Sunday, 31 January 2016

Roots of terror, Andleeb Abbas

Roots of terror, Andleeb Abbas
Daily Times, Lahore      31/01/2016

The funding of many seminaries from almost a dozen countries, including Saudi Arabia and India, is still not assessed when it comes to their usage and distribution

The biggest problem is not admitting that you have a problem. The reluctant admission by the head of the country that the National Action Plan (NAP) is not really what it should be is the first step towards damage prevention. During the one year of NAP’s implementation nearly every review has pointed out that there are serious gaps in implementation.

The apex committee’s results, defence analysts and the media have been crying out loud on the “non-seriousness” of the government in taking hard action. However, the government has been in public denial of this danger, terming it as just political point scoring. The fact that it took another attack in a university where teachers and students were the victims of political apathy is the sad reflection of a mindset that believes plans would have actually been detrimental to the construction of the Taj Mahal. However, the realisation that mere talk and heavy powered apex meetings are not going to work is also an achievement of sorts.

The first step is to shift the focus from damage control to damage prevention. Anti-terrorism activities have to be preceded by counter and proactive strategies. Thus, as we do in any plan, we need to draw out a whole map of the pre-suicide jacket acceptance flow, the wearing of the jacket operation flow and beyond the blow up flow. This three-stage approach will identify critical points of sowing the seed, fertilising the seed and spreading the seed underground to intertwine with other roots. The time before the young mind becomes polluted enough to wear the suicide jacket has received minimum effort and resources. The polluters who in recent times have mostly quieted down and are a bit subtler in their preaching and outreach due to operations, are far from being eliminated or minimised. Points number three and seven in NAP, which specify banning militant wings and banned outfits with any name, have almost zero progress to show.

The very fact that India had to give us evidence about Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) operating under some other name and being involved in the Pathankot attack is clear evidence of the will of the state in this direction. Azhar Masood’s arrest has been made but we all know that after a while he may be back under some other name. When we knew that he was operating under the name of Saadi and publishing hate literature, why did we not take action? There have been some attempts in south Punjab to dismantle a few dens but concerted effort is lacking. The height of Punjab operations is the cracking down on the Chotu gang but the other big and famous alligators are all lurking just beneath the surface ready to attack whenever it is opportune.

Also, the fertiliser that feeds this seed in terms of arms and financing has not been choked and thus the spurts of attacks continue. The funding of many seminaries from almost a dozen countries, including Saudi Arabia and India, is still not assessed when it comes to their usage and distribution. The fact that the Bacha Khan terrorists were in possession of Indian and Afghan money is not just a cross-border transition but also an indication of how easily money gets transferred illegally in this country.

If Ayyan Ali cannot be apprehended carrying illegal millions in one whole year then God knows how we can possibly choke money channels that are being sponsored by political parties themselves with the help of overseas sponsors.

Many areas of NAP have to do with substituting the terrorist narrative with an alternative narrative to make it difficult for terrorists to infiltrate these unexposed minds. The environment and the soil have to be changed for a different plant to grow. For this purpose, a counter-narrative committee was formed that comprised scholars and religious leaders who were to make this narrative and ensure that it gives an alternative thought process to the target population.

In one year not a single meeting of this committee has been held. Similarly, the only communication strategy to get the nation activated on an alternative thought path has been done by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), which is using the media to create some support for the anti-terrorism stance.

The most fertile terrorism areas of FATA and Balochistan have a long history of being deprived and alienated, leading them to become breeding grounds for terrorist dens. These have just been treated as battlegrounds where the army goes and dismantles the dens only to find them being restored with the passage of time. No reforms, no development, no education and no engagement will lead to no change. The anger and resentment in these areas is an ideal base for terrorists to make them all rebels for a wrong cause.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the border is as secure as a national park. It has been decided that the Frontier Corps (FC), who are specialists in border manning, will be restored to this duty. Of the 25,000 required hardly 500 are present at the most dangerous point for crossing over. Of the three million Afghan refugees who were to be repatriated, only 55,000 have gone back.

