26th Nov 2014 – Foreign Policy updates

Pakistani media mogul sentenced for purported blasphemy

On Tuesday Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman, the owner of Geo News, Pakistan’s largest media group, was sentenced to 26 years in jail for airing a program that showed people dancing to a song about the wedding of the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter (Reuters). The charges were brought against ur-Rehman after the station publicly accused Inter-Services Intelligence of shooting one of Geo News’s top journalists. Ur-Rehman, along with the host of a morning show and two guests, were also ordered to pay fines of $16,600, surrender their passports, and sell their properties. The sentence, which was handed down by an anti-terror court in Gilgit, is unlikely to be enforced as court verdicts in that region do not apply to the rest of Pakistan. The News, a newspaper owned by ur-Rehman, published on Wednesday that it would appeal to the Supreme Court against both the verdict and sentence.

U.S. drone strike killed eight in North Waziristan

A U.S. drone strike in Datta Khel in North Waziristan killed at least eight militants, according to a security official in the area who spoke to Agence France-Presse via phone on the condition of anonymity (ET, RFE/RL). The identities of the dead are still unknown but militants working for warlord Gul Bahadur and the Haqqani Network, as well as Uzbek foreign fighters, operate in the area where the drone strike occurred. Continue reading 26th Nov 2014 – Foreign Policy updates

A display of poor journalism by CNN’s Amanpour

One feels a deep sense of irony in much of what is happening these days within mainstream Western media.

It is no revelation to say that it was apparently long ago collectively decided by the Western world, that there would be one set of rules for the United States (our de facto leader from whom we take cues in all matters of international relations and receive “protection” from in return), and one set of rules for everyone else.

Those who fail to appropriately fall in line with this method of doing business are of course nothing more than raging, blind propagandists.

And mainstream Western media likes to talk about propaganda. It likes to talk about propaganda a lot, in fact.

Continue reading A display of poor journalism by CNN’s Amanpour

China’s $45.6 billion economic corridor commitment

The Chinese government and banks will finance Chinese companies to build $45.6 billion worth of energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan over the next six years, according to new details of the deal seen by Reuters on Friday.

The Chinese companies will be able to operate the projects as profit-making entities, according to the deal signed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a visit to China earlier this month.

At the time, officials provided few details of the projects or the financing for the deal, dubbed the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The deal further cements ties between Pakistan and China at a time when Pakistan is nervous about waning US support as troops pull out of Afghanistan. Pakistan and China, both nuclear-armed nations, consider each other close friends.

Continue reading China’s $45.6 billion economic corridor commitment

24th Nov 2014 – Foreign Policy updates

Obama Accepts Modi's Invitation; Afghan Suicide Bombing Kills 50; PM Sharif Not Addressing NationU.S. President Barack Obama accepted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation on Friday to be the guest of honor at India’s 66th Republic Day Parade on January 26, 2015 in New Delhi (WSJ,Reuters, NDTV). Modi — @narendramodi — tweeted: “This Republic Day, we hope to have a friend over… invited President Obama to be the 1st US President to grace the occasion as Chief Guest.” Hours later, an official White House release accepting the invitation, said: “This visit will mark the first time a US president will have the honor of attending Republic Day, which commemorates the adoption of India’s constitution. The President will meet with the Prime Minister and Indian officials to strengthen and expand the US-India strategic partnership” (Economic Times). Continue reading 24th Nov 2014 – Foreign Policy updates

Objectivity in Journalism

The lines are blurring. And no, not in the Robin Thicke kind of way. The lines are blurring when it comes to journalism, social media, activism and everything in between.

Ironically enough, it was a Facebook status that led me to writing this piece. It was one of those situations where a person wrote a status subtly talking about one of their Facebook friends, and then I thought it could have been about me — because isn’t that what we all immediately think when we see those statuses, but we’re just overly paranoid? This time, I knew 100 percent he was talking about me… which is fine, because it inspired me to think about what he wrote:

I’m starting to think that when people post or write about only one side of a topic, they’re really becoming an activist (which can be a great thing!) but journalism deals in facts and the neutral presentation of those facts. Something for myself, and every other journalist for that matter, need to be mindful of.

Continue reading Objectivity in Journalism

Police recovers 33 minor girls from a house in Karachi

The police on a tip-off conducted a raid on a house in the Liaquatabad area and recovered 33 minor girls. All the girls, aged between 8 and 10, were brought to Karachi from the Bajaur Agency. The girls can only speak Pashtu and cannot speak Urdu, reported private news channels. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) governor took a serious notice of the news and directed the officials concerned to take steps for their safe return to homes.

Reportedly, the girls were under the supervision of a female teacher named Hameeda in a Madrassa. Police have also taken two women into custody from the house for interrogation.Hameeda’s son told the police that the owner of the house Ayub borrowed Rs200,000 from his mother and failed to pay it back as promised. So the teacher handed over 33 girl students to the debtor stating that he was responsible for their expenses now if he could not pay the debt.  Continue reading Police recovers 33 minor girls from a house in Karachi

Religious leader gunned down in Islamabad

Unidentified men shot dead a member of Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) and a former Peshimam of the Central Imambargah Parachinar, Kurram Agency, Muhammad Nawaz Irfan alias Irfani, in Sector E-11/4, on Wednesday.

The police said Irfan went to see someone in the area when unidentified men riding motorcycles opened fire on him as he was heading back to his house located in G-11/2.

The media coordinator of the MWM, Husnain Insha, said that Irfan was accompanied by a guard and driver when the incident took place. It was unclear whether the two were hurt in the shooting. Irfan was the MWM spokesperson for Parachinar, Insha said.

Continue reading Religious leader gunned down in Islamabad

Ferguson shooting: Crowds gather across US to protest against the verdict

A dozen US cities have seen new protests over the decision not to charge a white policeman who shot a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.

Demonstrations from New York to Seattle were mostly peaceful but rioting broke out in Oakland, California.

There was some unrest in Ferguson itself, with police making 44 arrests, but the town did not see rioting on the scale of Monday night.

The officer who killed Michael Brown there says he has a “clean conscience”.

Continue reading Ferguson shooting: Crowds gather across US to protest against the verdict

Bangladesh’s water woes

In recent decades, Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in supplying safe water to its citizens, yet serious disparities in coverage persist across both rural and urban areas. Although the government has numerous water initiatives underway, it has never properly addressed the social vulnerabilities of women and children in rural villages that can be linked to water stress.

According to UNICEF, 97 percent of Bangladeshis have access to tube well water. This has dramatically reduced the incidence of water-borne diseases such as diarrhea and cholera. But instead of developing modern water supply facilities to utilize surface water across the country, the focus of water management has shifted to heavy engineering development for flood control, river erosion control, and irrigation system installation. The relative inattention to household needs has had serious consequences, especially for Bangladesh’s huge rural population.

Continue reading Bangladesh’s water woes

How Germany and Canada handle their federal states

Pakistan, Germany, Canada and America have certain similarities in their federalism but every society has its own problems and traditions.  The spirit of federalism is fresh in Pakistan which needs debates among politicians to harmonise the system.

These were the views of speakers at a seminar on International Experiences of Federalism at the National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, Quaid-i-Azam University on Monday.

Speakers said Germany and Canada are federal states as the former is divided into 16 federal provinces with each exhibiting a certain degree of sovereignty. Similarly, Canada consists of 11 provinces possessing considerable sovereignty.

Continue reading How Germany and Canada handle their federal states