Tag Archives: Threat

Technology And the Threat of a Jobless Future

The Typical Millennial Is $2,000 Poorer Than His Parents at This Age

More young people are living in poverty and fewer have jobs compared their parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers, in 1980

By 

The past is another country. In 1980, the typical young worker in Detroit or Flint, Michigan, earned more than his counterpart in San Francisco or San Jose. The states with the highest median income were Michigan, Wyoming, and Alaska. Nearly 80 percent of the Boomer generation, which at the time was between 18 and 35, was white, compared to 57 percent today.

Three decades later, in 2013, the picture of young people—yes, Millennials—is a violently shaken kaleidoscope, and not all the pieces are falling into a better place. Michigan’s median income for under-35 workers has fallen by 26 percent, more than any state. In fact, beyond the east coast, earnings for young workers fell in every state but Hawaii and South Dakota.

Read more » The Atlantic
Learn more » http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/01/young-adults-poorer-less-employed-and-more-diverse-than-their-parents/385029/

Imran Khan’s Threat to Pakistan Democracy

Cricketing hero’s anti-Sharif campaign is overstepping the mark

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Imran Khan was a true cricketing hero for Pakistan. He was an exceptional all-rounder, a graceful batsmen and a formidable fast bowler. But as a politician – seemingly hell-bent on becoming prime minister at whatever cost to his country – he makes a far less edifying spectacle.

Read more » Financial Times
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bbb645ba-39c3-11e4-93da-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3DR6t4wXJ

A wake-up call

By Ayesha Siddiqa

It was the first time on Monday morning that I breathed a sigh of relief that the PTI and the PAT dharna is there and continues to attract attention. Just imagine if the media was not focusing on them they might have taken the trouble of sniffing out the drama which was unfolding in Karachi on September 6. A Chinese manufactured F-22P frigate of the Pakistan Navy, PNS Zulfiqar, came under attack by the Taliban. It is not confirmed as yet if the ship was at sea or docked at the naval dockyard. The story was kept under wraps for two days and disclosed on September 8. It was not that people were not warning others. A friend from abroad had even inquired on Saturday about what was happening in Karachi to which I had no answer as nothing was being reported on television except the Imran/Qadri roadshow. But I am still happy no one reported the story because the last time someone tried to dig out facts about infiltration of militants and ideologues inside the navy it ended in tragedy.

Gladly, the brave sailors and officers saved the day. However, the attack on PNS Zulfiqar, for which the Taliban took the responsibility, proved yet again the vulnerability of the country’s security. What we are always scared to talk about is the support from inside as had happened in the attack on PNS Mehran, PAC, Kamra and other places. Given the fact that little is known about militant penetration, it is difficult to ascertain the threat. This is about men caught by the demon of disbelief of their state and society. Glance through the literature on state making and you can find how monopoly over violence and making sure it stays that way is one of the many characteristics of a viable and efficient state. However, here is the issue of men, who join a profession to guard the state then turning away, because they suddenly suspect the state is not legitimate. The whole concept of jihad or takfir is not a simple issue of people becoming devil-like but erosion of their faith in legitimacy of the state. They begin to desire a perfect Islamic state which can only be brought about by fighting the existing system. Penetrating an armed force becomes an attractive option since achieving such objective tantamount to a force multiplier. A well-trained and oiled war machine can take you places.

Just imagine a situation where militants would try to rebel and take control of a vessel while at sea. Notwithstanding many of the earlier claims that all three services were cleaned during the Musharraf regime, these attacks suggest otherwise. Various religious groups have always had access to men in uniform under one pretext or the other. If it is not the militants then it is Deobandi or Salafi reformation movements such as the Tableeghi Jamaat or Al Huda that are allowed to access military personnel and their families. Reportedly, the households of one of the two smaller services were opened up for Al Huda by the senior leadership. The problem here is not with increased interest in religion but the fact that after a while these families and their men begin to get totally confused about where does duty to religion end and to the state begin. Not that they want to kill innocent colleagues and other people but they are blinded by their understanding of dogma to believe that they have to bring suffering in order to improve the world as ordained by God.

The PNS Zulfiqar attack is yet another reminder that things are getting serious. We need to look at this development in the backdrop of the expansion of militancy and extremism in the form of IS and the al-Qaeda’s Qaedatul Jihad in Indian Subcontinent (QJIS). While many analysts tend to see IS and QJIS from the lens of internal competition amongst militants, especially Zawahiri’s need to build up his strength, some observers argue that the two forces may have different tactics and partners but similar strategic objective. They both want to consolidate and establish a caliphate. In this regard, other existing organisations like the Hizb-ut-Tahrir also have the same desire.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2014.
http://tribune.com.pk/story/760623/a-wake-up-call-2/

Religious extremism: A deadly threat.

By Akbar Hussain

Mankind reached up to this level after much struggle and sacrifices. The threat of evil was always there but our unified determination and goodness defeated all evils and poised to go further forward. Throughout history mankind faced disease, wars caused by barbaric invasions and natural disasters but the indomitable human spirit withstood all the calamities with resolution and resolve.

