Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Funding of Hate Groups, NGOs, Think Tanks: Is Money Free Speech?

Are corporations people?  Do constitutional guarantees of free speech apply to corporations spending money to shape public policy? The United States Supreme Court has answered both of these questions in the affirmative in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission case.

Even before the  US Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case, the United States government and various interest groups have been spending vast sums of money to promote "free speech" and buy influence around the world for a long time. This money is given to non-government organizations (NGOs) and various think tanks, either directly by the USAID or through various private American foundations with the blessings of Uncle Sam.

Funding of Hate Groups' "Free Speech": 

Free Speech is a useful cover for many hate groups that are spewing venom against minorities. Such groups, particularly anti-Muslim groups in the United States, are very well funded. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights group, estimates that these groups have raised and spent over $100 million in recent years.

Spending on Islamophobia is having a significant effect on Americans perception of Muslim Americans. Results differ by political party, with the majority of Republicans holding negative views of both Arab-Americans and Muslims. Democrats gave Arab-Americans a 30 percent unfavorable rating and Muslim-Americans a 33 percent unfavorable rating, while Republicans gave Arab-Americans a 54 percent unfavorable rating and Muslim-Americans a 63 percent unfavorable rating, according to public opinion survey conducted by Zogby Analytics.

US Support of NGOs, Think Tanks:

There has been extensive documentation of US government funding of NGOs for the purpose of pushing US agenda around the world. The most detailed description of it became public with revelations contained in "Who Paid the Piper" by Frances Stonor Saunders. More recently, an investigative reporter Robert Parry has documented the role played by US-funded National Endowment for Democracy in destabilizing Ukraine in a piece titled "A Shadow of US Foreign Policy".

In "The Mask of Pluralism", author Joan Roelofs describes certain CIA-designated organizations, using the funds from the “dummy” foundations, funding pro-American NGOs to advance US policies.

Many countries, including India, have made several attempts to regulate foreign funding of NGOs. Just recently, Modi government has frozen the accounts of Green Peace India and put Ford Foundation on its watch list.

There are hundreds of foreign-funded NGOs operating in Pakistan. Many of them provide much needed service but some are likely being used as cover to push foreign agendas. It has been established that the CIA used one such organization to fund a fake polio vaccination campaign in Abbotabad as part of its hunt for Usama Bin Laden.

Role Reversal:

In a strange twist, Americans are now complaining about foreign funding of Washington NGOs and Think Tanks. New York Times has named several foreign governments from Asia, Europe and the Middle East providing tens of millions of dollars to American think tanks to push "United States government officials to adopt policies that often reflect the donors’ priorities".

Since 2011, at least 64 foreign governments have contributed to a group of 28 major US-based think tanks and NGOs, according to disclosures by the institutions and government documents.

As the New York Times puts it: "The money is increasingly transforming the once-staid think-tank world into a muscular arm of foreign governments’ lobbying in Washington. And it has set off troubling questions about intellectual freedom: Some scholars say they have been pressured to reach conclusions friendly to the government financing the research."

Foreign-Funded US Think Tanks:

Here are three of many examples of foreign government funding of think tanks cited by New York Times:

1. Japanese government is a major donor to Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) for the purpose of promoting free trade treaties, particularly the Trans Pacific Partnership, in recent years.

2. United Arab Emirates is a major donor to the Atlantic Council. Michele Dunne was forced to resign the head of its center for the Middle East after calling for the suspension of military aid to Egypt in 2013 after the military coup that overthrew the democratically government of President Mohammad Mursi.

3. Norway has given at least $24 million to several Washington think tanks over the past four years, according to a tally by The New York Times, transforming these nonprofits into a powerful but largely hidden arm of the Norway Foreign Affairs Ministry. Documents obtained under that country’s unusually broad open records laws reveal that American research groups, after receiving money from Norway, have advocated in Washington for enhancing Norway’s role in NATO, promoted its plans to expand oil drilling in the Arctic and pushed its climate change agenda.


"Free Speech"is extensively being used as a cover to promote special interests and spew hate speech in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

Foreign funding of NGOs and Think Tanks is a reality.  This fact must be acknowledged.  As Saleem Ali, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, put it to New York Times: “If a member of Congress is using the Brookings reports, they should be aware — they are not getting the full story.”  Ali said he had been told during his job interview that he could not take positions critical of the Qatari government in papers. “They may not be getting a false story, but they are not getting the full story.”

The Clinton Foundation, headed by former US President Bill Clinton and his wife Hilary, the former secretary of state, has come under severe criticism for accepting millions of dollars from foreign contributors. American media are demanding full disclosure and transparency from the couple. Shouldn't it also apply to foreign donations flowing into NGOs in Pakistan?

With growing Pakistan-China cooperation, trade and investment, Indian and western governments and spy agencies will try and ratchet up the pressure on the two countries by further fueling the insurgency in Pakistan. The issue will be played up by western and Indian media and some foreign funded NGOs in Pakistan as the work on China-Pakistan corridor proceeds and Chinese investment in Pakistan materializes.  This cynical effort could claim more innocent and well-meaning victims like Sabeen Mahmud who get caught up as pawns in the cross-fire of  international geopolitics. Pakistani leaders and people need to be aware of it and be prepared to deal with it intelligently.

Here's a video discussion on this subject:


Who killed Sabeen Mahmud? NA-246 Results prove what. Yemen from WBT TV on Vimeo.


Who killed Sabeen Mahmud- What do NA-246... by faizan-maqsood

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Who Killed Sabeen Mahmud? Why? 

Pak-China Industrial Corridor

American Hypocrisy on Dr. Afridi's Sentence

Post Cold War World: Pakistan-China-Russia Vs India-US-Japan

How Strategic Are China-Pakistan Ties?

Alaska Permanent Fund: A Model For Balochistan?

Has Modi Stepped Up India's Covert War in Pakistan?

Serious Issues Undermining Baloch Insurgency


Riaz Haq said...

Geert Wilders, the champion of 'free speech' in #Texas, wants to ban the #Koran in #Holland. #Islamophobia #Garland http://wpo.st/JmoF0

A mass shooting tragedy may have been averted late on Sunday, when two gunmen were killed in Garland, Tex., outside an exhibition for drawings of the prophet Muhammad. The two men apparently had hoped to kill attendees, but after they shot an unarmed security guard, police officers returned fire.

In an e-mail to The Washington Post, Pamela Geller, an anti-Islam activist who organized the event, blamed "Islamic jihadis" who were "determined to suppress our freedom of speech violently." That sentiment was echoed on Twitter by another high-profile, if seemingly out-of-place, guest: the Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

It may seem odd that a Dutch politician was attending an event in Texas, but Wilders has long been an ally of Geller. As far back as 2010, he was attending rallies organized by the native New Yorker against a proposed Muslim community center near the site of the World Trade Center. Along with Geller, he was one of the organizers of Sunday's event and had presented a check to one attendee for his drawing of Muhammad.

Yet while the presence of Wilders -- an elected member of the Dutch parliament and the leader of the fourth-largest party in the Netherlands -- may seem like a legitimizing factor for a clearly controversial event, Wilders's involvement is more complicated than that. For one thing, the Dutch MP might be standing up for free speech in Texas, but in his native Netherlands, he has repeatedly called for the Koran to be banned.

Syed said...

Your post is right on the money.

Pamela Geller, a 56 yr old MILF who would otherwise have been working for the porn industry, and others like her have made a career out of Islamophobia. This woman has received significant funding from not only JDL and AIPAC, but also from the Republican party in hosting events like the recent Mohammad (pbuh) cartoon contest.

However, do note that this kind of tirade also goes against the Catholics. For example, when Mel Gibson was just about to release The Passion of the Christ, the JDL sent Mel a list of 26 cuts in the movie before it was released. Mel was pissed off and still went out with the movie and made over $600 million, mostly from abroad (Syria had highest foreign revenue). But Mel has been kicked out of the Hollywood circle. Similar issues occurred with Tom Cruise but he I guess apologized and is now okay.

Riaz Haq said...

“PEN honors & defends ‘freedom of expression’ but not all ‘expression’ – it is selective,” she added. “Not antisemitic, for instance. Seems reasonable.”

“To some, cartoons depicting black women as monkeys are just so offensive we resent ‘award’. But would defend freedom of expression. If we are ‘offended’ we can just look away, not censor. But we are reluctant to give ‘award.’ (Realize others disagree),” Joyce Carol Oats

More than two dozen writers including Junot Díaz, Joyce Carol Oates and Lorrie Moore have joined a protest against a freedom of expression award for Charlie Hebdo, signing a letter taking issue with what they see as a “reward” for the magazine’s controversial cartoons.

In their letter the writers protest against the award from PEN America, the prominent literary organization of which most of the signatories are members, accusing the French satirical magazine of mocking a “section of the French population that is already marginalized, embattled, and victimized”.

Twenty-six writers, including Pulitzer and National Book Award winners, joined six others – Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi – who had previously withdrawn from the PEN gala celebrating the award. The letter condemns the murder of 12 Hebdo staffers by Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, two extremists enraged by the magazine’s cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.

But the writers also criticize the decision to give an award to Charlie Hebdo.

“There is a critical difference between staunchly supporting expression that violates the acceptable, and enthusiastically rewarding such expression,” the letter reads.

“The magazine seems to be entirely sincere in its anarchic expressions of disdain toward organized religion. But in an unequal society, equal opportunity offense does not have an equal effect.

“Power and prestige are elements that must be recognized in considering almost any form of discourse, including satire.”

The writers go on to say that to the certain segments of French society – “a population that is shaped by the legacy of France’s various colonial enterprises, and that contains a large percentage of devout Muslims” – Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of the prophet “must be seen as being intended to cause further humiliation and suffering”.

Joyce Carol Oates, who has herself provoked outrage with comments about race, class and gender, tweeted her qualified support for PEN although she signed the letter: “Important to support PEN even if one does not always agree with individual awards. Suggest polling membership re ‘controversial’ decisions.”

“PEN honors & defends ‘freedom of expression’ but not all ‘expression’ – it is selective,” she added. “Not antisemitic, for instance. Seems reasonable.”

“To some, cartoons depicting black women as monkeys are just so offensive we resent ‘award’. But would defend freedom of expression. If we are ‘offended’ we can just look away, not censor. But we are reluctant to give ‘award.’ (Realize others disagree),” she continued.


Riaz Haq said...

Massive ‘Islamophobia industry’ flourishes in US

There is a burgeoning industry provoking non-Muslims in Europe and in the US to attack Muslims and other ethnic minorities which is disproportional and only breeds further hatred, Mohammed Ansar, political and social commentator, told RT.

