Govt to Launch Kids and Sports Channels

ISLAMABAD (The News International) | Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Saturday unveiled his government's plans to launch two new state-run channels. 
The influential presence of cricket among all other sports in Pakistan is merely out of comparison however, the information minister takes a verdict to launch two new channels of PTV, one that will cover all other sports except cricket whilst the existing channel would cover cricket solely.
A dedicated channel for children under the age of 16 will also be launched, he further added, that would cater to the need of an hour.
“We have decided to launch two new channels of PTV; a dedicated Sports Channel to cover all sports except Cricket and present PTV Sports shall be rebranded as PTV Cricket. A dedicated Channel for Children under sixteen, all suggestions welcomed,” read the tweet.
As PTI’s Federal government holds the charge, they lifted political censorship on the state television, permitting it to cover all political parties even those on opposition benches.
Alongside, the Information Minister, Fawad Chaudhry opens the forum for suggestions!

The PTI’s First Test

It is a familiar script. Two groups of young men get involved in an altercation. Things get heated, tempers flare, and there is an eruption of violence leaving injuries and property damage in its wake. This is what happened on Eid in Faisalabad earlier this week when around 30 people were injured after a dispute over a chicken – allegedly run over by one of the men involved – escalated into a full-blown sectarian assault that ended with an Ahmadi place of worship being razed to the ground. According to reports from the scene, the violence had all the hallmarks of similar attacks in the past; a relatively innocuous trigger, the involvement of local mosques and mullahs inflaming sentiment against minority communities, the gathering of a mob comprised of locals unconnected to the initial dispute, and the eventual destruction of persons and/or property in an orgy of religious violence.
Speaking to the media, the new Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Chaudhry, claimed that the incident in Faisalabad was nothing more than a personal dispute that had gotten out of hand, with no religious motivations involved. This statement is puzzling for several reasons; it can hardly be considered business as usual when a frenzied mob can engage in running street battles for several hours before torching a place of worship with impunity as the police simply looks on. More importantly, disputes of this kind – and there are many – usually do not end with massive acts of arson, nor do they unfold to the sound of sectarian slogans and coordinated attempts to punish a specific community. Under normal circumstances, a dispute over a dead chicken would probably involve harsh words and perhaps even a brief fistfight, not a massive conflagration involving dozens of people. Indeed, it is impossible to shake the feeling that events took the course that they did precisely because one of the parties involved happened to be an Ahmadi.
There has long been little point in hoping that those in power in the Land of the Pure will find the moral courage to call a spade and spade and denounce the forces of religious bigotry that have slowly but surely consumed this country. Every year, hundreds of individuals whose only crime is believing in the wrong god or following the wrong faith find themselves subjected to often deadly violence, even as politicians, the police, and even the courts simply shrug their shoulders, downplay the significance of what is happening, and mutter references to Jinnah’s speech on 11 August 1947 in which he declared Pakistan would be tolerant of all faiths and creeds. Some even go so far as to endorse the violence, cynically manipulating religious sentiment for political gain.
Much is expected of the new PTI government which has, after all, come to power promising radical change. Yet, while many understandably focus on big-ticket issues like loadshedding or corruption, the everyday acts of violence directed towards Pakistan’s minorities are no less important. On one of the first occasions that the PTI had to signal its seriousness about bringing change to Pakistan, it has gone ahead and buried its head in the sand much like its predecessors did. All the party or any of its many spokespersons had to do was make a statement denouncing the violence and yet, all that was said was yet another variation on the idea that the concerns of religious minorities in Pakistan are either unfounded or unimportant.
At some level, this is not surprising. As has been documented at length by his critics, Imran Khan has long expressed sympathy for the politics of the religious right and did not shy away from campaigning on the basis of contentious issues like blasphemy in the months leading up to the 2018 elections. This was an example that was followed by some of the PTI’s candidates, who accused their rivals in the PML-N of blasphemy and were not averse to using charged religious language to win votes. Yet, this is precisely why the government’s response, or lack of it, to the Faisalabad incident, is important; at a time when many fear that Imran Khan may undermine the ongoing fight against extremism in Pakistan, taking a stand on the protection of a minority community may have gone some way towards assuaging those concerns.
The nature of the PTI, in terms of its political ideology, its organisational structure, and its electoral strategy, means that its government was always going to face an uphill task in bringing about the change it has promised. After all, a party filled with traditional ‘electable’ politicians drawn from the country’s economic elite can hardly be expected to rock the boat too much, just as one that has been aligned with the religious right is not suddenly going to transform into a beacon of secular and progressive values. Yet, by not even trying to fight against these forces, the PTI is simply confirming the worst fears of its detractors. Symbolism matters and while it may be unrealistic to expect that the PTI can or will be able to do much about the systemic persecution of Pakistan’s religious minorities, at least in the short term, simple acts like condemning the burning of an Ahmadi place of worship, or appointing a non-Muslim to a cabinet post, could have meant a lot. Instead, the PTI’s first week in government has shown that it may not turn out to be too different from its predecessors after all.

Written By | Hassan Javid
The writer is an assistant professor of political science at LUMS.
Courtesy | The Nation

