Posts Tagged ‘ Pakistan ’

Indian Chronicles and the Fifth Generation Warfare

As reported By Nayab Fareed for Safety & Security Today Pakistan. WWW.SSToday.com.pk originally on 1/27/21

#Narendra #Modi, Prime Minister of #India

Is Pakistan grappling with the fifth generation warfare? The question has long been scoffed at by the who’s who of Pakistani intelligentsia. For the longest time, these warnings have been dubbed as fear and paranoia promulgated by the Pakistani militablishment to squash dissent.

The state’s efforts against the threats of an unprecedented kind have time and again been discredited with little to no heed paid. However, the recent investigation carried out by the EU DinsfoLab, an independent Europe based organization, has made some startling revelations about the threat Pakistan faces; thus, vindicating our decade long fears. Let’s first attempt to understand the nature of fifth generation warfare before scrutinizing the report’s findings.

As the US Army Major Shannon Beebe once put it “fifth generation is a vortex of violence, a free-for-all of surprise destruction motivated more by frustration than by any coherent plans for the future.” The strategy of fifth generation does not revolve around direct armed confrontation, it rather employs social, economic and psychological tactics to impose mayhem. It employs non-uniformed atypical warriors who exploit fault lines of a state using terrorism, propaganda, religion, and public grievances to wage wars against the state’s institutions. Waged from within and abetted from outside, Audreas Turunen elucidates fifth generation as a cultural and moral war, which distorts the perception of the masses to give a manipulated view of the world and politics.

Non-state actors, more importantly, media which in recent past has emerged as the most powerful medium with widespread influence, has a crucial role to play in shaping perceptions. Unfortunately for Pakistan, the media has shown extreme irresponsibility in identifying and acting as the first line of defense against the propaganda. To an extent, segments of Pakistani media have also played into the hands of the enemy.

While Pakistani media failed to acknowledge the brazen disinformation plastered all over media and shrugged off the warnings mockingly, the Indian media, often dubbed as an important pillar of the world’s largest democracy, incessantly reposted and amplified the odious anti-Pakistan propaganda from fake media outlets, abetting the Indian state in its massive disinformation campaign.

The executive director of EU DisinfoLab claims that it was by far the “largest network the organization had exposed”. Indian Chronicles investigation uncovered more than 700 fake media outlets covering 116 countries, operating under dubious news agencies called “Big News Network” and “World News Network” both showing opaque ties to the Indian based conglomerate Srivastava Group. It was found that some of the most prominent Indian media agencies, such as ANI, ABP group, Zee, Republic News and Yahoo India reproduced and recirculated anti-Pakistan and, in few cases, anti-China rhetoric initially posted on the sham news websites.

More than 400 domain names were bought through Mr. Srivastava’s private email to register these websites. The articles and op-eds posted on them were often exaggerated, reworded and mainly used for the purpose of discrediting and reproducing negative iterations about Pakistan which were then repackaged by the Indian media for the consumption of millions of Indians at home and abroad, while also attempting to give legitimacy and credibility to the disinformation network.

Considering this sly process of layering, recycling and republishing of fake news from one source to another, the term ‘Fake News Laundering’ to put it mildly won’t be too far off.

If these findings are not staggering enough, this is where it begins to get increasingly malicious. The investigation also found that the campaign used not only fake media outlets to grow influence and taint India’s adversaries’ image, but also revived more than 10 defunct NGOs accredited by the UN for the same purpose.

One such example that has stood out the most for a variety of reasons is the Commission to Study the Organization of Peace (CSOP) that had been an inactive organization since the 1970s and was suddenly revived in 2005.

Not only did the organization come alive, it turns out the former chairman of CSOP, Professor Louis B Sohn, miraculously participated at the UNHRC session “Friends of Gilgit” in 2007 and attended another event in 2011, all while being deceased since 2006. CSOP, like the rest of these Zombie organizations, led a very different life from the first one. Once revived, the original purpose of their genesis completely changed from the environment, peace, education & even canned foods to furthering Indian interests.

These UN accredited NGOs also work in coordination with the non-accredited think tanks and NGOs based in Brussels, Geneva that were repeatedly given the floor at the UN on behalf of accredited NGOs. Amsterdam based think-tank called the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) for instance, was given the floor at the UNHRC’s 40th session in 2019 on behalf of the hijacked UN accredited organization United schools international (USI) which was then used to attack Pakistan.

The investigation noted that several of these think-tanks and NGOs including Baluchistan house, European organization for Pakistani minorities, South Asian democratic forum, World Baloch Women’s Forum, Gilgit Baltistan Studies, Baloch Human Rights Council (BHRC), Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) have been given the UN floor via the accredited NGOs that have shown direct links with the Srivastava group. These propaganda Think-tanks and NGOs also used Pakistani dissidents such as Mehran Marri and the SAATH forum led by Hussain Haqqani to undermine Pakistan at Geneva on several instances.

Not only were the accredited NGOs misappropriated, but many of the speakers at UN were also misrepresented by the Indian media, primarily ANI.

