Wednesday, September 20, 2017

#SahiwalBhuttoKa - Bilawal Bhutto zardari full speech Sahiwal 20 September 2017

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto celebrates 29th birthday today

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari turned 29 today. He is a popular political leader and developing a positive clout on national political horizon.

#SahiwalBhuttoKa - ‘Thank you Sahiwal’ Bilawal appreciates people of Sahiwal for grand PPP jalsa

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has appreciated the efforts of the people of Sahiwal for making PPP jalsa a successful and historical one. He in his Twitter message has thanked the people of Sahiwal for such a huge rally. Earlier he in his speech said that his life and death were with people as he belonged to the party of martyrs.

#SahiwalBhuttoKa - Main Teer Jan Bija

#SahiwalBhuttoKa - Kal Bhi Bhutto Zinda Tha

#SahiwalBhuttoKa - Z A BHUTTO - Kitne Maqbool Hain

This will be my first and opponents’ last election: Bilawal Bhutto

Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Wednesday that the general election of 2018 would be his first one and his opponents' last one.

Addressing a large public gathering in Sahiwal, the Bhutto scion said that it was unfortunate how the politics of today was held hostage by the industrial mindset.
"The rulers of today aren't concerned with the problems of the people," he said. "They are more concerned with their business dealings," he added.
Bilawal said that his relationship with Sahiwal was built on culture and tolerance. He said that Benazir Bhutto and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had fulfilled their promises to the people of Sahiwal during their lifetime.
Bilawal promised participants of the rally that once his party comes into power, it would help form a policy that would be friendly towards the farmers.
"We will also increased the wages of the labourers," he said. "Providing wages is the government's obligation and your right," he added.
Bilawal Bhutto also took shots at PTI chairman Imran Khan when he said that those who were clamouring for fake change were in reality liars.
"I do not believe in the politics of abuse; rather I have faith in clean politics," he said.
Bilawal asked for the support of the labourers and farmers, stating that PPP would go to every cottage in every village.

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR PEACE: Terrorism devastative for future human generations: Bilawal Bhutto

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has stressed for global efforts for ensuring international peace to save future human generations from devastative effectives being posed by organized terrorism across the world.
In his message on the occasion of International Day for Peace being observed tomorrow worldwide, the PPP Chairman endorsed the United Nations theme for 2017 “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pointed out that Pakistan is the worst victim of terrorism in the world we have lost over 50,000 citizens in international war against terror besides huge suffering financial and economic slaughter.
He pointed out that democracy is the best and most effective weapon against terrorism and for bringing in peace on the world map.
He said that PPP was equal partner in the international initiatives for peace and our former leadership Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto were in fact punished and killed for their initiatives for global peace.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pledged that his Party would never shun its struggle for peace, prosperity and justice and continue to support every step taken for the national and international peace.

