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Indian Perennial Support to Baloch Sub Nationalists

NOVANEWS

Image result for india map

By Sajjad Shaukat

Indian covert and overt activities against the federation of Pakistan had led to the separation of

the former East Pakistan in 1971. Now, India has been promoting sub-nationalism in Khyber

Paktunkhwa, Sindh and even among the Karachiates (Mohajirs).

Undoubtedly, various antagonistic forces are relentlessly conspiring against the unity and

territorial integrity of Pakistan, while their sinister designs and Indian perennial support to

Baloch Sub Nationalists Baloch (BSNs) needs continuous attention.

Purposely, these opposed elements are shifting the spotlight on Pakistan’s province of

Balochistan, thus, making it a hub of their terrorist activities, evil schemes and roguish designs.

These elements are making efforts to destabilize the province by promoting acrimonious sense of

dissent, political volatility, sectarian violence, deteriorating law and order situation and arousing

sentiments of separatism. It is an undeniable reality that India is leading terrorist activities in the

Balochistan province by using the soil of Afghanistan, harbouring and financing terrorists and

projecting them as freedom fighters.

In this respect, Dr Allah Nazar is a terrorist hailing from Awaran, Balochistan. He is being

directly supported by Indian RAW to commit heinous crimes against humanity, requiring state

reaction to safeguard the life and property of its citizens. Killing men, women and children,

attacks on women university students, armed forces, members of the law-enforcing agencies and

blowing up of electric pylons as well as gas pipelines are part of the anti-Pakistan scheme. In a

sane society, how such acts could be counted as deeds of a liberation movement.

Recently, adhering to its practice, an Indian propaganda website managed by RAW namely

“OneIndia” uploaded a concocted venomous interview of the notorious terrorist Dr Allah Nazar.

The central contents of the interview revolve around customary and unsubstantiated allegations

against Pakistan’s law-enforcing and intelligence agencies and Pak-China relations. To attract

sympathies of civil society and to create sensation, website introduces him as so-called freedom

movement leader fighting against Jehadi elements and ISIS.

It may be recalled that Allah Nazar and his group Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) continued to

harass local population in Awaran, Punjgur and Kech districts for some time; however, he fled

from the area on arrival of the armed forces during earthquake relief activities in September

2013. People of the area felt immensely relieved after the arrival of the armed forces/their large

scale relief efforts. Since then, Allah Nazar and his likeminded militants have fled to other areas

only known to RAW, and are carrying out terrorist activities.

In fact, Indians are desperate to hyphenate Pakistan with ISIS/Jihadists and a portion of so-called

interview of Allah Nazar was full of these false accusations.

While, New Delhi is using terrorist elements in Balochistan to threat Chinese interest in the

development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Taking cognizance of the enemy’s intensions, 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 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. Beijing has also offered to

build an international airport, while the roads infrastructure in Gwadar would be connected with

the communication network of rest of the country to facilitate transportation of goods. By

rejecting US growing pressure, Pakistan has handed over the control of Gwader seaport to China.

While, in May, 2013, a day before Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Islamabad; Chinese

engineers being driven through Clifton Block-1 in Karachi escaped a major bomb attack. As

regards anti-China diplomacy, Afghanistan has become a hub from where external secret

agencies like RAW and Israeli Mossad have been assisting subversive activities in other parts of

Pakistan—especially in Balochistan through their affiliated militant groups at the cost of

Pakistan, China and Iran. In the past few years, they abducted and killed many Chinese and

Iranian nationals in Pakistan.

It mentionable that during China’s visit of Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif, on

January 25, this year, China’s Vice Chairman of Central Military Commission Gen. Fan has

assured that China will assist Pakistan in every challenge.

When during the Musharraf regime, Pakistan government initiated the construction of Gwadar

deep-seaport in Balochistan province in March 2002 with Chinese assistance, sirens went off in

the capitals of foreign countries, particularly the US, India and Israel. The US took it as a threat

to its global plans, and India felt that it threatened its integrity. Israel took it as a greater threat

from an Islamic country.

It is notable that besides the ideal strategic location of Balochistan’s Gwadar seaport among

South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East, and oil and gas-resourced Central Asia, Balochistan’s

abundant mineral resources like gas, coal and gold, entailing Pakistan’s close ties with China

pinches the eyes of the US, India, Israel and some western countries which intend to weaken

Pakistan for their collective aims.

In this context, the interview of a disreputable terrorist on RAW-managed Indian site confirms

that particularly India has been training, financing, arming and projecting terrorists to destabilize

Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, it should be made known to the terrorists, operating in Balochistan that they will

never succeed in their designs to damage Pakistan. It is in their own interests to lay down their

arms and stop making trouble in the province. Their foreign masters are Pakistan’s enemies, and

are using them as tools of their anti-Pakistan policy. Their survival lies only in united Pakistan

For the purpose, our own newspapers and media houses must play their role to foster unity and

tranquility in Pakistani society. They must also project that Baloch people are highly patriotic,

and the terrorists involved in anti-state activities have no linkage with them.

These media entities must indicate that terrorists, operating in Balochistan are against Pakistan

and pursuing the agenda of the vested interests of their foreign masters, especially pointing out,

Indian support to Baloch Sub Nationalists.

Posted in India0 Comments

Memory of the Siachen Glacier Tragedy

NOVANEWS

Map of Pakistan

By Sajjad Shaukat

On April 7, 2012, an avalanche hit a military base at Gayari sector in Siachen Glacier, trapping

140 soldiers and civilian contractors under deep snow. It was the worst tragedy which the

Pakistani military has experienced in the area. The incident occurred at about an altitude of

16,000 feet and 180 miles northeast of Skardu, the capital of Baltistan.

Pakistan’s then President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Chief of Army

Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, PML (N) leader Nawaz Sharif including renowned journalists

and media anchors visited the Siachen area. Entire nation expressed deep sorrow and regret over

the unfortunate snow slide, showing solidarity with the aggrieved families of the soldiers and

praying for their survival.

The Siachen Glacier region in the eastern Karakoram Range of Himalayan Mountains—region of

Kashmir has been the site of intermittent conflict between India and Pakistan for several decades.

The area has come to be known as the world’s highest battlefield. In this regard, while quoting

the data of a metrological department, a reliable online source disclosed, “India carried out

extensive military activities which caused the avalanche…melting of ice at the terminus of the

Siachen Glacier…led to increased solar radiation as one of the prime causes of the incident.”

However, an avalanche rescue operation was quickly launched by the Pakistani military. Over

150 soldiers—using helicopters, rescue dogs and heavy machinery—began searching the area for

the missing soldiers and contractors, with a team of doctors and paramedics standing by.

During the initial days of the rescue operation, after the Siachen tragedy, dead body of a soldier

Muhammad Hussain, Shaheed (Martyr) was recovered in Gayari Sector. For more than two

years, the operation continued, and despite weather hazards, brave Pakistani troops were

uncontrollably trying to find their comrades under 80 feet deep snow.

According to ISPR update of May 22, 2012, “Clearance efforts continued round the clock at

Gayari Sector. Simultaneous efforts are being undertaken to tackle effects of water on the site in

the shape of pondages, cutting and crevasses. The water has started draining and has resulted into

quick reduction of water level in the lake, at 27 feet…excavation work has resumed its full pace

despite difficulties posed by seepage of the water at the sites, hazards of crevasses/cutting by

water and sinking effects for plant equipment…meanwhile during physical inspection of the

area, some equipment was found.”

In this respect, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was directly looking after the rescue efforts, and

being courageous commander, determined to excavate each inch of the area in the search of his

brave soldiers. He pointed out, “I, being, retired commander of the volunteers (An infantry unit

which served in Siachen Sector) can visualize the importance of search of the bodies of martyred

soldiers for their comrades and families. But still, as fighter, familiar with the circumstances

where many soldiers  laid their lives in the war zones and area like Siachen…their bodies were

not traced out due to topography, unfavourable environmental conditions. It does not mean that

soldiers do not remember their comrades or nation forget its heroes those scarified their lives for

their tomorrows. But, I would only say that while viewing the efforts of rescue operation, we

must consider the ground realties too.”

Nevertheless, on May 3 2012, father of Major Zaka who came along with the then chief of Army

Staff, Gen. Kayani, during his visit to Siachen—talking to journalist appreciated the efforts of

troops participating in rescue operation. He stated that he was proud of his son and other soldiers

who scarified their lives. According to ISPR press release, at that occasion, Gen. Kayani

remained with the troops for some time and lauded their motivation in face of tough conditions

and extreme weather—their resolve to upkeep Army’s proud tradition of not leaving a man

behind, until humanly impossible.

