Pakistan: This Is The History And The Truth Of Their Nation And Their People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Pakistan

Introduction The Indus Valley civilization, one of the oldest in the world and dating back at least 5,000 years, spread over much of what is presently Pakistan. During the second millennium B.C., remnants of this culture fused with the migrating Indo-Aryan peoples. The area underwent successive invasions in subsequent centuries from the Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Arabs (who brought Islam), Afghans, and Turks. The Mughal Empire flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries; the British came to dominate the region in the 18th century. The separation in 1947 of British India into the Muslim state of Pakistan (with West and East sections) and largely Hindu India was never satisfactorily resolved, and India and Pakistan fought two wars – in 1947-48 and 1965 – over the disputed Kashmir territory. A third war between these countries in 1971 – in which India capitalized on Islamabad’s marginalization of Bengalis in Pakistani politics – resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. In response to Indian nuclear weapons testing, Pakistan conducted its own tests in 1998. The dispute over the state of Kashmir is ongoing, but discussions and confidence-building measures have led to decreased tensions since 2002. Mounting public dissatisfaction with President MUSHARRAF, coupled with the assassination of the prominent and popular political leader, Benazir BHUTTO, in late 2007, and MUSHARRAF?s resignation in August 2008, led to the September presidential election of Asif ZARDARI, BHUTTO?s widower. Pakistani government and military leaders are struggling to control Islamist militants, many of whom are located in the tribal areas adjacent to the border with Afghanistan.
History From the earliest period of pre-history and recorded history of the region, modern Pakistan formed the heart-land of a larger territory, extending beyond its present eastern and western borders and receiving momentous and mighty impacts from both the directions.

The Indus region, which covers much of Pakistan, was the site of several ancient cultures including the Neolithic era Mehrgarh and the Bronze era Indus Valley Civilization (2500 BC – 1500 BC) at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.

Waves of conquerors and migrants from the west — including Harappan, Indo-Aryan, Persian, Greek, Saka, Parthian, Kushan, Hephthalite, Afghan, Arab, Turkics, and Mughal — settled in the region through out the centuries, influencing the locals and being absorbed among them. Great ancient empires of the east — such as Nandas, Mauryas, and Guptas — ruled these territories at different times. However, in the medieval period, while the eastern provinces of Punjab and Sindh became aligned with Indo-Islamic civilisation, the western areas became culturally allied with the Iranic civilisation of Afghanistan and Iran. The region served as crossroads of historic trade routes, including the Silk Road, and as a maritime entreport, for the coastal trade between Mesopotamia and beyond up to Rome in the west and Malabar and beyond up to China in the east.

The Indus Valley Civilization collapsed in the middle of the second millennium BC and was followed by the Vedic Civilization, which also extended over much of the Indo-Gangetic plains. Successive ancient empires and kingdoms ruled the region: the Achaemenid Persian empire around 543 BC, Greek empire founded by Alexander the Great in 326 BC and the Mauryan empire there after. The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria included Gandhara and Punjab from 184 BC, and reached its greatest extent under Menander, establishing the Greco-Buddhist period with advances in trade and culture. The city of Taxila (Takshashila) became a major center of learning in ancient times — the remains of the city, located to the west of Islamabad, are one of the country’s major archaeological sites. The Rai Dynasty (c.489–632) of Sindh, at its zenith, ruled this region and the surrounding territories.

In 712 AD, the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in southern Punjab. The Pakistan government’s official chronology states that “its foundation was laid” as a result of this conquest. This Arab and Islamic victory would set the stage for several successive Muslim empires in South Asia, including the Ghaznavid Empire, the Ghorid Kingdom, the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire. During this period, Sufi missionaries played a pivotal role in converting a majority of the regional Buddhist and Hindu population to Islam. The gradual decline of the Mughal Empire in the early eighteenth century provided opportunities for the Afghans, Balochis and Sikhs to exercise control over large areas until the British East India Company gained ascendancy over South Asia.

The War of Independence 1857, also known as the Sepoy Mutiny, was the region’s last major armed struggle against the foreign British Raj and it laid the foundations for the generally unarmed freedom struggle, led by the Hindu dominated Indian National Congress, in the twentieth century. The All India Muslim League rose to popularity in the late 1930s amid fears of under-representation and neglect of Muslims in politics. On 29 December 1930, Allama Iqbal’s presidential address called for an autonomous “state in northwestern India for Indian Muslims, within the body politic of India.” Muhammad Ali Jinnah espoused the Two Nation Theory and led the Muslim League to adopt the Lahore Resolution of 1940 (popularly known as the Pakistan Resolution), which ultimately led to the formation of an independent Pakistan. The Indian independence movement, led by Mahatma Gandhi, demanded freedom from British rule. In early 1947, Britain, coming under strong pressure from other Western nations to end its violent suppression of the freedom movement, decided to end its rule of India.