Identity theft is another modus operandi where several editors, journalists’ identities were made-up, non-existent addresses and fake phone numbers were used to register websites, media outlets were impersonated and former members of defunct NGOs appeared at events they had no knowledge about. Right-wing MEPs, including former diplomat Hussain Haqqani, were given space on fake media outlets such as the ‘EU Chronicles’ & ‘Time of Geneva’ for exclusive Op-eds against Pakistan.

This opportunity served as a honeypot for the MEPs as they were invited on free trips to Maldives, Bangladesh and more recently Kashmir which was falsely reported by the Indian media as the official EU delegation.

The purpose of this modus operandi was to fake or misappropriate the reputation and status enjoyed by the original source in order to avoid radar and gain credibility in the reader’s view.

The operation does seem to have been a success considering how easily it exploited and abused UN’s loopholes and hijacked its organizations for more than a decade going completely unnoticed.

This also raises many questions, most importantly; why has UN as an independent global entity overlooked the dubious activities of its own NGOs for so long? How was India capable of carrying out a pronounced campaign against its adversaries right under the UN’s nose for 15 years without raising any alarm? And why has India exhausted its resources and time to carry out a decade long disinformation campaign against its rivals rather than seeking dialogue through diplomatic channels? India’s Chanakyan schemes only reaffirm its position as a regional bully who can go to all lengths to bring devastation of colossal degrees in a nuclear zone.

Pakistan is evidently being targeted by its neighbor due to the decades old unresolved conflicts, mainly Kashmir, as well as the constantly evolving regional dynamics making it almost impossible for both nations to pursue common interests.

Indian quest for regional hegemony coupled with its conflict with China makes Pakistan all the more vulnerable to chaos, making its nuclear might the only deterrence for the enemy.

Despite these appalling findings, the EU DisinfoLab suggests there’s much more yet to be uncovered implying that the report is just the tip of the iceberg which makes one wonder how massive the scale of this network really is.

Today, the fifth generation warfare is a concrete threat that the states are finally beginning to acknowledge and understand.

It is in fact not a boogeyman created by the state to scare the dissidents into submission; on the contrary, it is a bitter reality capable of threatening our very existence.

Unfortunately, the genuine grievances of Pakistani minorities have been exploited for sinister purposes, enemy has utilized divisive politics and fault lines to plant and agitate subversive elements to cause discord. However, amid the unrest, an opportunity has presented itself for Pakistan to correct course.

The state must address the grievances of those aggrieved while also dealing with the miscreants who threaten the states sovereignty at the behest of enemy with an iron fist. It’s time to separate truth from falsehood and make matters more transparent in order to gain trust of the populace.

Additionally, Pakistan must focus on improving its soft power in order to dismantle bogus campaigns by its rivals; the present government seems to be making efforts in the right direction but a lot more needs to be done to counter propaganda with facts. The matter must be raised on international forums highlighting India’s nefarious designs which could lead to dangerous consequences if not addressed promptly.

Half-baked truths, manipulation and deception may serve a petty purpose temporarily but will result in devastating consequences in the long run.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, tricks and treachery are practice of fools, that don’t have brains enough to be honest.

Pakistan’s first Sheedi woman MPA talks about George Floyd and racism

By Zehra Husain for Cutacut.com

KARACHI: “The murder of George Floyd was a violation of human rights and I condemn it in the strongest words,” said Tanzeela Qambrani, member of the Sindh Assembly and Pakistan’s first female MPA from the Sheedi community.

Tanzeela Qambrani. PHOTO: Twitter/tanzilabari24

On May 25, 46-year-old George Floyd was murdered by a white police officer in Minneapolis. The officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on Floyd’s neck and did not remove his knee for 8 minutes.

“People of African descent are being oppressed world over. They are being de-humanised but Black people are also humans and this cannot be stressed enough,” Qambrani said in an interview with Cutacut

Chuavin has been charged with second degree murder. The three other ex-cops assisting have also been arrested and are also facing criminal charges.

“Racist thinking and violent prejudice against people of African descent exists world over. If such acts of brutality can take place in developed, “civilized”, countries like the United States, one can only think what kind of mindset exists in developing nations.”

Qambrani added that she is looking to call a session in the Sindh Assembly to address the murder of George Floyd and collectively condemn it in the strongest possible words.

“George Floyd’s murder was one instance of police violence. Black people, including our communities who live in Pakistan, are being punished for an apparent sin we did not commit,” she said.

“We are being punished for our features, for the way we look, for the color of our skin. We are being punished for something we did not choose.”

Qambrani said that the United Nations had designated the period between 2015-2024 as The International Decade for People of African Descent.

“Designating a decade and giving it a name is not enough if violence exists on the ground. The United Nations needs to do much more work and take stern action against such criminal acts.”

When asked what can be done to combat racism and uplift her own Sheedicommunity in Pakistan she laid emphasis on education.

“Our community has been left far behind in education. The government should ensure that we get opportunities in education. Give us the net, we will catch the fish ourselves.”

She said that she has been lucky for being given the opportunity to be a representative of her community as she is a worker and member of a party that believes in female empowerment and does not tolerate racism.

#PakistanisforPeace supports #BLM and #BlackandBrownLivesMoment & #Equality & #JusticeForAll~ 🙏🏽🇺🇸🇵🇰☮️

Happy Pakistan Day!