Of Course Christians are Theocrats

Ever since the Religious Right burst onto the American scene in the 1980s, its opponents have regularly accused Christians of being closet theocrats, Jesus-jihadis who want to subject the U.S. to a biblical equivalent of shari’a. Just as regularly, Christians have denied the charge, sometimes vehemently.
The denials are understandable. Christianity has always distinguished civil order from the Church. The Apostle Paul urged Christians to submit peaceably to the “powers that be” (Rom. 13), an implicit recognition of the legitimacy of Roman power. Pope Gelasius said the world is governed by two powers, the priestly and the royal, and in the medieval West this developed into the theory of the “two swords,” the spiritual sword of the Church and the coercive sword of the state. 
Eastern Christianity developed differently, yet Justinian, an architect of Byzantine symphonia, echoed the Gelasian principle of double authority. Priest and emperor are “closely interdependent,” but neither dominates the other. Each has his own zone of responsibility: The emperor is “concerned with human affairs” and priests with “things divine.”
If theocracy means “the rule of priests” or involves the absorption of civil order into religious institutions, Christianity has been chary toward the idea. In fact, Christianity can be credited with introducing the distinction between religion and politics into a world where the two were fused in what Francis Oakley calls “sacral kingship.” Civil authority, Augustine insisted, belongs to the saeculum, the time between the kingdom’s coming and its consummation. The Church alone is the sacred and eternal society.
Still, there’s something disingenuous about the denials. The Church has often interfered with civil authority, sometimes calling brutal rulers to account and standing up for the weak, sometimes shamefully providing cover for the brutes. As Pierre Manent has noted, Christianity simultaneously frees “secular” society and demands that all human life conform to the will of God.
In the final analysis, “human affairs” and “things divine” won’t stay put in their neutral corners. This is why I prefer Stanley Hauerwas’s straightforward confession: “I often enjoy making liberal friends, particularly American liberal friends, nervous by acknowledging that I am of course a theocrat.”
That “of course” is the kicker. For Hauerwas, it’s obvious that a Christian must be a theocrat. He’s right. “Theocracy” means “rule of God,” and the Christian gospel is, in a literal sense, a theocratic message: Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom of God. Against the Roman conviction that “Caesar is lord,” Christians proclaim that “Jesus is Lord.”
One of the most-cited psalms in the New Testament is Psalm 2, which announces that the Lord has established his Son as king, ruler, and heir to the nations. Another recurring text is Psalm 110, where David says “my Lord” is seated at the right hand of God, ruling until his enemies become his footstool. The theocratic import of the gospel wasn’t lost on the Church’s enemies. At Thessalonica, Paul’s Jewish opponents dragged Christians before the city leaders on the charge that they turned the world upside down by saying that “there is another king, Jesus” (Acts 17).
Christians sometimes flinch from the political import of these claims. We nervously spiritualize, we frantically privatize. “Jesus is Lord” is translated into “Jesus is my personal Lord and Savior”—somewhat, as Ken Myers likes to put it, like a “personal trainer.” Jesus’s kingdom is said to be a “spiritual kingdom” that leaves Caesar’s realm pretty much intact.
That’s a dangerous misreading of the gospel. As Hauerwas says, “‘Jesus is Lord’ is not my personal opinion” but “a determinative political claim.” Psalm 2 ends with an exhortation to kings and judges to acknowledge the Lord’s anointed as King of Kings. For political rulers, repentance means bowing to Jesus as a superior authority.
This is frightening, and it’s supposed to be. Psalm 2 exhorts rulers and judges to “take warning, worship with reverence, and rejoice with trembling.” Jesus is gentle, but he’s not someone you trifle with.
Yet theocracy is ultimately reassuring. Because it proclaims Jesus’s kingship, Christian theocracy bends politics toward compassion, mercy, and impartial justice. I don’t share Hauerwas’s pacifism, but he’s right that Christianity introduces a new politics of patience: “Christ, through the Holy Spirit, bestows upon his disciples the long-suffering patience necessary to resist any politics whose impatience makes coercion and violence the only and inevitable response to conflict.” Christian theocracy is premised on the persuasion that there is love deep down things. It reminds rulers that King Jesus is also Judge. It’s frightening mainly to thugs.
After all, Christian theocrats call political leaders to follow and conform to a King who forgives his enemies, a suffering Servant who gives himself for his people, a world emperor who still, in heaven, bears the scars of a Roman cross. 

Peter J. Leithart is President of Theopolis Institute

Photo by Bgag via Creative Commons. Image cropped.


Christian Lawmaker Calls on Christian Youth Attacked By Extremists

Karachi, Pakistan (Christians in Pakistan) | Pakistani Christian lawmaker calls on a Christian youth Vicky John; who was savagely attacked by extremists. Member of Sindh Parliament Anthony Naveed arrived in Jinnah Hospital accompanied by Farhan Ghani Chairman of UC-4 and inquired after the health of Vicky.
Vicky John, his brother Sunil and father Elvin John were ferociously beaten by vandals who had been threatening them to leave the neighborhood. On this occasion, MPA Anthony Naveed met with the father of Vicky and assured him that perpetrators will be brought to justice.
Later, MPA Naveed went to the Mehmoodabad police station and met with SHO Sarwar Commando, and discussed the case with him. Police had been reluctant in registering the FIR thus far. Consequently, an application was filed on behalf of Elvin John.
Reportedly, John Elvin, his wife, and three children moved in to live in D.C. Society, Mehmoodabad 2 and were living in a rented house for last 10 months. It is learned that the family was being threatened to leave the neighborhood, or else they will have to face dire consequences.
The unfortunate incident unfolded on August 18, Saturday around 11 pm, John, and his sons were brutally beaten by a group of extremists. John family is living in this neighborhood for the last ten months in a rented house.
Just a few hours before, in the evening a group of extremists pelted stones at the door and windows of their house. They vandals threatened the Christian family to leave the area or otherwise they will be killed. The victims decided to seek help from the police. When the attackers learned about their intentions, they attacked their house again around 11 pm.
Vikram John lost eyesight as a result of the beating, while his brother, Sunil John also sustained injuries. Severely wounded Elvin and his sons were taken to Jinnah Hospital, where they received medical attention. Vikram is still hospitalized while Elvin and Sunil were discharged after receiving medical treatment.

Binish Paul, A Christian Girl Thrown From Roof-Top For Refusing to Marry a Muslim Boy | Karachi, Pakistan

کراچی ۔ مسلم لڑکے سے شادی نہ کرنے (جبری تبدیلی مذہب) پر دسویں کلاس کی مسیحی طالبہ بینش پال کومسلم لڑکے طاہر عباس نے دوسری منزل سے نیچے گرا دیا۔ 
مسلم لڑکا طاہر عباس جو کے گلستان جوہر کا رہنے والا ہے بینش پال نامی مسیحی لڑکی کو پسند کرتا تھا۔ اس نے بینش کے گھر آ کے لڑکی کا رشتہ مانگا مگربینش کے گھر والوں نے رشتہ سے انکار کر دیا اور کہا کہ ہمارا اور آپ کا مذہب ایک نہیں ہے اس لیے ہم یہ رشتہ نہیں کر سکتے جس پر طاہر آگ بگولہ ہو گیا۔ بارہا    بینش کو شادی کے لیے کہتا رہا مگر لڑکی شادی سے انکار کرتی رہی۔ بار بار انکار سن کرآخرکار طاہر عباس نے بینش کو دوسری منزل سے نیچے پھینک دیا۔بینش کو زخمی حالت میں جناج ہسپتال منتقل کیا گیا جہاں میڈیکل رپورٹ میں معلوم ہوا کہ بینش کی ریڑھ کی ہڈی اور دومہرے ٹوٹ گئے ہیں۔
مسلم لڑکے طاہر عباس نے ہسپتال کے عملے کو پیسے دے کر رپورٹ کو دبانے کی کوشش کی۔
بینش کے گھر والوں نے اس جبری مذہبی تبدیلی اور ظلم کے خلاف تھانہ ابراہیم حیدری میں طاہر کے خلاف درخواست دی جس پر تھانہ کے عملے نے ملزم کو گرفتار کرنے کی بجائے ملزم کا ساتھ دینا شروع کر دیا۔تھانے کے عملے نے بینش کے گھر والوں کو ڈرانے دھمکانے کا سلسلہ شروع کردیا اور ان کے گھر آ کے انکی خواتین کے لیے غیر مناسب لفظ استعمال کیے، اور کیس کو ختم کرانے کے لیے دباؤ ڈالا۔
اس دل سوز جبری مذہبی تبدیلی اور بینش پر ظلم ہوئے پندرہ روز ہوچکے ہیں، پر ابھی تک ان کی کوئی مدد نہیں ہوئی بلکہ طاہر عباس سے مل کر پولیس ان کو آئے روز پریشان کرتی ہے، اور ان کو کیس واپس لینے کے لیے مختلف حربے استعمال کرتی ہےاور ان کو ایم ایل او کے لیے بھی تعاون نہیں کر رہی ہے۔
بینش اس وقت زندگی اور موت کی جنگ لڑ رہی ہے جب کے جرم کرنے والا اب تک آزاد ہے۔