In June 1947, the nationalist leaders of British India — including Nehru and Abul Kalam Azad on behalf of the Congress, Jinnah representing the Muslim League, B. R. Ambedkar representing the Untouchable community, and Master Tara Singh representing the Sikhs — agreed to the proposed terms of transfer of power and independence. The modern state of Pakistan was established on 14 August 1947 (27 Ramadan 1366 in the Islamic Calendar), carved out of the two Muslim-majority wings in the eastern and northwestern regions of British India and comprising the provinces of Balochistan, East Bengal, the North-West Frontier Province, West Punjab and Sindh. The controversial division of the provinces of Punjab and Bengal set the stage for communal riots across India and Pakistan — millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan and millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India. Disputes arose over several princely states including Muslim-majority Kashmir and Jammu, whose ruler had acceded to India following an invasion by Pashtun warriors, leading to the First Kashmir War in 1948.

From 1947 to 1956, Pakistan was a Dominion in the Commonwealth of Nations. It became a Republic in 1956, but the civilian rule was stalled by a coup d’état by General Ayub Khan, who was president during 1958–69, a period of internal instability and a second war with India in 1965. His successor, Yahya Khan (1969–71) had to deal with a devastating cyclone — which caused 500,000 deaths in East Pakistan — and also face a civil war in 1971.

Economic greivances and political dissent in East Pakistan led to violent political tension and military repression that escalated into a civil war, which invited covert and later overt Indian intervention that escalated into the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, and ultimately to the secession of East Pakistan as the independent state of Bangladesh. Estimates of the number of people killed during this episode vary greatly, from ~30,000 to over 2 million, depending on the source.

Civilian rule resumed in Pakistan from 1972 to 1977, under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, until he was deposed and later sentenced to death, (in what his followers claimed was a judicial murder), in 1979 by General Zia-ul-Haq, who became the country’s third military president. Pakistan’s secular policies were replaced by Zia’s introduction of the Islamic Shariah legal code, which increased religious influences on the civil service and the military. With the death of President Zia in a plane crash in 1988, Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was elected as the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan. Over the next decade, she alternated power with Nawaz Sharif, as the country’s political and economic situation worsened. Pakistan got invoved in the 1991 Gulf War and sent 5,000 troops as part of a US led coalition, specifically for the defence of Saudi Arabia. Military tensions in the Kargil conflict with India were followed by a Pakistani military coup d’état in 1999 in which General Pervez Musharraf assumed executive powers. In 2001, Musharraf became President after the controversial resignation of Rafiq Tarar. After the 2002 parliamentary elections, Musharraf transferred executive powers to newly elected Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who was succeeded in the 2004 Prime-Ministerial election by Shaukat Aziz and was followed, for a temporary period in office, by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. On 15 November 2007 the National Assembly completed its tenure and so, pending elections, a caretaker government was appointed with the former Chairman of the Senate, Muhammad Mian Soomro as caretaker Prime Minister. However, the December 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto during election campaign led to postponement of elections and also underscored the then prevailing instability of Pakistan’s political system. After the parliamentary elections held in march, Yousaf Raza Gillani was sworn in as Prime Minister .

Geography Location: Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea, between India on the east and Iran and Afghanistan on the west and China in the north
Geographic coordinates: 30 00 N, 70 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 803,940 sq km
land: 778,720 sq km
water: 25,220 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly less than twice the size of California
Land boundaries: total: 6,774 km
border countries: Afghanistan 2,430 km, China 523 km, India 2,912 km, Iran 909 km
Coastline: 1,046 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: mostly hot, dry desert; temperate in northwest; arctic in north
Terrain: flat Indus plain in east; mountains in north and northwest; Balochistan plateau in west
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: K2 (Mt. Godwin-Austen) 8,611 m
Natural resources: land, extensive natural gas reserves, limited petroleum, poor quality coal, iron ore, copper, salt, limestone
Land use: arable land: 24.44%
permanent crops: 0.84%
other: 74.72% (2005)
Irrigated land: 182,300 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 233.8 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 169.39 cu km/yr (2%/2%/96%)
per capita: 1,072 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: frequent earthquakes, occasionally severe especially in north and west; flooding along the Indus after heavy rains (July and August)
Environment – current issues: water pollution from raw sewage, industrial wastes, and agricultural runoff; limited natural fresh water resources; most of the population does not have access to potable water; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: controls Khyber Pass and Bolan Pass, traditional invasion routes between Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent
Politics The government of Pakistan was based on the Government of India Act (1935) for the first nine years after independence. The first Constitution of Pakistan was adopted in 1956, but was suspended in 1958 by General Ayub Khan. The Constitution of 1973 – suspended in 1977, by Zia-ul-Haq, but re-instated in 1991 – is the country’s most important document, laying the foundations of government. Pakistan is a semi-presidential federal democratic republic with Islam as the state religion. The bicameral legislature comprises a 100-member Senate and a 342-member National Assembly. The President is the Head of State and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and is elected by an electoral college. The prime minister is usually the leader of the largest party in the National Assembly. Each province has a similar system of government with a directly elected Provincial Assembly in which the leader of the largest party or alliance becomes Chief Minister. Provincial Governors are appointed by the President.

