Tuesday, July 28, 2015


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Pakistan Must Release Asia Bibi to Demonstrate Protection for Its Religious Minorities

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Pakistan’s Supreme Court took an encouraging step forward last week when it decided to reconsider blasphemy charges against Pakistani Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who is facing a death sentence. This decision provides an opportunity for Pakistan to acquit Bibi and show the world its commitment to protecting its religious minorities. The U.S. must prioritize the issue of religious freedom in its dialogue with Pakistan to discourage any further persecution of religious minorities and to undercut support for Islamist extremist ideologies that leads to targeted violence against these vulnerable communities.
Bibi, a mother of five and a farmworker, was arrested in 2009 after her Muslim co-workers alleged that she had committed blasphemy during an argument about sharing the same water bowl. In November 2010, she was sentenced to death by a Pakistani trial court, a decision that was upheld by the Lahore High Court in October 2014.

Growing Intolerance

Under Pakistani law, blasphemous acts include making derogatory remarks against the Muslim prophet Muhammed and defiling the Koran. Allegations of blasphemy are often fabricated and are commonly used to intimidate religious minorities or settle personal vendettas, including against fellow Muslims. Moreover, blasphemy charges do not require proof of intent or evidence, and there are no penalties for false allegations. Since the laws do not provide details on what constitutes a violation, accusers have broad leeway to define what they deem an offense. In 2013, 38 individuals were imprisoned in Pakistan on blasphemy charges.
Pakistanis who have sought changes to the blasphemy laws or who have defended those wrongly accused have often been killed, demonstrating the rise in religious intolerance and support for extremist ideologies there. In early 2011, Pakistan’s Governor of the Punjab Salman Taseer and Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti were assassinated by religious extremists because of their efforts to defend Bibi and roll back the controversial blasphemy laws. Human rights lawyer Rashid Rehman was assassinated in June 2014 for defending an English professor, Junaid Hafeez, who was accused of blasphemy. Rehman had received several death threats in the weeks prior to his assassination, but the Pakistani government failed to provide him with protection.
Former Pakistan People’s Party parliamentarian and Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S., Sherry Rehman, introduced a bill in parliament in late 2010 to amend the blasphemy laws, but she was later forced to withdraw it under political pressure. Ambassador Rehman continues to face threats from extremists due to her support for re-examining the legislation and removing the death penalty as punishment. In January 2013, the Supreme Court of Pakistan approved admission of a blasphemy case filed against Ambassador Rehman for remarks she made on a television program in November 2010. The growing influence of extremist ideologies are endangering Pakistan’s minority communities and jeopardizing the country’s democratic institutions and values, including freedom of religion and speech.
The miscarriage of justice against Bibi is just the latest example of declining religious freedom in Pakistan. The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom’s 2015 Annual Report calls on the State Department to designate Pakistan as a country of particularly concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA)—something it has called for since 2002.[1] Ninety-five percent of Pakistan’s population is Muslim, including a 20 percent Shia minority, which increasingly faces brutal attacks by Sunni extremists. Ahmadis (about 2 percent of the Pakistani population), who consider themselves Muslim but are not recognized as such under Pakistani law, also face discriminatory legislation that prohibits them from calling themselves Muslims or their places of worship mosques, performing the Muslim call to prayer, using the traditional Islamic greeting in public, or publicly quoting from the Koran.
Bibi’s case is a particularly pernicious example of the negative effects of blasphemy laws. Bibi’s family has been forced to go into hiding, and Muslim clerics placed a $5,000 bounty on her head.[2] Bibi also faces extreme health challenges, including intestinal bleeding, that could be life-threatening.[3] If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Bibi, the court would overturn the decision by the Lahore High Court to sentence Bibi to death. If Bibi were released from jail, her life would still be in grave danger from vigilantes who could decide to take the law into their own hands. In April 2012, a Pakistani man accused of blasphemy was shot dead by religious zealots after he was acquitted and released from prison.