The National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) is now a familiar story of failure as the 23 intelligence agencies that are operating in the country are not coordinated under the umbrella of an apex organisation that lacks funding, empowerment and credibility. The result? Four terrorists hop across the border talking non-stop on Afghan Sims to their masters and barge into a university to hold the country hostage. The rest is a sickeningly familiar story: the bravery of teachers, sacrifice of students, valour of security guards, great combat of police and army and the rehearsed grief-stricken condemnation of the politicians.

The route to the root of terror is much before the happening of the event. The fact that all steps on the flow chart of pre-attack have been treated with disdain by the government is itself the reason why after one year of a relative lull, the winds of terror have started blowing again. That is why more pressure is needed from all ends to make the government do what it is not doing, to crack down on internal supporters, to choke financing channels, to make reforms in FATA and other areas, to run a counter-terror narrative, to collate, disperse and ensure action on intelligence, to negotiate better with border countries, to use local governments to do community policing. However, if the two most important people to drive this agenda, i.e. the prime minister, who decides to extend his Davos trip to London for “personal reasons”, and the minister of interior, who decides to disappear due to “health issues”, then this ‘committed’ approach may be the biggest reason for having an amazingly inactive NAP.

The writer is a columnist and analyst, and can be reached at

China Pakistan Economic Corridor - A boon for the economy, a bane for locals ZOFEEN T. EBRAHIM

Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region is frequently in the news these days, but not necessarily for its mouth-watering cherries and dried apricots. The much touted US $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will pass through this beautiful province in the north to reach Chinese-operated Gwadar port in the country's south. While there is hope it will transform the economy and help bridge Pakistan’s power shortfall, CPEC has also triggered concerns that the local people might be left out of the gains.
To be built over the next several years, the 3,218 kilometre route will connect Kashgar in China’s western Xinjiang region to the port of Gwadar. Currently, nearly 80 per cent of China’s oil is transported by ship from the Strait of Malacca to Shanghai, a distance of more than 16,000 km, with the journey taking between two to three months. But once Gwadar begins operating, the distance would be reduced to less than 5,000 km.
If all goes well and on schedule, of the 21 agreements on energy– including gas, coal and solar energy– 14 will be able to provide up to 10,400 megawatts (MW) of energy by March 2018, to make up for the 2015 energy shortfall of 4,500MW. According to China Daily, these projects should provide up to 16,400MW of energy altogether.
Businessmen like Milad-us-Salman, a resident of Gilgit-Baltistan who exports fresh fruits like cherries, apricots and apples, is hoping that CPEC will be a game-changer for the region. So far, the carefully packaged truckloads of fruit traverse the rundown Karakoram highway to reach the national capital Islamabad, from where they are flown to Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Last year, his company, Karakoram Natural Resources Pvt. Ltd., sold fruit worth Rs20 million (US $190,000). “We sold 30 tonnes of cherries and 100 tonnes of apples,” Salman said.
Hopes and doubts
With the CPEC passing through Gilgit-Baltistan, Salman hopes the route will open business opportunities for the region's traders.
Diverting fruit to China will be more profitable, for one, will be more profitable. “We can double our sales and profits if we can sell to China where cherries are very popular," he said.
Currently, he ships his produce to Dubai through air-cargo. "It would be faster and cheaper if we could send it by road to China via Xinjiang as we can get a one-year border pass to travel within that border," Salman explained.
According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Gilgit-Baltistan produces over 100,000 metric tonnes of fresh apricots annually. While there are no official surveys, Zulfiqar Momin, who heads Farm House Pvt Ltd., which exports fresh and dried fruits to the Middle East, estimates that Gilgit-Baltistan produces up to 4,000 tonnes of cherries and up to 20,000 tonnes of apples.
“All fruits grown in Gilgit-Baltistan are organic with no pesticides used,” Momin said.
The CPEC, some believe, will also boost tourism in the 73,000 square km region. The region is considered to be a mountaineer’s paradise, since it is home to five of the ‘eight-thousanders’ (peaks above 8,000 metres), as well as more than 50 mountains over 7,000 metres. It is also home to the world’s second highest peak K2 and the Nanga Parbat.
But development consultant Izhar Hunzai, who also belongs to the area, has no such expectations. The CPEC, he feels, is nothing more than a “black hole” as far as the people of the region are concerned.
“The government has not engaged with us; we do not know exactly how much or what Gilgit-Baltistan’s role will be in CPEC or how we will benefit from it,” he said.
While both Pakistan and China will benefit through this region, he feels his people will be left “selling eggs”.
“I fear when the region opens up, it will give short shrift to the locals," he added.
Meaning of short shrift: 1/ brief and unsympathetic treatment
2.(formerly) a brief period allowed to a condemned prisoner to makeconfession
3. Make short shrift of, to dispose of quickly and unsympathetically

