Saturday, June 25, 2016

A look at whats next in the Colombian peace process

A cease-fire and disarmament agreement between Colombia's government and the country's biggest leftist rebel group has put the South American nation on the threshold of ending a five-decade war. Here are some of the remaining hurdles:
The deal does not mark the start of a cease-fire. That will begin only with the signing of a final peace deal that authorities hope to achieve as early as next month. A day after an accord is signed, Colombia's army will reposition troops to protect rebel fighters as they move to transition zones where they will turn in their arms and begin the process of moving back into civilian life. The 7,000 fighters in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia will be required to completely put down their arms within at most six months. The arms will be delivered to U.N. monitors.
Negotiators still must determine how the deal will be given legal armor so it won't unravel should a more conservative government succeed President Juan Manuel Santos, who leaves office in 2018. Rebels, wary of past experiences, are also demanding guarantees of safety after they lay down their arms and form a political movement. A similar peace attempt in the 1980s led to thousands of rebels and their sympathizers being killed by paramilitaries and corrupt soldiers.
Santos has vowed to put any peace deal to a national referendum, though the FARC is pushing for ratification through a constitutional convention. An accord could face difficulties in a referendum due to the deep unpopularity of the rebels and the desire many Colombians still feel for revenge over the conflict that displaced millions and killed hundreds of thousands. Supporters of the peace process also worry that too many voters might simply stay home. To pass, the referendum would have to meet a turnout threshold in addition to an approval threshold.
The two sides must settle on a mechanism for selecting judges who will preside over special peace tribunals evaluating the war crimes of guerrillas as well as the military.
There is also the risk that Colombia's second rebel movement, the much-smaller but more recalcitrant National Liberation Army, could fill the void left by the FARC. That rebel group agreed only recently to formal negotiations with the government, but those talks have yet to start because of Santos' insistence that it renounce kidnapping. Kidnapping is one of the group's main sources of income, and the rebels have rejected this precondition.


Pakistans moderate Muslims must question constitutional amendments that encourage extremism, intolerance

London, June.25 (ANI): Moderate Muslims in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world must have the courage to question the establishment and the existing legal framework on how encouragement has been given to those who support both extremism and intolerance across the country.
In an article for The Diplomat, Zoha Waseem, a doctoral candidate at King's College London, has strongly questioned Pakistan's decision to declare the minority Ahmaddiya community as "non-Muslim" in violation of the principles of Islam, and called on all citizens of the country to abandon extremism and intolerance and promote inter-faith harmony and peaceful co-existence.
"The non-violent, non-extremist, 'silent moderate minority' of Muslims in Pakistan and elsewhere must turn to the proverbial pen. and question how our legal frameworks (such as the constitutional amendments in Pakistan) have only encouraged extremism and intolerance in our societies," Waseem writes in The Diplomat.
He adds, "The citizens of Pakistan, with respect to the spirits of all religions, must set examples of inter-faith harmony, peaceful co-existence."
Elaborating on the issue of the Ahmaddiya community being declared as non Muslims, and on them repeatedly being attacked and massacred by the Sunni-dominant militia and terrorists, Waseem claims that this discrimination and genocidal persecution of minority sects and minority religions in Pakistan can be attributed to a pre-partition political trajectory that espoused Islamic separatism centered around Sunni majoritarianism in the subcontinent.
He writes that despite the Ahmadis playing a key role in Pakistan's independence from India and backing the nation's founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah's political party All India Muslim League, the ruling dispensations between 1947 and 2016 have consistently compromised the minority community's identity and security as citizens.
He recalls that the second constitutional amendment introduced and passed by the martial law regime of General Zia-ul-Haq, was done to appease religious opponents.
He declares that despite over four decades of ongoing persecution, the Ahmaddiyas have given Pakistan stalwarts such as former foreign minister Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan and theoretical physicist and Pakistan's first Nobel Prize winner in physics Dr. Abdus Salam.
"Unfortunately, the seeds of extremism have penetrated too deep into the fabric of the Pakistani state and society for them to be countered by haphazardly written counter-terrorism plans. It will take no less than a generational effort to root out extremism and regain Islam's true message of peace, tolerance and respect for all faiths," Waseem states, adding that of the several products of religious extremism that plague Pakistan, sectarianism will remain the most dangerous one for the foreseeable future.
He says in his article that, "it is disheartening to see that the "jihad of the pen" (the ink of the scholar) lags far behind the "jihad of the sword" (the blood of the martyr), with the latter simply drowning out the voices of the former."
Declaring that the Muslim community has failed at large to promote, implement and empower Sufi codes of love and compassion, Waseem says that for countering the extremism narrative, a huge effort would need to take place at the "familial, societal and communal levels," adding that a bottom-up approach is required.
He concludes that the debate needs to taken at the local level, where knowledge must be shared and exchanged; where value, tolerance and acceptance of ethnic and religious diversity need to be actively encouraged and where forgiveness should be budded. (ANI)


Saudis kill 25 in ‘friendly fire’ in Yemen

Saudi Arabian fighter jets have “mistakenly” killed 25 troops loyal to Yemen’s Saudi-backed former president in the impoverished country’s northwest.
The fatalities were caused in the al-Maton district of Yemen’s al-Jawf Province on Saturday. The purportedly misdirected fire also injured 15 others loyal to Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who has resigned as Yemen’s president, Saba’ Net agency reported.
The attack also destroyed three military facilities.
Saudi Arabia launched its military aggression against Yemen in March 2015 in a bid to reinstate Hadi. More than 9,400 people have been killed and at least 16,000 others injured in the aggression.
Houthi Ansarullah fighters and allied army factions have been defending Yemen both against the deadly Saudi invasion and al-Qaeda militants.
In a separate incident, Ansarullah fighters gained more ground against Saudi mercenaries in the country’s southwestern Lahij Province.
The fighters gained control over an area south of the province’s al-Qabbaytah district during their advance toward the al-Anad military base, which is under the control of Saudi mercenaries.
Nasr al-Radfani, the head of Hadi loyalists, said the Houthis were now only five kilometers (three miles) from the outpost.

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