(By Talat Masood) Narendra Modi’s Independence Day extempore, but well thought out speech did not receive the attention it deserved in Pakistan. We are so deeply mired in our own problems that we have no time to observe important developments in the neighbourhood. The speech was inspiring and meant to motivate the 1.3 billion people of India to a new dawn. It also contained serious content and provided a broad overview of India’s strengths and weaknesses. More significantly, it gave some insight into Modi’s thinking and general thrust of the direction in which he wants India to be heading. Those looking for a reformist agenda were, however, disappointed. Of course, his detractors in the Congress thought it was more of an election campaign speech. Continue reading Learning from Modi
The standoff and tension between the government and protesting parties seemed subsiding with both PTI and PAT agreeing to hold negotiations with the PML-N regime.
However, if the information coming out of both camps is taken on the face value, preliminary talks Wednesday opened and concluded on a deadlock as both PTI and PAT demanded PM Nawaz Sharif and CM Shahbaz Sharif’s resignations, while the government emissaries offered them no concession on it.
After marathon deliberations and brainstorming with core committee of the party, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif constituted two committees to separately hold talks with Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leadership to come up with some amicable solution to the crisis.
Continue reading Parties juggle a deadlock and table-talks with the government
Besieged Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been assured by the country’s military there will be no coup, but in return he must “share space with the army”, according to a government source who was privy to recent talks between the two sides.
Last week, as tens of thousands of protesters advanced on the Pakistani capital to demand his resignation, Sharif dispatched two emissaries to consult with the army chief.
He wanted to know if the military was quietly engineering the twin protest movements by cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan and activist cleric Tahir ul-Qadri, or if, perhaps, it was preparing to stage a coup.
According to a government insider with a first-hand account of the meeting, Sharif’s envoys returned with good news and bad: there will be no coup but if he wants his government to survive, from now on it will have to share space with the army.
Continue reading Is Army the real winner in this political mess
Thousands of Pakistani protesters tried to blockade parliament on Wednesday after an anti-government cleric told them not to allow anyone in or out, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inside at the time, but the lawmakers left by a back entrance.
The protesters have taken to the streets of Islamabad for five days, led by cricket star turned opposition leader Imran Khan and cleric Tahir ul-Qadri, who runs a network of Islamic schools and charities.
Both want Sharif to resign over allegations of corruption and election rigging. The Supreme Court summoned both to appear before the court on Thursday.
Continue reading PAT supporter block parliament
Hashim Khan, one of the greatest squash players of all time, died of congestive heart failure Monday night.
He was believed to be 100-year-old. His youngest son, Mo, said in a phone interview that Khan died in his home with family by his side.
Mo Khan said of his father’s death: “The world just lost the greatest player of all time “. Continue reading Hashim Khan the squash legend dies at 100
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) claims to have beheaded an American photojournalist and has threatened the life of another American journalist if President Obama doesn’t stop airstrikes in Iraq.
A graphic video obtained by NBC News purportedly shows James Wright Foley, a freelance journalist for the U.S.-based news service GlobalPost who was kidnapped while reporting from Syria two years ago, reciting threats against America before he is executed by an ISIS militant. The militant heard in the video speaks in English.
Continue reading American photojournalist James Wright executed by ISIS
As twin protests in Islamabad entered a fifth day on Tuesday, police said they had arrested some 150 supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) overnight in Punjab in a crackdown ahead of widening demonstrations in the capital.
PTI chief Imran Khan and PAT leader Tahir ul Qadri led tens of thousands of supporters from Punjab to Islamabad in a bid to bring down Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom they accuse of rigging elections and corruption.
The protests have piled extra pressure on the 15-month-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government already struggling to overcome high unemployment, daily power cuts and terrorism.
Continue reading PTI, PAT workers arrested by Punjab Police
(by Allyn Fisher-Ilan) The chief Palestinian delegate to truce talks with Israel warned on Tuesday that Gaza violence could erupt anew unless progress is made toward a lasting deal ahead of a midnight deadline in Egyptian-brokered talks.
After a last-minute agreement was stuck to extend by 24 hours a deadline to reach a truce, Azzam al-Ahmad, senior leader of President Mahmoud Abbas’s mainstream Fatah movement, said there had been “no progress on any point” in talks aimed at resolving the Gaza conflict.
“We hope that every minute of the coming 24 hours will be used to reach an agreement, and if not (successful), the circle of violence will continue,” Ahmad said. Continue reading Israel and Palestine seek truce for 24 hours
The United States is sending 130 more troops to Iraq amidst a bombing campaign against ISIS militants in the north and a political crisis gripping Baghdad. We are joined by veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn, author of the new book, “The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising.” Cockburn addresses the power struggle in Baghdad, Hillary Clinton’s claim that President Obama’s “failure” to support Syrian rebels helped fuel ISIS’s advance, the role of oil in the current U.S. airstrikes, and his fears that Iraq is entering a “new, more explosive era far worse than anything we’ve seen over the last 10 years.”
Continue reading Inside Iraq and rise of ISIS