When Hitler threatened the modern world with his demonic power the entire humanity fought shoulder to shoulder to defeat the evil forces of Nazism. But now we are facing an enemy of religious extremism equipped with modern technology to cause destruction and war. The most dangerous part of this evil is its claim of divinity which is false and fake but they have millions of supporters behind them. This threat is not confined to any specific place it’s a universal issue now. They are in Somalia as well as in Sweden. This threat is not recognized by a vast majority of Muslims who tend to minimize its threat or put blame on others. They fail to understand that extremism is not an option for anything. No one can make a brew of progress and extremism. Islam basically needed a renaissance but after 9/11 a vicious degeneration has gripped the entire community.

They are universally loathed and degraded but this shame is not felt or recognized by the community. May be we are marching forward to another calamity but there is slim hope that posterity may not like to live in this perpetual threat forever. They may take arms again to defeat the evil once for all to restore peace, fraternity, dignity and faith.

Courtesy: Facebook

Who says countries are permanent?

Ayaz AmirBy Ayaz Amir

Islamabad diary

We should know this more than others. The Pakistan of 1947 is not the Pakistan which exists today, one half of it having broken away to form another country. I served in Moscow in the seventies and nothing seemed more solid or permanent than the Soviet Union, a mighty power which cast a shadow far and wide. Who could have thought that in a few years’ time it would fracture, leaving a trail of small, independent republics behind?

Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall was two countries. Now it is back to being one. Czechoslovakia was one country then. Now it is two. In the UK, of all places, the Scots, or a goodly part of them, are demanding independence. A referendum is set to decide this question in 2014.

After the fall of the Soviet Union it seemed as if American pre-eminence was an assured thing, lasting for the next hundred years. Bright-eyed scholars announced not just the closing of an era but the end of history. As hubris goes, this had few equals. There were other Americans who said that reality would be what America wanted it to be. Yet American power has declined before our eyes, nothing more contributing to this than the wars President Bush ventured upon in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Clash of civilisations was another phrase current just ten years. Something of the sort has happened but not in a way that the US could have intended. Wouldn’t the Taliban, wouldn’t Al-Qaeda, define their struggle as a clash of civilisations?

Ten years ago in a Jamaat-ud-Dawaah mosque in Chakwal (not far from my house) I heard one of their leaders talking of America’s eventual but sure defeat in Afghanistan. I thought his rhetoric too fanciful then. It sounds much closer to home now.

I have just read a longish review of Norman Davies’ ‘Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations’. This book should be required reading for anyone concerned about the future of Pakistan. For the lesson it emphasises is that history does not promise progress. All it promises is change. Nothing is fixed, all is movement, nations rising and falling, the old disappearing to make way for the new, the new in turn becoming the old and morphing into something else – the philosophy of Heraclitus and Hegel, even of Marx.

Continue reading Who says countries are permanent?

A Peaceful Islamic Revolution in Pakistan?

By: Malik Siraj Akbar, Editor in Chief, ‘The Baloch Hal’

A Pakistani Muslim scholar with Canadian nationality has announced to transform Islamabad into “the world’s biggest Tahrir Square” on January 14th ahead of this year’s upcoming general elections. Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, a cogent public speaker, has made an abrupt but a robust comeback in Pakistan’s politics after spending nearly five years in Canada. Qadri, previously an unpopular politician but still a cleric with a large following of religious disciples, is asking for electoral reforms prior to the next polls.

There are two fundamental problems with Qadri’s demand.

First, he has given an absolutely unrealistic ultimatum of mere two weeks to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (P.P.P.) to carry out vague electoral reforms, for example to ensure the election of ‘honest people’ to the parliament. In order to conduct these reforms, Dr. Qadri, while citing the Article 254 of the Pakistani constitution, justifies the postponement of the general elections which are expected to take place in May. The mainstream political parties, such as the P.P.P. and the Pakistan Muslim League of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, want to go for elections without any interruptions soon after the completion of the current term of the parliament because they oppose any kind of derailment of the democratic process.

Second, Dr. Qadri is asking for representation for the powerful Pakistani military and the politically active judiciary in the interim government, a demand that clearly clashes with the very spirit of democracy.

Continue reading A Peaceful Islamic Revolution in Pakistan?

Pakistan – Taliban threat: Nuclear site in DG Khan cordoned off

By Abdul Manan

Sources said, according to precedents, threats intercepted via phone calls often materialised in the next 72 hours.

LAHORE: It could be the first-ever security threat to a nuclear facility in Pakistan, and the Army and security forces are taking no risks.

Following ‘serious’ security threats from the homegrown Taliban, the Army and Punjab police have deployed heavy forces at one of Pakistan’s largest nuclear facilities in Dera Ghazi Khan (DG Khan), credible sources told The Express Tribune.

Besides the deployment inside and around the nuclear installation, three divisions in South Punjab have also been asked to launch a crackdown against banned outfits, sources added.

“DG Khan houses one of the largest nuclear facilities in the country, and has faced the first-ever serious security threat from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP),” said a high ranking military officer currently serving at the installation.

According to an official who works at the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, a key military and civilian fuel cycle site is located 40 kilometres from DG Khan. The site comprises uranium milling and mining operations, and a uranium hexaflouride conversion plant.

‘Serious’ threat

Sources in the military and Punjab Police, on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that the nature of threat at the nuclear installation is ‘serious,’ with an 80% chance of occurrence.

The Inter-Services Intelligence reportedly intercepted a telephone call from the TTP, wherein they were said to have been finalising their strategy for attacks on nuclear installations in DG Khan, sources said.