The U.S. Must Prioritize Religious Freedom in Pakistan

The growing pattern of religious intolerance and persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan is threatening the very fabric of Pakistani society and undermining democracy, not to mention putting the lives of millions of members of religious minorities in danger. The U.S. must make the protection of Pakistan’s religious minorities a central plank of its dialogue with the country. More specifically, the U.S. should:
  • Publicly advocate for the release of Asia Bibi. While the Pakistani Supreme Court has taken a step in the right direction with its decision to review Bibi’s appeal, the U.S. must keep up the pressure for her immediate release from jail and help ensure that she receives proper medical care.
  • Announce that unless Pakistan makes substantive changes to its blasphemy laws and how they are implemented, it will be designated a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). The IRFA was passed in 1998 and requires the U.S. Secretary of State to designate annually “countries of particular concern” and to take specific action aimed at improving religious freedom in those countries. A CPC is defined as a country in which the government either engages in or tolerates severe violations of religious freedom.
  • Urge Pakistan to review all blasphemy cases. In 2014, the Pakistani courts conducted a review of blasphemy cases but did not include in the review any cases against members of religious minority groups.[4]
  • Encourage Pakistan to implement steps called for by the Pakistani Supreme Court in 2014, including creating a special police force to protect religious minorities and elevating the work of the religious minority commission. The U.S. should structure its aid programs to support these activities through technical assistance, training, and exchanges.
  • Support increased civil society engagement between Americans and Pakistanis to help elevate the voices of moderation and tolerance in Pakistan. There are plenty of Pakistani citizens who are working hard and, indeed, risking their lives to reverse extremist trends and ensure the rights and freedoms of all Pakistanis. U.S.–Pakistan government-to-government interactions alone will not get the job done. There is a need for more and deeper civil society engagement between our two countries that can help mobilize grassroots support for preserving religious freedom.

Reviving Pakistan’s Founding Vision

Pakistan’s founding father, Muhammed Ali Jinnah, supported the idea of Islam serving as a unifying force and believed Pakistanis had a responsibility to uphold the principles of religious freedom and to protect the rights of religious minorities. Releasing Asia Bibi from jail would be a good first step in reviving the country’s founding ideals of religious tolerance. 

Pakistan - ''The ‘referee’ and Imran Khan''