The Pashtuns Are The Tribes Of Israel

The Pashtuns, who live in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, have a very special tradition, which says they are Bene Israel, and is widely spread among some of the Pashtun tribes. In this article we intend to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this tradition is true, and they are in fact the descendants of the 10 tribes of Israel, who were taken to Afghanistan thousands of years ago.
The fact is that some Pashtun tribes have a tradition of being the people of Israel (Bene Israel), meaning they descended from our father Yaakov. It is even told that the Afghan king once asked the Afghan Jews from which tribe they are, when they answered they don’t know the king said that the Pashtuns do, and that the king is from the tribe of Benyamin. In particular, I heard myself from Pashtuns from the tribes of Lewani, Benyamin, Afridi, Shinwari and more, that their grandfathers told them they are Bene Israel, and it is well known that this tradition is spread through most (or all) of the Pashtuns tribes.
Some Pashtuns, especially from young generations, are doubting that this is true. In this article I’ll explore the possibilities of how this tradition could have originated. From this exploration it will become clear that doubting the truthfulness of this tradition is irrational. I would also outline some common traditions of Pashtuns and Jews, some of them are based on the Torah, which further confirm that this tradition is true and that Pashtuns are really Bene Israel. I’ll then say a few words about DNA testing and finally talk about the implications of this tradition.
The possibilities for the origin of the tradition
There are 2 possibilities for how this tradition could have originated. The simple one is that it is true. The more complex one is that it is false. If it is false, it had to originate somehow. There are 3 possible ways this tradition could have originated if it is false:
  1. At some point in time someone forced the Pashtuns into believing they are Bene Israel.
  2. At some point in time someone convinced the Pashtuns into believing they are Bene Israel.
  3. At some point in time some Pashtuns created this tradition in a major conspiracy.
Anyone who has doubts in this tradition must explain how it originated. We will now go through those possible explanations (assuming the tradition is false) and show that each of them is far-fetched and as close to impossible as it gets.
Someone forced the Pashtuns into believing in this tradition
According to this explanation for the origin of this tradition, at some generation A, someone (or a group of people) came along and threatened the Pashtuns that if they won’t teach their children they are Bene Israel, something terrible is going to happen to them. Time had passed, and at generation B the tradition was already so acceptable, that not only many (probably most) of the Pashtuns believed it, but they completely forgot that once, at generation A, someone forced their ancestors into believing it (it is a fact that now no one remember of such a person who forced the Pashtuns into believing in this tradition).
For this explanation to be rationally accepted, we have to believe that:
  1. Someone had a motive for forcing the Pashtuns into believing they are Bene Israel.
  2. That person had the means to force generation A into believing it.
  3. In some of the generations that followed generation A, there had to be someone who shared this motive and those means, or else, after 1-2 generations this tradition would have been recognized as false and it would have disappeared.
I think that it is safe to say that we have no rational reason for believing that any of those conditions is true, because:
(1) It doesn’t seem reasonable to believe that anyone had ever had a motive for forcing the Pashtuns into believing they are Bene Israel.
(2) In addition, we clearly see today that Pashtuns would not let go of their traditions without a fight, and we have no reason to think it was different in any previous generation. Therefore, even if anyone had the motive, he would probably have to kill many Pashtuns before he could force this tradition upon them. If that happened, it would have been remembered, both by the Pashtuns themselves and by their neighbours, and there would have been some archaeological and historical records of this genocide. As far as I know, there isn’t any such evidence.
(3) Finally, if believing it was possible at one generation is far-fetched, believing some people did that for many generations is close to insanity.
(4) Even if we ignore the problems outlined above, it would still be highly unlikely that this event of forcing this tradition upon the Pashtuns would have been forgotten.
Therefore, the belief that Pashtuns are not really Bene Israel cannot be rationally based on this explanation.
Someone convinced the Pashtuns into believing in this tradition
According to this explanation for the origin of this tradition, at some generation A, someone (or a group of people) came along and convinced the Pashtuns that they are really Bene Israel, although they never heard of it before. Time had passed, and at generation B the tradition was already so acceptable, that not only many (probably most) of the Pashtuns believed it, but they completely forgot that once, at generation A, someone invented it and convinced their ancestors it is true.
For this explanation to be rationally accepted, we have to believe that:
  1. Someone had a motive for convincing the Pashtuns into believing they are Bene Israel.
  2. That person had such strong arguments that he managed to convince people they are something they are not.
  3. In some of the generations that followed generation A, people who questioned this tradition were convinced again and again that it is true using those arguments.
  4. The Pashtuns at generation A had to have no tradition of their true origin, or they let go of their previously held tradition because the arguments they are Bene Israel were so strong.
I think that it is safe to say that we have no rational reason for believing that any of those conditions is true, because:
(1) Like we said before, it doesn’t seem reasonable to believe that anyone had ever had a motive for convincing the Pashtuns into believing they are Bene Israel.
(2) What could have been those arguments? If we ignore the tradition the Pashtuns are Bene Israel, even with the other common traditions of Pashtuns and Jews, there aren’t strong enough arguments to convince anyone, especially not the Pashtuns themselves, that the Pashtuns are something they are not (remember that at generation A the Pashtuns didn’t have any tradition of being Bene Israel according to this explanation).
(3) Even though some people are stupid, there are always, in every nation, those who are smart and ask questions. If enough people, at generation A or at the following generations, were smart, there’s no way this tradition would have been accepted, and I don’t think it is rational to believe that some generations of Pashtuns were so stupid. In fact, a lot of Pashtuns are very intelligent people, and from that we can safely conclude that their ancestors were intelligent too.
(4) There’s no historical record for this event of convincing the Pashtuns they are something they are not.
(5) It is unlikely that the Pashtuns in generation A let go of a previously held tradition, no matter what arguments were given to them. We’d have to believe they had no idea who they are.
(6) Even if we ignore the problems outlined above, it would still be highly unlikely that this event of convincing this tradition upon the Pashtuns would have been forgotten.
Therefore, the belief that Pashtuns are not really Bene Israel cannot be rationally based on this explanation.
Some Pashtuns created this tradition
According to this explanation for the origin of this tradition, at some generation A, some Pashtuns decided they are Bene Israel. Then they convinced or forced the other Pashtuns, although no one has ever heard of it before. Time had passed, and at generation B the tradition was already so acceptable, that not only many (probably most) of the Pashtuns believed it, but they completely forgot that once, at generation A, some Pashtuns invented it and convinced or forced others it is true.
The same arguments that were given above are all relevant to this explanation, only now the problems are much more profound, because we have to believe that the ones who forced or convinced other Pashtuns were Pashtuns themselves (and if it was done by convincing, they had to be superb liars).
Therefore, the belief that Pashtuns are not really Bene Israel cannot be rationally based on this explanation.
We previously outlined taxonomy of all the possible explanations for the origin of the tradition that Pashtuns are Bene Israel, assuming it is false. Because all of the explanations are irrational, we must conclude that the tradition is true, and at some generation A the Pashtuns really lived in the land of Israel and knew for a fact they are Bene Israel. They were then taken to Afghanistan and the area around it (according to the bible, they were taken by the Assyrians), where they lived and passed this tradition from generation to generation.
Common traditions of Pashtuns and Jews
Although the common traditions of Pashtuns and Jews might not be enough on their own to prove Pashtuns are Israelis, they can certainly be used for further confirmation that our conclusion is correct. Amongst the common traditions are:
Lighting candles before Saturday (Shabbat):
Not eating sea-creatures such as lobsters, shrimps, and crabs, and animals like camels and horses, and meat with cheese. These are, in fact, not Kosher (cannot be eaten) according to the Torah given to the people of Israel by God through Moses.
Circumcision on the 8th day:
The days of the week are called by their numbers, like in Hebrew, except for Friday which is called by its Arabic name Jummah جمعه (it is a holy day for Muslims) and Saturday which is called Shambah, in the Torah (and in Hebrew) it is called Shabbat (Shabath).
Wearing a small hat, In Hebrew they are called Kipa:
Wearing a square piece of clothing by men. In Hebrew it is called Talith. In Pashtun, it is Shawl/Sadaar:

A man marries his dead brother’s widow if the brother didn’t have children. In the Torah it is called Yibum.
In Weddings there’s a piece of fabric hanging above the marrying couple. In Hebrew it is called Hupa. In Pashto it is called Dolaye,
In some Pashtuns weddings, the bride breaks a glass (in particular, I heard it is done by Pashtuns in Kandahar). In Jew’s weddings the groom breaks it. This is actually a relatively new tradition that Jews do for the remembrance of the destroyed Temple, so it is likely that Pashtuns heard of this tradition after they have already been exiled and added it to their other Israeli traditions.
Some Pashtun women grow side brows (called Kamsai in Pashto). A lot of Jewish males do that too (mainly Hasidim (Ashkenazi) and Yemen Jews). Jews and Pashtuns are probably the only ones in the world who do this:
PI sidebrow
Using names like Yaakov (Christians use Jacob but only Jews and Pashtuns use it as it should be pronounced), Israel, Barak, Asaf, Benyamin, Kenan, Tamir, Timor, Shir, Sahar, etc.
Other evidence includes names of places in Afghanistan and Kashmir that resemble ancient towns in Israel that are mentioned in the bible. And some say that until not so long ago, one of the names of the Amu Darya (RiverOxus) was Gozan, which is mentioned as one of the placed the damn Assyrians exiled the people of Israel to. There are also the names of tribes that resemble the children of Yaakov (the names of the Israeli tribes), like Lewani (Lewi), Daftali (Naftali), Yusufzai (children of Yussuf-Yossef), Rubanni (Reuven), Afridi (Efrayim) etc. Also parts of the Pashtunwali resemble some parts of the Torah.
Some Pashtuns also have Jewish artifacts. For example, I heard first hand from a Lewani Pashtun that his grandmother had these jewelries:

If we add those traditions to what we said above, we can be confident that our conclusion is correct.
DNA Testing
Here it is said that almost half of Indian Afridi Pathans are very close genetically to Jews. I heard from some Pashtuns that Pathans are actually Pashtuns that mixed with other nations, so I was set to try to do a DNA test myself on friends of mine who are pure-blood Pashtuns. I already got an offer from a commercial company, when I suddenly remembered something I read not long ago – a Wikipedia article about Jewish genetics. I’ll outline some of the conclusions of those studies, and explain their relevancy afterwards.
Male linage studies: A book published in 2012 that surveys previous studies concluded that all major Jewish groups share a common Middle Eastern origin, and claimed that the theory that some Ashekenazi Jews are Khazars is refuted. Another study done in 2012 claimed to prove that North African Jews are genetically close to European Jews. Another showed that Ashkenazi Jews from Germany are much closer to Sfaradic Jews than to non-Jewish Germans. Another study in 2013 found no Khazar evidence for Ashkenazi Jews and again concluded that most of the Ashkenazi Jews have common Middle Eastern origin as the Sfaradic Jews.
Female linage studies: In 2008 someone found that about 40% of Ashkenazi Jews had 4 female founders (consistent with Jewish tradition of being the children of Yaakov’s wives – Lea, Rahel, Zilpa and Bilha), but that the same is not true for Sfaradic Jews (basically claiming that many women converted to Judaism and married male Jews). In 2013 someone said the exact opposite – that about 88% of the Ashkenazi Jews had non-Middle Eastern female ancestors, suggesting that Jewish males migrated to Europe and took new wives from the local population, and converted them to Judaism. In 2014 another study contradicted both other studies.
Other studies: Looking at the whole genome, one study concluded that most Jews from all communities are descendants of ancient Hebrew and Israelite residents of the Levant. Some studies concluded that some Ashkenazi Jews are in fact descendants of Khazars. There are many other studies; many of them contradict each other.
Now to our point, we clearly see that most studies are consistent with the Jewish tradition of being mostly children of Yaakov (except for non-Israelis who accepted the Israeli religion). But, and this is a huge but, some studies (especially in the maternal case) show something completely different.
One explanation for the inconclusiveness of the DNA testing of Jews, especially in the maternal linage (which is the more important one, because according to the Torah (implicit) and Ezra (explicit) being Israeli is determined by the mother), is that a lot of women around the world converted to Judaism, but it wouldn’t be a full explanation of the facts, because we would then expect that all studies would show this or that percent of non-Middle Eastern maternal origin.
A better explanation is that DNA testing is over-hyped, and it will take some more development until we could rely on it. Commercial companies and researchers would surely disagree, but they have a personal interest.
Because we showed that it is basically impossible to believe that Pashtuns are not Bene Israel, DNA is not necessary for proving this tradition. It can only be used for proving another Pashtuns tradition – that Pashtuns did not mix with other people, but I personally think that given the current knowledge of DNA and mutation frequency, and how much the environment affects it, any result of a DNA test could be debated.
Some Pashtuns think that because Pashto is not a Semetic language it means Pashtuns are not Semetic, but it isn’t a strong enough evidence to contradict what we said above. To contradict what we said one has to explain how this tradition originated, and it is impossible.
Anyway, we should say that not only this evidence is not strong enough; it is actually not evidence at all. Jews in Europe spoke 3 languages – Hebrew, the language of their country (French in France, German in Germany etc) and Yidish. Yidish has only a few Semetic elements and is closer to German, and was used for daily communication between Jews in Europe. Jews in Spain and Portugal also spoke 3 languages – Hebrew, Spanish and Ladino. Ladino was the Yidish of the Jews in Spain and Portugal. In Arabic countries, again, the Jews spoke 3 languages – Hebrew, Arabic and Judeo-Arabic. The later was the Yidish of Jews in Arabic countries.
It is true that the Pashtuns do not speak Hebrew, but I think it is highly probable that Pashto is the Yidish of Pashtuns. It is also possible that Pashtuns didn’t need another foreign language (like Jews needed to know German or Spanish) because unlike Jews, Pashtuns had their own territory. It might be just a wild theory, but it might have been used, like Yidish, so that Pashtuns won’t mix with other nations.
Other nations who claim they are Bene Israel
From the same reasons outlined above, I believe every nation that has a wide-spread tradition of being Bene Israel, are really descendent of Bene Israel. That said, being Bene Israel and having our father Yaakov as an ancestor is not the same thing. There are 2 types of nations who are Bene Israel:
  1. People who kept the religion of Moses and Israel (what is called now Judaism) all along. They are Bene Israel because non-Israelis who married them, accepted the religion too, and Moses taught Bene Israel that if someone accepts that religion and goes through a certain process (called Giyur in Hebrew), he becomes an Israeli himself (Moses’ own wife, Sipora, was actually a convert).
  2. People who are descendents of Bene Israel who didn’t keep the religion of Moses and Israel, but didn’t mix with other people.
The faces of all the people who claim they are Bene Israel prove they mixed, and they generally do not deny that they mixed. Jews mixed too, but they kept Judaism, so they fall in to the first category (Jews who married non-Jews were thrown out of the Jewish community and were considered dead to them. This is still true for today’s religious Jews, and until not long ago, all Jews were religious). On the other hand, those other people who both mixed and did not keep Judaism, although they are descendants of Bene Israel to some extent, they are not Bene Israel themselves, as they do not fall into either category.
What’s special about the Pashtuns is that although Pashtuns do not keep Judaism today (except for some small portions like not eating some non-kosher animals), according to Pashtuns’ tradition, they did not mix. And unlike other nations who have the tradition of being descendants of Bene Israel, the face of the Pashtuns prove they did not mix.
So the question is whether one believes the tradition that Pashtuns didn’t mix with other nations or doesn’t. It is less provable than the tradition of being Bene Israel, because if Pashtuns did mix and stopped mixing at some generation A, it is possible that the tradition of not mixing was created at a later generation B, if they didn’t mix for enough generations.
That said, I think it is more likely that they didn’t mix than that they did. One reason is because the current situation is that most Pashtuns are not mixing. Another reason is that I can’t find a good reason why at some generation A they’d stop mixing after they mixed before that. And finally, we know from Moses (Deuteronomy 30), from Yehezkel (37), from Yirmiya (31), Yishaaya (51, 27), and from many other prophecies that the Bene Israel are out there (those who were exiled by the damn Assyrian). Because we know they don’t keep Judaism, the only possibility for them to exist as Israelis is by not mixing, and there is one, and only one, nation that fits those conditions, and it is the Pashtuns.
I should note that if some of the Pashtun tribes are descendants of Bene Israel and others aren’t, and the Pashtuns mixed within themselves, that would exclude Pashtuns from category 2. Yet, as far as I know, mixing even between tribes is rare (or at least was rare until recently). So I guess that if you are a Pashtun and the elders of your tribe say you are Bene Israel and that your tribe’s ancestors didn’t mix with tribes that aren’t Bene Israel, then you are Israeli. Otherwise, there might be some doubts in case some tribes (those that don’t have this tradition) weren’t original Pashtuns but adopted the Pashtuns’ culture at some point in history.
Well, as a Jew who prayed for and dreamt of meeting the other (non Jews) Bene Israel, I am extremely excited. If you are a Pashtun and you don’t want to admit being an Israeli, I think you are not being rational.
First, being Israelis is a source of pride. It means you are the children of Prophet Yaakov. It means you were the first to believe in the one and only God, more that 1500 years before the Arabs. Your ancestors prayed to the one and only God while the Arabs were complete pagans, bowing to all sorts of idols who don’t have power over anything. It is also very likely that other prophets are your forefathers. For example, it is very likely you are descendants of Prophet Moses himself if you are Lewani. Your great great… great grandfather might have been Moses’ best student – prophet Yehoshua if you are Afridi, etc. Your ancestors saw with their eyes what God did to Egypt – stuff that no other nation but the Egyptians themselves have witnessed. They heard God talking to them on Mount Sinai, etc.
Second, If you think Israel or Jews are some kind of evil maniacs, then you should read this. Once you learn the truth you could be happier with being from the same nation as the Jews. In that article you can also find out why Jews are so excited to realize the Pashtuns are Bene Israel.
So if you are a Pashtun and you are comfortable with the fact that we are you and you are us, you are invited to our facebook group – The People of Israel – Pashtuns and Jews. If you are a Jew and you are excited you are welcome too of course.
Side note for Jews
Some Jews might doubt the un-provable (given current genetics science) tradition of Pashtuns not mixing. I would like to prove to them that our Rabbis of the Mishna and Talmud knew that they won’t mix. First of all, there are many prophecies that the 10 tribes are going to return to the holy land (like Yehezkel 37, Yirmiya 31, Yishaaya 51 and 27, and many others, that talk about the 10 tribes specifically).
Second, if a non-Israeli marries an Israeli woman, they are not really married according to Halacha (Jewish law), but if he is Israeli from the 10 tribes, then they are really married and she must get divorced according to Halacha if she wants to marry an Israeli. On this topic, the Talmud says in Yevamot 16: “If a non-Jew married an Israeli woman according to Halacha, we are concerned that they might actually be married, because he might be from the 10 tribes”. The Talmud then asks: “But when someone is in front of us and we don’t know who he is, we assume he came from the majority of people, and the majority of people are not from the 10 tribes, so we shouldn’t be concerned”. The Talmud then says that this is only true in their land – the land where the 10 tribes live, because over there they are the majority. So the Talmud believes that the 10 tribes are still the majority in their land. If they had mixed this would not have been the case, unless there was only a little mixing going on.
Finally, we have the Mishna in Sanhedrin 10:3, where Rabbi Akiva said the 10 tribes don’t have a part in the next world, while Rabbi Eliezer said they have. Rashi simply said that they talked about the generation that was exiled, but even Rabb Akiva admits that their descendants surely have a part in the next world. There’s no doubt this is the case, otherwise Ribbie Akiva would be in a disagreement with Yehezkel, Yishaaya and Jeremaya, and we know he can’t be.
So the prophets and the Talmud all say that the 10 tribes are out there, in their land they are the majority, and they are still Israelis, even after all these years. There’s one, and only one, nation that doesn’t look like they mixed, has Torah-based traditions, has a tradition of being Bene Israel, and even has a tradition of not mixing. They are the Pashtuns, our brothers, Bene Israel.
So a Jew who believes in the prophets and that our Talmud’s Rabbies knew what they were talking about shouldn’t doubt the tradition of the Pashtuns not mixing with other nations. And I’m not a Rav myself, but I think there might be a consequence for Halacha here – if we meet a random Pashtun, we can’t ask him to do something that is forbidden on Shabbat, serve him anything not Kosher (from the non-Kosher stuff they do eat – some of the Kosher laws the Pashtuns do keep), etc, because as the Talmud said, in their land they are the majority. 