Three to four vehicles carrying suicide bombers are about to enter DG Khan and can strike the nuclear facilities at any time, the caller concluded according to sources. Sources said that, according to precedents, threats intercepted via phone calls often materialised in the next 72 hours. Direct threats via phone or letters often do not materialise, the source added.

Foiling the attack

DG Khan District Police Officer Chaudhry Saleem confirmed the threat, while talking to The Express Tribune, and said that DG Khan Police has received instructions from the military officer in charge at the nuclear installation to beef up security around the facility as much as possible.

The TTP started to send threats to the installation after the attacks on Kamra air base, Saleem said, adding that the police has established six new pickets around the nuclear installations and deployed heavy forces over the last 24 hours.

Sources said that a heavy contingent of military from the Multan cantonment has also reached the site and beefed up the inner cordon of the security. Military has also been deployed near the border with Balochistan.

Revenge for Qaisrani

Well-placed sources in law enforcement agencies said that when the TTP attacked Kamra air base, they announced that they would take revenge for killing of their South Punjab head Abdul Ghaffar Qaisrani by also attacking nuclear installations in DG Khan.

Sources said the DG Khan Police killed Qaisrani in an encounter in the first week of August, along with eight of his companions, almost clearing his network in the area.The police were able to trace Qaisrani after they interrogated Adnan Khosa, who attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore along with Qaisrani, sources said, adding that Khosa is currently imprisoned in DG Khan.

Qaisrani’s elimination caused a major loss to the TTP in South Punjab, and the militant outfit vowed to take revenge.

Earlier attacks

According to local politicians, the DG Khan nuclear site and adjacent areas had previously been a target of ground attacks by Baloch insurgents, but not the TTP.

Continue reading Pakistan – Taliban threat: Nuclear site in DG Khan cordoned off

Takfiri Militancy A Threat to Pakistan

Takfir: the ideology of hate —Dr Mohammad Taqi

An ordinary Salafi may believe in the non-violent call to convert to their version of Islam but the Salafi jihadists are proponents of violent jihad. The doctrinal differences that set the jihadist group apart include practising takfir, i.e. labelling other Muslims as infidels or apostates

“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that is pretty important” — Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Continue reading Takfiri Militancy A Threat to Pakistan

Tehran Times – U.S., Pakistan on collision course: report

WASHINGTON (Dawn) — The U.S.-Pakistan relationship appeared to be heading towards a head-on collision as a U.S. general blamed Friday’s deadly attack on a Kabul hotel on FATA-based militants and the White House vowed to take the steps needed to mitigate this threat.

Earlier on Friday, the U.S. media reported that Washington had considered launching retaliatory attacks at terrorist targets inside Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) but concerns about destabilizing Pakistan prevented it from doing so.

“We’ll take steps necessary to mitigate that threat,” said a White House official, while commenting on AP report.

Continue reading Tehran Times – U.S., Pakistan on collision course: report

Democracy under threat

By: Asma Jahangir

THE masks are off and daggers drawn. Pakistan’s democratic process may once again become a part of history, leaving the world to wonder how we could so willingly poison ourselves in the belief that it would lead to better days.

Those in power have consistently let their people down — ruthlessly. But no one is being fooled. They may feel helpless in the face of manipulation by everyone trying to save their skins — the judiciary included — but as the courts have often held themselves the truth does eventually prevail.

In the meanwhile, the country is headed for another phase of political instability that may finally lead to yet another autocracy. Sense may prevail at the end, but in the process, many heads will roll and hopes will be demolished. These are sad days for Pakistan.

Continue reading Democracy under threat

US contemplating reversal of its Pakistan policy

The United States is contemplating a total reversal of its highly ineffective Pakistan policy. This was stated by Prof Christine Fair, Assistant Professor at Georgetown University’s Edmund A Walsh School of Foreign Service while delivering a talk on “The situation in the Af-Pak region” at Observer Research Foundation on June 4, 2012.

Frankly expressing her views from both Pakistani as well as American perspectives, Prof. Fair said that the US does not have a long-term policy for Pakistan, and the present practice of granting aid with the aim of fighting the roots of terrorism has not yielded any results. Consequently, despite fighting the Taliban, the US has inadvertently supported them while alienating the civilian population.

Prof. Fair said that the Pakistan’s decision to close ground supply routes for NATO troops in Afghanistan backfired as the NATO forces soon developed alternative air routes. This, in turn, led many Western leaders to recognise the futility of engaging Pakistan in the war on terror. She also pointed out that the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan further convinced policy makers in Washington of its duplicity.

Asked about the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s perceived lack of understanding about the situation in the West Asia and the Af-Pak region, Prof Fair said that presidential candidates learn very quickly once they take office. As an example, she pointed out Barack Obama’s similar naïveté four years ago and how he learnt and adapted his foreign policy within months into his presidency.

Prof. Fair said that President Obama is disappointed with Pakistan’s counter-terrorism performance, and that the US administration is contemplating containment to force it to abide to its obligations.

According to Prof. Fair, the futility of attempts to alter the pro-jihadist worldview of Pakistan’s foreign policy elite make a serious case of containment, which would hold Pakistan responsible for any terrorist attack with its ’signature’ on it.