#PakistanDay

Happy Pakistan Day!

Pakistani girl Zara Naeem beats over 50,000 students, tops global accountancy exams

Reported by Jabeen Adil, Gulf Today 2/16/21

Pakistani student Zara Naeem Dar has earned an honour for Pakistan by scoring the highest marks in the world in the global professional accountancy exams conducted by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

The ACCA qualification is considered the gold standard in accountancy; 527,000 students from 179 countries took part in the exam. With the achievement in this exam, conducted in December 2020, Zara won an important award for Pakistan. 

Zara Naeem, a resident of Lahore, thanked the nation for this encouragement and appreciation. She especially thanked her father for her success, the education, training, and encouragement she provided.

The ACCA Pakistan congratulated her on her achievement in an official tweet and said, “Pakistani students continue to make proud by impressing the world with their excellent exam performance in the global professional accountancy exams conducted by ACCA.”

The Government of Pakistan official also commended her in an official tweet and said, “A very proud moment for Pakistan as Zara Naeem has been declared the global prizewinner for scoring the highest marks in ACCA.”

Zara credits this success to her father who’s always encouraged all the girls in the family to pursue their dreams and smash all artificial barriers.

Zara has said that her father is a military officer and he is her real hero. Zara said on her Instagram account that she has seen her father rise to the heights of his career and that is why he is an important beacon for her.

Follow @pakistanisforpeace on #Facebook, #Twitter, #TikTok and #Instagram for more positive news from #Pakistan 🇵🇰🙏🏽

Home

By Tabzy.Wordpress.com

My heart has been aching for the last 7 days.

As I unpack my suitcases on day 1. As I put the laundry away on day 3. As I pack lunch for my kids on day 5.It’s always there, that hollow throbbing ache, in the exact spot where I think my heart is supposed to be.

My 7 yr old daughter has asked me at least two dozen times in the last seven days, as she often does at least once a month since she started talking, “Why don’t we live in Pakistan?” Today my three-year old son told me; “Your house is boring Mama, I want to go to Pakistan.”

The questions don’t help, they only make me realize their little hearts ache too, for the country they were not born in but I guess the love for which runs through their veins.

The silence in my house reminds me of the constant sounds that my home in Lahore is abuzz with. The silence only makes the ache grow stronger. I decide to go to the mall to get away from the silence after sending the kids off to school. I turn on the CD player as I settle behind the steering wheel in my car. The song that starts blaring reminds me of my sister’s wedding, the endless dance practices, the clothes, the colors….I turn it off and force myself to concentrate on my driving. The ache is still there. I look around and try to be grateful for the big clean roads, the stop signs, and the fact that no one is driving towards me on a one way road. But I miss the frenzied state of panic that all the drivers seem to be consumed by on all the roads in Lahore. I miss blaring horns. I miss the elated feeling of having defied death simply by changing a lane without being hit by a car.

At the mall I just walk around purposelessly.Nothing catches my eye. I miss the obsessive trips to the mall in the weeks before leaving for Pakistan, in the quest to hunt good deals on gifts. I walk into an expensive store, deciding I will treat myself to a statement necklace that I had my eyes on before my trip,it surely must be on sale by now. I inquire with the sales lady about the necklace and she brings it to me, I got lucky she informs me in a chirpy voice, it is 30 percent off bringing the price down to around $150. I look at it and suddenly I feel a tug at my heart, the ache is there again, only stronger. I tell the lady I changed my mind and walk out of the store feeling miserable. I miss the 20 minute haggling session with the “choorion wala” in Liberty over Rs 300 bangles. I miss the random aunties who would strike up a conversation in bazaars and doctor’s offices and beauty salons, making you reveal your entire family history in a matter of 4 minutes. I miss the beggars praying for my happy married life in return for a few coins. I miss the fact that most “bazaars” don’t open till noon and everything is closed on Fridays for prayer.

I miss I miss I miss…

I miss the all night chat sessions with my sisters, I miss the halwa poori breakfasts, I miss the tea time which occurred every two hours, I miss the constant chaos and craziness at home which would sometimes make me fantasize about checking into a hotel for a few days just so I could hear myself think. I miss the non-stop parenting advice from everyone who has ever had a child; I miss never EVER being alone. I miss the phone ringing after every three minutes and the door bell ringing at least 60 times a day. I miss the un-announced family visits and hugging my aunts and uncles tight, as if I had not seen them in years even though they had been over the night before and left well after midnight.

I miss squeezing into one car with all the siblings and their kids and making the long drive to Upper Mall just for a “cup” of Chaman ice cream. I miss acting unbelievably silly, the way you can only be around your family, totally and completely free. I miss constantly bickering with my siblings. I miss screaming at all our kids for making so much noise but only adding to the noise by screaming so loud.I miss the uncontrollable fits of laughter even at the most serious of moments. I miss lugging my camera around everywhere. I miss the stray cats at my husband’s home who would not even blink as my son pulled their tails. I miss having to clean my kids’ hands 15 times a day. I miss driving through half of Lahore when I had to get from my kids’ “dadu’s” house to “nano’s”house, joyfully inhaling the sights and sounds of Lahore with my eyes every single time. I miss the sound of Azaan. I miss the joy rain brought to everyone. I miss wearing my sisters’ clothes every day. I miss having so many opinionated people to ask how I look or what I should wear. I miss complaining about the load shedding. I miss being annoyed there is not enough hot water to take a shower. I miss speaking Urdu with everyone.