Blasphemy Is a Life-or-Death Issue in Pakistan

Blasphemy is a sensitive subject in Pakistan, where strong religious feelings have led in the past to violence.
Blasphemy laws are meant to guard against anything seen as a direct insult to God, Islam or religious leaders. For people accused of violating such laws, the judgment is often a life-or-death matter. Under Pakistan’s legal system, a judge can propose either life in jail or death to anyone found guilty of blasphemy.
The issue is back in the news after a Punjab court last week condemned to death Nadeem James, who is Christian. The police said they had gathered evidence from someone who said James sent him a blasphemous poem through the software program WhatsApp.
A Pakistani government lawyer confirmed a claim by James's defense lawyer that James never sent any blasphemous material to anyone.
"The accused said ... he never sent any blasphemous message through his cellphone," prosecution lawyer Rana Naveed Anjum told VOA. "But once something has been alleged against you, and there is enough evidence on record corroborating that assertion, then it is hard to deny or overlook such material."

A fair trial is difficult
A Pakistani human rights activist, Mehdi Hassan, said it is difficult to get a fair trial in cases involving religious beliefs.
"In Pakistan, religious might is very influential," Hassan told VOA, "and that thinking has an impact on police and other departments in such cases."
Nadeem James's lawyer, Anjum Wakeel, has said the defendant was "framed" by his so-called friend, "who was annoyed by [James's] affair with a Muslim girl."
Prosecutor Anjum agreed that James told investigators he had been set up.
James and members of his family had been receiving threats, some of them from local religious leaders. Because of the sensitive nature of the case, the trial was held in secret, and in a prison.
'Blasphemy' can mask personal disputes
Blasphemy is one of the most divisive laws in Pakistan. Rights groups say accusations of blasphemy are often abused, and used to settle personal disputes.
Activist Mehdi Hassan said the country's political parties should press Pakistanis to end the misuse of these laws.
"To address this problem as a long-term solution, political parties should play a role, because democracy gives a level playing field to everyone," Hassan told VOA.
Hassan remembered Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the well-respected lawyer and political leader who helped create modern-day Pakistan. He said, "We have to remember what Mr. Jinnah said, ‘Religious beliefs are the personal matter of an individual.’”
Jinnah served as Pakistan’s first governor-general after the end of British colonial rule in 1947.
A history of violence
Past blasphemy cases have fueled public anger that resulted in mob violence and killings.
Mashal Khal was a journalism student at Abdul Wali Khan University in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. In April of this year, he was beaten and shot dead by other students. They became angry over reports that he had placed blasphemous comments online.
In 2014, an angry mob in Punjab beat a Christian woman and her husband to death over blasphemy accusations. In 2011, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was killed by his bodyguard after the governor proposed reforms for the blasphemy laws.
Even with criticism, Pakistan's government has been calling for strict enforcement of blasphemy laws. In April, the government used newspaper advertising and textmessages to warn millions of Pakistanis not to post, share or upload "blasphemous" material online. The government also asked anyone finding such material to report it to the police.
The group Human Rights Watch reports that 10 Muslims and five non-Muslims were arrested in Pakistan last year on blasphemy charges. In addition, at least 19 people found guilty of blasphemy were sentenced to death and are being held in prison.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Pakistan court charges 57 people in mob lynching case of university student Mashal Khan over blasphemy allegations

