Archive | Asia

Karzai: Afghanistan Endorses Crimean Right to Decide Their Future

NOVANEWS
Sunday, 23 March 2014 18:17Last Updated on Sunday, 23 March 2014 18:32Written by Aazem Arash

On Sunday President Karzai announced in a meeting with the US congressional delegation that Afghanistan respects the decision made by the Crimean people to become a part of the Russian Federation. However, some analysts interpreted Karzai’s statement not in compliance with national interest.

Political commentators believe that Karzai’s statement could further escalate tensions between Afghanistan and the west.

“Looking at the current situation, we must pursue a proper policy and deal with the issue in a diplomatic manner,” political analyst Mia Gul Waseeq said.

Waseeq said that president Karzai should focus closely to the needs and improvements of Afghanistan instead of involving the country in other political tensions with the US.

During the meeting the US delegation urged Karzai to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), which will allow US forces to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014. However, Karzai declined signing the agreement until the preconditions are honored by the US for him to sign the pact.

Karzai clarified his stance on the Crimea adhesion to Russia days after tensions between Moscow and the western nations increased over disintegration of Crimea from Ukraine.
“The Crimean people decided on their future in the referendum,” president Karzai said. “Crimea is part of Russia and Afghanistan respects it.”

Last week the Russian embassy in Kabul announced that Moscow looks to play a great role in the future of Afghanistan.

The Crimean issue has led to a political confrontation between Russia and the west. Despite the US and other western countries being the large donors to Afghanistan, president Karzai has backed Russia in the Crimea affair.

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EU funding to benefit Pakistan

NOVANEWS

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will benefit from funds worth 6.5 billion euros recently announced by the EU for countries and organisations in Asia and the Pacific for the period 2014-2020.

Funding for EU-Asia cooperation comes from the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) which is part of the overall EU budget, according to the EU delegation in Islamabad.

The new funds will address key priorities such as social protection, better health and education, job creation and better integration of partner countries into regional and world markets.

In addition to Pakistan, the other countries who are eligible for bilateral development programmes include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

As most countries in the Asian region are facing challenges due to uneven regional development and increasing income inequality, EU funding for national and regional programmes in Asia for the time period from 2014 to 2020 increased by 20 per cent compared to the financing period of 2007-2013 to the tune of 5.1bn euros.

While Asian economies have shown remarkable recent growth, poverty is still widespread on the continent, with 800 million people in the Asia and Pacific region still living in extreme poverty on less than $1.25 a day, according to the Asian Development Bank.

In 2013 an EU-financed sector budget support programme was launched to support community led initiatives in Swat.

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Anti-Pakistan Posture of Hasina Wajid

NOVANEWS

By Sajjad Shaukat

For her second tenure, Prime Minister of Bangladesh and leader of the ruling party, Awami

League, Sheikh Hasina Wajid won the general elections 2014 in wake of bloodshed due to

her dictatorial steps. In this regard, head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Begum

Khaleda Zia who was leading the alliance of the opposition parties protested against the rigging,

deliberately practised by the Awami League, was placed under virtual house arrest during the

Earlier, to keep her in power, Prime Minister Hasina Wajid amended the constitution for holding

of elections under a non-party set up and the opposition has accused her of manipulating the

electoral process to establish one party state. The opposition alliance led by Khaleda Zia did

not file nominations for the polls, sticking to their stance of boycotting the elections over the

failure of Hasina Wajid to form a neutral interim government. The country’s largest religious

party, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) was also banned from taking part in the elections, while to address

old grievances of her party, Prime Minister Hasina who was in connivance with the judiciary,

hurriedly executed her political opponent, Abdul Qadir Mullah-leader of Jl.

In fact, since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came into power, India has been employing various

tactics to entrap Bangladesh by exploiting her pro-Indian tilt to fulfill its strategic interests. In

this context, Prime Minister Hasina Wajid has continuously been pursuing Indian directions by

conducting anti-Pakistan campaign. Therefore, after passing of 42 years to the events of 1971,

which resulted into the separation of East Pakistan, Abdul Qadir was hanged because of his

However, Bangladesh’s ruling party, under Sheikh Hasina Wajid maintains an anti-Pakistan

posture with sinister designs of expressing animosity, antagonism and unrestrained emotional

flare-up. The aim is to exploit feelings of masses by keeping the “hate Pakistan” agenda alive.

This enables Awami League and Hasina Wajid to remain significant in Bangladesh’s power

politics despite their failure to deliver the goods. It also helps them to appease their mentors

in India. Using abusive language against Pakistan and its armed forces makes Hasina Wajid

relevant in Indian politics, while she herself prefers those entities which derive sadistic pleasure

by depicting Pakistan in bad light.

For the purpose, Awami League and its leader, Prime Minister Hasina are propagating against

Islamabad through a well thought-out media plan in order to spread venom against Pakistan,

its armed forces and all those Bangladeshi nationals who were loyal to the state during 1971

crisis. As already stated, hasty execution of death penalty to Abdul Qadir Mullah, political ban

on religious parties and exclusion of BNP (opposition party) from power sharing, on jingoistic

claims, clearly point at Indo-Bangladesh-Awami League blueprint which itself speaks of their

deep seated animosity against Pakistan and its armed forces. Old carriage of woeful accusations

and planned insinuations are re-animated to maintain emotional incrimination and revamp

In this respect, on February 4, 2014, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during her parliamentary

address stated that fresh investigation will be held to find out whether Hawa Bhaban (BNP

political office) or Khaleda Zia was involved in smuggling 10 truckloads of arms—and to punish

those found involved. On January 30, 2014, Chittagong Court awarded capital punishment to14

persons for the offence and observed that Khalieda Zia was silent even after knowing the crime.

