Plant a tree
Since the tree planting season has started there shall be tree plantation activities right through from July to end September. We shall plant trees as a group, individually and partner with other organizations and groups. We have already kicked off or rather planted off our campaign with Neem Trees at Keamari on old Bunder Road and Mangroves on the mud flats in the creek, partnering with Green Kemari Team & Karachi Port Trust.
The theme for our campaign is, “Plant a Living Flag”. Plant a flag that will grow, with you, with your children, for the generations to come. We implore everyone to plant at least one flag. Just imagine if each one of us was to plant one flag, Pakistan would turn green in no time. Let us not look towards the state to do this. Let us be the engine of change.
EMC, Green Kindness,
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is all set to carry out a referendum on Kurdistan independence, thus closing a circle which was opened 56 years earlier in the “September revolution” against the Iraqi central government, headed by Abd al-Karim Qassim. The feeling of attaining full independence is growing stronger with each passing day in Kurdish areas.
Cities are rising where the Kurdish flag flutters and the road signs, the street and store names and the media are in Kurdish, the official government language. It could take visitors to Erbil, the Kurdish capital, several days to realise they are in Iraq.
By adopting the method of a referendum, the Kurdistan Regional Government will join many other states and political entities to have employed this standard procedure. Usually a declaration of independence needs to be preceded by a referendum. Without establishing the will of the people of Kurdistan on the issue, KRG leaders can hardly claim a popular mandate for such a move.
Most recently independent states, such as South Sudan, held referendums first. But many Iraqi politicians and groups are declaring this referendum unconstitutional. As the experience in Yugoslavia showed, when ethnic or religious cleavages explode, the most effective path to peace may well be separation. And a Kurdish state has a real chance of thriving. An independent Kurdistan could manage to combine natural-resource wealth with a tradition of stable and pragmatic governance, thereby creating a sustainable democracy. This would amount to a win for pro-Western liberal forces in the Middle East. Let’s have a look at the factors which can make independent Kurdistan a success story in the region.
Strong Security Apparatus: The Peshmerga armed forces of the KRG are a very effective and well-trained Kurdish military force that defends Kurdistan well. When the Iraqi military melted away after putting up only a minimal resistance to ISIS in 2014 it was this Peshmerga alone which stop the expansion of IS and even rolled it back. The Peshmerga have decades of experience warring against powerful opponents such as the once strong elite force of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard. The Peshmerga are very much capable of defending the sovereignty of an independent Kurdistan.
Vibrant Economy: The KRG now exports 600,000 barrels of oil per day, with up to a million per day on the horizon with existing and pending deals with large multinational oil companies. The KRG’s budget deficit has thus shrunk 99%, “from $4 billion in 2013 to just $63 million in 2016.” Together with efforts to boost agriculture (Kurdistan is nearly self-sufficient for food now), manufacturing and the private sector in general, the prospects of the region look better than that of many states.
Unity of Political Parties on Independence: All leading parties of Kurdistan like the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Gorran Party wholeheartedly support independence for Kurdistan. Gorran and the Komal Islamic Group support the referendum and independence but only have some reservations about its timing and mechanism.
Weak Baghdad: The Iraqi government in Baghdad will not be able to stop the Kurds as it lacks military strength. The Iraqi army has deep structural problems such as large scale desertions, widespread corruption and low morale. In this case, Baghdad can’t afford to start any military campaign against the Kurds. Even the chances of outside military intervention are slim as Syria is weak and Iran and Turkey are otherwise occupied on other fronts.
In the past, the Kurds were considered a destabilizing element in the Middle East but now the world has come to realize their important contribution to stabilizing the region and in fighting radical Islamists. The Kurds tried to make Iraq work after 2003 on the condition of federalism and a binational Iraq of equals with minority rights, but that hope has faded. The Kurds are entitled to seek independence to enhance their secular and more progressive society as well as better relations with all neighbours. Given how the Kurds have been treated in the countries in which they live, it’s no surprise that they have demanded the right to govern themselves and are willing to fight.
So, it’s the high time that the international community caught up with Kurdish desires and helps them build stable, democratic institutions, instead of taking the side of those who want to rule over them. The West should respect the yearning of disenfranchised and oppressed peoples, beginning with the Kurds. Freedom, democracy, and competent governance remains vital for a durable Western imprint on the region’s future. The time has come for the first redrawing of the Middle East map since the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement which sliced up the Ottoman empire into nation states. But it has yet to be seen how Kurdistan chooses. Will the Kurds separate from Iraq by declaring independence in one bold stroke, or will they do it through negotiations with the central government in Baghdad for an amicable separation? It will be in the interest of both for separation to happen though negotiations so they can have key and official linkages like a shared defence and foreign policy, and hydrocarbon production which benefits both.
Columnist for Viewsaround.net,
Can we fake it?
During the Panama case investigation, a person claimed that his confession was incorrect as it was taken by force. Another person submitted fake documents that were also attested. But in both cases the court did not take any action against the people responsible and no future legal action against such persons has been announced. Can the people of Pakistan therefore assume that in future, for any legal court case they can submit fake documents and take back any confessional statement, without any repercussions?
I had a bizarre experience with imported apples sold in Karachi fruit shops. In June this year I bought apples from the shop behind Paradise Store in Clifton. One fell and rolled behind our dining room’s sideboard while I was putting them in the refrigerator. Yesterday I found the lost apple which, despite the passage of 2.5 months looked fresh from both outside and inside. The temperatures in June-July were in the late 30s. The vendor claimed it was a New Zealand import.