The Pakistani military has played an influential role in mainstream politics throughout Pakistan’s history, with military presidents ruling from 1958–71, 1977–88 and from 1999 onwards. The leftist Pakistan Peoples Party, led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, emerged as a major political player during the 1970s. Under the military rule of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan began a marked shift from the British-era secular politics and policies, to the adoption of Shariat and other laws based on Islam. During the 1980s, the anti-feudal, pro-Muhajir Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was started by unorthodox and educated urban dwellers of Sindh and particularly Karachi. The 1990s were characterized by coalition politics dominated by the Pakistan Peoples Party and a rejuvenated Muslim League.

In the October 2002 general elections, the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) (PML-Q) won a plurality of National Assembly seats with the second-largest group being the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), a sub-party of the PPP. Zafarullah Khan Jamali of PML-Q emerged as Prime Minister but resigned on 26 June 2004 and was replaced by PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain as interim Prime Minister. On 28 August 2004 the National Assembly voted 191 to 151 to elect the Finance Minister and former Citibank Vice President Shaukat Aziz as Prime Minister. The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of Islamic religious parties, won elections in North-West Frontier Province, and increased their representation in the National Assembly – until their defeat in the 2008 elections.

Pakistan is an active member of the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the latter of which Pakistan has used as a forum for Enlightened Moderation, a plan to promote a renaissance and enlightenment in the Muslim world. Pakistan is also a member of the major regional organisations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO). In the past, Pakistan has had mixed relations with the United States; in the early 1950s, Pakistan was the United States’ “most allied ally in Asia” and a member of both the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO). Also, during the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s Pakistan was a crucial US ally. But relations soured in the 1990s, when sanctions were applied by the US over suspicions of Pakistan’s nuclear activities. However, the 11 September 2001 attacks and the subsequent War on Terrorism have seen an improvement in US–Pakistan ties, especially after Pakistan ended its support of the Taliban regime in Kabul. This was evidenced by a drastic increase in American military aid, which saw Pakistan take in $4 billion more in three years after the 9/11 attacks than in the three years before.

On 18 February 2008, Pakistan held its general elections after being postponed from 8 January 2008. The Pakistan Peoples Party won the majority of the votes and formed an alliance with the Pakistan Muslim League (N). They nominated and elected Yousaf Raza Gilani as Prime Minister of Pakistan

On 18 August 2008, when the ballooning impeachment scandal threatened his power, President Musharraf resigned as President of Pakistan, claiming it was a “difficult decision”.

In the presidential election that followed, Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan People’s Party won by a landslide majority and became President of Pakistan.

People Population: 172,800,048 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 37.8% (male 33,617,953/female 31,741,258)
15-64 years: 58% (male 51,292,535/female 48,921,023)
65 years and over: 4.2% (male 3,408,749/female 3,818,533) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 20.5 years
male: 20.3 years
female: 20.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.999% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 28.35 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.85 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.51 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 66.94 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 67.04 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 66.84 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 64.13 years
male: 63.07 years
female: 65.25 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.73 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 74,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 4,900 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
animal contact disease: rabies
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)
Nationality: noun: Pakistani(s)
adjective: Pakistani
Ethnic groups: Punjabi 44.68%, Pashtun (Pathan) 15.42%, Sindhi 14.1%, Sariaki 8.38%, Muhagirs 7.57%, Balochi 3.57%, other 6.28%
Religions: Muslim 95% (Sunni 75%, Shi’a 20%), other (includes Christian and Hindu) 5%
Languages: Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki (a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashtu 8%, Urdu (official) 8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, English (official; lingua franca of Pakistani elite and most government ministries), Burushaski and other 8%
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 49.9%
male: 63%
female: 36% (2005 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 7 years
male: 7 years
female: 6 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 2.6% of GDP (2006)

40 dead in US-Bangla plane crash: Police

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE KATHMANDUPOST)

 

40 dead in US-Bangla plane crash: Police

– Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 12, 2018-Forty people died when a US-Bangla airlines aircraft plane crashed at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu on Monday afternoon, Nepal Police Spokesperson DIG Manjo Neupane confirmed.

