Pakistan May Negotiate a Ceasefire with the Taliban
The Pakistani Taliban wants to extend a ceasefire with the government. The ceasefire was declared to allow negotiators to try to find an end to seven years of horrific violence. Here’s Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK.

Reporter:
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with negotiators for the Pakistani Taliban earlier this month in the capital, Islamabad. The government has been in talks with the largest insurgent group since February. One March 1st, the Pakistani Taliban unilaterally announced a month-long ceasefire. Youssef Shah, a negotiator for the Taliban told AFP on Tuesday that the top priority for the next phase of talks is to extend the ceasefire. It’s due to run out next week. Experts remain divided over the real motivation for the Taliban sudden announcement. Just beforehand, the Pakistani military launched massive air strikes against the Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan. Some analysts say the Taliban opted for a ceasefire as a ploy to buy time to prepare counter attacks. Pakistan has long been a terrorist hotbed, but with multi-national combat troops due to withdraw from neighboring Afghanistan by the year’s end, experts say stability in Pakistan is extremely important for the whole region.
 
 

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In Pakistan, Transgender 'Hijras' Hide and Seek

 
 

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Pakistani Taliban Attacking Women's Right to Education
(LinkAsia: November 16, 2012)
Yul Kwon:
Moving now to South Asia, where the shooting of a Pakistani teenage girl last month shocked the world. Malala Yousufzai was badly wounded by militants opposed to schooling for girls. NHK has this report on the problems faced by women seeking education in Pakistan.

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NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: November 12, 2012

Reporter:
Sixteen year old Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head last month by the Taliban movement of Pakistan. The radical Islamic group said girls have no right to education. The teenager is currently in Britain receiving treatment in hospital. One month after the attack Malala's school remains under tight security from the Pakistani military. Two girls who were with Malala and were also shot that day describe what happened. Shadziya and another Kainat have returned to school. They were traumatized by the incident. But decided to come back to carry on Malala's fight for education. People around the world have praised Malala's courage. On Friday Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy on Education and the former British Prime Minister gave his support to her campaign for female education in a speech in Islamabad.

Gordon Brown:
We in the international community want to say to you today that we will support you in your determination that no girl should be prevented from going to school out of fear.

Reporter:
Even after Malala's shooting six schools have been blown up by militants. The attacks are believed to be the work of Pakistani Taliban. Authorities said several hundred fifty one schools were attacked by extremists in the past ten years including 233 that were almost destroyed. But Islamic extremism is not the only reason why many Pakistani girls are denied an education. Poverty is another major problem that needs to be addressed. Malala's shooting has exposed the challenges faced by the Pakistani government. It's under renewed pressure to crack down on extremism and take steps to help children of poor families get an education.

Hideki Yui, NHK World, Islamabad.

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Yul Kwon:
Pakistan has announced it will provide a small subsidy – the equivalent of about two dollars a month - to families for every child enrolled in primary school.
 
 

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Syrian Opposition Unites, Rohingya Groups Speak Out, and More Top News This Week

REUTERS/Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham/Handout


US-approved Syrian opposition group forms governing body

After US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a "more trustworthy" Syrian opposition last week, New TV reported that a leader in the Free Syrian Army announced that the Free Army is reorganizing its ranks to gain the trust of the international community, adding that his leadership has started to settle inside Syria. The Syrian opposition also announced during its ongoing meetings in Doha that it accepted a proposal to establish a transitional government headed by opposition member Riyad Saif. The initiative, headed by Saif, stipulates creating a unified leadership dubbed the Syrian National Initiative, from which a government in exile will be formed.

World groups organize global day of action in support of Myanmar's Rohingyas; Suu Kyi under fire for ignoring violence

Myanmar's Rohingyas are fleeing Rakhine State after a new wave of attacks from the Buddhist majority. Press TV reported that Rohingya groups around the world held a global day of action for the Rohingyas on November 8. International rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, have also criticized Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi for her silence on the issue. The president of Arakan Rohingya National Organization, Noor al-Islam, added in an interview during a rally in London that if the persecuted had been Rakhine's Buddhists, Suu Kyi would have spoken out. Additionally, the aid group Doctors Without Borders says its workers have been threatened and stopped from reaching violence-hit areas in Myanmar. The group says thousands are left without medical care in the western Rakhine State as a result, adding that many of the victims are extremely vulnerable.