He elaborated, “Being one of the old warriors of Siachen, I know that after passing 50 days the

chances of survival of soldiers buried under 80 feet of snow are very rare. By now, the dead

bodies might also be started decomposition because of natural phenomena. After two months

time the temperature will again start decreasing which will definitely make the snow harder and

Any how, snow was frustrating rescue efforts, but valiant soldiers of Pakistan’s military did not

even surrender to the hard weather conditions. 121 bodies were recovered in 2012—as of June 8,

2013, Pak Army’s search and rescue teams had recovered 131 dead bodies, while search for the

remaining nine continued. In this connection, on October 2, 2013, Gen. Ashfaq Pervaz Kayani

said that 133 bodies had so far been recovered, while search for the remaining seven continued.

It is regrettable that instead of expressing condolences, the then Indian Army Chief Gen. VK

Singh, in an interview of May 26, 2012, rejected the Pak army chief’s proposal to de-militarize

the Siachen area. He considered Indian troops in the better deployment position. Indian army

chief ignored the fact that India has been incurring more expenditure on the Siachen Glacier, and

he also forgot that Indian causalities are more than those of Pakistan. However, during various

levels of talks, Islamabad has repeatedly offered New Delhi to resolve all the issues including the

disputes of Siachen and Kashmir. But, by acting upon aggressive diplomacy in the modern era of

reconciliation, economic development and welfare of the people, India has still been using

delaying tactics in this respect.

Undoubtedly, being Muslims, we are fully convinced that a person who gets martyr in Allah’s

path, will remain alive. Therefore, it will not be wrong in saying that Pak soldiers who scarified

their lives for us at the Gayari sector of the Siachen Glacier would be taken as everlasting

invisible guardians of Pakistan’s territorial boundaries, and are Shaheed, since it is difficult to

fight the nature. However, the very day of April 7 is the memory of the Siachen Glacier tragedy.

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

Much ado about PTI at joint session to debate Yemen dilemma

NOVANEWS
DAWN NEWS
The joint session of Parliament called to discuss Pakistan's involvement in the Yemen conflict may continue for two or three days. - DawnNews screengrab
The joint session of Parliament called to discuss Pakistan’s involvement in the Yemen conflict may continue for two or three days. – DawnNews screengrab

ISLAMABAD: The focal issue of Pakistan’s role in the Yemen conflict took a momentary backseat as disgruntled lawmakers noisily protested first the prime minister’s absence and later the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s presence in Parliament at a joint session held today.

The subject of Pakistan’s response to Saudi Arabia’s request for assistance was broached after fits and starts, as rowdy lawmakers were chastised by the National Assembly speaker and prominent opposition lawmakers.

The opposition raised important questions on the subject of Pakistan’s role in the escalating discord in the Middle East. PPP Senator Aitzaz Ahsan took the lead in asking the government to clarify what it means by its assertion that Pakistan will support the kingdom if there is “a threat to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity”.

“We are here to give you the mandate,” Ahsan said as the session resumed after adjournment. “But for that we need to be told clearly what exactly your stance is. Only then we will lend you the mandate you are seeking.”

Aitzaz asserted that Riyadh, with its supreme air power, is capable of defending Saudi Arabian cities that are 2,000 kilometres from the war zone in Yemen.

“The House needs to be taken into confidence,” he demanded. “All diplomatic correspondence should be shared with us.”

PTI’s Shah Mahmud Qureshi agreed. “My view and Imran Khan’s view is identical to Aitzaz Ahsan’s,” he said.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif in the morning session shared Saudi Arabia’s ‘wishlist’ of Pakistani combat planes, warships and soldiers.

Asif dubbed the Yemen debate a matter of ‘high national interest’ and said the security situation there has raised severe implications for Pakistan.

Urging the need for a peaceful solution, Asif said, “Pakistan remains a sincere and committed friend to Saudi Arabia. For both Turkey and Pakistan, Saudi Arabia is a friend, a brother…both countries will stand by Saudi Arabia. We stand committed to extend support to Saudi Arabia.”

He welcomed the guidance of elected members in the parliament and said the government believes in a collective decision made through a participatory discussion.

Asif reminded the assembly that Pakistan has fought the war on terror on its soil without help from another country. “Pakistan is fighting its war against terrorism on its own resources,” he said.

“Pakistan is the only nation in the world that has taken on terrorism head on,” he added.

At 9PM, Speaker of the National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq said the session would be adjourned till tomorrow (Tuesday) 11AM.

High drama in Parliament as PM joins late, MQM stages walkout

Speaker Ayaz Sadiq made desperate appeals for calm and quiet as the commotion in Parliament unfolded and lawmakers shouted slogans criticising Imran Khan and his party.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Farooq Sattar expressed his party’s strong reservations with the PTI’s participation in today’s session after the months long boycott and resignation from Parliament.

“The House has the authority to end membership of any lawmaker following his voluntary absence for 40 days,” Sattar said.”Why are those who do not believe in the Constitution present here today?” he asked, dubbing the PTI a “stranger to Parliament”.

“If you admit workers who have resigned, then tomorrow the people who are sitting in the gallery, and the media should also be allowed in the assembly,” he said.

Later, the MQM walked out of Parliament to register its protest, and a team of federal ministers — comprising Qadir Baloch, Barjees Tahir and Riaz Peerzada — was sent by the Speaker to pacify the party.

In the morning session, lawmakers squabbled with government legislators over the absence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was tied up in engagements with visiting Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.

After opening shortly at 11am, the joint session was adjourned for nearly three hours as legislators raised questions about the prime minister’s absence from the assembly.

While opposition leader Khursheed Shah welcomed the PTI’s attendance as a positive step and commended the NA Speaker for his patience on the resignation issue, he took strong exception to Nawaz’s absence in Parliament.

“I want to ask PM Nawaz to come and sit in the parliament and open the debate on the Yemen issue,” he said when the session opened this morning.

“There is joint responsibility… since all of parliament is present it is important for him to be present here,” Shah said. “I understand he is busy, but he should have made time for an hour to attend the joint session.”

Shah’s request to the Speaker to adjourn the session till such time that the prime minister joins was accepted after Khawaja Asif briefed the lawmakers about his visit to Riyadh and Saudi Arabia’s expectations.

Nawaz later joined the session but did not address lawmakers. According to an official statement from the PM House, Nawaz held a meeting with senior civil and military officials including the army chief Raheel Sharif, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and foreign policy advisor to the PM Sartaj Aziz.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week called for a joint session of Parliament as opposition leaders pushed for an All Parties Conference to debate whether Pakistan will accede to Saudi Arabia’s request for ground and air military assistance to counter the Houthi insurgency in Yemen.

The government has repeatedly said it has not yet committed sending troops to the conflict area but that it would confront any threat to Saudi Arabia’s “territorial integrity”.

However, the Saudi state media have been citing Pakistan as one of more than 10 states in the coalition before and after a high-level Pakistani civil and military delegation visited the kingdom last week to assess its military requirements.

Read: Pakistan committed to Saudi security, peaceful solution to Yemen crisis — Asif

End of live updates

National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq has adjourned the session till Tuesday 11am.

MQM joins session, opposes Pakistan’s involvement in Yemen conflict

MQM lawmakers return to Parliament after they staged a walkout on PTI’s presence in the House.

MQM MNA Farooq Sattar says, “Do we want to put Balochistan’s future at risk by joining a controversial war. We should be evaluating the long-term implications of our involvement in the war.”

He asks whether preemptive strikes are justified. “So many countries including the Unites States and Israel are allowed to conduct preemptive strikes, which the Saudi-led alliance has also conducted in Yemen. Who can guarantee that tomorrow India will not take up preemptive strikes,” says Sattar.

We have not been told details of any talks held by the prime minister with Saudi and Turkish leadership, says Sattar. “Is this assembly being used as a rubber stamp?”

“Saudi Arab has helped Pakistan in its time of need, especially in dealing with natural disasters. But that does not warrant our involvement in the conflict without due deliberation,” says Sattar.

The MQM lawmaker goes on to say that the government should formulate a transparent strategy on the critical matter. Reciprocating Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s stance, Sattar says no supranational body, including the UN and the OIC, has approved of the Yemen offensive.

Pakistan should look to form a “peace force” like it did in Somalia and we should be using the UN security council’s platform to defuse the conflict, says Sattar. “Preemptive strikes are risky for they are prone to human error,” he says.

“We do not want to be involved in any sort of war crime.”

‘Defence minister’s statement is vague’

PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi says the defence minister has not given a clear picture of what requirements were laid out by the Saudi government in front of Pakistan’s delegation. “What is the kind of help Saudi Arabia is looking for?”