There were 71 people including four crew members on board the 78-seater Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft that took off from Dhaka, Bangladesh. The plane crashed at 2:18 pm local time.

Neupane said 31 bodies were pulled out from the crashed plane and nine others were declared dead at different hospitals.

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According to TIA spokesperson Prem Nath Thakur, the aircraft with call sign S2-AGU caught fire after it careened off the runway during landing and crashed onto a football ground near TIA.

Earlier today, Tourism Ministry Joint Secretary Suresh Acharya said 25 injured passengers were rescued and sent to different hospitals for treatment. TIA said there were 37 males, 27 females and two child onboard the aircraft. There were 33 Nepali passengers.

Director General of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) Sanjiv Gautam said that the plane was out of control when it attempted to land on the runway. “The aircraft was permitted to land from the Southern side of the runway over Koteshwor but it landed from the Northern side,” said Gautam suspecting the aircraft might have sustained some technical glitches. “We are yet to ascertain the reason behind the unusual landing.”

Rescue team of TIA and Nepal Army personnel rushed the accident site following the crash. All flights in and out of TIA were cancelled following the mishap.

(The plane involved in the crash. Photo via jetphotos.com)

Published: 12-03-2018 14:36

http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-03-12/us-bangla-airlines-aircraft-crashes-near-tia.html

Pope Francis To Visit Burma In Late November

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY)

 

.- When Pope Francis visits Burma, also known as Myanmar, later this month, his visit will come at one of the most contentious periods of the country’s history.

In recent months, state-supported violence against Burma’s Rohingya Muslim community – an ethnic and religious minority– has reached staggering levels, causing the United Nations to declare the situation “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

“The scope of the humanitarian crisis is enormous and it’s ongoing,” said Daniel Mark, Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in an interview with CNA at the end of September. “Once again we unfortunately have another terrible crisis that’s focusing people’s attention on something that’s already a terrible situation.”

“This is a deep and longstanding problem that we’ve been trying to call attention to for a long time, but it’s going to need an extremely long and concerted effort to address,” Mark told CNA. “Even addressing the immediate humanitarian crisis is not going to solve this profound underlying issue of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma.”

For years, the Rohingya, an ethnic group whose main religion is Islam, have faced grave persecution in the Burmese state of Rakhine, where the majority of them live. An estimated 1.1 million Rohingya live within the majority-Buddhist country. Members of the group have been denied citizenship since the foundation of Burma in 1948, and have suffered violence, and lack the freedom to move or access clean water since a military coup d’etat in 1962.

After a different military regime took control in 1988, with even harsher military crackdowns throughout the country, the country has been referred to as Myanmar.

Pope Francis will visit the country at the end of November, following stories of horrifying human rights abuses and a mass exodus of Rohingya civilians from Burma.

The most recent wave of violence began on Aug. 25, 2017, after which the Burmese military and local Buddhist vigilantes enacted a campaign of burning Rohingya villages and massacring the civilians within them. It is still unclear exactly how many people have been killed in the violence, but aid agencies estimate that thousands are dead and more than 600,000 people have been displaced since late August. Neighboring Bangladesh has accepted the majority of those refugees, and more people have been internally displaced within the country.

The military claims the violence is a response to attacks by a small group of Rohingya against border agents in the Rakhine province, which left 12 officers dead. However, the violence – which includes arson, sexual violence, and internal displacement – long precedes those attacks, and other demonstrations within Rohingya communities, said Olivia Enos, a policy analyst in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, who specializes in human rights.

“Maybe some individual Rohingya are acting out in self-defense, but to place blame on Rohingya is misleading,” Enos said.

“The military has a long, long history of burning homes and villages, raping women and children. The track record is so long that to place the blame on any kind of radical agents within the Rohingya would be really inaccurate.”

While violence and discrimination against the Rohingya people at the hands of Burmese authorities have been ongoing since the 1960s, with increases in persecution in 2012 and 2015, the current crisis is of particular concern, Enos said.  She explained that the high levels of displacement and increased incidents of violence and destruction set this conflict apart from the ones that have come before.

Also concerning, she said, is the fact this conflict is occurring after democratic reforms which took place between 2011-2015. While the nation is becoming more democratic, she said, the military still maintains significant control within Burma. Furthermore, the country’s leader – Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi– has remained silent when asked about the persecution of the group within her country.