Sheikh Hasina alleged that Bangladesh soil was being used by Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-
Services Intelligence (ISI), after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and

her government would not allow anyone to use it for terrorism.

In this connection, in connivance with India, Bangladesh government and Awami League have

launched a massive media campaign against ISI regarding 10-Truck Arms Haul. On February

11, 2014, “The Daily Star” published news on court verdict that intelligence officials convicted

in 10-Truck Arms Haul case maintained close contacts with the US-Pakistan missions—Dubai

based Pakistan Company ARY Groups and leaders of the Indian separatist group ULFA.

Besides, reviving old animosity, media of Bangladesh has also started highlighting issue of 195

Pakistan Army officers allegedly involved in killing of Bengalis in 1971War. Although they

were repatriated to Pakistan after tripartite agreement between Pakistan, India and Bangladesh

in 1974, yet Prime Minister Hasina Wajid intends to file cases against them at International

Crime Tribunal (ICT). They contended that tripartite agreement was no bar to hold a trial. In

this context, chief prosecutor, Dr Tureen Afroz said that in 1971, Pakistanis committed crime on

Bangladeshi soil; hence, Bangladesh has every right to hold trial of those crimes. And ICT will

also consider Hamudur Rahman Commission report.

By neglecting Islamabad’s positive approach, Bangladesh government has continued its anti-
Pakistan approach to please India. It could be judged from the statement of Prime Minister

Hasina Wajid who has vocally said, “Bangladesh has no room for the people loving Pakistan.”

Nevertheless Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been following pro-Indian policies. In this

context, on the secret insistence of India, unlike the past years, a ceremony was held in Dhaka

on March 24, 2013, with full pump and show to honour ‘Foreign Friends of Bangladesh Award,’

in relation to the separation of East Pakistan. For this aim, several foreign friends who included

various institutions and media anchors from various countries, particularly India were invited.

The main purpose behind was to distort the image of Pakistan and its armed forces regarding

alleged atrocities, committed against the Bengalis. Notably, in December, 2012, Prime Minister

Hasina had refused to attend D-8 conference in Islamabad unless Pakistan tendered apology for

the alleged genocide of Bengalis.

While, a famous Bengali journalist Sarmila Bose authored a book, “Dead Reckoning: Memories

of the 1971 Bangladesh War” after thorough investigation. Her book was published in 2011.

While countering exaggerations of the Indian and Bengali Journalists, Bose argues that the

number of Bengalis killed in 1971 was not three million, but around 50,000, while Bengalis were

equally involved in the bloodshed of Punjabis, Biharis, Pashtoons and Balochis.

Majib was already in connivance with India for separation of East Pakistan. Therefore, when

East Pakistan was occupied by Indian Army in 1971, he stated with pleasure that his 24 years old

dream of an independent Bangladesh had been fulfilled. He had earlier developed his contacts

with Indian rulers and training camps of Mukti Bahini, established by Indian army and RAW

which also funded Mujibur Rehman’s general elections in 1970.

Nonetheless, the government of Awami League led by Hasina Wajid has been following an anti-

Pakistan agenda prepared by Indian masters. Therefore, it is India which actually desires to see

Bangladesh locking horns with Islamabad. In this regard, the patriot people of Bangladesh must

introspectively think that who is behind the intriguing yoke.

Undoubtedly, Prime Minister Hasina Wajid acts, as if she is an Indian national. Her sole aim

is to remain in power and New Delhi has assured her that she will never lose political power,

if she follows a strong anti-Pakistan posture. In fact, Prime Minister Hasina has badly failed in

providing good governance and relief to the poor and maintains her relevance in Bangladesh

only by propagating against Pakistan and making the latter a scapegoat of her dirty politics.

In these terms, Hasina Wajid’s allegations on 10-Truck Arms Haul scandal against ISI are

baseless and must be countered assertively through our own media.

Open criticism against Pakistan and ISI by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and intention of

her government to launch cases against Pakistan Army officers through ICT indicate the deep

rooted hatred of Awami League’s high command against Islamabad. The ruling party banks upon

active support from India to implement anti-Pakistan agenda. Both Prime Minister Hasina and

Awami League are pursuing a well-planned agenda, orchestrated by Indian spin masters against

Islamabad. The purpose is to tarnish Pakistan’s image and damage the prestige of its armed

Notably, Hasina Wajid is anti-Islam and hates her own country’s Muslim majority as much as

she hates Pakistan. So, the people of Bandladesh will soon recognize her real face and she will

again be rejected by her own people, as she has won the elections through rigging.

But, Pakistan’s silence over Sheikh Hasina’s anti-Pakistan policies, and to deal with the well

thought-out combined plot of Dhaka, India and Awami League is regrettable. As enough

is enough, there should be a limit to anti-Pakistan rhetoric of the Bangladesh’s rulers. Our

continued silence on the issue of war crimes has further emboldened Hasina regime. Hence,

every time, these conspirators come up with new strategy to implicate Pakistan.

So, Pakistan’s political entities and media need to counter anti-Pakistan posture of Hasina Wajid

who has launched a deliberate propaganda campaign against Pakistan, its armed forces and

ISI. No doubt, the real perpetrator is New Delhi which desires to see a permanent rift between

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,

Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

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Pakistan: Misperceiving Two Nation Theory

NOVANEWS

 

By Sajjad Shaukat

Drought in Tharparkar in Sindh, which was going on for the last three years, has been worsened

recently to a dangerous level, raising the death toll of starving children. It has adequately

exposed the real worth of the rulers, uncovering their verbal assertions to reach the poor masses

in order to save their lives.