I miss the aura of hope in the air, sometimes so palpable I could taste it.

I miss the impossible amount of love and attention my kids receive until they are spoilt rotten by the time I come back, how everyone believes they care for them the “mostest”, even more than I do, how the whole household will gather around like a flock of hens, three people will volunteer to go to the hospital with you at 5 in the morning if you or your child is sick. I miss the utter lack of privacy and independence. I miss the cheekiness of family listening in to your phone calls and then discussing your entire conversation over tea afterwards as if they were invited to listen in to an important conference call! I miss everyone that I managed to meet and those I could not…

I miss the things that drive me up the wall and I miss the things that I have never stopped missing in 10 years. My heart keeps on aching…

The thing about leaving home is; you never get over it. You make a new life, you make new friends, you live happily ever after… until you go back home again. And every time you say your goodbyes and turn your back as you walk through those glass doors at the airport, the ache starts all over again. And then from time to time, you feel it, at the most unexpected of moments. It’s almost like how an amputee must feel; as if your hand was torn off your arm and even though it is no longer on your body and you have embraced life without it, you still feel your phantom fingers press into your phantom palm every once in a while and the reality of what’s been torn away hits you all over again. And the heart aches, all over again.

I don’t know why exactly we leave our homes. To find a better life I guess. A life where our kids are safer, our roads are cleaner, our bank balances; higher. I can’t quite remember just this second. Because right now, still in the throes of nostalgia seven days after walking away from my family through those glass doors, all I know is, there is no place like home. And in my heart of hearts, “home” will always mean Pakistan.

Pakistan Mourns Ali Sadpara

#AliSadpara #Pakistan’s best #Mountaineer feared dead from the #K2WinterExpedition that cost his and 2 other climbers life. #RestInPeace. 🇵🇰🙏🏽

Why Most Pakistanis Can’t See The Film Pakistan Is Submitting For An Oscar Nod

By Zuha Siddiqui and Diaa Hadid for NPR

With Oscar nominations just a day away, Pakistan is hoping its picture gets one of the slots for best foreign film. But it’s a film that most Pakistanis aren’t able to see.

The 2-hour, 15-minute long movie is called Zindagi Tamasha, or “Circus of Life.” Set in the hazy old quarter of the Pakistani city of Lahore, prostitutes, devout families, drug dealers and men hustling a living live side-by-side. It is the fictional story of a devout, middle-aged real estate agent and performer, Rahat Khwaja, whose life capsizes after a guest at a wedding films him sensually swaying to an old Pakistani song, “Zindagi Tamasha” (the film is named after the song) as he sings it for the audience.

The video goes viral and Khwaja, who is respected in his crowded quarter for his singing of devotional Islamic poems, is suddenly viewed by his community as vulgar.

Religious events where he once starred as an esteemed singer are now off limits – he is literally pushed out of one event by other performers who are enraged by his wedding performance. He finds his face plastered across tawdry memes on the internet. Children who once loved him for the sweets he handed out in their crowded alley call him a pig and a pimp. A cleric threatens to accuse him of blasphemy – which can be a deadly accusation in Pakistan. Worse, his beloved daughter turns against him.

The film was banned in Pakistan after an extremist religious group watched the trailer and became enraged at its portrayal of the cleric in the movie. Not only does he loosely hurl accusations of blasphemy against the protagonist, the cleric is painted as a sneering, arrogant man who turns a blind eye to child sex abuse in his seminary, even as he leads the charge to shame the protagonist. And the group rallied against the director.

“Who are you to talk against scholars?” demanded Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the then-leader of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan at a rally last February against the movie, which gathered thousands of angry, chanting protesters.

“The prophet did not delegate the faith to you!” he said, referring to the film’s director, Sarmad Khoosat.

So just like the protagonist of Zindagi Tamasha, Khoosat faced a whirlwind of hatred.

“I would be added to these WhatsApp groups where mysterious people would just send me messages with gross, horrifying images of beheaded people,” he tells NPR. “On social media, Twitter was on fire with ‘ban Zindagi Tamasha‘ and ‘kill this bastard.’ “

He says other users accused of him of blasphemy, which can trigger vigilante attacks and even lynchings in Pakistan.

Following the outcry by Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, the Pakistani government postponed Zindagi Tamasha‘s release. They also asked the country’s Islamic advisory body to conduct a “critical review” — effectively shelving the film.

The shelving of the film reflects a decades-long trend of Pakistani authorities appeasing the religious right, says Raza Rumithe director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, and the editor of a liberal outlet called Naya Daur.

“This is a trend that has been there for a long time, and it’s been growing over the decades, with more and more pressure from the religious lobbies,” Rumi says. “Every government attempts to appease them, because it’s a risk to anger the mullahs.”

“The mullahs have street power in Pakistan,” he adds.