Land of opportunities
But it does not necessarily have to be this way. According to Hunzai, the region has infinite water resources to tap.
“By building hydro power projects, Pakistan can sell clean energy to China and even use it for itself, the development consultant said. "If Bhutan can sell to India, why can’t we sell to China?” Hunzai poted out that the Chinese already taking the country’s national grid to its border province.
It made little sense to him that the Pakistan government wanted to buy 1,000MW of hydropower from Tajikistan under the Central Asia South Asia (CASA-1000) project and construct an expensive 750km transmission line when the resource was right there in the country’s own backyard.
However, the government is almost ready to revive the Diamer-Bhasha dam, a gravity dam on the Indus river in Gilgit-Baltistan, in the second phase of CPEC. Once completed, it is estimated to generate 4,500MW of electricity, besides serving as a huge water reservoir for the country.
Hunzai also lamented the government’s decision of buying discarded coal powered plants from China and using imported coal to run it. Doing some quick calculations on the back-of-the-envelope, he asked, “Why produce 22 cents per unit electricity from imported fuel and sell it to the people at a subsidised rate of 15 cents? Why not make electricity from hydropower which would cost just 0.02 cents?”
According to the ADB, Gilgit-Baltistan has the potential to produce nearly 50,000MW of energy. Just Bunji Dam, a run-of-the-river project that the ADB has invested in, has the capacity to generate up to 7,100MW electricity when completed.
The government is not wilfully neglecting the region, countered long-time hydropower advocate Tahir Dhindsa of the Islamabad-based Sustainable Development Policy Institute. Instead, he feels the problem is more about the profits that middlemen make. It is all about the “kickbacks and commissions” that one can earn quickly from “cheap and carbon-spewing coal power plants”, compared to almost none from hydropower projects that can take up to 10 years or more.
“The future is renewables as has been reiterated in Paris at the COP21 and Pakistan should seriously be thinking about its future course of action,” he said.
Demographic shift
There is also the fear that the CPEC may lead to widespread displacement of the locals. “Of the 73,000 square kilometres, cultivable land is just 1pc," Hunzai explained. "If that is also swallowed by rich investors from outside, we will become a minority and economically subservient once there will be no farmland or orchards left to earn our livelihood from."
He is not the only one. Given the secrecy and confusion surrounding the project, its design and its budgetary allocation, three of Pakistan’s four provinces recently held a well attended All Parties Conference (APC) and vented their anger at the central government for its opaqueness regarding the share of investments for each of the provinces.
“CPEC is not the problem. It has just highlighted the imbalance in provinces with the largest one, Punjab, being seen as favoured specially as far as investments on road infrastructure are concerned and fuelling bitterness among the rest of the three provinces,” rued Vaqar Zakaria, an energy expert heading Hagler Bailley.
Trying to address the concerns of the provinces soon after the APC, federal minister for planning, Ahsan Iqbal, who heads the Planning Commission of Pakistan, said in a television interview that this was not a time for scoring political points by making the project controversial. CPEC, he said, was not a project to benefit a party or a government as was being portrayed by politicians and the media but to the entire country.
Of the US $46bn, between $35bn to $38bn were earmarked for the energy sector– of this, $11.6bnwill be invested in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, $11.5bn in Sindh, $7.1bn in Balochistan and $6.9bn in Punjab.
Beijing has urged Islamabad to resolve the internal differences on the CPEC to create favourable working conditions for the project to roll out smoothly.
—This piece was first published on The Third Pole and has been reproduced with permission.