The long road to the JC verdict

Had the plan made by the ‘referee’ gone right Imran Khan would have been the prime minister in September 2014. What went wrong was the failure on the part of the planner to correctly weigh the balance of forces at the time in Pakistan.
Gen Pasha was deadly opposed to democracy. Foremost among the factors that saved the PPP administration from his machinations was CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry led judiciary which, despite its hostility against the PPP government, was opposed to direct military intervention. Other factors included US pressure for the continuation of democracy and the embarrassing, and in the case of the US raid in Abbottabad highly damaging, incidents that stood in the way of the army leadership.
Despite these problems an attempt was made by Gen (r) Pasha to destabilise and if possible to remove the PPP government through the Supreme Court. For this the ISI chief visited the dubious character Mansoor Ijaz abroad to persuade him to act as the main witness in the so called Memogate scandal. He had the PML-N’s support in the case
The PML-N leadership was equally unacceptable to Gen (r) Pasha and to a section of the army top brass. Nawaz Sharif had made no secret of his desire to establish friendly relations with India. Weeks before assuming power in June 2013 he had told Indian journalist Karan Thapar that he was going to turn the army into a subordinate department of the government. He had also told him “we have a lot of love for India.” Nawaz Sharif appeared to be determined to recast civil-military relations. What is more unlike the previous PPP government he possessed the means to fulfil the dream. Sharif possessed absolute majority in the National Assembly while he had developed an understanding with the PPP that could help him pass a law in the Senate aimed at strengthening civilian supremacy.
This was enough to cause worry to Pasha and those who joined hands with him. They thought that peaceful transition from one democratic setup to another had gone to the head of the new prime minister.
The PML-N leadership was equally unacceptable to Gen (r) Pasha and to a section of the army top brass. Nawaz Sharif had made no secret of his desire to establish friendly relations with India
With his Jalandhar ethnic Pushtun backround Imran Khan had always enjoyed good relations with the army. He was seen to be a crowd puller. He was also headstrong. This qualified him as the perfect choice to bring down the government. He too was seen to be a man who could create problems once he was in power. But Pasha and company had another plan for the post Sharif set up that would make Khan dependent on the army and thus perfectly harmless
Gen (r) Pasha was confident of the success of his plan. He had in fact already conducted a dry run of the exercise in January 2013.
Tahirul Qadri, who had renounced politics and had been out of Pakistan for seven years, was rediscovered, motivated, and promised the crown if he initiated a movement against the PPP government which had survived, to Pasha’s chagrin, the Memogate affair. The cleric arrived in December 2012 ‘ready to become caretaker premier’, as he unabashedly put it.
Tahirul Qadri was handled deftly by the PPP government. He was given due protocol, provided help in conducting the ‘million march’, even offered inducements through Malik Riaz Hussain. Unlike the ruthless way the PML-N was to treat him in 2014, the PPP dealt with as if he was a highly respectable national figure. The cleric’s s ego was boosted when a dozen of top PPP ministers and leaders of allied parties visited him in his container with the request to call off the sit in. The man who had been ranting against the government for days, demanding its urgent ouster, and giving timelines to t prime minister to resign agreed to disperse the marchers gathered at what he called the “World’s largest Tahrir Square” in Islamabad.
To doubly ensure the success of Imran Khan’s agitation Pasha once again recalled Tahirul Qadri from Canada. The cleric’s strength lay in his fairly large network of schools spread all over Punjab, besides the blind support from the Qadri’s followers who belonged to of a particular sect. Together the two were supposed to generate synergy sufficient to bring down the government through street power assisted at the crucial moment by support from above. What is more each one was supposed to act as a check on the other to ensure that both adhered to the agreed plan.
What the mastermind failed to take into account was the possibility of the entire opposition joining hands to support the system and parliament taking a firm position on the issue. This had never happened in the past. The planners therefore ruled it out. Keeping in view the differences within the opposition, Imran Khan’s promoters had thought that it would remain disunited or might even hail the removal of the government. What followed was a gradual escalation of the conflict.
The so called Azadi March led by Imran Khan had left Lahore on August 14. On August 16 the two sit-ins, one by Imran Khan and the other by Tahirul Qadri, were initiated.
Perturbed at the reports of the agitators getting support from those who matter, Ch Nisar and Shahbaz Sharif called on the COAS. They were advised to open dialogue immediately with the PTI and PAT leadership. While the PML-N maintains they had asked for facilitation, the army started mediation.
The army leadership was playing a visible role in the affair. The COAS had met Nawaz Sharif, Ch Nisar, Shahbaz, Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri. Both Imran and Qadri shared their parties’ demands with the army chief who advised all to hold talks. He also reportedly told the government to find an “urgent solution” to the confrontation, thus putting Sharif under pressure. What is more the police was advised to avoid use of force against the protestors.
Encouraged by Gen (r) Pasha, Imran and Qadri insisted on Nawaz Sharif’s resignation. Neither was willing to agree to anything less than that. Consulting their mentors on a daily basis from their respective containers regarding tactics to be adopted the next day the two continued to increase the pressure. The resignation by the PTI MNAs was also a move in the direction.
According to Javed Hashmi a script was laid out well in advance. “When Imran laid out the plan, I said to Imran, ‘Khan sahab what are you doing?’”
“He said, ‘I am telling you there will be elections in September and everything has been worked out.’”
The plan according to Hashmi was simple. PTI workers had been instructed to drag Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif out of his official residence, while Tahirul Qadri’s activists were to ransack the Parliament with support from PTI.
Once the parliament took a firm stand against the protestors, the offstage players shunned open confrontation. The PTI and PAT leadership thought they had been abandoned
The attempt was made on August 30. Imran and Qadri led their followers in the attack. But as the protesters rushed towards sensitive buildings like the Cabinet Division, Presidency and Prime Minister House they were met with a heavy police contingent, teargas and rubber bullets. After failing to advance towards the PM House, many protesters gathered in front of the Parliament and pulled down its gate with the help of a truck. A government which had been under siege was now fighting for its existence.
It was at this moment that the PPP advised the prime minister to call the joint session of Parliament. The session which was called on September 2 continued for many days with speakers criticising the week-kneed attitude of the government, the arrogance of its ministers as well as exposing all the characters involved in the conspiracy against democracy.
Once the parliament took a firm stand against the protestors, the offstage players shunned open confrontation. The PTI and PAT leadership thought they had been abandoned. This was followed by demoralisation in the ranks of the two parties. There also appeared cracks in the alliance.
The PAT chief announced to end the sit-in on October 22. Imran Khan looked for a face saving device to follow suit. He demanded setting up of a judicial Commission to probe the three charges he had levelled. The government’s promise provided the fig leaf he needed.
Khan had made no effort to collect evidence to prove systematic rigging. He thought he didn’t need any after assurances from the ‘referee’ regarding fresh elections being in the offing. After the sit-ins were over he continued to tell his followers that the findings of the Judicial Commission would support his charges and this would make elections necessary. This might have happened if the PTI had presented proof. When asked to do so it told the Commission to look for them itself.

Combatting hunger: 61 million Pakistanis are food insecure

The patron of Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders, Shahid Rasheed Butt, has called upon the government to improve the food security situation which is linked to stability.
Pakistan must improve its deteriorating ranking in food security index as almost half of the country’s population remains food insecure, he said. He added that every individual has a right to physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food on a consistent basis that fulfills dietary needs.
Affordability, availability and quality of the food in Pakistan needs serious review as hunger is rising despite an increase in agriculture output which indicates lack of serious efforts on the part of the government. He said that countries like India, Sri Lanka, Angola, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nicaragua, Niger, Vietnam, and India have performed better than Pakistan.
The government should think seriously about providing cover to over 61 million food insecure people which is a major national issue as rising food prices, floods, poverty, conflict, terrorism, energy crisis, economic slowdown and political instability are some factors behind hunger.

Pakistan - New hope for Aasia Bibi

By Nasir Saeed

Support for a poor Christian lady working on a rural farm in Pakistan has been phenomenal. Her accuser would have never thought of such consequences coming out of her malicious demeaning of Aasia Bibi.