But critics argue that the current ruling coalition of the prime minister Imran Khan appears even more obsequious than previous governments. That’s because of a perception among some Pakistanis that it is indebted to the country’s powerful military establishment for being propelled to power.

“This government has the unique distinction that it is probably the weakest civilian government in a long time,” says Murtaza Solangi, a colleague of Rumi at Naya Daur. “It’s easier to blackmail them and put them under pressure.”

In response to a request from NPR for an interview about the shelving of Zindagi Tamasha, and the banning of other media products, the information minister Shibli Faraz denied the government was in the business of censorship. In a statement, he wrote: “The government neither believes nor practices any kind of censorship or press advice. What it does believe in is encouragement of self-regulation by all forms of media. Further, it strongly believes in the preservation of our cultural and moral values.” Faraz declined to answer specific questions.

In any case, the government is sensitive to the criticisms of turbaned preachers, conservative viewers – and even an influential newspaper editor, Ansar Abbasi. He successfully demanded a jaunty biscuit advertisement be banned for showing an actress performing folk dances.

“Wasn’t Pakistan built in the name of Islam?” demanded Abbasi, as he complained in October about a Gala Biscuit advertisement to his 1.7 million Twitter followers. “Will biscuits be sold through mujra dancing now?” he demanded, a pejorative that refers to sexualized dancing.

Within hours, Abbasi’s tweet was shared thousands of times, and the ad was taken down for review by Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority. “We received tons of complaints,” Muhammad Tahir, a regulatory authority official, tells NPR. “A certain segment of our society definitely thinks dances are vulgar.”

Zindagi Tamasha and the biscuit ad are among the flurry of items that were banned or prevented from circulation over the past year. They include books, social media apps, television shows and even video games.

As the triggers of offense appear to broaden, content makers have been left uncertain of how to work. The Gala Biscuit advertisement was a case in point: the director Asad ul Haq said it was meant to be family-friendly, celebrating local folk traditions. The actress who danced in the ad, “was fully layered up, there was no skin showing.”

The fear is that the country is creeping back to a repeat of its darkest days, under dictator General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, who tried to reshape Pakistan in his stern image after he seized power in the late 70s.

He stopped movies from being screened and effectively choked the local film industry. Actors stopped finding work. Movie houses shut down. Musicians who provided their scores packed away their instruments.

The military dictator Zia-ul-Haq died in 1988 in a plane crash, and it has taken years for the industry to recover. It was only in 2013 that Pakistan submitted a film for Oscar consideration: Zinda Bhaag, which followed the path of three young men who try smuggle themselves to Europe to start a new life. The committee responsible for picking the entry has submitted a film for consideration every year since.

One committee member, Hamza Bangash, told NPR that Zindagi Tamasha was selected in November because it “really kind of upends a lot of hypocrisy within our society,” he says. “It does so with humor and it’s so gentle.”

But Bangash says he doesn’t expect the nomination to change anything — in fact he calls Zindagi Tamasha “a cautionary tale, because it tells you you can pour your heart and soul into a film,” he says, “and you might face death threats at the end of that.”

Pakistani Punjab supports Indian Farmers struggle for justice under Modi’s Farm Bill

Punjab and Pakistan are with the Indian Farmers protesting for their rights

#Trump is #impeached for a second time!!!

twitter.com/repdianadegette/status/1347586907564367872

Happy New Year 2021! Year of the Ox

By Manzer Munir for #PakistanisForPeace

Happy #NewYear to all of my friends and family around the world! As we welcome the #YearoftheOx, #Covid19 notwithstanding, we should ponder how our 2020 ended and how the next one can be even better, both for ourselves, our families and our communities.

Do you sincerely want 2021 to be better than the years of the past? In that case, forgive someone who you believe has betrayed you, let you down or wronged you in some way. Move on in your life from past events. Make new but REAL friends. Reach out and touch someone, emotionally, mentally or in another non-physical but more deeply memorable way as these memories end up being more priceless than our worldly possessions.

Remember that material things and or accomplishments will come and go but it is the “quality of your human relations that determine the overall quality of your life.” Happy New Year to you all and best wishes from the Munir family to you and yours!

Islam truly is a religion of peace

By Manzer Munir for @pakistanisforpeace

Islam ☪️ is beautiful. At its root, it is at peace with everything in #nature and is a religion of #peace when practiced as preached by our #prophetMuhammad, #TheMessengerOfGod, peace be upon him, ameen.

By Manzer Munir for Pakistanis for Peace

This is also how our Lord above wants us to behave and #BeEquitable and #Respectful with not just each other but ALL LIVING THINGS!!!

It is basically the last of the #Abrahamicreligions with the same basic message of creation and our purpose and the rules that guide this #life.

It is essentially of #peace, #love and most importantly self #responsibility for all of our actions, whether someone is watching or not. I am #blessed to be born in a #Muslim household and I am most thankful for my #Sufi and #progressiveMuslim beliefs ♥️🙏🏽☪️☮️

Pakistan: US Participation a Must in Russia-initiated Afghan Talks

As Reported by Ayaz Gul for The Voice of America

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN —
Pakistan says that Russia-sponsored international talks on Afghanistan must involve the United States for bringing peace to the war-riven country, because Washington is the “biggest stakeholder” there.