Report | (Ab Takk-Jaag Masihi News)

Vandals Beat Christian Family, Threaten Them to Leave Their House | Karachi, Pakistan

Karachi, Pakistan (Christians in Pakistan) | Pakistani Christian family brutally tortured by extremists told to leave their house. The family claims they have been targeted on the basis of religion. The victim John Elvin, his wife, and three children moved in to live in D.C. Society, Mehmoodabad 2. It is learned that the family was being threatened to leave the neighborhood, or else they will have to face dire consequences.
Christians in Pakistan was informed that locals jeered at them, ridiculed and humiliated them. John Elvin is a nurse by profession, was waiting for a year-long contract to end so that he could move from this neighborhood. On August 18, Saturday around 11 pm, John, and his sons were brutally beaten by a group of extremists. John family is living in this neighborhood since last ten months in a rented house. 
Earlier in the evening, a group of extremists pelted stones at the door and windows of their house. They vandals threatened the Christian family to leave the area or otherwise they will be killed. The victims decided to seek help from the police. When the attackers learned about their intentions, they attacked their house again around 11 pm. One of John’s son Vikram John lost eyesight as a result of the beating. While his brother, Sunil John was also severely injured.
Severely wounded Elvin and his sons were taken to Jinnah Hospital, where they received medical attention. Vikram is still admitted in the hospital while Elvin and Sunil were discharged after receiving medical treatment. The Christian family is traumatized and terrified. Reportedly, the police have not registered an FIR against the perpetrators. However, police have obtained medical certificates of the victims. Elvin John and his family urge higher authorities to take action against the perpetrators of the attack as they seek protection from the extremists.

Medical certificate of Vikram John:

Sutlej Reformed Church of Pakistan celebrates 7th Anniversary

Sutlej Reformed Church of Pakistan (A Christian Protestant Reformed Denomination) celebrated its 7th anniversary on August 22, 2018. 
Rev. Zafar Iqbal Bhatti and Rev. Karamat presided the anniversary service. The Right Reverend Arlsn Ul-Haq (Moderator, Sutlej Reformed Church of Pakistan) delivered a sermon from Ephesians 4:15-16. The sermon theme was "Building in Love".
A welcome song and tableaus presented by Children's Ministry. Congregation enjoyed fellowship, Holy Communion, and dinner.

Yousaf Masih, A 55-Y-O Pakistani Christian Brutally Tortured By Assailants

Okara, Pakistan (Christians in Pakistan) | Yousaf Masih, a 55-year-old Pakistani Christian brutally tortured by assailants. Yousaf Masih succumbed to the injuries. The incident unfolded on August 17, 2018.

Charged Mob Attacks Christians over Church Property Dispute in Kasur

Kasur, Pakistan (Christians in Pakistan)A mob attacked Christians including children over church property dispute, in a village nestled in District Kasur. The victims attempted to protect the under-construction St. Mathew’s Catholic Church, which serves about 40 Christian families of the village. Local Christians are bearing the expenses of the construction of the church building stood up against landlord’s attempts of seize the land by force.
Details emerged that the church property was eyed by a local landlord who wanted to use the land for cultivation. International Christian Concern (ICC) quotes a local Christian Bashir Masih: “A charged mob of over 50 Muslim men, led by Mukhtar Ahmad, a local Muslim, attacked the Christians at Waran Chak Balyana village in Kasur on August 2, 2018.
Ahmad, a local landlord carries a dispute with the local Christians over a piece of land for years…The lower court of Kasur has already issued ‘stay-order’ for the piece of land for both the parties in January 2018 which will expire on 17th of the next month. However, the Muslim family wanted to grab the church property using their social and religious pressure.”
Two of the victims were severely injured, as one of them 18-year-old, Christian girl received stitches on her lips along with 10-year-old Christian boy whose arm bone sustained a fracture as a result of the assault.
ICC further quoted another victim Barkat Masih who said: “On August 2, 2018, Ahmad tried to cultivate a piece of land with a tractor which belongs to the church. The local Christians requested him not to violate court orders, however, Ahmad abused the Christians and passed derogatory remarks against the church, stating, ‘Building a church is a nonsense.’ Within no time, Ahmad’s armed companions attacked the Christian men, women, and children with arms and sticks. They left two seriously injured and other with minor injuries. The mob stoned the under-construction church as well.”
Christian villagers complained that the police tried to pressurize them in order to remain silent; they claimed that police refused to register an FIR against the alleged culprit. They were warned not to publicize the incident. “When the Christians complained to the police about the attack, the police officials ordered them to keep quiet and avoid mentioning it as a religious issue. The police were unfair in the matter,” locals told ICC.

Sutlej Church Joins Covenant Christian Coalition to promote Ecumenism

Sutlej Reformed Church of Pakistan, A Christian Protestant Reformed Denomination is now an approved denominational member of Covenant Christian Coalition. The Right Reverend Arslan Ul-Haq (Moderator of SutlejRCP) honored to serve as a Pastoral Councillor in Covenant Christian Coalition (CCC).