After the recent preliminary hearing of Aasia Bibi’s case and suspension of her death sentence until further hearing of her appeal by the Supreme Court (SC), new hope for justice has risen for her. Amazingly, it became breaking news within the next 10 minutes, not only on the Pakistani media but also throughout the world. The global media has never stopped talking about her agony. She is not the only Christian woman charged under the blasphemy law; there are several, some of whom have fled the country. Others were freed by the courts but are still living in hiding and no one cares about them apart from their families and maybe a few Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

However, Aasia’s case has become something of phenomenal significance. It came into the limelight when she was sentenced to death in 2010 and the then governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, intervened to get her justice. He took up her case for a presidential pardon but was widely criticised. He called the blasphemy law a black law, which infuriated many extremists and, in 2011, he was killed by his own bodyguard, Malik Mumtaz Qadri. Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian minister, was also killed by Islamic extremists for intervening in the case and demanding changes in the blasphemy law. A clear message was being sent out by extremists to the aspirants of changes and though Sherry Rehman showed some courage, the PPP government could not show any guts even after losing two of their most prominent politicians.

The news of the staying of Aasia’s death sentence has come as a relief for millions of her supporters throughout the world who were worried after the lifting of the moratorium on death sentences in Pakistan and consequent executions of several people, including a Christian named Aftab Bahadur, in Lahore. Incredibly, Aasia has an enormous support base, which is continuing to grow. Social media has been talking about her and many books, CDs and DVDs have been released in support of her case. Countless people have been praying for her every day. Several petitions have been handed over to world leaders and France has given Aasia honorary citizenship, while other countries have also expressed their willingness to accept and welcome her.

The world’s Christian, religious leaders are worried about her; Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is concerned about Pakistani Christians and her husband, Ashiq Masih, met Pope Francis in the Vatican. Such support for a poor Christian lady working on a rural farm in Pakistan is phenomenal. Her accuser would have never thought of such consequences coming out of her malicious demeaning of Aasia Bibi. But it may all mean nothing as her life is still in the balance. She has been incarcerated in an isolated prison cell without any windows, sink or toilet because of the extremist threat to her life. She had lost all hope for her life and had written a letter to her husband saying: “Since I have returned to my cell and have known that I am going to die, all my thoughts have turned to you and my adoring children. Nothing pains me more than to leave you alone in total anguish”. I am sure the recent development in her case would have calmed her and would have instilled new hope for her to be reunited with her family. Her children might have already started dreaming of getting their mother back.

This is going to be the second case of blasphemy and the first of any Christian woman sentenced to death to be heard by the Pakistan SC. The first case was of Ayub Masih who was successfully defended by the country’s most reputed and prominent lawyer, Abid Hassan Minto. On August 15, 2002, Ayub was freed by the SC and later was moved to an unknown location by a Christian NGO for security reasons. This time, a well-known lawyer, Saiful Malluck, is enthusiastically defending Aasia. He believes that since there is no evidence against her and since the allegations stemmed from a bowl of water, she will be freed. Also, the main complainant, a local imam, Mohammad Salaam, had not heard Aasia blaspheme and his original FIR had been filed five days after the event. I also hope that the SC decides her case without any pressure and with diligence so justice can be done for her.

I hope that in the next hearing the charges against Aasia will be dropped and she will be freed by the SC. However, the government has a responsibility to protect her and to stop the misuse of this law as innocent people have to suffer for years to get justice for crimes they have never committed. Even after acquittal there are limited chances to lead a normal life in Pakistan and people live in constant fear for their lives. Although no one has been executed until now by the courts, several people have been killed by vigilantes and the government has failed to bring the perpetrators to justice. The government’s obliviousness encourages extremists to take the law into their own hands and strengthens their belief in crowd and individual justice.

Last year, a Christian couple, Shama and Shahzad, were beaten and then incinerated in a brick kiln furnace. Recently, in Maki Chak, in the district of Sheikhupura, a Christian family was accused of blasphemy, their heads were shaved, faces painted black, a garland of shoes placed around their necks and then they were paraded through the town.

The world is continuously demanding changes in the blasphemy law. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) recently criticised the whole scenario and pointed out that the abuse of the blasphemy laws continues to take a heavy toll. The EU Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) has expressed its concern over the continuous misuse of the blasphemy laws and treatment of minorities. UN special Rapporteur Mr Heiner Bielefeldt has raised his concerns while the US Commission on International Religious Freedom has identified Pakistan as the worst violator among those not currently on the blacklist. It has urged the Obama administration to designate Pakistan to the country of particular concern status.

Moreover, even Pakistani politicians have admitted that the blasphemy law is being misused, but still there are no signs of change or bringing it to parliament for debate. This is our law, we made it and we have to amend it for the sake of security and the protection of our own people.

Pakistan - ATC sentences Salman Taseer vigil attackers to five years

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Monday convicted five people for attacking a candlelight vigil organised to mark death anniversary of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, reported by private TV channel.