To add to the worries, Enos fears that by focusing on the ethnic element of the conflict, Western leaders may overlook its religious aspect. “The vast majority of people in Burma are Buddhist and they view the Muslim minority group Rohingya as a threat to the native Burman society,” she said. “It’s a religious conflict.”

Mark stated that the religious element of the conflict has been a concern of the Commission since its founding in 1998.  “As a result of this, we’ve been following this very, very carefully and for a long time,” he said We’ve recommended Burma is designated as a Country of Particular Concern every year,” a recommendation the U.S. Department of State has followed each year it’s made such designations.

The long history of the conflict means that while there are immediate steps that need to be taken to address the humanitarian situation, work to end the conflict will need to look at the long-term solution.

“This is all a result of the systematic exclusion of these people from Burmese society,” Mark explained. “All the things we’re saying now about the treatment of Rohingya Muslims going forward are the thing that we have been saying all along,” he continued.

“It’s been a tinderbox and that needs to be addressed.”

In the short term, Mark advocated for immediate humanitarian aid and assurance that humanitarian goods will get to those in need of them. He also called for accountability for human rights violations and a cessation of violence.

He noted the need for the international community to help support Bangladesh as it takes in tens of thousands of people a day, so a secondary crisis is not created there.

“Attacks need to stop and aid needs to start.”

An earlier version of this article was published Sept. 28, 2017.

Tags: Pope FrancisBurmaRohingyaPope in Burma

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Army supporters, Buddhist nationalists march in Myanmar city

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI NEWS AGENCY ‘DAWN’)

 

Participants holding national and military flags attend a marching ceremony supporting the country's military and government servants on Sunday in Yangon, Myanmar.— AP
Participants holding national and military flags attend a marching ceremony supporting the country’s military and government servants on Sunday in Yangon, Myanmar.— AP

People marched in Myanmar’s largest city on Sunday to support the military, which has come under heavy criticism over violence that has driven hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.

More than 2,000 army supporters, including Buddhist nationalists and monks, took part in the march.

“I want to urge you to support the military. Only if the military is strengthened will our sovereignty will be secured,” a senior Buddhist nationalist monk, Zagara, told the crowd.

More than 600,000 Rohingya from northern Rakhine state have fled to Bangladesh since August 25, when Myanmar security forces began a scorched-earth campaign against Rohingya villages. Myanmar’s government has said it was responding to attacks on police outposts by insurgents, but the United Nations and others have said the response was disproportionate.

The exodus of the Rohingya has become a major humanitarian crisis and sparked international condemnation of Myanmar.

Nyunt Yi, a 70-year-old retired military soldier who served in the army for more than 40 years, said Sunday that “only the army can protect the national security and stop the illegal intruders”. referring to the Rohingya.

Myanmar’s Buddhist majority denies that Rohingya are a separate ethnic group and regards them as having migrated illegally from Bangladesh, although they have lived in Myanmar for generations.

Aung San Suu Kyi is to be stripped of the Freedom of Oxford Metal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Aung San Suu Kyi is to be stripped of the Freedom of Oxford by the city’s council for her response to the Rohingya crisis.

Myanmar’s de facto leader was bestowed with the honorary title in 1997 in recognition of her long struggle for democracy and her ties to Oxford where she studied.
City councilors considered a cross-party motion to withdraw the honor on Monday night and concluded that it was “no longer appropriate” for her to hold it.
The council said that it had written to Suu Kyi and asked her to “do whatever she can to stop the ethnic cleansing in her country” but had not received a response.
Over the years, Suu Kyi has often spoken of the warmth and kindness she received during her time in Britain.
It was while studying at Oxford University between 1964 and 1967 that she met her late husband, Michael Aris, before starting a family there.
“The most important thing for me about Oxford was not what I learnt there in terms of set text and set books we had to read, but in terms of a respect for the best in human civilization,” she reportedly said after receiving an honorary doctorate in civil law from her alma mater in 2012.
In recent weeks, Suu Kyi has come under fire for her response to the plight facing the Rohingya Muslim minority. Almost half a million people have fled violence in Rakhine state to neighboring Bangladesh since August 25.
Labour Party Councilor Mary Clarkson, who put forward the motion, told the council that Suu Kyi’s lack of response and dismissal of numerous claims of sexual violence against Rohingya women as “fake rape” were among the reasons why the honor should be revoked.
According to a statement seen by CNN, Clarkson said: “In taking action, we do so for several reasons: firstly to add our small voices to others calling for human rights and justice for the Rohingya people; secondly, to respect the long traditions of Oxford, as a diverse and humane city whose reputation is tarnished by honouring those who turn a blind eye to violence.
“Thirdly, we should bear in mind that public awards can sometimes make their recipients seem untouchable and above scrutiny when their current actions betray their previous good work.”
The recommendation to withdraw the city honor will be finalized at the council’s next meeting in November.