Moscow plans to host this week (April 14) a new expanded round of multi-nation “consultations” it has recently launched with the stated goals of developing a “regional approach” for promoting Afghan security and a government-led national reconciliation with the Taliban.

But the U.S. administration has already refused to take part in the conference, questioning Russian intentions and motives.

Speaking to a local television station before the Moscow talks, the Pakistani prime minister’s foreign policy aide, Tariq Fatemi, stopped short of admitting the absence of Washington will not allow the multi-nation process to achieve its mission.

“They [U.S] have their troops present [in Afghanistan], they have invested one trillion dollars there, they are the biggest stakeholder, they have lost hundreds of their soldiers, so they have their interests there,” Fatemi explained.

While Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, China, India were represented in the last round of talks in Moscow earlier this year, former Soviet Central Asian states have been invited for the first time to attend the April 14 conference.

“We hope and desire that when any such peace initiative will enter into a next stage, America will have to be made part of it,” Fatemi told Aaj TV when asked whether the Russian-initiated process could bring peace to Afghanistan without Washington.

Pakistan believes Russia is “positively” using its influence with the Taliban to encourage them to join peace talks and Islamabad is supportive of any such efforts, Fatemi insisted.

“Russia has told us its major concerns are that if civil war conditions are there in Afghanistan, it can become a center for terrorist organizations like Islamic State, or Daesh, who will then try to infiltrate into bordering Central Asian states,” the Pakistani official explained.

The Taliban’s attacks on rival IS fighters in a bid to prevent them from establishing a foothold in the country apparently encouraged Russia to support the insurgent group. But Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday again warned Moscow against maintaining contacts with the Taliban.

“Anyone who thinks they can help themselves by helping the enemy of their enemy is mistaken. Anyone who thinks that they can differentiate between good and bad terrorism is mistaken,” Ghani said.

Speaking at a news conference in Kabul, Ghani acknowledged Russia is also threatened by terrorism and sympathized with victims of recent terrorist attack in that country.

“We have an intense dialogue with all our interlocutors because a stable Afghanistan is to everybody’s benefit and unstable Afghanistan hurts everyone,” Ghani said when asked whether Kabul plans to attend Moscow talks on Friday. He added he wants Afghanistan “as a center of cooperation” in all efforts aimed at stabilizing his country.

The Russian foreign ministry, while regretting Washington’s refusal to attend the coming talks, had also underscored the United States is an “important player” in settling the Afghan conflict.

“So [the United States] joining the peacekeeping efforts of the countries of the region would help to reinforce the message to the Afghan armed opposition regarding the need to stop armed resistance and to start talks,” it maintained.

Meanwhile, Fatemi said Pakistan has also stepped up diplomatic efforts to ease tensions with Afghanistan and is seeking implementation of a proposed mechanism the two sides agreed to in talks last months that were mediated by Britain.

The mechanism, he explained, would allow establishment of a “channel of communication at different levels” between Islamabad and Kabul to help remove “any misunderstanding” and deal with any terrorist incident on either side of their shared border.

“Talks [between the two countries] at the Army level and at different other levels are currently underway, and at a final stage, if needed, foreign ministers of the two countries will also engage in frequent meetings,” Fatemi said.

Afghanistan and Pakistan each deny allegations they harbor and support anti-state militants engaged in terrorist attacks on their respective soils. Tensions have lately risen because of Islamabad’s unilateral border security measures to prevent terrorist infiltration.

Kabul disputes portions of the 2,600-kilometer border between the two countries and is opposed to fencing them, saying it will further add to problems facing divided families.

Why I believe Pakistanis are the most gracious people in the world

By Harsh Mander for Scroll.In and Dawn.com

Pakistan Generosity

My mother was forced to leave behind the city of her birth, Rawalpindi, when she was just 18 because of the tumultuous ruptures of Partition. She had never returned. When she was to turn 75, I thought the best gift I could give her was to take her, if it was at all possible, to the city and to the home in which she was born.

I emailed my friends in Pakistan tentatively with my plan. They were immediately very welcoming.

“Just get her a visa, leave the rest to us,” they said. I applied for visas for my parents and the rest of my family. It seemed then a small miracle that we got these easily. I booked our flight tickets, and before long we were on our way.

A warm welcome

Our flight landed in Lahore, and our friends drove us from the airport to their home in Islamabad. I noticed that my mother was initially a little tense. Maybe it was memories of the violence of her exile; maybe it was just the idea that this was now a foreign land, and for many in India the enemy land.

I watched my mother gradually relax on the road journey to Islamabad, as she delighted in hearing my friends and the car driver speak the Punjabi of her childhood, and as she watched the altered landscape of her journey. Islamabad, of course, did not exist when she lived in the Punjab of her days.

In Islamabad, my friends invited to their homes many of their associates with their parents. They organised evenings of Punjabi poetry and music, which my parents relished. Our friends drove us to Murree, the hill-station in which my mother spent many pleasant summers as a child.

My mother had just one more request. Could she go to see the colony in Rawalpindi where she was born and spent her childhood in? My father also wanted to visit his college, the famous Gordon College in Rawalpindi.

