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Title September 2017

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Referendum on Kurdistan; 93 percent vote ‘Yes’ for independent state

By Ahmed Khan

Many critiques think the Kurds are prevalent blood in world, whether this notion is correct or not, but it is absolute this ethnic group is very ancient in human known history.

The Kurds or the Kurdish people are an ethnic group in the Middle-East, mostly 21768396_143096162971478_2223426762923373312_ninhabiting a contiguous areas spanning adjacent parts of southeastern Turkey (North Kurdistan), northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan), northern Iraq (South Kurdistan), and northern Syria (West Kurdistan).

Globally, the Kurds are estimated to number anywhere from a low of 30 million, to possibly as high as 45 million, with majority living in the region they regard as Greater Kurdistan. However, there are significant Kurdish diaspora communities in the cities of western Turkey, in particular Istanbul. A recent Kurdish diaspora also developed in Western countries, primarily in Germany. The Kurds are the majority population the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, and are a significant minority group in the neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran and Syria, where Kurdish nationalist movement continue to pursue greater and cultural rights. (Wikipedia)

Apart from mentioned regions, the Kurds inhabiting in Azerbaijan, Pakistan and other states, where they follow different dogmas and speak unlike languages. In Pakistan, Kurds live in Balochistan and they consider themselves a part of Baloch ethnic which is known the cousin of Kurds, even many anthropologists claim the Baloch is the descendent of Kurds.  The Baloch and Kurds have resemblance in complexion and also similarity in languages. These both ethnic groups socio-politics has also matching, they are divided in many countries and are struggling for the national state.

At the time of Saddam regime, the United States of America pledged that Kurds will be given independence if they support it in toppling the mentioned regime. But afterward it turned unfaithful to its words and Kurds were given semi-independence status within Iraq instead of independence. In this way, the Iraqi central government cut all its budget, resources and effected on their cultural practices.

The Kurds’ struggle has long history. They strived in multi-dimension; politically, armed struggles are much prominent aspect of it.

The Kurds complaint they are mistreated politically, financially and culturally. A Peshmerga (Kurdish fighter) said in media, “We don’t trust the Iraqis,” he continued. “In the last 30 years we have faced five genocides, including with chemical weapons. It is actually shameful for us to stay in this country.”

Another Peshmerga official said, “We are working for an independent Kurdistan not for Iraqi unity,” he was flanked by a large Kurdish flag and an IS drone shot down by his forces a few days earlier. “If I thought for a moment I was working for a unified Iraq; I would not stay here for one second.”

There’s no question the Kurds have suffered at the hands of the central Iraqi government, most infamously when Saddam’s forces released mustard gas and nerve agents on the town of Halabja in 1988, killing an estimated 5000 people.

This was not an isolated attack, but rather part of a longer campaign, known as Anfal (chemical), during the end of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, when Iraqi forces slaughtered tens of thousands of people in an attempt to quell the restive Kurds.

But Peshmerga fighter went even further back, to 1916, when Britain and France carved up the Middle-East: “When they drew a map for this region with the Sykes-Picot Agreement, they ignored the Kurdish people and Kurdistan,” he said. “So, for 100 years we have been in difficulties.”

For Peshmerga commander, the differences that make unity with Iraq unviable run deep.

“Everything about the Kurds and the Iraqis is different – our history, our tradition, our culture, our people, our lifestyles, our faces, our genetics – everything,” he said. “We can be good neighbors and friends, but not brothers. When anyone claims we are brothers, it is a big lie.”

Now the Kurdish once again got signified in region to combat the Daesh. The Peshmerga fought tough with IS militant in Kubane and other areas by assistance of western air force. They repelled the opponent from many areas which even could not do by state’s forces.

The Kurdish Regional Government – KRG head Masoud Barzani announced the date of 25th September 2017, for referendum to an independent Kurdish state. The media reports tell around 93 percent people have voted for ‘YES’ to Independent Kurdistan.

After favored outcome of referendum in separation, people of Kurdistan thronged into streets. They applauded for intendent state. Many torn the Iraqi passport in excitement and everywhere people were seen celebrating and playing Kurdi-dance.

The Turkey and Iran flared-up with successful referendum in Kurdistan for 22046465_2131880973701463_5757611029218800232_nindependence. They warned for ultimate consequences and threatened for blockade of road, oil, trade and other ways to people of Kurdistan in case of an independent state in region. But this type of negative measures cannot stop the way of independent Kurdistan. Only Israel is supporting this stateless nation to have a state. The United States also rejected the results of referendum unexpectedly and said decision of Kurdish separate state will be a hustle.

What’s largely being ignored is that the bid for an independent Iraqi Kurdistan is really a watered-down version of the overarching Kurdish state once envisioned as including Kurds from Iran, Turkey, and Syria.

Turkey’s opposition to the referendum is born out of its reluctance to encourage Kurdish nationalism within its own borders. A nearly 40-year conflict with the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has left countless civilians dead — the UN counted 2,000 killed in 18 months after a truce broke down in 2015.

In Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) runs the self-declared Democratic Federation of North Syria, with a presence from the opposition Kurdish National Council (ENKS).

Separatist movements in these countries have split (and split again), and to some extent the Iraqi Kurds are going it alone – with the help of exiled Iranian Kurds who have sought refuge in the KRG for decades, many of whom are part of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) or an associated branch of the peshmerga.

KDPI commander Aziz Seleghi isn’t eligible to vote but he is unequivocal in his support of the referendum, seeing it as part of the larger struggle for Kurdish nationalism.

“We support the referendum and we are ready to take any risk to defend the referendum if Iraq or Iran attacks us,” he said. “It was the same with IS three years ago. When they came, we went straight to the borders to protect Iraqi Kurdistan.”

Seleghi said the vote would send a clear message to the world that Kurdish people want independence and are determined to get it.

But another KDPI commander told the media person that the KRG was widely viewed across the larger Kurdish region as betraying the Kurdish cause, particularly for brokering deals with Iran and Turkey, two countries accused of persecuting their minority Kurdish populations.

“We don’t like this capitalism in the KRG,” said a young KDPI soldier. “Many Kurds support this referendum, but the truth is that… [some senior political figures have] basically sold out Kurdistan. Independence like this is not what we wanted – it’s not what we have been have been fighting for and it is not good for all the Kurds.”

At a makeshift dining table in the orchard, where KDPI soldiers hung their weapons on olive trees while they ate meals, another soldier wrote out a poem in Persian on the plastic tablecloth. It read:

I live as a Kurd,

I die as a Kurd.

When they come for me,

I will answer in the Kurdish tongue.

In the next life, I will live as a Kurd,

And there I will make another revolution.

Whatever the outcome of the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan in two short weeks’ time, the wider Kurdish struggle will be far from over.

The creation of new states seems agenda of world’s super power to keep hegemony on world politics by new setup. It is also in favor of subjugated nations, like Kurd and other occupied nations to gain something in their nation state, because their current status quo is pulling them in more and more indigent and calamities. It is sure an independent Kurdistan will bring the dawn of prosperity and renaissance for ancient nation of world the Kurd which they never can gain while remaining as stateless.

BRICS declaration names Pakistan-Based terror groups for the first time

BRICS Summit 2017: Pakistan has not been named in the declaration adopted by BRICS. While it is a close ally of China, the statement makes a strong reference on the need for states to act against terror.

By Nidhi Razdan

India scored a significant diplomatic win as BRICS nations at a summit in China named, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modifor the first time, Pakistan-based groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Haqqani network in a strongly-worded declaration condemning terror.

“We strongly condemn terrorist attacks resulting in death to innocent Afghan nationals. We, in this regard, express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al Qaida and its affiliates including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, TTP and Hizb ut-Tahrir,” said the declaration issued by BRICS countries or Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, at the summit in Xiamen.

Pakistan has not been named in the declaration adopted by BRICS. While it is a close ally of China, the statement makes a strong reference to the need for states to act against terror.

“We deplore all terrorist attacks worldwide, including attacks in BRICS countries, and condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed and by whomsoever and stress that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism. We reaffirm that those responsible for committing, organizing, or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable,” said the statement.

Getting China – in China – on board in a statement that refers to Pakistan-based terror is important since they had resisted the same at last year’s summit in Goa.

However, experts say this does not signal any big difference in Beijing’s policy on Pakistan, one of its closest allies.

Responding to the move, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told news agency PTI that BRICS countries have “shown their concerns to the violent activities raised by these organizations”.

While this is the first time that a BRICS declaration has named Pakistan-based terror groups, a similar declaration was made in Amritsar during the Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan last December. There too, the Lashkar and Jaish were named and Pakistan and China, who are members, were both in the meeting.

Jaish was banned way back in 2001 by the UN. China has made a distinction between the group and its chief Masood Azhar. China has repeatedly blocked efforts by India at the United Nations to designate the Masood Azhar a terrorist. The US, UK, France and other countries are backing India.

Published in Times of India

Balochistan: Seven Decades of Insurgency in Pakistan’s Restive South – Analysis

By Michael Hart

Next year will signal 70 years since the beginning of a fierce separatist insurgency foughtthe-end-of-baloch-insurgency-1415219542-2102 in Pakistan’s troubled southern province of Balochistan. Over much of the last seven decades the conflict has rumbled on at a relatively low intensity, punctuated by five distinct periods of heightened violence. The current flare-up – which ignited in the mid-2000s – has proved by far the most enduring. And amid rising tensions in recent years, it appears there is no end in sight to Pakistan’s longest – yet most under-reported – war.

Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest province and stretches from the country’s interior to its remote southwestern region, where it borders neighboring Afghanistan and Iran. The province is a vast territory rich in resources including gold, copper and natural gas, yet remains Pakistan’s most underdeveloped and impoverished province.

A sizeable proportion of its 12 million residents hold grievances regarding a perceived lack of political rights and accuse the central government of resource exploitation – concerns which underlie the seven-decade separatist movement and continue to drive the struggle for independence today.

The insurgency began less than a year after Pakistan’s independence from colonial rule in August 1947, when in March 1948 Pakistan dispatched troops to annex the southwestern area which was then known as Kalat. The territory’s ruler, Ahmed Yar Khan, later signed an accession treaty formalizing the incorporation of Kalat into the newly-founded nation-state of Pakistan. Yet many in the region strongly opposed the move, and the first of the Baloch nationalist rebellions was born.

The 1948 uprising was soon put down by security forces, but further armed campaigns erupted in 1958, 1962 and 1973, each lasting no-longer than four years before the army were able to regain a semblance of control. The fifth insurgency began in the mid-2000s and has been the most enduring. The violence was triggered as a consequence of several factors: as a result of opposition to the regime of General Pervez Musharraf; as a reaction to the 2006 killing of a key Baloch leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti, by the Pakistani army; and in response to a crackdown launched by security forces.

Ten years on, the fifth Baloch insurgency has still not abated as clashes continue between the military and an array of armed separatist groups with different names.

In the last decade, the Pakistani authorities have been accused of committing widespread human rights violations, including presiding over unlawful detentions, extra-judicial killings, torture and disappearances. Criticism from international observers has been particularly fierce, with Human Rights Watch stating in a 2011 report that ‘‘the surge in unlawful killings of suspected militants and opposition figures in Balochistan has taken the brutality in the province to an unprecedented level.’’

The most controversial aspect of the war in Balochistan concerns the fate of the thousands of Baloch fighters and opposition activists who have disappeared in the last few decades. In December 2016, the BBC reported that almost 1,000 dead bodies of political activists and suspected separatists had been found dumped across the province since 2011. Human rights groups say the evidence points towards large-scale abductions and extra-judicial killings, citing relatives’ claims that many of the victims had previously been detained by Pakistan’s security forces before disappearing.

The government and military have repeatedly denied all accusations of complicity with regard to kidnappings and extra-judicial murder, instead blaming the deaths on organized crime and clashes between various militant groups active in the region. However, media silence on the issue within Pakistan, along with the high level of risk making the province a virtual no-go zone for journalists, has made substantive corroboration or verification of these claims almost impossible, further raising suspicions among many in the international community.

Amid the lack of coverage, the government is keen to put across its point of view, labelling most of the Baloch nationalist groups as ‘terrorist organizations’ and highlighting their continued attacks on not just security forces, but also against civilians. For example, in an April 2015 incident the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) reportedly killed 20 laborers working on a road near the city of Turbat. The past few months have witnessed further attacks by Baloch nationalists against construction workers, who are often regarded as legitimate targets by the insurgents given local opposition to state-led development projects in the province.

Ongoing construction projects related to the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have caused particular concern, further enflaming tensions over development in the region. China has invested $46m in the project, which aims to connect the western Chinese province of Xinjiang with the strategically-important deep-water port of Gwadar, located on southern Pakistan’s Arabian Sea coastline.

Pipeline projects routed through the province have also heightened tensions, with separatists accusing the government of prioritizing large-scale, foreign-backed infrastructure and resource-based projects which bring few direct benefits to residents in the southwest.

In this sense, the conflict and its drivers are largely a tale of competing narratives: whilst the separatists claim the government ignores their long-standing grievances related to poverty and underdevelopment, the government argues that insurgent activity is holding the province back and restricting economic growth.

All previous peace-making efforts – which can be described as limited at best – have achieved little. The provincial government is weak and has failed to adequately mediate between politicians in Islamabad, the military and the numerous Baloch separatist groups. A proposed government amnesty program has also failed to gain traction as violence has continued on both sides.

Unless the central government makes a concerted attempt to initiate meaningful dialogue involving all stakeholders, allows greater media access and demonstrates a willingness to discuss the core grievances of the Baloch population, the prospects for a lasting ceasefire remain slim. The longer the current status-quo continues, the conflict will remain intractable and existing divisions will be further entrenched. Seven decades on from the first uprising against the Pakistani state in Balochistan, the hope for a peaceful resolution looks as far away as ever.

About the author:

*Michael Hart is a freelance writer in international politics, focusing primarily on civil conflict in Africa and the geopolitics of South-East Asia. Hart is currently studying an MA in International Relations at the University of Westminster, undertaking dissertation on the role of political rhetoric in the South China Sea disputes. In 2013 Hart graduated with a BA in Human Geography from the University of Exeter, and has written for online publications including Geopolitical Monitor and World Review, and runs a blog providing news and analysis of conflicts which are under-reported in the mainstream news media: https://geopolitical conflict. wordpress. Com

Chinese to outnumber Baloch natives by 2048

FPCCI report for addressing citizens’ concern regarding marginalization

By Muzamil Baloch, Islamabad

Given the current rate of influx of Chinese nationals into Balochistan and after the completion of the CPEC the native population of the area will be outnumbered by 2048.

To address the concern of the Baloch citizens regarding marginalization, the government should provide a sense of security to the natives by including them in the legislative process, and by providing them with technical and vocational training to ensure their share in the economic sphere, recommended a report launched by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).

The report was launched by FPCCI President Rauf Alam at a press conference in Islamabad.

Alam said the government could not separate the representations of the private sector and the main stakeholder of the economy from formulation of a policy regarding the CPEC.

He said the FPCCI had constituted an advisory committee on the CPEC, which prepared a comprehensive report.

Alam said the advisory committee on the CPEC had categorized all the ambiguities and controversial argument in six statements.

Dr Ayoub, head of research of the FPCCI, also gave a presentation to the media about the report on the CPEC prepared by the advisory committee on the CPEC.

As per the report the most important apprehension of the people of Balochistan relates to change in demography.

Gwadar is the ultimate destination of the CPEC while Balochistan is the least-populated province of Pakistan with rich natural resources.

These characteristics attract the people to settle in Balochistan, while the CPEC will facilitate the people to travel and settle in the province.

It is quite obvious that ethnic patterns of population distribution will be affected by the inflow of people from China and other parts of Pakistan, the report said.

The report said conservatively 0.44 persons per thousand migrate from china because of economic reasons that corroborates the inflow of more than 600,000 people per year in Pakistan after operating the CPEC.

At present Balochs are 55 per cent of the total population of Balochistan.

The current growth rate of Balochistan’s population is 2.36 per cent.

This growth in population is the composition of crude birth rate, death rate and migration of the people in Balochistan from other provinces of Pakistan.

The stimulation results based on the existing rate of migration from China at 0.44 persons per thousand and rate of population growth at 0.43 per cent, we may predict that the share of Chinese in Balochistan’s population is destined to increase with the completion of the CPEC and by 2045 Chinese population may be greater than the population of people of Pakistani origin in the province.

However, “we have projected the trends of population on the basis of existing rate of population in Balochistan province, mainland China and entire Pakistan as per the result the Pakistani origin peoples will remain in majority in Balochistan up to 2048.” The optimistic aspect of the CPEC is the speedy developing infrastructure and improving livelihood conditions in Balochistan.

The incoming investors and settlers may offer attractive prices for land acquisition- even better than the growing market value.

This situation provides good financial opportunities to the poor natives of Balochistan.

However, Balochs ask one question that how the unskilled people of the province will maintain their lives without land ownership which is their only asset? the report said. But the answer to this question depends on the government policy regarding protection of the rights of investors, foreign workers and immigrants.

The change in population dynamics is the usual part of development and progress. However, the report said that there were several possible ways to avoid undesired situations.

One of the possibilities is to devise a mechanism where the training and educational facilities should be provided to the native people on affordable cost and ensure their participation in economic activities including employment, business ownership and civic authorities.

The second mechanism is to secure the political supremacy of local peoples either by reserve seats in legislative and political institutions or through discriminatory voting rights.

Justice Providers Disregard Missing Persons Issues: VBMP

By Naser Ullah Baloch

Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) is a non-political organization. It initiated VBMP Press conference Picturecampaigning to recover Enforced Disappeared Persons in Balochistan. As an organization, VBMP set its parameters to work within the State’s constitutional limits. Everything is done in a peaceful manner to gain their objectives. Missing Persons’ cases are taken to the Supreme and High Courts of Pakistan. The VBMP conducted protest rallies in various cities. It embarked on an unprecedented long march from Quetta to Karachi, and then to Islamabad which covered thousands of kilometers. They established a token Hunger Strike Camp to give voice to the Missing Persons of Balochistan. Through this camp, relatives of the suffering families have been protesting consecutively for 2808 days.

The VBMP believes that the Balochistan issue is, as expected, political. It can be settled through the political process, but can get more complicated if dealt with militarily. Past practices corroborate this stance that military operations in Balochistan worsened the situation instead of bringing peace. Repeated apologies to Baloch by Federal Administrators over army operations confirm the wrongness of this method. Pakistani leaders confessed openly that Balochistan was mistreated and is lagging behind in all fields of life. Rather than reparation, State Authorities are continuing military offensives, resulting in an unending series of human rights violations. In operation-affected areas, people are forcibly displaced with many towns evacuated by the military. On the other hand, enforced disappearances and discarded mutilated bodies along the roadside, continues. It is a fact, that anywhere armed forces conduct operations, incidents of human rights violation occur. In addition, in such circumstances there are certainly breaches of the Law and the Constitution. The interminable military operations in Balochistan make this area a place of critical human rights violations.

Regrettably, the saga of Baloch Missing Persons spans years-but this human rights issue has not been resolved. Cases of missing persons were prosecuted in the Supreme Court and the High Court. Justice, however, was not delivered to the aggrieved families. The cause was that administrative departments did not implement Court decisions on the ground. Government Institutions continue to forcibly disappear Baloch Political Workers as well as persons from other walks of life. Many missing persons have been inhumanly killed with their mutilated bodies dumped in deserted areas. The VBMP constantly receives reports from victims’ families about enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings in Balochistan.

The Balochistan government has admitted that hundreds of people have been arrested under the Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPO) between 2010-2017. Details of those detained were never provided. The discussed Constitutional Ordinance includes provision of information on any detainee after being enforced. State Forces are violating the Law and the Constitution as they are not abiding by the points inscribed in PPO. The VBMP opposed PPO in its initial stage because it gives full impunity to State Forces. They can engage in any behavior against human rights without any checks or constraints. Once again, all facts of the past about the Balochistan issue are being put aside. It is being dealt with militarily instead of using the political process causing an ongoing, unrelenting series of basic human rights violations.

The Government, on both federal and provincial levels, has disregarded the Baloch Missing Persons issue. Furthermore, it has not worked on the recommendations of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID). This is an international organization whose recommendations were compiled in 2016 and sent to the Government of Pakistan.

The Government’s Commission has failed to find any missing persons and put a halt to the dumping of mutilated bodies in deserted places. The VBMP expressed its reservations before the Supreme Court about the afore-mentioned Commission. It prejudicially sides with Government Institutions, marring the cases of Baloch Missing Persons. Rather than providing justice for suffering families, it has created an impediment to their legal pursuits. An appeal was made by the VBMP to the Supreme Court to dissolve the Government Commission on Missing Persons and constitute another body headed by an in-service Judge of the Supreme Court. At that time, the Court made assurances that it would give cognizance to the request, but no initiative has been taken as yet. At the Supreme Court, the Missing Persons cases were re-numbered after a lapse of a year of hearings. These types of acts are a denial of justice for families of the Baloch Missing. The Baloch Missing Persons cases are undecided at the High Court level and expediency is required for their settlement.

The political and human rights organizations did not heed the Baloch Missing Persons issue as it stands. The VBMP officials and the victims’ families are dismayed by Government Institutional efforts to dissuade them from their right of legal process granted them by the State Constitution. Unbelievable in this 21st century, the people of Balochistan are denied their Constitutional rights and the rights of a Human Being.

The VBMP, with consent of the Missing Persons’ families, has sent 41 cases to the upper house of the Senate. It was processed through the Balochistan’s Director of Ministry of Justice. Copies were delivered to the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) and Senator Jhanzaib Jamaldini, member of the Senate’s standing committee for human rights. The Authorities made assurances that the issue would be brought to the Senate floor in an appropriate way. No development has been seen regarding these cases.

The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) was asked by the VBMP to visit areas affected by military operations in Balochistan. Intentionally it was for fact-finding and compiling a fair report about prevailing circumstances. This body was also invited to examine the evidence provided in Missing Persons cases at the Supreme Court. The NCHR has not formed any taskforce for the discussed purpose, though the head of organization pledged to do so.