More than 60 Rohingya Feared Drowned in Boat Capsize

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

More than 60 Rohingya Feared Drowned in Boat Capsize

More than 60 people are believed dead after a boat carrying Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar capsized, the UN migration agency has said.

The refugees drowned in heavy seas off Bangladesh late on Thursday, part of a new surge of people fleeing a Myanmar army campaign and communal violence that the UN describes as “ethnic cleansing”.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called on countries to ban providing weapons to Myanmar over the violence, Reuters reported.

23 human bodies have been retrieved from the water so far, but the death toll is expected to exceed 60.

“Forty are missing and presumed drowned,” IOM spokesman Joel Millman told reporters in Geneva.

Shona Miah, 32, told AFP; “My wife and two boys survived, but I lost my three daughters.”

A dire shortage of clean water, toilets and sanitation is spreading disease and pushing the camps to the precipice of a health disaster, the Red Cross warned.

“Our mobile clinics are treating more people, especially children, who are very sick from diarrhoeal diseases which are a direct result of the terrible sanitation conditions,” said Mozharul Huq, Secretary-General of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.

In some of the camps hundreds of refugees are sharing a single toilet, said Martin Faller, of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

“The conditions for an outbreak of disease are all present – we have to act now and we have to act at scale,” he added.

The World Health Organization has said one of the diseases it is particularly worried about is cholera.

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Myanmar Government Vows to Address Refugee Crisis in Rakhine State

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Myanmar Government Vows to Address Refugee Crisis in Rakhine State, but Avoids Saying ‘Rohingya’

A Rohingya camp for internally displaced persons in Rakhine State. Photo by Mathias Eick. Source: Flickr page of EU/ECHO (CC BY-ND 2.0)

On September 19, 2017, Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivered a widely anticipated speech in front of diplomats, United Nations officials, and members of the media to speak about what the government is doing to address the refugee crisis in Rakhine State.

Since August, about 400,000 Rohingyas have escaped to Bangladesh after the Myanmar government intensified its crackdown of insurgents belonging to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which attacked several police and military outposts.

The crackdown involved clearing operations that displaced thousands of Rohingya families. Both the ARSA and government troops accused each other of committing widespread abuses such as looting and burning of houses, beating and killing of women and children, and instigating religious violence. The conflict has affected various ethnic groups in the Rakhine state.

The Rohingya people are an ethnic group in western Myanmar, but the government considers them to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship. Most are Muslim, and living in a country with a Buddhist majority population, they suffer from discrimination. Many are deprived of basic social services.

In her speech, Suu Kyi assured Myanmar’s ethnic groups that the government is thinking about their welfare. Unfortunately, she failed to mention the Rohingya, a move in line with the government’s refusal to recognize the Rohingya as an official ethnic group. In fact, her whole speech avoided reference to “Rohingya” and instead she referred to them simply as Muslims:

We feel deeply for the suffering of all the people who have been caught up in the conflict. Those who have had to flee their homes are many – not just Muslims and Rakhines, but also small minority groups, such as the Daing-net, Mro, Thet, Mramagyi and Hindus of whose presence most of the world is totally unaware.

She also said refugees who fled to Bangladesh can return to Myanmar — but only after undergoing a verification process:

Those who have been verified as refugees from this country will be accepted without any problems and with full assurance of their security and their access to humanitarian aid.

With regard to the recent spate of attacks in Rakhine, she spoke about punishing groups responsible for spreading violence:

Action will be taken against all peoples, regardless of their religion, race, or political position who go against the laws of the land and who violate human rights as accepted by our international community. We have never been soft on human rights in this country.

Suu Kyi, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her promotion of democracy, has been criticized for her silence regarding the issue and her alleged inaction to prevent the persecution of Rohingya. Her September 19 speech was regarded as a crucial moment for her to clarify once and for all the government’s position on the matter, in particular the forced exodus of thousands of Rohingya to nearby Bangladesh. Suu Kyi is not the head of government but she is the leader of the ruling party.

In her speech, Suu Kyi emphasized that Myanmar has a fragile democracy that is undergoing transition after five decades of experiencing direct military rule. She added that the new government has been in power for only 18 months and it has been struggling very hard to enforce reforms while keeping peace and restoring democratic processes.