In this regard, Supreme Court of Pakistan, most of the political parties like PTI and even the

leader of PPP, Makhdoom Amin Fahim have held Sindh government led by Chief Minister Syed

Qaim Ali Shah responsible for Tharparkar’s drought tragedy.

But, in order to divert the attention from the irresponsibility of their government in Sindh, PPP

leader Shehla Raza has misperceived the ideological foundation of Pakistan. She has tried to

hide criminal acts of negligence to create speculations among the loyal and patriotic people of

Pakistan by suggesting to them that the very slogan of Pakistan, “Pakistan KA Matlab Kia, La-
e-Laha-illallah” was not associated with Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. In this respect,

Shehla Raza stated on Capital TV that this slogan was never part of Pakistan movement and

that she was ready to debate the issue at any forum. She argued that Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad

Ali Jinnah in his address had said that all sects are free to offer prayers according to their

religion. Thus, she expressed her skewed ideas, based on immature and reckless thoughts. She

seems totally confused on Quaid-e-Azam’s vision for Pakistan and tried to puzzle the devoted

audiences of Pakistan. She not only tried to distort the history, but also injured the feelings of

people by attempting to create misgivings about Pakistan.

Perhaps Shehla Raza does not know that Two Nation Theory which was basis of the Ideology

of Pakistan, was kept alive from Sir Syed Ahmed Khan to Quaid-e-Azam. Undoubtedly,

Two Nation Theory stated that Muslims of the Sub-continent have their own Islamic culture,

traditions and religion which are quite different from those of Hindus.

In accordance with the Two Nation Theory, Allama Iqbal had demanded a separate land for the

Muslims, where they could live freely according to their own religion, culture and social norms.

Both Allama Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam endorsed the Ideology of Pakistan which is based upon

the Islamic principles. Although Muhammad Ali Jinnah had said that that all minorities and sects

will live freely according to their religious norms, yet he never rejected the Two Nation Theory

or Ideology of Pakistan, as misinterpreted by Shehla Raza.

Notably, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in his sermon at Hajjatul Wida issued directions for

protection of life, property and dignity of the whole mankind. The sermon became a charter of

democracy which was included in the constitutions of the western elected governments in one

However, the Constitution of 1973 which was adopted during the PPP founder, Prime Minister

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (The late), was signed by the members of all political and religious parties.

It declares the country, The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and clearly mentions that Pakistan

is basically a democracy, guided by the Islamic principles and values—no law would be made

contrary to Quran and Sunnah—the government will made efforts to implement Islamic system

in future. So, the Constitution itself verifies the Ideology of Pakistan which emanates from the

There is no controversy regarding the foundation of the country, while its ideology is free from

Talibanization, as Taliban want to impose their own self-perceived agenda of Islam on majority

of Pakistanis. And Islam does not allow elimination of innocent persons through suicide attacks,

bomb blasts, beheadings and targeted killings.

Unfortunately, whenever politicians or rulers failed in controlling any crisis, they started

crafting baseless stories. Some entities try to translate the Ideology of Pakistan to suite their

agenda. In these terms, Shehla Raza has diverted the attention of media and masses to hide her

government’s gross negligence, which badly failed in providing food and water to the feminine-
hit people of Tharparkar. Following Machiavellian diplomacy, she may save her face at political

level, but, in fact, people from all segment of society have well-measured her sincerity towards

PPP politician, Shehla Raza must think that she is also a Muslim and she must feel shy over her

ill-conceived thoughts about the Ideology of Pakistan.

In this connection, Orya Maqbool Jan has already invited Shehla Raza to visit Lahore, asking

her to educate herself that the slogan, “Pakistan KA Matlab Kia, La-e-Laha-illallah” was correct

and was also used by Quaid-e-Azam. So media must denounce her conceit about Quaid’s vision

for Pakistan. Media must suggest to Shehla Raza that as a politician, she is the chosen icon of

the country. It is her duty to defend the Ideology of Pakistan rather than creating mistrust among

Nevertheless, spreading speculations about the independence of Pakistan and promoting

the ideals of Maulana Aul Kalam Azad who opposed its creation to earn Hindu approval in

India, not only injure feelings of people, but also confuse them. Shehla Raza must correct her

perception regarding the values of slogans used by the founder of Pakistan.

In every country, national slogans and symbols are representation of collective national will. At

the time of partition of the Sub-continent, the entire nation used the slogan “Pakistan KA Matlab

Kia, La-e-Laha-illallah” and through the power of this slogan, they united the people by making

Pakistan a tangible reality. Once Pakistan was created, then all minorities and sects were free to

follow their own sectarian practices and traditions of their faith. Confusion must not be created

among simple people who love this country and its purpose, while believing in the Ideology of

Therefore, Shehla Raza is advised to rectify her misperceived thoughts about the Two Nation

Theory and Ideology of Pakistan which are interrelated. She must stopped self-assumed

interpretition regarding Quaid-e-Azam’s vision for Pakistan, and instead, concentrates on good

governance—resolve the basic problems faced by people of Sindh, especially the masses at

 

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Gender and caste discrimination in India

NOVANEWS
Case away caste system

By Graham Peebles

A suffocating patriarchal shadow hangs over the lives of women throughout India. From all sections, castes and classes of society, women are victim of its repressive, controlling effects. Those subjected to the heaviest burden of discrimination are from the Dalit or “Scheduled Castes”, known in less liberal democratic times as the “Untouchables”. The name may have been banned but pervasive negative attitudes of mind remain, as do the extreme levels of abuse and servitude experienced by Dalit women. They experience multiple levels of discrimination and exploitation, much of which is barbaric, degrading, appallingly violent and totally inhumane.