The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) appealed to the Human Rights Commission

of Pakistan. They asked HRCP’s officials to visit Balochistan on a humanitarian basis—form a taskforce comprising human rights activists, journalists and international organizations’ representatives. They should do fact-finding in the areas affected by military operations. Ultimately, the designated team, after a thorough study of the Balochistan situation, compile a transparent report and expose to the world the reality of this severely disturbed region.

Demands of VBMP:

  1. The Government of Pakistan implements the recommendations of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), a United Nations sub- organization.
  2. Pakistan to sign the International Covenant on Enforced Disappearance and comply with all its requirements.
  3. The human rights organizations, HRCP and NCHR, form a joint taskforce, including journalists, human rights activists; this team is to compile a transparent report about areas affected by military operations after interviewing family members of Missing Persons in Balochistan.

The writer is the Chairperson of Voice of Baloch Missing Persons, he can be approached at; vbmp balochistan@gmail.com

Hazara Shia family again targeted in Quetta

Bolan Voice Report

The victims, including a 13-year-old boy, were travelling in a taxi from Afghanistan to 55f46ec7705d4eb4968827f003e4b901_18 (1)Quetta when they were shot dead.

Gunmen in suburb of Quetta killed four members of a Shia Muslim Hazara family, in the latest apparent sectarian attack on the minority community, officials said.

Two men on a motorcycle opened fire on a family of eight while they were at a filling station some 30km north of Quetta, the capital of Balochistanprovince.

Aside from those killed, two others were wounded. Two female members of the family escaped unscathed, having remained in their vehicle.

“This was a sectarian attack,” senior police officer Tanveer Shah told the news reporters, adding that no group had claimed responsibility for the shooting.

Hazaras are frequently targeted by the Taliban, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group, and other Sunni Muslim armed groups in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Many Hazaras fled to Pakistan during decades of conflict in neighboring Afghanistan, and nearly half a million now live in and around Quetta.

In 2013, three separate bombings killed over 200 people in Hazara neighborhoods, raising international awareness of the plight of the community.

More than 20 Hazaras have been killed in similar shootings in Balochistan over the past two years, police say.

The ongoing violence in the province has fueled concern about security for projects in the $57bn China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a transport and energy link planned to run from western China to Pakistan’s southern deep-water port of Gwadar.

WHAT IS NEXT…?

By Kamran Razzaq

This is one of the most fascinating questions perturbing every thinking mind since a long uri-attack-story_647_092216015216_022617111129time: what would be the aftermath and the consequences, once the drawdown of western and NATO forces completes from the Afghan land and a complete transition of the power is ensured to the local political icons?

Before analyzing the political scenario of the cockpit of Asia, we cannot snub the status of Afghan land as an ever green battle field for different aggressors, in different epochs, luring Alexander and Mongols as recently the USSR and America. But it’s an open secret, till yet no foreign aggressor has become capable and powerful enough to subjugate them under its authority. The undeniable fact here lies in as the Afghan fighters are so well equipped with the God gifted guerilla warfare, as if they can never be tamed by military might. Even though the two super powers failed to establish their rule on this invincible nation.

The Americans to me, made the greatest blunder in the history after the dilemma of the 9/11. Technically, the strategic mistake was when Washington- with her usual appetite of war-decided to hunt down the Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaida radicals in a foreign land, not other than Afghanistan. It was a wrong fight, on the wrong land against the wrong enemy with a wrong strategy. Only Israel, among all the US led- allies could help her to solve the puzzle. The logic is that, its paramilitary forces are well trained in combating an enemy adept in hit and run strategy. But on the US part, it was a colossal failure to properly asses the gravity of the situation and seek Tel Aviv’s technical and operational skills as an ally against a bloody war in one of the most volatile regions already convulsed by unrest. In the near past, up until a year ago, to white house, the status of these vibrant armed struggling organizations-like Taliban and Al-Qaida-was nothing more than rag tag organizations, religious fanatics and foreign proxies. And reasonably it was argued that they are a band of religious fundamentalists who lack any mainstream agenda but are indoctrinated by religious dogmatism to stir up disturbance. But in the present the situation appears much different from the past. Right before, political dialogue was never any least possible option, nor a part of American strategic apparatus for the elimination of terrorism. Whereas today, the white house not only publicly endorses their positions as rivals, but parenthetically offers them unilateral peaceful dialogues too, with exempted preconditions for a great many reasons lying behind. Now, what can someone conclude from all these unfolding events? It in itself is self-cogent and crystal clear that for now the dynamics of war is shifting from a previously preferred mechanism-an aggressive and forceful military campaign to wipe out the hardline insurgents. After a long drawn and exhausting adventurism with minimum results in hand, it’s quite natural to revert back to peaceful dialogues instead of frequently prolonging the war. For, it can’t endure any more losses.

At present, the white house decision for a drawback and retreat from the battlefield without having achieved its targeted goals of eliminating terrorism and trying the culprits responsible for the 9/11 catastrophic destruction, raises too many questions.

The US pull back while leaving Kabul amid chaos and anarchy has raised serious reservations over the future peace prospects of Afghan land as well as the regional states. Unsurprisingly, a disturbed Kabul is an existential threat to security narratives in regional affairs. Surely, the region may not afford an unstable Afghanistan in the long run that serves with the most fertile ground for the newly emerging ISIS, and regrouping of the pre-existing radical groups.

One might ask “what are the reasons of western drawdown? The answer is simple. Neither Washington could achieve iota success in her commitment for rebuilding infra-structure of the war-torn Afghanistan nor were the Afghan masses could stand on their feet to materialize the dream of a peaceful and democratic state.”

Furthermore, the US pull out can be justified by the fact with its statesmen depended solely on the use of military prowess to achieve the set goals putting in action their strengthened war apparatus on Afghan battle ground. The frequent use of drone technology to eliminate the top notch Taliban leadership at the cost of tens of thousands of innocent lives – that amounts to war crimes violating human rights-is an instance of depending on security power. At the prompt time, it was a short term thinking on the US part for not opting to instill parallel political beliefs along with the military campaign in afghan nationals.

But the basic problem is something else. What future holds for Afghanistan? And what political scenario will emerge, that may ensue the cataclysmic changes?

Hammer is quite a useful tool, but our nails are grown too longer as for the time being the western drawdown apparently, seems to solve the problem i.e. no west no fight, but beyond the veil lies more mysteries.

Surely this is the end of an old war, but the genesis of a new one, with more complications, multidimensional problems, redefined parameters and after all newly plunged hegemonic regional and extra-regional actors like India, China, Iran and Pakistan with a new valor to change the game for its own vested interests. The following may be the future possibilities:

  1. After the drawdown of US troops, quite surely a power vacuum would be created. The ground forces that are lurching for power would definitely make madding strives for its gain and consequently a new wave of insecurity and escalating civil war is inevitable. No doubt, to countermove the menace Washington will certainly flex its muscles to form an Indo-Afghan nexus in the region. In fact, to further the cause RAW and KHAD would be engaging in a joint mechanism to repel any outside intrusion and escape a dramatic situation similar to that of 1990s; a worst nightmare for the world, and another possible 9/11 too.
  2. But an eagle-eyed among you can recognize that, here goes something wrong, how is it possible for Islamabad to readily endorse an alien clandestine master plan in it’s such a contiguous neighbor, where it has been sharing stakes and having an impending influence over its self-made Taliban to manipulate things as it desired to. Similarly, Pakistan may not remain aloof from interfering in Afghan crises, as any anti Pakistan setup in Kabul would surely poke Islamabad in eye. Similarly, without the proper involvement of Pakistan as a stake holder the achievement of a settlement is impossible, as it shares a long porous boundary with Afghanistan and holds a good influence over its territory.
  3. Now who takes the credit of victory, a tough competition for the gain of power and maintaining a credible influence on Afghan soil would surely foster among regional stakeholders. Kabul among such intimidations would witness itself to be once again a proxy hub for regional players to cash their vested interests. The clash of interests is inevitable as regional states would lock horns for a greater role. Amidst such power struggles, hope for peace is nothing short of living in the paradise of fools.

But big boss be not mistaken, don’t fool yourself, for its not Iraq, Iran, or some other Gulf banana state to impose your decisions by applying pressure tactics. It’s fearless Afghanistan, the cockpit of Asia. And instead of you, over here the big boss is someone else, the Pakistan.

The writer is a civil engineer, political analyst and a critique and can be reached at: kamranbaloch1294 @yahoo. com, At twitter: @KamranBa1

Chinese Police Order Xinjiang’s Muslims to Hand in All Copies of The Quran

Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang have ordered ethnic minority imageMuslim families to hand in religious items including prayer mats and copies of the Quran to the authorities, RFA has learned.

Officials across Xinjiang have been warning neighborhoods and mosques that ethnic minority Uyghur, Kazakh and Kyrgyz Muslims must hand in the items or face harsh punishment if they are found later, sources in the region said.

“Officials at village, township and county level are confiscating all Qurans and the special mats used for namaaz [prayer],” a Kazakh source in Altay prefecture, near the border with Kazakhstan told RFA on Wednesday.

“Pretty much every household has a Quran, and prayer mats,” he said.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exile World Uyghur Congress group, said reports have emerged from Kashgar, Hotan and other regions of similar practices starting last week.

“We received a notification saying that every single ethnic Uyghur must hand in any Islam-related items from their own home, including Qurans, prayers and anything else bearing the symbols of religion,” Raxit said.

“They have to be handed in voluntarily. If they aren’t handed in, and they are found, then there will be harsh punishments,” he said.

Raxit said announcements are being made by the police via popular social media platform WeChat.

“All Qurans and related items must be handed into the authorities, and there are notices to this effect being broadcast via WeChat,” Raxit said.

“The announcements say that people must hand in any prayer mats of their own accord to the authorities, as well as any religious reading matter, including anything with the Islamic moon and star symbol on it,” he said.

“They are requiring people to hand in these items of their own accord,” he said.

‘Three Illegals’

Earlier this year, Xinjiang authorities began confiscating all Qurans published more than five years ago due to “extremist content,” according to local officials, amid an ongoing campaign against “illegal” religious items owned by mostly Muslim ethnic Uyghur residents.

The Qurans were appropriated as part of the “Three Illegals and One Item” campaign underway in Xinjiang that bans “illegal” publicity materials, religious activities, and religious teaching, as well as items deemed by authorities to be tools of terrorism—including knives, flammable objects, remote-controlled toys, and objects sporting symbols related to Islam, they said.

The Kazakh source said that earlier directives calling for the confiscation of Qurans and other religious items hadn’t been effective, and so the authorities are now stepping up the pressure and placing the onus on individual households to hand them in under a compulsory program.

He said confiscation drives targeting Uyghurs are now also being extended to the country’s ethnic Kazakh population.

At the same time, any products from neighboring Kazakhstan or bearing the Kazakh language or symbols have also been outlawed, sources said.

A leaked police notice from Changji prefecture called on local officials to search for any items bearing any writing or symbols linked to Kazakhstan.

“Any items bearing writing or any other traces of Kazakhstan, including street signs or graffiti, store decorations, arts and crafts items, T-shirts and so on, must immediately be investigated … and a detailed report made to higher authorities by Sept. 25,” the notice, dated Sept. 22, it said.

Products from Kazakhstan

A second Kazakh source said authorities are also searching for and confiscating any products brought from Kazakhstan.

“There are restrictions on the sale of any products and foodstuffs from Kazakhstan, including noodles, organic products and mare’s milk spirit,” the source said. “They won’t let you sell things brought over from Kazakhstan.”

An official who answered the phone at the Altay police department on Wednesday hung up when asked to comment on the reports.

Chinese authorities have lately issued orders for ethnic Kazakh Chinese nationals to hand in their passports and Kazakh green cards in some parts of Xinjiang, and have reportedly detained dozens of Kazakhs returning from overseas study or family visits to Kazakhstan, sending them for indefinite terms in “re-education” facilities, sources have told RFA.

Official figures show that there are around 1.5 million Kazakhs in China, mostly concentrated in and around the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture close to the Kazakhstan border.

China has previously welcomed Kazakhs who wished to relocate from Kazakhstan, with their numbers peaking at nearly 38,000 in 2006. But now many Kazakhs with Chinese nationality are heading back in the other direction.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin Service and by Wong Lok-to for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Published in Radio Free Asia

Afghanistan asks India to speed up development of Chabahar port

Afghanistan’s foreign minister asked India to expedite development of a strategic port in 593e4c563851cIran to bolster a trade route for land-locked Central Asian countries that would bypass Pakistan.

The port would allow India to transport goods to Afghanistan by sea. Pakistan currently does not allow India to transport through its territory to Afghanistan.

Last year, India committed up to $500 million for the development of the Chabahar port along with associated roads and rail lines.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj responded that India would speed up the port development and begin supplying wheat to Afghanistan within weeks through Chabahar.

In his new Afghanistan strategy unveiled last month, United States President Donald Trump asked India to do more to help Afghanistan’s development.

Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani also asked India to expand an air freight corridor introduced between the two countries in June to provide greater access for Afghan goods to the Indian market.

Swaraj, who hosted Rabbani in New Delhi, told reporters that India and Afghanistan jointly agreed to embark on a “new development partnership” in keeping with Afghanistan’s priorities.

She said more than 100 new development projects would be implemented jointly.

She said India will assist in a drinking water supply project for Kabul, low-cost housing for returning refugees, a water supply network for Charikar city, and a polyclinic in Mazar-e-Sharif.

India will also help Afghanistan build human resource capacities and skills, especially in education, health, agriculture, energy, administration and resource management, Swaraj said.

The Afghan foreign minister said the two countries reaffirmed their resolve to strengthen their security and defense cooperation, but did not give any details.

India already has donated three multi-role Mi-35 helicopters to Afghanistan, and trains Afghan security forces and police personnel.

Publisehd in NewYork Times

Pakistan builds new tunneled nuclear weapons storage facility in Baluchistan

By Colonel Vinayak Bhat

The new facility in Baluchistan can store 30-60 Shaheen-III missiles, will bring India and even Israel into target range.

In continued efforts to safeguard its nuclear first-strike capability, Pakistan is building an KENJI3underground facility in the restive Baluchistan region that is likely to be used to deploy its Shaheen series of nuclear-tipped missiles, bringing the entire Indian mainland, and even Israel, into its target range.

Information accessed by ThePrint shows that the new facility is coming up in an earthquake prone zone deep in the mountains of Baluchistan. Pakistan’s FWO or Frontier Works Organisation, akin to India’s BRO or Border Roads Organisation, has built at least three sites.

Two of these at Khuzdar and Kori have been detailed earlier and subsequently confirmed by geospatial information analyst Frank Pabian of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.

The third facility revealed now is in Kenji in the foothills of the Barugh mountains and is still under construction. It is expected to take another two years to be completed at the present pace of construction and no missiles are possibly deployed there yet. The facility can store 30-60 Shaheen-III missiles which have a range of 2,750 km and can pose a serious threat to most major Indian cities.

The facility is at a distance of about 965 km from New Delhi, 1,100 km from Mumbai and 3,200 km from Port Blair.

Located painstakingly through open source Google Earth satellite imagery dated 2004 through 2016, this nuclear weapons tunneled storage facility is in Qambar district, 80 km east of Khuzdar and the same distance west of Larkana. The exact location is 27 41 41N 67 26 01E and construction began in the first half of 2003.

The facility has three main tunnels with double layered perimeter fence, support area with possible administrative office. The site may have mechanical transport (MT) garages, residential buildings and a religious place in future.

The main area consists of three main tunnels with approximate 10 m wide entrances. The tunnels have been carved out of the mountains for more than 14 years, indicating large areas that must be prepared inside the mountain interconnecting each other.

The height of entrance cutouts are approximately 15-25 m and width 20-25 m. The tunnels’ entrances would most likely be strengthened by cement concrete and compressed earth just like other tunneled facilities observed in Pakistan.

There is a new road being constructed from the northern portal towards the west of the complex. This possibly will lead to yet another tunnel entrance in future. The southern portal has a smaller opening of 5m width located very close to it. This probably is an emergency exit in case of any unforeseen eventuality.

One of the entrances has construction material dumped near it in the latest imagery. These materials look like iron bars used in heavy construction projects especially for intertwining in reinforced concrete.

Similar construction material was observed near the northern entrance earlier which now has been removed, suggesting its use in internal construction. This suggests that construction of the northern portal has possibly been completed and construction of the central portal is in full swing.

Latest imagery also shows that the administrative and support complex presently consists of a possible administrative office and a likely high-bay garage. The complex also has a 9 m x 9 m building tucked into the mountain side, probably being used an explosive store.

There are two small buildings which possibly may be makeshift mosques. Towards the south of this complex there is a cement mixing plant and two more barracks probably used as residential accommodation for the construction staff and a motor transport garage.

The excavated earth from these four tunnels is being very systematically disposed at various places including the stream flowing nearby.

The traces are being carefully camouflaged, by fast growing trees and shrubs, to avoid detection. However, nothing can be hidden from satellite imagery.

The rough calculations of internal sizes are still possible from detected disposal dumps. The approximate internal area would be 150,000 Cu m. For a layman it would be a tunnel of 10 m x 10 m size for a distance of 1.5 km. The road within the inner fence is being lined with fast growing trees on both sides for camouflaging future vehicular movements.

This entire area is prone to high seismic activities which probably have not been factored into while selecting the sites. The recent seismic activity observed by the United States Geographic Survey (USGS) when plotted vividly displays the imminent dangers to these facilities as indicated in images.

A two layered perimeter security has been provided to this facility. Both outer layers are probably barbed wire fences. No watch towers are seen yet along the fences. Obviously these fences are still under construction.

The third layer of security and access control is being provided by a gas field, about 9.5 km from the site, being manned by FWO. The three portal entrances are vastly separated from each other by more than 400 m-1000 m to avoid bombing in one dive.

The facility has not yet been provided with any air defence cover. It has a single entry and exit road. Access control facilities are observed only at the support area and tunnel entrances. This tunneled facility makes targeting of mobile launcher units difficult if not impossible. The construction of tunnel entrances in different directions would preclude a single sortie air attack.

Col Vinayak Bhat (retd) is a Military Intelligence veteran of the Indian Army with vast experience of satellite imagery analysis. He has worked as Chinese interpreter and is a specialist on PLA and Pakistan’s Armed Forces. He tweets @rajfortyseven

Published in ThePrint.com

1,800-year-old dot is first ‘zero’, say researchers

A black dot on a third-century manuscript has been identified by Oxford University as 59bc558b783a4the first recorded use of the mathematical symbol for ‘zero’, 500 years earlier than previously thought.

“Scientists from the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries, have used carbon dating to trace the figure’s origins to the famous ancient Indian scroll,” the university said in a statement.

The birch bark scroll is known as the Bakhshali manuscript, named after Bakhshali village near Peshawar, where it was found buried in 1881. It has been held at the Bodleian Libraries since 1902.

“The creation of zero as a number in its own right, which evolved from the placeholder dot symbol found in the Bakhshali manuscript, was one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of mathematics,” said Marcus du Sautoy, a mathematics professor at Oxford. “We now know that it was as early as the third century that mathematicians in India planted the seed of the idea that would later become so fundamental to the modern world,” he said.

The Bakhshali scroll was already recognized as the oldest Indian mathematical text but its exact age was widely contested, and researchers used carbon dating to trace it back to the third or fourth century. The text was in fact found to contain hundreds of zeroes, representing orders of magnitude in the ancient Indian numbers system.

The earliest recorded example of the use of zero was previously believed to be a ninth-century inscription on a wall in a temple in Gwalior, India.

Several ancient cultures, including the Mayans and the Babylonians, used the zero placeholder but the dot used in ancient Indian mathematics is the one that ultimately evolved into the symbol used today.

Librarian Richard Ovenden said the discovery was of “vital importance to the history of mathematics and the study of early South Asian culture”.

“These surprising research res­ults testify to the subcontinent’s rich and longstanding scientific tradition,” he said.

Published in The Hindu

Pakistan Can’t Afford China’s ‘Friendship’

Pakistan’s elites think Chinese cash can save the country. They’re wrong.

BY C. CHRISTINE FAIR

In recent months, the Chinese-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has left Pakistanis 420282_5_emboldened, Indians angry, and U.S. analysts worried. Ostensibly, CPEC will connect Pakistan to China’s western Xinjiang province through the development of vast new transportation and energy infrastructure. The project is part of China’s much-hyped Belt and Road Initiative, a grand, increasingly vague geopolitical plan bridging Eurasia that China’s powerful President Xi Jinping has promoted heavily.

Pakistani and Chinese officials boast that CPEC will help address Pakistan’s electricity generation problem, bolster its road and rail networks, and shore up the economy through the construction of special economic zones. But these benefits are highly unlikely to materialize. The project is more inclined to leave Pakistan burdened with unserviceable debt while further exposing the fissures in its internal security.

Pakistan and China often speak of their “all-weather friendship,” but the truth is that the relationship has always been a cynical one. China cultivated Pakistan as a client through the provision of military assistance; diplomatic and political cover in the U.N. Security Council; and generous loan aid in an effort to counter both American influence and the system of anti-Communist Western treaty alliances. China also sought to embolden Pakistan to harangue India, but not to the point of war because that would expose the hard limits of Chinese support. Despite Pakistan’s boasts of iron-clad Chinese support, when Pakistan went to war with India in 1965, 1971, and 1999, China did little or nothing to bail out its client in distress.

During the 1971 war, when India intervened in Pakistan’s civil war in its Bengali-dominated eastern wing, President Richard Nixon requested China move troops along its eastern border with India to intimidate India and stave off Pakistan’s defeat. However, China declined to undertake even this modest effort to preclude India from vivisecting Pakistan. East Pakistan became independent Bangladesh in 1971. In a nod to Pakistan, China refused to recognize Bangladesh until August 1975, even after Pakistan did so in February 1974.

There’s little reason to think China has made a sudden conversion to altruism when it comes to CPEC. The project originated in 2013, when the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, and Pakistan’s then-president, Asif Ali Zardari, agreed to build an economic corridor between the two countries. The project inched closer to fruition in 2014, when Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif traveled to China on different occasions to further discussions. In November 2014, the Chinese government announced that it would finance $46 billion in energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan as part of CPEC. In September 2016, China announced a new loan deal for CPEC valued at $51.6 billion. In November 2016, part of CPEC became “operational” when products were moved by truck from China and loaded onto ships at Pakistan’s port Gwadar along the Mekuran coast for markets in West Asia and Africa.  After this major development, China declared that it would increase its investment again to $62 billion in April.

Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership alike have told the public that CPEC will solve Pakistan’s chronic electricity shortages, improve an aging road and rail infrastructure, provide a fillip to Pakistan’s economy, knit an increasingly pariah state to a new Chinese-led geopolitical order, and diminish the role of the much-reviled United States in the region. CPEC has the bonus of irritating the Indians because it strengthens Pakistan’s hold on territory in Jammu and Kashmir that it snatched in the 1947-48 war as well as portions of that territory that Pakistan subsequently ceded to China in 1963 as a part of the Sino-Pakistan boundary agreement. India claims these lands, currently held by Pakistan and China, and deems their occupation illegal.

Despite the bold claims made by China and Pakistan, there are many reasons to be dubious about the purported promises of CPEC. There’s already violence all along the corridor. The north-most part of CPEC is the Karakoram Highway (KKH), which gashes through the Karakoram Mountain Range to connect Kashgar in Xinjiang with Pakistan’s troubled province of Gilgit-Baltistan. Xinjiang is in the throes of a slow-burning insurgency by the Muslim Uighur minority against the Communist state. Gilgit-Baltistan, a Shiite-majority polity under the thumb of a Sunni-dominated Pakistan, is part of the above-noted contested territory of Jammu-Kashmir. Here, geology and weather further limit CPEC. The Karakoram Highway, a narrow road weaving through perilous mountains, can’t bear heavy traffic. Expanding the KKH will not be easy. Residents of Gilgit-Baltistan worry about the environmental costs in relation to the few benefits they will enjoy. There have been episodic protests, which the Pakistani government has ruthlessly put down. Meanwhile, Gwadar is experiencing a prolonged drought, frustrating the project while the four extant desalination plants remain idle.

In the south, CPEC is anchored to the port at Gwadar in Pakistan’s insurgency-riven Balochistan province. The local Baloch people deeply resent the plan because it will fundamentally change the demography of the area. Before the expansion of Gwadar, the population of the area was 70,000. If the project comes to full fruition the population would be closer to 2 million — most of whom would be non-Baloch. Many poor Baloch have already been displaced from the area. Since construction has begun, there have been numerous attacks against Chinese personnel, among other workers.

There’s also the stubborn problem of economic competitiveness. For CPEC to be more competitive than the North-South Corridor that is rooted to the Iranian port of Chabahar, Gwadar needs to offer a safer and shorter route from the Arabian Sea to Central Asia. For that to happen, Gwadar needs to be connected by road to the Afghan Ring Road in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, which is under sustained attacks by the Afghan Taliban. Alternatively, a new route could connect Gwadar with the border crossing at Torkham (near Peshawar) by traveling up Balochistan, with its own active ethnic insurgency, through or adjacent to Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which is the epicenter of Islamist terrorism and insurgency throughout Pakistan. It takes great faith — or idiocy, or greed, or all of the above — to believe that this is possible.

All of these issues raise salient questions about the real utility of this unfolding fiasco. If CPEC is not an economically viable route for actual commerce, what purpose does it serve? Analyst Andrew Small, among others, has argued that CPEC is, in reality, a redundant supply route for China should it face an embargo during a military conflict. It’s also possible that if the port at Gwadar is not economically sustainable the real goal is the creation of a Chinese naval outpost. Many in India, Pakistan’s historic rival, have also come to this conclusion. They may well be correct, according to recent Chinese reports indicating that China may “expand its marine corps and may station new marine brigades in Gwadar.”

While the benefits to transit may be illusory, it is possible that Pakistan could benefit from purportedly low-hanging fruit, including the much-lauded economic zones and power plants. Pakistan does struggle with power shortages. But its problem is not a lack of supply, rather the complex issue of “circular debt” referring to the accumulating unpaid bills of the power sector; the theft of power through illegal connections, meter tampering, and other means; and an inadequate transmission system. Meanwhile, Pakistanis have learned that the current Chinese development model will do little for their economy. China prefers to use its own companies and employees rather than hire locally.

Pakistani citizens also have no way to know what CPEC will cost them. Neither government has been clear about what projects are part of the plan. Costing has been completely opaque. China sets the price, contracts the work out to Chinese companies, and saddles Pakistan with the loans. Given the ongoing security threats on Chinese nationals in Pakistan, Islamabad is raising a CPEC Protection Force, the costs of which will be passed on to Pakistani citizens. The State Bank of Pakistan has repeatedly called for more transparency, to no avail. Astonishingly, according to the Pakistani daily The Dawn, “Despite the frantic activity, Islamabad had yet to determine the expected cost and benefit, expressed in monetary terms, of the mega project.” And that’s before factoring in other costs such as the cultural and religious tensions between Chinese and Pakistanis, although there’s been a public relations push by both governments to downplay them.

Recently, The Dawn claimed to have accessed the alleged CPEC “master plan,” drawn up by the China Development Bank and the National Development Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China. It suggests that CPEC is really about agriculture, an issue that had not previously been discussed in the extensive media coverage of the plan. As part of the overall project, thousands of acres of productive agricultural land will be leased to the Chinese for “demonstration projects” for newly developed seed varieties and irrigation technology. Chinese companies will be the primary beneficiaries of these initiatives.

Pakistanis should be worried about the way CPEC is shaping up. If it is even partially executed, Pakistan would be indebted to China as never before. And unlike Pakistan’s other traditional allies, such as the United States, China will probably use its leverage to obtain greater compliance from its problematic client. China is particularly concerned about the Islamist militant groups active among China’s Uighur Muslim population in Xinjiang. Uigher militant groups have long shared ties with groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, some of which have been patronized by the Pakistani state, such as the Afghan Taliban. China has used religious and political oppression, along with crude violence, to eviscerate the Islamist revival among Xinjiang’s Uighers and has counted on Pakistan to give China political cover while doing so. In taking on Chinese debt, Pakistan may also risk severely worsening its already critical relations with India, which has been watching the CPEC drama unfold with growing alarm. In the north, CPEC continues to make permanent the Pakistani and Chinese grip on territory India claims. In the south, Chinese naval vessels may dock in the deep port of Gwadar, threatening New Delhi in the Arabian Sea. In normal times, this would be a serious concern for the United States — but Washington is so distracted by the chaos of the Trump administration that the issue has gone largely under the radar.

But the news may not be all bad. For China to get maximal returns on its extensive investments in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan it needs stability in both countries. In recent years, China has stepped up its role in trying to negotiate peace in Afghanistan by helping to mediate between Pakistan and Afghanistan. As Pakistan’s economy becomes ever more interwoven with China’s, China may be in a position to dampen Pakistan’s worrying affinity for terrorist groups and nuclear proliferation — particularly the latter, because China enabled Pakistan’s nuclear program to begin with. If China took on the responsibility of managing Pakistan, Washington might be happy to wash its hands of the problem and let the civilians in Islamabad and the uniformed men in Rawalpindi stab someone else in the back for a change.

Published in FP Foreignpolicy. com

World Literacy Day

Our education system needs rethinking

By Masood Hameed Baloch

Horace Mann was an American educational reformer reported to have said, “educationdownload is our only political safety — outside of this ark all his deluge”. If we cast a quick look at the past, education was undoubtedly the monopoly of the great few in olden days. As time passed, education began to spread, evolved awakening among the all and sundry. The progressive advancement of education has synchronized with the growth of developed nations in the world. Contrary to those well- developed communities, the under-developing society such as ours is still victim to a medieval outlook and remains comparatively backwards on the educational ground.

Fifty years ago, the UNESCO declared 8 September as international literacy day. Under the banner of “Reading the past, writing the future”, the core purpose of celebrating the international literacy day is to address the challenges and carve out feasible solutions to further boost literacy among nations.

Literacy is part of the Sustainable Development Goals, which the United Nations took it as a key component of its 2030 Millennium agenda for sustainable development. The agenda on literacy ensures equitable quality education and endows all the people with promoting sufficient learning opportunities.

But as a nation, we still lag far most behind in the fields of education. Pakistan still has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world. The country’s literacy rate declined from 60 percent according to the Economic Survey of Pakistan (2016-2017). Despite 70 years having passed, we’ve not made any good progress in education yet.

We have more than one standard of education: it should be transformed into a single system for all classes of people; otherwise it will be hard to achieve sustainable development goals in the education sector

Though Article 25-A of the constitution of Pakistan obligates, “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such a manner as may be determined by law”. Taking a quick glance at a recent survey, the number of out-of-school children has, no doubt, reduced from last year’s figure 24 million to 22.6 million:the statistics for 2015-16 still reflect a gloomy picture. It is reported by the National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) that 44 percent children between the ages of five and sixteen are still out of school. Further the report added that only 30pc children remain enrolled from class 1 till 10th, 40pc public sector primary schools were operating without electricity, 28pc did not have toilets, 25pc without boundary walls and 29pc had no access to drinking water. Moreover, the report says, Balochistan is comparatively facing a greater crisis in education, wherein, 70pc children out of school.

Though Balochistan government has announced educational emergency since 2014, and it has allocated 26pc of budget on education, but it remains a tall claim as such; the education emergency has proven mere rhetoric words, as the actual progress on ground is virtually at a standstill.

The provincial education minister, Rahim Ziaratwal, reported to have said, “in Balochistan, 60pc of children quit education by the time they reach the primary and middle school level, whereas 45pc of students leave schooling prior to completion of their matriculation”. It obviously surprises us: such an increasing dropout rate of children is a grim problem for the education department in Balochistan. In the densely-populated and resource-rich province of Balochistan, more than 5,000 government-run-primary schools are reported to have single-teacher schools. In addition, the provincial education department sources say that thousands of ghost teachers and hundreds of ghost schools remain in the province. Despite the education emergency in Balochistan, the ground situation in the field of education is so far unchanged. It is observed that an inefficient and mostly unprofessional team failed to give a solid policy for education. The education departments in the province mostly operate under the supervision of politically-affiliated men than the professional educationists. Most often, the officials are appointed on political basis and through political likes and dislikes, which have unduly damaged the education department, so as the case with other public sector institutions.

According to the latest survey by Pakistan Social and Living Standards Management (PSLM), the literacy rate of the population (10 years and above) is 60pc as compared to 58pc in 2014-15. The data also shows that literacy rate is higher in urban areas (76 percent) than in rural areas (51 percent). Province-wise data suggests that Punjab leads with 63 percent followed by Sindh 60 percent, Khyber Pakhtunkwa with 53 percent and Balochistan with 44 percent.

Above all, the ongoing deplorable education system in our country desperately needs rethinking. We have more than one standard of education, which should be transformed into a single education system for all classes of people. Otherwise, it will be hard to achieve the sustainable development goals for the education sector.

Some kinds of education in religious seminaries spawn religious and cultural conflicts. It thwarts modern knowledge and will possibly further spew bigotry and intolerance in the society. The miserable conditions of government schools also disappoint the people. The underprivileged people desire to send their children to quality standard schools, but they cannot because they do not have enough resources to translate their wishes into reality. Ironically, our curriculum — especially in government schools — is somehow a sorry-tale of subjugating our knowledge. In a society where invaders become heroes, warfare ideology creeps in. It is a great dilemma: the finer sides of our history have rarely been revealed through our textbooks. The curricula for public schools promote an isolationist mindset that glorifies wars.

Several drawbacks in government’s policy have hampered the real progress in education. Most regrettably, even such grim realities and sore statistics fail to capture the attention of our policymakers.

Education is a fundamental right of every individual and it cannot be ignored under any excuses. The entire education system needs to be overhauled at par with the changing demands and modern needs. All education departments should work independently without any political interference. Instead of appointing unprofessional men, professional educationists should be hired and given space to freely mold an articulated policy for education, and execute it effectively.

An enlightened and educated society does not normally surrender their self-respect, dignity and independence. In the long run they work for the good of the nation in the national workforce. Nations which are not in the habit of perpetuating progress in education ultimately end in peril.

The writer is a freelance columnist and blogger, writes on socio-political and literary issues

Published in Daily Times

Teaching children this subject will prepare them for the digital age, according to the Irish President

The meteoric advancement of technology is putting mankind in an existential quandary: 10423777_959622850733843_1509727775620567354_nhow do we prepare our children for a life they will have to master, but that we can’t envision yet because things are changing so fast?

How do you prepare children for professional life in an age where robots will be the surgeons, the care takers and the lawyers? It won’t be long before a STEM education will no longer guarantee you a job.

What skills will always be needed and happen to be in critical short supply now?

The answer is to teach children philosophy in school, according to the Irish president Michael D Higgins.

“The teaching of philosophy is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal to empower children into acting as free and responsible subjects in an ever more complex, interconnected and uncertain world,” Mr Higgins said at a function to mark World Philosophy Day in November, as reported by The Irish Times.

I can hear you sigh and see you roll your eyes, but think again. Wouldn’t we all benefit from a little pondering with Socrates?

What does philosophy teach?

For one thing, it teaches critical thinking skills.

“A new politics of fear, resentment and prejudice against those who are not ‘like us’ requires the capacity to critique, which an early exposure to the themes and methods of philosophy can bring,” Mr Higgins said.

He pointed out that there are so many ways of accessing information on the Internet without ever coming across the informed contribution of journalism that children, and adults alike, must learn to think critically. We all need to be able to critically evaluate our own assumptions.

He has a very good point.

If you’ve ever been in a philosophy lecture, you’ll know that you can’t simply state your point without any substantiation. Exposure to philosophy at a young age teaches children to construct sound and valid arguments and evaluate the arguments of others.

According to PLATO, a nonprofit organization focused on bringing philosophy to schools, elementary school philosophy is about giving children the opportunity to explore ethical, aesthetic, political, logical and other philosophical aspects of their experiences that are already intensely meaningful for them, but that are not often given attention in schools (or elsewhere).

This brings me back to my initial point.

The rapid advancement of technology is bringing us face-to-face with a multitude of ethical conundrums. We are going to need people who can debate ethical questions without feeling the need to resort to violence as a first defence when someone disagrees with them.

We need people who are able to ask and answer difficult questions like: Who is responsible for the actions undertaken by autonomous systems? Should we create a diabetic insulin implant that could notify your doctor or insurance company when you eat a forbidden sweet treat, and should that behavior make you ineligible for certain types of medical treatment?

These are the issues that future citizens will have to be able to debate, and critical thinking skills will be required for the job.

hackspirit.com

Marxism and ecosocialism

By Hadas Thier

he following is based on a presentation at the Socialism 2014 conference, held in Chicago on June 26–29, 2014.

I’m going to start with talking about two events that took place in New York a couple of MARXyears ago. The first was a benign, somewhat unremarkable and inconsequential event. The Museum of Modern Art curated what I thought was a pretty interesting exhibit. In response to the epidemic of foreclosures and decimated local economies around the United States, they invited a few architectural firms to design models for five towns in different parts of the country, which would incorporate themes of affordable housing with economic and ecological sustainability.1

There were some cool ideas that came out of it. One project was based on Orange, New Jersey, which is a town with no major public transportation system, but is along a regional New Jersey Transit line. The concept they came up with was to create a pedestrian city centered on the transit stop that basically gets rid of roads and cars, and fills in the space with mixed-use buildings that have both affordable housing units, commercial and office space, and public green spaces.

This project would allow people to work in walking distance from where they live. It would get rid of streets, which are an economic burden on a struggling city, and cars, which are an ecological burden on the city and planet. Roofs would be converted into public spaces as well as house energy generators with solar panels, something that is particularly important in New Jersey, the fifth highest energy consumer among the states. And the buildings would be connected at certain places, in order to collectivize building nodes, so that there is more efficiency in things like plumbing and electricity.

Another project turned Keiser, a suburb of Portland, Oregon, into a city that is both denser in terms of inhabitants, but also with three times the amount of public, open space, including a 158-acre nature reserve, urban farms, sky gardens, space for animal habitats, a composting hill, and interior waterfalls that would help provide energy for the town.

There were many other ideas I don’t have time to get into—some more interesting than others—but in general these were pretty cool concepts that addressed the economic realities of towns that have suffered financially, and whose sprawl is both a drain on the environment and a disaster for individual health and lifestyles.

The second event, a few months later, was much more remarkable and much less benign, and that was Hurricane Sandy. Of course, as people know, it didn’t just hit New York, but took nearly 300 lives and wreaked about $68 billion worth of damage across seven counties, destroying entire neighborhoods, crushing or flooding homes, and devastating countless lives. In New York City alone, over 300,000 housing units were destroyed. And many of those who had bought their homes are still paying mortgages on their wrecked, uninhabitable remains.

The super storm made two things unquestionably clear. First, that climate change is not an abstract problem for the future, but is a devastating reality now. And, second, that the people who are bearing the brunt of it are the poor and working class, and disproportionately people of color.

So what is the connection between these two events? Unfortunately, not much—and that’s really the point. There are great ideas and concepts, and people thinking and researching about how to create human-friendly, environmentally sustainable habitats, but then there is reality, and never the twain shall meet.

In fact, there are a lot of things that could have been done in New York to prevent the kind of devastation that we saw during Hurricane Sandy, from basic adjustments and investments in infrastructure to more radical, but still very practical changes—like the proposal to green the coast of the city with wetlands and marshes that can absorb the energy of incoming water during storms. (This is a much more realistic and affordable solution than the idea of building higher and higher sea walls around the city, which is being floated by some politicians.) The fact is that the New York City coastline was expanded many years ago by creating and building out an artificial landfill. Not surprisingly this area is among the most flood prone in the city.

The growing number of superstorms like Sandy and the recent flurry of droughts and wildfires should really be proof enough of not only the alarmingly quickening pace of climate change, but also the devastating impact that it is already having on our lives. And just like the economic crisis, the people least responsible for causing the ecological crisis have and will continue to bear the cost of it.2

But the other deeply troubling aspects of the ecological crisis are the so-called “solutions” on offer. At best, we have what might be chalked up to naïve individualism—that by each of us reducing our own carbon footprints we’ll be able to stop global climate change. At worst we have cynical maneuvers to greenwash the same corporations that are profiting hand over fist while destroying the planet. For instance, in New York, we had Toyota, Con Ed, and United Airlines sponsor Earth Day celebrations in April, when in fact the greatest contribution these three corporations could make to the preservation of our planet would be to disappear.3

Yet at the same time, it is also a very promising time to be an ecosocialist and an environmental justice activist. There exists right now a tremendous opening to build a real movement that offers both a more radical critique of the crisis and poses radical solutions.

Getting to the root of the problem

When I was first becoming an environmentalist in junior high, everyone was talking about Styrofoam use and recycling. Today, I think it’s clear to more and more people that, if nothing else, the sheer scale of the crisis requires much more sweeping action. Chris Williams talks about this in his fantastic book on Ecology and Socialism: no individual can build a wind turbine, dismantle a coal-fired power station, or set up a light-rail system in their city by themselves.4

Today, I think the question is being posed in a very real and concrete way to tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people: Is the root of the problem actually capitalism? If so, how do we stop it? These are questions that are being raised by major figures in the environmental movement. The title of Naomi Klein’s forthcoming book, for instance, is This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.5 The need for a more radical analysis is becoming especially obvious as it becomes clear that the technology, the wealth, and the ideas already exist to address the crisis in both short- and long-term ways. But it is not happening for economic and political reasons.

In the short term, we need to fight a largely defensive struggle to shift the current trajectory and buy ourselves time for a more fundamental transformation. To stop the advance of global warming, we have to leave most oil, gas, and coal in the ground and instead invest in technology to produce a mix of wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal renewable energy. At the same time, we need to reduce energy consumption—through collective, not individual, changes—by vastly expanding public transportation infrastructure, instituting regulations to winterize and “summerize” buildings, and powering all vehicles and heating all homes from renewable sources.

According to a report by Scientific American, converting energy sources to renewables by 2030 would require building 3.8 million wind turbines and installing 90,000 solar panels.6 If you think about the fact that 70 million cars are produced every year, these numbers don’t seem so unrealistic.

British socialist Jonathan Neale estimated recently that it would require between 100 million and 150 million workers twenty years to implement such a strategy for the whole world.7 That would certainly require a lot of money. But if these numbers seem daunting, consider the Pentagon’s $1.5 trillion program to procure F-35 fighter jets, which according to the Pentagon aren’t really reliable.8

The $600 billion or so spent per year on the Pentagon is well over three times the military spending of the next biggest spender, China. So even if we were to just make the modest demand to cut the military budget to only double that of China, we could free up over $200 billion dollars a year to spend on renewables.

And of course, this is to say nothing of the $1.7 trillion (by conservative estimates) bailout of the banks beginning in 2008, or the wealth of the hundreds of billionaires in the world. If we took just a 10 percent tax on the richest twenty people in the world, we could build—right off the bat—about half of the 3.8 million wind turbines that the Scientific American report called for.

The fact that these types of solutions are not being implemented is not a problem of not having the technology, or the money. It’s not even a carbon problem. It’s a political and socio-economic problem. And by this I don’t just mean the spinelessness of the Democratic Party and the Obama administration. A system based on profitability simply cannot function in a rational way, no matter how much evidence piles up in front of it or how many technological solutions are available.

For this reason, anticapitalist and ecosocialist politics are urgently needed—in order to provide an accurate and cogent explanation of the crisis, in order to inform our current movement strategies, and in order to provide a long-term vision to transform society into one that can be truly sustainable.

Why is capitalism trying to kill us all?

I want to take a couple of minutes to flush out why there is no solution to planetary devastation within capitalism. And I want to start by going back to one of Marx’s basic formulas about capitalism. Marx summed up the circuit of capital in three letters: M-C-M´.9

Essentially, the basic pattern of capital is that production begins with Money (M). That money is invested into inputs of labor, natural resources, and technologies in order to create Commodities (C). Those commodities are then sold for More Money than was originally invested—M´ (the prime mark indicating that the final M is a bigger sum than the initial M). The trick to turning an initial sum of money invested into more money lies in the exploitation of labor in the production process. Basically the capitalist pays workers less than the value of what they produce.

What does this have to do with climate change? There are three points I want to highlight from this formula:

1) “Exchange value” vs. “use value”

Before the rise of capitalism, trade was based on a simpler circuit: C-M-C. You start with a commodity and sell it in order to buy another one. Say you’re a bread maker, but you need shoes. So you swap the commodity you have for another commodity of equal value, and you use money as a simple intermediary to make that exchange possible.