“If our policy is interventionist, it has its own implications and the nation will have to understand what these implications are,” says Qureshi.

“Can we fulfill the requirements put forward by Riyadh despite the fact that our forces are preoccupied in fighting the war against terrorism?” questions the PTI lawmaker.

He also asks whether there is a tangible security threat to Saudi Arabia. Qureshi goes on to question whether the Unites Nations has passed any resolution approving the Yemen offensive. “We have to make sure this offensive will not be seen as a war crime in the future,” he says.

“Is there a military solution to a diplomatic problem? What’s happening in Yemen is a power struggle, which has been going on for decades,” says Qureshi.

Qureshi says there is a lot that has not been passed on to the House. “Was Pakistan consulted before air strikes were launched in Yemen. Or were we just informed,” asks Qureshi.

He says the conflict may take up a sectarian colour moving forward, and that serious deliberation is needed before formulating a final strategy on the matter. “We cannot escape from public opinion … we have to consider the wishes of the people of Pakistan before we take any decision.”

“My view and Imran Khan’s view is identical to Aitzaz Ahsan’s,” says Qureshi.

“Pakistan should call on all friends in the Middle East to ensure peace, prosperity and stability in the region, because instability has a direct impact on Pakistan,” says Qureshi.

Qureshi addressing the joint Parliament session.- DawnNews screengrab
Qureshi addressing the joint Parliament session.- DawnNews screengrab

Fazl reciprocates Aitzaz Ahsan’s demand of clarity

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, speaking in Parliament says, “It will not be wise to bring Pakistan-Iran relations in this issue. It is good that consultations are being done and that Turkey has also been involved in it.”

“We need to be informed what agreements are to be made. “Helping Saudi is permissible ─ but what kind of help? How will Pakistan be affected by it? We need to analyse all these things so that we can move towards a better policy.”

Fazl pushes for dialogue on the Yemen issue, saying that a large part of the Muslim world is in a state of war and Pakistan should play the role of a negotiator.

JUI-F boycotts the session after PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi is allowed to speak and its members walk out.

Imran Khan responds to criticism outside Parliament

While addressing a press conference outside the NA, PTI chief Imran Khan says “on one hand we are being requested to come back to the Parliament but on the other hand they humiliate us in the House.”

Referring to Khawaja Asif’s earlier remarks about PTI members, Imran Khan says, “The language used by a federal minister on the floor of the House was derogatory.”

Khan says everyone admits elections were rigged. “This makes it obvious that the assembly is unconstitutional.”

Khan says, “Why is MQM making an issue; even the ECP secretary admitted that they were unable to hold free and fair elections in Karachi.”

The PTI chief appreciates Aitzaz Ahsan’s speech saying “he made very valid points.”

“I don’t know what agreement Nawaz has made with the Saudi government, but we have many serious issues in our own country, we cannot jump into another war,” says Khan. He says he had come to the Parliament to debate Pakistan’s role in Yemen.

“Nawaz Sharif should tell us honestly what agreement he has made … I am afraid that Nawaz Sharif’s business interests will cause more problems for us,” says Imran Khan.

“Saudi Arabia is our brother and Iran is our neighbor, we should try to resolve the issue through diplomacy rather than partaking in the war.”

Fazlur Rehman lashes out at PTI

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman says, “Isn’t there any accountability for those who abuse the Parliament and violate the code of conduct?”

He says, once a resignation is submitted, there is no question of accepting or rejecting it.

‘End war through diplomacy’

Aitzaz Ahsan says Nawaz Sharif should have tried to gather the Muslim Ummah over the issue. “We want to end war through diplomacy.”

The PPP lawmaker says Pakistan, through its military power, has a strong position in the region. “We need to utilize this and work towards a diplomatic solution to end this crisis,” says Aitzaz.

He endorses Khwaja Asif’s statement saying we have been fighting the war against terrorism on our own.

Aitzaz Ahsan closes his speech, emphasising on his earlier demand, that the government clearly state Pakistan’s role in the Yemen conflict. “The House cannot be kept in the dark for long,” says Aitzaz.

“All diplomatic correspondences should be shared with us,” he says.

Aitzaz Ahsan asks government to clarify stance on Yemen

Aitzaz Ahsan says, the government has kept the House in confusion over the conflict in Yemen and Pakistan’s response over it. “It is not clear what is meant by ‘threat to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity’”.

Aitzaz says to the government, “We are here to give you the mandate, but for that we need to be told clearly what exactly your stance is. Only then we will lend you the mandate you are seeking.”

“People are saying that this is a proxy war, which is becoming a sectarian war. But I know this is not a sectarian dispute but a civil war which has been ongoing in Yemen for decades now.”

He says, “Saudi Arabia’s major cities are located at some 2000 kilometres from the war zone in Yemen. And Riyadh is capable enough, with its supreme air power, to defend this vast space of desert.”

“The House needs to be taken into confidence. This will not be the first time Pakistan will take part in a war in the Gulf region — if it does take part. But then again, the government should come clear on this,” says Aitzaz Ahsan.

Aitzaz Ahsan speaking at the joint session.- DawnNews screengrab
Aitzaz Ahsan speaking at the joint session.- DawnNews screengrab

MQM walks out of joint session

MQM members walked out of the session in protest of PTI’s presence in Parliament, as Farooq Sattar asserted PTI MNAs had no right to be there as they had tendered resignations last year.

Federal ministers Qadir Baloch, Barjees Tahir and Riaz Peerzada have been sent by the speaker to pacify the disgruntled lawmakers.

Aitzaz Ahsan chides parliamentarians for unruly behaviour

Senate opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan says, “The government should show some flexibility rather than pointing fingers at everyone.”

He says: “MQM and PTI might have an issue over NA-246 but other members must show some flexibility.”

Ruckus in Parliament as lawmakers protest PTI’s presence

MQM lawmakers shouted slogans in agreement with Farooq Sattar’s view that PTI has no right to be in Parliament after tendering resignations.

Ayaz Sadiq intervenes, reading from a paper: “According to the order of Supreme Court it comes under my authority to inquire about the authenticity of resignation by every member who has resigned.”

Khawaja Asif lashes out at PTI: ” They [PTI] should show some morals; they had been abusing the same parliament where they are now present.”

Farooq Sattar opens session by lambasting PTI

Continuing his criticism of the PTI, that today ended its seven-month boycott of the NA, MQM MNA Farooq Sattar says the PTI is a stranger to the Parliament.

He says, referring to the resignations of PTI MNAs, which the speaker did not accept: “The House has the authority to end membership of any lawmaker following his voluntary absence for 40 days.”

MQM threatens to walk out of the session but NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, in an attempt to defuse the situation, says, “You cannot walk out until you have heard me out.”

“Why are those who do not believe in the Constitution present here today,” says Sattar.

Farooq Sattar’s microphone was turned off.

Pakistan Hindu Council urges PM to send troops to SA

Patron-in-chief Pakistan Hindu Council and Member of National Assembly Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani has urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to send Pakistan Army troops to defend Saudi Arabia immediately.

The ruling party MNA added that contribution of Pakistan Army could be a game-changer in the current Middle East crises.

Dr Ramesh Vankwani, on behalf of Hindu community living across the country, emphasised that following the request of Saudi regime, presence of Pakistani troops within the geographic boundaries of Saudi Arabia for defence purposes would not be considered as the interference in the internal matters.

“The current foreign policy of Pakistan to not interfere in the internal matters of other countries is highly appreciated but in the current scenario, restoration of order in Yemen is most important for the promotion of talks and negotiations,” he said.

‘MQM may boycott Parliament till explanation of PTI’s presence’

MQM leader Farooq Sattar — DawnNews screenrab
MQM leader Farooq Sattar — DawnNews screenrab

Muttahida Qaumi Movement senior leader Farooq Sattar talking to journalists outside the National Assembly has said that the party may boycott and record the party’s protest until it was given an explanation regarding the attendance of PTI lawmakers in the Parliement.

“We are parliamentarians and until we can get a response over this we will continue to boycott and record our protest against this and if necessary will go to court as well,” Sattar said.

He said that the Constitution is being manipulated and added that, “We cannot break or bend the constitution as we please.”

“Speaker is the chief custodian and is violating the constitution and the house remains silent then this is turning democracy and the Constitution into a joke,” the senior MQM leader said.

“Today PTI members joined parliament, they are members who had submitted their resignations, and according to the constitution as soon an assembly member tenders his or her resignation it is considered as a resignation,” Sattar said.

He added that a formal announcement regarding the party’s decision to boycott the Parliament would be made at 5pm.