During the hearing, ATC judge Haroon Latif awarded five-year prison terms to Adeel, Farhan and Kashif. Two other men – Iftikhar and Wazir Ali – have been sent to jail for three years. The court acquitted two suspects, Din Muhammad and Sajid, giving them the benefit of the doubt.

The defence counsel said that the accused were not involved in the attack. “They have been implicated in a false case,” he said.

– Vigil attack –

On January 4, 2015, several people had attacked participants of a candle light vigil organised to mark the death anniversary of former governor Salman Taseer. People had gathered at Liberty Chowk to mark the death anniversary of ex-governor of Punjab – Salman Taseer – who was shot and killed by his own guard – Mumtaz Qadri – in broad day light in December 2011 in Islamabad.

A group of four-five people showed up at the scene, snatched and tore up placards and photos of Salman Taseer before beating up the participants of the vigil.

Pakistan - CPJ demands full security for Faheem Siddiqui

The Community to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned Geo News Karachi Bureau Chief Faheem Ahmed Siddiqui’s kidnapping and torture and demanded full security for him.

In a statement issued from New York, the CPJ’s Asia Coordinator, Bob Dietz expressed sympathy and good sentiments for Faheem Siddiqui and demanded of the government of Pakistan and concerned institutions to ensure him security and bring to justice the culprits involved in the abduction after thorough investigation.

Faheem Siddiqui was kidnapped on his way to work on Saturday by men in plain clothes and police uniforms. He was bound and gagged, assaulted, his property taken away and was left tied up in Manghopir.


US wants to see tension reduced between Pakistan, India

John Kirby, Spokesman for US State Department, has stated that Washington wanted to see the conflict and the tension reduced between Pakistan and India.

Answering to a question over the demand of Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs (SAPM), Kirby said he could not say anything on the role of Washington in resolving Pak-India conflict, however, there are some issues between the two the neighbours that need to be worked out.

Kirby said, “We want to see the conflict and tension reduced between Pakistan and India.”

Sardar Ali Takkar - ډیر عمر می تیرکړوـ رحمان بابا

Monday, July 27, 2015

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'پاکستان حکومت وعدې وکړي پوره کوي یې نه'

د شمالي وزیرستان د سپین وام خلک وايي چې په سیمه کې له پوځي عملیاتو ورسته د ستنېدو پر مهال ورسره حکومتي چارواکو د مرستو ډېرې ژمني کړي وي خو تر اوسه یې نه دي پوره کړي. د سپين وام یو اوسېدونکي منتظر وزیر نن مشال ریډیو ته وویل چې اوس هم په سیمه کې حالات پر ځای نه دي او دوی له یو شمیر مشکلاتو سره مخامخ دي.
د سپين وام یو بل تن فضل الله بیا وايي چې سپين وام ته راغلي اوو نیم سوه خلک د اې ټي ایم کارډونو په ذریعه د پیسو اخیستو نه هم بې برخه دي. بلخوا له شمالي وزیرستان د قامي اسمبلۍ غړي محمد نذیر وايي چې د سپین وام د خلکو به یوه جرګه کوي او امنیتي چارواکو سره به د دوې پر مشکلاتو خبري کوي.

Polio and Pakistan

ONLY two names now remain on the list: Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nigeria is the latest country to exit the ignominious company of countries where polio is considered endemic.
No new polio cases have been reported there for the last one year, and while it has some time to go before officially being declared polio-free, it should be really proud given the odds it once faced.
A decade or so ago, Muslim clerics in Nigeria declared war on the anti-polio campaigners. These clerics, quite like their counterparts in Pakistan, had decried the vaccination drive as an attempt to sterilise young Muslim girls.
In more recent times, the hardcore militant group Boko Haram went after polio workers in Nigeria earlier this year, killing nine of them. But the anti-polio battle had enough momentum to bring the global front against the crippling disease victory after years of committed, relentless effort.
Nigeria and the world must celebrate the moment. According to figures available in media reports, only 27 years ago – in 1988 – there were 128 countries staked by endemic polio.
This is what makes the indictment for the two countries that are still not clear of polio easier and stronger.
There has been a drop in the number of cases of late, but with 28 reported cases in Pakistan this year as against five in Afghanistan, Pakistan has to be the most serious challenge for the anti-polio coalition.
Nigeria’s example tells us that it has to be cohesive, efficient process involving everyone from the government health machinery to the NGOs to political parties and social motivators, including the clerics.
There is a general realisation here that the network is essential to the job and the application of the successful Nigerian formula in Pakistan could well be one of the major reasons behind the fall in polio cases in the country in 2015 over previous years. The need is to press on with single-minded urgency towards achieving a polio-free world.

Pakistan - Taboos on gender equality


Domestic violence is a result of the socio-economic, political and cultural trends and their influence on the daily life of rural women.