RT: There's been a whole string of incidents in Europe similar to the attack in Texas, in which two gunmen were killed Sunday outside a controversial art event depicting the Prophet Muhammad cartoons and dedicated to free speech. Has a new threat now arrived in America?

Mohammed Ansar: Clearly what we have seen is that the attacks have been going on in Europe is the opening of a long-held debate around freedom of expression, against freedom to offend. Now we’ve seen this being picked up by what they call the counter-jihadists movement here in America. And there is an estimated $200 million Islamophobia industry now in the US. And so we’ve seen - shortly after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo - there was a stand by the Prophet Mohammed conference at this exact same conference center in Garland, Texas, and now we’ve seen hate preachers who have been banned from coming to Europe like Geert Wilders, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, now have something which will ostensibly incite hate and violence. Now we’ve seen a reaction and I think it’s to be deplored on all sides – the right to offend, the right to incite violence and hatred, but also the violence and hatred that ensues. At this time our thoughts and concerns have to be with the families of those people who were slain.

RT: How do you put an end to such attacks? What is fuelling them in the first place?

MA: The answer to hate is not more hate. The answer to hate has to be to increase love, peace, tolerance and coexistence in society. In the US they have a far more difficult situation. In the UK and in Europe we have Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights which talks about the freedom of expression. Much is then held in Article 10, part 2, which talks about limitations on freedom of speech. So we have nation states in Europe who are quite used to putting certain limitations around hate speech, around attacking minority groups and spreading hate and fear and incitement of violence even in the national interest in certain instances. In the US, in their Conventions, they do have a constitutional right to freedom of expression. However we’ve seen three Democratic Congressmen, I think we saw Keith Ellison, Andre Carson, and Joe Crowley who came forward and asked the Homeland Security and also the Secretary of State, John Kerry, to put limitations on this. They said that there is bedrock of freedom of speech in the US; however what we don’t want to have is incitement of violence and hate speech.

RT: Incidents like this do breed hate for Islam, while there are millions of Muslims who are non-violent law abiding citizens all across Europe and in the US. How can governments address those tensions?

MA: Hate preachers like Geert Wilders, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer will want to give the idea that there are millions of Muslims who have radical and extremist ideas. Muslims have been living, co-existing and integrating in communities. They are in fact the bedrock of the European civilization whether it’s science or learning or education. So I think the first thing we have to do is to stop the provocation and stop the hate speech. There is no kind of apology for the retaliation through violence. So people have the right of freedom of expression. People also have the right not to be limited by taboos of other people in the society. However there is a burgeoning industry now in provoking non-Muslims in Europe and in the US to attack Muslims. And this is disproportional. We saw the argument with Charlie Hebdo before: they are not equal opportunities offenders; they are targeting disproportionally ethnic minorities and Muslims. So I think we have to restate what the ground rules are.

Rais said...

US funding of Pakistani media is a documented fact as well. This is part of what the US calls Information War. There are paid-journalists, funding of channels/newspapers, and users on social media (forums, twitter, comment sections, etc.) who are working on behalf of "information war". Information is Orwellian speak for propaganda.

Riaz Haq said...

The true lovers of Islam, like Rumi, twist and turn, twirl and burn for Allah. The free-speech jihadis, led by Geller, fume and bluster, excoriate and desecrate. Absent love, they lust for fame, to see their names in headlines yet again, a trophy of ill gain, their only glory but a fleeting fantasy.

(Bruce B. Lawrence is emeritus professor of Islamic studies at Duke University and author of the book “Who Is Allah?”) http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/the-jihad-of-pamela-geller-commentary/2015/05/06/a091d53a-f41f-11e4-bca5-21b51bbdf93e_story.html

Riaz Haq said...

Group Behind Muhammad Cartoons Increased Assets by 15,000 % in 2013
In one year, AFDI’s total assets increased by 15,199%. In its 2012 tax filings, the group reported just $3,721.00 in end of year resources. AFDI’s firebrand president, Pamela Geller, didn’t even draw a salary. In 2013, though, the group reported its end of year assets at $569,288.00. Geller drew a salary of $210,870.00.


Riaz Haq said...

Free Speech vs. Hate Speech

That distinction is critical because the conflicts that have erupted over depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, most notably the massacre of staff members at the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in January by two Muslim brothers, have generated a furious and often confused debate about free speech versus hate speech. The current dispute at the American chapter of the PEN literary organization over its selection of Charlie Hebdo for a freedom of expression courage award is a case in point — hundreds of PEN’s members have opposed the selection for “valorizing selectively offensive material.”

Some of those who draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad may earnestly believe that they are striking a blow for freedom of expression, though it is hard to see how that goal is advanced by inflicting deliberate anguish on millions of devout Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorism. As for the Garland event, to pretend that it was motivated by anything other than hate is simply hogwash.


Riaz Haq said...

U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma on Wednesday criticized India’s recent crackdown on non-governmental organizations, calling out the “potentially chilling effect” on civil society in India (Economic Times, NYT, Hindustan Times). In a rare public rebuke, Verma said: “I read with some concern the recent press reports on challenges faced by N.G.O.s operating in India” (Hindustan Times). Verma’s comments coincide with reports that India is investigating the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is a major donor to central and state governments, local charities, and academic institutions.

Also on the “watch list” among many dozens are Greenpeace India and the Ford Foundation, who was added last month and is now required to request approval before making grants to Indian organizations. The Ministry of Home Affairs claimed it was acting to prevent donations from threatening national security. Last month, the ministry cancelled nearly 9,000 registrations on the basis of unfiled annual returns. According to the Economic Times, the Modi-led government has cancelled more than 10,000 NGO registrations, frozen the bank accounts of 34 associations, blocked 69 groups from foreign contributions, and has placed 16 foreign donor agencies under the 'Prior Permission' category (Economic Times).

Riaz Haq said...

Geller gets paid pretty well to demonize Muslims. I’m talking to the tune of $200,000 a year. True, that might be walking around money for Donald Trump (who actually bashed Geller this week for her draw the Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest) but that puts her in her top 5 percent of all Americans in terms of annual income. Now, $200,000 doesn’t make a person rich these days (although the $9 million in combined divorce settlement and life-insurance payments she reportedly got certainly qualifies her). But for what she does, it’s handsome pay.

In fact, many of the people identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Center for American Progress (CAP) as the leaders of anti-Muslim industry in America are well paid for their efforts. I’m talking so much money I almost want to start hating on Muslims-and I’m Muslim.

In Geller’s case, her salary is paid from her organization the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a group listed by the SPLC as an active “anti-Muslim organization.” In 2013, the AFDI reported $958,800 in gross receipts and paid Geller a base salary of $192,500 plus $18,750 in other income (PDF).
Not bad for a group created, per AFDI’s tax returns, to act “against the treason being committed by the national, state and local government officials, the mainstream media and others in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic Supremacism.” This is truly one step removed from tin foil hats and claims that the government has bugged your cheese.


Well, Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy (CSP) in 2012 reported $3.2 million in revenue. And Gaffney, as president, paid himself $300,000 a year for his work in demonizing Muslims.

Then there’s David Horowitz, a man described by the SPLC as “the godfather of the modern anti-Muslim movement” He has also been denounced by the ADL for his work that ”promotes anti-Muslim views and features events with anti-Muslim activists.” (PDF)

Being “the godfather” of anti-Muslim hate appears to pay well. Horowitz’s Freedom Center in 2013 saw over $7.2 million dollars in gross receipts and Horowitz was paid $525, 000 in salary (PDF). And Horowitz even bankrolls Robert Spencer, another other well known Muslim-basher with a $167,000 a year salary.


And who can forget Brigitte Gabriel, another Fox News staple who demonizes Muslims at every turn. Gabriel runs Act for America!, which the SPLC has noted is part of the “anti-Muslim inner circle.” Gabriel has given us such anti-Muslim classics as “America has been infiltrated on all levels by radicals who wish to harm America. They have infiltrated us at the C.I.A., at the F.B.I., at the Pentagon, at the State Department.”

How much does Gabriel get paid to offer that type of garbage? Per Act for America’s 2012 tax returns, she was paid $132,000 base salary and $84,090 as a bonus (PDF). I wonder if she earns that bonus by dishing out such off-the-wall claims as “tens of thousands of Islamic militants now reside in America…attending our colleges and universities, even infiltrating our government.”

The most notable are the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Scaife Foundation which have donated over $5 million dollars each (PDF) to the David Horowitz’ Freedom Center. The Scaife Foundation also donated over $3 million to Frank Gaffney’s CSP.

Why do they fund these groups is a big question. Duss explained that in his view it’s “because a group of hawkish conservative funders clearly see a political benefit to stoking Americans’ fears and suspicions of their fellow citizens who are Muslims.” This means we may see even more money flowing to these anti-Muslim advocates in the 2016 presidential race.


Riaz Haq said...

Are there Echoes of the old Anti-Semitism in today’s #Islam-Hatred? By Anne-Ruth Wertheim. #Islamophobia

http://www.juancole.com/2015/06/semitism-todays-hatred.html …

Recently, the head of the Dutch national police Gerard Bouman warned against the poison that was seeping into his organisation: Muslims were continually being forced to prove their loyalty. Has Islamophobia really come this far? And can what is happening now be compared to pre-World War II anti-Semitism? Some people consider comparisons like this an attempt to subvert criticism of Islam. But what is actually wrong in taking stock of the similarities and differences?
Many of the prejudices against Jews that circulated in Europe back then definitely have striking similarities with those against Muslims today. Both minorities are perceived to be disloyal to the state they live in and to be trying to dominate the world as the puppets of faraway powers. A falsified text from the nineteenth century was unearthed to substantiate these allegations against Jews; the text states that a bunch of sinister men, the Elders of Zion, were pulling the strings on a world stage. A similar thing is happening now to Muslims. They are thought to be henchmen controlled by the long arm of their countries of origin, urging them to introduce sharia law all over the world. Their dual nationality supposedly serving as proof.
Another similarity is that the majority of prejudices are horrific and brimming with distrust. They mainly allude to the culture of the minority in question and contain all kinds of horrors which are then randomly pinned onto various religious texts. For centuries, Jews were reproached for cheering at the crusifiction of Jesus. And they were said to put children’s blood in their unleaven bread. Likewise, Muslims are purported to be inclined to chop off hands and throw homosexuals from towers.
There are also differences. Lust for money, which has always been part and parcel of the package of prejudices against Jews, is not said about Muslims. However, what matters is that exclusionary mechanisms are set in motion as prejudiced rumours are passed on and repeated. They stick in the minds of well-meaning people and gradually undermine their willingness to resist excluding the minority group. That is precisely how the Nazis ensured they encountered less and less resistance to their measures against Jews.
Prejudices and exclusion have been familiar to me since my childhood. In the colonial Dutch Indies, I belonged to the white ruling class which excluded the Indonesian population from important rights. This was justified with dismissive prejudices, some of them about Islam which was, after all, professed by the majority of Indonesians. During the Japanese occupation, it was our turn to experience what it meant to be excluded. We were interned, as were all whites, behind barbed wire and realised that there was no point in escaping: as our skin colour would betray us immediately outside the camp. And as if that were not bad enough, our own family which had a Jewish background, was separated within the camp; the Japanese – following the example of the Nazis with whom they were allied – separated Jewish and non-Jewish white prisoners.

