Tag Archives: unrest

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

BY FATIMA BHUTTO

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

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

Also read: At the receiving end of fanaticism

Who were the dead?

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

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

Mosques attacked

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

A country of ghosts

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

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

Maybe, then. Fifty-fifty chance.

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

Anything possible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simmering Unrest in Israel

Jerusalem Seethes as Competing Claims to Holy Site Turn Violent

By Jonathan Ferziger

Shrouded head to toe in black, the women slowly circled the domed mosque in east Jerusalem’s Old City, chanting, “Allahu akbar,” the Muslim declaration of faith.

“This is our home,” said a woman who introduced herself as Oum Mustafa, speaking through a gauze veil that fully covered her eyes. “Nobody can move us from here.”

No place in the Holy Land is as fiercely contested as the 37-acre hilltop compound where the Al-Aqsa mosque stands. The sacred ground has once again become the front line in competing claims to the city, pitting Jews demanding to pray at the shrine they call the Temple Mount against Palestinians who see that demand as an attempt to cement Israel’s grip on a city they hope to make their capital.

Amid a stalemate in peace negotiations, the Palestinian outrage is growing increasingly violent, leading to clashes with police at the compound that have infuriated parts of the Muslim world.

“Jerusalem is among the most sensitive issues in the conflict and it matters to Muslims all over the world,” said Jacob Perry, Israel’s science and technology minister and former head of the Shin Bet intelligence agency. “It is vital for both sides that anything involving the al-Aqsa mosque be handled in the most careful way possible.”

Simmering Unrest

The unrest at the site is feeding off violence that has been simmering in Arab areas of Jerusalem since a Palestinian youth was burned alive in July in suspected retribution for the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish youths in the West Bank. Fanning the unrest, Palestinian leaders say, is the breakdown of U.S.-sponsored peace talks, Israel’s 50-day conflict with Gaza Strip militants and Jewish settlement on land Palestinians claim for a state.

Some analysts warn that the clashes in Jerusalem will explode into a third Palestinian uprising against Israel; others say support for another revolt just isn’t there.

Jews venerate the Temple Mount above all other holy sites, as the location of their ancient biblical temple. For Muslim faithful, the al-Aqsa complex is Islam’s third-holiest shrine, the place they believe the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.

Political narratives collide on the mount, too. Palestinians claim all of east Jerusalem, including the Old City’s holy places, for the capital of a future state; the current Israeli government says it won’t cede Jerusalem’s eastern sector, annexed after the 1967 war in a move that isn’t internationally recognized. Peace negotiations have been tortured by disputes over control of the Old City.

Dueling Claims

The dueling claims have repeatedly touched off unrest. Rumors that Israel sought to destroy al-Aqsa to build a third temple ignited riots in the 1990s that left dozens of Palestinians dead. Ariel Sharon’s visit there in 2000 in a show of Israeli sovereignty touched off a cascade of violence that evolved into the second Palestinian uprising. Confrontations over Israeli excavation and construction at the shrine have sparked protests across the Muslim world.

After Israel captured the site from Jordan in 1967, it banned Jewish prayer there and left an Islamic trust known as the Waqf in charge of its administration. More Jews have begun questioning the ban on Jewish prayer and want to overturn it.

“I call on the public to visit the Temple Mount and on lawmakers to join the call to change the status quo to let Jews go to the Jewish people’s holiest place,” Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely said in a Nov. 4 post on her Facebook page.

Read more » Bloomberg
See more »http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-06/wrestling-over-jerusalem-shrine-underpins-renewal-of-violence.html?hootPostID=442fb75b75af9bbc0130c6bb76704444

 

Bosnia rocked by third day of anti-government unrest

By Dado Ruvic, TUZLA, Bosnia

(Reuters) – Protesters set fire to a government building and clashed with riot police in Bosnia on Friday in a third day of unrest over high unemployment and two decades of political inertia since the country’s 1992-95 war.

Demonstrators smashed windows and set fire to the offices of the local government in the northern town of Tuzla, while in the capital, Sarajevo, police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse a crowd of several thousand.