a day ago

According to China Daily, these projects should provide up to 16,400MW of energy altogether. The Pakistani government run by a bunch of Lahoris will ensure that their is no transparency, Only beneficially of CPEC will be a bunch of Lahorees and their heirlings.........Pakistanis as usual will get not much of it.....and Gilgitees will not get much out of it 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

UN Development Programme Report 2015

UN Development Programme Report 2015  
January 27, 2016  Daily Times

 The 2015 Human Development Report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on January 26 has ranked Pakistan 147th out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index and 121st out of 155 countries on the Gender Inequality Index.

It mentioned that only 19.3 percent of women reach secondary education compared to 46.1 percent of men, while female participation in the labour market is 24.6 percent compared to 82.9 percent for men. The report released on Tuesday called attention to the fact that the world was going through a rapid process of transformation, driven by technological progress, globalisation and environmental and demographic change, and this inevitably affects people in different ways, leaving some with the short end of the stick. Therefore, to counter this disparity what is needed is equitable and decent work for all, and the report calls on the government to address one of the world’s greatest development challenges. In this regard it proposes a three-pronged action agenda, most significantly, calling for a new social contract where policy formation is carried out while taking into consideration all members of society. It also urges acknowledgment of the importance of informal work, which includes unpaid voluntary work and creative work in policy formation.

While the report makes an important distinction between employment, which is restricted to the formal sector, and work, which includes formal and informal work, the statistics do not take this into account. For a developing economy like Pakistan, it is the informal sector that forms the major part of the labour market. Especially when analysing gender inequality, it is crucial to consider that an enormous part of women’s contribution to society is in the form of informal and unpaid work, such as care giving, housework and in rural areas agricultural work, which goes unrecognised.

Apart from this, the solution presented of the creation of a new social contract is idealistic to say the least, since the existing social contract that conceptually outlines the relationship between the state and citizen, where the former exists to serve the latter, has never come close to meeting the ground realities in which the state is predominantly an alienated power above society. There is a need to develop realistic objectives that will help counter the current paradigm. Moreover, the government needs to acknowledge the severity of the problem of female education that deprives such a large number of girls from acquiring even secondary level education. The most crucial problem here is access to education, first of all geographically, due to a dearth of school networks across the country, often making a daily journey exceptionally difficult for young girls, and also due to societal problems. Another key issue is the abysmal quality of education in the existing schools, which perpetuates not only negative views regarding education’s values among the lower classes but also widely held conservative attitudes towards women’s education, which is arguably the most fundamental issue. *

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Refugees claim Islamic State (ISIS) Militants Living among them in Germany

Refugees claim Islamic State (ISIS) Militants Living among them in Germany
Christian refugees from Syria claim they saw a former Islamic State member living in Frankfurt, and that this is not an isolated case. Police investigated but refused to file charges because the alleged terrorist has done nothing criminal in Germany.
On his last visit to the Saarland region of Germany, on the border with France, RT’s Peter Oliver met with a group of Assyrian Christians who had been held hostage by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

