

By Sameer Mandhro

SINDH – KARACHI: What the Sindh government could not do with all its resources and powers, a few concerned individuals have managed to accomplish with a little spark of ingenuity and the help of modern technology.

The campaign against ‘ghost teachers’ that has gone viral on Facebook since it started last month has sparked a kind of revolution in the provincial education sector. The campaign has by now exposed hundreds of prominent figures, including journalists, political and social activists and nationalists who were drawing salaries from public schools but never bothered to attend even once.

The campaign

The major focus of the campaign was on those affiliated with the media. TV channel and newspaper owners were urged to take action against such journalists who were ruining the futures of hundreds of children.
A month on, the campaign has attracted the attention of almost 30 groups of individuals who collect data, including pictures of ‘ghost teachers’ from different areas and share the information on the page under the inscription, ‘He is also a ghost teacher’. The data is then viewed and shared by those subscribed to the page. The remarkable success of the campaign can be gauged from the fact that people from all over Sindh have started posting information on ‘ghost teachers’ on the page.
With the exception of a few, most of the ‘ghost teachers’ are male. They are individuals who are quite prominent in their professions. Interestingly, the moderators of the page claim that the number of female ghost teachers is far higher than their male counterparts.

The profiles are shared from one person to another, and within hours, the accused inevitably finds out that they have been identified. Below the profiles follow a string of comments from users, urging the person to do justice to the profession. The comments are shaming, with the users having carefully picked their words to touch a nerve. ‘Go ghost go’, ‘Don’t destroy the future of our children’ and ‘You are not from among us’ are some of the popular messages to the ghost teachers.

The campaigners

“The first rally for education started in 2012 from Mithi,” recalled one of the senior campaigners, Liaquat Mirani. He is a teacher at a private school and has been threatened several times to stop the campaign. “The campaign has somewhat achieved what millions of rupees spent by the government and donor agencies could not do,” he said, adding that several teachers have started joining their duties after the drive was launched on the social media. “It is a social media revolution.”
Mirani is one of the campaigners who directly shares posts regarding ghost teachers on his personal Facebook profile. He has also asked others to come forward and help him point out those who cheat the nation.

Suhail Memon, who is himself a journalist, is among those who expose ghost teachers on social media. Speaking to The Express Tribune, Memon said that around 40,000 people have been declared ‘ghost teachers’ by the provincial government. “We are also collecting data of how many ghost teachers have been identified on our pages,” he explained.

What they hope to achieve

“Believe me, no one will dare to be absent from schools in the future,” he said. “There will be no compromise on education.” Memon added that the bhatta in the form of salaries taken from the government will not be tolerated. Social media had become the most powerful tool of information in the world. “Its impact is being felt in Sindh now.”

One of the individual campaigners, Shahnawaz Mandhro, remarked that the response was tremendous. “Common people whose complaints were not being entertained by the education department now contact us and share information on ghost teachers,” he said. “The school from where I got my primary education is now closed. It pains me that there is no mechanism to make schools functional again,” he commented.

Interestingly, the provincial education department has requested campaigners to share data with the department, with the promise that guilty teachers would be removed from their jobs after proper scrutiny.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2014.
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/793902/no-more-ghosts-facebook-campaign-sparks-revolution-in-education-sector/

Sindhi Advocacy Campaign 2013 in Washington, DC

Press Release (3 Jul 2013): The Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) will be organizing a Three-day Advocacy Campaign, September 10th-12th 2013 at the Capitol Hill for the Sindhis in Pakistan. These three days will encompass raising awareness regarding the discrimination faced by the Sindhis in Pakistan.

We would like to send out our sincere request for participation in our Sindhi Advocacy Campaign on September 10th through 12th, 2013, 9am-6pm, at the Capitol Hill. The Three-day Advocacy will focus on Education, Health and the human rights issues: Torture, enforced disappearances, marginalization of the religious minority (particularly Sindhi Hindus) and mistreatment of women in Sindh, Pakistan. On the Hill we will be setting meetings with 435 members of the house and 100 senators.