There is no doubt that women in Pakistan continue to be a marginalised part of society having been denied basic rights and opportunities to develop and contribute productively. Ranked 135 out of a total of 177 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI), Pakistan faces an uphill task to ameliorate its social indicators. The patriarchal setup in society projects itself as a major hurdle towards the empowerment of women. Societal notions of the role of women being limited to the home makes women lose out on acquiring education, which severely confines their mobility and decision-making capacity.

We also know that discrimination against women is one of the leading social problems all over the world. It manifests even at the time a baby is born. With regards to gender discrimination, some exceptions aside, men have imposed a subordinate status on women in societies both eastern and western. The condition of Pakistani women is almost the same as of her counterparts around the world. In rural Sindh, women are discriminated against in almost all walks of life.

Sindh, located in the western corner of South Asia, borders the Iranian plateau in the west. It has the Thar Desert to the East, the Kirthar Mountains to the west and Arabian Sea in the south. In the centre is a fertile plain around the Indus River. According to the 1998 census of Pakistan, Sindh’s population was 30.4 million out of which the urban population was 49.50 percent and rural population was 50.50 percent. The communities located in rural Sindh are: Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Zoroastrians.

Recently, I had a chance to visit Sindh for a week and it was seriously a heartbreaking week in terms of many things. The most important thing I noticed was that most of the men pressurise and oppress their women: they do not give rights to their girls to go to school or to get any education. From birth to death, a girl is not allowed to make any decision for herself. Domestic violence in Sindh is increasing. The main reasons behind this are lack of knowledge, education and awareness about women’s rights. Child labour and child abuse can also be seen in these rural families.

Domestic violence is a result of the socio-economic, political and cultural trends and their influence on the daily life of rural women. Domestic violence keeps rising due to a woman’s subordinate position, illiteracy, low wages at work, low skills level and level of participation. Domestic violence can be seen in the form of honour killings, suicides, jirga decisions, abduction and kidnapping, injuries, gang rape, rape, sexual assault, torture and other crimes.

While talking with Sughra Solangi, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Marvi Rural Development Organisation and a renowned women’s rights activist based in rural Sindh, I found out that the fastest way to change a society is to mobilise the women of the world. Though there is no difference between males and females and all rights are equal, but lack of awareness and proper education are reasons behind the increasing violence against women. She said that the solution lies in empowering women with artesian work. In this way, we can reduce poverty and improve the intelligence of individuals; IQ levels have been known to increase when a person indulges in the creative process — making intricate floral and geometric designs. If we empower rural women we also bring socio-economic change, which helps improvement in income and building on community development. We need to boost their skills and provide micro-credit to establish industry in the rural areas of Sindh.

Furthermore, she said that we have to improve the status of rural women by improving education, social status and workload at home and at the farm, size of the family and freedom of expression on economic and socio-cultural issues. By making her strong socially, politically and economically, we bring positive change to the rural environment. She said she was also enabling young girls to go to school and become educated and empowered by addressing the economic barriers faced most starkly by their mothers towards their education.

I have a firm belief that the current atmosphere is extremely hostile for women in Pakistan, especially in rural Sindh. Much needed will is required to root out the problems of women so that they can play a progressive role in their own development. There is no denying the reality that female empowerment is a key phenomenon in bringing about the sustainable socio-economic progress of every nation. This forward-looking approach helps such societies benefit from the active participation of women from every walk of life.

It is not as if nothing is being done in Pakistan with regards to women's empowerment but whatever is being done is clearly not enough. Most women in the country, especially in the rural areas, are being deprived of basic human rights. I would suggest the Sindh government provide education facilities in tribal districts of the province to enable a change of mindset towards gender equality. I also demand that the government ensure laws against domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment and other gender-based violence. The government must give adequate protection to all women, respect their integrity and dignity, and appropriate protective support services to the victims of domestic abuse.