Protests were called for Friday in towns and cities across Bosnia, in a sign of growing anger over the lack of economic and political progress since the country broke from Yugoslavia in the early 1990s and descended into war. More than one in four of the country’s workforce were out of a job in 2013.

Read more » Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/07/us-bosnia-unrest-idUSBREA160UU20140207

A political economy of communalism in south Asia

Hyderbad: “You Strike & We will Strike back”.

The message of ‘21/2 Hyderabad serial terror attack

By Feroze Mithiborwala

The strategic& political target of the terror attack, is the historic 2-day Strike of the Working classes, where more than 12 core or 120 million workers both from the organized & unorganized sectors participated & brought India to a halt.

This working class strike surmounted all calculations due to the scale at which the enraged working classes participated. This strike has shaken up the corporate-political elite & that is why they have struck back with a serial terror attack, where now more than 15 citizens have died & 50 grievously injured. The terror attack was orchestrated in Dilsukh Nagar, where there is a busy market & many cinema halls.

If the working class unrest takes the proportions which we witness in many nations across the world such as Greece & Spain, the ruling elite will witness a massive crisis, due to the growing burdens of price-rise, decreasing wages, increasing scams, spiraling inflation, the growing insecurity of the peasantry, workers& laboring classes, as well as the ever-widening rich-poor divide.

Continue reading A political economy of communalism in south Asia

India’s Anna Hazare calls for waging war against Pakistan

. Teach Pakistan a lesson like 1965: Anna Hazare

Social activist Anna Hazare on Thursday demanded that India should “teach Pakistan a lesson” like it did in 1965 for the brutal killing of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops in Jammu and Kashmir. “What they have done is simply unacceptable. How can they mutilate and take away the head of our soldier? This cannot be tolerated by any person,” Hazare told reporters at Ralegan-Siddhi in Maharashtra.

“Pakistan seems to have forgotten the beating it took in the 1965 war with India. Don’t they remember how they begged for mercy when Lahore was bombed during that war? But on and off, it keeps raising its head against India. We want a repeat of 1965. Pakistan should be taught a lesson again,” Hazare said.

The 75-year-old also expressed his willingness to go to the border and fight enemy soldiers. Hazare served in the Indian Army for 12 years before he was honourably discharged from service in 1975.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times
http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Maharashtra/Teach-Pakistan-a-lesson-like-1965-Anna-Hazare/Article1-987929.aspx

More details » The Express Tribune
http://tribune.com.pk/story/492600/loc-unrest-indias-anna-hazare-calls-for-waging-war-against-pakistan/

– – – – – – – – – – – –
More» Indian media’s response to soldiers’ killing jingoistic?
http://ibnlive.in.com/shows/The+Last+Word/315047.html

U.S. Questions Islamabad’s Balochistan Crackdown

The U.S. Representative to the UN Human Rights Council has expressed “serious concern” over Pakistan’s violent response to separatists in southwestern Balochistan Province.

Ambassador Eileen Donahoe told the council in Geneva on October 30 that Washington has serious reservations about human rights situation in Balochistan.

She said Pakistan Army operations there are “aimed at silencing dissent.”

She said Pakistan should ensure that those guilty of torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings must be prosecuted.

Donahoe made the remarks during Pakistan’s Universal Periodic Review.

All UN members are expect to undergo such a review of their human rights record every four years.

Thousands of civilians, soldiers, and guerillas have been killed in eight years of unrest in the vast desert region where numerous ethnic Balochi factions are fighting for independence from Pakistan.

Based on reporting by Reuters and BBC Urdu

Courtesy: rferl

http://www.rferl.org/content/us-concern-pakistan-balochistan-crackdown/24756729.html 

Via – Facebook, Twitter » TF’s tweet

Burma acknowledges mass burnings and massacres of Muslims in country. The silence of Aung San Suu Kyi is troubling

Burma acknowledges mass burnings in Rakhine unrest

Burma’s president has acknowledged major destruction in the west of the country, scene of recent ethnic unrest.