Prof. Fair challenged the conventional wisdom that civilian governments in Islamabad are more responsible. She argued that past history suggests a linearity of foreign policy making between military and democratic regimes. This is compounded by a drastic transformation of the popular mindset towards fundamentalism and hatred against India.

Continue reading US contemplating reversal of its Pakistan policy

If there was only one person worthy of respect in Pakistan, it had to be Asma Jahangir

We condemn threats to Asma Jahangir’s life by Pakistan army generals

Assassination plot against Asma Jahangir exposed

If there was only one person worthy of respect in Pakistan, it had to be Asma Jahangir. She must be protected from those afraid of her.

Not unlike millions of peace loving, progressive Pakistanis, LUBP editors and team members are concerned over threat to senior human rights activist Asma Jahangir’s life. In Kashif Abbas’s TV program today (Off the Record – ARY TV), Asma Jahangir detailed a plot by the military to assassinate her. Apparently, in view of Asma’s detailed revelations, Kashif took a break, but the show ended.

However, later on Geo TV’s Aapas Ki Baat, Asma did manage to speak to Najam Sethi about the plan by Pakistan army (ISI in particular) to assassinate her. In that show, she clearly stated that senior level army generals were planning to kill her.

Apparently, those with guns are afraid of an unarmed woman!

In Habib Jalib’s words: dartay hain bandooqan walay aik nihatti larki say (men with guns are afraid of an unarmed woman)

They want to eliminate her the way they killed Benazir Bhutto, Shahbaz Bhatti, Salmaan Taseer, Murtaza Bhutto, and thousands of other unnamed Balochs, Shias, Pashtuns and other citizens of Pakistan.

Continue reading If there was only one person worthy of respect in Pakistan, it had to be Asma Jahangir

Pakistan’s Kangaroo Court calls itself “Supreme Court,” but in fact is another front for the Mullah-Military complex

Pakistan’s puppet Court – By Shiraz Paracha

The Supreme Court’s controversial detailed verdict against the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan is one more bad decision by a Court that has a dark history of collaboration with the military in depriving the people of Pakistan of their fundamental rights.

The Supreme Court has been transcending its legal boundaries and constitutional role. Its decisions are biased, unfair and politicized. The Court is not a neutral and objective defender of law and judges have been acting as puppets.

The Judiciary is not independent and appears to be playing someone’s game. Indeed the Supreme Court is acting as a proxy for imposing a controlled democracy in Pakistan. It seems that characters such as Imran Khan and Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan are part of this game. The former ISI chief Lt. General Shuja Pasha was an architect of the latest effort to introduce ‘clean democracy’ in Pakistan. General Pasha was not alone in military’s one more political adventure.

Actually, the military considers itself the sole defender of Pakistan and generals have been trying to shape and control the Pakistani politics. In fact, the military never felt comfortable with parliamentary form of democracy. For this reason every few years new campaigns are launched to ‘clean’ the system.

Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan’s recent calls for the establishment of a technocrat government and Imran Khan’s Tsunami are reflections of military’s new efforts to bring a setup that ‘suits’ Pakistan. The Judiciary and media are means to complete that agenda. As the Parliament is about to complete its term, Imran Khan is threatening that he would not accept results of the new elections. Dr. Qadeer, dubbed by some as the future president, has joined hands with Imran Khan. The media and the Judiciary are taking cue from some in the military to pressurize the present government. All these actors want to maintain the status quo by imposing a controlled democracy.

Continue reading Pakistan’s Kangaroo Court calls itself “Supreme Court,” but in fact is another front for the Mullah-Military complex

Has Pakistan gone fascist?

Go figure!

By: Nadeem F. Paracha

There is a genuine fear among some (yes, just some) Pakistanis that their society and state is headed straight to becoming a 21st century model of fascism.

I say the fear is being noted and felt by just some Pakistanis because it seems to most of their compatriots – especially those squirming within the growing, agitated and uptight urban middle-classes – the emergence of such a state and society is actually something to do with abstract concepts like ‘national sovereignty,’ ‘honour’ (ghairat), ‘revolution’ and a ‘positive Pakistan!’

It’s like saying chronic neurosis is a pretty positive thing to have.

Recently in a sharp and pointed article, author and scientist, Pervez Hoodbhoy, clearly alluded to how the Pakistani society and state are showing signs of the kind of myopic mindset that the German society plunged into in the 1920s and 1930s, setting the scene for Hitler and his fascist outfit and mentality to become Germany’s overlords – eventually taking the nation over the brink and towards widespread destruction.

So is the Pakistani society headed in the same direction?

A number of experts and sociologists have drawn some prominent symptoms to look for in figuring out if a particular society is drifting into the clutches of fascism.

Let’s discuss a few in Pakistan’s context:

• Symptom 1: Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

Fascist societies/cultures tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

In Pakistan patriotism has been intertwined with the belief in a divine monolithic deity. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a person is singing praises of God or the state. It’s as if both are one and the same. Thus, if you are not all that enthusiastic about singing loud patriotic songs or displaying 50X10 Pakistani flags over your 5X2 office cubical, you are a traitor and/or/thus a kafir.

Continue reading Has Pakistan gone fascist?

Local mullahs and fundamentalist people think that if the Hindus leave they can take their properties

Pakistan supreme court to decide fate of Hindu woman in Muslim marriage row

Rinkle Kumari, 19, claims she was kidnapped, converted to Islam and married against her will

By Jon Boone in Islamabad

The fate of a Pakistani Hindu woman who claims she was kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and married against her will is to be decided this week, after weeks of campaigning by the country’s Hindu minority.