Women and “Untouchables”

The divisive caste system – in operation throughout India, “Old” and “New” – together with inequitable gender attitudes, sits at the heart of the wide-ranging human rights abuses experienced by Dalit or “outcaste” women.

“Discriminatory and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of over 165 million people in India has been justified on the basis of caste,” according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Caste refers to a traditional Hindu model of social stratification, which defines people by descent and occupation. It is defined as

a system of graded inequality in which castes are arranged according to an ascending scale of reverence, and a descending scale of contempt… i.e. as you go up the caste system, the power and status of a caste group increases and as you go down the scale the degree of contempt for the caste increases, as these castes have no power, are of low status, and are regarded as dirty and polluting.

Hence the term “untouchable”.

Despite what Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, states as India’s “far-reaching constitutional guarantees and laws which prohibit caste-based discrimination”, Dalit women are the victims of a collision of deep-rooted gender and caste discrimination, resulting in wide ranging exploitation. They are “oppressed by the broader Indian society, men from their own community and also their own husbands and male members in the family”, according to the UN. Practices like Devadasi,whereby girls as young as 12 years of age are dedicated to the Hindu goddess Yellamma and sold into prostitution; honour killings; sexual abuse, including rape; appalling working conditions; and limited access to basic services such as water, sanitation and employment are commonplace.

Although all women in India face discrimination and sexual intimidation, according to the UN the “human rights of Dalit women are violated in peculiar and extreme forms. Stripping, naked parading, caste abuses, pulling out nails and hair, sexual slavery and bondage are a few forms peculiar to Dalit women.” These women live under a form of apartheid: discrimination, and social exclusion is a major factor, denying them access ”to common property resources like land, water and livelihood sources, [causing] exclusion from schools, places of worship, common dining, inter-caste marriages”.

The lower castes are segregated from other members of the community, prohibited from eating with “higher” castes, from using village wells and ponds, entering village temples and higher caste houses, wearing sandals or even holding umbrellas in front of higher castes; they are forced to sit alone and use different crockery in restaurants, prohibited from cycling a bicycle inside their village and are made to bury their dead in a separate burial ground. They frequently face eviction from their land by higher “dominant” castes, forcing them to live on the outskirts of villages often on barren land.

This plethora of prejudice amounts to apartheid, and it is time – long overdue – that the “democratic” government of India enforced existing legislation and purged the country of the criminality of caste- and gender-based discrimination and exploitation.

Exploitation and patriarchal power

The power play of patriarchy saturates every area of Indian society and gives rise to a variety of discriminatory practices, such as female infanticide, discrimination against girls and dowry-related deaths. It is a major cause of exploitation and abuse of women, with a great deal of sexual violence being perpetrated by men in positions of power. These range from higher caste men violating lower caste women, specifically Dalits; policemen mistreating women from poor households; and military men abusing Dalit and Adivasi women in insurgency states such as Kashmir, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Manipur. Security personnel are protected by the widely criticized Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which grants impunity to police and members of the military carrying out criminal acts of rape and indeed murder; it was promulgated by the British in 1942 as an emergency measure, to suppress the Quit India Movement. It is an unjust law, which needs abolishing.

In December 2012 the heinous gang rape and mutilation of a 23-year-old paramedical student in New Delhi, who subsequently died from her injuries, garnered worldwide media attention, throwing a momentary spotlight on the dangers, oppression and appalling treatment women in India face every day. Rape is endemic in the country.According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), registered rape cases increased by almost 900 per cent over the last 40 years, to 24,206 incidents in 2011. With most cases of rape going unreported and many being dismissed by police, the true figure could be 10 times this. The women most at risk of abuse are Dalits: the NCRB estimates that more than four Dalit-women are raped every day in India. A UN study reveals that “the majority of Dalit women report having faced one or more incidents of verbal abuse (62.4 per cent), physical assault (54.8 per cent), sexual harassment and assault (46.8 per cent), domestic violence (43.0 per cent) and rape (23.2 per cent)”. They are subjected to “rape, molestation, kidnapping, abduction, homicide physical and mental torture, immoral traffic and sexual abuse.”

The UN found that large numbers were obstructed from seeking justice: in 17 per cent of instances of violence (including rape) victims were obstructed from reporting the crime by the police; in over 25 per cent of cases the community stopped women filing complaints; and in over 40 per cent women “did not attempt to obtain legal or community remedies for the violence primarily out of fear of the perpetrators or social dishonour if (sexual) violence was revealed”. In only 1 per cent of recorded cases were  the perpetrators convicted. What “follows incidents of violence”, the UN found, is “a resounding silence”. The effect when it comes to Dalit women specifically, but not exclusively, “is the creation and maintenance of a culture of violence, silence and impunity”.

The Indian constitution makes clear the “principle of non-discrimination on the basis of caste or gender”. It guarantees the “right to life and to security of life”. Article 46 specifically “protects Dalits from social injustice and all forms of exploitation”. Add to this the important Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989, and a well-armed legislative army is formed. However, because of “low levels of implementation”, the UN states, “the provisions that protect women’s rights have to be considered empty of meaning”. It is a familiar Indian story: judicial indifference (as well as cost, lack of access to legal representation, endless red-tape and obstructive staff), police corruption, and government collusion, plus media indifference causing the major obstacles to justice and the observation and enforcement of the law.

Unlike middle class girls, Dalit rape victims (whose numbers are growing) rarely receive the attention of the caste/class-conscious urban-centric media, whose primary concern is to promote a Bollywood shiny, open-for-business image of the country.