A homecoming

My mother recalled that the name of the residential colony in which she lived as a child was called Gawal Mandi. My friends knew it well; it was now an upmarket upper middle-class enclave.

When we reached there, my mother tried to locate the house of her childhood. It seemed impossible. Everything was new: most of the old houses had been rebuilt and opulent new structures had come up in their place.

She located the building that had housed their gurudwara. It had now been converted into a health centre. But we had almost despaired of actually finding her childhood house. We doubted if it was even standing all these years later.

We were leaving when suddenly my mother pointed to the filigree work on the balconies of one of the old houses. My mother said: “I remember it because my father was very proud of the designs. He said there was none like it in the neighbourhood.”

Taking a chance, we knocked tentatively on the door of the house. A middle-aged man opened it, and asked us who we wanted to meet.

My mother said apologetically, “We are so sorry to trouble you, and intrude suddenly in this way. But I lived as a child in Gawal Mandi, before Partition, when we had to leave for India. I think this maybe was our home.”

The house owner’s response was spontaneous and immediate.

Mataji, why do you say that this was your home? It continues to be your home even today. You are most welcome.”

And he led us all in.

Before long, my mother confirmed that this was indeed her childhood home. She went from room to room, and then to the terrace, almost in a trance, recalling all the while fragments of her childhood memories in various corners of this house.

For months after we returned to Delhi, she would tell me that recollections of the house returned to her in her dreams.

Take a look: Why my heart said Pakistan Zindabad!

Half an hour later, we thanked the house-owners and said that we would be on our way. But they would not hear of it.

We were told: “You have come to your childhood home, then how can we let you go without you having a meal with us here?”

They overruled all our protestations, and lunch was prepared for around eight members of our party, including not just my family but also our Pakistani hosts. Only when they were sure that we had eaten our fill, and more, did they allow us to leave.

Caravan to Pakistan

After we returned to India, news of our adventure spread quickly among family and friends. The next year, my mother-in-law — a wheel-chair user — requested that we take her to Pakistan to visit her childhood home, this time in Gujranwala.

Given the joys of my parents’ successful visit, I was more confident. Many elderly aunts and an elderly uncle joined the trip, and in the end my wife and I accompanied six older people to Pakistan.

Our experience was very similar to that of the previous year. The owner of their old ancestral haveli in Gujranwala village took my mother-in-law around the sprawling property on her wheel-chair, and after we had eaten with them asked her: “Would you not like to check out your farm-lands?”

On both visits, wherever my wife visited shops for clothes, footwear or handicrafts, if the shopkeepers recognised her to be Indian, they would invariably insist on a hefty concession on the price. “You are our guests,” they would say. “How can we make a profit from our guests?”

As news of these visits travelled further, my associates from an NGO Ashagram working in the small town of Barwani in Madhya Pradesh for the care and rights of persons living with leprosy — with which I have had a long association — demanded that I organise a visit to Pakistan for them too.

See: Pakistanis seem to love Indians. Do Indians feel the same way?

Once again, the Pakistan High Commission granted them visas. There was only one catch this time: all of them were vegetarian. They enjoyed greatly the week they spent in Pakistan, except for the food.

Every night they would set out looking for a wayside shop to buy fruit juice. Each night they found a new shop, and each night without exception, the shopkeeper refused to accept any money for the fruit juice. “We will not charge money from our guests from India,” they would say each time.

This happened for a full week.

I have travelled to many countries around the world in the 60 years of my life. I have never encountered a people as gracious as those in Pakistan.

This declaration is my latest act of sedition.


Pakistan No Country for Foreign Journalists

As reported by A REPORTER for DAWN

Image

His sin – he was an Indian and a journalist reporting on Pakistan. And one hot day in the middle of June he was informed that his presence was no longer acceptable to someone, somewhere – through a phone call and a letter.

But despite the unceremonious departure, his one regret – at least in recent days – is that he will not be able to get “some nihari from Kale Khan in Pindi before [he] leave[s].”

Perhaps he has more regrets too – about friends he could not say goodbye too or places he was not allowed to visit but such are the state of affairs between his country and Pakistan that he refuses to talk about the issue at all. The longing for nihari too was gleaned from his twitter account.

And this silence says far more than any lengthy interview he may have given. The few details that are available came from someone close to him who spoke on the basis of anonymity.

Hasan – as always – was waiting for a renewal of his visa when on June 13 he got a letter informing him that he should leave by June 23.

The journalist panicked as he had no valid visa by then, without which he could not even leave. Much effort, phone calls and visits later, he was given a ‘generous’ extension till June 29.

The valid visa came on June 25 – finally making him eligible to leave.

“Two thirds of his time in Pakistan was spent waiting for an extension of his lapsed visa,” says the someone.

So much so that twice at least when his wife’s father had a heart attack, her family kept the news from her – because neither she nor Hasan could visit India and the ailing father.

Nothing of Hasan’s stay is unusual for an Indian journalist in Pakistan but his departure surely is.

The tradition is that “the journalist is allowed a short overlap with his successor for a smooth transition”. But both Hasan and Anita Joshua, the second Indian journalist in Pakistan, who were scheduled to leave in any case and were only waiting for their successors to show up, were denied this in recent months.