‘The harshest international critics of the government will be far from satisfied’

Meanwhile, Vice President U Henry Van Thio addressed the United Nations General Assembly on September 20 and echoed Suu Kyi’s point that the majority of Muslims in Rakhine have decided to remain in the country:

We would need to find out the reason for this exodus. What is little known is that the great majority of the Muslim population decided to remain in their villages. We share the need to ensure that vital humanitarian assistance is provided to all those in need.

Suu Kyi’s speech was beamed live across Myanmar and groups of people even watched it in the capital while holding placards with the words, “We stand with Aung San Suu Kyi.”

Historian Thant Myint-U thinks the speech will resonate with the domestic population, but international critics will not be satisfied:

My guess is that the harshest international critics of the government will be far from satisfied; but that the vast majority of Burmese people and at least some foreign governments will feel she’s steering the only realistic course she can under very complex circumstances.

Indeed, local media highlighted how global news reports about the refugee crisis focused on the Rohingya but neglected the situation of other ethnic groups. Some even complained that rich countries are unduly interfering in Myanmar’s domestic affairs.

‘Little more than a mix of untruths and victim blaming’

Netherlands Ambassador to Myanmar Wouter Jurgens tweeted his disappointment with Suu Kyi’s speech (ASSK stands for Aung San Suu Kyi):

ASSK’s speech on Rakhine: we feared denial and hoped for a message of compassion and justice: neither has come true.  @DutchMFA

James Gomez of Amnesty International wondered about Suu Kyi’s “silence about the role of the security forces” in the attacks against the Rohingya:

Aung San Suu Kyi today demonstrated that she and her government are still burying their heads in the sand over the horrors unfolding in Rakhine State. At times, her speech amounted to little more than a mix of untruths and victim blaming.

Writing for news website Coconuts Yangon, Jacob Goldberg witnessed how an enthusiastic crowd welcomed the speech of Suu Kyi.

Generalizing a problem in order to ignore a specific emergency works like a charm for people in power when their followers are on board.

Watching the crowd outside City Hall throw a mini-rave before and after they heard Aung San Suu Kyi trivialize the pain of the world’s most persecuted people made it clearer than ever that the struggle for real justice inside Myanmar will be long and torturous. But it will only begin once at least one person in the crowd suggests that death and displacement are no occasion for a dance party.

After weeks of being quiet about the issue, Suu Kyi broke her silence but failed to appease everyone, especially human rights groups. Worse, by avoiding to mention the Rohingya, Suu Kyi’s speech could in fact reinforce negative views about the ethnic group. Meanwhile, as Myanmar rebuilds the shattered villages in Rakhine, the situation of Rohingya refugees staying in makeshift camps in both Bangladesh and Myanmar continues to deteriorate.

Bangladesh: Powerful Cyclone ‘Mora’ Comes Ashore Nearly One Million Being Evacuated

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) Bangladesh is scrambling to evacuate nearly one million people from low-lying areas as a powerful tropical cyclone pounds the country’s southern coastline.

The cyclone, dubbed Mora, made landfall early Tuesday morning between the cities of Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar and is heading north, authorities in the capital Dhaka said.
“More people were still waiting for evacuation,” said Abu Syed Mohammad Hashim, acting director general of the department. Authorities have also shut airports and ports in the regions expected to be worst hit.
Khalid Mahmood, a director at Disaster Management Department, told CNN that no major casualties had been reported yet.
Residents were seeking shelter in schools and other safe buildings in 17 coastal districts, Hashim said. Officials have organized 3,800 relief centers ahead of the storm.
Medical teams have been formed and doctors and nurses have had their leave requests canceled in anticipation of the storm’s landfall, according to Bangladeshi state media. Hashim told the state-run news agency BSS that rescue teams comprised of members of the armed forces and other agencies were also on standby.
With about 700 kilometers of coastline, Bangladesh is exposed to cyclones and is often battered by deadly storms. Seven of the top ten deadliest storms in recorded history have occurred in either Bangladesh or Myanmar, according to CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.
“A combination of its lengthy and exposed coastline, inadequate infrastructure and plenty of fuel in the way of warm Bay of Bengal waters play a role in making this region the deadliest in the world as it relates to tropical cyclones,” Javaheri said.
At the southern end of the Bay of Bengal, Sri Lanka has been experiencing heavy monsoon rains and severe flooding, which have left at least 160 people dead and dozens more missing. The two weather systems, however, are unrelated.

Nearly 300,000 people were evacuated as Cyclone Mora barrelled towards Bangladesh's southeastern coast at speeds of more than 85 kilometres (53 miles) per hour, officials said.