I was in India in January 2014 when a 20-year-old Dalit woman from the Santhal tribal group in West Bengal was gang-raped, allegedly “on the orders of village elders who objected to her relationship (which had been going on in secret for five years) with a man from a nearby village in the Birdhum district”. The violent incident occurred when,according to a BBC report,

the man visited the woman’s home… with the proposal of marriage, villagers spotted him and organized a kangaroo court. During the ‘proceedings’ the couple were made to sit with hands tied… the headman of the woman’s village fined the couple 25,000 rupees (400 US dollars;  GBP 240) for “the crime of falling in love. The man paid up, but the woman’s family were unable to pay.

Consequently, the “headman” and 12 of his cohorts repeatedly raped her.

Violence, exploitation and exclusion are used to keep Dalit women in a position of subordination and to maintain the patriarchal grip on power throughout Indian society.

The cities are dangerous places for women, but it is in the countryside, where most people live (70 per cent) that the greatest levels of abuse occur. Many living in rural areas live in extreme poverty (800 million people in India live on less than 2.50 dollars a day), with little or no access to health care, poor education and appalling or non-existent sanitation. It is a world apart from democratic Delhi, or Westernized Mumbai: water, electricity, democracy and the rule of law are yet to reach into the lives of the women in India’s villages, which are home, Mahatma Gandhi famously declared, to the soul of the country.

No surprise, then, that after two decades of economic growth, India finds itself languishing 136th (of 186 countries) in the (gender equality adjusted) United Nations Human Development index

Repressive ideas of gender inequality

Indian society is segregated in multiple ways: caste/class, gender, wealth and poverty, and religion. Entrenched patriarchy and gender divisions, which value boys over girls and keep men and women and boys and girls apart, combine with child marriage to contribute to the creation of a society in which sexual abuse and exploitation of women, particularly Dalit women, is an acceptable part of everyday life.

Sociologically and psychologically conditioned into division, schoolchildren separate themselves along gender lines; in many areas women sit on one side of buses, men another; special women-only carriages have been installed on the Delhi and Mumbai metro, introduced to protect women from sexual harassment or “eve teasing” as it is colloquially known. Such safety measures, while being welcomed by women and women’s groups, do not deal with the underlying causes of abuse, and in a sense may further inflame them.

Rape, sexual violence, molestation and harassment are rife, but, with the exception perhaps of the Bollywood Mumbai set, sex is a taboo subject. A poll by India Todayconducted in 2011 found that 25 per cent of people had no objection to sex before marriage, providing it was not in their family.

Sociological separation fuels gender divisions, supports prejudicial stereotypes and stokes sexual repression, which many women’s organizations believe accounts for the high rate of sexual violence. A 2011 study, carried out by the International Centre for Research on Women, of men’s attitudes in India towards women produced some startling statistics: one in four admitted having “used sexual violence (against a partner or against any woman)”, one in five reported using “sexual violence against a stable [female] partner”. Half of men don’t want to see gender equality, 80 per cent regard changing nappies, feeding and bathing children to be “women’s work”, and a mere 16 per cent play any part in household duties. Added to these inhibiting attitudes of mind, homophobia is the norm, with 92 per cent confessing they would be ashamed to have a gay friend, or even be in the vicinity of a gay man.

All in all, India is blighted by a catalogue of Victorian gender stereotypes, fuelled by a caste system designed to subjugate, which trap both men and women into conditioned cells of isolation where destructive ideas of gender are allowed to ferment, causing explosions of sexual violence, exploitation and abuse.

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‘US Troops Out Now’: Philippine Protesters Push Against Base Expansion

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Hundreds march against Philippine government’s cooperation with US bid for heavier military presence

- Sarah Lazare

Riot police prepare to prevent protesters from marching closer to the U.S. Embassy Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 in Manila, Philippines, against the forthcoming visit of U.S. President Barack Obama. (Photo: AP/Bullit Marquez)Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of the Philippine capital on Tuesday to demand U.S. troops leave their country, just days after Philippine President Noynoy Aquino announced he is close” to a deal that would open the Philippines to an expanded U.S. military presence.

“Aquino is desperately trying to outdo previous Philippine presidents when it comes to puppetry to the US,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, spokesperson for labor organization Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement), which organized the demonstration.

Riot police clashed with approximately 300 demonstrators, who carried signs and banners that read “Obama Not Welcome” and “US Troops Out Now,” near the U.S. embassy in Manila. At one point police attacked the crowd with truncheons, but no one was seriously injured, the Associated Press reports.

The protest comes ahead of a planned visit by U.S. President Barack Obama in April, which will be aimed at making progress towards an agreement over sustained U.S. military presence in the Philippines, including in the Subic Bay, which overlooks the South China Sea.

Social movements in the Philippines have long opposed U.S. power over their country, which includes more than five decades of direct colonial rule and the backing of brutal dictator Ferdinand Marcos — who was president from 1965 to 1986 until he was overthrown by a popular movement. Even after Philippine independence, the U.S. maintained a heavy presence of bases and troops, despite widespread opposition to the environmental and social harm they spread, including numerous incidents of sexual assaults and rape of the local population.

While the last U.S. base in the country was shut down in 1992, the U.S. currently sends 500 troops to the southern Philippines annually for so-called counter-terrorism purposes, while 6,500 come each year for training, according to the Philippine military.

With the cooperation of Aquino, Obama is aggressively pushing to expand this military presence as part of the U.S. military’s pivot to Asia to hedge against China. The U.S. and Philippine governments have levied U.S. humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan to build support for a deal.

According to Labong, Aquino “tries to make it appear that the return of US military bases to the Philippines is part of efforts to help the country when it is part of the U.S. geopolitical strategy.”