The new cabinet under the new prime minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, was sworn in on August 4, 2017. The president, Mamnoon Hussain, administered oath to 27 federal ministers and 16 ministers of state at a ceremony held at President House. Former defense minister, Khawaja Asif, was allotted the portfolio of foreign minister in the newly formed cabinet. Is that an appropriate selection?
Who made this selection is not that important because it is known to all and sundry that none other than the former prime minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, who is still calling the shots, must have made it.
Former defense minister Khawaja Asif may be a competent person otherwise, but he is totally inexperienced so far as the extremely important domain of foreign affairs is concerned. At a time when Pakistan is passing through one of its critical phases in its history of foreign relations, this choice could not be described as appropriate at all.
Why wasn’t Sartaj Aziz, former foreign minister of Pakistan and former adviser on foreign affairs to the former prime minister, chosen for this vital and highly sensitive slot? This is truly inconceivable. No one could have been more suitable than Sartaj Aziz to hold the office? One could say that the hitch was that he is neither a senator nor a member of the National Assembly. But the fact remains that the PML (N) could have very comfortably had him elected to the seat vacated by former PPP MNA Babar Awan. After all, the PML (N) succeeded in getting its candidate Asif Kirmani elected unopposed to this seat.
Whether or not Sartaj Aziz will be willing to continue to serve as adviser on foreign affairs to PM Abbasi, particularly when Khawaja Asif has been made a full-fledged foreign minister, is a million dollar question.
I would like to bring to your attention that there is a group of men in Karachi often seen at Zamzama, Sehar Commercial, Badar Commercial and Bukhari Commercial in a white Prado or a Corolla. Their midnight entertainment is to target transgenders on the streets of Karachi and throw eggs at them.
They might be doing this for fun but it is shameful and disrespectful. One night at around 12:15am, they threw eggs at a group of transgenders, who as anyone would respond, abused them back verbally. Someone in the car opened fire at the group, killing one transgender named Chanda who was 46 years old. This is the entertainment of the powerful in the city which follows the law of the jungle.
Geo reported: Police informed that shell casings of 9mm pistol were found from the crime scene. The law enforcement authorities have registered the murder case and a CCTV video from a nearby bank is being sought by the personnel. The deceased was a resident of Korangi 2.5. Mohammad Ramzan, the duty police officer who was present at the scene to report initial findings, said the perpetrators first threw eggs on transgender persons and then opened fire on them.
Dawn has reported that about 10,418 transgender people were counted in the sixth census with Punjab home to 64% of them (6,709 people). This is followed by Sindh with 2,527.
The good news is that Nadra has said that transgenders who have no information about their biological parents will also be issued CNICs.
Children go missing
For the past few days, we have seen an unexpected uptick in child abduction cases. These cases include kidnapping for the ransom, trafficking, domestic violence, maltreatment at institutions, and physical or mental abuse. Poor children are especially vulnerable. I would like to request citizens to be alert and try to help with these cases too. Some institutions that hel with these cases include: 1121 in Punjab (http://missing.punjab.gov.pk/children), 1138 Roshni helpline in Sindh (http://www.roshnihelpline.org/)
Sometimes people hit an animal on the road while driving and instead of helping the animal they drive off. If this happens to you, please try to help. If you can’t take the animal to the vet, at least post on Facebook to one of several groups operating in the cities so that someone can go and try to rescue the injured animal. Many good-hearted people are out there and do this regularly. There are several groups with people who do this work rescuing animals as a non-profit venture. I recommend: Karachi’s Pet Talk and The Pet Lovers Union and HWO Animal Rescue Islamabad.
Imran Khan’s PTI
I am apolitical. But even I was surprised to see how low our political parties could stoop. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf did give me some hope initially, but alas, the latest episode of Imran Khan’s supporters attacking Ayesha Gulalai and her family on social media has shattered all my hopes in the party now.
Instead of investigating the matter seriously all sorts of character assassination, including the threat to her life and property started. Even statements of financial corruption started coming out against her. If it is true then it speaks about the claims of good governance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under the PTI.
For starters, I would recommend that NAB should arrest the people who have confessed that they have provided bribes to Ayesha Gulalai. Secondly, Imran Khan should man up and face the charges just like he has been advocating for his opponents. He should not demand that the burden of proof lies with the accuser; rather he should welcome any investigation and present his mobile phone for forensic analysis. After all, he is campaigning to be Prime Minister and before voting for him, we should be clear that our leader is not morally corrupt. Otherwise, I would feel that there is something fishy and that’s why it has created a ripple on social media and all PTI has done is enflame our imagination.
Umar Khalid Dar,
We should always view and share news from credible sources as the story of this photo tells us. In its case, space.com, NASA, SkyAndTelescope are good sources. This photo captured the attention of more than one million people on social media, especially blogs, Instagram and Facebook. Many people thought it was real. It isn’t.
It is a Photoshop composite of two photos captured at two different locations at two different times, probably by the same person. I had been trying to make sense out of it the day I saw it on my newsfeed. I myself take photographs that people can’t believe to be real but I provide all the logic and BTS of a photo when requested and at times share the EXIF plus SOOC. This photo kept me wondering for three days until I found something on Reddit.
The photographer himself accepted that it was a composite after he uploaded it on Reddit. Later, he apologized, deleted the photo, his reddit account and his instagram account. But it’s already gone viral and people are still sharing it blindly. (https://www.reddit.com/…/hello_reddit_i_am_the_accidental_…/)
A Karachi Astronomers Society member,