Airports closed

Mora is the equivalent of a strong tropical storm and will bring winds around 100 kilometers per hour as it moves onshore, said CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward. A more significant problem than the winds will be the potential for flooding — from storm surge and heavy rainfall, he said.
“The coastline of Bangladesh is very low-lying and is prone to storm surge problems,” Ward said. “Additionally, tropical cyclones in the region bring extremely heavy rainfall which often turns deadly in the densely populated areas.”
In May 2016, Cyclone Roanu made landfall in Bangladesh with similar speed winds causing the deaths of at least two dozen people.
Some low-lying areas of Cox’s Bazar are already underwater due to an unusually high tide, state media reports.
The country’s two main seaports in Chittagong and Mongla have suspended container handling, and river transports across Bangladesh have been suspended. Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar have been advised to hoist the number 10 warning signal — the highest level — and other areas the lesser number eight signal.
The airports of Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar have also been closed; Cox’s Bazar indefinitely and Chittagong’s Shah Amanat International Airport until at least 2 p.m. local time (4 a.m. ET) Tuesday.
“We will reopen the airport if weather permits after 2 p.m. tomorrow… the suspension period will linger if the brunt of cyclone badly affects our airport infrastructure,” CAAB flight safety director Ziaul Kabir was quoted as saying.

Bangladesh: Another Clinton Foundation Scandal: Hillary’s State Department Threatened Prime Ministers Son?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE INDEPENDENT JOURNAL REVIEW)

As the Bangladesh government investigated Grameen Bank for financial mismanagement in 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s State Department aides allegedly threatened the prime minister’s son with an IRS audit, the Daily Caller reported.

Major Clinton Foundation donor Muhammad Yunus was serving as managing director of Grameen Bank at the time. He regularly spoke at Clinton Global Initiative events and was given a Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, reportedly with help from former President Bill Clinton.

JP Yim/Getty Images

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s son, Sajeeb Wazed Joy, recalled the “astounding and mind-boggling” efforts by senior State Department officials to get him to sway his mother to close the government commission’s probe into the bank.

Wazed told the Daily Caller:

“They threatened me with the possibility of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service. I have been here legally for 17 years and never had a problem. But they said, ‘well, you know, you might get audited.’

They would say over and over again, ‘Yunus has powerful friends’ and we all knew they were talking of Secretary Clinton. Everybody knew it was Mrs. Clinton.”

Shannon Stapleton/AFP/GettyImages

In February, the Dhaka Tribune also reported that the Prime Minister Hasina’s son faced pressure from the U.S. State Department in an attempt to keep Yunus in power at Grameen Bank.

Hasina remembered her son once quoting the State Department officials as saying, “Convince your mother.”

Among other allegations, Yunus was accused of transferring $100 million from Grameen Bank to fund his “private enterprises,” the Daily Caller reported. The bank executive ended up paying back the bank, but Wazed said, “That’s not the point.”

“He took the money, and the bank is a state-bank not authorized to provide big business loans,” he added.

Yunus was removed as managing director in 2013, shortly after the government commission’s report was released.

Yemen Parliament Will Soon Resume Sessions In Aden

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Middle East

Yemen’s Parliament Deputy Speaker: Parliament Will Resume Sessions Soon

Members of Yemen's parliament

London – Yemen’s Parliament Deputy Speaker Mohammad al-Shaddadi revealed that the parliament will resume its sessions soon in the temporary capital city of Aden.

Shaddadi said that the parliament will perform regular governing and executive duties within the coming few days. He explained to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that currently a conference room is being equipped for the sessions and the parliament’s headquarters will be prepared for the general secretariat to perform its duties.

The deputy pointed out that the parliament will execute its responsibilities as soon as President Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi approves the decision to move the sessions to Aden.

Nasserist Unionist People’s Organization leader MP Sultan and al-Atwani said that the parliament return had been rearranged for a while now.

Atwani said that the incidents in Sanaa are unconstitutional and done under the supervision of the insurgents. He added that Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) had approved for the Yemeni parliament to proceed with its duties in Aden.

MP Atwani told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that having the parliament’s sessions in Aden will reveal which MPs support the insurgency. He stressed that certain conditions must be completed to resume the sessions in Aden such as the security and logistics.

Head of MPs bloc supporters of the legitimacy, Mohammed al-Hmiri said that the quorum will be complete because they need 137 MPs. He explained that the number of MPs is 301, with 27 deceased and they have more than half of the MPs needed.

Hmiri said that the Aden parliament will not be like the Sanaa parliament which convenes with 15 members only.

Hmiri headed a Yemeni delegation to Dhaka, Bangladesh where they attended the sessions of IPU. He stated that they met with the head of IPU and invited him to Yemen.