 

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A Complete US Withdrawal from Afghanistan? Bring… It… On

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Obama orders Pentagon to draw up plans for ‘zero option’… and that’s a good thing, say those opposed to endless occupation

- Jon Queally

President Hamad Karzai, warned about security deal repercussions by the US. (Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)Despite repeated statements from the Obama administration that its preferred planned is for a large residual military force and operations footprint inside Afghanistan that extends well beyond 2014, the president formally ordered the Pentagon on Tuesday to draw up plans for a full and complete withdrawal of all U.S. forces by the end of the year—the so-called ‘zero option.’

Though treated like a threat and something that would be terrible for both U.S. interests and the Afghan people by many in the Washington establishment, the reality is that preparations for a coordinated and full withdrawal is exactly what the global anti-war movement and those who support Afghan sovereignty have been calling for since the country was first invaded by the U.S. and NATO more than a dozen years ago.

Obama’s move was leaked to the press following a phone call between Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai earlier on Tuesday in which the two leaders discussed the ongoing reluctance of Karzai to sign a bilateral security agreement (BSA) put forth by the White House.

Karzai has repeatedly rebuffed pressure from the US and NATO to sign the BSA, saying he wants to wait until after upcoming presidential elections in the country before committing to additional years of having foreign troops in the country, maintaining bases, and launching military operations within and across its borders.

As the Guardian reports:

Preparations for a withdrawal from Afghanistan are complicated by the fact that the use of air bases there are not solely focused on waging war. Bases like Kandahar in the south and Jalalabad in the east are also platforms for flying surveillance and armed drones into neighboring Pakistan, and surveillance drones have also likely flown from Kandahar into Iran.

Losing access to Afghan air bases may likely prompt the US to look for alternative regional launchpads in central Asian states, an uncertain prospect complicated by their dismal human rights records. In 2005, Uzbekistan revoked US access to its Karshi-Khanabad air base following a diplomatic row over a bloody crackdown that May in Andijan province.

The Pentagon did not comment on any airbase negotiations, but a spokeswoman, Navy commander Elissa Smith, said “regardless of the outcome of the BSA, the United States will take the steps necessary to combat terrorism and protect our interests”.

According to foreign policy analyst Phyllis Bennis, a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, the focus on U.S. interests in repeated statements by Pentagon officials and Obama himself reveals how shallow the rhetoric has been when the U.S. tries to say that the continued presence of U.S. troops is for the good of the Afghan people.

While rejecting Obama’s argument that keeping troops in Afghanistan will somehow keep Americans more safe from future terrorist attacks, Bennis supports the idea of a full and complete U.S. withdrawal. As she wrote recently:

The best way to prevent attacks on the U.S. is precisely to get all U.S. troops — all, not most — out of Afghanistan. The “Zero Option,” the full withdrawal the United States dreads and the inevitable result if the Afghan government, like its Iraqi counterpart, refuses to grant immunity to U.S. troops for any crimes they might commit, is in fact the best way to both help Afghanistan’s people reclaim their country on their own terms, and reduce the threat of attacks on the United States.

Posted in Afghanistan0 Comments

Drone Victim to Address UK MPs for the First Time

NOVANEWS

A Pakistani man who lost his son and brother to a 2009 CIA drone strike will tomorrow speak to MPs about his experiences, in the first event of its kind.

Kareem Khan, who in the past month has also been the victim of a kidnapping by what appeared to be Pakistani state agents, will address members of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Drones at 1700 GMT on 25 February 2014, in the Attlee Suite, Portcullis House.

Mr Khan will be the first victim of a CIA drone strike to address Members of the British Parliament.

The strikes are carried out by the CIA and US Special Forces in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, using remotely-controlled, robotic aircraft known as ‘drones.’ The UK has been identified as playing a significant role in supporting such operations, both through the provision of intelligence and through communications infrastructure at US air bases on UK soil.

The strikes have caused the deaths of large numbers of civilians and have also proved controversial as they take place outside of declared warzones with little or no accountability or transparency – in violation of international law.

Mr Khan is seeking legal accountability for the killing of his teenage son and schoolteacher brother, and has brought a case against the Pakistani police over their failure to investigate their deaths. Supported by legal charity Reprieve, Mr Khan’s case was raised in a complaint to the International Criminal Court, filed last week.

The meeting will be hosted by Tom Watson MP, chair of the APPG on Drones. Mr Khan will be joined on the panel by Noor Behram, an investigative journalist from North Waziristan who has documented the aftermath of dozens of drone strikes; and Jemima Stratford QC, who advised APPG members in January of the potential legal consequences for GCHQ officials who may provide data for targeting.

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir, UK0 Comments

Pakistan: UNPO, Balochistan & Imperial Agenda

NOVANEWS

Balochistan, Pakistan

 

By Sajjad Shaukat

In July, 2013, the report of the Abbottabad Commission was published, which had also recorded

the statement of the ex-DG ISI, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha who indicated that the CIA had

infiltrated in many foreign Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Pakistan including

Save the Children, and due to lack of cooperation by other civil agencies and police, it was not

possible for the ISI to track activities of all these NGOs.

However, these non-state entities which are called NGOs are non-profit groups, organized

at local, regional and international level to address issues concerning human wellbeing and

goodness of people, and have, no doubt, brought about social change in the less developed

NGOs are independent in their outlook, but are faced with the constraints of operating under

sovereign compulsions and constitutional obligations of host countries to plan and execute their

Overtly, the vision, mission and operating principle of the NGOs is to provide humanitarian

services towards surmounting poverty, eradicating endemic diseases and providing relief to

the victims of natural and manmade calamities and other tormented ordeals of the masses.