Pakistan - Controlling of Load shedding of electricity is not govt priority


The Punjab Chief Minister had only prepared the feasibility reports for the power projects after two and a quarter of years adding their installation and power generation would never take place and he knew it very well, said Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, President Punjab PPP, in a statement issued from here today. The deliberate tricking of the masses is distasteful act by any measure, he observed
The PML (N) leadership earlier lied to the people in order to get their votes with the undertaking to control load shedding of electricity in months and now they are lying again on purpose only to complete its tenure by saying that there will be no load shedding in 2018, he added.
He claimed that it was not the priority of this government to end load shedding in the country because they did not want to improve quality of life of the people by providing relief. They are only interested in mega projects in urban centers to serve their vested interests, he maintained.
The feasibility reports of the dreamy power projects of the Punjab government are in sharp contrast to the Chief Minister’s claim to control load shedding of electricity in months failing which he would change his name. He added that the Punjab Chief Minister should be remorseful for his failure to deliver adding his unabated and highly misplaced boasting was beyond comprehension.
He further said that the load shedding in the country had sadly aggravated and the people had been agitating against the government but the government was continuing to play to the gallery as no visible improvement, whatsoever, had been experienced by the people during the era of this government.
He pointed out that the people were getting the inflated bills regularly of most expensive electricity without its supply. The farmers’ community has been hit the worst because they cannot not afford to run their tube wells resulting in affecting their agricultural produces.
He stated that the devastation wrought on the rural economy due to the anti-farmers’ policies of this government had led to the massive unemployment in urban areas in general and in the rural areas in particular.
He demanded that the government must give priority to the agriculture sector which was the backbone of the country’s economy because the country would only be prosperous when farmers would get handsome dividends of their produces.
He pointed out that Pakistan’s industrial sector would grow with the growth of the agriculture sector because its industrial sector was agro-based. It does not need rocket science to understand the linkage between the agriculture and industry because their development is fundamentally intertwined, he argued.

میاں منظور احمد وٹو، صدر پیپلز پارٹی پنجاب نے آج یہاں سے جاری ایک بیان میں کہا ہے کہ بجلی کی لوڈشیڈنگ ختم کرنا اس حکومت کی ترجیحات میں شامل نہیں ہے اور وہ صرف شہروں کے بڑے بڑے منصوبے اپنے مفادات کی خاطر مکمل کرنے میں دلچسپی رکھتی ہے۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ پنجاب کے وزیراعلیٰ نے سوا دو سال کے بعد تقریباً 3 ہزار میگا واٹ بجلی پیدا کرنے کی اب صرف فزیبلیٹی(Physibility) رپورٹ تیار کی ہے جبکہ وہ مہینوں میں بجلی کی لوڈشیڈنگ کو ختم کرنے کا دعویٰ کرتے رہے تھے۔انہوں نے کہا کہ پی ایم ایل (این) کی لیڈرشپ نے پہلے بجلی کی لوڈشیڈنگ کو کنٹرول کرنے کے نام پر جھوٹ بول کر ووٹ لئے اور اب پھر وہ 2018 میں بجلی کی لوڈشیڈنگ کے خاتمے کا جھوٹ اس لیے بول رہے ہیں تاکہ وہ اپنی اقتدار کی مدت پوری کرسکیں۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ لوڈشیڈنگ کا خاتمہ موجودہ حکومت کے بس کی بات نہیں ہے۔ انہوں نے افسوس کا اظہار کیا کہ پنجاب کے وزیراعلیٰ کو لوڈشیڈنگ کو ختم نہ کرنے کی ناکامی پر نادم ہونے کی بجائے وہ خوامخواہ گڈگورننس کی تشہیر کرتے نظر آتے ہیں۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ ستم ظریفی دیکھئے کہ لوڈشیڈنگ ختم ہونے کی بجائے اور بڑھ گئی ہے کیونکہ اس حکومت کے نزدیک لوگوں کو ریلیف دینے کی کوئی اہمیت نہیں ہے۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ مہنگی بجلی کے بل تو صارفین کو باقاعدگی سے دےئے جاتے ہیں لیکن بجلی کبھی کبھار ملتی ہے۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ کاشتکار بجلی کے بحران سے بری طرح متاثر ہوا ہے کیونکہ لوڈشیڈنگ کی وجہ سے ان کے ٹیوب ویل نہیں چلتے جسکی وجہ سے انکی کھیتی باڑی تباہ ہو گئی ہے۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ موجودہ حکومت کی کسان دشمن پالیسیوں کی وجہ سے شہری علاقوں میں بالعموم اور دیہاتی علاقوں میں بالخصوص بیروزگاری اور غربت میں بے پناہ اضافہ ہوا ہے۔ انہوں نے حکومت سے پرزور مطالبہ کیا کہ زراعت کو قومی ترقیاتی حکمت عملی میں ترجیح دی جائے کیونکہ زراعت ملکی معیشت کی ریڑھ کی ہڈی ہے۔ اگر ریڑھ کی ہڈی مضبوط ہوگی تو ملکی معیشت بھی مضبوط ہو گی۔ انہوں نے مزید کہا کہ اگر کسان خوشحال ہو گا تو پاکستان خوشحال ہو گا۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ زراعت اور صنعتی ترقی کا آپس میں گہرا تعلق ہے جسکو سمجھنے کے 