Covenant Christian Coalition is an international, evangelical, post-denominational coalition of churches which is hoping to bring about interdenominational unity. Its purpose is what Jesus Christ prayed, as recorded in the Bible's New Testament in John 17:20-23.
The organization is a voice for evangelical Christians worldwide who are not presently represented in other world organizations like the World Council of Churches or the World Evangelical Alliance.
Since the organization's founding by Christian leaders on February 7th, 2015 in Dallas, Texas, churches around the world have joined.  

US Government seeks Facebook Help to Wiretap Messenger

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) | The US government is trying to force Facebook Inc to break the encryption in its popular Messenger app so law enforcement may listen to a suspect´s voice conversations in a criminal probe, three people briefed on the case said, resurrecting the issue of whether companies can be compelled to alter their products to enable surveillance.
The previously unreported case in a federal court in California is proceeding under seal, so no filings are publicly available, but the three people told Reuters that Facebook is contesting the US Department of Justice´s demand. 
The judge in the Messenger case heard arguments on Tuesday on a government motion to hold Facebook in contempt of court for refusing to carry out the surveillance request, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Facebook and the Department of Justice declined to comment. The Messenger issue arose in Fresno, California, as part of an investigation of the MS-13 gang, one of the people said. 
US President Donald Trump frequently uses the gang, which is active in the United States and Central America, as a symbol of lax US immigration policy and a reason to attack so-called "sanctuary" laws preventing police from detaining people solely to enforce immigration law. 
Trump called members of the gang "animals" this year when the Sheriff of Fresno County complained that California laws limited her co-operation with federal immigration enforcement targeting gang members. The potential impact of the judge´s coming ruling is unclear. If the government prevails in the Facebook Messenger case, it could make similar arguments to force companies to rewrite other popular encrypted services such as Signal and Facebook´s billion-user WhatsApp, which include both voice and text functions, some legal experts said. 
Law enforcement agencies forcing technology providers to rewrite software to capture and hand over data that is no longer encrypted would have major implications for the companies which see themselves as defenders of individual privacy while under pressure from police and lawmakers. 
Similar issues came into play during a legal fight in 2016 between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Apple Inc over access to an iPhone owned by a slain sympathizer of Islamic State in San Bernardino, California, who had murdered county employees. 


In the Apple case, the company argued that the government could not compel it to create software to breach the phone without violating the company´s First Amendment speech and expression rights. The government dropped the litigation after investigators got into the phone with a contractor´s help. Unlike the San Bernardino case, where the FBI wanted to crack one iPhone in its possession, prosecutors are seeking a wiretap of ongoing voice conversations by one person on Facebook Messenger. 
Facebook is arguing in court that Messenger voice calls are encrypted end-to-end, meaning that only the two parties have access to the conversation, two of the people briefed on the case said. Ordinary Facebook text messages, Alphabet Inc´s Gmail, and other services are decrypted by the service providers during transit for targeted advertising or other reasons, making them available for court-ordered interception. 
End-to-end encrypted communications, by contrast, go directly from one user to another user without revealing anything intelligible to providers. Facebook says it can only comply with the government´s request if it rewrites the code relied upon by all its users to remove encryption or else hacks the government´s current target, according to the sources. Legal experts differed about whether the government would likely be able to force Facebook to comply. 
Stephen Larson, a former judge and federal prosecutor who represented San Bernardino victims, said the government must meet a high legal standard when seeking to obtain phone conversations, including showing there was no other way to obtain the evidence. 
Still, the US Constitution allows for reasonable searches, Larson said, and if those standards are met, then companies should not be able to stand in the way. A federal appeals court in Washington D. C. ruled in 2006 that the law forcing telephone companies to enable police eavesdropping also applies to some large providers of Voice over Internet Protocol, including cable and other broadband carriers servicing homes. VoIP enables voice calls online rather than by traditional circuit transmission. 
However, in cases of chat, gaming, or other internet services that are not tightly integrated with existing phone infrastructure, such as Google Hangouts, Signal and Facebook Messenger, federal regulators have not attempted to extend the eavesdropping law to cover them, said Al Gidari, a director of privacy at Stanford University Law School´s Center for Internet and Society. "A messaging platform is excluded," maintains Gidari, who is not involved in the Fresno case.

Turkey will not be Cowed by US | Tayyip Erdogan

Ankara  (AFP) | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared Saturday that his country would not be cowed by the United States, his latest broadside in the bitter feud between Ankara and Washington.
The two NATO members are at odds over Turkey´s detention of an American pastor, which has triggered a trade row and sent the local currency the lira into a tailspin.
"We will not surrender to those who present themselves as a strategic partner while at the same time trying to make us a strategic target," Erdogan said at a congress of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
"Some people threaten us with economy, sanctions, foreign currency exchange rates, interest rates and inflation. We know your shenanigans and we will defy you."
Last week, US President Donald Trump said he had doubled the tariffs on aluminium and steel tariffs from Turkey, prompting Ankara to sharply hike tariffs on several US products.
And Turkey on Friday threatened to respond in kind if Washington imposed further sanctions, while a court rejected another appeal to free pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been held for almost two years on terror charges.
The lira has nosedived against the dollar, dropping as much as 20 percent on one day last week. It sunk to a low of well over seven to the dollar earlier this week but was trading at just over six to the dollar on Friday -- a loss of 40 percent since the start of the year.
The collapse of the currency has been blamed both on the tensions with the United States and Erdogan´s increasing hold on Turkey´s economy and his refusal to allow the central bank to raise interest rates.
Meanwhile, Erdogan told the AKP congress that Turkey would press on with and expand its cross-border military operations.
Turkey sent troops into northern Syria two years ago to fight against the Kurdish People´s Protection Units (YPG).
The YPG forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish-Arab alliance that has received extensive backing from the US-led coalition in the battle against the Islamic State group.
But Turkey accuses the YPG of being the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers´ Party (PKK), a rebel group blacklisted by Ankara and its Western allies.
The Turkish army has also increased its strikes against PKK rear bases in the north of Iraq in the past few months.

Sutlej Church & NEC Congratulates Newly-Elected Prime Minister of Pakistan

The Right Reverend Arslan Ul-Haq, The Current Moderator of the Sutlej Reformed Church of Pakistan and Chairman of the National Ecumenical Council Pakistan cordially congratulate newly-elected prime minister of Pakistan, Mr. Imran Ahmad Khan Niyazi.