Your support by attending the Sindhi Advocacy Campaign 2013, would be deeply appreciated and help uplift our mission of amending justice to the Sindhis in Pakistan. Please feel free to contact us at sapac.sindh@gmail.com

‘They want me dead!’ Venezuelan president claims US murder plot

Acting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro believes there is a US plot to assassinate him during his election campaign. He called on his followers to be “vigilant” and warned conspirators want to prevent his victory in next week’s election.

Presidential candidate Maduro pointed the finger at the former US Ambassador to Venezuela Otto Reich and the ex-ambassador to the Organization of American States, Roger Noriega, outing them as the driving force behind the conspiracy.

Their goal is to kill me,” said Maduro on Saturday during an electoral campaign speech in the northern state of Bolivar. He called on his supporters to be on maximum alert, warning that the object of the plot was to increase the homicide rate in cities across Venezuela and cause a blackout ahead of the elections.

“Roger Noriega and Otto Reich are involved, as well as the Salvadorian far right that has contracted hit men,” announced Maduro during his speech. He stressed that they wanted him dead because “they know they cannot beat me in fair elections.” …

Read more » http://rt.com/news/venezuela-maduro-murder-plot-457/

Fighting the Great Firewall of Pakistan

How an unlikely free-speech campaign defeated the censors.

It takes a strong stomach and a thick skin to be a female activist fighting online censorship in Pakistan. Sana Saleem has both.

The 24-year-old founder of a Karachi-based free expression group Bolo Bhi has been accused of supporting “blasphemy.” On Twitter, a chilling message made the rounds last month: “this @sanasaleem is a prostitute who feature in porn movies #throwacidonsana.” Her photo was posted in pornography forums.

None of this has fazed Sana, who in conjunction with several other young Pakistani blogger-activists had launched a successful campaign that has shamed the government into halting plans for a national Internet censorship system. A long-time contributor to the international bloggers network Global Voices Online, in March Saleem joined forces with other groups including the Pakistan-based social justice group Bytes For All and other activists like the dentist-blogger Awab Alvi, a.k.a. “Teeth Maestro,” who has been campaigning against censorship since 2006. Their success is a victory for free speech, and not only in Pakistan. It holds lessons for activists around the world who are fighting uphill battles against censorship schemes initiated by governments that claim to be acting in the public interest, and who have support from influential political constituencies. ….

Read more » Foreign Policy (FP)

Dr Shakil Afridi – By Farhat Taj

Dr Afridi’s act could not be hidden from the world because the US is directly involved in it. Therefore, a smear campaign has been launched. It depicts the doctor as a dishonest person and a traitor. The aim, it seems, is to absolve the military of any responsibility for bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan for years

A native of Khyber Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Dr Shakil Afridi has been arrested by the military authorities in Pakistan. He faces charges of treason for his role in locating and killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Reportedly, he ran a vaccination campaign for the US intelligence agency the CIA in Abbottabad to collect blood samples of the children of Osama bin Laden. The DNA test from the blood samples established the presence of bin Laden in a military area in Abbottabad and subsequently he was killed in the US commando raid in the house where the al Qaeda leader had lived with his family for many years.

Capturing or killing of al Qaeda terrorists is the aim of the UN-mandated US-led war on terror. Pakistan is supposedly a partner in this war. The Pakistani military authorities have not only been killing, capturing and handing al Qaeda militants based in Pakistan to the US but have also been taking pride in doing so. Former dictator Musharraf admits in his book (In the Line of Fire, pg 237) that his government captured and handed over 369 al Qaeda militants to the US. He also writes that Pakistanis received ‘millions of dollars’ as prize money from the CIA for capturing those militants. But none of those Pakistanis ever faced the treason charges that Dr Afridi does today. The reason is not what some people are underscoring in internet blogs and newspapers in Pakistan — that because Dr Afridi’s cooperation with the US led to, what they call, an ‘invasion’ of Pakistan, so he must be tried for treason.