As Jews were not recognisable enough in public, they were made to wear a yellow star. Muslims may only be recognisable if they wear the symbols of their religion. However, if it ever came to this, we should fear that anyone who looks like they may be Muslim will be in danger. Luckily we still have time to turn the tide for the best.

Riaz Haq said...

The Islamabad headquarters of Save the Children were padlocked by police while a government notification told the group to wind up its operations and ensure that expatriate staff left within 15 days.

The expulsion of one of the world’s best known non-governmental organisations (NGOs) follows years of growing distrust towards foreign charities that security services suspect are often used as covers for intelligence work.

“There were some intelligence reports suggesting some of the international NGOs funded by US, Israel and India were involved in working on an anti-Pakistan agenda,” interior minister Chaudhry Nisar told a press conference on Friday, at which he also launched a tirade against overseas rights activists campaigning against the growing use of the death penalty by the country.

“Let me clarify: offices of any international NGO found doing anti-Pakistan activities would be shut down,” he said.

Save the Children first attracted official wrath after becoming embroiled – the organisation has always claimed unwittingly – in the CIA’s efforts in 2011 to pinpoint the location of former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to a compound in the town of Abbottabad.

In 2012 Islamabad gave foreign staff working for Save the Children just a week to leave the country after the country’s top spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), linked it to a bogus hepatitis B vaccination programme conducted in the town by a doctor called Shakil Afridi.

Under the cover of injecting householders with hepatitis B vaccine, Afridi had tried to collect DNA samples from Bin Laden family members living in the walled compound during the months before US special forces raided the building.

To the fury of US politicians, Afridi was arrested shortly after the killing of Bin Laden and sentenced to 33 years in jail by a tribal court for charges unrelated to the CIA or Bin Laden.

A leaked version of the official inquiry into the Bin Laden affair revealed Afridi told investigators a senior Save the Children official introduced him to female CIA officers, with whom he held secretive meetings in warehouses.

Afridi said they instructed him to organise a vaccination programme in Abbottabad with a particular focus on the part of town where Bin Laden’s compound was located.

Afridi insisted he had no idea he was being used by a foreign intelligence agency. Save the Children said the doctor had never been employed by them.

In a statement on Friday, the charity said it strongly objected to the sealing of its office in Islamabad and said it would raise its concerns at the highest levels.

“All our work is designed and delivered in close collaboration with the government ministries across the country and aims to strengthen public service delivery systems in health, nutrition, education and child welfare,” the statement said.


Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan bans #SaveTheChildren, Warns international #NGOs: no working ‘against national interests’ http://on.wsj.com/1Izxdbl via @WSJ

The U.S. State Department said late Friday that Pakistan’s dealings with international NGOs was creating difficulties for aid donors, which often implement their programs through these organizations.

“We are concerned about Pakistan’s crackdown on international charitable organizations and other NGOs,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. “Save the Children is one of many such organizations that has long operated with transparency and in close coordination with the government of Pakistan.”

The U.S. has provided around $5 billion in civilian aid to Pakistan since 2009, with much of that money channeled through NGOs.

Pakistani authorities have been concerned in recent years that NGOs are being used as cover for espionage, especially after it was revealed in 2011 that the Central Intelligence Agency had secretly recruited a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, as part of its hunt for al

Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

According to Pakistan’s official inquiry into the bin Laden raid, the then-head of Save the Children in Pakistan introduced Dr. Afridi to CIA operatives. The doctor was recruited by the CIA to carry out a fake door-to-door vaccination campaign in Abbottabad in early 2011, to try to track down bin Laden weeks before a U.S. special-operations team found and killed the al Qaeda chief there. As a result of this purported link—denied by the charity—Save the Children’s foreign staff was ordered out of the country in 2012.

In a press briefing in September 2012, the U.S. State Department’s Patrick Ventrell, at the time acting deputy spokesman, said in answer to a question about the expulsion of Save the Children’s foreign staff members amid Pakistani allegations it played a role in the death of bin Laden: “Like other donor countries, the U.S. strongly supports the work of Save the Children in Pakistan. We are deeply concerned and have raised this issue with the Government of Pakistan and urged it to allow Save the Children to continue its important work. Independent NGOs are among the essential building blocks of any healthy democracy. So in Pakistan, as in other countries, we urge governments to help create an environment in which they can operate productively.”

NGOs in Pakistan have been accused for years by religious leaders and conservative politicians of not only spying for countries they consider enemies, but also of imposing Western values and culture on Pakistani society and working against Islam.

Pakistan began monitoring international and local NGOs last year, the Pakistani interior minister said, with the stated aim of ensuring that all organizations work within the law and the scope of operations approved by the government. Senior officials at two major international organizations said Friday they had been concerned about a government crackdown on NGOs for months.

“We want to create an environment in which all positive NGOs can work in Pakistan,” Mr. Khan said. “But we won't allow any NGO to work under the table, against Pakistan’s interests, Pakistan’s culture, Pakistan’s values.…No country would allow it.”

Riaz Haq said...

The Islamophobia Industry by Nathan Lean

November 27, 2012. Cosponsored with the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS), Georgetown University. Nathan Lean is a second-year Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS) student at CCAS and editor-in-chief of AslanMedia.com. He has dedicated himself to researching the network of writers and activists who have played upon Western anxieties about Islam particularly since the events of September 11, 2001. At Georgetown, his research has focused largely on North African political and cultural systems, Islam, Islamophobia, cultural diplomacy, and American foreign policy in the Middle East. In addition to The Islamophobia Industry, Lean has also co-authored (with Jalil Roshandel) Iran, Israel, and the United States: Regime Security vs. Political Legitimacy (Praeger, 2010).


In his book, The Islamophobia Industry, Nathan Lean explores the rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment in North America and Europe and what he refers to as the "minds of the manufacturers of Islamophobia." He discusses his book and the relationship between New Atheism and Islamophobia.


Riaz Haq said...

Glenn Beck’s terrifying new book: 300 pages of #Islamophobia dressed up as scholarship http://www.salon.com/2015/09/13/glenn_becks_terrifying_new_book_300_pages_of_islamophobia_dressed_up_as_scholarship/ … via @Salon

Glenn Beck would like to tell you about Islam. Sure, he’s a walking conspiracy generator who’s been wrong nearly every time he parts his lips: wrong about Obama’s SS-like “civilian national security force,” wrong about Obama’s FEMA camps, wrong about Obama using the postal service as an evil spy network, wrong about the Boston Marathon attack being a Saudi affair, and the seemingly countless breathlessly alarmist warnings over the years. But, hey, even a broken doomsday clock is right once an apocalypse, and Beck’s really done his homework on this one, a study of how Islam is going to destroy us all: “It IS About Islam: Exposing the Truth About ISIS, Al Qaeda, Iran, and the Caliphate.”

Beck chooses to end the nearly 300-page book with a three-word paragraph that serves as a tidy tl;dr to reveal his position once you’ve already made the mistake of reading the whole thing. “All lives matter,” concludes the book, as if the Christian nationalism throughout needed a final splash of racism. In a nice symmetry, the final white reactionary note recalls the scene on which the book opens: Thomas Jefferson prophetically consulting the Quran before he became “the first American president to go to war with Islamic radicals” in the 1801 war with the North African Barbary states, essentially the United States’ first foreign war.

Beck shocks his readers with a revelation by the Barbary ambassador in 1786 to Jefferson and his eventual presidential predecessor, John Adams: the Islamic Barbary armies used Quranic scripture to permit the enslavement of a portion of enemies captured in battle. Africans enslaving Americans?! But that’s the wrong way around! And relying on pro-slavery scripture that isn’t the Bible? Beck, so eager to construct a narrative in which the Islamic hordes have always pounded the innocent American gates, casually overlooks the horror of the transatlantic slave trade, of which Jefferson was no small beneficiary, and the Biblical means of its defense. Instead, it’s the North Africans who are presented as Quranic savages, while the far, far worse Christian savagery in America was at that very moment unleashing two world-historical horrors: genocide and the slave trade, both reliant on the era’s white Christianist worldview. (Which isn’t to say that Christianity is to be blamed for the twin horrors, any more than 9/11 and ISIS’s crimes can be pinned on Islam, or Stalin’s mass murder can be blamed on atheism. Tyrants and terrorists will use whatever is available in the cultural milieu to justify and buttress their actions.)

The pages in between those white Christian nationalist bookends present a sprawling mess of contradictions, not unlike a religious text itself, full of intense feeling and certitude but never quite explaining everything in any sort of way that satisfies reason. Beck emphasizes the title’s verb: It is about Islam, not its errant practitioners, its misinterpretations or its crass use in the service of national power. No, Islam as a religion is the problem, asserts the book’s cover. But the pages inside find Beck hedging against that blanket condemnation of 1.3 billion believers with qualifications, which he turns right around and negates with more absolutist indictments.

Riaz Haq said...

How #Islamophobia industry uses #Muslim "reformers" like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/09/cloneofhigh-risk-strategy-muslim-reformers-15092-150925074623115.html …

The recent publication of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Heretic: Why The Muslim World Needs a Reformation and Sam Harris' and Maajid Nawaz's Islam and The Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue, has seen all three authors appearing on the talk show and book tour circuit. Both books and writers seem to cement promising new dialogue, meant to showcase mutual respect and understanding between Muslim activists and commentators hostile to Islam. Yet, the Islamophobia industry still preys on the painful experiences of Muslims in order to further its own cynical agenda.

Islamophobia formally came into being after the events of September 11, 2001. The attacks threw order into disarray, and people sought answers for the hostility from some Muslims towards the West. The soul-searching soon turned into a blistering racism and bigotry against Muslims in the United Kingdom, South Asia, or the Middle East. Prominent scholars like Karen Armstrong, Tariq Ramadan and Reza Aslan have all commented on how Islamophobia has been deliberately nurtured to further political aims.