They recalled that while being held in IS captivity, the only thing they prayed for was to be shot instead of being beheaded.
The same community, now living in the city of Saarlouis, say the horrors of that experience have followed them all the way to Germany, after they found out that a man they say had ties to Islamic State is living among them.
A refugee, who only agreed to speak to RT on condition of anonymity, said he is positive the man living in his town is the same member of IS he encountered in Syria.
“He stopped me many times at the checkpoint near our village; we were even able to find him on Facebook, I go to the web page and th
ere’s this guy again,” the refugee said.
When the man first saw the jihadist in Germany, his reaction was that of panic.
“I was very scared that this terrorist is in a democratic state like Germany just living here,” the refugee told RT, adding that he does not understand how those who kept whole families hostage now have Syrian refugee status in Germany.
Germany ‘prime target’ for Paris-style terrorist attacks – leaked govt report
— RT (@RT_com) January 14, 2016
The Assyrian community now feels very insecure as “this was not the first case” a former IS member had been recognized, the man said. He added that some people are even considering leaving Germany, but do not know where to run to.
Community leaders say that once they were convinced the ‘refugee’ was in fact a former jihadist, they went straight to the police.
“The police have taken this very seriously, but we worry that the law cannot back this up with a strong case. They have to wait until this person does something criminal here,” Charlie Kanoun, the chairman of the Assyrian Culture Association, told RT.
“But those people were killers in Syria and fly the ISIS flag here even. Such people should have no place in Germany,” Kanoun said.
Police confirmed that an investigation is underway, but no charges relating to terrorism or any other crime have been brought.
As the investigation continues, and with the influx of refugees showing no signs of slowing, the question is being asked as to who exactly is coming to Europe.
“This is a very difficult point for our community here. Those victims of kidnapping were brought here for safety and security, and then these terrorists are here,” Kanoun said, adding that the German authorities “are being very gentle with them,” reiterating that his compatriots might have to flee again.
“This is tragic that we will again be forced to be refugees, this time in a Christian state that cannot protect us,” Kanoun said.
Last February, Islamic State kidnapped around 250 Assyrian Christians and demanded ransoms of $100,000 per person. Some have since been released but many remain in captivity.
“ISIS came to our village, they devastated our fields, burnt our churches, tore apart our lives. They kidnapped us, murdered us. We have an unbearable feeling of loss,” a former hostage told RT.
He recalled that while in captivity, he overheard a conversation between his captors, saying that “the West will belong to us and we will conquer it through Islamization.”
Muslims should have their culture in their countries – Czech president
— RT (@RT_com) January 19, 2016
One of the IS militants holding Assyrian Christians captive was a German who had converted to radical Islam, the former hostage said.
The German security services are currently preparing findings on more than 790 German Islamists who have traveled to Syria, the National Police Bureau of Saarland reported.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Pakistan can and must do more to dismantle terror outfits: Obama

Pakistan can and must do more to dismantle terror outfits: Obama
NEW DELHI - US President Barack Obama has urged Pakistan to show it is “serious” about crushing extremist networks operating on its territory, saying the latest mass killing of students underlined the need for more decisive action.

In an interview with the Press Trust of India published on Sunday, Obama praised recent crackdowns by Pakistani security forces, but said more should be done to eradicate violent groups.

“Pakistan has an opportunity to show that it is serious about delegitimising, disrupting and dismantling terrorist networks,” the US president told the news agency in Washington.

“In the region and around the world, there must be zero tolerance for safe havens and terrorists must be brought to justice,” he added. Obama said the crackdown on extremists was “the right policy”, but was quoted as saying that Pakistan “can and must” take more effective action.

“Since then (Peshawar), we have seen Pakistan take action against several specific groups. We have also seen continued terrorism inside Pakistan such as the recent attack on the university in northwest Pakistan,” Obama said.

So Putin killed Litvinenko - Carry on, BY PETER POMERANTSEV

So Putin killed Litvinenko - Carry on, BY PETER POMERANTSEV
Foreign Policy       JANUARY 21, 2016

Britain has been cozying up to Russian money for years, and a dead spy isn’t going to change that.

When it comes to getting ahead of the political curve, the British have always fancied themselves clever buggers — or cleverer, at least, than their peers. In the 19th century, when imperialism was the great game, they created the grandest form. When the Cold War was on, they snuggled as close as possible to the United States, ensuring themselves a spot on the front stage of the victory parade in 1991 — and ensuring Margaret Thatcher a place alongside Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in the history books.