Those making noise in Parliament are scared of probe: IK

PTI Chairman Imran Khan talking to reporters after adjournment of joint session of Parliament. — DawnNews screengrab
PTI Chairman Imran Khan talking to reporters after adjournment of joint session of Parliament. — DawnNews screengrab

PTI Chairman talking to reporters, after adjournment of the joint session, said that “All those making noise today, they are scared of the probe into poll rigging as they know they will stand exposed.”

Imran Khan added that he stands by his stance that, “this is a rigged assembly, the difference now is that the judicial commission has been formed to probe the rigging.”

He added that if four constituencies had been opened earlier in 2014 as per the PTI demands then the party would not have taken to the streets.

Session adjourned till 5PM

NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq says the joint session will resume at 5PM.

“Whatever emerges from this house will be in favour of Pakistan,” Asif says on conclusion of his speech.

The opposition had earlier requested that the session be adjourned till such a time that the prime minister can attend in this significant gathering that will determine Pakistan’s role in the Middle East conflict.

Pakistan fought its war on terror alone

Khawaja Asif touches on the internal security situation of Pakistan, and says that Pakistan is the only country fighting terrorism alone.

“Pakistan is fighting its war against terrorism on their own resources,” he says.

“Pakistan is the only nation in the world that has taken on terrorism head on,” he adds.

Iran foreign minister to visit this week

Asif says that Iranian Foreign Minister will also visit Pakistan on April 8 (Wednesday) to discuss the Yemen conflict.

Iran is accused of supporting the Houthi insurgency to topple the President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi-led regime in Yemen.

“There is a need for coming to a peaceful solution,” Asif reiterates. “The government will greatly appreciate guidance of elected members in the parliament.”

Pakistan is a sincere friend of S Arabia: Asif

Khawaja Asif reiterates the government’s view that if Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity is harmed, Pakistan will take its side.

“Pakistan remains a sincere and committed friend to Saudi Arabia,” he says.

He adds that it is important for all influential figures of the Muslim Ummah to find a peaceful solution.

Referring to the premier’s recent meeting in Turkey with state leaders, Asif says, ” For both Turkey and Pakistan, Saudi Arabia is a friend, a brother.”

“Both countries will stand by Saudi Arabia, we stand committed to extend support to Saudi Arabia.”

“Saudi Arabia has asked for combat planes, warships and soldiers,” Asif says.

Khawaja Asif opens Yemen debate

"It is my proud privilege to introduce to the Parliament a topic of high national interest — the issue of Yemen," says Defence Minister Khawaja Asif.
“It is my proud privilege to introduce to the Parliament a topic of high national interest — the issue of Yemen,” says Defence Minister Khawaja Asif.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif moves motion to discuss the Yemen conflict and apprises House on the evacuation of Pakistanis from war-torn Yemen.

“It is my proud privilege to introduce to the Parliament a topic of high national interest — the issue of Yemen.”

“The grave security situation in Yemen has raised severe implications for Pakistan. Given the gravity of the situation PM Nawaz decided the subject merits in-depth discussion in the Parliament.”

“The government of PML-N believes in collective decision made through a participatory discussion.”

He says special PIA flights evacuated hundreds of Pakistanis in Yemen. “34 Pakistanis will be evacuated today,” he adds.

Asif thanks the Saudi government for assistance in evacuations. “We are also thankful to China because of their help to Pakistanis from Aden who were transported to Djibouti and eventually Pakistan.”

Joint session to continue

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar intervenes and says the session must continue. “The PM will eventually join this session but meanwhile facts should be discussed so the parliament can make up its mind.”

‘Where is the prime minister?’

Khursheed Shah says that the prime minister, who is currently with the visiting Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, should have attended the joint session.

“I want to ask PM Nawaz to come and sit in the parliament and commence the debate on the Yemen issue.”

“There is joint responsibility… since all of parliament is present it is important for him to be present here,” Shah says.

“I understand he is busy, but he should have made time for an hour to attend the joint session. I request that he adjourns the session for an hour and a half so that the prime minister can come to this debate and the parliament’s decision will have some weight.”

Shah proposes the session be postponed to 4PM and go on till 8PM so the prime minister can attend.

“I understand that we have a good relationship with Sri Lanka but I request that we call this session at 3:30PM or 4PM and continue this session tomorrow as well. We understand the government’s commitments but this session should be adjourned.”

Khawaja Asif responds to this by saying that the session should continue and that the prime minister’s meeting of the Sri Lanka leader was a scheduled visit.

A pat on the back for opposition

Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah
Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah

In his opening speech, Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah says he is happy that the sovereignty of the parliament has been secured.

“I want to add that some PTI members had arrived earlier… if today PTI members are attending it is a positive moment and credit goes to the opposition.”

He adds that fights should be resolved with talks on the table. “I want to praise opposition parties who have for the past months tried to resolve issues and now PTI is in the house.”

“Mr speaker I want to praise your patience as you did not accept those resignations and today they have joined parliament.”

“We welcome the PTI members and consider their return as a victory for democracy,” Shah says.

Sadiq responds, “The rules are very clear and I did not accept their resignation, they are like parliament members to me like the rest.”

Speaker appeals for silence as Parliamentarians squabble

Sardar Ayaz Sadiq appeals for calm
Sardar Ayaz Sadiq appeals for calm

NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq appeals to lawmakers to maintain silence and respect the leader of the opposition as he is about to speak.

There is a ruckus ahead of Syed Khursheed Shah’s speech at the joint session, which Sadiq desperately tries to control.

“This is a very important debate which needs to be discussed,” says the speaker while urging representatives to settle down.

“This is unacceptable [behaviour]. Have some respect for the leader of the opposition,” he says. “I will have no choice but to adjourn the session [if this continues], please settle down.”

Imran Khan pictured in National Assembly after months of boycotting the Parliament to protest alleged rigging in the May 2013 election
Imran Khan pictured in National Assembly after months of boycotting the Parliament to protest alleged rigging in the May 2013 election

Zahid Khan hits out at Imran

ANP's Zahid Khan
ANP’s Zahid Khan

Speaking outside the Parliament, ANP representative Zahid Khan criticised the PTI’s seven-month boycott of the assembly. “Imran Khan does not know what he’s doing. Why does he waste everyone’s time?”

“The nation doesn’t want politics based on falsehood,” he says. “This slogan of bringing change… why was all this drama created?”

Addressing media representatives, Zahid Khan adds, “Your cameras were broken, violence was inflicted on you.”

“I want to raise a question for the speaker, you are the custodian of Parliament, chairing the joint-session and if this is the principle you keep in this country then you have carried the casket of the Parliament, democracy and Constitution.”

“The one who until yesterday declared this fake, with what audacity will he sit here [Parliament].”

Gen Sharif should decide on Yemen: Sheikh Rashid

Speaking to reporters outside the National Assembly, Chief of Awami Muslim League (AML) Sheikh Rashid says, “The decision on the involvement of Pakistani troops in the Yemen conflict has to be taken by General Raheel Sharif.”

When asked about the PTI’s decision to return to Parliament, Rashid says that when the PTI lawmakers had decided to submit their resignation many people had asked him why he had not done the same.

The AML chief said that he knew that his resignation would have taken a mere “20 seconds” but that he was “clever” about tendering it.

When asked whether Khan considers him a mentor, Rashid says, “No one is a teacher to another in this country, all politicians are 60-plus.”

Parliamentarians arrive at NA

On his arrival at the National Assembly premises, PTI Chairman Imran Khan tells reporters he will address them after the joint session. Yesterday, the PTI chairman said he is re-joining Parliament as the Yemen crisis is a grave issue and that his party’s demand of a judicial commission to probe election rigging has been met by the government.

PTI leaders Shireen Mazari, Shafqat Mehmood and Muttahida Qaumi Movement Senator Khushbakht Shujaat are also seen at the National Assembly premises.

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir, Saudi Arabia, Yemen0 Comments

Boycott Indiana—for Imprisoning a Woman Who Miscarried

NOVANEWS

In Indiana, Purvi Patel was just sentenced to twenty years in prison for what may very well have been a miscarriage. (Photograph: Robert Franklin/AP)

Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has justifiably provoked outrage nationwide for its apparent intent to legalize anti-gay discrimination by private businesses.

But another controversial law that this week resulted in a draconian 20-year prison sentence for a woman named Purvi Patel has received far less attention. That law is a fetal homicide mandate under which Patel was charged and convicted earlier this year, alongside a charge of negligence. But Patel is being criminalized for likely having had a late-term miscarriage or stillbirth.

If this sounds utterly outrageous, it is exactly that. Some years ago I, like millions of women, suffered a miscarriage. Mine was an intentional pregnancy and the miscarriage occurred just a few weeks after conception. It was a bewildering and traumatic experience after which I wanted nothing more than to be left alone to recover.