Propaganda and prejudice

Like other forms of racism, Islamophobia's targets are not specific to any geographical area.

That bigotry was quickly and ruthlessly monetised in what Nathan Lean calls "The Islamophobia Industry", a well-established and powerful machine that seeks to enshrine prejudice and bigotry as part of a discussion about Islam. Like other forms of racism, its targets are not specific to any geographical area. Its aim rests on ordinary people, and divides communities, cultures and countries.Through propaganda and prejudice, validated and legitimised by right-wing pundits, politicians, bloggers and scholars, an intolerant narrative leaks into view through the media, both mainstream and social.

The Islam-hostile industry, now nearly 15 years old, has recently taken on a new incarnation, one without which it could not survive: the addition of Muslim activists who have forged links with the commentators, scholars, think-tanks and media organisations most prejudiced against Islam.

Riaz Haq said...

#US created Islamic extremism:Those blaming #Islam for #ISIS aided Osama bin Laden in ’80s. #ParisAttacks http://www.salon.com/2015/11/17/we_created_islamic_extremism_those_blaming_islam_for_isis_would_have_supported_osama_bin_laden_in_the_80s/ … via @Salon

History takes no prisoners. It shows, with absolute lucidity, that the Islamic extremism ravaging the world today was borne out of the Western foreign policy of yesteryear.

Gore Vidal famously referred to the USA as the United States of Amnesia. The late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai put it a little more delicately, quipping, “One of the delightful things about Americans is that they have absolutely no historical memory.”

In order to understand the rise of militant Salafi groups like ISIS and al-Qaida; in order to wrap our minds around their heinous, abominable attacks on civilians in the U.S., France, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, Turkey, Yemen, Afghanistan and many, many more countries, we must rekindle this historical memory.

Where did violent Islamic extremism come from? In the wake of the horrific Paris attacks on Friday, November the 13, this is the question no one is asking — yet it is the most important one of all. If one doesn’t know why a problem emerged, if one cannot find its root, one will never be able to solve and uproot it.

Where did militant Salafi groups like ISIS and al-Qaida come from? The answer is not as complicated as many make it out to be — but, to understand, we must delve into the history of the Cold War, the historical period lied about in the West perhaps more than any other.

The newspaper noted that bin Laden organized a militia of thousands of foreign fighters from throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and “supported them with weapons and his own construction equipment” in their fight against the USSR in the 1980s. “We beat the Soviet Union,” bin Laden boasted.

The mujahedin, this international Islamic extremist militia organized and headed by bin Laden, is what eventually morphed into both al-Qaida and the Taliban.

“When the history of the Afghan resistance movement is written,” the Independent wrote, “Mr Bin Laden’s own contribution to the mujahedin… may turn out to be a turning point in the recent history of militant fundamentalism.”

Portraying bin Laden in a positive light, less than eight years before he would help mastermind the largest terrorist attack on American soil in decades, the British publication claimed that the “Saudi businessman who recruited mujahedin now uses them for large-scale building projects in Sudan.” In reality, bin Laden was setting the stages for what would be become al-Qaida.

Unheeded warnings
In Greek mythology, Cassandra was blessed with the power of prophecy, but cursed in that no one would ever heed her warnings. Eqbal Ahmad, the late political scientist, historian and expert in the study of terrorism, was a modern-day Cassandra.

In a speech at the University of Colorado, Boulder in October 1998, Ahmad warned that the U.S. policy in Afghanistan would backfire:

“In Islamic history, jihad as an international violent phenomenon had disappeared in the last 400 years, for all practical purposes. It was revived suddenly with American help in the 1980s. When the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan, Zia ul-Haq, the [U.S.-backed] military dictator of Pakistan, which borders on Afghanistan, saw an opportunity and launched a jihad there against godless communism. The U.S. saw a God-sent opportunity to mobilize one billion Muslims against what Reagan called the ‘Evil Empire.’

“Money started pouring in. CIA agents starting going all over the Muslim world recruiting people to fight in the great jihad. Bin Laden was one of the early prize recruits. He was not only an Arab. He was also a Saudi. He was not only a Saudi. He was also a multimillionaire, willing to put his own money into the matter. Bin Laden went around recruiting people for the jihad against communism.

Riaz Haq said...

CBS News Investigative Journalist Explains How #American Mainstream Media Brainwashes The Masses: http://wp.me/p2ftZi-2Aa via @IamNotSirius

Did you know that only a handful of corporations, 6 to be exact, control over 90 percent of the media? That means nearly everything we hear on the radio, read in the news, and see on television (including ‘news’). I’m talking about General Electric (GE), News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS.

Ever since Operation Mockingbird, a CIA-based initiative to control mainstream media, more and more people are expressing their concern that what we see in the media is nothing short of brainwashing. This is also evident by blatant lies that continue to spam the TV screen, especially when it comes to topics such as health, food, war (“terrorism“), poverty and more. Corporate interests always seem to get in the way.

Multiple celebrities have even spoken out about this. Roseanne Barr, for example, said that MK Ultra rules in Hollywood. MK Ultra was (and I believe still is) a program run by the CIA to practice methods of mind control and experiment on human beings. (source)(source)

Filled with clever marketing tactics designed to tell us what to think and what to buy, mainstream media manufactures public opinion and popular trends. It’s time to really take a look at what’s going on here and consider the type of information we’re being bombarded with.

In the below eyeopening talk, veteran investigative journalist (and Former CBS NEWS investigative reporter) Sharyl Attkisson shows how “astroturf,” or fake grassroots movements, funded by political, corporate, or other special interests very effectively manipulate and distort media messages.

Riaz Haq said...

"Dark Money" is the textbook for understanding that insight. Large checks to presidential candidates by billionaires may get headlines. But this cash is just part of the broad mission the Koch brothers and other mega-buck funders represent throughout America. The mission is to plant anti-tax, anti-regulation sentiment firmly at the top of American political discourse.

Proposals to address climate change through regulations of the fossil fuel industry illustrate a successful sortie by the Kochs and their allies in coal, oil and natural gas. Nowhere have they been more effective in writing the scripts for politicians, many of whom previously had acknowledged climate change and the need for government action.

With direct or indirect aid of the Kochs and the fossil fuel industry, a few cooperative scientists, op-ed writers and conservative radio talk show hosts created enough doubt to make climate change denial eligible to be one side in "fair and balanced" reporting.

When Obama was elected in 2008, 71 percent of Americans believed the planet was warming. By 2011, it had dropped to 57 percent, according to a poll Mayer cites from Yale University and George Mason University. "Opponents of climate change reform got their wish," she writes.

Another successful thrust matched billionaires with scruffy denizens of state capitals around the country. Inspired by Republican strategist Ed Gillespie, Mayer found, mega-donors aimed unprecedented sums of cash aimed at races for state legislators and governors in 2010. After President Obama's 2008 victory, Gillespie's scheme revitalized a despondent conservative movement.

"He knew that 2011 was a year in which many state legislatures would redraw the boundaries of their congressional districts based on a new census, a process that only took place once a decade," Mayer writes. "While the mechanics of state legislative races were abstruse and deadly dull to most people, they were key to a Republican comeback."

Thanks to GOP victories in 2010, state legislators drew maps that concentrated Democratic voters in a few congressional districts while leaving the rest in Republican control. The results were scores of House districts where Republicans could not lose, unless challenged by even more conservative opponents in primary elections. Dozens of GOP House members had no reason to obey House leadership in Washington if cooperation would draw the ire of far right donors back home.



Riaz Haq said...

Are All #Terrorists #Muslims? It’s Not Even Close. #Islamophobia #ModiToadies #BJP #Trump http://thebea.st/1IvzdRs via @thedailybeast

So here are some statistics for those interested. Let’s start with Europe. Want to guess what percent of the terrorist attacks there were committed by Muslims over the past five years? Wrong. That is, unless you said less than 2 percent.
As Europol, the European Union’s law-enforcement agency, noted in its report released last year, the vast majority of terror attacks in Europe were perpetrated by separatist groups. For example, in 2013, there were 152 terror attacks in Europe. Only two of them were “religiously motivated,” while 84 were predicated upon ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs.
We are talking about groups like France’s FLNC, which advocates an independent nation for the island of Corsica. In December 2013, FLNC terrorists carried out simultaneous rocket attacks against police stations in two French cities. And in Greece in late 2013, the left-wing Militant Popular Revolutionary Forces shot and killed two members of the right-wing political party Golden Dawn. While over in Italy, the anarchist group FAI engaged in numerous terror attacks including sending a bomb to a journalist. And the list goes on and on.
Have you heard of these incidents? Probably not. But if Muslims had committed them do you think you our media would’ve covered it? No need to answer, that’s a rhetorical question.

Even after one of the worst terror attacks ever in Europe in 2011, when Anders Breivik slaughtered 77 people in Norway to further his anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and pro-“Christian Europe” agenda as he stated in his manifesto, how much press did we see in the United States? Yes, it was covered, but not the way we see when a Muslim terrorist is involved. Plus we didn’t see terrorism experts fill the cable news sphere asking how we can stop future Christian terrorists. In fact, even the suggestion that Breivik was a “Christian terrorist” was met with outrage by many, including Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.
Have you heard about the Buddhist terrorists? Well, extremist Buddhists have killed many Muslim civilians in Burma, and just a few months ago in Sri Lanka, some went on a violent rampage burning down Muslim homes and businesses and slaughtering four Muslims.
Or what about the (dare I mention them) Jewish terrorists? Per the 2013 State Department’s report on terrorism, there were 399 acts of terror committed by Israeli settlers in what are known as “price tag” attacks. These Jewish terrorists attacked Palestinian civilians causing physical injuries to 93 of them and also vandalized scores of mosques and Christian churches.
Back in the United States, the percentage of terror attacks committed by Muslims is almost as miniscule as in Europe. An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. In actuality, 42 percent of terror attacks were carried out by Latino-related groups, followed by 24 percent perpetrated by extreme left-wing actors.
And as a 2014 study by University of North Carolina found, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of 37 Americans. In that same time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered (PDF).
In fact in 2013, it was actually more likely Americans would be killed by a toddler than a terrorist. In that year, three Americans were killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. How many people did toddlers kill in 2013? Five, all by accidentally shooting a gun.

Riaz Haq said...