Capitalism flips the script, so that rather than the purpose of exchange being a utilitarian one (I make such and such commodities, I need something else), the sole purpose of exchange is money. In this case commodities become nothing more than the intermediaries to make more money. Which commodities are made in order to increase capital, are completely incidental. In the 1960s this was famously articulated by the controller of Bethlehem Steel, who told Fortune magazine, “We’re not in business to make steel… We’re in business to make money.”10

Every capitalist, in order to survive and out-compete others in the industry has to worry about just one thing: How to make some amount of money into more money. Whether or not the products are useful, rational, fulfill needs, or whether they create landfills full of crap, exists nowhere as a line item in corporate budgeting strategies.

So, for instance, mass production of any commodity is generally the most efficient way for capitalists to turn a profit. In the case of agriculture this leads to monoculture farming, which is a disaster of a system. It both depletes the soil and creates a need for artificial pesticides, basically poisoning both the earth and us at the same time.

Even if one company were to spend the resources necessary to cut down on pollution, carbon emissions, and waste, it would be competing with companies that don’t do this and can therefore sell their products more cheaply and in greater numbers, and the responsible company would quickly find itself pushed out of its necessary market share. Capitalism therefore promotes a built-in focus on short-term profitability to stay ahead of the game, with regard only to the money at the end of the process, rather than the utility or rationality of what is produced.

Of course a focus on short term gains is deadly for the environment, which by definition is a long-term issue. As Marx put it: “The way that the cultivation of particular crops depends on fluctuations in market prices and the constant change in cultivation with these prices—the entire spirit of capitalist production, which is oriented towards the most immediate monetary profits—stands in contradiction with agriculture, which has to concern itself with the whole gamut of permanent conditions of life required by the chain of successive generations.”11

2) Inputs/outputs

Capital regards natural resources, just like labor, as simple inputs into the production process. It behooves each capitalist to obtain these inputs as cheaply and as quickly as possible.

As Marx put it, under capitalism,

For the first time, nature becomes purely an object for humankind, purely a matter of utility; ceases to be recognized as a power for itself; the theoretical discovery of its autonomous laws appears merely as a ruse so as to subjugate it under human needs, whether as an object of consumption or as a means of production.12

More recently, the People’s Agreement (2010 Cochabamba) made the same point: “Under capitalism, Mother Earth is converted into a source of raw materials, and human beings into consumers and a means of production, into people who are seen as valuable only for what they own, and not for what they are.”13

If natural wealth and labor are inputs, capital considers output to be simply whatever is sold. In this regard, waste is not counted on either side of the equation. It’s not industry’s concern how much waste is produced or where it goes. It only matters what gets sold.

In some cases that waste is poison for us and for the planet. In other cases that waste is actually made up of useful things that are dumped rather than used productively. This leads to a somewhat unfathomable situation in which the amount of food thrown away by supermarkets, restaurants, stores, and consumers in the US is enough to feed all one billion of the world’s malnourished population.14

But it is worse than just benign neglect; waste isn’t simply something that capital disregards, it is actively promoted. It’s a lot more profitable to make gadgets that break down or become quickly technologically obsolete than to make products that will last. If you own an iPhone, you know that you literally can’t hold on to this $700 gadget for more than a year or two before being forced into getting a new one, since your old phone, even if it still works perfectly well, is no longer compatible with the latest software.

3) Constant growth

Lastly, this circuit of M-C-M´ implies constant growth for individual capitalists in order to stay competitive. The more you make at the end of the production cycle, the more you can invest in the next round of production and the more you can invest in newer/cost-saving technologies to beat out your competitors. This process then also feeds a system-wide growth in which more and more is constantly being produced. Capitalism goes into crisis if it isn’t constantly growing.

In fact, the entire process of M-C-M´ itself implies an unending process, since the end goal is not a commodity to be used or consumed, but is money which in and of itself doesn’t do anything unless reinvested into the next round of production. As the ecosocialist writer John Bellamy Foster puts it, “capital by its nature is self-expanding value.”15

This drive for expansion at any cost puts capitalism at odds with the environment both because it needs more and more inputs on the production side, pillaging our natural resources as fast as they can be used; and because it needs more and more of a consumer base to sell as many products as possible. Sell things you never knew you needed, like plastic, disposable everything. Sell things that used to be free, like access to water. Sell things that are inherently destructive, like nuclear warheads.

The requirement for ever-greater material and energy to keep expanding puts capitalism profoundly and irrevocably at odds with a sustainable planet. Indeed, according to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the world economy exceeded the earth’s regenerative capacity in 1980, and by 1999 had gone beyond it by as much as 20 percent. Today the gap is estimated to be about 30 percent.16

Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto summed it up very eloquently: “Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.”17

Anticapitalist vs. capitalist strategies

If the basic logic of the system is inherently unsustainable, the logical conclusion would then be that we have to change the system altogether. But I also want to emphasize that understanding that the market drives environmental destruction in the first place also impacts what kind of reforms we fight for on our way to broader system change, in two significant ways:

We can’t incentivize corporations, we have to regulate them, against their interests, to do the right thing: Market-based solutions and incentives like cap and trade will not work, since the entire logic of the market is itself the problem. Short of ending the market—the end goal—we need, in the meantime, to regulate it as much as possible. This will only happen against the wishes of capitalists if they are forced to make concessions by mass, democratic movements from below.

Capitalism’s short-term view of labor and natural resources as mere inputs into the production process creates the need for a unity of resistance between labor and environmentalists. This has been the case since the birth of capitalism. The conquest of nature and the conquest of man have been one and the same process.

There are many concrete manifestations of this need for unity between labor and movements for ecological justice today. For instance, every time a corporation moves to China in search of cheaper labor, they undermine the international working class in a race to the bottom, and they also create incredible environmental waste and degradation, as massive numbers of products have to be shipped across the world daily instead of being produced and sold locally.

The myth that we have to choose between jobs or the environment is all too common, especially within the labor movement. As author and activist Jeremy Brecher puts it:

One starting point for that story is to recognize the common interest both in human survival and in sustainable livelihoods. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, if God had intended some people to fight just for the environment and others to fight just for the economy, he would have made some people who could live without money and others who could live without water and air.

There are not two groups of people: environmentalists and workers. We all need a livelihood, and we all need a livable planet to live on. If we don’t address both, we’ll starve together while we’re waiting to fry together.18

Or in the words of Rosa Luxemburg, our choices are socialism or barbarism.19 We can and should build movements to regulate and reform the system, but ultimately this only buys us time against a system that can’t but expand, pummel, and destroy. Ultimately we need to get rid of the profit system completely and replace it with one based on human and ecological need.

What would ecosocialism look like?

This is obviously not a question I can answer or predict in any detail. But I will say a couple of thoughts by way of broad outlines.

There are some things that seem very clear we need to do right off the bat, and many environmental justice activists and ecosocialists have written and spoken about what such actions might look like. For instance, in her article “Capitalism vs. the Climate,” Naomi Klein writes: 

Climate change is a collective problem, and it demands collective action. One of the key areas in which this collective action must take place is through big-ticket investments designed to reduce our emissions on a mass scale. That means subways, streetcars and light-rail systems that are not only everywhere but affordable to everyone; energy-efficient affordable housing along those transit lines; smart electrical grids carrying renewable energy; and a massive research effort to ensure that we are using the best methods possible.

The private sector is ill suited to providing most of these services because they require large up-front investments and, if they are to be genuinely accessible to all, some very well may not be profitable. They are, however, decidedly in the public interest, which is why they should come from the public sector.20

Ian Angus and Simon Butler, outline the following steps in their book Too Many People? Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis21:

  • Rapidly phasing out fossil fuels and biofuels, replacing them with clean energy sources.
  • Actively supporting farmers to convert to ecological agriculture; defending local food production and distribution.
  • Introducing free and efficient public transport networks.
  • Restructuring existing extraction, production, and distribution systems to eliminate waste, planned obsolescence, pollution, and manipulative advertising, and providing full retraining to all affected workers and communities.
  • Retrofitting existing homes and buildings for energy efficiency.
  • Closing down all military operations at home and elsewhere; transforming the armed forces into voluntary teams charged with restoring ecosystems and assisting the victims of environmental disasters.

A framework for sustainability

Beyond the initial first steps, I think there are a few broad themes that help provide a framework for thinking about a future based on need and sustainability versus profit.

If we are to heal the “metabolic rift,” 22 as Marx put it, between man and earth, we need to address the common rights of humanity and the earth. The right not to be contaminated also translates into the right to live with uncontaminated air and with uncontaminated water. More specifically, when we talk about human rights, we have to talk about anti-racism and anti-colonialism. Recognizing that it is poor people, people of color, colonized people who bear the overwhelming brunt of ecological disaster, we have to actively address those brutalities and inequalities. As the People’s Agreement from the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth that took place in Cochabamba in 2010 put forward in its demands:

Developed countries, as the main cause of climate change, in assuming their historical responsibility, must recognize and honor their climate debt in all of its dimensions as the basis for a just, effective, and scientific solution to climate change. In this context, we demand that developed countries:

Restore to developing countries the atmospheric space that is occupied by their greenhouse gas emissions. This implies the decolonization of the atmosphere through the reduction and absorption of their emissions;

Assume the costs and technology transfer needs of developing countries arising from the loss of development opportunities due to living in a restricted atmospheric space;

Assume responsibility for the hundreds of millions of people that will be forced to migrate due to the climate change caused by these countries, and eliminate their restrictive immigration policies, offering migrants a decent life with full human rights guarantees in their countries;

Assume adaptation debt related to the impacts of climate change on developing countries by providing the means to prevent, minimize, and deal with damages arising from their excessive emissions;

Honor these debts as part of a broader debt to Mother Earth by adopting and implementing the United Nations Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.

The focus must not be only on financial compensation, but also on restorative justice, understood as the restitution of integrity to our Mother Earth and all its beings.

On the question of growth I think Marx has been widely misinterpreted. He celebrated the productive capacity of capitalism and saw it as laying the basis for a world of abundance that could make socialism possible. But this is not the same thing as favoring the continual growth of commodity production.

We can and should move forward and not backward in terms of the development of the productive capacity of society. But this does not mean we need to produce more and more stuff, as capitalism is driven to do. It means we need to continually advance in terms of technology, research, and so on. In fact there is a lot we should stop producing immediately—like arms, and ads—and others that can be drastically reduced as quickly as possible, such as cars and plastics.

Beyond that, there are complex questions to think about in terms of how to best facilitate meeting human need. For instance, how do we want to organize food production? There has been a lot of good research to indicate that that multicrop, rotating agriculture, which is a lot more sustainable for the soil, can also produce more crops than the common methods of corporate farming.

The key point is that capitalism forces us into a spiral of accumulation for the sake of accumulation. Planned development to improve the quality of life for the vast majority of humanity on the basis of sustainable production is its polar opposite.

In order for us to be able to effect this kind of planning on a regional and then global scale, we need a mass democratic system. Mass participation is essential in order to unleash the kind of creativity and ideas that we need to address the scale of the challenges we face.

How do we get there?

The million-dollar question, then, is how do we get there? There are no blueprints for transforming capitalism to socialism, but I will end with some general points about how we can move forward.

We need to deepen and develop the politics and theory that can explain why we’re in the state we’re in, why capitalism and a profit system is irreconcilable with a future, livable planet. Stronger theory, as I’ve said, has important implications for both short- and long-term solutions.

We need to build the anticapitalist wing of the movement at the same time that we engage with the broadest layer of activists. For instance, in New York the organization that I work with, System Change Not Climate Change (SCNCC), as its name implies, has radical anticapitalist politics. We’re working with many others to build for the People’s Climate Mobilization on September 21 that has been called by 350.org, Avaaz, and other large organizations.23

This assembly could be a serious game changer in the movement against global warming. It will likely be upwards of 100,000 people and the largest rally for climate justice to date. It can bring together large numbers at a time when the issue of climate change has become the key defining issue of our time.

At the same time, we are working with Global Climate Convergence and others on the left to have a conference on that same weekend that can complement the march and provide radical analysis and political discussion within a broader mobilization.24

We need a sustainedmovement. What happens after September 21 is as important as what happens on September 21. In 2003, during the lead up to the war on Iraq, many people in the antiwar movement thought that one mass march could stop the war, but today you’d be hard pressed to find someone who thinks that one mass march will stop global warming. So there is a political maturation here, and a great potential to use the momentum and the confidence that people gain from the march, to go back and build locally on our campuses, in our neighborhoods, and at our workplaces.

And ultimately we will need a mass movement. Imagine a movement where students strike to divest their university from fossil fuels; indigenous rights activists lead mass civil disobedience against tar sands extractions; working class and people of color in the Rockaways are staging sitins to demand resources to rebuild homes and infrastructure along ecologically rational lines; and workers who work in fossil fuel extraction strike for the right to be retrained and employed to do work that is safe, healthy, and won’t destroy our planet, our lives, and our children’s lives.

A movement of this scale—the scale we need to reverse course—will challenge the profitability and viability of capitalism. It won’t be built overnight, but we are making important steps today, helping to mobilize hundreds of thousands in September. There is a huge potential for this movement to grow, and for its politics to deepen. It requires some dedication, some flair, some politics, a good dose of impatience with the system and patience with each other. It’s not an easy or quick process, but it’s a necessary struggle. And in the long run, an ecosocialist world is a world worth fighting for.

To end with Marx:

From the standpoint of a higher socio-economic formation, the private property of particular individuals in the earth will appear just as absurd as the private property of one man in other men. Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously, are not owners of the earth, they are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations, a boni patres familias [good heads of the household].”25

  1. “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream,” Museum of Modern Art, available at http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibit….
  2. Michael Friedman, “The intertwined storms of Sandy and capitalism,” Socialist Worker, November 27, 2012.
  3. Christopher Robbins, “NYC Earth Day, brought to you by Toyota, United, & Con Ed,” April 22, 2014, Gothamist, available athttp://gothamist.com/2014/04/22/a_tale_o… Hadas Their, “It’s Earth Day. Thanks, Toyota,” New Politics, available athttp://newpol.org/content/its-earth-day-….
  4. Chris Williams, Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis(Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2010).
  5. Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014.
  6. Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi, “A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables,” Scientific American, November 2009, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-path-to-sustainable-energy-by-2030/. Also see “Stanford scientist unveils 50-state plan to transform U.S. energy use to renewable resources,” February 15, 2014,https://energy.stanford.edu/news/stanfor….
  7. Jonathan Neale, “The movement needs to keep moving,” Socialist Worker, April 15, 2014.
  8. Becca Mitchell and Laurie Simmons, “Problems continue to pile up for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet,” June 27, 2014,http://wtkr.com/2014/06/27/problems-cont….
  9. Capital, Vol. 1, Chapter Four: The General Formula for Capital, http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/wor….
  10. Cited in Nicholas Molodovsky, Catherine May and Sherman Chottiner, “Common stock valuation: principles, tables and application,” Financial Analysts Journal, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Mar–Apr 1965), 111.
  11. Karl Marx, Capital: Volume III(London: Penguin Classics, 1991), 754 (n).
  12. Karl Marx, Grundrisse, Notebook IV, http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/wor….
  13. World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, at http://pwccc.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/pe….
  14. “Food Waste Facts,” at http://www.feeding5k.org/food-waste-facts.php. See also “Food waste: the next food revolution,” athttp://modernfarmer.com/2013/09/next-foo….
  15. John Bellamy-Foster, “Organizing ecological revolution,” Monthly Review, Vol. 57, Issue 05 (October 2005).
  16. Lester Brown, “Our global ponzi economy,” Earth Policy Institute, October 7, 2009, available at http://www.earth-policy.org/book_bytes/2….
  17. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The Communist Manifesto, Chapter I: “Bourgeois and Proletarians,”http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/wor….
  18. Jeremy Brecher, “‘Jobs vs. the environment’: How to counter the divisive big lie,”Nation, April 22, 2014.
  19. Rosa Luxemburg, “What does the Spartacus League want?” (December 1918), available athttp://www.marxists.org/archive/luxembur….
  20. Naomi Klein, “Capitalism vs. the Climate,” Nation, November 28, 2011.
  21. Ian Angus and Simon Butler (Chicago: Haymarket Books), 2011.
  22. See John Bellamy Foster, “Marx’s theory of metabolic rift: Classical foundations for environmental sociology,” American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 105, No. 2 (September 1999), pp. 366-405.
  23. See the People’s Climate Mobilization web site at http://peoplesclimate.org/.
  24. See the NYC Climate Convergence web page, at http://convergeforclimate.org/.
  25. Karl Marx, CapitalVolume III, 911.

Title September 2017

title September edition 2017 b

Title September 2015

title

Tell God everything angel, promise to tell God everything

Sleep tight sweetheart, fly away as far as you can.aylan-kurdi-syria-refugee_940x-807x600
But do promise me angel,
that when you come to heaven,
you will tell God all about Humans.
Tell God that planet Earth is no place
for small innocent boys like you.
Tell God that on planet Earth,
humans behead people in his name,
governments bomb cities and shoot children,
and other Humans only watch them doing so.
Tell God that this morning,
when your mom put a red t-shirt
and blue shorts on you, she told you
that you were going to a place
where there was no war,
where you could play without bombs raining on you,
and you would go to sleep without a lullaby of gunfire.
Tell God that your mom wouldn’t have put you on a boat
unless the water was safer than the land where you came from
Tell God that on planet Earth,
there are many humans but not much humanity.
Tell God everything angel, promise to tell God everything

courtesy ti SATHKÀRA

What is Syrian conflict?

By Ahmed Khan

Imperialist powers ignited fire in Arab World to delay or push back the awaited revolution or change in regime. They Untitled-1started game from Tunisia in shape of Arab Spring. In this series, they somehow overthrew autocrats in Arab countries, like in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Further they were working on a devised war in Syria, then Lebanon on the other countries were on line to bring obedient set up and lengthen the age of their colonialism.

In Syria, the imperialist powers ignited fire and orchestrated war that has spread very wide and got complicated, hence now it seems adrift to unspecified destination. Here some historical facts are presented to grasp the muddle in Syria:

In 1923 to 1946 the French colonizer had great deal in creation of Syria after the World War – I in the result of Ottoman Empire collapse. At that time, France took control on two states on the east Mediterranean, today known as Syria and Lebanon. This territory was, and remains, quite ethnically and religious diverse.

There are lots of countries whose borders were imposed by European imperialists that manage to do fine for theirs interests, but the point is that the French colonialism set up modern-day Syria in a way that contributed to tension between ethnic and religious groups, which eventually turn into a hotbed of mutiny today. They promoted a minority group, Alawite Shia Muslim intentionally as symbiotic for them on majority Sunnies and world largest ethnic without state the Kurd. Purposely the French preferred Alawities that they rely upon them onward for upholding their dominance on Syria and by this way it will maintain the interests of colonialist.

After disintegration of Soviet Union in 90s decade, the world turned in unipolar. Thus, the America got hegemony on world politics and France also stepped back to some extent and today America is dealing greatly in entire world including Syria but other powers infiltration in this country made all unmanageable.

GettyImages-102848228Military regime took power in 1963 and Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970, he is father of present monarch Bashar al-Assad who belong to Alawite faith.

In March 2011, in the Syrian city Deraa protest took place and it was dealt in bloody way by Assad regime. This time it was backed by imperialist powers directly or was stimulated by them by collaboration of neighboring states, mainly the Saudi Arabia. The Syrian forces killed four protestors in Deraa city but stern action could not halt the violence to spread throughout country, and present strife have historical perspective but it is not abrupt.

In July 2011, an armed force to counter Assad regime was found with name Free Syrian Army. Gainsaid that force was established by imperialist powers though people of Syrian were chagrined by Assad regime and succeeding it was also admitted by United States with its allies for formation. Subsequently, the US also affirmed failure about Syrian rebels to overthrow Assad regime and replace with a puppet government in style of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The imperialist intervention in Syria caused chaos and civil war in country because the fighting which does not have political and socialistic impetus and this flagged a way to the regional religious infuriated people for muster. During August 2011 the Iraq War, one of the worst of several Sunni extremist groups was al-Qaeda in Iraq. The group was so awful that many Sunni Iraqis turned against it, helping to largely (though not completely) defeat the group by 2007 or so.

But by 2011, al-Qaeda in Iraq had begun rebuilding. And it saw the growing conflict in neighboring Syria as an opportunity to gain weapons, bases, and recruits.

In August 2011, AQI leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sent a top deputy, Abu Mohammad al-Joulani, to Syria. His goal was to set up a new branch of the extremist organization in the country. Joulani succeeded, establishing Jabhat al-Nusra (about which we’ll talk more in a second). Years later, the franchise would divide in two after AQI changed its name to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and asserted total control over Nusra. Some fighters pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda’s central leadership, while others defected to ISIS.

This was all far off in mid-2011. But the fact that ISIS had operatives in Iraq as early as August 2011 illustrates how quickly it recognized that Syria was an opportunity — and just how deep its roots in the country go.

International powers put their fingers in Syria raging proxy war for interests on cost of human lives. On one side, the America and its allies are using Syrian rebels and religious groups by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other regional countries, and the US also taken on its page the Kurds who are struggling for an independent state. And on the other side, the old player the Russia also came afore in arena of Syria.

In October 2011, as Assad’s crackdown worsened, international condemnation grew. In October, the UN Security Council considered a draft resolution condemning Assad’s crimes — not intervening, not calling for a referral to the International Criminal Court, just condemning. Russia and China vetoed it. When another draft resolution was proposed in February 2012, they vetoed that one too.

This was mainly a Russian initiative. “The perception amongst diplomats in New York was that Beijing was [vetoing] out of solidarity with Moscow rather than commitment to Damascus,” Simon Adams, the director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, writes in a report on the UN and Syria.

This was part of Russia’s long-running policy of providing Assad diplomatic cover from the world’s outrage, no matter what he did. Moscow had been backing Assad in his war essentially since protests began. In 2011 alone, Russia sold nearly $1 billion in arms to the regime.

Ties between the two countries go all the way back to the Cold War: According to one scholar, the Soviets “essentially built” the modern Syrian military in the 1960s. Continued support for the Assad government yielded the USSR its most reliable ally and proxy in the Middle East.