But covertly, some foreign and even domestic institutions manipulate the NGOs to further the

imperial agenda of some vested interests, especially western powers which take advantage of

these non-sovereign entities so as to promote their political influence by financing them and

dictating their malevolent stratagem, which is contravention to the accepted norms and value

systems of the host country.

In fact, it is a new face of imperialism which can take the shape of aiding and abetting regional

interest groups to revolt against the legitimate governments and develop suitable platforms to

endorse their schema.

In these terms, the unique idea of creating Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization

(UNPO) was implemented at the Peace Palace in Hague in 1991. The humanitarian purpose

behind was that since UNPO members were not adequately represented in the UNO, hence,

it was created with a noble mission: to help minorities, marginalized communities and sub-
nationalities to find a platform from where they could raise their voice in order to maintain

their identity and to avoid total exclusion. Initially, UNPO was entirely formed by its 15

members, but now it includes over 40 members. Although the membership is given to those

who pledge to remain nonviolent, working for human rights, democracy, self determination,

environmental protection and promotion of tolerance, yet some of the sponsors exploit UNPO for

the endorsement of their vested interests.

It has been noted that a few members of UNPO in EU and USA are involved in instigating

Pakistani nationals to participate in anti-state activities, support insurgency and promote

dissents. Reportedly, UNPO is extensively involved in sustaining Baloch Sub-Nationalities

(BSNs) and is promoting separatist agenda by expressing allegiance with the separatists. UNPO

members participate in every anti-Pakistan activity and protest demonstration organized by

Baloch separatists abroad, thereby damaging the image of Pakistan while sowing the seeds of

In this regard, India, the US and Israel have been internationalizing the Balochistan issue in

accordance with their secret designs. In connivance with the Baloch separatist leaders who have

taken refuge in Switzerland, Sweden, US and London, these foreign elements use media and

UNPO including various NGOs and human rights organizations for false propaganda against

Pakistan’s security forces and ISI in relation to extrajudicial killings, mutilated bodies and the

Regarding various demonstrations and rallies of the Baloch separatists and so-called human

rights organizations, on August 3, 2011, the former ISPR spokesman, Maj-Gen Athar Abbas,

while rejecting human rights groups’ reports about Balochistan as a conspiracy against Pakistan,

called for probing the funding of these organizations as this could be traced back to those forces

which want to destabilize Pakistan.

Notably, Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) is also in collusion with some US Congressmen to get

foreign support so as to animate the scheme of separatism in Balochistan. For the sinister aims,

BLA and the Baloch feudal lord, Khan of Kalat had planned to take the issue of Balochistan to

International Court of Justice (ICJ) and expected that India would pay $2.4 million lawyers’ fee

to contest their case in ICJ. As Indian support did not get materialized, BLA and Khan of Kalat

went over to US leaders to press forward their case.

In February 8, 2012, three Republican Congressmen, Dana Rohrabacher, Louie Gohmert and

Steve King tabled a bill before US Congress, supporting an independent Balochistan. Although

the US Administration distanced itself from Congressional hearing, yet US denial does not augur

well with ground reality, as American think tanks and NGOs go on instigating the separatist

elements in Baluchistan.

Nevertheless, about the deteriorating situation of Balochistan, everyone knows the foreign-
backed separatist groups like the BLA, BLF and their affiliated outfits including another group,

Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which have been fighting for secession of the province get logistic

support from American CIA and Indian RAW—these miscreants kidnapped and killed many

innocent people and the security personnel in the province through subversive acts including

sectarian violence. Therefore, they are responsible for dumped bodies and extrajudicial killings

and the missing persons in the province. On a number of occasions, these militant outfits claimed

responsibility for their subversive acts.

While, a Gallup survey of the UK official body, DFID, conducted on July 20, 2012, disclosed

that the vast majority of the Baloch people oppose the idea of an independent Balochistan. This

survey has proved that some external entities have been conducting subversive activities in

the province by supporting the minority elements, and are inciting the other Bloch persons for

independence of Balochistan.

As a result of the elections 2013, the government led by a nationalist leader Chief Minister

Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch has been established. Being progressive and moderate man,

he ensured that socio-economic justice would meet with success, while playing a key role in

empowering Baloch leaders to manage the affairs of their province and also to participate in

Pakistan’s decision-making process. And on December 7, 2013; local bodies elections were

largely held in a peaceful manner in Balochistan.

Observing the intentions of the hostile powers which have eyes on mineral resources of

Balochistan and its significance due to geo-strategic location, during his trip to Beijing,

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang signed

eight agreements on July 5, 2013 in various fields. The most important one envisages the

establishment of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) between deep Gwadar seaport of

Balochistan and the historic Silk Road city in western regions-Xinjiang of China—connecting to

Gilgit-Baltistan through Khunjerab Pass.

Nonetheless, UNPO is not in consultative status with Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC),

a UN body to bring any good for the poor of the less developed nations. Therefore, it is quite

evident that western imperialism is behind such organizations to advance their covert designs.

No doubt, like some other NGOs, UNPO is violating its own basic charter by advancing imperial

agenda and evil designs of the external elements by damaging Pakistan’s interests. The Baloch

dissidents are rebels and any organization which promotes the interests of rebels against a

sovereign state is illegitimate and illegal.

Now, the right hour has come that our domestic media must expose international conspiracy

against Balochistan by condemning the activities of anti-Pakistan countries and UNPO by

exposing its nexus with BSNs.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,

Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

Putting the Pakistani Youth on Right Direction

NOVANEWS

 

By Sajjad Shaukat

 

While disagreeing with the past thinkers who say that human nature is aggressive, which

radicalizes the youngsters, modern sociologists and psychologists agree that a number of factors

such as historical background, cultural setup, education etc. play a key in putting the youth on

right direction by deradicalizing them. They opine that these factors including some other ones

are essential for nation-building of a country, so that a positive national character could emerge.