Feel the power of propaganda...Whoever owns the media gets the top ratings
Groups Americans like best
1 Jews
2 Catholics
3 Evangelicals
4 Buddhists
5 Hindus
6 Mormons
7 Atheists
8 Muslims

Riaz Haq said...

In a recent roundtable conversation with the New York Times, a handful of showrunners and entertainment professionals were assembled to discuss the topic of Muslim representation on television. Quantico showrunner Joshua Safran said that it’s policy on his show to never feature Muslims as terrorists, and Howard Gordon, the co-creator of Homeland and an executive producer of 24, expressed his own concerns that his hit shows can enable regressive thinking and stoke xenophobic fears. When Gordon was asked if he was worried about Homeland being fodder for increased attacks against Muslims, Gordon said, “The short answer is, absolutely, yes,” before elaborating with the longer version.

On Homeland, it’s an ongoing and very important conversation.
For instance, this year, the beginning of it involves the sort of big business of prosecuting entrapment. It actually tests the edges of free speech. How can someone express their discontent with American policy — even a reckless kid who might express his views that may be sympathetic to enemies of America, but still is not, himself, a terrorist, but is being set up to be one by the big business of government?
For me to answer, personally, that question, it’s a difficult one. 24 having been the launching point for me to engage in these conversations, which I have been having for 10 years, and being very conscious about not wanting to be a midwife to these base ideas. We’re all affected, unwittingly, by who we are and how we see the world. It requires creating an environment where people can speak freely about these things. It requires this vigilant empathy.


It has never been easy to put a Muslim character on American screens.

Even in this TV renaissance, most characters are on shows that rely on terrorism — or at least, terrorist-adjacent — story lines. Other kinds of Muslim characters are woefully absent across the dial. Could that change now, after a divisive presidential campaign that included vows by Donald J. Trump to stop Islamic immigration? Or will it be more difficult than ever?

Riaz Haq said...

Can #Television Be Fair to #Muslims? #Islamophobia #Hollywood #Homeland #Quantico #Terrorism


MELENA RYZIK The F.B.I. has said that attacks against Muslims were up 67 percent last year. Do you have any anxiety about your shows being fodder for that?

HOWARD GORDON The short answer is, absolutely, yes.

RYZIK What can you do to handle that?

GORDON On “Homeland,” it’s an ongoing and very important conversation.

For instance, this year, the beginning of it involves the sort of big business of prosecuting entrapment. It actually tests the edges of free speech. How can someone express their discontent with American policy — even a reckless kid who might express his views that may be sympathetic to enemies of America, but still is not, himself, a terrorist, but is being set up to be one by the big business of government?

For me to answer, personally, that question, it’s a difficult one. “24” having been the launching point for me to engage in these conversations, which I have been having for 10 years, and being very conscious about not wanting to be a midwife to these base ideas. We’re all affected, unwittingly, by who we are and how we see the world. It requires creating an environment where people can speak freely about these things. It requires this vigilant empathy.

JOSHUA SAFRAN For me, it was important to not ever put a Muslim terrorist on our show. There hasn’t been one. This year we have the appearance of one — which is a spoiler. But it’s not true.


ZARQA NAWAZ Do you remember that show “All-American Muslim”?

AASIF MANDVI We covered “All-American Muslim” [a 2011 TLC series] when I was on “The Daily Show,” because that was a reality show of real Muslim families. Basically everyone was like, “This is propaganda trying to promote Muslims as nice, friendly, next-door neighbor people, and we shouldn’t trust these people at all.” The show ultimately got taken off the air because it lost advertising money.

NAWAZ One guy, David Caton, he created an organization — the only employee, himself — the Family Florida Association. He sent a letter to all the advertisers saying, “This show is propaganda.”

SAFRAN One guy took that show down?

MANDVI Specifically, Lowe’s pulled their advertising. And other places as well. We focused on Lowe’s, when we did the story on “The Daily Show,” because Muslims can buy a lot of terrorist material at Lowe’s.

GORDON Fertilizer!

MANDVI When I did my one-man show, many years ago, I wanted to write a story about Muslim characters that were not what Hollywood was putting out there. I got that same reaction, “Oh, this is my family. I recognize [it].”

And then 9/11 happened, and we made this movie based on the show. And then the show became political because it wasn’t about terrorism. All people wanted to talk about after 9/11 was terrorism …

Riaz Haq said...

The rise of NGO's and their harmful impact on Pakistan


The extraordinary growth that NGOs have experienced in recent years in their numbers, their outreach and their resources is unprecedented even by Pakistani standards. The number of active NGOs in the country is, at the very least, anywhere between 100,000 to 150,000, investigations by the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP), a certification organisation for NGOs and charity institutions, reveal. By this count, there is at least one NGO for every 2,000 people. Way back in 2001, a Civil Society Index put together by the Aga Khan Foundation in Pakistan, in coordination with Civicus, an international alliance of civil society groups, put the number of “active and registered NGOs in Pakistan” at “around 10,000 to 12,000”.

The phenomenal rise in the number of NGOs could be linked to the massive injection of foreign money, especially donations and grants – and sometimes even loans – into Pakistan since 2001 (the United States alone has provided more than 10 billion dollars during these years). A major part of this money came into Pakistan due to the peculiar political and economic situation in the country. We have been through multiple violent conflicts during the last decade and a half; we have been transitioning from a dictatorship to a controlled democracy to a fully functional democracy, and our economy has been undergoing massive liberalisation. All this necessitated that foreigners came in to help with expertise and money to take Pakistan and Pakistanis through this troubled period of our history.


If money is any guide, charitable NGOs, which live on the generosity of local donors, receive an estimated 70 billion rupees every year, according to Malik Babur Javed, a senior programme manager at PCP. These organisations do not include all those thousands of NGOs which receive money from the Pakistani government, international charities, the governments of other countries and multilateral forums like the United Nations institutions.

Sadiqa Salahuddin, the director of Karachi-based NGO Indus Resource Centre, which has been active in poverty alleviation and disaster relief and mitigation in rural Sindh for more than 20 years, says the presence of large amounts of money creates major issues of both capacity and corruption within NGOs, even when they genuinely want to carry out development activities. She cites the instance of her own NGO which received an unprecedented amount of funds to provide relief to the victims of the 2010 floods.

The disaster called for quick disbursal and management of vast resources which her NGO was not prepared for, she says. Having her base in Karachi but working in Dadu district, she found coordination and management a tough task. “It drove me crazy. I would go to Dadu myself every week.” Even this was not always helpful. In one instance, going through the statement of expenses spent on flood relief, she found “83,000 rupees spent on toothpastes”. She would find many errors in computation of prices and other procedural irregularities, simply because she did not have enough skilled and motivated staff to handle such assignments in a challenging post-disaster environment.


Critics have been quick to point out that NGOs themselves don’t practice what they preach. They say NGOs avoid accountability and transparency as much as they possibly can and, therefore, are quite averse to any form of regulation or oversight. With some large NGOs having become heavily corporatised entities, where staff earn market-based salaries and where foreign money flows in regularly, it is natural to expect some kind of transparency and accountability — to be able to ask if all those salaries are being paid to the right people and for the right purposes as well as to ensure that foreign funds are spent on the projects they are meant for.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's how conservative Heritage Foundation, funded by Koch Brothers, supports Republican climate change denial agenda:


When Nick Loris started sketching out budget proposals for the Department of Energy in 2012, he didn't realize his theories would actually go into practice.

Now the 33-year-old Heritage Foundation policy analyst's work might be the key to the Trump administration's energy strategy.

"It's fun," said Loris, an energy and environmental policy fellow at the conservative Washington-based think tank. "We certainly are writing what we're doing for a purpose, and that's to, in terms of energy, create a more market-oriented energy economy that works more efficiently and protects taxpayer dollars and rewards innovation."

The Heritage Foundation is poised to have a major role in President Trump's federal budget, and its small-government focus means big cuts are in store across federal agencies (Energywire, March 7).

More than 30 Heritage staffers were part of the Trump transition team, and several now work at the White House, including Loris' boss at Heritage, Paul Winfree. Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), the president of the Heritage Foundation, met with Trump at the White House this week.

Observers, analysts and career staffers at federal agencies are desperately trying to figure out where the Trump administration is setting its funding priorities. For climate researchers, clean energy startups and power plants whose work is funded by DOE, Loris' work on a conservative take on the agency could foretell their future.

Quotable and telegenic, Loris is a frequent sight in climate and energy discussions in Washington, D.C., bringing an articulate conservative voice to discussions on what the government should or should not do in the energy sector.

He completed his undergraduate degree in economics in 2006 at Albright College near his hometown of Quakertown, Pa. He then completed a master's degree in economics at George Mason University in 2008 and received a Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation fellowship, which then placed him at Heritage. He's now worked there for more than nine years.

Loris has been on shows like BBC's "Newsnight" to discuss the Paris climate change accord and on CNN's "Crossfire" to debate Bill Nye the Science Guy on climate change. He also had a cameo in Leonardo DiCaprio's climate change documentary.

On Capitol Hill, he's the Republicans' go-to guy on DOE's budget, having testified before Congress seven times. He will do so again before the end of the month at a hearing on wasteful DOE programs.

Riaz Haq said...

Every society in the world today has its own norms that limit free speech in different ways to prevent violence and protect people. https://points.datasociety.net/are-there-limits-to-online-free-speech-14dbb7069aec

Are There Limits to Online Free Speech ?
When technologists defend free speech above all other values, they play directly into the hands of white nationalists.

In November 2016, Twitter shut down the accounts of numerous alt-right leaders and white nationalists. Richard Spencer, the head of the National Policy Institute and a vocal neo-Nazi, told the LA Times it was a violation of his free speech. “[Twitter needs] to issue some kind of apology and make it clear they are not going to crack down on viewpoints. Are they going to now ban Donald Trump’s account?”
Old and new media organizations are scrambling to define acceptable speech in the era of President Trump. But Twitter is in a particularly poor position. The prevalence of hateful speech and harassment on the platform scared off potential acquisitions by both Disney and Salesforce. The company has dealt with one PR disaster after another, from Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones temporarily leaving the platform after being harassed and doxed, to a viral video of obscene and abusive tweets sent to female sports journalists, to pro-Trump accounts sending Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald animated gifs designed to induce epileptic seizures. A site once touted as “the free speech wing of the free speech party” is now best known for giving a voice to Donald Trump and #gamergaters.
At the same time, attempts by Twitter and sites with similar histories of free speech protections to regulate the more offensive content on their site have been met with furious accusations of censorship and pandering to political correctness. This enables the alt-right to position themselves as victims, and left-wing SJWs (“social justice warriors”) as aggressors. Never mind that private companies can establish whatever content restrictions they wish, and that virtually all these companies already have such guidelines on the books, even if they are weakly enforced. When technology companies appear to abandon their long-standing commitment to the First Amendment due to the concerns of journalists, feminists, or activists, the protests of those banned or regulated can seem sympathetic.