In Patel’s case, the pregnancy was unintended and the miscarriage is estimated to haveoccurred at about 22 to 24 weeks of gestation. (While exact definitions vary, some doctors consider a miscarriage at 20 or more weeks to be a stillbirth, while others use 24 or even 28 weeks as the cutoff between miscarriage and stillbirth.)

Patel arrived at the hospital bleeding heavily. She eventually revealed she had miscarried, was surprised to see a fetus as far along as it was, and she admitted that she disposed of it in a dumpster. She was interviewed by police without an attorney present and without having been read her rights while in her hospital bed. One can only imagine how shocked she was when she found out that prosecutors were gathering evidence and statements to charge her and put her away for a very long time.

In fact, the charges themselves are contradictory and reveal the desperation of a state that is intent on criminalizing pregnant women. A jury deliberating for just five hours convicted her on two counts: feticide, for killing the fetus before it was born, and negligence, for killing it after it was born. Clearly it cannot be both—and yet Patel was convicted of both.

There were several other contradictions. First, during the trial, prosecutors attempted to make the case that Patel intended to terminate her pregnancy by taking abortion-inducing drugs. But a toxicology report found no evidence of such drugs in her bloodstream.

Second, when investigators found the fetus in the dumpster where Patel had disposed of it, it was pronounced dead, and yet a pathologist testified that the fetus took a breath after it emerged from the womb and thus was considered to be briefly alive. He based his finding on a test first developed in the 17th century called a “lung-float test” that has been widely discredited.

Third, fetuses can be viable outside a mother’s body, but only after 24 weeks of gestational age and with immediate medical intervention. Viability is never guaranteed, but it ispossible, depending on the health of the fetus and the technology available. Patel says her pregnancy was only 22 to 24 weeks along, and doctors could not come to an agreement on the exact gestational age of the fetus. So, other than the results of the “lung-float test,” there was no evidence that the fetus was born alive or, if it had been, whether it was even far enough developed to have been capable of life outside the womb.

If Patel’s pregnancy had been intended, if she had obtained prenatal care, and (as is the case for 1 in every 160 pregnancies), if she had then suffered a stillbirth, she would likely not have been charged with anything. What the state of Indiana seems to really be punishing her for is wanting to control her own body, since text messages from her phone reveal she made an inquiry about abortion-inducing medication. Those messages were entered into the evidence. But Indiana has one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the U.S., and there are only a dozen abortion clinics serving the entire state, leaving Patel with very few options to acquire a legal abortion, if indeed that was her intention.

Indiana’s so-called feticide or “fetal homicide” law is not uncommon. A majority of states have such laws, and advocates claim that they are intended to criminalize abhorrent behavior like the horrifying recent case of a Colorado woman who lured a pregnant mother to her home using a Craigslist ad and then attacked her with a knife, cut out her 7-month-old fetus and drowned it.

But increasingly such laws are being used to criminalize pregnant women themselves. In Indiana, Patel is the second woman to be charged with feticide and the first to be convicted. The only other woman who was charged was a Chinese-American named Bei Bei Shuai whose attempted suicide was linked to the termination of her pregnancy. The fact that the only two women Indiana has targeted with this law are women of color of immigrant backgrounds ought to be extremely troubling.

Fetal homicide laws are part of the same spectrum of antiabortion legislation around the country as the so-called fetal personhood laws. Under fetal personhood laws, fetuses are given the same rights as fully formed humans, and thus such laws can also be used to charge women with homicide for having abortions. Indeed, across the country, many pregnant women have been arrested and imprisoned in the last few years under the color of similar laws. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law found that a majority of women who are criminalized under fetal personhood laws are women of color, and a majority are also poor women.

Women are also being judged severely in the court of public opinion. Media coverage of the Patel trial routinely referred to the fetus as a “newborn” or “baby boy.” One ABC affiliateused the phrase “death of her child” in its headline.

The media’s conflation of a stillborn fetus with a child feeds into the perception that Patel and other women like her have murdered their living, breathing children and therefore deserve harsh punishment. Even the judge in Patel’s sentencing hearing lectured her, using deeply patronizing and patriarchal language, saying she had “choices you could have made that you didn’t make” —but what choices could she have made in a state like Indiana with its aforementioned strict abortion laws?

We need to begin seeing these fetal personhood and homicide laws as part of the spectrum of how women are targeted by the state in a variety of ways. As I have previously written about, women of color (particularly black women) are often judged as promiscuous or oversexed, or are mistaken for prostitutes. They are especially vulnerable to the attacks on abortion and reproductive health care. And once they have babies, they are often criminalized as negligent parents even when there are no viable options for child care.

While there has been stalwart solidarity with Patel inside the state from pro-abortion-rights groups like the Indiana Coalition for Reproductive Justice, very few national organizations or high-profile individuals have expressed outrage over the Indiana conviction and sentencing. Interestingly, Indiana’s RFRA, which has turned the state into a national pariah over potential anti-LGBT discrimination, is being cited by anti-abortion activists as possibly affording them cover for their prejudices too. But that aspect of the RFRA has not provoked similar anger.

While Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is being nationally shamed for signing the RFRA, we are collectively giving him a pass for overseeing a state where a woman can be thrown into prison for having a stillbirth. The many celebrities calling for a boycott of Indiana do not appear to be as appalled by Patel’s sentence as the passage of the RFRA. But if we agree that the rights of women on par with the rights of the LGBT community, then Indiana’s pariah status needs to be based on solidarity with all those suffering the consequences of discriminatory laws.

Posted in India0 Comments

TEPCO Under Fire after Hiding Massive Radioactive Waste Leak at Fukushima for a Full Year

NOVANEWS
Global Research
Nuclear-Stacks-Smoke-Radiation

A major bombshell has dropped concerning the failed cleanup efforts at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. The shuttered plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), has apparently been hiding for an entire year the fact that radioactive waste has been quietly pouring into the ocean from an onsite drainage ditch.

Sputnik News reports that TEPCO, which is also managing remediation efforts at the site (with guidance from the Japanese government), concealed from the public the fact that highly contaminated radioactive water has been flowing from the drainage ditch directly into the ocean. Local fishermen and others have since expressed outrage over the news.

“I don’t understand why you (TEPCO) kept silent about the leakage even though you knew about it,” stated Masakazu Yabuki, chief of the Iwaki fisheries cooperative, according to Sputnik. “Fishery operators are absolutely shocked.”

The news comes as TEPCO continues to sustain criticism over the way it’s handled cleanup efforts since the 2011 tsunami and earthquake took their toll. In recent months, TEPCO has been exposed for attempting to cover up the fact that U.S. Navy sailors were exposed to harmful radiation, as well as concealing true levels of radioactive waste releases into the Pacific Ocean.

And this latest revelation only reiterates TEPCO’s tarnished legacy, proving that the company can’t be trusted with adequately addressing the looming problems that are still present at Fukushima more than four years since the disaster occurred.

“This was part of an ongoing investigation in which we discovered a water puddle with high levels of radiation on top of the Reactor No. 2 building,” contended a TEPCO spokesman as to why the company delayed reporting the leak, adding that “because this also happens to be one of the sources for this drainage system, we decided to report everything all at once.”

Promises that Fukushima radiation is “under control” broken; TEPCO still sponsoring 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo

Since samples of ocean water collected from near the drainage pipe allegedly didn’t show any “substantial” radioactive spikes, TEPCO claims that it didn’t feel the need to report the leak, at least until now. This, as the company struggles to continue building radioactive waste storage tanks onsite at the plant to address the never-ending stream of waste pouring from the failed reactor buildings.

As you may recall from back in September 2013, when Tokyo was announced to be the site of the 2020 Summer Olympics, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised the International Olympic Committee and the world that all radiation leaks at Fukushima were “under control.” TEPCO was also named to be the primary sponsor for the Olympic Games.

But this latest disclosure proves that this simply isn’t the case, regardless of whether or not this latest leak situation violates the regulations set forth by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (which TEPCO claims it doesn’t).

“The trust of the people in Fukushima is the most important thing” to us, explained a company spokesperson in an apology. “We’ve been working with that in mind, but unfortunately, we have damaged that trust this time.”

Meanwhile, a major investigation is currently underway to assess how Fukushima radiation, as it continues to make it’s way into soil, water and eventually into food, is affecting the safety of what people are eating both in Japan and abroad. More on this is available in a recent report published in Nature:
Nature.com.

