The controversial British Bangladeshi mayor of the East London borough of Tower Hamlets has been accused of “corruption” and “illegal practices” at a hearing at the High Court. Lutfur Rahman, the UK’s first elected Muslim mayor, was also described as a “liar” who used intimidation and engaged in fraudulent practices …Read More »
Pakistan ranks third out of 162 countries on the Global Terrorism Index with a score of 9.37 out of 10, the Australia and US-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) said in its report.
The country ranks after Iraq which scores 10 out of 10 on the GTI and Afghanistan which ranks number two with a 9.39 GTI.
According to the report, terrorism in Pakistan is strongly influenced by its proximity to Afghanistan with most attacks occurring near the border involving the Taliban.
It noted that similar to Afghanistan, terrorism increased significantly in Pakistan in 2013, with a 37% increase in deaths and 28% increase in injuries since 2012.
Nearly half of all attacks in Pakistan during this time had no groups that have claimed responsibility.
In 2013, the group responsible for almost a quarter of all deaths and 49% of all claimed attacks in the country was Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The report observed that in 2013 there were 23 different terrorist groups operating in Pakistan, down from 29 groups in 2012.
Over 60% were of fatalities from bombings and explosions and around 26% from firearms. A quarter of targets and deaths were against private citizens, with police accounting for 20% of targets and deaths.
It further said that the deadliest attacks in the country were against religious figures and institutions which, on average, killed over five people and injured over 11 per attack. This includes the killing of 87 during a twin suicide bombing at the All Saints Church in Peshawar.
It noted that the deadliest attack in the country last year was when a string of bombings left at least 93 people dead and over 150 wounded in one of the bloodiest days of violence in Quetta.
Girls schools have also often been targeted, an issue which gained worldwide recognition in October 2012 when Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai was shot by gunmen from the TTP.
However, despite the international attention, violence continues and in 2013 there were over 100 attacks on educational institutions, with a total of 150 casualties.
In 2013 there were 71 suicide attacks responsible for around 2,740 casualties in the country.
The report further said that of all attacks 16% occurred in Karachi with a majority of attacks in the north closer to the border with Afghanistan, including Peshawar, Quetta and Jamrud, which combined, had more attacks than Karachi.
The city of Parachinar in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the closest point in Pakistan to Kabul in Afghanistan, has among the highest rates of deaths per incident in the country with 87 people killed from seven incidents.
The report further shows that the number of militant attacks around the world has increased dramatically with over 80% of all terrorism occurring in only five countries – Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Syria.
The number of people killed in militant attacks worldwide jumped more than 60% last year to a record high of nearly 18,000 and the figure could rise further in 2014 due to an escalation of conflict in the Middle East and Nigeria, the report showed.
Four militant groups operating in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria were responsible for two thirds of the 2013 attacks and the vast majority of the deaths occurred in those countries, the IEP said in its Global Terrorism Index.
The four most active militant groupings are Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (now renamed Islamic State), Nigeria’s Boko Haram, the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and transnational al Qaeda-affiliated networks.
“There is no doubt it is a growing problem. The causes are complex but the four groups responsible for most of the deaths all have their roots in fundamentalist Islam,” said IEP founder Steve Killelea.
“They are particularly angry about the spread of Western education. That makes any attempt at the kind of social mobilising you need to stop them particularly difficult – it can just antagonise them more,” he said. The number of attacks themselves rose 44% in 2013 from the previous year to almost 10,000.
Deaths in such attacks are now five times higher than in 2000, the report showed, citing analysis of data in the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database. Most but not all militant attacks were religiously motivated.
Attacks in India – the sixth most affected country – rose 70% in 2013 largely due to attacks by communist insurgents.
The majority remained non-lethal. Increased targeting of police by the militant groups makes managing the problem even harder, Killelea said, sometimes fuelling rights abuses that compound existing grievances.
The report showed 60% of attacks involved explosives, 20% firearms and 10% other actions such as arson, knives or attacks with motor vehicles. Only 5% of all incidents since 2000 have involved suicide bombings.
The report showed some 80% of the militant groups which had ceased their activity since 2000 did so following negotiations.
Only 10% achieved their goals, while seven per cent were eliminated by military action.
The five countries with the biggest increases in deaths from 2012 to 2013 are also the countries most impacted by terrorism, the report noted.
The number of deaths in these five countries has increased by 52% over this period with Iraq observing the biggest increase in deaths.Read More »
British Pakistani big screen debutante Sameena Jabeen Ahmed has scooped the prestigious 'Best British Newcomer' prize at the London Film Festival (LFF) 2014.
Ahmed was honoured for her "breathtaking" performance as a teenager on the run in 'Catch Me Daddy', a powerful tale about honour killings set in northern England.
The award is presented to the most promising writer, actor, producer or director with no previous track record in feature films or television.
Film producer and LFF 2014 jury president Finola Dwyer said the decision to honour Ahmed had been unanimous.
"Sameena's performance was very assured, confident and fearless. In the lead role of "Laila", Sameena's range of emotion was breathtaking; she was the heartbeat of the film.”
Filmed on location in the bleak and beautiful Yorkshire Moors, the film follows pink-haired teenager Laila (Ahmed), who has gone on the run with her Scottish boyfriend Aaron (Conor McCarron).
The young couple have fled their homes in an unnamed northern town and are trying to quietly set up home in a trailer near the Moors: Laila works at a local hair salon while Aaron sits around waiting for Laila to return so that they could get stoned out of their minds.