How did we get to the point where Twitter eggs spewing anti-Semitic insults are seen as defenders of free speech? To answer this question, we have to delve into why sites like Reddit and Twitter have historically been fiercely committed to freedom of speech. There are three reasons:
The roots of American tech in the hacker ethic and the ethos that “information wants to be free”
CDA 230 and the belief that the internet is the last best hope for free expression
A belief in self-regulation and a strong antipathy to government regulation of the internet
But a commitment to freedom of speech above all else presumes an idealistic version of the internet that no longer exists. And as long as we consider any content moderation to be censorship, minority voices will continue to be drowned out by their aggressive majority counterparts.

Riaz Haq said...

Supreme Court unanimously reaffirms: There is no ‘hate speech’ exception to the First Amendment


From today’s opinion by Justice Samuel Alito (for four justices) in Matal v. Tam, the “Slants” case:

[The idea that the government may restrict] speech expressing ideas that offend … strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote separately, also for four justices, but on this point the opinions agreed:

A law found to discriminate based on viewpoint is an “egregious form of content discrimination,” which is “presumptively unconstitutional.” … A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.

And the justices made clear that speech that some view as racially offensive is protected not just against outright prohibition but also against lesser restrictions. In Matal, the government refused to register “The Slants” as a band’s trademark, on the ground that the name might be seen as demeaning to Asian Americans. The government wasn’t trying to forbid the band from using the mark; it was just denying it certain protections that trademarks get against unauthorized use by third parties. But even in this sort of program, the court held, viewpoint discrimination — including against allegedly racially offensive viewpoints — is unconstitutional. And this no-viewpoint-discrimination principle has long been seen as applying to exclusion of speakers from universities, denial of tax exemptions to nonprofits, and much more.

Matal vs Tam is a bad decision. It will further encourage well-funded hate groups to spew even more venom against minorities


Riaz Haq said...

Donors vs Voters


It's both comical and depressing at the same time. One commercial says Mitt Romney will raise taxes on the middle class by $4,000 followed immediately by an ad claiming President Barack Obama's plan will raise taxes on the same people by $5,000. The next ad tells us that Romney wants to throw Grandma out in the cold by dismantling Medicare. Two minutes later, an earnest voice informs us that Obama has "stolen" $700 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare and its government death panels.

After almost two years of nonstop recall elections, we in Wisconsin have grown so inured to political advertising that it amounts to little more than irritating background noise. But to someone from the 41 non-battleground states, the incessant politicking must be pretty astonishing.

Maybe people from California or Texas might feel as though they are being taken for granted when they see the amounts being spent in Wisconsin. Perhaps they're jealous at all the special attention being lavished on Wisconsin by the next president. But what does all that spending really amount to?

Yes, it is easy to tune out the ads and to roll your eyes when one comes on every 15 minutes, but there is something very disturbing going on beneath all this that isn't so amusing. Because today's politicians rely so heavily on television advertising and believe that they absolutely have to have it to win their elections, raising money has become their primary mission.

It's why Gov. Scott Walker spent so much time out of state at big-ticket fundraisers before his recall election, all the while claiming the recall effort was being driven by out-of-state interests. It didn't matter how hypocritical it looked; money was what he needed to win the recall election.

It's why Romney spent so little time campaigning even as his campaign was faltering after the Republican National Convention; he apparently believed fundraising was more important than campaign rallies in front of actual voters.

It's why Obama still attends as many Wall Street-sponsored fundraisers as he can, even as he simultaneously campaigns on the evils of the unregulated greed of the big banks. It's all money all the time.

What gets lost in this sea of campaign cash is the average voter's voice. If Romney thinks he absolutely has to win Wisconsin to get elected, he should be practically living here, telling us what he is going to do to make our lives better. Instead, he's in Texas, which he will carry by 15 points because that's where the big campaign donors live.

So the next time you hear an ad telling you that Obama has destroyed the country or that Romney's only purpose in life is to make the lives of the super-rich even cushier, remember what you aren't hearing is what the candidate is going to do for us here in Wisconsin.

Remember that the commercial cost a lot of money to produce and put on the air. Remember that the candidate got that money from someone who has his own agenda and it probably isn't the same as yours. Remember the candidate's loyalty that may have been bought by the donor.

Then remember how a democracy is supposed to work, and let's all try to figure out a way to get back to that.

Riaz Haq said...

Where did the idea of an ‘Islamic bomb’ come from?


The heavily freighted idea of an “Islamic bomb” has been around for some decades now. The notion behind it is that a nuclear weapon developed by an “Islamic” nation would automatically become the Islamic world’s shared property – and more than that, a “nuclear sword” with which to wage jihad. But as with many terms applied to the “Islamic world”, it says more about Western attitudes than about why and how nuclear technology has spread.
The concept as we know it emerged from anxieties about proliferation, globalisation, resurgent Islam, and conspiracies real and imagined, a fearful idea that could be applied to the atomic ambitions of any Muslim nation or non-state group. It looked at Pakistan’s nuclear programme and extrapolated it to encompass everything between the mountains of South Asia and the deserts of North Africa. And ever since it appeared it has retained its power to shock, eliding terrorism, jihadism, the perceived ambitions of “Islamic” states, and state-private proliferation networks into one fearsome term.
It has also made a useful avatar for all sorts of specific threats – Muammar Gaddafi’s anti-Western “fanaticism”, Saddam Hussein’ssocialist Ba’athism, the Iranian Mullahs’ revolutionary Islamic ideology, contemporary fundamentalist terrorism, and Pakistan’s military-Islamicthinking.
But of course, the Islamic bomb idea is part of a web of complex geopolitical ideas. International terrorism, the rise of modern political Islam, and Western interventions all muddle the issue. And oddly enough given the way it’s used today, the term in fact began its strange life outside the West.
High hopes
The connection between religion and the bomb was in fact first explicitly made in 1970s Pakistan, where leaders Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Muhammad Zia ul-Haq both saw nuclear weapons as a means to enhance the country’s status within the so-called “Muslim world”. Yet Pakistan’s atomic programme was at its heart a nationalistic security project, not a religious one.
The term “Islamic bomb” didn’t appear in the Western news media until around 1979, when the Iranian Revolution set outsiders worrying about the potential intersections between nuclear weapons, proliferation and Islamic politics. At around the same time, India was mounting a campaign against Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions; its government and media duly began deliberately stoking fears of a pan-Islamic nuclear threat originating with Islamabad. Israel’s government, too, made it clearthat it believed an Islamic bomb was imminent.


Through the 1980s and 1990s, countries as diverse and mutually antagonistic as Iran, Iraq, Libya, Niger and Pakistan were all tied together by the Western fear of an Islamic bomb. Prominent commentators such as Jack Anderson and William Safire consistently deployed the term; politicians as diverse as Tam Dalyell, Edward Kennedy, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan all talked about it in fearful terms. All were off-base.

Riaz Haq said...



WHEN EGYPT WENT to work to establish the credibility of its repressive government in Washington, it had help from the United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba.

Emails obtained by The Intercept show that Otaiba and the UAE essentially picked up the tab for Egypt’s lobbyists in Washington, D.C.

Egypt in 2013 enlisted the Glover Park Group, a top D.C. public relations and lobbying firm founded by former Clinton White House and Democratic Party officials, to be one of its public faces in the U.S. capital.

In a September 2015 memo to Otaiba, GPG described its work for Egypt as designed to influence both the U.S. government and the “echo chamber” of Washington think tanks and news media in order to influence American policy. The email exchanges provided to The Intercept were discovered in a cache of correspondence pilfered from Otaiba’s Hotmail account, which he used regularly for official business.


THE EMAILS OBTAINED by The Intercept also show Otaiba lecturing journalists and think tank staffers on the benefits of repressive leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s rule, acting as a sort of de facto second ambassador for the country.

Sisi, as chief general of the Egyptian army, led a 2013 coup against then-President Mohamed Morsi. The military man was elected president with 97 percent of the vote in a 2014 election that was largely decried as undemocratic. The UAE and Saudi Arabia were chief backers of the military takeover, providing billions of dollars in support to Egypt.

When Politico’s Michael Crowley penned a piece titled “Trump to welcome Egypt’s dictator” in April 2017 with quotes from human rights experts about Sisi’s brutal crackdown, Otaiba wrote him an email accusing him of having “something against Sisi,” despite being “one of the smartest and most thoughtful journalists in the business.”

He specifically objected to Crowley’s citation of Tom Malinowski, a former Obama administration diplomat who also served as Human Rights Watch’s Washington director from 2001 to 2013. (Human Rights Watch has issued several damning reports about Egypt in recent years, including one that called for an investigation into Sisi’s role in the 2013 mass killings of more than 1,000 protesters in what “probably amounts to crimes against humanity.” Sisi was Egypt’s minister of defense at the time of the killings.)

Riaz Haq said...

John Swinton - Yes, He Said It, But...

John Swinton: Yes, he said it, but...


One night, probably in 1880, John Swinton, then the preeminent New York journalist, was the guest of honour at a banquet given him by the leaders of his craft. Someone who knew neither the press nor Swinton offered a toast to the independent press. Swinton outraged his colleagues by replying:

"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it.

"There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty_four hours my occupation would be gone.

"The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

"We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."

(Source: Labor's Untold Story, by Richard O. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais, published by United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, NY, 1955/1979.)

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan orders expulsion of 29 international NGOs


“In Pakistan, India and Nepal, space is closing in which NGOs are able to operate,” said Binaifer Nowrojee, head of Asia-Pacific for Open Society Foundations, one of the groups banned by Pakistan.

“It comes along with a growing national pride and economic confidence in these countries. They feel that the era of being dictated to by the west is coming to an end.”

A doctor in Pakistan who helped track down bin Laden told investigators he had been introduced to the CIA by a senior Save the Children official. The charity said it had never employed the doctor but the organisation was thrown out of the country in 2012.

Pakistan’s government two years ago announced a registration regime for all international NGOs and cancelled agreements with 15 of them.

However, the latest expulsions are different because many of the organisations affected are not involved in promoting human rights or good governance — activities that frequently irritate authoritarian governments.

Officials at Pakistan’s home ministry said some of the groups had attracted the government’s attention because they operated in parts of the country where militancy was high and where Pakistan suspected western intelligence agencies also operated.