The case of 19-year-old Rinkle Kumari has outraged Hindus from her small town in the south of the country, where community leaders accuse Muslims of preying on Hindu girls of marriageable age.

Continue reading Local mullahs and fundamentalist people think that if the Hindus leave they can take their properties

Kidnapped, Forced to Convert to Islam and Married to a Muslim – Sad Story of Rinkle Kumari

A friend on Facebook had status which said (Translated from Sindhi): “Mian Mithoo can harass a helpless, poor girl to say whatever he likes! Let us give this Pir of Bharchundi (alone) to the men of Bal Thackeray and he would convert (to Hinduism) in no time! (sic)”

Sindh has been known for its Sufi culture which has kept pushing the extremism off its borders. It has in it several shrines, religious harmony, coexistence and tolerance, not to mention the centuries-old civilization, Mohen-jo-Darro. Sindhis have always claimed to have secularism and Sufism to be present as if in their gene and, thus, they wouldn’t ever side with religious intolerance and extremism.

Well, this is true to a great extent since we can see that where Pakistan has seen surge in extremism throughout the post-9/11 period, Sindh has remained comparatively more peaceful and, especially, incidents of extremist activities have been equal to none. There definitely was an incidence of burning NATO oil tankers in Shikarpur, Sindh, but the same was condemned by the Sindhi nationalist parties attributing the incidence to the agencies trying to tarnish the soft image of Sindh; in fact, there were massive protests against the blazing up of the oil tankers throughout the land.

Sindh has been home to many religions, all coexisting peacefully. However, there have been certain incidents which would reveal the nature of the ‘rare’.

One such event which took place on the unfortunate day of November 02, 1939, which blotted the humane face of Sindh, was when a saintly Sufi singer and poet of humble and peace-loving nature, Bhagat Kunwar Ram was murdered at Rukk Station, Sukkur (Sindh) in the name of religion – for being a Hindu.

The person booked as the major perpetrator in the murder was Mian Abdur-Rahim of Bharchundi Dargah, a religious center in a small village of the same name. Bhrarchundi Dargah is famous for spreading hatred against the Hindus, and converting them to Islam forcibly for years now.

Thus, to many in Sindh, this news did not come as a surprise, but it did disturb them to come out on roads and protest against the Pirs of Bharchundi — what happened was that Rinkle Kumari, a Hindu teenage girl, was kidnapped on February 24, 2012, forced to convert to Islam and, subsequently, marry a Muslim boy, Naveed Shah (a Punjabi settler). And the person involved is none else than a Pir of Bharchundi Dargah, Mian Abdul Haq (popularly known as Mian Mithoo), the son of Mian Abdur-Rehman, the major perpetrator in the case of Bhagat Kunwar Ram’s murder in the past. Mian Mithoo also happens to be an MNA of the Pakistan People’s Party, the ruling party.

Continue reading Kidnapped, Forced to Convert to Islam and Married to a Muslim – Sad Story of Rinkle Kumari

Pakistan should protect Ahmaddiya community against threats of violence

Pakistani authorities must do more to protect the Ahmaddiya community, Amnesty International said today amid threats from religious groups to block Ahmadis from entering their place of worship in Rawalpindi on Friday.

An Ahmadi spokesperson yesterday said local religious groups have warned they will not allow Ahmadis to carry out religious activities this Friday, local media reported. ….

Read more » Amnesty International

Pakistan’s rush for more bombs – why?

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Excerpts;

….. In the military’s mind, the Americans are now a threat, equal to or larger than India. They are also considered more of an adversary than even the TTP jihadists who have killed thousands of Pakistani troops and civilians. While the Salala incident was allowed to inflame public opinion, the gory video-taped executions of Pakistani soldiers by the TTP were played down. A further indication is that the LeT/JuD is back in favor (with a mammoth anti-US and anti-India rally scheduled in Karachi next month). Pakistani animosity rises as it sees America tightly embracing India, and standing in the way of a Pakistan-friendly government in Kabul. Once again “strategic defiance” is gaining ground, albeit not through the regional compact suggested by General Mirza Aslam Beg in the early 1990s.

This attitudinal shift has created two strong non-India reasons that favour ramping up bomb production.

First, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are seen to be threatened by America. This perception has been reinforced by the large amount of attention given to the issue in the US mainstream press, and by war-gaming exercises in US military institutes. Thus, redundancy is considered desirable — an American attempt to seize or destroy all warheads would have smaller chances of success if Pakistan had more.

But such an attack is improbable. It is difficult to imagine any circumstances — except possibly the most extreme — in which the US would risk going to war against another nuclear state. Even if Pakistan had just a handful of weapons, no outside power could accurately know the coordinates of the mobile units on which they are located. It is said that an extensive network of underground tunnels exists within which they can be freely moved. Additionally, overground ones are moved from place to place periodically in unmarked trucks. Mobile dummies and decoys can hugely compound difficulties. Moreover, even if a nuclear location was exactly known, it would surely be heavily guarded. This implies many casualties when intruding troops are engaged, thus making a secret bin-Laden type operation impossible.

