Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’
A Pakistani Christian man has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, in a case which sparked fierce rioting in the eastern city of Lahore last March.
Sawan Masih was convicted of using derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammed in a row with a Muslim friend.
Hundreds of Muslims attacked the city’s Christian Joseph colony, torching homes, when the allegations surfaced.
Allegations of blasphemy against Islam are taken very seriously in Pakistan, where 97% of the population are Muslim.
Several recent cases have prompted international concern about the application of blasphemy laws.
Sawan Masih’s lawyer said a judge announced the verdict during a hearing at the jail where the trial has been held, amid fears for his client’s safety if he attended court.
The 26-year-old Masih, who is a father of three, has consistently maintained his innocence during the year-long trial…
Critics argue that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are frequently misused to settle personal scores and that members of minority groups are also unfairly targeted.
Muslims constitute a majority of those prosecuted, followed by the minority Ahmadi community.
Any expectation of fairness in the use of a patently absurd law is misplaced. Not that I expect anything more from sectarian zealots. No matter which continent.
Flat-earthers who consider science untouchable and secular law untenable are stuck into definitions of culture that hasn’t changed since the Stone Age.
Afghan Air Force [sic] Mi-17s
After almost four years of allegations that two related helicopter companies in Lithuania and Russia were doing substandard work and should be banned from new contracts, the Pentagon continued to give them business, according to interviews and documents seen by Reuters.
As recently as last month, an Army planning document shows, the service was weighing contracting helicopter overhauls from the firms, which have been the subject of multiple internal warnings and two Defense Department Inspector General reports…
The Pentagon has been working with Lithuanian company Aviabaltika and a sister Russian firm, the St. Petersburg Aircraft Repair Company (SPARC), for more than a decade to buy spare parts and overhaul Russian Mi-17 helicopters.
Pentagon officials say the Mi-17 helicopters are crucial to the ability of the Afghanistan military to conduct counter-terrorism and anti-narcotics mission as U.S. troops leave, since local pilots have a long history with the rugged aircraft. They have also been supplied to U.S. allies Pakistan and Iraq.
Criticism of the two companies, which are run by the same person and described as a single entity, AVB/SPARC, in Pentagon documents, grew in recent months while the Army continues a review of allegations of overcharging, blocked access to outside quality inspectors and improper advance payments…
The scrutiny of AVB/SPARC comes amid a broader backlash against the Army’s more than $1 billion Mi-17 program. Congressional and human rights critics say the program has put the Pentagon in bed with questionable business partners, and they are pressuring the Obama administration to wind it down.
RTFA for all the gory details. In an honest business environment – as scarce as that may seem in headlines about the US economy – these creepy firms might be on the block for sale as scrap and salvage. In practice, most public companies in the United States had better be on the straight and narrow for – even though conservative politicians try like hell to reinvent the mythical Free Market of the 19th Century – oversight and regulation still exists in sufficient enough form to catch a portion of the crooks in business.
Admittedly, the honesty patrol has a harder time with the US government and the Pentagon in particular; but, then, that’s what this investigative piece is all about, eh?
U.N. report politely asks U.S. to ‘clarify’ use of drones in conflicts – 18% of deaths are civilians
Civilians account for almost one fifth of the deaths from U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan over the past decade, a U.N. report says…Of the approximately 2,200 Pakistanis who have died in drone strikes, the report says 400 (18 percent) were not militants…
Ben Emmerson, a U.N. special rapporteur who wrote the report, said that Pakistani officials who provided the number indicate that, “owing to underreporting and obstacles to effective investigation, those figures were likely to be an underestimate.”
Some 31 civilians have been killed in drone attacks in Afghanistan and between 12 and 18 in Yemen in the past 18 months, the report added.
The 22-page report was released ahead of a debate on the use of remotely piloted aircraft scheduled for next Friday at the U.N. General Assembly, The Guardian reported…
Emmerson contrasted British and U.S. policies on drone usage. He said Britain’s Royal Air Force “thoroughly scrubbed” its intelligence before authorizing the use of drones. As a result, he said, there had been only one incident in which civilians were killed.
The CIA’s use of drones had created “an almost insurmountable obstacle to transparency,” Emmerson said. Consequently, the United States has not revealed any data about the number of civilians killed or injured by drone strikes.
He called on the United States to “further clarify” its policies about the use of drones and to declassify information about the use of drones in counter-terrorism activities.
Here in the States we’re faced with the Pentagon, Defense [War] Department officials, the White house [regardless of who's in office] and Congress ready and willing to legalize attacks upon foreign soil around the world. They will figure out some way to satisfy themselves – if not the public – about the death of civilian non-combatants under any circumstances.
This is how the US manages transparency.
The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions
but nothing changed in my life, except this:
weakness, fear and hopelessness died.
Strength, power and courage was born
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for advocating education for girls, marked her 16th birthday with an impressive speech at the United Nations, where she said education could change the world.