Sources for this article include:

http://sputniknews.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.zerohedge.com

http://www.gizmodo.com.au

http://www.nature.com

Posted in Japan0 Comments

BANGLADESH: Second blogger hacked to death

NOVANEWS

By three Muslims because of his anti-Islam writings

keyboard-file

Blogger Washiqur Rahman Babu, 26, was hacked to death with meat cleavers by three attackers in Bangladesh’s capital because of his anti-Islamic writings. Babu was declared dead as he was taken to a government hospital shortly after being attacked in Dhaka.

NO, Muslims aren't good for freedom an democracy anywhere

The killing took place a month after a prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger known for speaking out against extremism was hacked to death in Dhaka. Two of the attackers were caught near the scene, police said.

Two suspects, both students at Islamic schools, were captured and three meat cleavers were recovered, Sarker said. The third suspect fled, he said. One of the suspects told reporters they attacked Babu because he had disrespected Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

“I stabbed him because he humiliated my prophet,” said Jikrullah, a 20-year-old student at Hathajari Madrassah in the southeastern district of Chittagong, without elaborating. Jikrullah said he travelled from Chittagong and stayed overnight at a mosque to attack Babu.

The other detained suspect, Ariful Islam, also 20, is a student at an Islamic school in Dhaka’s Mirpur area. They named a third suspect, but details about him were not available.

Jikrullah and Ariful Islam, two of the three attackers suspected of killing blogger Washiqur Rahman Babu

Jikrullah and Ariful Islam, two of the three attackers suspected of killing blogger Washiqur Rahman Babu

It was not immediately known what kind of blogging Babu did, but the suspects told police they targeted him for anti-Islamic writings, Sarker said.

Two of Babu’s cousins told reporters at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, where his body was being kept, that he recently joined a travel agency in Dhaka after finishing his studies, and they were not aware of any blogging he had done.

The body of Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman lies in a morgue at Dhaka Medical College in Dhaka after he was hacked to death
The body of Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman lies in a morgue at Dhaka Medical College in Dhaka after he was hacked to death

Local media reported that Babu had a Facebook page that contained the line “Iamavijit,” meaning he was a follower of Avijit Roy, the Bangladeshi-American blogger who was hacked to death late last month.

Roy, a Bangladesh-born U.S. citizen, died after being attacked at Dhaka University as he was leaving a book fair with his wife. A previously unknown militant group, Ansar Bangla 7, claimed responsibility for the attack. Detectives have arrested one suspect in the case, and the FBI is helping with the investigation.

bangladesh-american-blogger-hacked-to-death-with-machetes-by-muslims-for-his-anti-islam-writings

u-s-state-department-spokesbimbo-has-no-idea-why-an-anti-islamic-extremism-american-blogger-was-hacked-to-death-in-the-streets-of-bangladesh

 

Posted in South Asia0 Comments

No decision on joining military campaign in Yemen before KSA visit

NOVANEWS
An image taken on March 29, 2015 shows a burnt petrol station in Yemen's second city of Aden. — AFP
An image taken on March 29, 2015 shows a burnt petrol station in Yemen’s second city of Aden. — AFP
A Pakistani man hugs a family, evacuated from Yemen, on their arrival at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad on March 30, 2015. — AFP
A Pakistani man hugs a family, evacuated from Yemen, on their arrival at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad on March 30, 2015. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: As a high-level defence delegation is scheduled to leave for Saudi Arabia, a security official told Reuters that there would be no decision on joining the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen before the visit.

“There can be no decision (on joining the military campaign) before the delegation’s visit,” one official said.

The team, led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on National Affairs and Foreign Security Sartaj Aziz, was due to leave either on Monday or in the next few days, security officials told Reuters.

Pakistan evacuated about 500 of its nationals by plane from Yemen on Sunday during a brief pause in air strikes by the Saudi-led military coalition against Shia Muslim Houthi forces, a Saudi military spokesman said.

Read more: Around 500 stranded Pakistanis return from Yemen

He said there were already around 750-800 Pakistani servicemen in Saudi Arabia but none were combat troops.

He declined to comment about their duties and it was not immediately clear what kind of military support Saudi Arabia was seeking.

Pakistan is a regional ally of Saudi Arabia, the main Sunni Muslim power in the Gulf, but has yet to commit itself publicly to military support to Riyadh’s campaign in Yemen.

“Saudi Arabia had always helped Pakistan like an elder brother,” Asif told a seminar in Lahore shown on television channels. “Pakistan will extend all support to Saudi Arabia if the country’s security is threatened.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in a telephone call with Saudi King Salman on Saturday, offered “all potentials of the Pakistan army”, media quoted the Saudi Press Agency as saying.

Take a look: Nawaz assures Saudi King Salman of Pakistan Army support

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir, Saudi Arabia, Yemen0 Comments

New Chinese Bank Becomes Major Headache For U.S.

NOVANEWS

Image result for Chinese Bank PHOTO
by Mark Baker

Another day, it seems, brings another new member to China’s latest big international initiative: a new development bank for Asia.

Russia became the latest country to announce it would join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), to be based in Beijing.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov made the announcement on March 28 at an international forum in China, saying President Vladimir Putin himself had made the decision for Russia to participate, according to RIA Novosti.

Russia is the latest in a string of countries, including many of the United States’ closest allies in Europe and Asia, to announce plans to join the bank ahead of a March 31 deadline to become a charter member.

In recent days, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and South Korea have all said they intend to join the $50 billion bank, which would be used to fund infrastructure improvements, like new roads and rail lines, in Asia.

Diplomatic Tug Of War

On its face, a country’s decision to join a global development bank wouldn’t normally make headlines, but this time around membership is seen as a clear rebuke to the wishes of Washington. The United States has reportedly spent weeks quietly trying to convince friends around the world to decline or at least delay joining the bank.

Publicly, the United States has offered lukewarm support for the AIIB, provided that the bank meets international norms for transparency and supports global standards when it comes to the environment and labor conditions.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the United States had been ‘very clear’ that if the AIIB takes steps to maintain these higher international standards, the bank ‘could add global value.’

Challenge To Bretton Woods?

But privately, analysts say Washington’s concern may be grounded in a deeper worry over the rise of China and the future of global economic leadership.

Rajiv Biswas, the chief Asia economist at international business consultancy IHS, says the United States could see the AIIB as a threat to the existing economic order formed at the end of World War II, which gave the United States a leading role in the global economy. The Bretton Woods system, based on organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, has guided the world economy for the past 70 years.

The U.S. concern, Biswas says, ‘is that the new development institution could potentially compete with existing institutions, such as the World Bank.’ While China participates in those organizations, its limited influence there is no longer commensurate with its growing economic strength, and efforts to reform the IMF to give China a greater role have languished in the U.S. Congress.

News agencies, especially in China, have had a field day with the U.S. position, as countries seemingly fall over themselves to join the new bank. The official Chinese news agency Xinhua says the United States looks ‘petulant’ and ‘cynical’ and has called Washington’s apparent lack of support ‘sour grapes.’

Chinese officials, for their part, have been more diplomatic, appearing to take the U.S.’s stated concerns more seriously. Finance Minister Lou Jiwei has made clear the AIIB would complement — not compete with — existing institutions like the World Bank and IMF.

With momentum running strongly in favor of the China-led bank, the IMF has added its support. The fund’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, said on March 22 that her institution ‘would welcome’ the [AIIB] initiative. She pointed out the IMF is not in the business of financing infrastructure projects, meaning, she said, ‘there cannot be any competition between the AIIB and us.’

Benefits To Central Asia

While the United States may not be so enthusiastic, the new bank could spur badly needed investment in Central Asia. Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan have all signaled they will join the new institution when it starts operating by the end of this year.

Biswas says the purpose of the bank would be to channel investment funds from richer countries like China or Singapore, or some of the European countries that have offered to join, into developing countries with lower to middle incomes in Southeast and Central Asia.

Some estimates put the amount of infrastructure development needed in Asia to 2020 as high as $8 trillion. The AIIB could be a remedy for at least part of this shortfall.

Russia’s Role

Russia’s announcement on March 28 that it would join the AIIB comes late in the game, but appears to have been inevitable. While Russia and China are strategic partners, they also compete in key Central Asian countries for influence and access to natural resources.

Oleg Kuzmin, the chief economist for Russia and the CIS at Renaissance Capital Investment in Moscow, says it’s not clear yet what Russian membership in the bank would bring. ‘We have [little] clarity on the details of this particular institution,’ he says. ‘[It] is quite unclear now what could be the potential benefits for Russia, or what could be the potential costs if Russia takes part in this project.’

Russian leaders, no doubt, reckoned it would be better to be on the inside rather than the outside of an institution that could conceivably favor Chinese interests over their own in Central Asia.