Today, Syria remains one of Russia’s few reliable allies outside of the former Soviet republics, a vestige of Moscow’s former superpower status and a final military toehold in the Middle East. Russia maintains a valuable naval base today at Tartus, on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, and has sold a number of surplus weapons to Assad. Between 2006 and 2010, 48 percent of Syrian arms imports came from Russia. So Russia has defended Assad to preserve its ally.

But the lengths that Russia has gone to protect Assad show there’s more going on here. To understand that, you have to know the lessons that Russian President Vladimir Putin drew from another Arab Spring uprising that devolved into war: Libya.

In March 2011, Syria was still calm and Russia was formally ruled by Dmitri Medvedev (though Putin, as prime minister, remained powerful). Libya’s uprising looked to be on the verge of terrible violence, and Western countries sought a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the NATO to intervene against government forces. Though Russia typically opposes such interventions, Medvedev abstained on the resolution, allowing it to go through. Russia — and particularly Putin — then watched with mounting horror as the intervention became a war to topple Qaddafi.

For Putin, what happened in Libya was the sum of many of his greatest fears: popular uprisings, collapsing authoritarian regimes, Western interventions, and extremism — all forces that he fears, in another context, could perhaps one day come to Moscow.

“[Putin] imagined the uprising in Libya as simply another step toward a revolution being orchestrated for Moscow.

When protests spread to Syria, an actual Russian ally, Putin was determined not to let what had happened in Libya happen again. He leveraged Russia’s military and diplomatic might to aid Assad in his war against his own people, including, a few months after the Libya intervention, by vetoing the UN Security Council resolution to condemn Assad.

And Russia would stay right alongside Assad every step of the way.

In January 2012, the Syrian revolution did not begin as sectarian. But Sunni extremist groups quickly infected the opposition — with a little help from Bashar al-Assad. In amnesties issued between March and October 2011, he released a significant number (exact counts are hard to know) of extremists held in Syrian prisons.

Assad, it seems, hoped to sectarianize the conflict by boosting Sunni extremists in the opposition — and thus rallying Alawites and Christians to the regime’s cause and deterring international intervention on the rebels’ behalf.

It worked. According to Brookings’s Charles Lister, many of Joulani’s new recruits in Syria came from “individuals [recently] released in a series of amnesties granted by President Bashar al-Assad.”

In January 2012, Jabhat al-Nusra — the new al-Qaeda franchise in Syria — announced its formation, with Joulani at its head. They were effective fighters and, by the end of that year, had linked up with many other anti-Assad rebels.

“When the US State Department designated Jabhat al-Nusra a terrorist organization on December 11, 2012,” Lister writes, “the theme of that week’s Friday protests across Syria was ‘we are all Jabhat al-Nusra.’”

In August 2012, as the conflict got worse, the death toll rose precipitously: As of March 2012, the UN estimated that around 9,000 Syrians had been killed in the fighting. By January 2013, the estimate was up to 60,000.

Much of that can be blamed on the Assad regime’s vicious assaults on civilian-populated areas. Nothing symbolizes that brutality like the barrel bomb, whose first use was reported on August 22, 2012.

Barrel bombs are containers filled with explosives and sometimes metal, dropped from helicopters, often on civilian areas. Regime forces use them to cow the opposition, heedless of the civilian death toll.

“Assad’s indiscriminate use of barrel bombs deep in opposition-held territory means that for many there is no safe place to hide,” Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, writes in the New York Times.

While barrel bombs are far from the only way that Assad’s forces kill, the mere fact of their use shows how fully Assad has embraced indiscriminate violence and terror against civilians as a military tool.

By mid-2012, Assad was in serious trouble. He had lost effective control over much of the country, and many analysts believed a rebel victory was looking more likely.

Enter Iran.

Syria’s alliance with Iran dates back to 1980, and is critical to Iran’s regional strategy. It uses Syria to convey weapons and other goods to its proxies and allies, most notably Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. In return, Assad’s regime gets military and political assistance from Tehran.

In 2012, Iran responded by sending in Hezbollah to fight on Assad’s side.

“In late 2012, US and Israeli officials received intelligence that the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, feared the Assad regime was in danger of being defeated by opposition forces,” the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Matthew Levitt writes. “Hezbollah would need to become involved in a much greater military capacity in Syria, or Soleimani argued the window of Iranian supplied advance weaponry directly to Hezbollah through Syria would close.”

By that October, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged that his fighters were on the ground (though he bizarrely denied sending them). Iran’s support for Assad escalated from there. In early 2013, they were heavily involved in engagements like the al-Qusayr offensive in western Syria, where Hezbollah forces helped turn the tide in the government’s favor.

It’s impossible to say whether Iran’s aid was the only thing that saved Assad from defeat back in 2012 and early 2013. But there’s no doubt that Iran’s assistance has been crucial to Assad — and a major reason the conflict has continued for so long.

In March 2013, after the Iraq War, and maybe earlier, the oil-rich Arab states along the Persian Gulf — particularly Saudi Arabia, the largest and strongest — had been embroiled in a sort of Cold War with Iran. Both sides wish to steer the political course of the Middle East, and see the other as a fundamental threat to their security.

So when Assad began to teeter, the Gulf States saw an opportunity to unseat one of Iran’s principal allies, and started sending arms to the Syrian rebels. Though this had gone on since at least 2012, the Arab League formalized it in March 2013, voting to give all members explicit permission to arm the Syrian opposition. In May of that year, the Financial Times reported that Qatar alone had given $3 billion in aid to the rebels.

But the problem here is that this huge cash infusion didn’t all go to the good guys. Internal rivalries, particularly between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, caused the different Gulf States to pick different Syrian rebel groups to shower with cash. This was devastating, on two levels. First, it fractured and weakened the rebels: “Competition between their networks of rebel groups has been one of the major factors hindering the unification of the Syrian opposition,” George Washington University’s Marc Lynch writes.

Second, it helped extremists. Qatar in particular showered Jabhat al-Nusra with cash, helping the al-Qaeda franchise grow to become one of the most powerful anti-Assad forces in Syria. This, in turn, made it almost impossible for the United States or other interested powers to have any confidence that intervening against the regime would lead to a better Syria. Which is what Assad wanted all along.

In April 2013, something happened that would prove catastrophic for Syria: ISIS and al-Qaeda started breaking up.

ISIS leader Baghdadi had long had tensions with al-Qaeda’s central leadership in Pakistan, and wanted to make sure he could control al-Qaeda’s faction in Syria. But as Jabhat al-Nusra became stronger on the battlefield, it had begun to operate independently from Baghdadi.

On April 9, 2013, Baghdadi declared that Jabhat al-Nusra was part of al-Qaeda in Iraq — and that the new group would now be known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. But Nusra’s head, Joulani, refused to join up.

This left ISIS to “gradually emerge as an autonomous component within the Syrian conflict,” according to Lister, by absorbing Nusra fighters and territory in northern and eastern Syria. In February 2014, ISIS was formally exiled from al-Qaeda, making it and Jabhat al-Nusra into enemies.

The competition between the two groups further radicalized the opposition, as there were now two powerful jihadist groups in Syria. And it gave ISIS the freedom to fully implement its hard-line, brutal ideology — and even incentivized it to out-extremist al-Qaeda in a competition for recruits and resources.

Assad, for his part, was perfectly happy to leave ISIS alone, in yet another example of his “encourage extremism” strategy. “ISIS almost never fought the Assad regime.

The full scale of the disaster wouldn’t become clear until about a year later, when ISIS swept into northern Iraq and declared a caliphate in its territory in both countries. But the al-Qaeda/ISIS split was the beginning of a new, even darker period in Syria’s war.

On August 21, Assad’s forces launched sarin gas — a horrifying and deadly chemical weapon — into the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, killing somewhere between 281 and 1,423 people, likely including hundreds of civilians.

It is perhaps the single most infamous event in the Syrian civil war. Morally, it symbolizes the depravity of Assad’s strategy. Politically, it put the international community at a crossroads: Had Assad finally gone too far?

Since early in the uprising, the Obama administration had been calling for the Assad regime to go, but resisted any major efforts to help the rebels. But it had declared chemical weapons use to be a “red line”: If Assad used them, the implication seemed to be, it could trigger an American military response.

But after Ghouta, Obama didn’t seem to want to follow through. He submitted a plan for punitive airstrikes in Syria to Congress, where it was likely to fail.

Meanwhile, Russia was denying that the Syrian government had launched the attack. The Russians, of course, were still supporting Assad: Just that May, they had provided his forces with advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, principally useful for deterring Western airstrikes.

That shows the Russians were still scared by the prospect of an anti-Assad intervention — a fear that explains why Russia got heavily involved in diplomacy after Ghouta. The Russians and the US made a deal: Assad would agree to give up his chemical weapons stockpile if the US backed off the threat of punitive airstrikes.

The chemical weapons deal was certainly a real accomplishment: It significantly lowered the risk of both chemical weapons use and of large deposits falling to ISIS or al-Qaeda. But Syria’s rebels felt betrayed, and came to believe that the US would never fulfill its promises to help them. That’s one of several reasons why subsequent US efforts to work with rebels have failed so dramatically.

In June 2014, ISIS swept northern Iraq, taking the country’s second most populous city, Mosul. That August, it invaded Iraqi Kurdistan, which is a close US partner. This, together with the televised execution of two American journalists, prompted Obama to declare a plan to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS on September 10.

This plan had to involve Syria, where ISIS has a substantial base. But there was a problem: ISIS can’t be dislodged without a ground effort against them, but the US has no allies on the ground in Syria.

Obama created a program for training and equipping friendly rebels, but the plan has been totally botched in implementation. Roughly 54 US-trained Syrian rebels have been fielded, as of August — and about half were quickly killed or captured by Jabhat al-Nusra.

The program’s failures point to the core contradiction in American policy. The rebels overwhelmingly see Assad as their key enemy: ISIS is a sideshow, and Nusra is often an ally. The United States, meanwhile, wants the rebels to focus on fighting ISIS and Nusra, and doesn’t want to help them fight Assad. US and rebel priorities just don’t line up. For another thing, “moderate” rebels have co-mingled with extremists for so long that there’s no longer a clear line.

In period of February to March 2015, the rise of the Kurds and rebel coalition Jaish al-Fatah

It’s always too early for hope in Syria. But in early 2015, there were some signs that the bad guys were in trouble. Both Assad and ISIS lost ground, as this map of territorial changes in Iraq and Syria from January to June 2015 shows:

ISIS lost 9.4 percent of its total territory in both countries, while Assad lost 16 percent of his land in Syria, a staggering decline in just six months.

ISIS’s defeats in Syria are primarily due to Kurdish advances in the country’s north. For months, ISIS besieged the Kurdish town of Kobane — and was repulsed in February 2015, the group’s first major defeat in Syria. Afterward, Kurdish forces, heavily backed by US airstrikes, went on the offensive. By late June, they were on the outskirts of ISIS’s capital city of Raqqa.

Assad, meanwhile, has a lost a lot of ground — including some territory dangerously close to the coastal Alawite heartland. One key reason is a new rebel coalition, founded in March, called Jaish al-Fatah, whose name means the Army of Conquest. Jaish al-Fatah, which includes Jabhat al-Nusra and several other rebel factions, has proven remarkably effective in combat with Assad’s forces. Moreover, per Robinson, “the Assad regime has had trouble, recently, recruiting new members to the military — particularly from the Alawite community.”

But it’s too early to break out the champagne. There’s little indication that either Assad or ISIS is going to collapse imminently. Even if one of them does, Nusra stands to gain the most.

July 2015: Syrian refugee totals crosses the 4 million mark

The four years of fighting and shifting battle lines have been hell for Syria. About 250,000 people have been killed, and roughly 11.6 million people have been displaced from their homes — about half of Syria’s prewar population. Of those, 4 million have been forced out of the country entirely.

These refugees are largely housed in overcrowded and underfunded camps in neighboring countries such as Turkey and Lebanon. With little hope of returning home, many of these families are seeking new lives in Europe. The numbers of Syrians heading to Europe have swelled in the past year and a half. You can see this in the surge in asylum applications, shown in the chart below, which helps to show the crisis’s growing urgency not just for Syrians but for the world:

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 3.39.53 PM

The journey is expensive, uncertain, and often fatal, as in the tragic case of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach. That these Syrian families would risk so much speaks to the horrors they’re fleeing, and to their hopes, however faint, of finding a future for their children.

September 2015: Russia’s military formally intervenes in Syria

In mid-September, a few dozen Russian military jets showed up at an aging military base the country uses in Syria, along with a couple hundred troops to guard them. On September 30, Russia officially launched airstrikes in Syria — its first overt combat operation in the war. The bombings were officially sold as an anti-ISIS operation.

In fact, as the above map shows, the strikes did not target ISIS but rather anti-Assad rebels — many of whom also fight ISIS. These strikes are really just an escalation of Russia’s long-running strategy of propping up Assad, now by bombing his enemies within Syria.

Russia’s offensive isn’t yet a game changer in military terms: These airstrikes, on their own, won’t be able to change the fundamental dynamics of the war. The offensive might even help some rebel groups’ recruiting by inciting outrage among Syria’s Sunni majority. The Russian military is notoriously indifferent to civilian casualties.

The escalation, then, is best understood as an act of fear rather than canny strategy. As Amanda Taub explains, Syria has come to represent all of Putin’s greatest fears about democratic revolution and the expansion of Western influence. He’s determined to try to save Assad, even if it the effort will cost him.

But the escalation isn’t totally irrational. Russia’s basic strategy is diplomatic, not military: It wants to reverse Assad’s international isolation, as well as its own, by positioning Syria and Russia as leading a new coalition against terrorism. That’s why, in an address to the UN General Assembly on September 28, Putin called for an ”anti-Hitler coalition” uniting Russia, the West, and Assad against ISIS and other unspecified terrorist groups (which, in Putin’s mind, likely include the Syrian rebels).

Russian_Airstrikes_30_SEPT_2015-1.0The Obama administration’s response to Russia’s overtures isn’t exactly clear. But Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria is definitely a significant new development — particularly for the Syrian civilians trapped in the crossfire.

Syria turned into a slaughter house for Syrian and they in mid of fear fleeing to strange lands, especially heading to Europe. Some civilized countries welcomed tormented people but onward they may not because no one is willing to tolerate inconvenience in their life for the sake of someone.

Presently, Syrian groups are like dice on chess board in front of world players who have no mercy for innocent citizens but they have fixed eyes on their share and interests in con of religion, modernization, nationalism and in other malicious means.

Special thanks to VOX.com information have been taken in article from site.

Disunity among Baloch leadership is a great impediment on the way to success

An exclusive interview with Sher Alam Marri, Baloch Nationalist Political thinker, based in St. Petsburg, Russia.

Interviewed by Shehzad Baloch

(Blv stands for Bolan Voice and SAM for Sher Alam Marri)

Blv: Please tell us briefly about your biography for the readers of Bolan Voice Magazine.

SAM: My complete name is Sher Alam Marri. I said fare-well to Balochistan in 1982 accompanied by Babu Shero Marri a sher alam marrirenowned Baloch guerrilla fighter. For a period of time, I remained in London and then went to Afghanistan where Khair Bukhsh Marri and Babu Shero were also present. At that time, I was staying in Kabul and studying at the poly-technique Institute. Subsequently, I migrated to the Soviet Union of that time, the presently Russia. Since then, I have been living here in Russia. In early days of my residence here in Russia, I learnt the Russian language and afterward I got a degree in Civil Aviation Engineering. Once or twice, I have been to Balochistan but the situations was averse to us, consequently I returned to Russia in the era of Musharraf after being detained and subsequently released. I opposed my fellow Baloch politicians for taking in the Pakistani parliamentarian process with a clear stance that I only seek the resolve of Baloch malady in an independent Balochistan.

Blv: Please elaborate on differences that existed between Khair Bukhsh Marri and Babu Shero that led them to part their ways?

SAM: Both leaders have departed and they are not present among us. Khair Bukhsh Marri was our leader but not a tribal chieftain (Sardar) because he never levied taxes on his nation and only guided them in political and tribal mechanisms, so he can be identified as a nationalist leader better than a Sardar. At that time, there were diversions in world politics and political thoughts which triggered some differences between them, but it would have been more appropriate to ask this question from one of them rather than me or someone else. I cannot give anyone a grade of good or bad, we traditionally don’t slate any demised personality. I witnessed that neither Babu raised the voice of Bijrani and Gazaini nor the nationalist leader Khair Bukhsh Marri, but some opportunists conspired to emanate such misperception and they were rejected. At that time, world politics was knotted with Soviet Union which got disintegrated and caused minor disapprovals between fractions including political thinkers. I believe the politics related to Soviet Union was reason of strife. The disintegration of socialist bloc resulted in the fall of Dr Najeeb’s government in Afghanistan and this ensued the return of Baloch people from Afghanistan to Balochistan, and during this some displeasures penetrated in the folds of nationalists which were not unprecedented that could not be mended. I think in present settings this issue should not be exaggerated. It is endorsed that both leaders sagaciously didn’t say anything about Gazaini or Bijarani and foiled treacherous attempts by state elements to loggerhead brethren.

Blv:  Did Babu Shero voice up for an independent Balochistan or he only had a stance on autonomy?

SAM: Look! At that time that Baloch people could not make a demand directly for freedom. Our people were not edified to meet the level of freedom, hence we were struggling with one step below, but educated a cadre like Wahid Qambar, Abdul Nabi Bangulzai and others were mindful about destination which was and is freedom. At that time, Nationalist leader Khair Bukhsh Marri and Babu Shero agitated the people about autonomy but now people have known, so today’s demand is vibrant which is ‘freedom’. At that time, situations were totally different than those today and fighting was confined only in the Marri area, Mekuran including other parts of Balochistan were not affected, but today the entire Baloch nation in every nook and corner of Balochistan is concerned about the freedom struggle. In 1973, the organization BSO (Baloch Student Organization) was premature and a small number of students came to Russia for studies. Student organization was single and it was haunted in the eyes of agencies, and they were adamant to vanish it away and following it was divided into groups and got enfeebled. They were alert that Baloch nation is getting prepared for freedom and must be congested in the early stage. Both sides of the party were engaged in preparations; we were working to systemize and strengthened the movement, and in parallel, state was preparing to eliminate it. In the long run, our aim was freedom and it still is, only variance is that at that time majority of the people were not cognizant about independence but today they are firm to gain this.

Blv: Please inform us about the present position of Baloch movement, whether it is systemized, equipped with modern tools, members are educated and so on?

SAM: Yes, modernization is there, but it will be impropriate to say that only the Baloch movement is energetic but opponent is defenseless. Today, the rival has found more diversity to counter the movement and is mercilessly killing innocent and noncombatant Balochs, no matter what walk of life they belong to. The Baloch nation is not part of this country and it is being run by Punjabis who have no sympathies for our occupied nation. Present Baloch movement is much powerful than previous ones which is conspicuous to all including myself. Here, I feel that in previous movements leadership was much competent and spirited, if the present movement is led the way it was done in the past, the conditions would have been different in Balochistan today. In the past movement, discipline and leadership was rigid but today it lacks this and internal differences between groups exist overwhelmingly, which is saddening. Yes, Baloch nation is paying very lofty sacrifices and I don’t see any example of this in Baloch history. The leadership of Baloch movement is unable to grasp and value the hefty sacrifices by Baloch and here I feel dimness in leadership, only.

Blv: There are some accepted standards the in world, based on which each ethnicity does not have its own country; for example, in Russia, where you are currently residing, consists of various ethnic groups but is a successful country, so why do the Balochs need a separate state?

SAM: Look! Russia has given due status to Chechen which is a Muslim part of this country, where education rate is high and has been granted all facilities of life including control on its resources and production. Tataristan, which is a Muslim republic of Russian Federation, has its own president and enjoy full autonomy. These states’ comparison with our land Balochistan is totally inappropriate. Baloch region is being dominated by Punjab and the same ethnic group is controlling all the country but has denied all rights of the Baloch nation. Gas was discovered in 1951 in Balochistan and has been supplied to Quetta, the capital of this province, since the 80s. But in Tartaristan, when gas was discovered, the income generated from this national resource together with its control was given to Tartarians. Similarly, petrol was explored and developed in Chechen and the same state is enjoying income of this natural resource. Balochistan is occupied and Baloch has no authority in its province. Musharraf was attacked in Islamabad so we did not witness any operation there but when he was attacked in Kohlu so this area received prompt backlash by the state forces. A rocket was fired on Mr Musharraf but the entire Marri areas was bombarded ruthlessly, because Pakistani establishment does not consider Baloch as their citizens and treat them like slaves and have no mercy on them, no matter whether they live or die. In Lahore, a bomb explodes but we see no operation there, but in Quetta when such incident occurs, as result in entire Sariab, which is a predominantly a Baloch area, operations are conducted. Double standard is visible to all.

In Chamalang area, coal is extracted but cold areas of Balochistan are deprived of this for the purposes of heat and fire fuel and nonsensically it is supplied to far away cities in Punjab for factories and other intents. Islamabad makes all policies about Balochistan and the chief minister of the province, Dr Malik Baloch, has no authority and he acts based on the instructions given to him by the establishment. In a nutshell, Balochistan is occupied and its resources are being plundered by the occupier.

The history of Pakistan tells us that the Baloch will never be given rights like you said about Russian republics. Baloch needs a national state for its national heritage, identification and a better future whilst in remaining in Pakistan the Baloch renaissance is impossible.

Blv: Ground realities show that the state of Pakistan is powerful; it has a strong army with nuclear technology, and international powers like China, US and oil rich Arab States also are succoring it for the sake of their interests. Contrary to this, Baloch is powerless and internationally it has inadequate support to combat, so why not compromise on minimal gains than independence?