The reason is that his act has torn apart the strategic depth narrative internalised by many in Pakistan due to a constant state-backed propaganda based on outright lies or at best distortion of facts. According to this narrative, the people of FATA are fanatically religious. They have given refuge to al Qaeda militants following their escape from the US bombing in Afghanistan. They have given their daughters and sisters in marriage to foreign al Qaeda militants, who enjoy comfortable hospitality in the area not only under the code of tribal Pashtunwali but also as sons-in-law and brothers-in-law. According to this narrative, Osama bin Laden was never supposed to be discovered in a military area in Pakistan, but in FATA. The tribes in the area were supposed to rise in rage in the event of any harm to Osama bin Laden by the US. Dr Afridi, himself a tribesman from the area, proved exactly the opposite.

Dr Afridi, however, is not the first person from FATA who has exposed the Pakistani military’s control over the Taliban or al Qaeda terrorists, whereby they are used for terrorism in Afghanistan and the ‘unwanted’ among them handed over to the US to prove Pakistan’s ‘performance’ in the war on terror as well as to win the head money placed by the US on terrorists. There are countless more people in the area who have done so before him. But their contributions have never made it to the wider world because there is a strict state control over the flow of information from FATA coupled with a systemic state-sponsored propaganda that distorts facts as well as attributes outright lies to the area, its culture and people. More importantly, many of those who exposed the military control over the militants were eliminated through targeted killings, which had scared the others into silence. …

Read more » Daily Times

An outrageous ban – The Express Tribune

The Lahore Bar Association (LBA) has banned Shezan drinks from subordinate court complexes on the basis that it belongs to  Ahmadi

By Editorial

Things in our country are really moving from the absurd, to even more absurd. And most frightening of all is the hatred that flows with this madness. The latest example of this comes at the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) — where lawyers following a campaign led by the Khatme Nabuwat Lawyers Forum — have banned the sale of drinks manufactured by the Shehzan Company from canteens at all subordinate courts on the basis that it is an Ahmadi concern. This action takes discrimination against the Ahmadi community to new heights. We can only wonder if the instigators of this plot imagine that sipping the ‘offensive’ drink will in some way contaminate their minds, or alter beliefs. Everyone, after all, has the right to follow the religious philosophy they adhere to — and no drink can alter this. The real aim, of course, is to attempt to hurt the economic interests of the Ahmadis — who have through the decades been subjected to violence in all kinds of different forums, whether it is through physical acts such as murder or other means intended to prevent them from occupying a place as equal citizens in society. The Shezan Company has also been targeted before, during mob violence and through other such means.

The LBA president has said that around 100 lawyers voted in favour of the decision. It is frightening that a so-called ‘educated community’ of professionals could take a decision such as this. The evil of ignorance has obviously sunk deep within our society, leaving scars everywhere. The knives which inflict these wounds are carried by groups dedicated to spreading intolerance and campaigning against the minorities. The Ahmadis, of course, draw the special wrath of the forces committed to acting against them. When professionals such as lawyers, who should know more about justice than most, join hands with them, we can only wonder about the future of our country and ask what grim abyss we are headed for. The direction we have set out in does not augur well for the coming years — with this move also certain to hurt Ahmadi lawyers who practice at lower courts.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2012.

 http://tribune.com.pk/story/335000/an-outrageous-ban/

ISI Nabbed Traitors In 1967 And 2011, But Pakistan Lost

 – 43 Years Ago, Pakistani Politicians Defended Treason, They Do It Again.

Submitted by Aurangzeb

We ignored Agartala conspiracy, released the traitors who broke up the country two years later. We are doing it again in The Memo case.

Continue reading ISI Nabbed Traitors In 1967 And 2011, But Pakistan Lost

Stop the ongoing anti-Ahmadi hate campaign in Rawalpindi

A hate campaign against the Ahmadiyya community in Rawalpindi has been brewing for the last many months. A massive protest rally against the community has been planned by extremist elements for Sunday, January 29th, 2012 in Satellite Town area of Rawalpindi city.

Through this petition, we urge the Federal Government and the Government of Punjab to immediately take notice of, intervene and put an end to this ongoing hate campaign against its fellow citizens.