Tens of Thousands Demand Nobel Peace Prize for Malala Yousafzai

 

BBC Arabic reported that over 60 thousand people signed a petition calling for Pakistani rights activist Malala Yousafzai to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The 15-year-old girl is recovering in The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, Britain, after suffering an armed attack by the Taliban movement in Pakistan. Malala and her campaign for education gained notoriety around the world after she wrote her memoirs in the Urdu section of the BBC about life under the teachings of the extremist Taliban movement that rejects girls' right to an education.

Oil Giant Shell Undercuts Iran Sanctions with $1.4B Grain Barter

 

Dubai TV reported that the Royal Dutch Shell Company aims to circumvent international sanctions imposed on Iran by concluding a swap through which it would pay its USD 1.4 billion debt to the Iranian national oil company with a grain barter deal through the American agribusiness Cargill. Through the deal, Shell would deliver grain to Iran worth USD 1.4 billion, or what amounts to nearly 80 percent of Iran's yearly grain imports. Sources also revealed that the Royal Dutch Shell company, Tehran's second largest customer, imports 100,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day, and continued to purchase oil until the sanctions went into effect on July 1st.

 

Image: Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai talks to her father, Ziauddin Yousufzai, as she recuperates at the The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, in this undated handout photograph released to Reuters on November 8, 2012. REUTERS/Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham/Handout

 
 

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2012 US Presidential Election: The View from Asia

 
 

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French Cartoons 'Fuel' Anti-Blasphemy Protests, and More of This Week's Top News

REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood


French cartoons insulting Islam condemned as 'fuel on the fire'

As Muslims across the globe continue to protest the US-made film that insulted Islam's Prophet Muhammad, a French weekly called Charlie Hebdo published a series of cartoons of the prophet, sparking a new wave of rage in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Press TV reported that the cartoons were denounced by both Egypt's al-Azhar Mosque and the Vatican as "fuel on the fire," and Al Jazeera reported that a number of French embassies and schools would close today for fear of violence.

According to BBC Arabic, anti-blasphemy demonstrations have spread to South and Southeast Asia, specifically the capitals of Afghanistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, while Pakistan experienced deadly Friday protests after security forces opened fire on demonstrators.

This Week in Syria: 'Friends of Syria' meeting, 'massacre' in ar-Raqqah, and fears of chemical attack

New TV reported a massacre by the Syrian regime in ar-Raqqah on Thursday, while Holland hosted a meeting of representatives of the group known as "Friends of the Syrian People," which includes 60 countries and the Arab League. Meanwhile, IBA reported on Tuesday that the Syrian army flew in members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to witness firing tests for chemical weapons at the country's largest chemical weapons research center. Newly-defected Major General Adnan Sillu, who was the head of the Syrian weapons program, also said that the Assad regime had plans to conduct a chemical weapons assault on the rebels, as well as transfer missiles with chemical warheads to Hezbollah.

Large-scale IDF exercises in Golan Heights, as Israeli air strike kills two Hamas officers in Gaza

IBA reported surprise large-scale military exercises involving top IDF brass amid the Jewish High Holy Days. The exercises simulated a deteriorating security situation in the Golan Heights. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reported that an Israeli air strike resulted in the deaths of two Hamas security officers near the town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, saying that the officers were on an official mission near the tunnels by the Egyptian-Palestinian border. IBA, on the other hand, reported that the deaths were of Hamas operatives who were tasked with securing smuggling tunnels for explosives, and were planning a terror attack against Israel.