A Pakistani anti-terrorism court on Tuesday indicted 57 people arrested in connection with the brutal murder of a journalism student who was lynched by a vigilante mob in April over blasphemy allegations.
File image of demonstrators in a protest over killing of student Mashal Khan in Karachi. AFP
File image of demonstrators in a protest over killing of student Mashal Khan in Karachi. AFP
Mashal Khan, 23, a student of the Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan was shot dead and his body desecrated in broad daylight by fellow students on 13 April after being accused of "publishing blasphemous content online".
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial government had ordered a judicial inquiry into the lynching in the university campus after harrowing videos of the mob attack were shared widely on social media and triggered widespread condemnation from civil society, politicians and rights activists across the board.
A joint investigation team submitted its report concluding that blasphemy charges could not be proved against Mashal and that his murder was pre-planned by people who included university employees as well, The Express Tribune reported.
An anti-terrorism court in Haripur indicted 57 people in the Mashal lynching case and a second hearing will take place on Wednesday in which the prosecution and defence will present their arguments.
All those indicted in the case have pleaded not guilty, Dawn newspaper reported.
In April, a vigilante mob, incited by rumours, had attacked Khan, a mass communication student, enrolled in Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan (AWKUM). He later succumbed to his injuries.
In July, the Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Yahya Afridi had ordered the transfer of the murder case from Mardan to an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Haripur jail after Khan's father Iqbal Khan requested the move fearing his "influential adversaries".

Ayesha Gulalai to form PTI splinter group

Disgruntled lawmaker of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Ayesha Gulalai on Thursday announced to form splinter group of the party as she repeated allegations of corruption, harassment and incompetence against Imran Khan.
Gulalai appeared before the Election Commission of Pakistan to attend the hearing into a reference which was filed to de-seat her from National Assembly seat . 
The lawmaker submitted her response though her lawyer. According to Geo News,Imran Khan’s lawyer submitted evidence against Ayesha Gulalai after which the hearing was adjourned to September 26.
She said Akbar S Babar, Justice Wajih and some MPAs were ready to join forces with her. “We will soon hold a meeting to decide future course of action, and give a date for a rally,” she told media.
She claimed that "money of people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa" was spent on NA-120 by polls by the PTI.
“Imran Niazi should think over why did he lose by-election in Lahoree,” said she.
She said as to how Imran Khan would eliminate corruption by making alliances with corrupt people. “How can he talk abut the poor and the middle class while making an alliance with billionaires and feudal lords”.
She said people like Nazr Gondal, Babar Awan, Firdous Ashiq Awan and Aleem Khan  have occupied the PTI and Imran Khan has handed over party matters to all the corrupt people ignoring the workers who ran the party since 1996.
Ayesha Gulalai said Khyber Paktunkhwa chief minister Pervez Khattak is a corrupt man and  Ehtesab Commission wouldn’t be able to operate in the province in his presence.

Pakistan - #FATA rife with corruption, says Sherry

PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman on Tuesday said the corruption has become prevalent in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
Speaking during a meeting of the Senate's Committee of the Whole, she expressed her disbelief over the misallocation of the PSDP, saying, "The Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) allocation for FATA was only utilized by 60% according to the minister. This is quite shocking to hear that one of the most underdeveloped areas in Pakistan saw a Rs 40 million lapse."
According to a recent UNDP report, the highest rates of poverty in Pakistan are in the FATA and Balochistan. The report revealed that over 73% of the people in FATA live in multidimensional poverty.
The senator pointed out, "From the report, it seems like the FATA committee did not consult women. Women in FATA are victims of both entrenched social attitudes that restrict their public and political space but have no voice in this reform which will greatly impact their lives. There needs to be a separate consultation with FATA's women to make this meaningful."
During the meeting, it was also disclosed that the political agent still had the power of levying a "cess" or tax.
"This is entirely illegal and unconstitutional and must be stopped forthwith because it only amounts to a plunder of the area. We demand a forensic audit of what the political agent has been doing. This money must be returned to the people of FATA for their development," said the PPP senator.
She added, "Despite the extension of the law to allow the auditor general PR to review the accounts and funds, this is not happening. Corruption is not just rampant, it is endemic and widespread. Cess and rehdari is not supposed to be collected but remains embedded in the culture of constant informal arrangements."
The journalist-turned-politician added, "The plan of extending Islamabad High Court jurisdiction to FATA makes no sense when Peshawar High Court can do the same job. This must change."
In 2009, it was former president Asif Zardari who announced major legal and political reforms in the tribal areas to free the people of FATA from the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) and pave the way for their mainstreaming.
She cautioned against the long period of activation of the reforms, saying, "I am deeply suspicious of "reform" that is phased over such a long period and via elite networks of only tribal notables as well as the governor's office. Islamabad looks all set to retain its stranglehold on these seven areas. Unification with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the consensus and the most viable way forward."
"Why should the extension of Pakistan's laws take an additional five years? Who will take responsibility for decisions taken even 2 years from now? Why should there be a CEO who operates through an additional secretary?" questioned the Senator, warning that this will bring FATA back to executive rule via the governor.
The PPP leader also pointed out transparency needs to be added to which law will replace the highly criticised FCR, "Anything that includes jirga in the law is a bad idea as it is vulnerable to misuse. It will institutionalize the bias that has been at play for centuries against many universal and fundamental rights framework," concluded the senator.