The least the government can do is protect its citizens. We urge the government to provide adequate security to the vulnerable Ahmadis under attack on Sunday.

News: http://alufaq.com/pakistan-hate-campaign-ahmadis-satellite-town-rawalpindi

Read more » http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-ongoing-anti-ahmadi-hate-campaign-in-rawalpindi

India polio free? Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria still to go

By Omar Ali

Almost certainly, yes!

That leaves three countries with active endemic polio: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
All three are also infected with Islamist fanatics who claim that oral polio drops are an anti-viagra produced by the CIA to decrease Muslim population (I am not making this up). That propaganda, and the difficulty of organizing a vaccination campaign in the middle of a civil war, makes it hard to totally eliminate polio in these countries. ….

Read more » Brown Pundits

Pak society is “effectively cannibalizing itself” due to dehumanization of Ahmadis

Ahmadis: The lightning rod that attracts the most hatred

Pakistani Ahmadis today live in constant fear and humiliation. So much so, the hatred has permeated into each and every slice of society and the oppressors have become more vocal and aggressive.– Illutration by Faraz Aamer Khan

By Zofeen T. Ebrahim, DAWN.COM

A month after ten Ahmadi students were expelled from two schools in the village of Dharinwala, in Faisalabad district, all have been put back to school, not in there old ones, but in two schools in Hafizabad, thanks to Khalil Ahmad, father and grandfather of four students who were among those expelled.

“I managed to get all of them enrolled in two schools in the nearby city of Hafizabad,” he said talking to Dawn.com over phone from his village.

But it’s not been easy. Most parents of the expelled children are too poor, so Ahmed volunteered to pay for their admissions, their books and stationery. And that is not all. He, with the help of his two sons, makes sure they drop and pick all of them on a motorbike, doing turns.

In one school, the principal knows he has given admission to Ahmadi students but the educator believes faith should not come in the way of those seeking education. “In the other the principal has not been told,” Ahmed revealed.

Sadly, all during this episode, the government has remained a quiet bystander, as always.

It is not the first time that students have been expelled from an educational institution in Punjab because of their religious affiliations, remarked Bushra Gohar, a parliamentarian belonging to the secular Awami National Party.  According to Gohar, her party members had condemned the expulsion of students belonging to the Ahmadiyya community each time on the floor of the house. “However, a protest or condemnation from the parties leading in the Punjab has not been forthcoming,” she said.

For far too long, Pakistani students belonging to this minority community have been facing various forms of discrimination based on their faith.

“This tidal wave against the Ahmadiyya education shows no sign of ebbing,” Saleemuddin, the spokesperson of the Ahmaddiya Jammat, told Dawn.com.

He said after 1984, when the government promulgated the anti Ahmadiyya ordinance, both the government and the clerics have been trying their utmost to punish them in various ways.

“Ahmadi lecturers were posted away to distant locations and some were not allowed to teach. Ahmadi principals and headmasters were replaced. Ahmadi students were deprived admission in professional colleges. They were refused accommodation in attached hostels. They suffered attacks by extremist elements on campuses.”

According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the Islami Jamiat Talaba, the student wing of the Islami Jamiat has been tasked to cleanse the educational institutions, including universities and professional colleges of Ahmadi students.

Hasan Ahmed, who was among the 23 students who were expelled from Punjab Medical College, in Faisalabad, back in 2008, can never forget the stressful event and how “night after night, for over a month” he kept stressing over the events that turned his settled student life all topsy-turvy.

“I knew it happened to others, so was not completely caught unawares,” Hasan acknowledged. He is at present completing his house job in Lahore, keeping an “ultra busy schedule”.

Eventually all were re-instated in some college or another. “After months of waiting, just before exam, my friend was sent to Bahawalpur while I went off to a distant place of Rahimyar Khan in a college of lower merit,” narrated Hasan.

After a gargantuan effort, he was finally allowed to appear in exams from Lahore and then got admitted to Allama Iqbal Medical College, in Lahore.