Christian Youngster Gunned down by Friends, Murderers Absconding in Lahore

Lahore (Christians in Pakistan) | Pakistani Christian man allegedly gunned down by his own friends. The motive of the murder has not been discovered yet. 30-year-old, Vicky Saleem Masih was murdered by Muhammad Abbas, Muhammad Fahad, and Muhammad Ilyas, who are all absconding. Police have registered a murder case against them.
In line with details, the victim worked at the Lahore High Court. On August 16, Thursday, Vicky father of three was attacked by the alleged murderers who opened fire on him. The attackers fled and left him on the road in a critical condition. He was rushed to a hospital, however, he succumbed to his injuries.
The deceased was resident of Lahore’s Galilee Church neighborhood. His family reported the incident at the local police station, and an FIR (first information report) number 837/18 was registered. An autopsy was conducted on Vicky’s body, while police claim that the alleged murderers were friends of Vicky. However, thus far police have not been able to arrest the absconding culprits.
On the other hand, the victim’s family staged a protest and kept Vicky’s dead body on the road demanding justice. They urged the authorities to conduct an unbiased investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Christian Teen Relentlessly Beaten over Arm wrestling Defeat in Sheikhupura

Sheikhupura (Christians in Pakistan) | 18-year-old Pakistani Christian was brutally beaten by a gang of Muslims, over arm wrestling match. The incident unfolded on August 2, when the victim Vishal Masih, a resident of Nabipur village in Sheikhupura District landed into trouble after he repeatedly defeated a Muslim boy in arm wrestling matches.
Details emerged that just a day before the incident; Vishal defeated a Muslim boy in arm wrestling match. The boy belonged to an influential family. Several defeats incensed the boy who started verbally abusing Vishal and Christian community saying that how could a boy from dirty community defeat him. “A Choora (a derogatory word used for Christians) defeats a Muslim is unbearable, I will teach him a lesson.”
As soon as the match was over, Vishal left for his house. While he was on his way, a gang chased him and started beating him. The assailants brutally beat him, afterward attacked his house beating his family members too. Local elders intervened and got the matter settled for some time. It was after a few days that Khalaq Virk, Hassnain Virk and Mehboob Alam along their accomplices launched another attack and almost killed Vishal.
Vishal survived the attack; however, the attackers left him thinking he was dead. After some time, the attackers kidnapped Vishal who was critically injured. They kept him at his residence and beat him the third time, leaving him in critical condition. After being beaten three times, injured Vishal was taken to the hospital where he was admitted.
Vishal’s family reported the incident at the local police station, despite the fact that the assailants and their family is continuously pressurized Vishal’s family to withdraw their complaint. The Virk family also tried to harass and threaten Vishal’s family saying that they would face dire consequences if they did not withdraw police complaint.
A local Churchman Pastor Mushtaq told International Christian Council: “The Christian community is already living in a constant fear and these sorts of incidents develop insecurity and detachment from this Islamic country or society which is sad to note.”

Pakistan's First-Ever Remote Sensing Satellite PRSS-1 Becomes Operational

Pakistan (The News International) | The first-ever Remote Sensing Satellite and Technology Evaluation Satellite of Pakistan have become operational from Tuesday.
The two first-ever satellite technologies of Pakistan were successfully launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in China on July 9th, 2018, and have become operative today efficaciously, as revealed by the official Twitter handle of Ministry of Planning and Development and Reform.
Furthermore, it was revealed that subsequent to the satellite systems becoming functional, the control of PRSS-1 Satellite was transferred to Ground Control Stations in Pakistan.
The achievement for the country came on the day of Pakistan’s 71’st Independence, on which President Mamnoon Hussain and interim Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk have lauded the efforts of engineers at SUPARCO who were behind the feat, and also hoped that the functionality of these satellites will bring about confidence in the country’s space engineers.
The services provided by the satellites are expected to uplift the socio-economic development of Pakistan and “would also enable the country in agriculture classification and assessment, urban and rural planning and water resource management!”
Moreover, it was revealed that the PRSS-1 weighing 1,200 kg and the 285 kg PakTES-1A would function at an altitude of 640km and 610 correspondingly.
“The PakTES-1A, indigenously designed and developed by SUPARCO’s engineers, is equipped with an optical payload, Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographical Information System (GIS),” stated the Ministry of PD&R.
It was also revealed that the launch of these satellites has added Pakistan to the list of few countries who are in possession of their own remote sensing satellite in the orbit.
The Ministry went on to unveil that: “#PakTES-1A is a 285 kg satellite equipped with an optical payload commensurate with national needs. It has a design life of three years and will operate at an altitude of 610 km.”

"Foreshadow", Researchers Find New Security Flaw in Intel Chips

WASHINGTON (AFP) | Researchers have discovered a new security flaw that could let hackers pry information from supposedly secure virtual vaults in Intel chips, the company warned on Tuesday.
Intel said software updates are already available and it did not appear anyone had taken advantage of the "Foreshadow" vulnerability, which has been likened to troubling "Meltdown" and "Spectre" flaws exposed in computer chips early this year.
"If used for malicious purposes, this class of vulnerability has the potential to improperly infer data values from multiple types of computing devices," Intel said on its website.
"Intel has worked with operating system vendors, equipment manufacturers, and other ecosystem partners to develop platform firmware and software updates that can help protect systems from these methods," it said.
The "Meltdown" and "Spectre" flaws roiled the Silicon Valley chip maker, prompting a series of lawsuits and a congressional inquiry about Intel´s handling of the matter
"We are not aware of reports that any of these methods have been used in real-world exploits, but this further underscores the need for everyone to adhere to security best practices," Intel executive vice president and general manager of product assurance and security said of "Foreshadow" in a post on Intel´s website.
"Once systems are updated, we expect the risk to consumer and enterprise users running non-virtualized operating systems will be low."

Karachi Listed Amongst World’s Least Liveable Cities

KARACHI (The News International) The coastal city of Karachi has been named as one of the least liveable cities in the world, according to a research conducted by the Economist Intellignece Unit (EIU) – the research analysis unit of the Economist Group.
The study that has gauged in results, according to political and social stability, crime, education, and access to healthcare of various cities, has ranked Karachi on the 137th spot, making it the fourth least liveable cities around the globe.
The only cities below Karachi were Syria’s Damascus, Bangladesh’s Dhaka and Nigeria’s Lagos.