“There have been incidents of whole villages and parts of the towns being burnt down in Rakhine state,” Thein Sein’s spokesman told the BBC.

He was speaking after Human Rights Watch released satellite pictures showing hundreds of buildings destroyed in the coastal town of Kyaukpyu alone.

It says the victims were mostly Muslim Rohingya, targeted by non-Muslims.

Presidential spokesman Zaw Htay told the BBC the government was tightening security in Rakhine state, which is also known as Arakan.

“If necessary, we will send more police and military troops in order to get back stability,” he added.

There is long-standing tension between ethnic Rakhine people, who make up the majority of the state’s population, and Muslims, many of whom are Rohingya and are stateless.

Continue reading Burma acknowledges mass burnings and massacres of Muslims in country. The silence of Aung San Suu Kyi is troubling

ANP to file petition in SC against Sindh-government

ISLAMABAD – Awami National Party (ANP) has decided to file a petition against Sindh government for non-implementation of Supreme Court’s ruling in Karachi-unrest case. Sources said ANP’s counsel Iftikhar Gilani has started preparing the petition and will file it in the Supreme Court next week.

The petition will support the stance that the Sindh government has deliberately been indifferent to the verdict of the apex court in Karachi, Sindh, sou motu case and has not implemented it, sources added.

The petitioner will stress upon the notion that all the office-holders of the Sindh government are creating hurdles in the way of peace in Karachi, Sindh. He would state that certain high-level political personalities are backing the criminal elements in Karachi such that workers of some political parties are involved in extortion.

The petitioner is expected to state that political influence dominates Sindh police and the authorities hire the ‘ favorites’ in the department.

Courtesy: Pakistan Today

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/10/03/news/national/anp-to-file-petition-in-sc-against-sindh-government/

Chinese bank pulls out of Pakistan-Iran pipeline project

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China won’t help finance the natural gas pipeline to Pakistan, apparently because of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

By Paul Richter and Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Washington and Islamabad, Pakistan—

China’s largest bank has backed out of a deal to finance a proposed Iran-to-Pakistan gas pipeline that is opposed by the United States, a potential sign of the lengthening reach of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran.

Pakistani officials confirmed Wednesday that Industrial and Commercial Bank of China had withdrawn from plans to head a consortium that would finance the $1.6-billion Pakistani portion of the cross-border pipeline, apparently over concern that the bank could be excluded from the U.S. economy.

Continue reading Chinese bank pulls out of Pakistan-Iran pipeline project

Sindhi middle class politics

By Javed Ahmed Qazi

Sindhi politics are a paradox. When there is democracy, the political pendulum swings towards the PPP, and when there is dictatorship, people support ethnic politic parties.

The ethnic parties that represent the middle class hardly ever win legislative assembly seats. But when they called strikes recently, the entire province came to a standstill. And that is a sign the middle class is starting to matter.

Although separatist movements are more popular in Balochistan, their flags are not displayed openly. SindhuDesh flags are seen all over the Sindh.

In his book Idea of Pakistan, Stephan Cohen says: “An independent Sindh would block the access of the rest of Pakistan to the sea. Separatist movements there were intolerable to the central government and a mixture of inducement and punishment was applied to keep the nationalist sentiments in check.” But “Sindhi separatist feeling still exists today, and political unrest runs deep”.

Sindhi nationalists are generally anti-establishment, and are not ready to stop supporting the PPP for either ZulfiqarMirza or MarviMemon.

The hub of middle-class Sindi politics is the Qasimabad town of Hyderabad. For a long time, Sindh University in Jamsharo supplied its cadres. Dr QadirMagsi, Bashir Qureshi, and Gul Muhammad Jakhrani began politics when they were students. But partly because of the ban on student unions and partly because of two streams of education, that has changed.

Hyderabad is also the hub of Sindhi press, and editorial pages specifically address issues of ethnic orientation – governance, economy, taxes, and long standing water related debates.

The middle class has grown substantially all over the province in the last few decades, but the economy is not entrepreneurial. Most middle-class professionals are teachers, journalists, retailers, clerics, government employees, or skilled workers.