The present era has been defined by globalization, financial globalization above all, and true to form, Britain has positioned itself in recent years as the global capital for capital. The city of London has become a hub for the world’s money, clean and dirty; London property is now the investment of choice for the world’s leading plutocrats and kleptocrats. Dean Acheson’s 1962 quip that Britain has lost an empire and not found a role is pretty but untrue — the role is evident in the glass skyscrapers and condo buildings now planted across the capital city.

But Britain’s new status as global financial hub comes with its own contradictions — contradictions that have become painfully clear with Thursday’s release of the public inquest into the 2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko in London. It concludes that Litvinenko was “probably” assassinated on the direct orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, with “prime facie” evidence that the Russian state was involved. So how should Britain behave when the powers whose money it relies on feel so emboldened as to ride roughshod over the United Kingdom’s security?
Litvinenko was a Russian intelligence agent who had received political asylum in the U.K. in 2001, was granted British citizenship, and was helping MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence service, research the connection between the Russian government, organized crime, and money-laundering networks in Europe — research that led a Spanish prosecutor to call Putin’s Russia a “mafia state.” A few days before flying to Spain to help with the investigation, Litvinenko was murdered with radioactive polonium.
There was no shortage of reasons to suspect the Kremlin was involved. Polonium is a highly rare material, which very few states produce under strict security — Russia is one of the few. Police and journalists quickly followed the polonium trail and killer to Moscow: A former KGB officer called Andrey Lugovoi had met with Litvinenko in London shortly before he fell ill and left the country shortly thereafter. As evidence mounted about Lugovoi’s involvement, the Russian government made him a deputy of parliament, thus granting him immunity.
That the Russian government would respond in stonewalling fashion was unfortunate, but predictable. The British government’s behavior was more surprising, and disappointing. It initially blocked all efforts for a public inquiry, seemingly for fear of jeopardizing its trade ties with Russia.
Those ties are, by all accounts, considerable. BP (formerly British Petroleum) owns nearly 20 percent of Russian state oil company Rosneft, which is controlled by Putin’s close ally Igor Sechin. Russia’s rich, who have invested heavily in the U.K. property market, receive a quarter of the “investor visas” that the U.K. hands out to those who can pay a million pounds for them. Vladimir Ashurkov, a Russian anti-corruption campaigner, claims to have reported multiple cases of senior executives in Russian state companies, such as VTB and Transneft, laundering money through London, but with no follow-up from the U.K. financial security services. “At some point, it becomes a question of political will,” said Ashurkov. Even after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a senior British official was filmed entering Downing Street in 2014 with a document saying that the U.K. “should not support for now trade sanctions or close London’s financial centre to Russians.”

In 2012, Litvinenko’s widow, Marina, renewed the call for an investigation into her husband’s death. I met her later that year. She told me she was sick of following the British government’s advice and waiting for diplomatic back channels to extradite the suspects, and had finally decided to act when she saw Prime Minister David Cameron “resetting” relations with Putin after he resumed the Russian presidency. “My husband was murdered. I think the order came from Putin,” she said. “And I want justice.”

Not long thereafter, Foreign Secretary William Hague preemptively submitted a public interest immunity certificate, a move designed to keep the government’s classified files on Litvinenko from being made public. The home secretary then claimed an inquest would incur too many “public expenses.” The lawyers for Litvinenko’s family argued, in reply, that the “British government, like the Russian government, is conspiring to get this inquest closed down in exchange for substantial trade interests which we know Cameron is pursuing.” In 2014, the High Court sided with the lawyers, ruling that the home secretary’s refusal to have an inquiry was not “rational” and legally erroneous. The inquiry was opened later that year, led by Sir Robert Owen.

The final report is a personal victory for Marina Litvinenko and a reward for her persistence. It is also a defeat for the British establishment, some of whom still oppose her search for justice: “The inquest must not sour relations with Moscow,” an editorial in the London Times declared when the inquest was launched. “We have important investments to protect.”