Unbeknownst to Laila and Aaron, two groups of men - both hired by Laila's outraged father to avenge his family's "honour" - are hunting the couple.
One group is headed by Laila's brute of a brother Zaheer (Ali Ahmad).
The other group is led by Barry, a brawny white thug even more psychopathic than Zaheer.
The ensuing chase is both ominous and poetic as director Daniel Wolfe (brother Mathew Wolfe co-wrote the script) explores family dynamics, race and class in multicultural Britain.
Ahmed, 24, had been cast after a street audition and is sensational in her role which requires a mind-numbing array of emotions, most of which she nails to impressive effect.
Other major award winners of this year's London Film Festival include 'Leviathan', a Russian drama by director Andrey Zvyagintsev which won Best Film and 'Syria Self Portrait' by Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Simav Bedirxan, which won the Girerson Award for Best Documentary.Read More »
As the sound of gunfire erupted along the international border between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that this year's Nobel Peace Prize will be shared between a teenage Pakistani education activist and an Indian children's rights campaigner.
People in Malala's hometown of Mingora in Pakistan's beautiful and restive Swat valley, celebrated the fact that a young woman from their conservative society had won such a prestigious honour.
"This is a moment of great honour for us, and the people of Swat and the people of Pakistan," said Tariq Khan, a medical official, told Reuters.
Malala's success could bring real change to a region where women are expected to keep silent and stay behind closed doors.
Change may be slow, but Malala's win is bound to inspire girls in the region to pursue education and become independent.
Just a few years ago, the region was overrun by Taliban insurgents who tried to impose strict Islamic rule and ban women from seeking education. Eventually, the Pakistani army drove them away, but tensions are still high in the strategic region.
Under the Taliban, teenaged Malala kept an anonymous blog describing her experiences under the austere Islamist regime, calling on other girls to study and develop their own opinions.
"The Taliban want to imprison women in homes. They don't want their faces to be seen, they don't want women to make their mark," said Aziz Ullah, a store owner in Mingora.
"Malala said, 'No. women will not sit at home. They will go out, they will study, they will do something big.' So they shot her. And I know they will try to do it again, now that she has won this big award."
Malala shot to global prominence when she was shot by Taliban gunmen as she made her way to school.
She was later flown for specialist treatment to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where she now resides, unable to return to Mingora because of threats by the Taliban to kill her and her family.
The current chief of the Pakistani Taliban, Mullah Fazlullah, was the one who ordered the 2012 attack against her.
Despite its conservative reputation, most people in the region want their daughters to go to school.
"I have sent all my daughters and grand-daughters to school. Why would I be against Malala? Swatis are a very proud people who have always believed in education", said Akal Zada, a restaurant owner.Read More »
Afghanistan’s first female graffiti artist and a former Burmese political prisoner who began creating art while in gaol are among artists shortlisted for the 2014 Artraker Awards, honouring artists whose work has been inspired by conflicts around the world. The 12-strong shortlist – which includes artists from or inspired by …Read More »
With nearly 250 films screening, his year's 58th BFI London Film Festival is set to be the biggest yet. And it's a bumper year for South Asian cinema with films from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka joining features from the UK.
Here are the main highlights. (Click on film titles for venues and timings).
Based on a true-story, this compelling drama explores disability in India through the story of a young Punjabi girl suffering from cerebral palsy. The gifted Kalki Koechlin plays the central role of Laila, a university student, writer, lyricist and musician who is confined to a wheelchair. After winning a scholarship to New York University, Laila moves to Manhattan with her mother (played by the veteran south Indian actress and activist Revathi). In the city that never sleeps, Laila falls in love with Sayani Gupta's fiery young activist Khanum: a love that threatens chaos for Laila and her family. Writer, producer and director Shonali Bose is no stranger to tackling difficult subjects. Her 2005 feature debut 'Amu' - based on her novel of the same name - was a skilfully crafted exploration of the 1984 anti-Sikh massacres in Delhi through the eyes of a young Indian American girl. 'Margarita, with a Straw' had its world premier at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month and received an extended standing ovation with some critics drawing parallels between Koechlin's performance and Daniel Day Lewis' Oscar-winning turn as cerebral palsy sufferer Christy Brown in 'My Left Foot'.Read More »
The 1947 Partition of the Indian Sub-continent has long been a source of inspiration for filmmakers. Few films however, have better encapsulated one of the 20th Century’s great human tragedies than ‘Garm Hava’ (‘Hot Winds’), the seminal 1973 drama that explores the impact the events of August ’47 had on …Read More »
‘Lakshmi’, Nagesh Kukunoor’s hard-hitting child trafficking drama will open this year’s edition of the London Asian Film Festival on 1 June, organizers say. The film is inspired by the real life story of a poor 14-year-old girl from Andra Pradesh who was forced into sex slavery but who eventually escaped …Read More »
Filmmakers Vishal Bhardwaj and Nagesh Kukunoor will make exclusive appearances at the 16th annual London Asian Film Festival, organizers announced Wednesday. Bhardwaj will give fans a sneak peek into his hugely-anticipated new film ‘Haider’, an adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy ‘Hamlet’ and the final part in the director’s adaptations of …Read More »
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s sports biopic “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” was the big winner at the so-called ‘Bollywood Oscars’ on Saturday night, taking home five of the top honours including best picture and best director as the Indian International Film Festival (IIFA) came to the US for the first time. Hollywood legends …Read More »