The birth of the middle in Sindh began in the 1970s when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto gave out government jobs, set up universities and built roads in the province. But eventually, he also sternly suppressed middle class political voices.

The ethnic Sindhi middle class has traditionally been wary of the Punjabis as well as the Mohajirs. While President AsifZardari has helped pacify the Mohajir-Sindhi differences in the recent past, issues between the two groups remain unresolved.

Ethnic Sindhis also have concerns about distribution of river water with Punjab and are especially concerned about the proposed Kalabagh Dam.

Sindhi politics have been secular and Sufi-leaning so far, but Taliban-friendly seminaries have recently made inroads in northern Sindh. The development has specifically concerned Sindh’s Hindu community, but Shias are comparatively safe.

A vast majority of Sindhis is Sunni, but they have immense respect of Shias. Many Sindhi feudals are also Shia. A large number of Sufi shrines are taken care of by Shias, and even Hindus have a say in the affairs of those shrines.

Hindus and Muslims lived peacefully in Sindh before Partition, and the Sindhi middle class accuses the feudals of having instigated Hindu-Muslim riots for political gains. Middle-class Sindhi politicians were popular in Sindh before the riots, it is said, and Shiekh Abdul Majeed Sindhi defeated Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto, father of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in the 1937 elections.

Sindhi ethnic parties had also supported Sheikh MujiburRehman, because there was a perception in Sindh that the Bengali nationalist movement and Sindhi nationalist movement had common goals and a common rival – the middle class of Punjab.

The demand for an independent SindhuDesh was first made in 1973, but it has never been as popular as the separatist movement of Bangladesh, or even the recent separatist movement in Balochistan.

Courtesy: Friday Times

Pro-democracy protest: Protestors threaten civilian unrest if govt toppled

LAHORE: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Civil Society Network and Center for Peace protested against the judiciary and army on Thursday, warning the two institutions of civilian unrest if they tried to topple the PPP led coalition government.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Abdullah Malik, advisor to the Punjab governor, said that “The participants sensing the current democratic to be in danger have decided to come out on the roads to show their solidarity with the democracy.”

He added that only people had the right to change the government through their vote in a democracy and not the judge or the generals.

PPP members along with prominent representatives of civil society demonstrated in favour of the current democratic government at the Liberty roundabout.

Participants warned the judiciary and army that if it tried to topple the PPP led coalition government by using the Memogate affair as an excuse, then the civil society will protest on the streets.

Civil Society Network and Center for Peace members, including IA Rehman, Hussain Naqi, Shah Taj Qizilbash, Abdullah Malik along with South Asia Free Media Association’s (SAFMA) Anjum Rashid, Imtiazul Haq, Shoaib Adil and Amina Malik participated in the demonstration.

Other PPP members at the protest included Deputy Parliamentary Leader in the Punjab Assembly, Azma Bukhari and Altaf Qureshi. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

Najam Sethi ringing alarm bells – by Dilshad Chandio

– Najam Shady ringing alarm bells – Dilshad Chandio

On wednesday night ( September 21st, 2011) in his show, Najam Sethi alluded to a joint ghairat brigade assault on the PPP govt given deteriorating relations with America on the Haqqani network issue. His analysis went thus: the US exasperated by the lack of will to take on the Haqqani network by the Pakistanis will do an intensive strike – drone or otherwise – in North Waziristan.

According to Sethi (known as shady by those who have known him a long time!) this will create a massive uproar by the media, most political parties and even the judiciary. There may be an incident (according to NS), say, in a massive demo outside the US embassy, which will trigger massive unrest. The fallguy in all this will be the PPP govt and Zardari in particular. Sethi also stated that the entire process will be controlled/manipulated by the army. He also stated that ANP will go along with N League once the chorus starts and join the right wing coalition. Also MQM will make a familiar volte face and join the side that appears more powerful. …

Read more → LUBP

Pakistan Preparing to Defend itself?