SAM: The history of Pakistan entails that the Baloch should be killed, whether or not they combat. If Baloch demands their rights so they are killed, otherwise by indigence they are dwindling. In such conditions, why not they adopt the way to national honor. Soviet Union was also a nuclear power and I witnessed its economical dilapidate which resulted in its breakdown into 14 pieces. The Soviet was stronger than Pakistan in all aspects. We Baloch are flawed but the state of Pakistan is racket of tribulations. Now, it is working on an economic corridor with the collaboration of China and sold-out Gwadar to this country which is expanding its presence. I am sure that the Baloch will foil all plans of the occupant to withstand on the price of Baloch land and resources. Today, Baloch land has been set on fire but the state is also enduring ramifications. Baloch guerrilla style war has inflected excessive financial deficits on the state. The state is surrounded in internal and external strife in shape of religious extremism, failed foreign policy and so on. Only China is assisting it in pursuance of interests to attain minerals of Balochistan and avail Pakistani markets for vending its products, otherwise I do not see any sincerity in their interactions. A state keeps atomic bombs in the fridge instead of foodstuff, this citing counterparts with Pakistan a country facing energy crises, load-shedding, food shortage, no provision of hygienic drinking water, health facilities and so on. Such a state has a dark future but the Baloch land is rich with its natural resources and it also has a splendid history, forever it has been a sovereign state, so in these perspectives why should we rely only on minimal demands rather than independence.

Blv: You do not consider tribalism and disparity based social classes for backwardness of Baloch and without the ejection of these how will a nation get affiliated with political movement?

SAM: You and I cannot discard tribalism from the life of Baloch but its cycle of evolution is diminishing it serenely. In the early times, we could not know the events that were happening in sparse areas of Balochistan but today a tiny progress through social media and Facebook get ubiquitous. Today, if something happens in Kohlu so it gets known widely in matter of minutes by Mekuran’s peoples through social media, mobile phone and other ways. The mentioned inventions and cycle of evolution is having an effect on tribalism, inexorably.

Khair Bukhsh Marri’s struggle and his role is an exact example regarding social change in the Baloch society. He relinquished tribal status but worked as a leader for the entire Baloch nation instead of serving only the Marri tribe. He performed an exceptional role among the Baloch Sardars. With the passage of time, modifications will be brought in the society and the movement, of course this will be put on systemized and rational basis. Today, Dr Allah Nazar and Wahid Qambar are the role models who are not sons of any tribal chieftain or high class person but are leading the movement. Some Sardars or tribal elements, who have some high positions in the movement is because of sacrifices not for other means. I consider all Balochs rightful who paid sacrifices and are struggling; only belonging to a higher class or being a Sardar is not enough for being a leader.

Blv: Do you have any formula that can allow all the Baloch separatist groups to work under a single command and control?

SAM: I have always worked and currently working to formulate a single platform for the Baloch, otherwise our sweats will not bring any fruits. At all costs, we have to form a combined platform. I deeply desire Baloch unity but this requires collective exertions by the youth, senior politicians, student organizations and others. Baloch intellectual ought to write about unity, Baloch teacher should teach about unanimity, only then we will be able to constitute an alliance or a single party for guidance. We Balochs have to eliminate zai (sub-tribes) and other regional identifications for the sake of collective national identification and a national state. I do not have a swift impacting or a magical tool to use it on the Baloch so that it give up the division of zai and likewise egos. You journalists, Baloch intellectuals and leaders should teach, educate and write on this topic untiringly, then I think its implementation will be possible. It is a fact that differences have existed for a very long but now social media and other modern apparatuses have highlighted or uncovered these more. I personally toiled to settle these discussed dissensions and I am aware that Dr Allah Nazar also strived for correction of these issues too. We desire to bring all political personalities and groups on a single platform and agenda the overall interest of the Baloch nation.

Blv: Presently, which secessionist group do you think is considered to be systemized, ideologically mature, principled and politically aware?

SAM: I salute Sarmachars (Baloch Fighters) who are fighting for the independence of the Baloch motherland whether they belong to Kohlu, Mekuran, Bolan, Dera Bugti or any other part of Balochistan. With regards to leadership, I cannot comment on this. Those who embraced martyrdom in the way of freedom, I present red salute to them and I have great respect for the Baloch martyrs and their bereaved families. I do not distinguish Baloch pro-independence organizations that are struggling in multiple ways but pay respects to their efforts.

Blv: What are your views about Brahamdagh Bugti’s interview which he had with the BBC Urdu service and broadcasted a few days ago?

SAM: Unfortunately, we criticize a lot. Brahamdagh’s interview should be listened to profoundly, he never spoke about submission before Pakistan but he said if his nation says for coming back to Balochistan, so he actually follows the nation’s wants, because he is leading a section in the Baloch nation and a leader is obliged to care for the demand and desire of followers. He said that if the Baloch nation asks for a withdrawal from independence standpoint, then he would respect the mandate of the nation. And his words mean that the Baloch people who are struggling in political way or fighting in mountains for independence but he never counted like Dr Malik and Sarfraz Bugti as Baloch in his interview. I think Brahamdagh’s words are being misinterpreted by state elements or someone could not derive its true meaning. The other point is that this person is living as a migrant in a country and cannot say blatantly that he is operating an organization which is waging a war against a state. Dr Allah Nazar can explicitly speak for freedom because he is somewhere in the mountains of Balochistan but I think a person staying in Switzerland, Sweden or another country cannot do so openly. I think Brahamdagh’s words were only a political realignment and nothing else.

Blv: In the previous days,  there was a news story appeared in the Pakistani media about the laying down of weapons by Baloch insurgents and the state authorities claim that estranged Balochs are swearing for allegiance to the state. How do you weigh these news segments and statements?

SAM: The mentioned authorities should be asked where were these people before capitulation? If they are talking about Haji Kalati and stating him the member of UBA, so he had moved to Punjab long ago and was not member of the organization but was expelled. Some people got sidelined because of inner grievances between UBA and BLA and were either not prominent or high rank commanders and those were of Marri tribe, only. Ideological workers are struggling and they will continue until achievement of their objective. This is only a media-show and is being performed by the so called Nawab (dukes) and Sardars (chieftains) to gain some incentives and state positions, hence in this competition they conduct fake submission rounds which are exaggerated by the state controlled and partial media. Irrationally, the media show mercenaries were laying down outdated guns which were never used by those who fight for freedom. I believe Baloch is a valiant nation and they will never put their weapons on the ground. If someone sidelines due to strong differences so he silently parts his way but not comes in front of media and surrender before forces. This claim is totally ridiculous and incredible.

Blv: Currently, the fifth Baloch insurgency is prolonging for more than a decade, so where do you see its position and achievements?

SAM: In the previous movements, Baloch were not educated enough and we did not have any approach on international level, but today Mehran Baloch is representing the nation at United Nation’s forum, as result of which it is being supported internationally. Today if a Baloch is residing in any country like the US, the UK or Norway so that can get nationality of mentioned country as being a member of a stateless nation. This is a fact that our internal dissensions are disturbing us to deal smoothly with international world. Influential states in world politics, like American senators and politicians are well aware of Baloch issue, similarly the Russians and other countries also value Baloch stance. Though the discussed states’ interest are linked with the state of Pakistan but we are representing Baloch nation internationally, even this issue is progressing slowly but it is elevating gradually. We are voicing up against human rights violation in Balochistan and facing opposition by the state of Pakistan that sends letters to the international community and disproportionately declare Baloch leaders as terrorist but it is fails to misinform them.

Blv: It was observed that a small number of people gather to protest on international level in various countries such as Switzerland, Germany, the UK, the US and so on, I think every group has built its own two bricks church.

SAM: You are right, this is a misfortune of Baloch nation and currently we are not united and Baloch dynamic is divided in Balochistan and in diaspora too which requires melioration. I already told you that we are striving to converge the energies of Baloch and I am optimist that soon the nation will know of a good news about this. Baloch youth should not be disappointed, history tells us that such things happens in movements like this. Before the socialist revolution in Russia which was led by Linen, there were disagreements between the Bolshevik and Menshevik but at the end the true one raised.

Blv: A mindset among some people exists which believes that a leader sits very far from the motherland in Europe or somewhere else cannot be revolutionary or a true leader. Do you agree with this argument?

SAM: I think all cannot be in a single place. Dr Allah Nazar is in Balochistan and he is working in very good way but it is a requirement in the current time that the movement is to be represented internationally and worked on abroad as well. The opponent also wants that the skilled and qualified people of the Baloch nation come to Balochistan so they can be targeted. Presently, the people who are living abroad are a need of time and the movement but when time comes these are required in Balochistan and called by Baloch so they will come back.

Blv: Some people believe that without separation or national state of Baloch and within the Pakistani state, Balochistan’s people can be served and develop, do your thoughts coincide with this at all?

SAM: No, never! The state of Pakistan only loves minerals and resources of Balochistan not the Baloch people and the state is needful of these. Baloch never can develop or get prospered while they remain as part of Pakistan. This phenomenon is totally wrong and not possible that the state of Pakistan would the Baloch people to develop. State is plundering resources of Balochistan and shifting it to Punjab and Islamabad, and even sell them to other countries, in return get money and wealth for the sustenance of Punjab. If the region of Balochistan did not possess the minerals and resources, Pakistan would have let it separate without waiting for a single day. It is surviving on discussed resources and the Baloch people who are the genuine owner of these are starving. The state will never give a tiny thing to the Baloch people, if it does so then how would they nourish the huge population of Punjab. It is misperception that the Baloch people, without its national state can, get developed or be prosperous. I am not claiming for this but the 67-year history of this country is immaculate in saying this. Gwadar project means to misbalance the demography of Balochistan and convert Baloch into a minority, even get them dislodged from their native areas and presently forces are implementing this scheme on ground in the areas of Mekuran where they have forced people to evacuate from their historical abodes which fall around the Economic Corridor Road. I cannot see any development in Balochistan and its capital Quetta compared to Punjab’s cities and Islamabad.

Blv: The present Baloch movement has lasted for more than decade and how much has this benefited the nation and how it will take to touch the destination, is there any time frame?

SAM: No specified time and scale of sacrifices can be given by anyone. It is dependent on conscious level of the nation and related situations.

Blv: The state was trapped in various complexities but Baloch movement could not make any achievement and avail the time but by now it has retrieved and is pushing down to insurgency movement. Is it not so?

SAM: It takes a long time and during the current movement the Balochs have learnt a lot in the field of politics and warfare too. By now, Baloch in all sphere of life whether they are student, politician, workers and others are consciousness, and the nation has paid hefty sacrifices for reaching this level. The experiences will guide the movement forward and it may face little loss against a lot of gain. It is true that the state has retrieved but Baloch have also learnt a lot. Movement has a long journey ahead as yet.

Blv: At last if you have a message to the nation through our magazine.

SAM: Baloch should focus on only national freedom and continue to struggle. Furthermore, they should transfer this ideology to their children. They must realize that these helpless chief minister or MPAs can never deliver anything to the nation but they only achieve individual interests and prolong the age of national slavery, hence they must be ignored. I urge every individual of the Baloch nation to seek national independence on their level and also transform this through to their broods for its gain. Baloch should keep up the current struggle until they get emancipation.

Balochistan’s Perpetually Deteriorating Education System

By Shawn Forbes, Canada

One of the most important factors in every successful society is significant and meaningful education.  Through strong 4scholastic institutions; a nation’s people gain the intellectual tools necessary to build and maintain a progressive modern social structure. 19th century American educator and politician Horace Mann said that “Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery.”

Unfortunately in Balochistan the wheels of social progress are broken. An ineffective state government and deeply corrupt academic administration has effectively prevented the common Baloch people from attaining meaningful education.  The school buildings are dilapidated and often lack the very basic amenities such as running water, plumbing or electricity. In addition to being deprived of the basic conditions and adequate academic facilities, students in Balochistan often lack the appropriate tools and resources to be successful in their studies.

According to statistics released last year by Alif Ailaan; a non-profit organization, At least 66% of children, between the ages of 5 and 16, in Balochistan, are not attending school.  Earlier this year the same NGO reported that fewer than 40% of primary schools in Balochistan were found to have satisfactory building conditions.

The effects of the state government’s failure to implement any practical improvements to the educational system in Balochistan is becoming more and more apparent than ever in recent months.  In June, as many as 30 students were arrested by state security forces for protesting the unreasonable delays to their classes at the Bolan medical college.  In the following days, regional students continued to protest the conditions of education and unlawful arrests of peacefully protesting students.  During the subsequent protests, security forces arrested another 75 students.

8A few weeks later, In July, students in Kharan learned that Rs 10,000,000  of scholarship funds intended for the MPA students was distributed exclusively among the relatives and associates of regional administrative officials.  According to student activists, that while the qualified and registered students were excluded from the benefits of their scholarships, many of the names of scholarship recipients on the scholarship lists were not even students.  Although the students have taken all available legal measures, and held peaceful protests, the inappropriate distribution of their scholarship funds has yet to be resolved.

In September intermediate School Students in Quetta protested the serious irregularities of their exam marks.  According to the students they were unfairly given failing grades while other students were given grades impossibly high as 109/100.  Once again, security forces enacted a swift crackdown to end the protest; arresting as many as 50 students.

Recently the Quetta govt. girls primary school has officially closed for non-payment of rent.  Due to the lack of adequate government funding for education in Balochistan; female students have been enormously impacted. The Female students of universities and colleges in Balochistan have frequently protested the lack of proper learning resources and appropriate facilities.

In addition to the outright deprivation of educational facilities and resources, female students have been regularly victimized by religious extremists.  Bombings, acid attacks, threats, discrimination and harassment have become commonplace in Balochistan.  Numerous schools and teachers in Balochistan have been threatened, attacked, and forced to close for providing meaningful modern education to girls.  In December of 2014 Zahid Askani, the principal of the Oasis private school in Gwadar, was gunned down by unidentified assassins on a motorcycle while on his way to the school.  Zahid Askani had founded the Oasis co-education school and English learning center to provide a significant modern education for boys and girls of the area.  His efforts were rewarded with 7 fatal gunshot wounds.  Martyr Zahid Askani is but one example of countless educators who have been disappeared or embraced martyrdom for their sincere dedication to educating their people and providing the tools for them to become intellectually empowered.

While genuine educators and students are terrorized by death squads and extremist thugs; Balochistan’s state educational infrastructure remains mired in corruption and bureaucracy.  According to the Secretary of Secondary Education of Balochistan Abdul Saboor Kakar as many as 50 schools in one district were found to be non-existent or “ghost schools”.  In a statement published in February by The International News; The official stated that the ghost-teachers in these districts were drawing funds for salaries and expenditures and claiming 1,800 students were enrolled in an area where only 900 students existed.  He added that as few as 18% of students achieve their matriculation.

In a recent interview with Dawn.com The adviser to the Balochistan chief minister on education, Sardar Raza Muhammad Bareech stated that “Despite the government’s recent movement against out of school children, there are still 1.7 million children who are out of school at the moment”

Although the State Government in Balochistan has acknowledged the dismal state of education; they have yet to fulfill their obligations and play an effective role in improving the availability and quality of education in Balochistan.  Instead they offer perpetually unfulfilled promises of educational development. In the meantime the educational system in Balochistan continues to rapidly deteriorate, and ultimately the bright young Baloch students are not only deprived of proper education, but are outright robbed of their personal potential and opportunities in life.

Education is the Most Powerful Weapon Which You Can Use to Change the World.” – Nelson Mandela

Worth of Saindak project = plight of its natives

By Naeem Baloch, Nushki

The Saindak Gold – Copper project is situated adjacent to Saindak town in District of Chaghi, Balochistan. The Saindak gold-lproject is famous for its gold, copper and silver deposits, publically.  In 1901, the gold deposits were discovered by two geologists; an Englishman and a Hindus.

In 1970, after the discovery of gold deposits at Saindak, the Pakistani authorities with collaboration of Chinese engineer kicked-off establishing firms for extraction of treasurable minerals. In 1975, initially Pakistan launched mining but its engineers couldn’t operate the project properly, consequently the project faltered for some years. Subsequently Government of Pakistan handed over the project to China. The both countries signed on a formal agreement worth $350 for development of Saindak Copper – Gold mine. The mines were leased on to MCC (Metallurgical Corporation of China Ltd) for the period of ten years. In the contents of agreement, on per 50% of revenue goes to MCC, 48% to the government of Pakistan, while 2% was settled for real owner the Balochistan.

Mining was sectored in three directs with names; South, North and East ore bodies.

South ore body contains deposits of 111 million tons, North ore body have deposits of 28 million tons while east ore body covers deposits of 273 million tons. The project overall contains reserves of 412 million tons, on average 0.5 gram of gold per ton and 1.5 gram of silver per ton. According to official estimates, the project has capacity to produce 15, 800 tons of blister copper annually, containing 1.5 tons of gold and 2.8 tons of silver. The reported production results, however, have generally remained on average more than 2000 tons per month, which means that more than production of 24,000 tons per year has been extracting.

Saindak projectCurrently, the project is being managed by some 350 Chinese and 1,400 Pakistani workforce. The Pakistani engineers’ salaries are very low comparatively Chinese, because a Chinese enjoys salary about $1200 whilst Pakistanis remuneration is some $200 and this makes a wide difference in imbursements. Meantime, the Chinese laborer gets salary of $200 which is equal to an indigenous engineer. Confused disposal of justice here can be witnessed. The vacancies at discussed project are not filled on merit base, rather to this the people are appointed through favoritism and nepotism.

Chinese attitude is like step mother towards local laborer and workers. The Chinese along with Pakistani influential have gulped billion of rupees earned from Saindak project. The Chinese are observed the most corrupt and uncivilized in the world after the experience of Saindak project.

International laws articulate the area population should be facilitated with universities, schools, hospitals and infrastructure from revenue of discovered production, primarily. Just 8.0 million scholarships have been orientated for the locals including district Chaghi students where project is situated, yearly. Regrettably, deserving students are not given rather the Pashtoon ethnic of the province due to influence, sycophancy and prejudiced policies are enjoying discussed scholarships.

The problems are to be reviewed, then a swarm is seen from that employees and local people are suffering. Just one school for six village and 500 students are educating from this. Beware, no girl school at all exist in entire Saindak town in both sectors neither government nor private. There are 16 teachers with insufficient salary of Rs 15000 to 24000 and this is absolutely injustice with them. Teachers are not considered the part of company, and they are also not given any bonus, water, health allowances, house rent and likewise. Furthermore, the high school lacks the facilities, like science room, furniture and boundary wall.

Though, on the 16 October 2014, divisional director education Yahya Khan Mengal visited MRDL School. After that, he approached to Chinese MD regarding the plight of mentioned educational institute. He vehemently emphasized for increment in the salaries of teaching staff and recommended minimum Rs 100000 or above than this for each. Moreover, Mr Mengal promised for up-gradation of school at Saindak project as semi-governmental, eventually nothing could be materialized on ground.

Secondly, the availability of hygienic water is a major problem for employees. Because of the use of uncleansed water many diseases have been reported in area people, for instance high blood pressure, obesity, stress, kidneys’ defects, laziness, stomach ailment and heart attack. Recently, two employees died of heart attack, but the project didn’t provide ambulance the victims who were transported to any modern health developed area. In addition, local people are deprived of all basic necessities, even the local employees are not provided standard edibles from project’s mess.

Unluckily, media which is considered the mirror of a society, neither gave slight coverage nor highlighted the embezzlements were made at Saindak project. If we observe the hollow claims made by Chief Minister Balochistan about education, so pragmatically these do not bear any fruit but his vociferation evaporates in air. They are turning a blind eye to such marginalized area. The Chief Minister is invited to visit Saindak project to convey a strong omen of real nationalism to the people of province. There is immediate need of attention and action on the miserable conditions of education in the area of Saindak project which producing a huge amount for country with international powers.

The Kasuri effect: India acknowledges secret Kashmir draft, Balochistan link

By JAWED NAQVI

The Indian Express reported on Thursday the handing over of a secret draft agreement on Jammu and Kashmir by the972039-shivsena-1444714257-570-640x480 outgoing Indian prime minister to the current one in May last year. The Hindu flashed the picture of a man who claims to be the representative in Delhi of the Baloch Liberation Organisation.

Both stories seem spurred by the memoirs of former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri released in New Delhi this week.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf had hammered out the draft framework agreement on Jammu and Kashmir in secret talks, a senior Indian diplomat familiar with the negotiations has told The Indian Express.

The report follows Mr Kasuri’s identical claim at his book release function here on Wednesday where Dr Singh was present along with Bharatiya Janata Party stalwarts L.K. Advani and Yashwant Sinha.

The Baloch issue with India has also figured in Mr Kasuri’s book, though not quite as dramatically as The Hindu report states.

“I want to say here that Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies have a full measure of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. There’s no gainsaying that it is a futile and self-defeating motive to hurt the other side, because both are capable of destabilising each other or wreaking havoc. There is no substitute to good sense and for talks at every possible level,” he told this correspondent in a conversation.

Files recording the unsigned documents, exchanged by both sides, were personally handed over to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by his predecessor at a May 27, 2014 meeting, the Indian diplomat told the Express.

The paper confirmed that the Indian official was speaking even as Mr Kasuri was in New Delhi to release the Indian edition of his book, ‘Neither a hawk nor a dove’. The Express described the book as the first insider account of India-Pakistan secret diplomacy on Kashmir.

Mr Kasuri’s book quotes General Musharraf as stating that the secret Kashmir agreement envisaged joint management of the state by India and Pakistan, as well as demilitarisation of the territory.

The Indian negotiator said the final draft of the framework agreement in fact spoke of a “consultative mechanism”, made up of elected representatives of the governments of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, as well as officials of the two national governments. The consultative mechanism, he said, was mandated to address regional “social and economic issues”, like tourism, religious pilgrimages, culture and trade.

New Delhi, the official said, had rejected General Musharraf’s push for institutions for joint management of Kashmir by the two states, arguing it would erode Indian sovereignty.

Prime minister Singh’s hand-picked envoy, Ambassador Satinder Lambah, and General Musharraf’s interlocutors, Riaz Muhammad Khan and Tariq Aziz, held over 200 hours of discussions on the draft agreement, during 30 meetings held in Dubai and Kathmandu, the Express said.

“Lambah, a former intelligence official recalled, was also flown to Rawalpindi on a Research and Analysis Wing jet as negotiations reached an advanced stage, travelling without a passport or visa to ensure the meetings remained secret.”

Former president Asif Ali Zardari had sought to revive the talks when he took power in 2008, but was prevented from doing so by Mr Musharraf’s successor as army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

“At one time,” Dr Singh admitted at a press conference in 2014, “it appeared that an important breakthrough was in sight. Events in Pakistan — for example, the fact that General Musharraf had to make way for a different setup — I think that led to the process not moving further.”