 

Image: A girl is photographed as she attends an anti-U.S. demonstration with religious students in the compound of the Red Mosque in Islamabad September 22, 2012: REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

 
 

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Pakistan's Twitterati Reacts to Gilani Dismissal

 
 

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Drone Strikes Drive a Wedge Between US and Pakistan

(LinkAsia: June 8, 2012)
Thuy Vu:

The relationship between Pakistan and the US is at an all-time low. Pakistan is denouncing the United States' continued use of drone air strikes in the country. The complaint follows the latest US attack in the country that killed Al Qaeda's second-in-command. The disagreement over drone strikes is driving another wedge into the already tense relationship between the two countries. Here's NHK with that story.

--

NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: June 6, 2012

Reporter:
The air strike was carried out on Sunday. According to the Pakistani government, 16 militants were killed by unmanned aircraft in the country's northwest region. Those killed include Abu Yahya al-Libi, a close aid to current al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The Pakistani government summoned US Deputy Ambassador Richard Hoagland on Tuesday to protest the attack. Pakistan claims that action was not only illegal, but also violated the nation's sovereignty. Despite Pakistan's objection, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday that US drone strikes have been an effective means of combating al-Qaeda.

Jay Carney, White House Spokesperson:
There is now no clear successor to take on the breadth of his responsibilities. And that puts additional pressure on al-Qaeda's post-bin Laden leader, Zawahiri, to try to manage the group in an effective way. This would be a major blow.

Reporter:
Carney said al-Libi's death is the harshest blow to the new leadership of the group since the killing of Osama bin Laden. Drone strikes by the US have caused civilian casualties in Pakistan and are fuelling anti-US sentiment among its people. But the air strikes are still frequent, averaging one every two days during the past two weeks. Pakistan's parliament is demanding an immediate halt to such actions. Hideki Yui, NHK World, Islamabad.

 
 

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This Week's Headlines 05/04/12

REUTERS / Asmaa Waguih
Egyptian troops and protesters clash in Cairo as thousands rally

Al Jazeera - Over 20 people were injured in confrontations between the Egyptian security forces and protesters attempting to reach the headquarters of the Defense Ministry in Cairo. Al Jazeera correspondent reported that 20 armored trucks amassed in al- Abbasiyah Square after pushing the protesters away from the surroundings of the Defense Ministry. Tahrir Square hosted a demonstration against the Military Council, and so did al-Abbasiyah Square that received even more protesters.


Syrian troops storm Aleppo University killing four and arresting hundreds

BBC Arabic - Syrian opposition activists say a number of students at Aleppo University were killed by the gunfire of Syrian security forces when they stormed the campus.The university's president announced classes will be suspended until May 13th. Following these incidents, demonstrations broke out in and around as the faculties of Aleppo University in solidarity with the targeted students. Other demonstrations erupted in various areas as well.  
             
Israeli court postpones Palestinian hunger strikers' appeals


Palestine TV - After Bilal Diab and Thaeir Halahla entered their 68th day of their open-ended hunger strike, a hearing was held today in the so-called Israeli Supreme Court, where their trial was postponed indefinitely to review the demand of their release. During the trial session, Bilal and Tha'ir's defense attorney presented the judge with his argument which condemns the so-called administrative detention, which allows the detention of the prisoners without any charges.

Blasts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Taliban claims responsibility

Dubai - US President Barack Obama visited Afghanistan for six hours and met with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai. The two leaders signed a strategic partnership pact for cooperation between Washington and Kabul. Following Obama's visit, Kabul was rocked by a series of explosions that claimed the lives of 6 people. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, and warned they will launch an offensive against NATO on Thursday.


Al Alam - At least 20 people were killed, and 45 others were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself at a market in Bajur, leading to the killing and injury of dozens of people. He targeted a police checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan. Among the dead were a number of policemen and civilians.

 

Image: A member of security forces jumps before throwing a stone back at protesters near Egypt's Defence Ministry May 4, 2012. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

 
 

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Broken Democracies: Asian Citizens Fed Up With the Status Quo

 
 

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