– Is Pakistan Preparing to Defend Herself?

by Meinhaj Hussain

The global economic downturn appears to be never-ending. Political unrest is acute around the world. The lack of respect for international law has never been greater. Nations are arming despite the downturn and doing so at a rate that does not suggest modernization or replacement. With all said and done, this could still not spell imminent danger. But with China arming Pakistan with such urgency as to forgo its own defense needs, something appears to be happening behind secure doors, walls, guards, wire-fences and surveillance cameras.

The Chinese military-industrial complex has been busy over the last two decades at full throttle, attempting to catch-up to the West. There have been many stumbling points, including a frustrating inability to produce quality turbo-fan engines for her fighters, the loss of top Electronic Warfare (EW) and airborne radar scientists and rivalries between different corporatocracies.

However, in 2011, China has finally reached a position where it can begin to see itself as comparable to the West in key aspects such as technology, expertise and military capability.

At the critical juncture where the successful J-10B is to enter mass production and produce a dazzling plane deploying AESA radars and other advanced military technology, we find a strange occurrence. China has dedicated its J-10B production to meet Pakistan’s pressing needs. Such a level of cooperation and collaboration is unparalleled in modern history. Not even the United States has been willing to act in a similar fashion with Israel.

The Soviet Union and United States have long had allied states but have never sacrificed their own defense needs for its allies in a similar manner. China is not only willing to send J-10Bs, 58 odd planes of which are being produced for Pakistan with special customization as per the requirements of the Pakistan Air Force, but is also handing 50 new JF-17 Block IIs with stealth technology and possibly AESA radars.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Navy (PN) is slated for brand new submarines at financing that is beyond friendship prices and rates. Again, China’s latest submarine the Type 043 Qing Class, yet to be inducted into the Chinese navy and the pride of China’s technological and engineering elite, is being manufactured for Pakistan.

Six odd submarines, which are among the largest conventional vessels manufactured by humanity thus far and closer to the displacement of nuclear submarines, capable of firing nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and possibly a single ballistic missile are also part of a rapid program to transform the Pakistan Navy. The submarines are technological on par with anything the West can or has built with regard to conventional submarines. These behemoths and technological marvels are built on technologies that has taken over 20 years for China to develop including Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) that allows submarines to stay submerged for weeks and (possibly) pump jet propulsion, a propulsion system yet to be implemented even in Western conventional submarines. …

Read more → grandestrategy

Sindh – Ex-MP and PPP’s senior leader Waja Karim Dad Baloch shot dead in Karachi

– PPP member Waja Karim Dad killed in Karachi

KARACHI: Ex-MNA and Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) senior leader Waja Karim Dad was shot dead in the Kharadar area in Karachi on Wednesday by unknown men, DawnNews reported. Waja was at a restaurant along with friends for Iftar, when unknown gunmen opened fire on him. He sustained critical injuries and breathed his last at the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK), said police.

Courtesy: → DAWN.COM

China’s riot town: ‘No one else is listening’

By Eunice Yoon, CNN

The authorities here are obviously nervous. My crew and I are sitting in a local government building being questioned by six propaganda officials.

One of them is scribbling down our credentials in a worn pocket-sized notebook. My producer, Steven Jiang, is talking non-stop to one officer who looks especially nonplussed.

We traveled to the manufacturing town of Xintang to investigate why thousands of migrant workers suddenly took to the streets just a week ago.

We knew the unrest was triggered by what appeared to be a minor event — a pregnant migrant worker and her husband got in a scuffle with city officials and she ended up falling on the ground.

However, the ferocity by which this dispute exploded in a massive conflagration, pitting thousands of enraged workers against hundreds of riot police, took many by surprise.

The unrest seems to belie the image of China as a bustling economy going from strength to strength, enriching the lives of millions across the country, especially in the industrial south. But the problem is many people feel they are not getting their fair share of the rapid growth. …

Read more: → CNN

Pakistan: the situation inside

The natives getting restless – by Mujahid Hussain

The anti-Army feelings among the influential political parties, religious and jihadist parties and outfits are increasing in the traditionally pro-Army province of Punjab. The failure of the Army and the Central Government in Balochistan is calamitous. The extremism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has not been beaten

Recent events have caused the army and its intelligence wing to be exposed to criticism in a manner never seen before in this country. This estrangement does not apply to the religious right alone anymore, who were already angry because of their one dimensional view on the war on terror. Both the religious and the left wing parties have felt emotions of betrayal and anger towards the army for different reasons. The liberal intellectuals who support the army in the war on terror, have expressed concerns about the duplicity and the modus operandi of the intelligence agencies.