“To be in a state of flux was the worst part of this episode specially since exams were approaching and I didn’t know which place I was to appear from,” said Hasan.

He expressed that till the identity of an Ahmadi remains undisclosed “he remains safe”.

But that is sadly not the case if you are living in Pakistan. People are culturally nosy and want to know your cast and sect. “Eventually they end up finding that you are an Ahmadi. Once they know, you can feel a change of attitude and it just takes a mischief maker to exploit others’ feelings against you,” said Hasan.

Till Hina Akram’s faith remained unknown to her teacher in Faislabad’s National Textile University, she was considered a star student. But after it became known she belonged to the Ahmadiyya community, she faced so much faith-based harassment that she had to quit studies.

“I was told to convert to Islam,” said Hina, who was studying in the sixth semester of her BSc.

“I was handed some anti-Ahmadiyya literature to read, offered a refuge in Muslim home. But when she told the teacher she was an Ahmadi by choice he called her an infidel and warned her of severe consequences.

“You will face such a fire of animosity in the campus that not even the vice chancellor will be able to help you,” he threatened her.

True to his word, a hate campaign was initiated and a social boycott began. Out of college, she is desperately trying to go abroad. Her fate remains in balance.

But it’s not just the education aspect where the anti-Ahmadiyya lobby is hitting, said Saleemuddin. Since 1984, some 208 faith-based killings have taken place. The persecution against the community has surged following the May 28, 2010 massacre of 94 members of the community in Lahore.

After the four million Ahmadis were officially declared non-Muslims in 1984 by the state, they cannot call themselves Muslims or go to mosques. They cannot be overheard praising Prophet Mohammad. To add insult to injury, every Pakistani who claims to be a Muslim and owns a passport has declared that he or she considers them to be non-Muslims and their leader an imposter prophet.

Pakistani Ahmadis today live in constant fear and humiliation. So much so, the hatred has permeated into each and every slice of society and the oppressors have become more vocal and aggressive.

“The extremist elements are getting more and more powerful because of Saudi-US influence and the government’s policy of appeasement,” said I.A. Rehman, General Secretary Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

“The Ahmadis are already the worst persecuted minority in our country – and things for them appear to be growing worse as hatred and intolerance spread,” Kamila Hyat, a journalist and a rights activist echoed the same sentiments. “The lack of enforcement of laws to prevent the preaching of hatred adds to the problem,” she added.

Saleemuddin said by allowing the extremist clerics to hold anti-Ahmadiyya rallies and conferences, the government is adding fuel to this venom. “People are openly instigated to kill us in the name of Islam,” he said.

“Violence and the advance of bigotry, prejudice and hate against minorities have never really been met with the resolve needed to remove impunity from the social equation in Pakistan,” Sherry Rehman, a legislator belonging to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, agreed.
Instead, she told Dawn.com what is seen is an “expansion in the space for religious and sectarian apartheids, which has led now to heinous acts of brutality and exclusion of many, particularly Ahmadis.”

She warned: “This is a dangerous trend that conflates national identity with religion.”

Perhaps that is one reason why Pervez Hoodbhoy expresses: “Today, when religion has become so central in matters of the state, they [Ahmadis] do not stand a chance in Pakistan of getting rights, respect, and dignity. The overdose of religion given to young Pakistanis in their schools and homes means that nothing matters more than which religion and sect you belong to. Ahmadis are the lightning rod that attracts more hatred than any other sect.”

For its part rights groups like the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) say they have “repeatedly” raised the issue of “state tolerated persecution”.

“We are urging authorities to intervene in each case,” said Rehman. “But the situation is getting worse day by day.

Terming it “abhorrent and self defeating” when society allows “for the dehumanization of Ahmadis or Christians or the Shia for that matter, it is effectively cannibalizing itself,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director of HRW.

“The federal government expresses regret at incidents but has made clear its unwillingness to repeal or amend discriminatory laws,” said HRW spokesperson.

Given the current intolerance, the fate of the new generation of Pakistani Ahmadis looks “quite bleak” said Rehman.