It’s unclear, though, whether China would or could use the AIIB to strengthen its own geopolitical influence in Asia. Biswas says that’s certainly an issue, particularly for those countries, like the United States, that have not joined the bank.

But he points out that China is only one of 30 or more countries that will eventually decide on projects to be funded. Other charter members include the major European countries, as well as countries like Singapore, New Zealand, and India. Biswas says all of these have good track records of ensuring high standards as global lenders.

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/china-development-bank-major-us-headache/26926375.html

Posted in China, USA0 Comments

Refocus on Manawan Police Academy Attack

NOVANEWS

Image result for Manawan Police Academy ATTACK PHOTO

By Sajjad Shaukat

Pakistan has become special arena of the different war, being waged by the security forces

against the ruthless terrorists who have continued their terror-activities such as suicide attacks,

bomb blasts, targeted killings, beheadings of the innocent people, assaults on security personnel

and prominent religious figures. Besides blowing children schools and attacking the female

teachers in order to deny education to girls, the terrorists, particularly of the Indian-backed

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) also targeted mosques, Imambargahs, mausoleums, temples,

churches and disgraced dead bodies. Their pitiless acts resulted into killings of several persons in

In this regard, 30 March reminds the day when in 2009, the Manawan Police Academy in Lahore

was attacked and captured by an estimated 12 gunmen who also seized hostages.

In the deadly attack, at least 13 people, including four police trainees and two instructors, were

killed and other 100 wounded in eight hours of gun battles with armed assailants. During

exchange of firing between the terrorists and police and army personnel, surrounding the

compound, there was a series of loud explosions. This fact proved that the perpetrators were

armed with automatic weapons, grenades and rockets.

Despite the continued firing of the gunman on the troops, police, and on helicopters which were

monitoring the situation, the valiant security forces successfully coped with the militants and

were able to take back the building. It was due to their boldness that three of the attackers blew

themselves up, three others were taken into custody and four were taken to undisclosed locations

for interrogation by the security forces.

Regarding the Manawan Police Academy attack, Afzal Ali, the former head of Pakistan’s police

academy said, “We are at a state of war.”

The then chief of the TTP, Baitullah Mehsud took responsibility for the attack on the Manawan

Police Academy, Lahore.

In this respect, various terror-attacks indicate that Indian secret agency, RAW has been waging a

guerilla warfare in Pakistan through its well-trained insurgents, especially of the TTP, who could

conduct attacks in major cities of the country.

After sponsoring bomb blasts and suicide attacks in the past, a perennial wave of the same in

2009-particularly in the last 18 months clearly proves that RAW has modified its tactics of

subversion in Pakistan. Apart from direct suicide events, militants, armed with hand grenades,

machine guns and other weapons also come to help the explosive-laden vehicles so as to

penetrate the security at the target points. Sometimes, exchange of fire takes place between the

saboteurs and the security guards, and sometimes, purpose is to directly kill the security

personnel of our country. A number of terror-events in Pakistan endorse that RAW’s agents have

been acting upon the guerilla techniques. In most of the terror-tragedies, huge quantity of

explosives has also been used.

Apart from the latest incidents in Lahore, similar tactics of exchange of fire were occurred in

connection with many terrorist incidents, as the militants reached their directed targets with latest

weapons. In this respect, on March 3, 2009, terrorist attack which targeted the bus of Sri Lankan

cricket team in Lahore had killed 8 persons after a continuous gunfire by the militants. Pakistani

officials confirmed that “grenades and rocket launchers had been recovered” which were of

foreign origin. Afterwards, official inquiry disclosed that RAW was behind that attack. On May

27, 2009, more than 30 people were killed in Lahore when an explosive-laden Suzuki van

exploded near Rescue 15 building of the police which was completely destroyed. It also

damaged the building of the Lahore Capital City Police Office (CCPO) and that of the Inter

Services Intelligence (ISI) which was the main target, but could not be hit due to heavy firing by

the security guards on the terrorists who came along with the vehicle, firing at the security

guards. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said on the same day that Indian involvement in

“suicide attack in Lahore cannot be ruled out.”

Similar types of terror-tactics were applied by the culprits in relation to the Pearl Continental

hotel in Peshawar where more than 20 persons had been killed in the suicide blast. Eyewitnesses

had pointed out that the gunmen, sitting in one car first started firing at the security persons and

then exploded their first vehicle to give a safe-passage to other truck which was carrying 500

kilograms of explosives. Attack on the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad might also be cited as an

Another guerilla technique of the RAW-trained terrorists is that they camouflage themselves by

wearing the uniform of Pakistani security forces so as to deceive the security guards and to get

inside the targeted point for conducting their assigned task. In 2009, U.N.’s World Food Program

in Islamabad was attacked by a suicide bomber who was wearing an official uniform, evaded

tight security and killed five people. Again, the militants who attacked the GHQ on October 10,

2009 were wearing army uniforms.

It is mentionable that regarding the 2009 simultaneous terror attacks in Lahore and that of the

GHQ, the then Spokesman of the ISPR, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, Interior Minister Rehman Malik

and other TV commentators had indicated Indian involvement behind the attack, remarking:

“Hakimullah Mehsud and other terrorists are “the enemies of the state” and “are mercenaries

who receive arms from Afghanistan to destabilize the country.”

While, Pakistan’s civil and military high officials have openly revealed that Indian RAW, Israeli

Mossad and other foreign agencies are involved in supporting insurgency in various regions of

Pakistan including separatism in Balochistan.

Nevertheless, on November 2, 2013, suicide bomber targeted a checkpoint at Wagah in Lahore

and like other terror-assaults, Indian-supported TTP claimed responsibility. Afterwards,

investigations proved Indian involvement in this attack. As regards the most brutal incident, TTP

took responsibility for the massacre of 132 school children at Army Public School and College in

Peshawar on December 16, 2013. Recently, TTP again accepted responsibility in relation to two

suicide attacks on the churches in Lahore.

As a matter of fact, based in Afghanistan, Indian RAW with technological support of Israel and

other anti-Pakistan countries have been sending the culprits to Pakistan so as to weaken the

latter, as it is the only nuclear country in the Islamic world.

Undoubtedly, Pakistan is in the state of new war, being waged by the Armed Forces and

intelligence agencies against terrorists. In this connection, our Armed Forces have almost

obtained their objectives in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) through military operation Zarb-e-

Azb against the terrorists who had challenged the writ of the state, and had frightened the entire

nation by their terror-acts. In Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi and other parts of the

country including tribal areas, our security forces and law-enforcing agencies are successfully

coping with the militants.

Nonetheless, 30 March reminds the day when Pakistan’s courageous personnel of the security

forces retook the building of the Manawan Police Academy in Lahore, after fighting with the

well-equipped terrorists.

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

CHANGE VERSUS CONTINUITY IN THE PHILIPPINES

NOVANEWS

by Dr Richard Falk

 

Image result for PHILIPPINES PHOTO

After more than 30 years I recently spent a week in the Philippines, giving a few arranged talks at universities, meeting with NGOs, and old friends who shared their understanding of this fascinating fast growing country of approximately 105 million people living on an archipelago that consists of more than 7,107 islands. Additionally, of course, Manila is a mega-city that exhibits traffic at its worst, colorful jeepneys by the hundreds that are a distinctive national mode of urban transportation, a kind of customized bus service in smaller vehicles colorfully adorned, and now almost as many malls as churches epitomizing the economic and social intrusion of neoliberalism in the guise of globalization. Probably because of the large number of affluent expats living in the Makati neighborhood of Manila, the malls in the vicinity of my hotel offered visitors a wide range of world cuisines in numerous restaurants, cafes, bistros, and of course, a large Starbucks, staying open and crowded late into the night. As well, there were housed in these malls the same upper end array of global stores (e.g. Gucci, Coach, Cartier, Burberry, Zara, and so on)

My visit coincided with two preoccupations in the country: the celebration of the 29th anniversary of the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship by the People Power Revolution in 1986 and the current obsessive national debate about how to understand and react to the bungled counterterrorist operation in the Mindinao community of Mamapasano located in Manguindanao province that took place in late January of this year. Each of these occurrences offered a politically attuned visitor a finely honed optic by which to grasp the central tensions currently gripping the country.

There is little doubt that the people power movement of the mid-1980s remains a source of national pride for many Filipinos, although its overall results are not nearly as emancipatory as were the original hopes and aspirations. Procedural democracy seems to have become firmly established, and the fact that the president of the country is the son of Benigno and Corey Aquino. Benigno Aquino who had been assassinated as he stepped on the tarmac in 1983 is an important symbolic expression of a reformed political order. Marcos denied the crime, and there have been two inconclusive trials of military officers alleged to be responsible for planning and carrying out the assassination, but the event has not been authoritatively explained to date. Yet despite the momentous changes brought about by this populist rising, the political economy of the country remains as enmeshed as earlier in a web of entanglements with predatory globalization, making income and wealth disparities ever larger while massive degrading poverty persists. The oligarchic structures of land tenure have been tweaked by mild reformism without being loosening their chokehold on the nation’s vital arteries.