Civil war and terrorism played a ‘strong role’ in determining the worst performing cities.
The cities held the lowest ranks, 11 occupied the very bottom tier of liveability, where ratings fell below 50 percent and most aspects of living were severely restricted.
The [low] rankings of these cities like Damascus, Karachi, and Tripoli saw conflict responsible for many of the lowest scores.
Moreover, the survey found Middle East, Africa and Asia scoring the lowest ranks; due to the factors determining stability had adverse effects on other categories too.
The EIU stated that the only cities that had seen a decline in their stability indicators over the past six months were Abu Dhabi (71st) and Dubai (69th) in the United Arab Emirates, Colombo (130th) in Sri Lanka and Warsaw (65th) in Poland.

Pakistan Backs Turkey in Row with Trump over Pastor Andrew's Arrest

ISLAMABAD (The News International) | As the US-Turkey ties continued to sour, Pakistan Monday said it would stand along with its long-term ally Turkey and voiced opposition to the threats of the imposition of unilateral sanctions by the US President over the arrest of an American pastor Andrew Brunson.
"Pakistan, in principle, is opposed to the imposition of unilateral sanctions against any country.
The solution to any and all issues should lie in dialogue, mutual understanding, and goodwill," the Foreign Office said in a statement.
"Any steps or actions to the contrary only undermine the peace and stability and make the solution to a problem more difficult and intractable," a statement from the Spokesperson's Office said.
The Foreign Office spokesperson said Pakistan acknowledges and greatly appreciates Turkey’s invaluable role towards regional and international peace and stability.
It is also a vital member and engine of the global economy, the statement said.
"The people and the Government of Pakistan reiterate their strong support for the Government and the people of Turkey in their quest for peace and prosperity, and as always, will continue to stand by them towards the achievement of these shared goals," the Foreign Office said.

Lira Hit Again

A dispute between NATO allies Turkey and the United States -- which reached new intensity over the detention of an American pastor -- has hammered the lira and also raised questions over the future partnership between Washington and Ankara.
It caused global market jitters last week as investors fretted over potential economic contagion from Turkey, particularly to European banks.
The already embattled Turkish lira tumbled some 16 percent against the dollar on Friday as US President Donald Trump said he had doubled tariffs on steel and aluminum from Turkey.

 Sanctions Unacceptable

American pastor Andrew Brunson has been held since October 2016 on terror and espionage charges and, if convicted, could face a jail term of 35 years. Trump has described his detention as a "total disgrace" and urged Erdogan to free him immediately.
A delegation led by Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal failed to secure a deal last Wednesday in talks in Washington on a number of issues including Brunson.
Erdogan confirmed media reports that Washington gave Onal´s delegation a deadline of 6:00 pm last Wednesday for the release of Brunson "otherwise the sanctions will begin".
"President Erdogan of Turkey is showing no sign of backing down against the US," said market analyst David Madden at CMC Markets UK, adding the crisis risked having a "knock-on effect" around Europe.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was not possible to understand or accept the sanctions and threats.
"We expect the US to stand by our traditional friendly relations and our relationship as allies at the NATO," he told a gathering in Ankara.

Blasphemy Accusation Draws Mob to Pakistan Town’s Only Christian Street

Gujranwala, Pakistan (World Watch Monitor) As horrific details emerge of a young Muslim artist being tortured to death for alleged blasphemy, separately a young Christian man has been charged with blaspheming against Islam’s prophet, a crime punishable with death in Pakistan.
Farhan Aziz, 26, from Muslim Town in Gujranwala district, about 100 kilometres from Lahore, was arrested on 2 August after members of a recently formed political party, Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (which literally means “Here-I-Am Movement Pakistan”), surrounded the one street in the town where Christians live.
Aziz, who runs a photocopying shop in the town, lives with his uncle, Asif Masih, who told World Watch Monitor that the mob wanted to kill his nephew but that the police intervened, arresting him and taking him to an undisclosed location.
“Most of the Christian families had run from the area and, when the protests started, we ensured the safety of the Christians,” local police chief Jawad Answer told World Watch Monitor. “We also negotiated with the protesters and a police contingent is still being stationed there to ensure the safety of the people.”
Aziz’s family have accused his ex-girlfriend’s family of sending blasphemous text messages from a phone registered in his name.
His uncle said the relationship had “turned sour” when the woman became engaged to another man and Aziz demanded she return the money he had lent her over the years.
Local Presbyterian priest Niamat Bhatti, who worked with the police and families to restore calm in the area, confirmed to World Watch Monitor that Aziz had bought a mobile phone for the woman, which was registered in Aziz’s name.
“We are told that text messages were sent by [the woman’s] family and two of her family members were also arrested by the police,” he explained.
The police refused to comment as it is yet to be decided whether they or the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will lead the investigation.
Police chief Anwar explained that the case has been forwarded to the FIA as it falls under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act of 2016.
“But the agency told us that it involved only text messages, so the police could investigate it,” he said. “Now the agency is taking a legal opinion on this and once it is decided then the investigation will begin on this case. I assure that the investigation will be done on merit and it will be shared with media in a few days.”

Difference Between Heartburn and Acid Reflux

Online | Understanding the differences between heartburn acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease involves understanding the links between them.
According to the American College of Gastroenterology heartburn is a common digestive complaint in the United States affecting more than 60 million Americans each month.
Heartburn is not a condition on its own and it has nothing to do with the heart. Instead, it is a symptom of acid reflux.
If symptoms of acid reflux occur frequently it can indicate that a person has gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Distinguishing between heartburn acid reflux and GERD may be hard because they may all feel the same in the moment. However, understanding the differences can help a person find the right treatment.
Acid reflux is sometimes called gastroesophageal reflux or GER. It occurs when stomach acid travels up the food pipe to the mouth.

READ ALSO: Study Reveals that Women More Likely to Die of Heart Attack if Doctor is Male

This can happen when the muscle at the bottom of the food pipe which acts as a gateway to the stomach becomes weak or loose.
Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest or abdomen and it has nothing to do with the heart. People often feel heartburn behind the breastbone and after eating. It can get worse when sitting or lying down.
Heartburn is the most common symptom of acid reflux though it does not appear in every case.
Acid reflux also causes the following symptoms bad breath nausea or vomiting difficulty or pain when swallowing and breathing problems.

