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#Terror: Pakistan ranked third in Global Terrorism Index 2014

 

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.

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#Culmination: Moeen Ali named ‘Livelihood Ambassador’ for Pakistan by British Asian Trust

'Tis the season of Moeen Ali, it appears.

The England all-rounder was today named a 'Livelihood Campaigner' for Pakistan as part of the British Asian Trust.

As part of his role, Birmingham-born Ali will help raise awareness about the campaign which assists thousands of unemployed youth, women and the rural poor in Pakistan.

“Though I am born and brought up here in the UK, I have very strong links with the country of my forefathers, Pakistan", Ali said.

"I am passionate about the issues of livelihood, especially that of unemployment amongst the youth, both here and in Pakistan.  I am looking forward to raising awareness about this important issue and visit the charities chosen by the Trust to help the unemployed youth, women and rural poor in Pakistan", he added.

Ali's ambassadorship is the culmination of a successful first year at the national level for the gifted southpaw. 

As a batsman he made what was arguably the finest century of the British summer - many commentators described it as one of the greatest of all time - when he battled for eight hours to almost deny Sri Lanka victory with an elegant, chanceless and unbeaten 108 at Headingley.

Later Ali tormented India's much-vaunted batting lineup with his seemingly innocuous off-spinners whilst also piling on the runs: that despite some appalling behaviour towards him by a handful of Indian fans.   

He topped off the summer by winning the Professional Player of the Year award at the inaugural Asian Cricket Awards at Lord's.

Welcoming Ali on board, Hitan Mehta, Executive Director, British Asian Trust said, “We are delighted to have Moeen Ali as our ambassador.  He will add energy and vigour to this important campaign.”

Ali is known for his passionate views on issues.

He was chastized by some members of the cricket media after wearing 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine' wristbands during the third test against England in Southampton in July when Israeli forces were pounding the Gaza Strip.

On a number of occasions, Ali also spoke eloquently about the issue of Islam in Britain and his responsibility as a devout Muslim to help breakdown misconceptions about his religion.

His ambassadorship with the BAT is a natural next step for the cricketer especially as it involves working in Pakistan.

According to a study commissioned by the Trust, a quarter of Pakistan's population lives below the national poverty line with more than half living barely a tick above it.

Public sector waste, poor governance, political turmoil combined with a raging militancy has left the Pakistani economy in tatters with many depending on foreign aid for their livelihoods - the country received nearly half a billion pounds from Britain in the last fiscal year.

Exacerbating the problem is the country's population boom.

While its South Asian neighbours have implemented effective population control policies, Pakistan's population continues to grow at two percent per annum: according to the report, the country will be the sixth most populous in the world by 2020. 

“Pakistan's growing population offers a great opportunity to spur economic growth, but that is only possible if we are able to support interventions that work within the wider context of leveraging this demographic", Mehta continues.

"By adding value to Pakistan’s infrastructure we work together to reduce endemic poverty, and begin to make a real impact on reducing that figure of 40 million living on less than $1.25 a day.”

As part of its campaign in Pakistan, the Trust will launch the Livelihood Fund with the aim of generating £1 million from individuals, corporations, trusts and foundations.

Visit www.britishasiantrust.org for more.

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#Fighter: After the Taliban, Pakistan’s ‘Burqa Avenger’ turns her attention to Polio

 

A sharp increase in the number of Polio cases in Pakistan has caused widespread concern among health authorities around the world.

85 percent of all global cases of the crippling disease this year were recorded in Pakistan with the World Health Organization blaming Islamic extremists - who believe that medical teams carrying out vaccinations are western agents sent to "sterilize" the country's children - as well as government ineptitude.

Health authorities however, have now received support from a rather unlikely source, the 'Burka Avenger', Pakistan's first animated female superhero, whose previous foes have included (animated versions) of Taliban insurgents. 

The cartoon - created by Pakistani pop star Aaron Haroon Rashid - features 'Jiya', school teacher by day who dons a full-body Burka by night to fight extremists trying to shut down girl's schools.

Her main foes are a corrupt politician and Baba Bandook, an evil magician with a bushy black beard meant to look like a Taliban commander and who raises the question, "What business do women have with education?"

After the Taliban, animators have turned their attention to polio, a disease that is endemic in Pakistan and mainly affects children under the age of five.

It is transmitted through contaminated food and water and infects patient's central nervous system, causing paralysis and often, death.

Haroon Rashid said: "We always have a social issue or a social message that is the centerpiece of each show.  And of course, with the rising number of polio cases…the situation is alarming."

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#Laureates: Meet the winners of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

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.

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