Indeed, Hasan’s abrupt departure came hot on the heels of the return of his counterpart – Anita Joshua of The Hindu – who was asked to leave shortly after the elections (but before the new government took charge) while New York Times’ Declan Walsh was bundled out a day after May 11, his notice period even shorter than the Indians.

The story of these three proves that Pakistan is fast turning into not just one of the most dangerous countries for journalists but also one of the most inhospitable.

“What else would you call a place that so abruptly orders out those who have been living here for years on such a short notice,” says a senior journalist.

When Walsh was thrown out, Pakistani journalists whispered that it happened because there was no empowered political government in place and the spooks got a chance to avenge past grievances.

But Joshua and Hasan were told to leave after Nawaz Sharif – the statesman who wanted and wants peace with India – has taken over. Yet there is not a peep out of the new government.

As Mariana Babar, a senior journalist, puts it, “These cases show how powerful the security establishment is. Indian journalists were reluctantly issued visas for a few days on eve of elections. The process started during the caretaker government and continued as Sharif government was in the process of settling. Now as The Hindu and Press Trust of India (PTI) have requested visas for new representatives, we will wait and see how much authority Sharif asserts.”

Admittedly, the India-Pakistan journalist exchange is notoriously reflective of the poor bilateral relations – the feel-good rhetoric of the politicians notwithstanding.

Both countries only allow two journalists from the other side to be stationed in the host country – but while the Indians use these positions, the Pakistanis are so uninterested in understanding our ‘worst enemy’ that no Pakistani reporter is based in India.

The PTI and the Hindu have a correspondent each based in Islamabad and what a welcome they are extended.

They are not allowed to move outside of Islamabad without permission (even Rawalpindi is out of bounds) and they are constantly shadowed by those who cannot prevent terrorist attacks but are aware of every nook and corner visited by the two Indian hacks in the soap dish sized Islamabad.

Yet these two people never forget to remind the one billion people living next doors that there is more than Taliban and extremism to Pakistan. And for those who want proof of this, they need not google the stories that Hasan and Joshua did – they should read the blog, “the Life and Times of Two Indians in Pakistan”.

Written mostly by Hasan’s wife, the posts paint a warm and engaging picture of her former host country (by the time this story appears in print, the couple will be on their way back to Delhi). Beyond the suo motu notices and the Taliban, these posts are about the more colourful characters that inhabit Islamabad; Mehmal the Lahori journalist; Pakistani music (“Still, give me Pakistani music any day” she writes) and the not to be missed post – about the testosterone filled spooks who follow her around.

“Bhai, I feel so special and so cared for each time I step out of the house and you try and match footsteps with me. The other day when you followed me into the superstore and kept me company when I was shopping for groceries, I was so moved.

“… And you looked so cute making a mental note of which pulses I eat and which brand of flour I buy. Ah! I so wish I could tell you so.”

There has rarely been such a wry account of what the spooks’ victims suffer. And one that even the non-Indian victims/residents of Islamabad can connect with.

Such posts and the memories of those who met and laughed with these two Indians will do far more for Indo-Pak relations than all the track two meetings.

Anita Joshua was no different. Less intense than Hasan (who reminded one of Amitabh Bachchan in his heyday, minus the height), her cheerful presence was a constant in the small social circle that the capital city offers to its inhabitants.

She was also generous enough to speak of the pain of living and working as a single woman in a small and conservative city such as Islamabad – with rare references to what it meant to be an Indian woman living alone here.

She was a mandatory participant of all the civil society gatherings in town provided the cause was a worthy one – trotting off to the Super Market sit-in more than once after the Hazara killings in Quetta.

And lest someone accuse her of being a ‘civil society type’, she was the only Indian ever invited to visit the Pakistani side of the Siachen Glacier by the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

It wasn’t because she had some special access – it was because she could get the message across to the Indian people and their government. She did.

Those who are continuously throwing journalists out of the country because they don’t approve of the stories should start seeing the glass as half empty instead of half full.

Each one of these journalists provided a glimpse of the Pakistan that many of us believe exists – where people struggle to make a living, where there are not just suicide bombers and militants but also their victims.

It is said that this is what got Walsh thrown out.

But does anyone remember Walsh’s human interest reporting?

Back in 2006, he reported on the media revolution in Pakistan by profiling Begum Nawazish Ali when Pakistanis were still far from aware of the change that television was about to bring to their lives.

And he reported on the missing people in 2007 before the superior judiciary became truly independent to discover the plight of the disappeared.

He endeared himself to many because long before the foreign corps discovered the “anti-Taliban fashion shows” in Pakistan, he had already found the Begum and written about her.

As a fellow journalist wrote in the New Yorker recently about Walsh, “The best Pakistani nonfiction writer was an Irishman”.

Such stories still need to be told – even if Walsh continues to also write on the drones and other ‘secrets’ that irritate some people. And Pakistan also needs the two lines of communications with the people of India.

Over a year ago when the military took Anita Joshua to Siachen, the former DG ISPR Athar Abbas said that it was “part of the Army’s campaign to open up,” adding that “May be we are more confident than the Indians about our case.”

Should one now assume that the Pakistanis are no longer confident about “their case”?

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