The second – and perhaps more important — reason for the accelerated nuclear development is left unstated: nukes act as insurance against things going too far wrong. Like North Korea, Pakistan knows that, no matter what, international financial donors will feel compelled to keep pumping in funds. Else a collapsing system may be unable to prevent some of its hundred-plus Hiroshima-sized nukes from disappearing into the darkness.

This insurance could become increasingly important as Pakistan moves deeper into political isolation and economic difficulties mount. Even today, load-shedding and fuel shortages routinely shut down industries and transport for long stretches, imports far exceed exports, inflation is at the double-digit level, foreign direct investment is negligible because of concerns over physical security, tax collection remains minimal, and corruption remains unchecked. An African country like Somalia or Congo would have sunk under this weight long ago.

To conclude: throwing a spanner in the works at the CD (Geneva) may well be popular as an act of defiance. Indeed, many in Pakistan — like Hamid Gul and Imran Khan — derive delicious satisfaction from spiting the world in such ways. But this is not wise for a state that perpetually hovers at the edge of bankruptcy, and which derives most of its worker remittances and export earnings from the very countries it delights in mocking.

To read complete article »  The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/328922/pakistans-rush-for-more-bombs–why/

Let’s Talk Civil-Military, NOW!

By Marvi Sirmed

Atiqa Odho needs to change her name. Not only her name but also the prefix if she wants to avoid further humiliation that she possibly could not and would not want, just because she is a woman and does not bear the right prefix before her name. Brigadier Zafar Iqbal had both — the right name and the right prefix.

The good brigadier embarked on a PIA flight from Karachi to Lahore on Saturday night, intoxicated with the ‘sherbet’. The captain of the plane handed him over to the Airport Security Force (ASF) after the brigadier publicly harassed one of the female crew members. The ASF, obviously, could not hold him for more than a few minutes when they discovered the full name of the detainee. No wonder the news item merited just a few lines in Sunday newspapers. I am still waiting for the ‘suo motu’ and media-panic that we saw in Atiqa Odho’s case. Pertinent to remind here, Ms Odho was neither drunk nor did she harass anyone on the flight.

This points to two serious maladies of this society: one, a strong gender bias that women of this country have to endure everywhere, including the courts; and two, unjust and unfair partiality that society confers on the military. It is not only about an overly powerful military but also about an extremely weak civil society. It would be naïve to believe that civil society in Pakistan is powerful enough to foil any attempt to usurp power from the civilian entities. This is mainly because the military here never departed from power. Irrespective of who occupied the buildings of the Prime Minister Secretariat and the Presidency, the military always ruled in the country through its incontrovertible influence over political decision-making and social phenomena.

The way things happen in the court, and outside of it, memo scandal is a case in point. In the memo scandal, Husain Haqqani was treated as an accused by the media and society at large because the military thought so. Everything else had to be in sync with what the military wanted or at least, was perceived to be wanting. The same ‘evidence’ (the BBM conversations claimed by Mansoor Ijaz that took place between him and Husain Haqqani) implicated the head of the ISI who was accused in the same BBM conversations to have spoken to the leaders of some Arab states and gotten their consent to sack the present government. But no one from the media, politicians (even the ones who portray themselves as most committed to civilian supremacy) and the judiciary could ever point a finger towards General Pasha, the accused. Husain Haqqani was an easy target because he was not a general. Or even a brigadier.

Later, the chief of army staff and the head of ISI submitted their affidavits in clear departure of the government’s point of view — the same government that both of them are accountable to. The prime minister was openly criticised by everyone for calling this action of the two generals as unconstitutional. So much so that the media wing of the Pakistan Army, the ISPR, attacked the prime minister — their boss — by issuing a strongly worded statement warning the government of grave consequences and serious ramifications. So there were two statements, one by the chief executive of a country castigating his subordinate generals for unconstitutional actions, and the other from the subordinate generals threatening their boss with grave consequences. Guess who had to retract the statement? You got it right, it was the boss. The Islamic Republic is unique in its construction.

What can be more worrying for a people whose representative is humiliated by an agency that should be subordinate to the people. The agency, it is more perturbing, does so with popular consent. The absence of popular outrage amounts to consent if one could decrypt public reactions. We can go on endlessly criticising hungry-for-power generals, selfish politicians, corporate media and an ambitious judiciary, but what remains a fact is Pakistani society’s utter failure — rather refusal — to grow from a Praetorian state to even a half decent egalitarian democracy.

Continue reading Let’s Talk Civil-Military, NOW!

Salivating for a coup..

By Omar Ali

Its always hazardous to comment on “proximate politics” and the threat of a coup has not yet disappeared in Pakistan, but it does seem to have receded a bit, even if the story is by no means over and the struggle continues. Still, the fact that it has not yet happened is a huge disappointment for some media persons (Kamran Khan comes to mind) who were all dressed up and ready for a coup a few days ago and now look visibly depressed (though still hoping that the paknationalist judiciary will deliver what the paknationalist army did not) and for sections of the middle class. And behind these disappointees there is another section of even more seriously heart-broken people: the young scions of Pakistan’s inbred military-bureaucratic elite, who were already imagining themselves taking over PIA or Pakistan Railways to “reform” the institution and fix the mess created by “corrupt politicians”. I feel their pain..

For background, a quick review; pressure for a coup in Pakistan comes from several sources, including:

Continue reading Salivating for a coup..