Even Hoodbhoy said: “For years, Ahmadis, Hindus, and Christians have been desperately seeking to flee Pakistan. They would be foolish to want to stay,” said Hoodbhoy.

This fails to dampen young Hasan’s spirits. He thinks the future looks “brighter than ever before”.

“Even if the situation is made worse in Pakistan, this does not mean the future is not bright. It’s a matter of time before we start getting equal rights in this country.

Often when they get together, the young Ahmadis discuss the “bitter realities” they have to face as Pakistanis.

“But we don’t want to leave our country at the juncture that it is at,” said a patriotic Hasan. This is because the contribution of the Ahmadi community towards building of Pakistan has been immense,” he said with conviction.

He said recently their leader urged all Ahmadis of the world to “fast once a week and pray” especially for the prosperity of Pakistan.”

Zofeen T. Ebrahim is a freelance journalist.

Courtesy » DAWN.COM

‘Occupy Islamabad’ rally tomorrow

– Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD: Inspired by worldwide protest demonstrations against capitalism, a group of political workers and representatives of trade and student unions has announced that they will launch an ‘occupy Islamabad movement’ and hold a rally on Wednesday.

Coordinator of the recently-formed Anti-Capitalist Committee and secretary general of the Labour Party Pakistan Nisar Shah told Dawn on Monday that the march would start from Aabpara Chowk and culminate at the World Bank building, situated near the Constitution Avenue.

He said activists of Labour Party Pakistan, Workers Party Pakistan, Awami Party Pakistan and Socialist Movement Pakistan, representatives of the Pakistan Postal Union, PTCL Union, National Trade Union Federation, National Students Federation, Progressive Youth Organisation and a large number of civil society members, intellectuals and citizens would participate in the march in line with the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ campaign in the US and other such protests going on in more than 900 cities around the world. ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

Members of US Congress Pledge Support for Flood Victims in Sindh

– Several Members of US Congress Pledge Support for Flood Victims in Sindh – SAPAC Advocacy Campaign

By Khalid Hashmani

A two-day event dedicated to the flood victims in Sindh by Sindhi-American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) was hugely successful. The event was held in Washington DC from October 13 and October 14, 2011. The activities were held in several locations around the US congressional offices. The Sindhi-American community was joined by their friends participated in this focused campaign to draw attention of the US government and the US legislature to the destruction caused by recent floods in Sindh province of Pakistan. They urged members of congress for immediate help to the flood victims. The campaign began with meetings with the staff of 100 Congress members and cumulated in a congressional briefing with testimony from several academicians and NGO officials with eyewitness accounts. …

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, October 16, 2011.

Campaign Against Najam Sethi Gets More Ridiculous

What appeared to be a coordinated smear campaign targeting Najam Sethi last week continues, today with Ahmed Quraishi using a clip from Mubashir Luqman’s show of 26th September and continuing to fan the flames. But rather than discredit Najam Sethi, Ahmed Quraishi’s latest move does more to discredit the smear campaign itself. ….

Read more → Pakistan Media Watch

How China kept lid on Ramadan

In the aftermath of violent protests by Uighurs, a Muslim minority in China’s far northwest, authorities deepened their campaign against religious practices.

By Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Beijing — At a teachers college in far northwestern China, students were irritated to find that their professors were escorting them to lunch last month — an odd occurrence since they were more than capable of finding the cafeteria themselves.

There was an ulterior motive, students told travelers who recently visited the city of Kashgar: The college wanted to make sure that the students, most of them Muslims, were eating rather than fasting in daylight hours during the holy month of Ramadan.

Courtesy: → Los Angeles Times

PPP govt. is doing nothing for recovery of 48 kidnapped Hindus and many murdered for ransom.

KARACHI, SINDH – The Pakistan Coalition for Religious Minorities (PCRM) will launch a protest campaign against Sindh Minority Affairs Minister Dr Mohan Lal Kohistani for “not taking any interest in the increasing kidnapping of Hindus throughout the province”.