Usama Bin Ladin’s death in Abbottabad, Mehran Base Attack, successive drone attacks, and now the killing of a youth by the Rangers in Karachi in public, has caused the decibel levels to rise as never before.

The less than complimentary views about the army expressed by Asma Jahangir, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and the torch bearer of Human Rights, has created a new situation. The reaction of the military top brass has been to rely on its carefully nurtured constituency in journalism, politics, establishment and other vocal segments of the society, to stick to the well rehearsed standard narrative, offering the usual rewards in return.

On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif intends to exploit this situation, for he knows full well that his rivals are weak and that internal and external factors may allow him to gain political ascendancy. There is no evidence coming to the fore that the army has grasped the significance of the change in the public mood and increasing disillusionment among its traditional supporters.

It does not seem that the army has yet decided to curtail its role in politics. History, however, is full of ironies. The coziness with the Army that was the preserve of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Group [PML-N] is now enjoyed by the Pakistan Peoples’ Party [PPP], given expression through the statements of Rahman Malik, Babar Awan, and Firdous Ashiq Awan. All three are new PPP faces whereas the traditional party leaders have lost their pre-eminence. On the other hand, the PML-N members are moving towards the role played by the PPP workers during and following the Zia regime. Jamaat-e-Islami [JI] has lost favour and Imran Khan has stepped into its shoes.

Whereas the brittleness of the state has become obvious in these circumstance, its only stable institution, the Army, is also facing retreat and uncertainty. The situation in the tribal regions is a stalemate. The anti-Army feelings among the influential political parties, religious and jihadist parties and outfits are increasing in the traditionally pro-Army province of Punjab. The failure of the Army and the Central Government in Balochistan is calamitous. The extremism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has not been beaten. In Sindh, the increasing unrest in cities is not a good omen for all unitary forces including the Army even though there is no prominent movement in the rural Sindh. …

Read more: ViewPoint

Yemen leader Saleh agrees to step down

Yemen leader Saleh agrees to step down under Gulf plan

President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen has agreed to step down under a 30-day transition plan aimed at ending violent unrest over his 32-year rule.

Officials in the capital Sanaa confirmed the government had accepted the plan drawn up by Gulf Arab states.

Mr Saleh will hand power to his vice-president one month after an agreement is signed with the opposition, in return for immunity from prosecution.

At least 120 people have died during two months of protests.

The US has welcomed the announcement; a statement from the White House urged all parties to “swiftly” implement a peaceful transfer of power ….

Read more : BBC

Syria unrest: ‘Bloodiest day’ as troops fire on rallies

At least 72 protesters have been killed by security forces in Syria, rights groups say – the highest reported death toll in five weeks of unrest there.

Demonstrators were shot, witnesses say, as thousands rallied across the country, a day after a decades-long state of emergency was lifted.

Many deaths reportedly occurred in a village near Deraa in the south, and in a suburb of the capital, Damascus.

The US White House urged the government to stop attacking demonstrators.

Spokesman Jay Carney said it should “cease and desist in the use of violence against protesters” and follow through on promised reforms.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was “extremely concerned” by reports of deaths and casualties across Syria and urged restraint on the country’s authorities.

“Political reforms should be brought forward and implemented without delay,” he said. “The Emergency Law should be lifted in practice, not just in word.”

Live ammunition

Protesters – said to number tens of thousands – chanted for the overthrow of the regime, Reuters news agency reports.

Video images coming out of Syria show footage of many confrontations where live ammunition was used.

President Bashar al-Assad’s lifting of the emergency had been seen as a concession to the protesters.