Pakistan - Religious Parties Gaining Ground

While the entire population is contemplating the close contest between Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI) in NA-120 elections; the factor that is going unnoticed is the rise in support of the extremist parties. Two ultra-right religious parties were contesting the elections from the constituency, and if these elections were a litmus test for the coming general elections, than the support these parties garnered is alarming.
After PML-N and PTI, the party to get the most number of votes was Tehreek e Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY). The party emerged this year and is headed by an Islamic scholar, Maulvi Khadim Hussain Rizvi. While much is not known about the scholar; the thing that everyone remembers him by is his blatant support for Mumtaz Qadri and his speeches, which are intolerant of dissenting views and full of hatred.
TLY managed to get 7,180 votes in the election. These are a significant of votes, which have displaced the position of PPP in the dynamic. This signifies the growing influence of the extremist ideology in the political scene. Although the “religious parties” have never had the majority to form a government, but the vote count signifies a new trend.
The party preceding TLY was the Milli Muslim League (MML). It is a renamed faction of Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD); the banned extremist organisation. MML clearly announced their support for Hafiz Saeed, a known terrorist and criticized the government for “illegally” confining him. Despite them claiming no ties with JuD, their comments are fooling no one.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) did deny recognizing the party and giving permission for contesting the elections, but despite that they did contest and managed to get 5,800 votes. If they have managed to ignore the instructions of the ECP, then it shows how incapable our governmental bodies are.
At the same time, it is a failure of the federal government that while state machinery was being used to get more support for the ruling party, all other priorities were sidelined. We have been claiming to fight off the extremist thought from Pakistan and promising the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP), but proscribed organisations are contesting such crucial elections with relative impunity – and great aplomb too. This highlights the failure of our state to effectively tackle these groups and should worry us all in coming times.

Bilawal Bhutto pays glowing tributes to Mir Murtaza Bhutto Shaheed on his 21st martyrdom anniversary

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has paid glowing tributes to Mir Murtaza Bhutto Shaheed on his 21st martyrdom anniversary being observed tomorrow.
In his message on the occasion, the PPP Chairman said that Mir Murtaza Bhutto started struggle at young age and went very hard times in exile after the martyrdom of former Prime Minister Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Mir Murtaza Bhutto Shaheed was killed under a conspiracy, ‘kill a Bhutto to get a Bhutto”. He said that Mir Murtaza Bhutto Shaheed will be remembered forever by the PPP leadership and workers for his struggle against dictator General Zia.

Monday, September 18, 2017

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Zardari says efforts being made to weaken PPP

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari addressing a workers convention here on Monday claimed that efforts were being made to weaken his party. 

The former president said: “The PPP is a nationwide party with its presence in all four provinces,”. “Efforts are being made to weaken our party but we are not afraid [to face this] because we preach love and democracy.”
Zardari while addressing the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said “KP should not lose hope”, adding the PPP would unite the political forces of the province to bring an end to all  issues.
He added: “In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, we will form government in the 2018 general elections and bring youth forward.”
Previously, Zardari had said that he had told former prime minister Nawaz Sharif that he would do politics not in the first four years of the government but in the final year before the 2018 general elections.
The former president also discussed with the crowd in Peshawar the recent by-poll in Lahore’s NA-120, where Kulsoom Nawaz had emerged victorious.
“I don’t see the establishment is backing me up,” said Zardari, adding that he sees a ‘Jiyala’ at his back.
 “If you listen to Maryam Nawaz’s statements following the victory, there is a lot to observe,” he remarked.
Zardari said that if Nawaz intended to implement the Charter of Democracy back in the day, then the PPP workers wouldn’t have languished in jails.

Pakistan - Ex-minister’s imprudent remarks

FORMER interior minister Nisar Ali Khan’s seemingly ongoing quest to criticise the PML-N from inside the party has stepped up further with an extraordinary attack on Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif. The bitter rivalry between the two PML-N leaders is well known, but what sets apart Chaudhry Nisar’s latest attack on the foreign minister is that it centres on a fundamental policy issue involving the country’s future. Foreign Minister Asif spoke candidly and courageously in recognising the country’s failed security policies of the past and the need for greater action against militant groups that continue to operate with impunity in the country. Now Chaudhry Nisar has responded to the foreign minister’s assertions in a manner illustrative of the deep denial that some sections of the state and political leadership continue to be in.
According to the former interior minister, the real problem of the country is the outside world’s desire to cast Pakistan as irresponsible and a spoiler of peace in the region rather than the fact that the continued existence of militant groups in the country undermines the peace, security and prosperity of the people here. What is worrisome about Chaudhry Nisar’s assertion is that until less than two months ago, he was leading the interior ministry which has a central role to play in counterterrorism efforts across the country. If Chaudhry Nisar is revealing his ideological preferences, one may well ask if he was the right person to have led the ministry tasked with ensuring law and order in the country. If he is simply trying to settle political scores with the foreign minister, he is doing a disservice to the government and the country by appearing to undermine a vital national security and foreign policy debate.
Indeed, the disaffected politician appears more concerned with staying in the headlines than doing what is right by the country. An earlier assertion that he was aware of a security threat to Pakistan that even Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi does not know about was shocking. Ought the former interior minister not to have shared that information with the prime minister or his successor in the interior ministry? Similarly, there can be legitimate disagreements over the suitability of Khawaja Asif to run the foreign ministry and how to respond to US, Indian or Afghan criticism of this country. Perhaps Chaudhry Nisar’s aim is to deflect attention away from the militancy debate because it will reflect poorly on his record as interior minister. But petty political infighting should not be allowed to undermine debates that are vital to the future peace, security and prosperity of the Pakistani people.