The PCRM – a newly established representative body of Pakistani Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Ahmedis and other religious minorities of the country – termed these incidents as a conspiracy against religious minorities and expressed disappointment over the ministry’s silence even after 48 cases of kidnapping for ransom, murders, forced conversion in the last six months alone.

Continue reading PPP govt. is doing nothing for recovery of 48 kidnapped Hindus and many murdered for ransom.

New York Times – Pakistan Spies on Its Diaspora, Spreading Fear

By MARK MAZZETTI, ERIC SCHMITT and CHARLIE SAVAGE

WASHINGTON — F.B.I. agents hunting for Pakistani spies in the United States last year began tracking Mohammed Tasleem, an attaché in the Pakistani Consulate in New York and a clandestine operative of Pakistan’s military spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence.

Mr. Tasleem, they discovered, had been posing as an F.B.I. agent to extract information from Pakistanis living in the United States and was issuing threats to keep them from speaking openly about Pakistan’s government. His activities were part of what government officials in Washington, along with a range of Pakistani journalists and scholars, say is a systematic ISI campaign to keep tabs on the Pakistani diaspora inside the United States.

The F.B.I. brought Mr. Tasleem’s activities to Leon E. Panetta, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and last April, Mr. Panetta had a tense conversation with Pakistan’s spymaster, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

Within days, Mr. Tasleem was spirited out of the United States — a quiet resolution typical of the spy games among the world’s powers.

But some of the secrets of that hidden world became public last week when two Pakistani-Americans working for a charity that the F.B.I. believes is a front for Pakistan’s spy service were indicted. Only one was arrested; the other is still in Pakistan.

The investigation exposed one part of what American officials say is a broader campaign by the Pakistani spy agency, known as the ISI, to exert influence over lawmakers, stifle public dialogue critical of Pakistan’s military and blunt the influence of India, Pakistan’s longtime adversary.

American officials said that compared with countries like China and Russia — whose spies have long tried to steal American government and business secrets — the ISI’s operations here are less extensive and less sophisticated. And they are certainly far more limited than the C.I.A.’s activities inside Pakistan.

Even so, officials and scholars say the ISI campaign extends to issuing both tacit and overt threats against those who speak critically about the military.

The ISI is widely feared inside Pakistan because of these very tactics. For example, American intelligence officials believe that some ISI operatives ordered the recent killing of a Pakistani journalist, Saleem Shahzad. ….

Read more → The New York Times

Press: In chains of another kind

by Waseem Altaf

Excerpt:

Two great champions of Islam with prominent beards, …, received Rs. 0.3 and Rs. 3.3 million each. In vernacular terminology, all the maal-e haram was received as maal-e-halal.

The yaum-e-shuhada ceremony held at GHQ has been consistently aired on various TV channels to reinvigorate those special feelings of the ordinary people towards the special khakis, with …. dedicating everything she has got to the shaheeds in general and ghazis in particular. On 9th May 2011, a quarter page advertisement in color appeared on the front page of daily “Jang” on behalf of veteran politician Haji …., currently running a Qabza group in Rawalpindi, and Islamabad. The ad read that all those ridiculing the army and the ISI were following the agenda of the enemies of Pakistan. The ad contained basic mistakes but had cost millions.

On 11th May 2011 a rally was organized in front of the parliament in Islamabad in support of the army and the ISI in which some children from government schools and a few workers of Capital Development Authority(CDA) carried placards and raised slogans in favor of the army and the ISI. The rally began at a time when Mian Nawaz Sharif was about to announce his party’s stand on the Abbotabad incident and ended when Nawaz Sharif ended his press conference. Interestingly the children did not know why they were brought to the venue and the leader of the rally a labor leader of CDA ….  said that he himself arranged the rally. Some of the slogans written on the placards were” We love ISI” “Pak army zindabad” and “ISI zindabad”

…, Haji … and children of a model school chanting slogans in support of ISI would definitely raise the morale of our premier intelligence outfit.

Who paid for the costly ad and who arranged the rally is not difficult to understand.

In conclusion, the chains of repression referred to by Zamir Niazi are no more there yet the invisible ones targeting human weaknesses, stronger and more addictive have come all the way to enslave a large part of our media.