The Hindu, meanwhile, said that the acknowledged presence of the Baloch representative in India would enable India to highlight human rights issues there similar to the way it has begun highlighting alleged atrocities in Azad Kashmir.

The new Indian position over Balochistan became public when (outlawed in Pakistan) Balochistan Liberation Organisation (BLO) representative Balaach Pardili addressed a gathering in New Delhi on October 4, reading out a statement from BLO’s exiled leader Nawabzada Hyrbyair Marri.

The BLO has confirmed to The Hindu about the presence of its political representative in Delhi. Mr Pardili, it said, originally hails from Afghanistan.

He has been living in Delhi since 2009 and was recently contacted by Nawabzada Marri to represent him at public meetings. Mr Kasuri said Pakistan was talking to senior Baloch interlocutors and the Indian revelation was “old hat”.

The London-based Nawabzada Hyrbyair Marri is the leader of Free Balochistan Movement with a militant arm, Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), and BLO, the political wing. “I hope to facilitate Nawabzada Marri’s visit to Delhi in near future,” Pardili told The Hindu.

In a statement to The Hindu, Nawabzada Marri said: “We wish that India, the largest democracy, have a clear policy about Balochistan. If Pakistani officials can openly meet the Kashmiri leadership, why shouldn’t India do the same? The Red Cross does not have a hotline on Balochistan despite our repeated pleas. I want India’s help to start a crisis hotline with the Red Cross.”

(Courtesy to Dawn)

Institutional imperatives and neoliberal madness

Noam Chomsky interviewed by David Barsamian

To what extent are the multiple crises in the Middle East due to internal factors and to what extent are they linked tonoam-chomsky3351 US policies in the region?

There is an interesting interview with Graham Fuller. He’s a highly respected Middle East analyst with a long background in the CIA. He goes on to say that he’s not contributing to the conspiracy tales that are floating around the Middle East about how the United States actually set up ISIS. But what he says is that the invasion of Iraq, which hit this vulnerable society with a sledgehammer, excited ethnic conflicts that had not really been there before and they blew up and grew further, and other US interventions increased the violence and instability. Out of this grew ISIS, which is a kind of radical offshoot of the already radical Wahhabi-Salafi doctrines that are promulgated by Washington’s chief ally, Saudi Arabia, which provides the doctrinal basis, the missionary zeal, and the money that keeps the jihadi movement going. So out of this complex comes ISIS as a particular excrescence, a horrible outgrowth.

Iraq was already extremely vulnerable because of the wars, the sanctions that devastated the society. Along comes the invasion, which wrecked what was left. The US policies—Paul Bremer’s policies—insisted on sectarian divisions that had not been there before. The US, in its wisdom, decided that there should be sectarian divisions in everything—offices, whatever. That plus the violence and the brutality of the invasion elicited counter-reactions. Within a couple of years there was a major Shi’a-Sunni conflict raging, which had not been there before.

If you go back to Baghdad in 2000, it was an intermingled city: Shi’ites and Sunnis were living in the same neighborhoods, they intermarried. Some Iraqis, like Raed Jarrar, have pointed out that you often didn’t even know what sect your neighbor belonged to. His analogy is, in the United States you might not know what Protestant sect your neighbor belongs to. But it didn’t take long for this to blow up. Now we have ISIS on our hands.

What about the legacy of British, French, and Italian imperialism? No one talks about Italy and Libya, Italy and Eritrea.

The first real genocidal attack in the twentieth century was Italy’s in Libya. Italy initiated a bombing of what it called “rebellious tribes” in the late 1920s. It was virtually a genocidal assault on Libya. Of course, Benito Mussolini invaded Abyssinia and Eritrea. They were horribly treated. Italy left a legacy of violence and repression, and it’s all barely simmering. It all blows up as soon as you hit the society again. The final blow was when the three traditional imperial powers—the United States, Britain, and France—France was actually in the lead—decided to violate the Security Council resolution which had called for a no-fly zone, ceasefire, and negotiations. They decided instead to become the air force of the rebels and led the way to what is now the destruction of Libya.

In fact, the Economist calls Libya “the next failed state, spiraling into chaos.” The words “chaos” and “chaotic” come up a lot now attached to different countries in the Middle East. Yemen, again, is another example.

Just this morning, according to the press, one of the Libyan factions seized bank resources, which apparently have a ton of gold. The markets are concerned about what’s going to happen to that. When you smash up vulnerable societies, it’s likely to lead to chaos and destruction and violence. That’s a very good reason for pursuing peaceful diplomatic means instead of using your strength, which is violence.

What about the situation in Nigeria, where there hasn’t been overt US military intervention and there has been the growth of Boko Haram?

Boko Haram is partly an outgrowth of the violence in Libya, which has poured arms all over the region, from the Levant to Northern Africa. Nigeria is traditionally British and it’s in the midst of the Francophone area. And out of this complex are coming all kinds of tribal conflicts, violence, and repression. The governments are extremely corrupt. Nigeria is in the hands, pretty much, of Shell and other Western oil companies, which have been carrying out very destructive operations there also, inciting violence.

Africa is beginning slowly to pull together from centuries of imperial violence and repression, but it’s going to be a very hard path.

I’m interested that you haven’t mentioned neoliberal economic policies as being a factor in producing chaos and dislocation.

Oh, they have, repeatedly. In fact, structural adjustment programs, the neoliberal policy, had a terrible effect in the 1980s in Rwanda, in Yugoslavia, in Southern Africa, in Latin America. In Rwanda they were a major factor in intensifying crises and conflicts that already existed. When the society begins to break down, all kinds of conflicts erupt. That’s one of the factors that led to the horrible atrocities in the early 1990s. The same happened in Yugoslavia. Structural adjustment programs contributed to fracturing the society, laying the basis for the conflicts that developed later. The most loyal adherents to the neoliberal programs were Southern Africa and Latin America, and both had several decades of de-development and stagnation, which have had a very severe effect. Latin America has begun to pull out of it. Africa is barely beginning. But it also has, of course, a history of extreme violence and imperial aggression, which leaves an incredible legacy.

Amidst all the turmoil in the Middle East, the feudal monarchies remain in place: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar. How do they pull it off?

Mainly force. When the Arab Spring began in 2011, there were efforts in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates to join in in a very mild way. So in Saudi Arabia there were some calls for reformist protests on Friday after the religious services. They were crushed by force immediately. People were afraid to go out in the streets of Riyadh. In Bahrain there were protests by the Shi’ite majority—it’s a Sunni monarchy—for some time, but as soon as it seemed to be getting out of control, the Saudi army moved in, leading a Gulf force which repressed it violently.

It’s important to remember that eastern Saudi Arabia, right across the causeway from Bahrain, has a very large Shi’ite population, and that’s also the area where most of the oil is. So it’s a very sensitive thing for the Saudi dictatorship.

What’s the significance in the dramatic fall in the price of oil? It’s said also that Secretary of State John Kerry met with the Saudis and persuaded them—I don’t know if they needed persuasion—to keep their production at a very high level and flood the market.

The fall in the price of oil is primarily due to the huge increase in US shale production, which has changed the oil market significantly. The Saudis, in the past, had cut back production to try to maintain higher prices. But this time they made the decision—I doubt that Kerry had anything to do with it—to keep prices high, for several reasons. One, to maintain their own market share, but also to drive American shale producers out of the market. Shale production is pretty expensive, and in fact oil wells are being closed down all over the United States because at this level of pricing they’re not economical. I think the Saudis want to make sure that there’s not a major competitor in the future.

What about the side effect that it is going to hurt designated US enemies such as Russia, Iran, and Venezuela?

It will. It will hurt all oil producers. It’s hurting US producers. In fact, that’s why they’re closing down some of their operations.

What about the environmental impact? There’s article after article saying this is great for the American consumers, gas is under two dollars a gallon, people will be driving more, they will have extra money in their pockets, and so on.

It’s a total catastrophe. In fact, it’s astonishing to read the articles, which say exactly what you described, without mentioning that this is going to destroy our grandchildren. Who cares about that? The price of oil is already way too low. Oil should be priced much higher on the American market—the way it is in Europe, for example—to try to discourage excessive use of fossil fuels, which are destroying the environment.

It’s pretty dangerous, and it’s getting worse every day. The latest concern—again, they’ve been in the background for a while—is that there might be an explosion of methane from the melting of the Arctic and the permafrost. If that happens, some of the predictions are very dire, even within a short time span, a couple of decades. It’s an incredible moment, when you look at it. The business pages and the press are lauding the prospect that we can devastate the world for our grandchildren. There ought to be a headline: “Let’s Destroy the Possibility for Our Grandchildren to Have a Decent Life.”

In mid-January there were a couple of new developments, headlines saying “Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction,” “2014 Hottest Year Since Record-Keeping Began in 1880,” and “Ten Hottest Years Have Occurred Since 1997.” The evidence seems to be incontrovertible and should be totally noncontroversial. Yet the response from the political class and the owners of the economy seems lukewarm, tepid, and cosmetic.

There was just an interesting poll by the Pew polling agency. It was released at Davos, the meeting of all the big shots. It was a study of attitudes of CEOs of corporations. They polled them on what they considered to be the significant issues that they faced. Climate change was so low that they didn’t even include it in the final poll. What they cared about was profits tomorrow, prospects a week from now, what’s the growth situation like, are we going to have enough low-paid workers? And finally, at the very bottom, was climate change, a minor thing off on the edges.

It’s not that they’re bad people. It reveals an institutional pathology. There is an institutional structure that says that if you’re the CEO of a major corporation, which incidentally means that you have enormous influence in the political system, then you simply don’t care about what happens to the world in the next generation, including your own grandchildren. What you care about is profits tomorrow. It’s an institutional imperative.

There is some attention being paid to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. I’m wondering if perhaps climate change should be seen as a global medical emergency that, if untreated, if not addressed, will lead to massive dislocation, destruction, and death.

It certainly will. You mentioned the ocean life being devastated. But it’s all over. The level of species destruction now is estimated to be at about the level of 65 million years ago, the last major extinction, when a huge asteroid hit Earth. That ended the age of the dinosaurs and actually led to an opening for small mammals, ultimately us. But there was huge species extinction. That’s the level of extinction today.

It’s been assumed that the oceans would be resilient because of their scale and so on, but that turns out, unexpectedly, not to be true. They can absorb a certain amount of CO2, but there is a limit.

There is a Yanomami shaman leader named Davi Kopinawa. There are about 30,000 to 40,000 Yanomami in northern Brazil and southern Venezuela. He says, “The white people want to kill everything. They will soil the rivers and lakes and take what is left. Their thoughts are constantly attached to their merchandise. They relentlessly and always desire new goods. They do not think that they are spoiling the earth and the sky and that they will never be able to recreate new ones.” Indigenous people—I’m not saying across the board—certainly have a different connection or relation to the land, to nature.

That’s pretty much true around the world. So, in Canada, the First Nations, the Indigenous people, are leading the struggles, mobilizations, legal efforts to try to prevent the extremely dangerous expansion of the use of highly destructive fossil fuels in southwestern Canada.

Go down to Bolivia, Ecuador, the Amazon, it’s the Indigenous people who are in the forefront of trying to prevent overuse of fossil fuels and other resources and to restore some kind of balance with nature. In fact, the countries with the largest Indigenous populations—first Bolivia, which actually has a real majority, and Ecuador, a large population—have been in the lead in trying to establish what they call “rights of nature.” It’s even a constitutional provision in Bolivia. In Ecuador, the government did make an offer to leave their oil in the ground, which is where it ought to be, and asked in return that the European countries provide them with a small compensation for a fraction of the loss of revenue. They refused. So they’re now exploiting the oil. At least they made a move.

The same is true everywhere. It’s true in Australia. In India, the tribal people are trying to protect resources. These are communities which for very long periods have lived in some kind of balance with nature. I don’t want to turn it into Utopia, but at least they had some concern for a balance with nature. And it’s true that the capitalist, imperialist invasion did not have that concern. You could see it from the poll of CEOs, which is perfectly typical of the attitude of the imperial powers that just want to ravage the world and take it for themselves, for their immediate use.

You had some contact with, I believe, Indigenous groups in Colombia, in the rainforest there.

I have spent some time in southern Colombia, which is a highly embattled region. It’s under attack. Campesinos and Indigenous people and Afro-Colombians, all of them, are under constant attack by paramilitaries, by the military, and now also by the guerillas, which used to be connected to the local populations. But thanks to the militarization of the war, FARC [the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] particularly has just been turned into another army preying on the peasants.

Also, what we call “fumigation,” which is chemical warfare, destroys virtually everything. Theoretically, it’s aimed at coca production, whatever one thinks of that, but in fact it destroys crops, livestock. You walk through the villages and you see children with all kinds of sores on their arms. People are dying.

Once when I went, the area was so violent that they wouldn’t let us go out of the local town, Popayán, so people came in from the countryside to talk to us, a couple of Colombian human-rights activists whom I joined. Another time I went with them to a remote village. A mixture of campesinos and Indigenous peoples—Afro-Colombians elsewhere—are trying to preserve their water supplies. There is a mountain that is a virgin forest and is their source of water, and also has symbolism of all kinds in their cultural life. It is threatened by mining, which would destroy it. They have quite sophisticated, thoughtful plans as to how to preserve the hydrological and other resources, but they’re fighting against powerful forces: the mining companies, the government, the multinationals in the background. It’s a battle. And also it’s very violent. The first time we tried to go there, they wouldn’t let us come because there was too much killing going on. The second time, we were able to get through.

You have a family connection as well. Can you talk about that?

Yes. I was there because they were dedicating a forest on the mountain to my late wife, Carol, and I went there for the ceremony of the dedication, climbing the mountain. There were shamans and so on. The villagers all participated. It was a moving and warm ceremony. The men climbed up the mountain while the women stayed and prepared a communal meal. It was a pretty dramatic occurrence.

In Power Systems, the last book we did together, you said that “Latin America has shown increasing independence in international affairs.” Is that trend continuing?

It is, definitely. I think it’s probably the major factor behind President Barack Obama’s move to what we call “normalized relations” with Cuba, meaning lifting partially the attack on Cuba that’s been going on for fifty years. That’s “normalized relations.” He has moved in that direction. I suspect part of the reason was that the United States was being increasingly excluded from the hemisphere on this issue. The US government insisted back in the early 1960s, when it kind of ran the show, that Cuba be excluded from the hemispheric organizations. As Latin America has become more independent, more free of US dominance, it has increasingly insisted that Cuba be allowed back into them.

At the last hemispheric meeting, which was in Colombia, this was a major issue. The United States and Canada were isolated. The other issue on which they were isolated was drugs. The Latin American countries are the victims of the drug war, which is centered in the United States. They want to temper these actions, which are devastating them and are based here—not just the demand but even the guns. You go to Mexico, a majority of the guns that are picked up from the cartels happen to come from the United States. This is having a ruinous effect in Latin America. They want to end it. They want to move toward decriminalization and other measures.

There is another meeting coming up in Panama. It’s likely that the US would simply have been excluded if it insisted on its unilateral rejection of Cuban membership.

When Obama announced the shift in policy vis-à-vis Cuba, I didn’t see any mention of the extensive terrorist campaign, the trade embargo and economic warfare the US government carried out against Cuba. And no mention, of course, of reparations or compensation.

There is one mention of the terrorist war, and that is witticisms about the silly CIA pranks, trying to burn Castro’s beard or something like that.

Poison pens.

Poison pens. You’re allowed to make fun of that. But not of the fact that Kennedy launched a major terrorist war against Cuba, in fact a very serious one. It was his brother, Robert Kennedy, who was placed in charge of it. It was his highest priority. And the goal was to bring “the terrors of the earth” to Cuba. That’s the phrase that was used by Arthur Schlesinger, Kennedy’s Latin America adviser, in his biography of Robert Kennedy. It was very serious: blowing up petrochemical plants, sinking ships in the harbor, poisoning crops and livestock, shelling hotels—incidentally, with Russian visitors in them. It went on for years. It was one of the factors that led to the missile crisis, which immediately after almost led to a nuclear war. When the missile crisis ended, Kennedy instantly relaunched the terrorist war, which went on in various forms for years, into the 1990s. That’s not discussed.

Obama’s message, if you read it, which was then echoed in commentary, is that our efforts to bring democracy and freedom to Cuba have not succeeded. Although they were all benevolent in intent, they haven’t worked. It’s therefore time to try a new method to achieve our benevolent goals. That’s Obama’s description, echoed in the commentary, for a record of fifty years of massive terrorism, of economic strangulation which was so extreme that if, say, a European manufacturer of some medical equipment used a little piece of nickel taken from Cuba, it had to be banned from international commerce. The United States has plenty of power to do that. It’s really been savage. But that’s our benevolent effort to bring democracy and freedom to Cuba. Not to the dictatorships that we support. We don’t make benevolent efforts there, somehow.

The US war on Cambodia was called a sideshow, the main event being Vietnam. The sideshow to the sideshow was landlocked, mostly rural Laos. In March 1970, you were on your way to Hanoi and you were delayed for a week in Vientiane, Laos. You wrote about that in the New York Review of Books and in At War with Asia. I was struck with your descriptive journalistic writing about what you saw: clear, terse sentences. You had a very moving experience with Fred Branfman, who passed away in September 2014. He had been in Laos for many years and spoke Laotian. You went with him to a refugee camp outside of Vientiane and you wrote about that.

Fred had been trying for some time to get some Western exposure to the atrocities that were going on. He was one of the very few people—there were a few others, Walt Haney, a couple of others—who were working in Laos and had discovered the crimes that were being committed, which were really shocking. That book that you have there, Voices from the Plain of Jars, is the result of Fred’s research with victims of the horrific air war that was going on.

There had been bombing of Laos from the mid-1960s. But, in 1968, there was a cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam. There were negotiations beginning, and they cut back the bombing of North Vietnam. The United States officially announced that they had all these extra bombers around and nothing to do with them, so they decided to bomb northern Laos. This is a remote area of peasant villages, primitive. Most of them probably didn’t even know they were in Laos. They were subjected to years of extremely intensive bombing. People were living in caves, trying to survive. One should really read the testimonies in Fred’s book to get a picture of it. He was trying to expose this.

Anyway, we met as soon as I got there. I spent most of the week with him. I was there for a week, thanks to the boredom of an Indian bureaucrat. Bureaucrats have nothing to do except to make life difficult for people. This guy was in charge of the United Nations flights from Vientiane to Hanoi. There was one flight a week in a special protected corridor. You flew there and you saw jet planes flying all over the place on their way to bomb whoever. For some reason, he decided not to let us go the first week. It kind of amused him. So I stayed in Laos, which was a very good thing, because I learned a lot. I spent most of the week with Fred, not just in the refugee camp. I went to the village where he had lived. I met some of his many contacts.

I had an interview with a member of the government, a rich landowner who was secretly, in a sense, a supporter of the Pathet Lao, the guerillas. When I wrote about him I didn’t want to identify him, so in the book he’s called an “urban intellectual.” He was actually a government minister. He said that if the Pathet Lao took over, he would be finished. They would take his land, everything he owned, they might kill him. But he still wanted them to take over because the alternative would be the destruction of Laos. It would become a Thai protectorate. Everything would be bought up by somebody else.

I met underground Pathet Lao cadres. Had an interview with the Prime Minister, Souvanna Phouma. It was a very interesting week and a very moving one.

You don’t name Fred in your article. You said you were “in the company of a Lao-speaking American.”

That’s what he requested. He did not want to be identified at that time.

Historian Al McCoy, who has written himself about Indochina, in his foreword to the second edition of Voices from the Plain of Jars, writes that approximately 20,000 civilians have been killed or maimed by unexploded cluster bombs since the bombing ended—and those numbers continue to mount.

That’s correct. I’ve written about it, too. There has been a British demining team working there, but apparently the area is saturated with cluster bombs. These are tiny little bomblets, which a child could pick up thinking it is a toy and then it will blow up, or a farmer could hit one with a hoe and it explodes. They’re all over the place. It’s a massive effort to remove them. And very limited resources have been devoted to it by the United States, which was responsible for them being there, of course. Even today there are people being blown up by cluster bombs.

McCoy suggests that Laos was a test case for future US wars, with the extensive reliance on air power. We see that today with the use of drones.

Fred also talked about that. There’s something to it. It’s a test case. We have other test cases, which are pretty remarkable. Just recently a detailed study of the Guantánamo torture system came out by researchers at the Seton Hall Law School. It appeared in their law journal and I think there’s more coming out in a book. They point out something quite interesting. A lot of it has been exposed, but there was another part of the Guantánamo torture system, the Dick Cheney–Donald Rumsfeld torture system, which they called the “Battle Lab.” The purpose of the torture in the “Battle Lab,” which was supervised by medics, was to determine the most effective techniques of torture. It was a laboratory experiment, not designed to get information. Just let’s see how much torture can be applied—psychological, physical, drugs—before the person becomes unable to comment. So it was essentially a laboratory of torture.

In fact, if you take a look at the Senate report on the torture system, it raises one question: Did the torture work? It claims the torture didn’t work, so it was therefore bad. The commentary has been pretty much the same. The torture didn’t work, so we shouldn’t do it. When they say the torture didn’t work, it means it didn’t stop terrorist acts.

Was that the purpose? Probably not. The initial purpose of the Cheney-Rumsfeld torture seems to have been to try to extricate some information—true or false, it doesn’t matter—some kind of claim that would justify the war in Iraq. The planned war in Iraq began before the war. They were seeking to find some kind of evidence that there were connections between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. When they didn’t find it, they called for more torture. Finally, because people under torture will say anything, they claimed they got some evidence. Apparently, that was the first major goal. And that was achieved.

Another goal has been things like the “Battle Lab,” to see how far you can go in torture. So to say that it didn’t succeed may not be correct, if you look at its actual goals. Incidentally, it’s pretty remarkable that the only thing we discuss is: Did it succeed?

Fred Branfman wrote an article about your visit and his friendship with you. It came out in Salon in 2012. I don’t want to embarrass you, but he said that you broke down when you were talking to those villagers and when you heard their stories of what they had gone through under the US bombing.

Laos was the first time—there have been many since—in which I saw firsthand the effect on the victims of massive atrocities. I had been in the South in the United States during the civil rights movement, which was bad enough, but I hadn’t had exposure overseas before the Laotian experience. Since then I have, many times. And, yes, it’s a shattering experience.