In these terms, the youth in Pakistan constitutes valuable endowment and valid heritage of the

nation. Fortunately, Pakistan is blessed with highly motivated and incredibly talented youth

having sense of purpose and firm resolve to realize their potential. They are exceptionally eager

to make positive contributions for the well-being of this country. In this context, provision of

right opportunities, social justice, balanced guidance and respect for merit are the key features to

guide the youth towards right path.

As regards Pakistan, besides other factors, family background, peer group interactions and

grooming treasures of educational institutions play vital role in character building, attaining

professional grace, developing positive attitude and acquiring sense of compassion.

Educational institutions like colleges and universities besides providing the young adults to

improve their mental faculties and enhance technical prowess also guide them to build moral

strength and learn ethical values, essentially required to handle practical spells of life. Every

nation desires to maintain its social order, develop orderly socio-political structure to observe its

esteemed traditions, customs and perpetuating moral standards. Hence, balanced curriculum and

standards of excellence are developed by the educational institutions to encourage the students

to learn and demonstrate socially approved conduct, desirable etiquette, sense of tolerance,

respect for law and holding teachers and parents to adhere the social values with high esteem.

Quality education and exemplary models will enable the youth to internalize values through a

socialization process.

At this crucial juncture, Pakistan has been facing multi-faceted problems such as acute financial

crisis, poverty, unemployment, social inequities, lack of security, loadshading of electricity

and gas in wake of continuous acts of terrorism. But, our young persons have shown a greater

enthusiasm and energy in coping with these multiple problems. So, their vitality and power of

determination is praiseworthy.

On the on side, enemies of the Pakistan are using various schemes to manipulate the youth by

provocating them to join the militants in order to conduct subversive activities, on the other side,

a majority of the Pakistani youth is well-determined in thwarting the nefarious designs of the

terrorists who are involved in brutal acts of terrorism and have brought embarrassment to the

Regrettably, some political and religious entities including some media analysts are misguiding

the youngsters that it is elseone’s war, not Pakistan’s war, but the youth is well-aware that it is

our own war against terrorism, as the militants are being supported by external enemies of the

However, the youth in certain segments of our society has been misled by few selfish and greedy

individuals who tend to exploit them through their money, status and knowledge.

Prevalent political instability and social disorder caused by growing extremism and radicalism

have increased the level of frustration among the youngsters who have now been wavering

been fact and scepticism. Therefore, they show signs of deviant behavior by disregarding social

norms, cultural values and time-tested traditions. Today, one end of social continuum points

at extreme liberals who appear to have lost respect for every norm, custom and value, while

extremist elements advocate radical philosophies.

Resultantly, obscenity and vulgarity demonstrated by liberals lead to offensive disposition, while

radicals mark their signatures through criminal acts of violence. Society as a whole bears the

brunt, as repulsive behavior of liberals brings sense of shame and guilt—while painful bloodshed

is caused by extremists and radicals.

Despite all of this, the Pakistani youth is fully aware of the dangers which lurk ahead and the

impediments which lie in the path of realizing their full potential and a brighter future. In this

respect, the government of Pakistan needs to take serious measures to positively exploit the

enthusiasm and energy of the youth not only in coping with the political instability, social strife

and economic problems, but also menace of terrorism in the country.

For the purpose, our own media must show courage by denouncing all acts of terrorism, and

stop providing space to these terrorists, as media statements by the spokesmen of the militant

groups simply glorify the cause of terrorism in one way or the other. Thus, media reports must

stop misguiding the youngsters. They must point out that these terrorists have accelerated their

anti-social, undemocratic and un-Islamic practices in the country where their merciless activities

continue unabated. Hence, they must motivate the youth by emphasizing the necessity of unity to

fight the ruthless enemy.

It is notable that education and research are very essential for the development of a country,

as we can see in the west. So, strenuous efforts for peace and an atmosphere conducive to the

pursuit of education, research and vocational interests are of prime importance in relation to

the youth. For the purpose, educational institutions must develop balanced curriculum and an

appropriate guidance-system to sublimate the talent of the youth towards triumphant and glorious

ends. Teachers must act as role models, setting personal examples in every decision making

In this regard, a system must be developed to enhance character building capacity, which should

entails formulation of behavior and a monitoring mechanism. Students must become active

participants of monitoring schemes, encouraging rule of law, learning leadership tasks and

offering meaningful and positive criticism.

Merit must be respected and sense of positive competition be enhanced among students. Trends

and tendencies having temptations of immorality must be curbed through open debates, while

provost system in the educational institutions must operate with assertive vigor to guide the

radicals and extreme liberals so as to draw balance in their outlooks optimistically.

Particularly, academic institutions must develop the curriculum in order to enhance moral values

and quality attributes having lifetime sustainability. Balanced guidance must be provided to the

students with the aim to develop professional goals and to build character qualities.

It is the duty of teachers and educational institutions to mould their students into refined

individuals—capable of analyzing any issue, construing relevant conclusions and taking correct

decisions. Sense of compassion and mental capacity to tolerate dissent must be inculcated

amongst the young students. Such grooming would make them responsible and useful citizens of

No doubt, Pakistani youth which is full of enthusiasm and energy has already expressed firm

resolve to fight the menace of terrorism, and to play their role for the security of Pakistan, while

helping the country in diversified fields for nation-building purposes. Inspite of it, there is a dire

need to put the youth on right direction by providing balanced guidance to them, enabling them

to follow the correct path, realize their full potential and make positive contributions for the well-
being of the society and the country.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,

Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

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