It also appears that today, armor and infantry, artillery and air defense, radars and aircraft are no more relevant as the external threat appears irrelevant to our security establishment.

Media management and manipulation, TV channels and FM stations ceremonies and rallies, eavesdropping equipment, lobbying and campaigning, psyops and propaganda comprise the new hardware and software quite relevant to our valiant armed forces for countering an internal as well as the external threat.

To read complete article : ViewPoint

Demanding Answers From Pakistan

By ZALMAY KHALILZAD

SINCE the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan has behaved toward the United States as both friend and adversary — and gotten away with it. The latest evidence of its duplicity is the revelation that Osama bin Laden lived for years in a house near Pakistan’s national military academy and a local branch of its intelligence service without any evident interference.

Even before the American raid last week on Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan had a huge credibility problem. It provides arms and safe haven for Afghan insurgent groups and pays their commanders to carry out attacks, but denies doing so.

Continue reading Demanding Answers From Pakistan

Rally for freedom and democracy in Egypt

Mubarak, you’re fired!’ Toronto rally Saturday

By Krystalline Kraus

Rally for freedom and democracy in Egypt, Saturday, February 5, Assemble at 1 p.m., Queen’s Park (south side), TTC: Queen’s Park, Nearest intersection: University Avenue and College Street, March begins at 2 p.m. Please dress warmly.

Event on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/FreeEgypt

Just weeks after a revolution in Tunisia toppled its decades-old dictatorship, a similar movement in Egypt is poised to overthrow the 30-year-old regime of Hosni Mubarak. Please join us for a city-wide, family-friendly rally and march in downtown Toronto in support of the Egyptian people’s struggle for freedom and democracy, and to support all freedom struggles across the region. Please bring your placards, banners, and noise-makers.

Organized by – Canadian Coptic Association, Egyptian National Association for Change, Toronto Egypt Solidarity Campaign, Canadian Arab Federation, Canadian Peace Alliance, Toronto Coalition to Stop the War

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!

Join our next volunteers’ meeting: Friday, February 4, 2011, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor Street West, Room number to be posted, TTC: Spadina

Help us assemble placards and paint banners (all materials provided) and find out how you can help during the rally and march. Please RSVP to info@nowar.ca.

Read more : Rebble.Ca

Bangladesh court bans religion in politics

DHAKA (AFP) – Bangladesh’s dozens of political parties must drop Islam from their name and stop using religion when on the campaign trail following a court ruling, the country’s law minister said Monday.

The Supreme Court on Sunday upheld an earlier ruling by the High Court from 2005 throwing out the fifth amendment of the constitution, which had allowed religion-based politics to flourish in the country since the late 1970s.

“All politics based on religion are going to be banned as per the original constitution,” Shafique Ahmed told AFP. The verdict does not affect constitutional amendments that made Islam the Muslim majority nation’s state religion in 1988 and incorporated a Quranic verse in the constitution. …

Read more : The Nation

Judges, generals, journalists, politicians and others: All should face accountability

 

by Aziz Narejo, Tx

 

A few days ago a news item mentioned names of some judges who were allotted residential plots in Islamabad. Someone said publication of such news items was a deliberate attempt to malign the judiciary. Then a section of the press carried a list of the names of the journalists who were allotted plots in the federal capital. This time it was the turn of the friends of the media to cry foul.
It is not uncommon to see statements by leaders, members and supporters of various political parties condemning one or the other section of the press or their opponents for ‘unjust’ or ‘discriminatory’ criticism of their parties. They call such criticism as vilification campaign against them and paint themselves as victims.
All this doesn’t speak well of Pakistani society. It still seems to be primitive, inchoate and undeveloped. One is not sure how many more years and how many more disasters and debacles it would need to show any signs of maturity.
The people must be clear in their understanding and in their resolve that they would not allow any attack on democracy, the freedom of media and the independence of judiciary. Other than that no institution should be regarded as sacrosanct or beyond criticism and accountability. …
Read more : INDUS HERALD