Wearing a pink head scarf, Malala told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and nearly 1,000 students from around the world attending a Youth Assembly at UN headquarters in New York that education was the only way to improve lives.
“Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution,” she said.
“The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions but nothing changed in my life, except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”
The Pakistani teenager, who first came to public attention at the age of 11 for speaking out against a ban on girls’ education, was shot in the neck and head by Taliban gunmen last October on her way home from school in Pakistan.
She left a Birmingham hospital in February after she recovered from surgery during which doctors mended parts of her skull with a titanium plate and inserted a cochlear implant in her left ear to help restore hearing.
Malala used her speech at the UN to ask the UN secretary-general and any listening world leaders on the need to keep a promise to provide universal primary education by the end of 2015…
Bravo! A young woman whose courage sets a standard for the world.
All the political hacks who represent supposedly educated democratic nations at the UN will probably commit to the programs she stands for – for universal education. Liars and reactionaries back home – in the United States and elsewhere – will do their level best to stop that funding. We know the range of excuses they will raise. And those will be lies as are the other excuses they roll out to impede equal opportunity for all.
Teen sisters made video of dancing in the rain – murdered by relatives for staining “the family honour”
Two teenage sisters have been murdered in Pakistan after they were accused of tarnishing their family’s name by making a video of themselves dancing in the rain.
The girls, aged 15 and 16, are seen running around in traditional dress with two other younger children outside their bungalow in the town of Chilas, in the northern region of Gilgit.
The sisters, named as Noor Basra and Noor Sheza, appear to break into dance and one even flashes a smile at the camera…
Police are investigating whether the attack was arranged by the girls’ step-brother, named as Khutore, who allegedly wanted to ‘restore the family’s honour’…
The sisters’ other brother has filed a case against Khutore and the four other alleged accomplices who are now believed to be on the run.
The girls were shot alongside their mother in their home by five gunmen in the town of Chilas…
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said at least 943 women and girls were murdered in 2011 for allegedly defaming their family’s honour.
Gotta love religious fundamentalism. Yes, they vary according to degree – and point in history. Anyone with a conscience knows that most American lynchings were perpetrated by “Good Christians” – according to their peers.
Meanwhile, I don’t see a whole boatload of reasons for continuing the taxpayer dollars poured into the rathole that is Pakistan’s military and political sewer. Benefits to America’s questionable foreign policy is nil. The fraction that filters through the corrupt bureaucracy is negligible.
The United Nations says more than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq in May, the highest monthly death toll for years.
The violence makes it the deadliest month since the wide sectarian violence of 2006-7, and raising concern that the country is returning to civil war.
The vast majority of the casualties were civilians, and Baghdad was the worst hit area of the country…
Figures released on Saturday showed 1,045 civilians and security personnel were killed in May, far higher than the 712 who died in April, the worst recorded toll since June 2008…
Analysts say al-Qaeda and Sunni Islamist insurgents have been invigorated by the Sunni-led revolt in neighbouring Syria and by the worsening sectarian tensions in the country…
On some days, Shia areas across Baghdad appear to have been the main target, while on others, the Sunni areas outside the capital saw most explosions.
One explanation is that Sunni militant groups linked to al-Qaeda want to provoke civil war in Baghdad and undermine the government in areas they see as their strongholds, our correspondent says.
But other explanations link the violence to the civil war in neighbouring Syria, he adds.
The bloodshed has been accompanied by unconfirmed rumours about sectarian militias roaming Baghdad for revenge, which have caused fear in many areas of the capital.
It’s not only inside Iraq that folks lay the responsibility for continued violence on Bush’s War. As violent and corrupt as was Saddam Hussein, the invasion demonstrated sovereignty means nothing in a world facing United States military power.
The people of Iran will never forget the democratic government overthrown by the United States. Good, bad or indifferent, Iraqis will never forget the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed and maimed in the name of liberation by the United States. Afghanistan, Pakistan, even Saudi Arabia watch the way we ignore accepted global law – and take whatever we want, however we wish. No one forgets.
Jihadi leader lives openly in Pakistan – no one wants $10 million reward offered by the United States
Lahore, Pakistan — Ten million dollars does not seem to buy much in this bustling Pakistani city. That is the sum the United States is offering for help in convicting Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, perhaps the country’s best-known jihadi leader. Yet Mr. Saeed lives an open, and apparently fearless, life in a middle-class neighborhood here.
“I move about like an ordinary person — that’s my style,” said Mr. Saeed, a burly 64-year-old, reclining on a bolster as he ate a chicken supper. “My fate is in the hands of God, not America.”
Mr. Saeed is the founder, and is still widely believed to be the true leader, of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group that carried out the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, in which more than 160 people, including six Americans, were killed. The United Nations has placed him on a terrorist list and imposed sanctions on his group. But few believe he will face trial any time soon in a country that maintains a perilous ambiguity toward jihadi militancy, casting a benign eye on some groups, even as it battles others that attack the state.