USA Slashing Security-Related Aid

United States (Sultan M Hali/Pakistan Today) Apparently, as a demonstration of antipathy towards the incoming government of Pakistan, President Donald Trump initiated a tirade of rhetoric against it. First economic constraints like restrictions on IMF bailout package were recommended and now United States Congress has passed the National Defense Authorisation Act-2019 (NDAA-19) which capped its security-related aid to Pakistan to $150 million, significantly below the historic level of more than $1 billion to $750 million per year.
Perhaps the Trump administration is attempting to pressurise Pakistan’s new government, which is poised to take over later this week. US President Donald Trump since assuming office has been tough on Pakistan over its inaction against terror groups. Trump in August last year unveiled his new South Asia policy and asked Pakistan to do more against such groups.
The US in January 2018 suspended more than $1.15 billion security assistance to Pakistan, accusing it of harbouring terror groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network within its border and showing the unwillingness to take “decisive actions” against them.
The US has also voiced its disapproval of growing Chinese involvement in Pakistan, adding to tensions in bilateral ties. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week had cautioned the IMF against a possible fresh bailout for Pakistan’s new government to pay off Chinese lenders who have invested in the strategic China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In his trade wars against Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pakistan is being fired broadsides against as an ally of China.
However, this capping of economic aid under the head of security may, in fact, prove to be a blessing for Islamabad. The new legislation gets rid of the certification requirements for Pakistan’s action against the Haqqani Network or Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) — as was the case in the past few years for disbursement of US aid to Pakistan and it also gets rid of the authority to reimburse Pakistan for counter-terrorism. For the past few years, as relations between the erstwhile allies, Pakistan and the US soured, gradually the fund disbursement also started to dry up. The Coalition Support Fund (CSF) was reduced and now stopped altogether. On the other hand, the legislation does away with the onerous reporting requirements and certifications that have, in practice, made it difficult for Pakistan to receive such funds.

This waiver signals a strong favour to India from the US which is a clear duality of standards on part of US as regards Pakistan

Instead of bickering or expressing remorse, we should rejoice and perhaps the new government of Pakistan, under its slogan of “New Pakistan”, can refuse the measly $150 million and break the shackles of depending on US aid. In effect, Pentagon has chopped its own hands. It no longer has any tools to put pressure on Pakistan to undertake counter-terrorism activities or action against the Haqqani Network. The latter has been constantly used as whipping boy to beat Pakistan under the precept “give a dog a bad name and hang him.”
Bilateral relations between the USA and Pakistan may be low currently and there may be apprehensions in the minds of the State Department regarding Pakistan’s commitment to the peace process in Afghanistan and other issues but hindsight shows that diplomatic ties do not remain constant. If by any chance the ice melts and the US administration decides to resume some form of modest security assistance in the future, it will be authorised by the Congress to do so without having to produce detailed reports and make difficult certifications regarding Pakistan’s support vis-à-vis the Haqqani network and other perceived threats to the United States. In theory, the new funding authority does not permit counter-terrorism assistance, but only assistance related to border security.
Defence analysts in Pakistan are sore that despite its huge sacrifices, Pakistan has been castigated and blamed for playing a double game in Afghanistan. Many cynics in the US administration allege Pakistan to be clandestinely providing support to factions of the Afghan Taliban, who target US assets in Afghanistan. The May 2, 2011 elimination of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at his secret hideout in Abbottabad, close to a military cantonment in Pakistan brought US-Pakistan ties to their lowest ebb. The attack on a Pakistani military check post at Salala on November 25, 2011, in which 25 military personnel of Pakistan army were martyred, infuriated Pakistan, which ordered the closure of the Shamsi Air Base in Balochistan and the blockade of the Ground Lines of Communication (GLOC) for NATO forces in Afghanistan via Pakistan. Shamsi Air Base was being used to launch drone strikes against miscreants in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The US has been retaliating through the constant reduction of military aid to Pakistan as well as a cut in foreign military sales. Contrarily, the US has been cozying up to Pakistan’s arch rival, India. It has signed defence agreements with India and also sold military weapons. Recently, Indo-US ties were tested because of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), since New Delhi had announced its purchase of five S-400 Triumf air defence systems from Russia for an estimated $4.5 billion.
CAATSA is a United States federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia. The bill was passed during the 115th Congress, 98–2 in the Senate. On August 2, 2017, President Donald Trump signed it into law. The Indo-Russian defence deal would have placed India in the CAATSA line of fire but now the US government has bent backwards to provide a renunciation of the law to accommodate India. The US Congress has passed a defence spending bill that seeks to amend CAATSA to provide waivers to America’s strategic partners like India from punitive sanctions against those doing business with Russia’s defence industry. The CAATSA waiver that the Congress has made available to India in the 2019 National Defense Authorisation Act (incongruously the same NDAA 2019 curtailed security-related US aid to Pakistan) should provide ample flexibility for New Delhi to proceed with the purchase of the Russian S-400 system. The US Congress has made use of a loophole in the language of the CAATSA legislation to benefit India. The loophole that allows President Donald Trump to benefit India is to certify that a country is “cooperating with the United States government on other matters that are critical to United States’ strategic national security interests. This waiver signals a strong favour to India from the US which is a clear duality of standards on part of US as regards to Pakistan.
Irrespective of India, we should stop being sore losers and consider this legislation as a mixed blessing for Pakistan. Over the longer term, that could prove to be a win for Islamabad.

A Young Woman with a Bible Confronts Open Air Preacher

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Since God is Sovereign, What is the Purpose of Intercessory Prayer?

Since God is sovereign, why should we pray? In this "Questions and Answers" session from Ligonier’s 2015 National Conference, Sinclair Ferguson explains that we pray because God sovereignly commands us to.
Just ask Ligonier to get clear and trustworthy answers to your biblical and theological questions. Visit

Is it Important that a Church Subscribe to a Confession? Why or why not?

Why is it important for a church to subscribe to a confession of faith? From Ligonier’s 2015 National Conference, Sinclair Ferguson explains the role of the confession: to summarize biblical theology for the people of God in every place and every generation. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit or message us on Facebook or Twitter.

Solar Space Mission Probes Secrets of Sun´s Atmosphere

PARIS (AFP) The first space mission to brave the Sun´s white-hot atmosphere will attempt to decipher some of our neighbouring star´s deepest secrets.
NASA´s Parker Solar Probe, set for launch from Florida´s Cape Canaveral on Saturday, will fly within six million kilometres of the Sun´s surface, protected by a carbon-composite shield.
Here´s a brief description of some of the scientific questions the mission hopes to shed light on and the instruments it will use to do so.

