Sectarian divides can be eliminated

SHIKARPUR on Jan 30, Peshawar on Feb 13, Rawalpindi on Feb 18. In less than three weeks, suicide bombers have targeted three imambargahs packed with worshippers. Outside of Syria and Iraq, Pakistan is the world’s deadliest country for Shia Muslims. Hazara are fleeing Balochistan, and barricades surround segregated Shia urban neighbourhoods. The government said yesterday it will issue gun licences for imambargah defenders. But even high security often fails: a suicide bomber made it through to Abbas Town in Karachi with a carload of explosives, leaving dozens of broken apartments with flesh and body parts hanging from balconies.

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GM crops being force fed to African nations

US agencies, funders such as the Gates Foundation, and agribusiness giant Monsanto are trying to force unwilling African nations to accept expensive and insufficiently tested Genetically Modified (GM) foods and crops, according to a new report released today. [1]

“The US, the world’s top producer of GM crops, is seeking new markets for American GM crops in Africa. The US administration’s strategy consists of assisting African nations to produce biosafety laws that promote agribusiness interests instead of protecting Africans from the potential threats of GM crops,” said Haidee Swanby from the African Centre for Biosafety, which authored the report commissioned by Friends of the Earth International. Continue reading GM crops being force fed to African nations

The comedy of blood

(By David Swanson) This is the serious part of tonight’s event, except that Lee often deals with very serious topics. So what I mean is: this is the unfunny part of tonight’s event, except that I’m going to talk about the United States government. One of my favorite things that Mark Twain didn’t really say but definitely should have said was “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.” He left out the possibility of imbeciles who are putting us on.
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Pakistan’s social network failure

The ruling elite is blind to the writing on the wall

Despite being in a constant state of denial the IS (the Islamic State or Da’ish) is here. In cahoots with the TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan), Pakistan is emerging as their new killing field.

Shi’a minority is being slaughtered like sitting ducks. Jindullah, a splinter group of the TTP, has brazenly accepted responsibility for the most recent attacks in Shikarpur, Peshawar and Islamabad.

The Shi’a organisation Majlis-e-Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen is seeking written assurances from the government and its LEAs (law enforcing agencies) for their protection. But, the state in no position to reassure them has proved to be completely impotent in confronting the existential challenge.

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The paucity of historians within Pakistan

The keynote speech at the Lahore Literary Festival this year was given by the distinguished historian Professor Romila Thapar. In her excellent address, Professor Thapar took us on a journey of discovering ancient India — of which she is a specialist — pointing out at the outset that “history is a dialogue between the present and the assumed past”. At a time when Hindu nationalists are reading all kinds of things into India’s past to validate their policies and actions, Professor Thapar emphasised that “history is not fantasy” and that we should analyse the past by the help of facts which the writings of the time tell us; but that, too, with a pinch of salt.

In her broad engagement with the topic, she traced how conceptions of ancient India developed in the 19th century, mainly through the work of scholars like Max Muller who argued for the Aryan invasion theory. This theory, Dr Thapar maintained, was supported by little evidence, but remained the accepted version of history for more than a hundred years. Challenging such long-held beliefs critically is essential, she said. The historian, in this sense, is a kind of ‘detective’.

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How India’s Brahmin Hindus killed millions of Sikhs

(Dr Awatar Singh Sekhon)Sardar Inderbeer Singh of the Internationally Disputed Areas of Jammu and Kashmir (IDA:JK) wrote on his Timeline of Facebook: “Saka nankana Saheb de shaheedaan nu yaad kardey hoiee saari [fb] sangat ikk vaar zarur likho ji < dhan gursikh shaheed>” wrote that the Sikhs must write about the Genocide of Nankana Sahib carried out by a Sadh Narainoo. Indeed, Sardar Inderbeer Singh’s suggestion is worth considering and remembering that the Nankana Sahib’s genocide carried out by a Sadh Narainoo had been a heinous crime committed against the “Humanity of Mankind.” This genocide of Sikhs took the lives of more than 125 innocent Guru-de-Sikhs, including infants, children, youth, male and female folks, elderlies, etc.
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Israel faces boycott from over 100 artists

Along with more than 600 other fellow artists, we are announcing today that we will not engage in business-as-usual cultural relations with Israel. We will accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government. Since the summer war on Gaza, Palestinians have enjoyed no respite from Israel’s unrelenting attack on their land, their livelihood, their right to political existence. “2014,” says the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, was “one of the cruellest and deadliest in the history of the occupation.” The Palestinian catastrophe goes on.

Israel’s wars are fought on the cultural front too. Its army targets Palestinian cultural institutions for attack, and prevents the free movement of cultural workers. Its own theatre companies perform to settler audiences on the West Bank – and those same companies tour the globe as cultural diplomats, in support of “Brand Israel”. During South African apartheid, musicians announced they weren’t going to “play Sun City”. Now we are saying, in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Ashkelon or Ariel, we won’t play music, accept awards, attend exhibitions, festivals or conferences, run masterclasses or workshops, until Israel respects international law and ends its colonial oppression of the Palestinians.

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A leader without a leadership

By Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

I have been driving around Karachi for last few weeks and many of its walls are adorned with the graffiti saying hamain manzil nahi rehnuma chahai (we want the leader not the destiny). In November 30th PTI jalsa in Islamabad I was sitting on stage 2 listening to speeches. Almost all speeches focused on the personality of Imran Khan and no speaker even mentioned the word PTI. In Sindh despite protestations from the people the leader of the party refuse to change the Chief Minister because it serves the purpose of those that control the party. Not only that PPP in last elections focused its media campaign on the martyrdom of Benazir Bhutto to be sufficient to seek votes rather than elaborate what have they delivered to the people. Party has built the shrine of its founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in Garhi Khuda Buksh to ensure continued dominance of politics. In PML N almost 30% of the cabinet positions are controlled by PM Nawaz Sharif family and the party uses Sharif brothers as leaders without any need for an ideology. JUI F talks about the services and personality of Mufti Mahmood (father of Maulana Fazlur Rahman) and his sons now control most of the party. Similar situation exist in ANP, PML F and other political parties. The question that comes to mind is why is our politics so overwhelmingly controlled by personalities rather than ideology?

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Ishaq Dar refuses to disclose his assets

(By Mateen Haider) Ministry of Finance has rejected Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) demand of disclosing the assets and income sources of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

The spokesman of finance ministry said that demanding the same thing again is mere “mischief mongering, height of ignorance and harping on the same string”.

He said that Dar, in his letter to PTI chief Imran Khan, had categorically stated that details of all his sources of income and assets have been regularly reported in his tax returns which he filed with the Federal Board of Revenue.
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The abandoned children of Gaza

Jibril, left, lost two of his four grandchildren to hypothermia in the storms last month. The familyBaby Salma died of hypothermia at just 40 days old. Her body was drenched with freezing rainwater. It was frozen “like ice-cream”. Gaza was hit by a severe winter storm called “Huda” in January. Salma was its youngest victim.

I meet Salma’s mother, Mirvat, and 14 members of her extended family in the very place, indeed the room, where Salma slept during her last night at home. They still live there in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza, in a tiny three-room wooden structure, covered with plastic. When I see it from the road, I assume it houses animals. The door is a blanket which flaps in the biting wind. It is raining. Water flows in. Mirvat pulls back the sodden carpet that serves as flooring and scoops the wet sand below. Memories of Salma’s death on 9 January are painfully fresh.

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