In their first joint statement since the protests broke out, activists co-ordinating the mass demonstrations demanded the establishment of a democratic political system.

Political unrest in Syria developed after revolts elsewhere in the Arab world, which saw the downfall of the Tunisian and Egyptian presidents and an ongoing civil war in Libya.

At least 260 people are said to have died since it began last month.

‘Rain of bullets’ …

Read more : BBC

Anti-government protests held across Syria

Syria: Clashes at mass Damascus protest

Syrian security forces have used tear gas and batons to disperse tens of thousands of protesters in the capital, Damascus, witnesses said.

The protesters called for reforms, while some demanded the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.

The protests, in Damascus and other cities, are believed to be the largest in a month of unrest in which about 200 people have been reported killed. …

Read more : BBC

Unrest in the Arab world: Islamabad assures Riyadh of support!

By Qaiser Butt

ISLAMABAD: In the backdrop of the current political uprisings in the Arab world, Pakistan has decided to play a significant role in the region by supporting Saudi Arabia, sources told The Express Tribune.

The decision came following a string of meetings that Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, special emissary of the Saudi king, had with the Pakistani leadership over the weekend.

The Saudi royal family scion met the top political and military leaders ….

Read more : The Express Tribune

Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state

Failed state or Weimar Republic?

Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state, still committed to American and Gulf Arab alliances

By Omar Ali

A friend recently wrote to me that Pakistan reminded him of the Weimar republic; an anarchic and poorly managed democracy with some real freedoms and an explosion of artistic creativity, but also with a dangerous fascist ideology attracting more and more adherents as people tire of economic hardship and social disorder and yearn for a savior. Others (much more numerous than the single friend who suggested the Weimar comparison) insist that Pakistan is a failed state. So which is it? Is Pakistan the Weimar republic of the day or is it a failed state?

Continue reading Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state

Please show respect to the millions of people in Arab countries who have risen against dictatorships. It is an insult to them if you consider their movements US-inspired-instigated

Unrest in Syria: What you need to know

By Zachary Roth

The uprising in Libya, which provoked military intervention by the United States and its allies to avert a brutal government crackdown, has dominated this week’s headlines. But meanwhile, there’s new unrest in yet another Middle Eastern nation–one with perhaps greater strategic implications for the United States.

Could the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad be set to go the way of the dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia, which were toppled last month by massive popular protests? And what would that mean for the U.S.?

Here’s a rundown on the current situation in Syria:

What exactly has been happening on the ground?

Mass protests against the government have been going on since last week, and on Wednesday, demonstrators in the southern city of Dara’a were killed by al-Assad’s security forces while taking refuge in a mosque. The number of casualties hasn’t been confirmed, but some witnesses have put it as high as 100.

The deaths prompted even bigger anti-government demonstrations in Dara’a yesterday, and today the protests spread to the capital city of Damascus, where people called out: “Dara’a is Syria” and “We will sacrifice ourselves for Syria.” In response, supporters of the president chanted back: “God, Syria, and Bashar, that’s all.” ….

Read more : YahooNews

Syrian Troops Open Fire on Protesters in Several Cities

MICHAEL SLACKMAN

CAIRO — Military troops opened fire on protesters in the southern part of Syria on Friday, according to news reports quoting witnesses, hurtling the strategically important nation along the same trajectory that has altered the landscape of power across the Arab world.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators in the southern city of Dara’a, on the border with Jordan, and in some other cities and towns around the nation took to the streets in protest, defying a state that has once again demonstrated its willingness to use lethal force. It was the most serious challenge to 40 years of repressive rule by the Assad family since 1982, when the president at the time, Hafez al-Assad, massacred at least 10,000 protesters in the northern Syrian city of Hama. …

Read more : Wichaar

Bahrain unrest: King Hamad says foreign plot foiled

The king of Bahrain says a foreign-backed plot against his country has been foiled following a month of anti-government protests.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa thanked troops from nearby countries, mostly Saudi Arabian, who were brought in last week to put down the unrest.