Forced conversions of Pakistani Hindu girls

By Quratulain Fatima
Up till now, the attempts to bar forced conversions through specific laws have fallen flat. The proposed bill against forced conversions was tabled in November 2016 in the Sindh Assembly. However, the bill got stalled due to strong objections from certain religious hardliners, and has not been ratified
Jinnah’s September 11 speech has been quoted time and again to assert state responsibility towards minorities’ protection. Despite this and constitutional protection to minorities, they face many types of persecution. Hindus are estimated to be around 2 percent of the Pakistan’s population. However, it is feared that the Hindu population is dwindling at an alarming rate. According to the Pakistan Hindu Council, religious persecution, especially forced conversions remain the foremost reason for migration of Hindus from Pakistan.
Pakistani Hindus are losing daughters to forced marriages. These forced marriages are hidden behind sham conversions to Islam. Religious institutions are pivotal in promoting this practice and supporting the conversions of minor Hindu girls. Consent remains the foremost requirement for conversion and marriage. However, under the tenets of Islam as well as Pakistan’s law, minors cannot give informed consent and consent under coercion is void. Girls are often minors and legally lack informed consent even if they are coerced through the promise of marriage.
Religious institutions like Bharchundi Sharif and Sarhandi Pir support forced conversions and are known to have support and protection of ruling political parties of Sindh. So much so, Mian Abdul Haq alias Mian Mitha, a former legislator of Pakistan People’s Party was found involved in the case of Rinkle Kumari’s forced conversion and marriage in 2012.
Recently, abduction of a school teacher, Ameeta Kumari in Gambat by an influential feudal made rounds on social media. Also in 2017, 16 years old, Rvaita Meghwar was abducted near Nagar Parkar in southeastern Sindh Province and married off to a Muslim man twice her age. These incidents are preceded by a consistent stream of conversions of lowers caste minor Hindu girls for the past many years. According to the National Commission of Justice and Peace and the Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC) around 1000 Christian and Hindu minority women are converted to Islam and then forcibly married off to their abductors or rapists. This practice is being reported increasingly in the Districts of Tharparkar, Umerkot and Mirpur Khas in Sindh. An accountability mechanism must be established to ensure religious institutions do not become party to forced conversions. Protection should also be provided to the victims, their families, and judges presiding over the cases. Penalties should also be imposed on law enforcement agencies that align with powerful feudal and political interests
Hindus form a major minority in lower Sindh. They have co-existed peacefully with Muslims for centuries. This has changed in the wake of extremism that engulfed Pakistan since the 1980s. Apart from being vulnerable to the Blasphemy law, Hindu communities are becoming highly vulnerable due to abductions of women and their forced conversion to Islam. Since violent extremism particularly strikes the lower classes who aren’t able to defend themselves, the upper-class Hindus are apparently safe from this onslaught.
According to a submission to UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, by the World Sindhi Congress (WSC), Pakistani Hindus face two kinds of forced conversions. One is bonded labour and the other is forced marriage. Both are affecting the lower caste Hindus wherein forced conversions specifically target Hindu girls.
Up till now, the attempts to bar forced conversions through specific laws have fallen flat. The proposed bill against forced conversion was tabled in November 2016 in the Sindh Assembly. The bill recommends a five-year punishment for perpetrators, three years for facilitators of forceful religious conversions, and also makes it a punishable offence to forcibly convert a minor. The bill got stalled due to strong objections by certain religious hardliners and has not been ratified.
However, there is a remedy in other laws. There are laws enacted that protect minors and are invoked in the case of marriages to cover forced conversion. These laws include Section 365-B of the Pakistan Penal Code which delegitimises a marriage under duress or force, the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929, 2013 act against child marriage in Sindh, and certain sections of the Pakistan penal code against forced marriage, kidnapping, abducting or force into marriage.
Unfortunately, in the case of forced conversions of lower caste Hindu girls, the feudal and extremist pressures hamper implementation of the laws. Forced conversion cases pertain mostly to lower caste poor Hindu families who mostly do not report and seldom pursue cases. Therefore, the reported number of forced conversions is greater than what it actually is.
There has been intense reporting of forced conversion cases throughout the media in recent times. However, policy processes lack provisions for concrete actions. Most importantly, the government of Pakistan should immediately ratify and implement the Sindh Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Act 2016 against forced conversions. An accountability mechanism must be established to ensure religious institutions do not become party to forced conversions. Protection should also be provided to the victims, their families, and judges presiding over the cases. Penalties should also be devised and imposed on law enforcement agencies that align with powerful feudal and political interests.
These arrangements should augment Article 36 — Protection of minorities — of the Constitution of Pakistan. It should weave into the larger framework of minority protection and equal opportunities as an equal citizen of Pakistan.