‘Memogate’ commission should examine existing evidence, not create new evidence

By Beena Sarwar

What is ‘Memogate’? The ‘memo’ in question is a letter allegedly written at the behest of Pakistan’s President by the Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, asking USA to prevent a possible military coup in Pakistan after US Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011. Haqqani denied the allegations, sent in a letter offering to resign in order to facilitate an impartial inquiry, and returned to Pakistan to clear his name. Instead, he found his resignation letter accepted. The Supreme Court barred his exit from Pakistan. He has been forced for his own safety to confine himself first to the Presidency and then to the Prime Minister House. On Dec 30, 2011, The Supreme Court in response to a petition against the ‘memo’ formed a three-member judicial commission to look into the matter that the media has dubbed as ‘memogate’.

Asma Jahangir, counsel for Husain Haqqani and former Supreme Court Bar Association President, has refused to appear before the commission saying that she does not trust the judiciary. She has said that instead of forming a commission to create or produce new evidence the Supreme Court should have looked into the evidence placed before it to decide whether there was a prima facie case and whether the court could proceed to enforce any fundamental rights by making a binding order.

The entire affair appears to be geared towards undermining the democratic political process in Pakistan – specifically at targeting President Asif Ali Zardari, using Husain Haqqani as a vehicle. Asma Jahangir has unequivocally termed the Supreme Court’s judgment as a victory for the military that has run affairs in Pakistan for decades and is obviously still all-powerful behind the scenes.

Asma Jahangir has argued that the Supreme Court had no right to bar Haqqani’s travel abroad. Nor does Supreme Court or the judicial commission set up, have the right to demand Blackberry (RIM) data without due process of law. No server (BU or RIM) should share data with Commission, which is essentially pursuing a political dispute, not criminal charges. The judiciary seems to be ruling on the basis of national security ideology instead of constitution and law.

Continue reading ‘Memogate’ commission should examine existing evidence, not create new evidence

A quick question to Nawaz Sharif

Shenanigans, dangerous shenanigans

By Kamran Shafi

Excerpt;

… For God’s sake, will our political leaders never learn? Will they forever be hostage to the Deep State and to the conspiracies spun by it? It is all very well for the PML-N to take the Murky Memo Matter to the Supreme Court, but have its leaders who I consider my friends, ever considered the fact that whilst Mansoor Ijaz’s allegations against the federal government and its officials were immediately ‘investigated’ by the top spook himself and a public indictment issued, the same person’s allegations against Shuja Pasha weighing the possibilities of carrying out a coup against a sitting elected government have been laid to rest by a mere press release of the ISPR denying any such thing?

While it is much exercised by the Murky Memo, does the PML-N find nothing wrong in the allegations against Pasha? Will it not ask for a thorough investigation by an agency/agencies of state, say the IB and the FIA? The ISPR says Pasha did not visit any of the countries mentioned on the stated dates, but did he visit them on other dates? Has anyone forensically examined his cell phones? Or his passports — if he goes through the usual procedures of travelling abroad like the rest of us, of course?! Am I right when I say that our generals are Teflon-coated; that nothing sticks to them; that they are faultless, blameless, and doubly-blessed? That the only bad is in the ‘bloody civilians’?

I have now written for many years that the only way that the politicians can see off the great threat to themselves posed by the Deep State is to stick together come hell or high-water. They must stand shoulder-to-shoulder to prevent that scourge of democracy, the Deep State, from always driving the agenda: giving a dog a bad name and then hanging him. The most effective weapon in its arsenal is spreading rumours about a government’s corruption and ineptness. In this they make no exceptions: exact same allegations were placed at the PPP’s door as were placed at the PML-N’s. I have long said too, that if this present government does not complete its tenure, neither will the next one. But is anyone listening?

No one is, because the fact of the matter is that the real aim of what is going on is to deny the PPP the majority in the Senate that will surely be it’s if it is allowed to stay in power until the elections in March. Simple, but very bad politics, for will the PPP not destabilise the PML-N government when IT comes to power?

A quick question to my friends in the PML-N who so want the government to be rolled up immediately if not sooner and elections held in the next two months: Do you really think that the powers will allow a snap election when its preferred ‘Third Force’ is still girding its loins?

I am most sad.

Courtesy:  The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2011.

Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain

Most people feel depressed and discouraged at some point or other in their life. Sadness, anxiety, grief — we all feel these emotions at various times in our lives. Sadness may be caused by a setback or a loss, while anxiety may be triggered by a threat or a challenge. It is perfectly natural for our emotions to wax and wane with the ups and downs of our lives, but when these feelings present for weeks or months, it could be a sign of DEPRESSION. People with depression may feel like they are losing control. They lose interest in life, feel sad all the time and have difficulty concentrating.

Depression can be happen to anyone. From 10 to 20 per cent of the general population will have to deal with depressing at least once in their life. Depression affects twice as many women as men, and usually occurs between the age 25 and 45. Depression happens in every culture, around the world, and no social or economic class spared.

Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is a real disease and is characterized by three persistent factors.

1. Major feeling of malaise 2. Marked loss of interest in usual activities 3. Physical symptoms, including memory loss, fatigue, sleep problems, change of appetite, decreased sexual desire.

Depression is not uncommon. Depression is expressed through physical complaints such as persistant headaches, digestive problems, and fatigue.