The Philippines have long been beset by insurgent challenges, which also seem likely to continue indefinitely. After decades of struggle the New Peoples Army founded in 1969 and operating on Maoist principles of ‘peoples war’ remains in control of a large number of remote communities in several of the important islands, clashes with government forces are reported in the media from time to time, and negotiations with the government with the goal of ending the conflict have been undertaken from time to time. This persevering movement appears to remain under the ideological leadership of Jose Maria Sison, who has been living as an exile in Utrecht for decades.

Given far more recent attention for both internal and international reasons are the several violent movements seeking autonomy and other goals in the largely Muslim island of Mindinao. There had been lengthy negotiations with the Moro Liberation Movement that agreed finally on a resolution of this conflict through the autonomy arrangement embedded in the Bangsamoro Basic Law that seemed on the verge of enactment until the Mamapasano incident of January 25thput off adoption at least until June, and possibly forever. Opponents are now raising Islamophobic fears that Mindinao would become a platform for political extremism if the agreement reached with such difficulty goes into effect.

What for me was particularly strange was this deeply ingrained national experience of successfully challenging intolerable aspects of the established order without being able to follow through in some way that achieves the goals being sought. In one way it is a rather impressive sign of reconciliation to realize that the son of Fernand Marcos Jr. is an influential senator, and is even contemplating a run for the presidency in 2016 despite never repudiating the policies and practices of his father, which are movingly on display in a small museum dedicated to the crimes committed by the Marcos regime during the period of martial law (1972-1981). Additionally, Emee, the oldest Marcos daughter is the governor of the Llocos Norte province, their home province, and even Imelda Marcos has been forgiven her excesses, shoes and otherwise, and serves as a popular member of the House of Representatives since being elected in 2010 by a plurality of over 80%. This is a remarkable type of rehabilitation of a family dictatorship believed responsible for siphoning off public monies in the billions and suppressing its opponents by reliance on torture, brutality, and assassination. The Marcos clan has never recanted or expressed remorse, but explains that whatever wrongs occurred during that time as either ‘mistakes’ of subordinates or the unproven allegations of opposition forces.

When I asked how was it possible that the Marcos past has been so cleanly erased from the contemporary blackboard of Filipino awareness, I received various answers: “They have lots of money” “They never lost popularity in their home province where lots of development took place while Marcos governed ” “The past no longer matters; it is the present that counts” “the oligarchy still rules the country and includes all leading families regardless of their political affiliations.”

There are attractive aspects of this experience of ‘reconciliation without truth,’ that is, without some formal process of reckoning and accountability, at least the palliative of a truth and reconciliation commission. Such a spirit of resigned moderation is in some respects the opposite of the sort of polarization that afflicts so many countries at present. It is not only that the Marcos’s have been allowed to participate prominently in the political system without being compromised by their past, but also those on the far left who in the Marcos period were ‘underground’ and enemies of the state are now to be found in the Congress or even in the cabinet of the president. Perhaps, the Philippines is quietly experimenting in the practice of ‘pluralist democracy,’ while ignoring the more radical features of ‘substantive and resotrative democracy.’

A similar pattern of ‘conscious forgetfulness’ is evident in relation to the colonial past for both its Spanish and American versions. There is no bitterness despite the cruelties and harshness of the Spanish colonial legacy. Catholicism is as firmly rooted in the country as it was when it was a willing partner of the Spanish rulers in the oppressive past, and continues to flourish in a manner that has not occurred in any other post-colonial Asian country. When Pope Francis visited the country in January it was the largest celebratory event in the country’s history. This status of Catholicism is also remarkable considering the Church’s persistent opposition to birth control for poor families that are continuing to have large families that they unable to support; over 30% of Filipino children are reported to be stunted due to the effect of malnutrition and hunger.

Despite the bloody counterinsurgency war fought by the United States in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War of 1898, which crushed the Philippines expectations of national independence that had been promised by Americans as part of their own anti-colonial identity. Most absurdly, the American president at the time William McKinley, actually justified administering the Philippines as part of its responsibility to Christianize this most Christian of countries. The decision to break the American promise of independence made to anti-Spanish nationalist leaders in the Philippines were articlulated in the brazen spirit of Manifest Destiny, putting a moral ad religious face on America’s first flirtation with undisguised colonialism. McKinley’s words are memorably revealing: “..there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them..”

My initial contact with the Philippines was as a supporter of the ‘Anti-Bases Coalition,’ which in the 1980s was seeking the removal of the two huge American military bases at Subic Bay and Clark Air Force Base. This has been a struggle with strong nationalist overtones, and engaging leading political figures in the country. The bases were eventually closed, but consistent with the tendency to exhibit the truth of the French adage ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose ‘ [the more things change, the more they remain the same] the strategic relationship with the United States was sustained, even deepened, and certainly continued. There were American special forces units operating rather freely in the country as part of the global war on terror, and there were intimidations that the role of the United States in the Mamapasano incident was responsible for the bloodshed that generated a political crisis in the country.

Of course, there are explanations for this seeming contradiction between getting rid of American military bases and maintaining military cooperation. The government in Manila was benefitted by the assistance of the United States in dealing effectively with its domestic insurgent challenges from the left. Beyond this, the Philippines turned out to be one of the anti-Islamic battlefields in the post-9/11 ‘war on terror,’ and the United States exerted pressures on the government in Manila to give its consent to counter-terrorist operations within its borders. In the background, but not very far removed from political consciousness, were the flaring island disputes with China and the overall security concerns associated with the regional rise of China. In this geopolitical setting, the United States was seen as a necessary friend to offset the more immediate and direct existential threats posed by China. In important respects, these patterns can be understood as the post-Cold War securitization of Asian relations in the shadow of the transformative impacts of the 9/11 attacks.

The Mamapasano incident is emblematic of these realities. Under apparent pressure from the United States to capture or kill a much wanted terrorist known as Marwan, the Philippino elite special forces units were persuaded to carry out the operation. In the process 42 of these highly trained troops were killed, along with Marwan, and there were many repercussions. The United States role was at first disguised, but investigations revealed involvement, including a drone watching and maybe guiding the operation, along with the allegation that the Filipino soldiers were ‘sacrificed’ to spare American lives in a situation where heavy armed resistance should have been anticipated. Some blamed the president, and there were demonstrations during my days in the country demanding his resignation, despite his popularity remaining quite high. It is not clear what will be the outcome, whether there will be a downgrading of cooperation with the United States and some accountability imposed on those who are alleged to have bungled the operation. Yet if the past is any guide, the crisis will pass, and continuity of U.S./Filipino relations will prevail in the security domain.

The Mamapasano incident is a clear instance of the new global security paradigm: the centrality of non-state actors, the role of covert operations by foreign special forces, the transnational dimensions of political conflict, the erosion of territorial sovereignty, the primacy of information and surveillance, and the hierarchical relationship between the United States and most governments in the global south. To make this last point evident, it is inconceivable that Filipino special forces would participate in an operation to capture persons residing in the United States suspected of affiliation with insurgent movements in the Philippines.

There is a complex redesign of world order underway, with one set of developments reshaping the political economy of globalization by way of the BRICs [but see acute skeptical analysis in William I Robinson, “The transnational state and the BRICS: a global capitalist perspective,” Third World Quarterly, 36(NO.1): 1-21 (2015)] and the Chinese initiative with respect to investment banking, [Asian Infrastructure Initiative Bank]; another set of developments concerned with securitization, ranging from the global surveillance apparatus disclosed by Edward Snowden to the incredible American global presence featuring over 700 foreign military bases and special forces units active in over 150 countries; and still another, is preoccupied with the rise of religion and civilizational identity as a political force, and what this means for stability and governance.

We still lack a language to assess this emergent world order, and possess no regulatory or normative framework within which to distinguish what is legitimate, prudent, and permissible from what is illegitimate, imprudent, and impermissible. Neither international law nor the UN have been able to adapt to the contemporary global agenda, and show few signs of an ability to do so. While this fluidity and normative uncertainty persists global warming worsens, the risks of nuclear war increase, and leading states shape their policies without accountability. It is not a time for complacency. Such a state of affairs is dangerous, and likely unsustainable. And yet what can be done remains elusive.

Posted in Far East0 Comments

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