لیے کسی راکٹ سائنس کی ضرورت نہیں

Nuclear-Armed India, Pakistan on Edge After 12-Hour Gunbattle

A 12-hour gunbattle involving heavily-armed men dressed in military fatigues who seized a police station near the border with Pakistan ended Monday, Indian police said.
Three assailants were among nine people killed during the incident in the frontier state of Punjab.
The gunmen had pulled up at the police complex in a stolen car with automatic weapons blazing at about 5 a.m. (7:30 p.m. ET Sunday).
Any proof of links between Pakistan and the attackers would be sure to increase tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since both nations gained independence in 1947.
The gunmen shot dead a barber and tried to hijack a bus before rushing the police station, witnesses said.
Throughout the day, regular bouts of small arms fire echoed across the town of Dinanagar and the fields surrounding it, some 10 miles from the international border, Reuters witnesses said.
Three policemen and three civilians were killed, according to the home ministry.
Pakistan has denied any involvement in insurgencies in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, and Islamabad's foreign office said it was not aware of any reports that the people involved in Monday's attack were Pakistani. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Turkish Music Video - Gülşen Sarışınım Yeni

#Turkey - Fear of ISIL attack sparks panic, locals flee Karkamış

When news of a group of militants linked with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) gathering in a village on the Syrian side of the border with the intent of launching an attack on the Turkish border town of Karkamış reached town residents, it sparked panic and prompted the immediate flight of a significant number of residents on Saturday night, a local witness said.
Many headed to provincial capital of Gaziantep, while others were bound for rural cites and faraway villages, to be hosted by their relatives.
A district governor and local military commander was soon dispatched to the border to inspect the authenticity of the rumors and, if they proved true, to take necessary measures against the militant group, including seeking approval from Ankara for a preemptive strike.
A brief late-night tour revealed that the rumors that sent ripples of anxiety through locals in Karkamış were baseless and unfounded.
Governor and military commander visited Karkamış streets packed with jolted citizens to soothe them, called on locals to return home.
“Turkish military and police does and will never let such thing happen, to attack you. We are here to protect you. Now, go home officials told people.
It was too late for those who had already left the town to be assured by officials, but for those who remained, the sense of bewilderment faded away.
Ali Yılmaz, a resident of Karkamış, told Today’s Zaman that they left the town at night upon a warning from their relatives in Syria. He was back at home in the morning after things settled in the town.
“We have confidence in our military but these militants know no bounds when they attack. Given that the distance is so close, like 100 meters, between them and us, we always feel on edge,” he said.
This recent event is a textbook case of ISIL’s psychological overreach, as mere rumors have the potential to displace a large number of people from the border town of Turkey, a country which has the second-largest army in NATO and unmatched military resources to combat ISIL. Regardless of the reputation the militant group has earned for its resilience on battlefield in Syria and Iraq, it has few chances against such military might.
But this is ISIL, which has built its reputation, and entire structure, on speed, surprise, ferocious fighting and brutality. However, what has most disturbed locals in border areas of Turkey is not what has made ISIL what it is in Syria and elsewhere.
Locals concerned about sleeper ISIL cells
As Turkish Air Forces struck ISIL positions in northern Syria for two consecutive days, beginning early on Friday, what locals in border towns and cities most feared was another Suruç-like attack by an ISIL sleeper cell in Turkey.
Anxiety over possible ISIL sleeper cells dogged the streets in the southern city of Kilis, only kilometers away from Syrian border, with locals feeling psychological spillover effects of the Suruç attack in their daily lives: They try to avoid public gatherings, staying away from crowds in bazaars and urban centers.
M.Y.K, a shop-owner in Kilis, says he heads straight home after closing down his shop. “I tell my kids to stay away from crowded areas as a precaution.”
Turkey’s first outright clash with ISIL came only after the militant group was believed to have carried out the bomb attack in Suruç, killing 32 people, and had also fatally shot a soldier at a border post after its members were prevented from crossing into Turkey.
The violence proved to be a turning point or a wakeup call for Turkey, which, for a long time, ignored calls to take a more robust stance against the militant group that controls the Syrian side of the border in the area of Kilis.
On Friday, Turkey arrested nearly 300 suspects thought to be linked with ISIL and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) during raids in 22 provinces. The sudden shift in policy, however, may fall short of producing the desired effect of cracking down on networks of the radical group in Turkey.
Turkish authorities claim the police raids blunted the operational capability of the militant group in the country. But security experts, political observers and citizens on the street believe it is too early to distinguish the net positive effects of the bold new policy directed against ISIL.
“We need to see the strong face of the state these days. Fighting among political actors, among parties, the nation-wide purge within the security bureaucracy, and especially within the police department, has paralyzed the state,” a public servant in Gaziantep told Today’s Zaman.
He declined to be named, but added that he fears the occurrence of an ISIL attack in Gaziantep, a city that once had a burgeoning economy with flourishing trade. The economy, however, has been dismally affected by the prolonged war in Syria, especially by the destruction of Aleppo, a city thought to be the twin of Gaziantep before the war.
The public servant is skeptical about the effectiveness of government action against ISIL, citing considerable support for the militant group in Southeast Turkey. He most fears, he explained with tense voice, a civil war in the country between nationalist and Islamist Kurds.