For temporary feelings of sadness, taking a walk,  or doing a favourite activity can help. But for real depression individual should seek professional help.

People with depression tend to prefer solitude and are likely to with draw from family and friends. It is important to let them know that they  could on you for support. Also, be sure to encourage them to seek professional help. Take Multi-vitamins and multi-minerals daily. Cut sugar and sugar prodocuts, potato and potato products and refine carbohydrates such as: Cake, pastry, cookies etc, exercise half an hour daily, drink 8 to 12 glasses of fresh crystal clear clean water everyday, eat green leafy and colorful vegetables and fruits daily.

Eminent Baloch activist, Faisal Mengal is reported to have been killed in Karachi

Faisal Mengal, an employee of Pakistan with a German Foundation, Hanns Seidel Foundation is reported to have been shot dead. He and his family was threatened a few days ago by ….. The gunmen stopped shooting only when Mengal fell to the ground, he said. The gunmen appeared to be were target killers as they did not attempt to harm the driver, the officer said. Mengal was shot at least 11 times.

Governments of Sindh & Pakistan & the Supreme Court should take notice of this & order an immediate inquiry. The killers must be apprehended & brought to justice.

For more details » ZeeNews

Memogate: Two psychopaths a ‘new threat’ to Pakistani democracy? – by Shiraz Paracha

Excerpt;

…. Mansoor behaves like a psychopath and has been intimidating Pakistani politicians and military leaders, who always look towards Washington for support. Mansoor cashes on their weakness and makes exaggerated claims about his connections and influence on the Hill. Benazir Bhutto was bitten by Mansoor Ijaz’s inflated claims and was thus very sceptical of Mansoor.

Mansoor criminal-minded business associates made tones of money through questionable business deals. Interestingly, Mansoor uses his Muslim and Pakistani background to promote his business and career interests in the United States. Precisely on these grounds, he acts as a friend of Israel and his role suits Zionist lobbies. Mansoor is also a self-appointed flag carrier for American crusaders. Mansoor’s ideas and plans often hurt Pakistan, yet he wants to be loved and appreciated in Pakistan. Thanks to some Pakistani media outlets, Mansoor gets out of the proportion attention in Pakistan where the majority of the public is unaware of his real motives and agenda. ….

…. Upon my return to Pakistan when we published our interview with Mark Segal, Benazir Bhutto’s spokesperson Farhat Ullah Babar called and congratulated me on having an interview with Mark Segal, this time I was sadly surprised. The point is that in Pakistan exaggeration and distortions about people and events are common.

Now, Husain Haqqani and Mansoor Ijaz are central in the so-called memo scandal. The memo that was allegedly written back in May could be a new excuse to justify the dismissal of the civilian government in Pakistan as some forces have been trying to windup the fragile democratic process in Pakistan.

The timing of the leak about the alleged memo to a U.S general is interesting. Rather than questioning the role of the Pakistani military in bringing troubles for Pakistan, some Washington-based Pakistani journalists like Shaheen Sehbahi always blame President Zardari. ….

…. Some Pakistani generals groomed and harboured bin Laden and others calling them Pakistan’s strategic assets. Such generals should be brought to justice, not an elected President and the civilian government. Pakistani generals have been violating the constitution and have no regard for the law. They disobey and disrespect elected representatives of people. Instead of exposing misdeeds of the military, the Pakistani media support and strengthen generals’ wrongdoings.

In such an environment trivial matters and non-issues become serious threats for the future of democracy. Now an alleged personal and unofficial communication between two individuals is presented as another reason for derailing democracy in Pakistan. Can two rightwing psychopaths be a threat to democracy? One wonders for how long such nonsense will continue in Pakistan?

To read complete article » LUBP

http://criticalppp.com/archives/63301

Is the military establishment of Pakistan thinking to sack the elected civilian government?

The language of the analysis is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy » Geo Tv (Khabarnaak with Aftab Iqbal – 19th november 2011, part 2)

via » ZemTv » YouTube

Insurgents in Pakistan are now the biggest threat to NATO – Pentagon

Insurgent safe havens in Pakistan big threat: U.S.

by Eric Beech

(Reuters) – Insurgent safe havens in Pakistan are now the biggest threat to NATO forces in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Overall, enemy attacks in Afghanistan in recent months were 5 percent lower than the same period a year ago, the Pentagon said in a report to Congress. But high-profile attacks were up in Afghanistan, and the enemy remains resilient, it said.

Courtesy: » Reuters

via → Siasat.pk

Catch 22 for Pakistan’s left

– by Nayyer Khan

I do not expect a balanced outlook from a common man in Pakistan who lives behind a smoke screen created by Urdu press and brain washed through 60 years of antagonistic indoctrination against the non-Muslim world, except China. However, the views of old friends from left Wing (now liberals mostly associated with NGOs or civil society) and laissez-faire intelligentsia astonish me. The old cult is still deep seated in their minds, in which America takes the position of the devil. They go so far in their prejudice against America that they lose their ability to pick the lesser of the two evils.

I fully agree to the universal rule that my enemy’s enemy is my friend, yet the issue is to identify who the current enemy is. It is a well established fact that a smaller but irrational enemy is much more dangerous than a bigger yet rational enemy. Hence the later becomes a friend when an irrational enemy is the immediate threat. …

Read more → ViewPoint