One senior government official told the Financial Times that the government had also grown suspicious of the high salaries paid by some organisations, and wondered whether they were being used to fund intelligence work on behalf of foreign governments. All the charities contacted by the FT denied this was the case.

The Pakistani move follows a similar push by its neighbour India to restrict NGOs that receive foreign funding.

In 2015 New Delhi put the Ford Foundation on a watch list and suspended Greenpeace India’s licence. This year it banned foreign funding for the Public Health Foundation of India, a group backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, saying it used foreign donations to “lobby” for tobacco-control policy issues.

Human rights campaigners say the moves to hamper foreign NGOs are part of a broader move against civil society across the region, which includes what campaigners say are forced disappearances of activists who upset governments.

In Pakistan hundreds of activists have disappeared over the past few years. But while the disappearances were previously mainly limited to restive areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, they now appear to be spreading into the country’s big cities.

Raza Khan, a peace activist who has advocated a rapprochement with India, went missing from Lahore this month.

Similar disappearances have occurred in Bangladesh. The most recent case involves Mubashar Hasan, an assistant professor at a Dhaka university who researched terrorism. His friends say they suspect he is being held by security forces — a claim authorities deny.

Riaz Haq said...

The rise of NGO's and their harmful impact on Pakistan
Faiza Shah


The extraordinary growth that NGOs have experienced in recent years in their numbers, their outreach and their resources is unprecedented even by Pakistani standards. The number of active NGOs in the country is, at the very least, anywhere between 100,000 to 150,000, investigations by the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP), a certification organisation for NGOs and charity institutions, reveal. By this count, there is at least one NGO for every 2,000 people. Way back in 2001, a Civil Society Index put together by the Aga Khan Foundation in Pakistan, in coordination with Civicus, an international alliance of civil society groups, put the number of “active and registered NGOs in Pakistan” at “around 10,000 to 12,000”.


Such focus on NGOs, as mentioned in the index, has made civil society synonymous with NGOs — in Pakistan, as well as in most of the third world. Many academics feel NGOs are actually part of the neo-liberal agenda to roll back the state, open international borders for globalised commerce, deregulate labour markets to make hiring and firing easy and push all service provision into the hands of the private sector. In such a situation, the third sector no longer remains distinct from the public and the private sectors.

“Our civil society has become hegemonic in itself. Certain highly funded NGOs and consortiums of NGOs dominate the civil society scene to such an extent that even the state seems much less powerful as compared to them,” says Dr Rubina Saigol, a Lahore-based sociologist and independent analyst who has vast experience of working with the third sector. Whereas civil society, as a broad term, is understood to play an important role in pushing society towards an egalitarian and progressive path, in its NGO avatar it is no longer just an informal or incidental component of society. It, indeed, is another word for highly bureaucratised institutions, with a lot of resources to do good work but suffering from all the ills that bureaucracy brings in its wake: inertia, mismanagement and corruption.


Of course, such systemic weaknesses cannot be wholly ascribed to corrupt practices by NGOs or the political agendas of the donors. But their impact is immediately felt in the form of missing development work that otherwise should have been carried out. A press release announcing that USAID will provide 1.6 billion dollars to Pakistan for development activities over a five year period will be carried in all international newspapers and could be seen as a way to disburse the money in a transparent manner, but there won’t be any headlines when that money is stuck at a high level programme director’s office, not converted into the amenities or infrastructure that it was meant for, such as schools or hospitals. “This is where a lot of NGOs are not as effective as they could be because of poor systems and governance,” says a development activist without wanting to be named.

Riaz Haq said...

Exclusive: Aid charities reluctant to reveal full scale of fraud
Tom Esslemont


LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - With fraud rife in conflict and disaster zones, aid charities are under pressure to be open about corruption but one third of the world’s 25 biggest aid charities declined to make their fraud data public in a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation.

Data collected from 12 of the 25 humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with the greatest expenditure shows annual losses of $2.7 million - or just 0.03 pct of annual turnover based on data supplied for the years 2009-2014.

Transparency experts said the real figure would likely be far higher if data was available with these major aid relief groups estimated to spend $18 billion a year globally.

Eight of the biggest NGOs questioned in a pioneering survey on accountability in charitable aid declined to elaborate, saying they reported their losses to regulators. Five of the biggest NGOs said they had not experienced any diversions of funds during this period.

“Most NGOs in many cases will not report fraud as fraud because they will have a long paper trail coming after them,” said transparency and development researcher, Till Bruckner, author of the book “Aid Without Accountability”.

The 2010 Haiti earthquake - which saw Haitians accuse local authorities of deliberately holding up aid distributions - forced a rethink in the NGO sector, says Craig Fagan, head of policy at global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.

“I would say in the last five years there has been a turning of the tide,” Fagan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“[There has been] a realization, at least at a global level, that this is part of their licence to operate, that charities need to be accountable in a 360-degree way with people they are working with and those funding them.”

Mercy Corps said it had been defrauded in its Afghanistan program in 2011, when a staff member absconded with funds worth $257,670 after cashing a check he had altered.

A spokeswoman said the loss, which was recovered through the charity’s insurance policy, accounted for 0.09 percent of that year’s total revenue and that Mercy Corps altered its banking relationship to prevent the problem recurring.

World Vision International, the largest humanitarian NGO in the world in expenditure terms, said $1 million (0.01 percent) of its resources went missing between 2009 and 2013.

A spokesman for the charity said this was largely down to two significant incidents, both in World Vision’s Zambia office.

The first, amounting to $262,000, resulted from collusion between staff and outside vendors and bankers, while the second, amounting to $306,000, was related to internal staff fraud in procurement transactions.


The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) revealed 14 cases of financial irregularities in nine countries, including Liberia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Its biggest financial loss was in Colombia, where $50,000 worth of building materials did not reach the intended beneficiaries.

“A staff member admitted to having misappropriated the funds and was dismissed,” an NRC spokesman explained.

Those defrauded said the problem was not simply one of theft.

“Corruption includes cases where the organization faces theft, bribery, embezzlement, nepotism, facilitation payments, deception, extortion, abuse of power,” said a spokesman for the medical relief charity MSF.

The MSF spokesman said in a separate incident, $790,000 of material goods were looted or stolen from its premises in the Central African Republic in 2014.

Riaz Haq said...

The Russians Tried to Destabilize American Politics the Same Way They’ve Destabilized Their Own


Among the many striking passages in special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment against the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency and other Russian individuals for interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is the description of how the defendants allegedly sponsored both pro- and anti-Trump rallies shortly after his election:

After the election of Donald Trump in or around November 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies in support of the president-elect Trump, while simultaneously using other false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies protesting the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. For example, in or around November 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators organized a rally in new York through on ORGANIZATION-controlled group designed to “show your support for President-Elect Donald Trump” held on or about November 12, 2016. At the same time, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through another ORGANIZATION-controlled group, organized a rally in New York called “Trump is NOT my President” held on or about November 12, 2016. Similarly, Defendants and their co-conspirators organized a rally entitled “Charlotte Against Trump” in Charlotte, North Caroline, held on or about November 19, 2016.

The notion of backing both the president and his ostensible opponents simultaneously is one that feels very reminiscent of Russia’s own “managed democracy.”

Specialists known as “political technologists” have been a feature of politics in Russia and other former Soviet countries since the early post-Communist parties. They are not quite the same as the “spin doctors” of democratic politics, or the blunter propagandists of totalitarian systems. Rather than just promoting their own favored candidates, they manufacture entire political narratives, including opposition, to keep them in power. As the British scholar Andrew Wilson puts it in his book Virtual Politics, the technologists act as “political meta-programmers, system designers, decision-makers, and political controllers all in one, applying whatever technology they can to the construction of politics as a whole.”

There’s some similarity to proud American political traditions like “astroturfing”—manufacturing fake grassroots movements—or “ratfucking,” using dirty tricks to undermine or discredit your opponents. (Roger Stone, confidant of Nixon and later Trump, is famous for doing things like sending donations to Nixon’s Republican rivals in the name of the Young Socialists Alliance. But the Russian variant is more precise and comprehensive.)

The best known political technologist today is Putin’s Tupac- and Allen Ginsberg–loving aide and chief ideologue Vladislav Surkov. Journalist Peter Pomerantsev describes the methods of Putin’s “grey cardinal” as follows:

One moment Surkov would fund civic forums and human-rights NGOs, the next he would quietly support nationalist movements that accuse the NGOs of being tools of the West. With a flourish he sponsored lavish arts festivals for the most provocative modern artists in Moscow, then supported Orthodox fundamentalists, dressed all in black and carrying crosses, who in turn attacked the modern-art exhibitions

Surkov recently took his postmodern provocateur act to a new extreme by writing a novel under a pseudonym (he denied, unconvincingly, being the author) that satirizes the Russian political system he himself created, then attacking the author under his own name in print.

Riaz Haq said...

Freedom House is best known for its annual surveys of democracy and political freedom. The surveys rank countries according to the degree of 'freedom', and they are quoted in western media as authoritative sources on this question. Freedom House is usually described as an independent research agency. In fact it is funded by the US Government, through the US Agency for International Development, and the US Information Agency, and it has long-standing links to the intelligence services. Conservative foundations also contribute to Freedom House. Its assessments of 'political freedom' are pure propaganda, intended to present western countries in the best light. The scores are manipulated in a crude and racist way: asylum seekers in Australia show just how unfree you can be, in a model democracy
The specific example is a group of asylum seekers/refugees taken prisoner on the troopship Manoora, to prevent them reaching Australian soil. My comments are left as they were written in 2001.The refugees were ultimately taken to the island state of Nauru. Predictably, the Australian government later tried to justify its policy by reference to the September 11 attacks. Defence minister Peter Reith said Australia's borders should be defended or they will become a "pipeline for terrorists". In this climate of racism and fear, an appeal court reversed an earlier decision to admit the refugees.


Riaz Haq said...

Jehangir illustrated her contention about the dismal human rights conditions in Pakistan by detailing three prominent rape cases with which she has been associated as legal counsel, including the Mukhtaran Mai case that has received considerable attention in the West in recent months, and which prompted Musharraf to tell the Washington Post that Pakistani women try to get raped in order to obtain visas to the West so that they can become rich. In each of the three instances she detailed, Jehangir argued, justice has been consistently thwarted by those in authority, and the victims have been further victimized.