Mr. Saeed’s very public life seems more than just an act of mocking defiance against the Obama administration and its bounty, analysts say. As American troops prepare to leave Afghanistan next door, Lashkar is at a crossroads, and its fighters’ next move — whether to focus on fighting the West, disarm and enter the political process, or return to battle in Kashmir — will depend largely on Mr. Saeed…
His security seemingly ensured, Mr. Saeed has over the past year addressed large public meetings and appeared on prime-time television, and is now even giving interviews to Western news media outlets he had previously eschewed…
Still, he says he has nothing against Americans, and warmly described a visit he made to the United States in 1994, during which he spoke at Islamic centers in Houston, Chicago and Boston. “At that time, I liked it,” he said with a wry smile.
During that stretch, his group was focused on attacking Indian soldiers in the disputed territory of Kashmir — the fight that led the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate to help establish Lashkar-e-Taiba in 1989…
“When there are no Americans in Afghanistan, what will happen?” said Mushtaq Sukhera, a senior officer with the Punjabi police who is running a fledgling demobilization program for Islamist extremists. “It’s an open question.”
A shift could be risky for Mr. Saeed: Some of his fighters have already split from Lashkar in favor of other groups that attack the Pakistani state. And much will depend on the advice of his military sponsors.
For their part, Pakistan’s generals insist they have abandoned their dalliance with jihadi proxy groups. In a striking speech in August, the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said the country’s greatest threat came from domestic extremism. “We as a nation must stand united against this threat,” he said. “No state can afford a parallel system of governance and militias.”
Unfortunately, that last statement by General Kayani although truthful guarantees nothing. No one is confident that Pakistan’s military – and especially the ISI, their answer to the CIA – is at all interested in building anything more than bank vaults filled with looted gold. The blood of their fellow Pakistanis means nothing.
“Terrorism and violence cannot be permissible in Islam,” Tahir ul Qadri told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in 2010 after declaring a Fatwa on terrorism.
The bold pronouncement thrust Qadri into headlines worldwide and led to an invitation to speak at the prestigious World Economic Forum and United States Institute for Peace.
Two years on, the religious cleric has resurfaced in Pakistan, demanding free and fair elections, after spending the last six years living in Canada.
Qadri has come a long way since his time as a parliamentarian during General Pervez Musharraf’s regime in the early 2000s.
After promoting his agenda from abroad — speaking out in videos and books — he is now back in the political spotlight in his home country, calling for a caretaker administration to take the government’s place and carry out election reforms ahead of an upcoming vote.
According to Qadri, the composition of the caretaker government should be decided with the input of the judiciary and the military.
But in a country with a history of military coups, Qadri’s mention of the army in the electoral process set off alarm bells with the current government and opposition who quickly reassured the Pakistani people that nothing would stand in the way of timely elections and the democratic process…
Qadri threatened that unless his election reform demands were met by Thursday, he would stage a “Million Man March” to the capital, paralyzing the city with thousands of supporters.
“We will not succumb to these illegal demands,” Senator Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s Interior Minister told media Thursday, in anticipation of the protest, which is expected to arrive in Islamabad tomorrow, on Monday.
Malik said he would not allow the rally to enter downtown Islamabad as it posed a security risk and would disrupt business operations in the city; he said the Pakistani government had cordoned off sensitive areas of Islamabad.
I suggest you cock an ear to broadcasts from AlJazeera or BBC World starting early Monday morning. Hopefully, the march will remain peaceful. Hopefully, the people who oppose the march will remain peaceful.
Gunmen shot dead five female health workers who were immunizing children against polio on Tuesday, causing the Pakistani government to suspend vaccinations in two cities and dealing a fresh setback to an eradication campaign dogged by Taliban resistance in a country that is one of the disease’s last global strongholds.
“It is a blow, no doubt,” said Shahnaz Wazir Ali, an adviser on polio to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. “Never before have female health workers been targeted like this in Pakistan. Clearly there will have to be more and better arrangements for security.”
No group claimed responsibility for the attacks, but most suspicion focused on the Pakistani Taliban, which has previously blocked polio vaccinators and complained that the United States is using the program as a cover for espionage.
The killings were a serious reversal for the multibillion-dollar global polio immunization effort, which over the past quarter century has reduced the number of endemic countries from 120 to just three: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
Nonetheless, United Nations officials insisted that the drive would be revived after a period for investigation and regrouping, as it had been after previous attacks on vaccinators here, in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
But the campaign here has been deeply shaken by Taliban threats and intimidation, though several officials said Tuesday that they had never seen such a focused and deadly attack before.
The most corrupt gangsters in the world – masquerading as political activists – are dedicated only to power, greed and theft, caring not in the least about the death spiral they guarantee the poorest of the poor in Pakistan.