He did not give any details of who was behind the alleged plot. …

Read more : Wichaar

Fresh protests in Syria

Syria: Protesters in south set fire to buildings

Demonstrators in the southern Syrian city of Deraa have set fire to several buildings during a third consecutive day of protests, witnesses say.

One report said the buildings targeted included the headquarters of the ruling Baath Party.

Police tried to disperse protesters in the southern city, and one demonstrator was reportedly killed.

Violent clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces on Friday left at least four people dead.

The protests on Sunday came as a government delegation arrived in Deraa to offer condolences for those killed.

Residents told Reuters news agency that protesters had set fire to symbols of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, including the Baath Party building, a courthouse and two branches of a phone company owned by the president’s cousin.

Earlier, protesters in Deraa called for an end to Syria’s 48-year-old emergency law, and for the dismissal of officials involved in Friday’s crackdown, reports said. …

Read more : BBC

PAKISTAN IN CRISIS

Ahmed Rashid, Author and Journalist

With the recent assassination of Salman Taseer, governor of the province of Punjab, one of the strongest voices for democracy and secularism in the Pakistan People’s Party has been silenced. The government is in crisis, and the economy has been in freefall since the International Monetary Fund halted its loans to the country last year. Ahmed Rashid warns that the situation in Pakistan is potentially worse than in neighboring Afghanistan. This unrest comes at a crucial time when the United States is seeking increased cooperation with Islamabad on the war in Afghanistan and combating terrorism. What is the future of Pakistan’s partnership with the United States, and what will be Pakistan’s role in defining regional order before NATO pulls out of Afghanistan in 2014? …

Read more : The Chicago Council

Libya protests: Death toll mounts as unrest spreads

Rights groups say there is a rising death toll from clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in Libya.

Amnesty said 43 people had died in protests on Thursday, while other reports suggested dozens more were killed on Friday. The government has blocked websites and shut off electricity in some areas. State media outlets have warned of retaliation against anyone criticising Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The mainstay of the unrest is in regional towns and cities, where many people live in poverty.

Foreign journalists operate under restrictions in Libya, so it has been difficult to independently verify much of the information coming out of the country.

But the BBC has confirmed that several websites – including Facebook and al-Jazeera Arabic – have been blocked.

And the airport in Benghazi, the country’s second largest city, has been closed, amid reports that protesters have taken it over. …

Read more : BBC

Long live the people, fighting for the democracy, freedom and justice

Bahrain protests: Angry mourners bury clashes victims

France announced on Friday it had suspended exports of security equipment bound for Bahrain and Libya, where protests have also been suppressed by the authorities.

The BBC’s Caroline Hawley in Manama: “I saw men with tears in their eyes

Thousands of people have been voicing anger against Bahrain’s authorities at the funerals of victims of Thursday’s clashes which left four dead.

Crowds attending Friday prayers joined the funeral processions, calling for the overthrow of the ruling family. …

Read more : BBC

Unrest Spreads, Some Violently, in Middle East

By NEIL MacFARQUHAR

……. The protests are a fire alarm that the promises are not going to work anymore, said Sawsan al-Shaer, a Bahraini columnist. But governments that have stuck around for 20 to 40 years are slow to realize that, she said.

“Now the sons are coming, the new generation, and they are saying, ‘I don’t care that my father agreed with you — I am asking for more, and I am asking for something else,’” Ms. Shaer said.

Most rulers have surrounded themselves with a tight coterie of advisers and security officers for so long that they believe the advice that just a few young people are knocking around outside and will tire in good time, she said, even after the fall of the presidents in Tunisia and Egypt.

“The rulers don’t realize there is a new generation who want a better job, who want to ask what is happening, where did you spend the money?” Ms. Shaer said. “My father did not ask. I want to ask.”

The growing population throughout the 3,175-mile zone from Tehran to Tangier, Morocco, has changed too much, analysts believe, for the old systems to work.

“There is a contradiction between educating a lot of your population and creating a white-collar middle class and then ruling with an iron hand,” said Juan R. Cole, a professor of Middle East studies at the University of Michigan.

To read full article : The New York Times