We discussed this a little bit—I wrote about it, I think he did in his book later—that when we went to the refugee camp, the refugees were extremely reticent. From their point of view, I was just some American soldier who is coming to endanger them. In fact, Fred talked to some of them privately, and they said that. Why should they expose themselves? They don’t know what’s happening. They’re living in miserable conditions. They’re under the control of some foreign force that has driven them out of their homes and destroyed them and killed their children. Why should they say anything to this person? It took a while before they were even willing to begin to talk. I’ve seen that elsewhere, too. That’s understandable. When you’re dealing with refugees, you cannot take for granted what they say right away. They’re afraid of you, rightly, and see no reason why they should tell you anything. So, in fact, some of the first villagers, when I was asking questions about the bombing, said, “No problem. We kind of liked it. It was fireworks. It didn’t bother us.” Why should they tell an American visitor what it’s like to be bombed by American bombs? That’s pretty common in refugee testimony. Every investigator is quite aware of that.

Have you heard of Leonard Cohen? He’s a Canadian singer and a poet.

No, I’m afraid not.

He’s fairly well-known. One of his songs is called “Anthem.” He says, “Ring the bells that can still ring,/ Forget your perfect offering./ There’s a crack, a crack in everything./ That’s how the light gets in.” I was wondering where you see the cracks in the system where people can widen those cracks and create a sustained movement for social justice. We’ve seen demonstrations in Ferguson, New York, and elsewhere. Where do you see those openings that can be exploited effectively?

Probably the major one has to do with climate change. There simply has to be a mass popular movement to try to reverse the mad rush toward destruction. There are others. The threat of nuclear war is serious and increasing. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists just moved their famous Doomsday Clock a little closer to midnight. At least in that case, we know in principle how to end the threat—and it’s a serious one. It’s coming up also in connection with the Iran issue, which is very much on the agenda today. In all of these domains, large-scale popular movements could be effective.

There is an economic crisis. We have been through this neoliberal period for a generation. There has been economic growth, but it has not reached most of the population. For the majority of the population, it’s been a period of stagnation or decline. Economic activity goes increasingly into predatory financial institutions, which are basically harmful to the economy but are absorbing enormous amounts of capital, skill, the possibilities for economic progress. And then, of course, it’s led to enormous inequality. In the last roughly ten years, maybe 95 percent of the growth has gone to 1 percent of the population, which actually means a fraction of 1 percent, if you look at it. These are all very serious problems.

There are responses. So, for example, in Europe, which has been subjected to an extreme form of neoliberal madness, where these austerity programs have been very harmful, it has led to the growth of popular movements. Syriza in Greece is a new party which developed out of the protest against the vicious austerity programs that are destroying Greece. In Spain, Podemos is another new party that grew out of the indignados, the mostly young people who were protesting these policies. It’s now a mass political organization. According to polls, it might even win the next election.

This could spread. It could spread here. There are reactions. They’re kind of scattered, but they’re substantial. If they can come together, they could become a very powerful force. Even the Republican Party now, which is just in the pockets of the superrich, is feeling that it has to begin to talk about poverty and inequality.

Speaking of coming together, with the fiftieth anniversary of the march on Selma and a major film on it, Martin Luther King is getting some attention. In Memphis, on April 3, 1968, he said, “When the slaves get together, that’s the beginning of getting out of slavery.”

And he was assassinated the next day. Using his normal biblical rhetoric, he described himself as like Moses, who could see the Promised Land but wouldn’t reach it, though you, the people he was speaking to, can reach it if the slaves get together. He was at that point inaugurating a movement of the poor, not just blacks, but of the poor.

There was a march on Washington after his death, led by his wife, Coretta. They set up a tent city, Resurrection City, and called on Congress to enact legislation to do something about the miserable fate of huge numbers of poor people. The police drove them out of town, broke up the tent city, and ended that. We don’t hear much about that on Martin Luther King Day.

The film Selma led to a pretty interesting article in the New York Times arts section. There was a review of new films. The review started off with kind of derisive comments about the coastal intelligentsia, who were looking at little art films which nobody cares about while the real Americans in the mainstream, the patriotic, red-blooded decent Americans, are flooding to another film, American Sniper, which has broken all attendance records. It’s a patriotic, pro-family film, it said. Actually, it was applauded in the New Yorker because of its cinematic virtues and denounced elsewhere because of its appalling content.

It’s about a man, Chris Kyle, who is the most murderous sniper in American history. He claims to have killed a couple hundred people. He has a memoir in which he describes what it was like to murder these savages, these inhuman creatures. You can only describe them as savage barbarians. We hated them; we wanted to kill them. He describes his first kill, which was easy, he said. It was a woman who was holding a grenade in her hand when the Marines were attacking her village. So he managed to kill her with a single shot. He was very proud of that. But what else can you do with savages? And it goes on with this kind of psychopathic raving. That’s the patriotic, pro-family film that people are flooding toward. At the end of this review, the last paragraph, it says there were some other films that came out, one of them Selma, which had only moderate attendance, nothing like the patriotic, pro-family film which is so exciting.

You mentioned the Seton Hall Law Review. I confess to not having read it ever. That speaks to your voracious reading habits, finding things, nuggets of information. Fred Branfman, in a Salon article he wrote about you, mentions that he gave you a 500-page book one night while you were in Laos and the next morning you were citing statistics from that book. What about your reading habits? How do you make your choices? How do you decide?

Well, the Seton Hall Law Review actually was sent to me by my sister-in-law, Judy, who is a lawyer. Just last night I read an article by Victoria Brittain, a friend in England, a wonderful journalist and investigator. It’s about investigations that are being undertaken by these same people about the Guantánamo torture system and about a new book that’s coming out by one of them. So if you keep your eyes open, you can find all sorts of things. I have no particular technique. I look at what looks important.

Could you talk about a popular trend in education, something called online tutorials? There is an MIT grad, Salman Khan, who runs something called the Khan Academy online. Apparently it has millions of users. It teaches math and science. Is that the future of teaching, as you see it?

I doubt it very much. These programs can have beneficial effects. There have been some studies of them. There are people who otherwise would not have any access to such resources. I think many of them are adults, older people, who picked up the math courses and so on. That’s a fine thing. Their actual educational value, say, as a substitute for college, seems to be extremely poor in outcomes. And you can see why.

An experience in a classroom is very different from watching a video. I recall maybe twenty to thirty years ago, there was a cartoon in the New Yorker of a seminar in a university. The professor wasn’t there. He had a tape recorder playing his lecture. And around the room, there weren’t students, there were recorders picking up the lecture. That’s one form of education. But human interaction is a different form—direct participation not only with the instructor but with your fellow students. And not just sitting in class, but when you’re out in the hall talking about it or back in your room working together. You yourself, I’m sure, if you think about your college experience—I think you went to college, didn’t you?

One year.

One year, okay. But what was worthwhile in it? Interaction with others. That’s never going to be possible with the electronic media. It’s not to say that they can’t serve a purpose. They can. And if they’re well done, it could be a useful supplement, probably as a form of adult education, to other educational efforts. But it can’t replace a real educational experience.

You came to some conclusions about God as a result of observing something your paternal grandfather did. What conclusion did you reach from that particular experience?

My father’s family was extremely Orthodox, ultra-religious, especially my grandfather, who had come from Eastern Europe and maintained the sort of semi medieval characteristics of the Eastern European rural Jewish community. I remember we would go there for the Jewish holidays to visit. I noticed on one of the holidays, Passover that my grandfather was smoking. I asked my father how he could be smoking, because I knew there was a Talmudic proscription that says there is no difference between the holidays and the Sabbath except with regard to eating. So you’re allowed to make a fire to cook on the holidays, not on the Sabbath. And my father told me that my grandfather had concluded that smoking was a form of eating. So I realized that he thinks that God is so stupid that he won’t be able to see through this.

And then when I thought about it—and it’s kind of obvious, and some people have written about it—practically all of organized religion is based on the assumption that God is so stupid that he can’t see that you’re violating his commandments. So you find all kinds of trickery and devices to get around the commandments, which almost nobody can live up to. And if that’s your conception of God, from a ten-year-old’s point of view it didn’t seem worth pursuing.

When did you become convinced that there was no God?

I never became convinced, because I don’t even know what the question is. There is no what? What is it that there isn’t? There is no coherent answer that I know of.

At a talk you gave in Princeton a couple of years ago, you recalled that as a teenager one of the things that got you interested in linguistics was that you realized the Bible was mistranslated.

I was informed of this. I was studying Arabic in college. I was a sixteen-year-old freshman and I was taking Arabic courses with a great scholar. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was a leading scholar, Giorgio Levi Della Vida, an Italian antifascist émigré. We became good friends later.

This was in Pennsylvania?

Yes. He just mentioned to me once that the first sentence of the Bible was misvocalized. In the Hebrew script, you have consonants but no vowels. Around the eighth to tenth centuries, there were scribes, Masoretes, who put in the vowels. And they made a mistake in the first two words of the Bible. He said they were always mistranslated. By now, some of them are translated correctly, but the standard translations keep to the Hebrew vocalization, which is a mistranslation because the phrase doesn’t mean anything. What it says is Bereshit bara, and it’s translated, “In the beginning God created.” But it should be translated as, “At the outset of the creation there was chaos” and so on, which is more or less the same sense but different. It had gone for a thousand years, with nobody noticing that the first two words of the Bible were mistranslated and misvocalized in the original, which struck me as kind of striking.

But you inferred something from that.

That there is a lot to learn.

Why do you say the Talmud is your ideal text?

If you look at a page of the Talmud, a big volume—open it up sometime—in the middle of the page there is a kind of a sentence taken from the Mishnah, a book of laws and so on. And then around it there are running commentaries. So in the upper right-hand corner there is a commentary from someone. Every page, the same person, his commentaries. And then in the upper left-hand corner, a commentary from someone else. Ninety percent of the page is commentary running constantly about this line that’s in the middle. If you could only write footnotes like that, it would be fantastic.

And what’s meshuge?

What the world is doing to itself.

(Courtesy to ISR View)

The key to solving the puzzle of Afghanistan is Pakistan

By Fareed Zakaria

Recent setbacks in Afghanistan — from the fall of Kunduz to the errant U.S. bombing of a hospital in that city — againPart-DEL-Del6448874-1-1-0 raise a question. Why, after 14 years of American military efforts, is Afghanistan still so fragile? The country has a democratically elected government widely viewed as legitimate. Poll after poll suggests that the Taliban are unpopular. The Afghan army fights fiercely and loyally. And yet, the Taliban always come back.

The answer to this puzzle can be found in a profile of the Taliban’s new leader, Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. It turns out that Mansour lives part time in Quetta, the New York Times reports, “in an enclave where he and some other Taliban leaders . . . have built homes.”

His predecessor, Mohammad Omar, we now know, died a while ago in Karachi. And of course, we remember that Osama bin Laden lived for many years in a compound in Abbottabad. All three of these cities are in Pakistan.

We cannot solve the problem of Afghanistan without recognizing that the insurgency against that government is shaped, aided and armed from across the border by one of the world’s most powerful armies. Periodically, someone inside or outside the U.S. government points this out. Yet no one knows quite what to do, so it is swept under the carpet and policy stays the same. But this is not an incidental fact. It is fundamental, and unless it is confronted, the Taliban will never be defeated. It is an old adage that no counterinsurgency has ever succeeded when the rebels have had a haven. In this case, the rebels have a nuclear-armed sponsor.

Pakistan has mastered the art of pretending to help the United States while actually supporting its most deadly foes. Take the many efforts that U.S. officials have recently made to start talks with the Taliban. It turns out that we were talking to ghosts. Omar has been dead for two years, while Pakistani officials have been facilitating “contacts” and “talks” with him. This is part of a pattern. Pakistani officials, from former president Pervez Musharraf down, categorically denied that bin Laden or Omar was living in Pakistan — despite the fact that former Afghan president Hamid Karzai repeatedly pointed this out publicly. “I do not believe Omar has ever been to Pakistan,” Musharraf said in 2007.

The Pakistani army has been described as the “godfather” of the Taliban. That might understate its influence. Pakistan was the base for the U.S.-supported mujahideen as they battled the Soviet Union in the 1980s. After the Soviets retreated from Afghanistan in 1989, the United States withdrew almost as quickly, and Pakistan entered that strategic void. It pushed forward the Taliban, a group of young Pashtun jihadis schooled in radical Islam at Pakistani madrasas. (“Talib” means student.) Now history is repeating itself. As the United States draws down its forces, Pakistan again seeks to expand its influence through its long-standing proxy.

Why does Pakistan support the Taliban? Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, whose book “Magnificent Delusions” is an essential guide, says that “Pakistan has always worried that the natural order of things would be for Afghanistan to come under the sway of India, the giant of the subcontinent. The Pakistani army came to believe that it could only gain leverage in Afghanistan through religious zealots. Afghanistan’s secular groups and ethnic nationalists are all suspicious of Pakistan, so the only path in is through those who see a common, religious ideology.” This strategy is not new, Haqqani points out, noting that funding for such groups began in the mid-1970s, before the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

What should the United States do? First, says Haqqani, it needs to see reality for what it is: “When you are lied to and you don’t respond, you are encouraging more lies.” He argues that Washington has to get much tougher with the Pakistani military and make clear that its double-dealing must stop. To do this would be good for Afghanistan and stability in that part of the world, but it would also be good for Pakistan.

Pakistan is a time bomb. It ranks 43rd in the world in terms of its economy, according to the World Bank, but has the sixth-largest armed forces. It has the fastest-growing nuclear arsenal, and the most opaque. It maintains close ties with some of the world’s most brutal terrorists. By some estimates, its military consumes 26 percent of all tax receipts, while the country has 5.5 million children who don’t attend school. As long as this military and its mind-set are unchecked and unreformed, the United States will face a strategic collapse as it withdraws its forces from the region.

(Courtesy to Washingtonpost)

Another Eid and another protest for missing persons

The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) held a protest demonstration in front of Quetta Press Club on Eid Day tobhro demand the release of abducted Baloch activists.

The protest on Eid-day in front of the Quetta Press Club was attended by relatives of the abducted persons.

Families and friend of Baloch enforced disappeared persons have been protesting on Eid Day from last several years.

Three female family members of Safar Khan Marri also joined the demonstration. His daughter Bibi Hajira said that her father was abducted eight year ago.

She said, “Since the abduction of our father we are forced to live like orphans. Our education is finished and everything else is ruined.”

Another young participant in the demonstration, Mohammad Hyrbyair, said that several Baloch have been abducted and disappeared that is why he joined the rally of VBMP.  ”We Baloch are celebrating Eid with simplicity,” He said.

Voice for Baloch Missing Persons Vice-Chairman, Mama Qadeer Baloch, speaking to the media said that no progress has been made to address the issue of enforced disappearances in Balochistan so far.

He said that because of this situation they are forced to protest even on Eid Day.

The current government of parliamentarians nationalists in Balochistan has included the issue of enforced disappeared in their priorities but  Mama Qadeer said that the current regime could not bring any change and military operations and disappearance continue as usual.

(Courtesy to Balochwarna)

Hazaras & theirs Problem

By MASOOMA ALI, UoB Quetta

Hazaras are defined and described by many organizations and people in various ways: Some say they belong to hazarahazaras province, some think they are native of Bamyan (situated in Afganistan), and some referred them as they belong to Iran. It is true, Hazaras could not get any specific identification and position in a country, globally. It is believed that the birth place of any individual is termed as his/her motherland or homeland. A sizable population of Hazara born in Pakistan, having nationality of country, even they are considered refugee in same mentioned state. The negative perception regarding Hazaras is negated here, the ancestral of this community had contributed sufficiently in creation of this country, and they paid sacrifices in shape of entire kinfolk’s lives but maintained peace and harmony on their homeland. Many personalities belong to Haraza community have been on key posts within this state.

Though possessing loyal history with state, the Harazas are forced to quit from their homeland. The current settings forebode that Haraza community’s future is tentative in this country. This wretches the hearts with full aggrieves, why they always have been targeted and what is theirs fault? Being Hazara is only fault or sin? Except this no reason is visible behind this carnage.

This piece of writing is just a glimpse and sensitize that how people are suffering here.

How inattention is faced by community, today. An absurd attitude of anyone toward Hazaras shocks extremely to a sensitive person. A country’s constitution laid on the bases of unity, equality and justice, but it is incapacitate to provide the basic rights to it’s an ethnic in first hand. Presently problems faced by individuals of Hazara are;

  • Lack of security and uneven chances of promotion to community which are provided other citizens in the country.
  • Fewer chances in Government jobs.
  • The deficiency of primary necessities (food, water and shelter).

These are some basic and important problems faced by Hazaras which stimulates to cry because of isolation and are being ill-treated by state authorities. Being part of Hazara community it is demanded from Government:

The community people only need amicable concepts by fellow citizens because they are national of this country and by faith are co-Muslim. The community wants to share the same platform which other citizen are exploiting, presently. Certainly, prescribed points are not illogical or realistic that are not to be accepted.

Still members of Hazara community have not lost the hope and trust because every dark night of solitary brings new and beautiful sunshine which motivates dreams, learn and explore a new world of peace and harmony.

Internet usage in Pakistan

By Hanif Baloch

With the capability of global broadcasting, internet acts as for information dissemination in this age of globalization. Thesocial-media-drop-bubble-wave use of internet is incredible, both in terms of user and the activity. The rapid growth of the internet makes it difficult to understand its current impact, led alone its future impact. In other words, while the number of user grows arithmetically, the value and impact of the internet grows exponentially with this much advancements. We are now facing some social issues like social isolation, demolishing the cultural values by introducing pornography and virtual relationships for which it is quite necessary to time by analyzing these issues. We will be come up with better policymaking in the region and build a strong nation.

Internet penetration

Digicom launched the first international internet service in Pakistan in 1999. The licensing of service in Pakistan in 1995. The licensing of commercial internet service provides began in 1996. By the mid of 1999 licenses to provide internet services had been issued to approximately 100 organizations by the mid of 2000, the number of Pakistan users had grown to 500,000. Currently, the total number of internet service providers is in thousands and subsequent internet. User have reached to a total of more the 12 million.

Internet Developing

  • E- learning already been initiated and provided by government supported virtual university.
  • E- banking- online and internet transaction provided by, almost all major banks of Pakistan.
  • E- Health- initiatives have been taken by the government in this regard.
  • E- crimes- government of Pakistan has set up cyber crime unit in F.I.A other agencies are also working in this field.
  • E-commerce- online Auctions E- billing, online sellings of computer and Books is successfully operational.
  • E- Governance government and working a lot in order to established e-government system accrues every department.

In Pakistan the internet user are more the 12 millions and they further plan to penetrate. It is quite evident the people are using internet for office and personal works as internet is know the integral part of a communication system.

25th September; World Pharmacy Day observed at UoB

By Basheer Ijbani

25th September day was reserved to mark as World Pharmacy by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP)ijbari several years ago in its congress at Istanbul, and since then the day have been marked ‘World Pharmacists Day’, annually. For the encouragement of the world’s pharmacists, the FIP organizes activities to promote and advocate the role of the professionals for the sake of improvements in health sector, worldwide. The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) highly encourages all discuss field organizations and officials across the globe to participate in ‘World Pharmacist Day’ programs on 25th September. The main theme of observing this day is to associate pharmacists globally and induce them to join the programs in the accordance of assigned day.

In the same sequence, this year on 25th September 2015, the Pharmacists have marked Pharmacists Day globally on Medical Colleges and Universities levels also on other forums with purpose to encourage activities that promote and advocate the role of pharmacists in society who are improving and developing health sector. The medicines must go hand to hand in expertise way and this coordination is essential for the

Pharmacy day organizers at University of Balochistan

Pharmacy day organizers at University of Balochistan

reliable use of these, resultantly that effect positively on health and shuns any side effect.

The ‘World Pharmacist Day’ commemoration means to highlight, build confidence and warm the collaborations among the pharmacists, patients and other concerned healthcare professionals.

It is the second time, at University of Balochistan the Pharmacy faculty has been conducting the ‘World Pharmacist Day’ with passion. The faculty’s professors and students took part affectionately in activities, where a rally was arranged and routed University to Quetta Press Club, in that Vice Chancellor of University with other professors were including. At university, the activists established various units, and the main organizers were Bachelor of Eastern Medicine Science [BEMS] Doctors of Physio Trophy DPD, Doctor of Pharmacy, Clinical Pharmacy, Hospital Pharmacy, Model of Pharmacy Tree, and Pharmacology of Medicine.

At the occasion of Pharmacy Day program, the chairman of Pharmacy Department Mr Abdul Razaq Shahwani was interviewed and he said, they are determined to observe Pharmacy Day every year, because the pharmacists have a significant role in medical field and without them health sector is incomplete. Pharmacists distribute life saving drugs, research and regulate the medicines. Further he showed gratitude to the Vice Chancellor of University for attending the program and also thanked the professors who enthusiastically participated in the event. He especially exalted the organizers of ‘World Pharmacist Day’ program at University of Balochistan. Mr Shahwani highlighted the importance of Pharmacy department in present age, he also underlined the functions of Pharmacists with compliments who are serving to save the human lives.

Students’ views:

Dr Abdul Ghfar Baloch, Dr Abdul Bari, Dr Laraib Jameel, Dr Nagina Soomen are students of final year at Pharmacy department spoke to Bolan Voice Magazine and said that pharmacists are the vital part of health sector, and pharmacy is the most prominent fragment in discussed system. This is only department which researches for cure of diseases and discovers medicine, which are basic element of lifecycle. Students expressed excited views about Pharmacy Day which was conducted excellently with purpose to highlight significance of this profession.

In the connection of the International Day a program was adorned by students who raised funds for incurrences. Such events encourage to observe the mentioned day fervently to next and inspire new comer to give importance this in future.

The Baloch Blood Bank contributed greatly in Pharmacy Day program at University of Balochistan. The official of the Blood Bank established a stall where they provided medical services including identification blood group. They also made aware people present at the occasion about blood donation which save thousands lives.       

The writer can be reached: basheerahmed 30@yahoo.com, twitter: @Basheerijbani, Facebook: Basheerijbari, Blog: http://www.basheerijbari. wordpress.com

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