But Marina’s efforts were not just a crusade for truth. She saw herself continuing Alexander’s cause. “When rich Russians began to buy up whole chunks of London, he feared the KGB were starting to infiltrate Britain,” she told me. “He thought the British naive. No one knew where the money was coming from, who was really behind the Russian investors in British companies. He could see how Putin was spreading his power westward, making Europe dependent on Russian energy and dirty cash. The world we had run away from was starting to come here.” Litvinenko had summed up the issue powerfully in an interview he gave police on his deathbed: “I understand the West wants to get gas and oil from Russia … and beliefs can’t be traded for oil and gas … but when a politician is trading he is trading with the sovereignty of his country.”

In principle, Britain should be able to square its dependence on international capital with its traditional ideas of sovereignty, security, and values. Scratch the surface, and the former is intrinsically interconnected with the latter: Foreign money wants to come to the U.K. precisely because it has values — for instance, the rule of law — and decent security. If London becomes a mere butler to the super-rich, prepared to sacrifice its legal system for the sake of cash, it loses its value as a financial safe house: Why put your money in a country where your enemies can bump you off if they can afford to pay off the powers-that-be?
But such long-term thinking is beyond a government trying to bring in as much global money as possible, as fast as possible, in order to balance the budget in the immediate future. 2015 saw the U.K. roll out the red carpet for China, with the government welcoming Chinese investment into British nuclear power. Rights groups and the security ministries lodged protests, but were ignored.

When the Chinese bump off a dissident in London, what will we do? The satirical website “Russia in Your Face” caught the present mood best: It portrays the British Foreign Ministry meekly requesting that Putin carry out assassinations in the U.K. somewhat less conspicuously than has been his habit. The portrait is only as distorted as the U.K.’s current financial role on the global stage.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Plight of children in Pakistan, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Plight of children in Pakistan, Dr Shabir Choudhry 23 January 2016

When kids are killed as a result of terrorism, people of Pakistan and government appears to be very upset and get united. Immediately government and army announce strong measures to punish the culprits; and set up military courts, and put National Action Plan in motion.

However, when kids die as a result of hunger, lack of medicine and medical treatment, no one is shocked. No one seems to be seriously concerned when kids are kidnapped; and are forced in to prostitution and begging.

In one city of Pakistan, Karachi, in 2015 one research revealed that 2160 children under the age of 18 were kidnapped which include more than 500 girls. These unfortunate children will be forced in to industries of child labour, sex and begging; and sad thing is people in position of power support these industries. 1

Although Pakistani establishment ask you to sing songs about their generosity that they will teach children of enemies; but bitter fact is that more than 25 million children don’t go to schools in Pakistan. In the entire world, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children; and Pakistan, a nuclear country with 7th largest army, in education is second with 25 million out-of-school children.

There is alarming decline in standard of education. In Pakistan there are:

• 55,000 primary schools have no drinking water (40 percent of the total);
• 55,000 primary schools have no toilet facilities;
• More than 82,000 primary schools have no electricity (60 percent of the total).
• 55,000 primary schools have no boundary walls.
• One in ten children in the world who are not in primary schools lives in Pakistan.
• 26 countries are poorer than Pakistan but send more children to schools.
• Only one in three Pakistani women in rural areas can read.
• Only 50 percent of Pakistani school children can read a sentence. 2

Despite this depressing record in the field of education, Pakistani establishment is more interested in spending bulk of the available resources on defence related matters; and urge the Pakistani nation to sing emotional songs like ‘dushman kay bachoon ko paraaingey’ ( We will teach children of enemy).

My request to the concerned authorities is to first pay attention to the welfare of Pakistani children; and formulate policies which can help children to become responsible citizens of Pakistan.

1/ Talat Hussain, Naya Pakistan, Geo TV, 23 January 2016
2/ Dr Farrukh Saleem, The News, 23 February 2014