Just back from visiting Kashmir, which suffered a devastating earthquake last month, Jehangir reported that the army's manifest inability to provide basic necessities to the earthquake victims has stripped away the claim to competence that the Pakistani military has used to justify its rule in Pakistan. Three organizations that have been banned by the government for their links to terrorism have been most active and most visible in getting life-sustaining supplies to the victims, she declared, and have won considerable support from even apolitical Kashmiris for their humanitarian work.

While on several occasions declining the opportunity to criticize Washington directly for its support for the Musharraf regime, her belief that the United States bears considerable responsibility for the "nightmare" in Pakistan was obvious. The marriage of the Pakistani military, the mullahs, and the United States (or as Pakistanis themselves frequently put it, the 3 A's: the army, Allah, and America) has "stunted" Pakistan. When asked about the responsibility of Islam for Pakistan's woes, she remarked that although she herself is not a religious person, Pakistan's problem is not Islam, but people who misuse their religion for political purposes.


Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Scholar Program: 2014-2015 Information and Application


Current Wilson Center Pakistan Scholar

Khurram Husain, 2013-14

Previous Wilson Center Pakistan Scholars

Simbal Khan, 2012-13
Zahid Husain, 2011-12
Huma Yusuf, 2010-11
Dr. Sabiha Mansoor, 2009-10
Amb. Riaz Mohammad Khan, 2008-09
Dr. Samia Altaf, 2007-08
Khaled Ahmed, 2006-07
Dr. Mushtaq Khan, 2005-06
Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, 2004-05

The Wilson Center

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is Washington's only independent, wide-ranging, non-partisan institute for advanced research where vital current issues and their historical and cultural background are explored through research and dialogue. Created by the Congress of the United States as the nation's official memorial to its twentieth-eighth president, the Center seeks to commemorate through its residential fellowship program both the scholarly depth and the public policy concerns of Woodrow Wilson.


This competition is open to men and women who are from, and based in, Pakistan. Applications will be accepted from individuals in academia, business, journalism, government, law, and related professions. Candidates must be currently pursuing research on key public policy issues facing Pakistan, research designed to bridge the gap between the academic and the policymaking worlds.

The Wilson Center customarily expects its visiting scholars to possess the terminal degree in their field. For academics, such as university professors, the terminal degree generally means a Ph.D. But other professions have different terminal degrees; for journalists or businesspeople, it could well be a B.A. In exceptional cases, the Wilson Center will waive the terminal degree requirement for highly qualified and unusually talented applicants. But under no circumstances will the Pakistan Scholar competition be open to anyone currently pursuing a graduate degree or working on a doctoral dissertation.

In addition, applicants must have at least eight years of professional or research experience. Preference will be given to applicants who have published scholarly books or substantial articles in academic or policy-related journals or newspapers.

Applicants must be completely fluent in both written and spoken English.

Length of Appointment and Responsibilities

Pakistan Scholars will be in residence at the Woodrow Wilson Center for the U.S. academic year, September 2014 - May 2015. While at the Wilson Center, Pakistan Scholars will be expected to carry out a full schedule of rigorous research and writing based on the topic outlined in the research proposal submitted at the time of application. They will also be expected to participate in workshops, seminars, and conferences organized by the Center's Asia Program, and in other ways to participate in the intellectual life of the Wilson Center and the larger community of South Asia observers in Washington.


The stipend provided to Pakistan Scholars is $5,000 per month. In addition, the Wilson Center will also pay a portion of health insurance premiums for the scholar, and provide assistance for travel from Pakistan. The scholars will be provided with suitable work space, a Windows-based computer, and where feasible, a part-time research assistant.

Riaz Haq said...

US funding for Pakistani journalists raises questions of transparency
US State Department funding, supplied through a nonprofit intermediary, supports the presence of two Pakistani journalists in Washington. Some observers say the relationship should be more transparent.

By Issam Ahmed, Correspondent SEPTEMBER 2, 2011


Two Pakistani journalists filing reports home from Washington are quietly drawing their salaries from US State Department funding through a nonprofit intermediary, highlighting the sophisticated nature of America’s efforts to shape its image abroad.

Neither of the two media organizations, Express News and Dunya News, discloses that their reporters are paid by the nonprofit America Abroad Media (AAM) on their websites or in the reports filed by their correspondents. Though the journalists have worked under the auspices of AAM since February, AAM only made their links to the news organizations known on their website Wednesday, after being contacted by the Monitor.

The lack of transparency by the Pakistani organizations involved could heighten Pakistani mistrust of the US government, which is seen as having an undue level of influence in their country’s affairs.

“If an American journalist working as a foreign correspondent in Pakistan was paid in a similar manner, would it be morally or professionally acceptable for his news organization or audience?” asks Badar Alam, editor of Pakistan’s prestigious English-language Herald magazine.

The amount currently allocated for the project is some $2 million over two years from the public diplomacy funds allocated by the State Department, according to State Department officials in Washington familiar with the project. That includes salaries for the two correspondents – Huma Imtiaz of Express News and Awais Saleem of Dunya News – and a bureau for both TV channels.

Aaron Lobel, president of AAM, says his organization receives donations from a number of private funders, too, which it mainly spends on its programs on international affairs that run on Public Radio International in the United States.

The timing of AAM’s website disclosure – after contact from the Monitor – was a coincidence and the update had been planned for “several months,” he says. “We are a small organization with two web guys. They are really working hard on the new site – not just about the Pakistan project but on everything we do. Yes, it would have been better to have a lot of information [before]. We have been preparing this site for a long time to provide that information.”

“The content production is done first and foremost [by] Pakistanis who are here and work with their channels back home to produce content,” says Lobel.

Riaz Haq said...

Insulting Prophet #Muhammad (PBUH) not '#FreeSpeech', Europe's Court of Human Rights rules. Defaming the Prophet Muhammad exceeds the permissible limits of freedom of expression, ruled the #ECtHR, upholding an #Austrian court’s decision. #Blasphemy #Islam http://sabahdai.ly/OyLmdP

The decision by a seven-judge panel came as an Austrian national identified as E.S. by the court, had held seminars on Islam in 2008 and 2009 for the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) where she discussed the prophet's marriage to his wife Aisha, a child at the time, and implied that he was a pedophile.

An Austrian court convicted her of disparaging religious doctrines in 2011 and fined her 480 euros (548 dollars), a judgment that was upheld on two appeals.

Stating that the court had found that "the applicant's statements had been likely to arouse justified indignation in Muslims" and "amounted to a generalization without factual basis", the Strasbourg-based ECtHR said that the woman's comments could not be covered by the freedom of expression.

The court said it "found in particular that the domestic courts comprehensively assessed the wider context of the applicant's statements and carefully balanced her right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria."

The statement also added that there had been no violation of Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, covering freedom of expression. "Relying on Article 10 (freedom of expression), E.S. complained that the domestic courts failed to address the substance of the impugned statements in the light of her right to freedom of expression."

ES' statements "were not phrased in a neutral manner aimed at being an objective contribution to a public debate concerning child marriages," the ECtHR held, adding that the moderate fine imposed on her could not be considered disproportionate.

The Austrian courts had drawn a distinction between pedophilia and child marriage, which was also a common practice historically in European ruling families.

The ECtHR also underlined that it classified the 'impugned' statements as "an abusive attack on the Prophet of Islam, which was capable of stirring up prejudice and putting at risk religious peace."

It noted that the Austrian courts had held that ES was making value judgments partly based on untrue facts and without regard to the historical context.

Religious beliefs must be subject to criticism and denial, the ECHR observed, but when statements about religions went beyond critical denial and were likely to incite religious intolerance, states could take proportionate restrictive measures, the court said.

Austria, a country of 8.8 million people, has roughly 600,000 Muslim inhabitants. Lately, it has emerged as the leader of Islamophobia among European countries. The coalition government, an alliance of conservatives and the far right, came to power soon after Europe's migration crisis on promises to prevent another influx and restrict benefits for new immigrants and refugees. In April, Austria's far-right Chancellor Sebastian Kurz threatened to close one of the biggest mosques in Vienna and urged municipal authorities to be stricter regarding state subsidies for Muslim organizations in the city.

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpt from Peck, James. Ideal Illusions (American Empire Project) (p. 250). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition. 2010


Zeroing in on their likely constituents, Washington identified the “so-called secularists of the Muslim world: Business people, scientists, non-religious educators, politicians, public administrators, musicians, artists, poets, writers, journalists, actors, and their audiences and admirers”98 as the most “moveable” targets. Among these the “priority targets” were liberal secular Muslim academics and intellectuals, who tended to gravitate to universities and research centers, as well as young moderate religious scholars uncomfortable in the mosque. Women’s groups engaged in gender equality campaigns were another natural constituency. Finally, moderate journalists and writers needed help with broadcasting their work back into their own countries and, via the web, throughout the Islamic world. All these moderates had “political values congruent to the universal values underlying all modern liberal societies,”99 but again empowering them as a class might “require an external catalyst.”100 As elsewhere, they needed money, organizing, ideas—and a pan-Islamic context to counter the radicals’ advantage in organization, religious funding, and the centrality of the mosque in the local community.”101 They also needed “conceptual systems to guide and navigate” them toward American ways of thinking102—a far cry from the free flow of ideas Washington supposedly defended. Attention, not information, was key. In the words of a Defense Department task force, “What’s around information is critical. Reputations count. Brands are important. Fifty years ago political struggles were about the ability to control and transmit scarce information. Today, political struggles are about the creation and destruction of credibility.”103 Once again, local leaders could be quietly supported, invited to conferences, praised in the media, given awards and academic appointments, their reputations nourished. If they were abused, they could be spotlighted as human rights fighters; their plight movingly told, their families taken care of. In all these domains Washington appreciated the contributions of human rights—its workers, its honors, its support for NGOs fit with its own agenda well enough.

Riaz Haq said...

HISTORY: IDEA TO REALITY: NED (National Endowment For Democracy) AT 30


"In the aftermath of World War II, faced with threats to our democratic allies and without any mechanism to channel political assistance, U.S. policy makers resorted to covert means, secretly sending advisers, equipment, and funds to support newspapers and parties under siege in Europe. When it was revealed in the late 1960’s that some American PVO’s were receiving covert funding from the CIA to wage the battle of ideas at international forums, the Johnson Administration concluded that such funding should cease, recommending establishment of “a public-private mechanism” to fund overseas activities openly."

Training for media students


Islamabad:Women Media Centre in collaboration with the National Endowment for Democracy arranged a five-day electronic media training course for young aspiring journalists on the topic ‘Impact of Covid-19 pandemic on women and media in Pakistan’ at a local hotel here, says a press release.