Magnetic Fields

How can the Sun´s atmosphere, called the corona, reach temperatures exceeding a million degrees Celsius if the star´s surface is "only" 6,000 C (10,800 degrees Fahrenheit)?
"That´s the big question: what´s heating the solar corona?", said Thierry Dudok de Wit, an astrophysicist at France´s National Centre for Scientific Research.
One likely suspect is electromagnetic waves.
Energy is stored in magnetic fields, the thinking goes, that are constantly stirring up the visible surface of the Sun, called the photosphere, and releasing energy into the solar atmosphere.
The FIELDS instrument -- which captures the scale and shape of electric and magnetic field -- is designed to help scientists figure out how, when, and where that energy release occurs.

Solar Wind

Another mystery is how solar wind -- composed of ionised gases streaming outward from the Sun at 500 kilometres per second (nearly a million miles per hour) -- accelerates.
Finding out would help scientists forecast major space weather events that can adversely impact Earth´s magnetic field and, in some cases, change the orbit of satellites and create electrical disturbances.
The solar wind carries a million tons of matter into space every second.
Enter the Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons Investigation (SWEAP), which will count the most abundant particles in the solar wind -- electrons, protons and helium ions -- and measure their velocity, density and temperature.
"This could help us do a much better job of predicting when a disturbance in the solar wind could hit Earth, triggering space weather that could disrupt GPS, radio, radar and the electric grid," said Justin Kaspar, a professor at the University of Michigan and a principle investigator for the Parker Solar Probe.

Particle Acceleration

The Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun (ISOIS) harnesses a pair of instruments to measure the full life-cycle of electrons, protons, ions: where they come from, how they accelerate, how they move out of the Sun through interplanetary space.
"These are high-energy particles that travel at phenomenal speeds approaching the speed of light," said Dudok de Wit.
"They reach Earth" -- 150 million kilometres (more than 90 million miles) distant -- "in 30 to 60 minutes."
Earth´s magnetic shield protects us from these potentially harmful particles, he noted.
"But the day we go to Mars, we´ll need to be able to predict solar eruptions of these particles, which can be deadly," he told AFP.

Close up

The Wide-Field Imager for Parker Solar Probe (WISPR) is the only imaging device on board. Never will a camera have come so close to the Sun.
WISPR will look at the large-scale structure of matter spewing outward from the Sun as it approaches the probe, to compliment the detailed physical measurements of other instruments.
NASA scientists know what they are looking for but have allowed for the element of surprise.
"We have ideas about what will be found, but the most important results may well come from observations that are completely unexpected," said Mark Wiedenbeck, a researcher at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and part of the ISOIS team.

Teenage Girl Drugged and Raped at Karachi Farmhouse

KARACHI (The News International) |A teenage girl was drugged and raped at a  farmhouse in the outskirts of Karachi, police said on Friday.
According to Geo News,  the  16-year old girl was shifted to the hospital in an unconscious state. A lady doctor who examined the girl confirmed said the girl was sexually assaulted after being drugged.
Police Surgeon Dr. Saleem said the blood sample of the girl has been sent for chemical examination after which he would be able to confirm which drug was administered to the girl.
The police have arrested three suspects who shifted the girl to the hospital.
SSP Malir Munir Sheikh said the girl went to the farmhouse along with her boyfriend Shah Rukh after a dispute with her family. 

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He said the victim was given a drug by one of the Shah Rukh's friends whom she identified as Faizan.
In her initial statement to the police, the girl said Shah Rukh and two other friends namely Maaz and Ahsan beat Faizan before shifting her to hospital.

China Steps Up Crackdown on Christianity

Chinese calligraphy which reads "All nations belong to the Lord arising to shine" at left and "Jesus's salvation spreads to the whole world" at right is displayed below a crucifix in a house church shut down by authorities near the city of Nanyang in central China's Henan province.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

CHINA (NEWSER) | Under President Xi Jinping, China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, believers are seeing their freedoms shrink dramatically even as the country undergoes a religious revival. Experts and activists say that as he consolidates his power, Xi is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982. The crackdown on Christianity is part of a broader push by Xi to "Sinicize" all the nation's religions by infusing them with "Chinese characteristics," such as loyalty to the Communist Party, the AP reports. Islamic crescents and domes have been stripped from mosques, and a campaign launched to "re-educate" tens of thousands of Uighur Muslims. Tibetan children have been moved from Buddhist temples to schools and banned from religious activities during their summer holidays, state-run media report.
This spring, a five-year plan to "Sinicize" Christianity, in particular, was introduced, along with new rules on religious affairs. Over the last several months, local governments across the country have shut down hundreds of private Christian "house churches." A statement last week from 47 in Beijing alone said they had faced "unprecedented" harassment since February. Authorities have also seized Bibles, while major e-commerce retailers and Taobao pulled them off their sites. Children and party members are banned from churches in some areas, and at least one township has encouraged Christians to replace posters of Jesus with portraits of Xi. Some Christians have resorted to holding services in secret.

Pakistani Jewish Man Seeking to Visit Israel on Pakistani Passport

KARACHI (The News International) | Jewish Pakistani has garnered attention from social media users after he appealed to bigwigs of the country to permit him a visit to Israel on the Pakistani passport.
Hailing from Karachi, Fishel Khalid had addressed prominent headship of the country in a tweet requesting permission to allow him a visit to Jerusalem on his Pakistani passport.
“Ohh the #Irony Please allow me to visit Jerusalem Israel on the Pakistani passport. @ForeignOfficePk @DrMFaisal @fawadchaudhry @ImranKhanPTI @MaryamNSharif @abidifactor @BBhuttoZardari @OfficialDGISPR @peaceforchange Cc: @KnoxThames @rabbisaperstein,” stated his tweet.
The activist for Jewish rights in Pakistan had also tweeted a picture of his passport which stated ‘Judaism’ under his religion alongside another page of the passport reading: “This passport is valid for all countries of the world except Israel.”
Numerous social media users have suggested alternate ways for him to visit the country, however, he has remained firm on making sure he does it “openly and on the Pakistani passport.” 

PEMRA Orders Morning Shows to Raise Funds for Diamer-Mohamand dams

PAKISTAN (The News International) | Pakistan's electronic media watchdog issued orders on Thursday to dedicate a minute worth of airtime during morning shows to help raise funds for the construction of Diamer Bhasha and Mohamand dams.
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued directives by the Additional Attorney General to all mainstream media outlets airing morning shows to reserve a minute to highlight the fundraising campaign started by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar for the construction of Diamer Bhasha and Mohamand Dams.
“All Satellite TV Channel licenses are advised to allocate one (01) minute in every hour during the Morning Shows and repeat this during the Prime Time from 07:00 pm to 12:00 am, for public service messages for fundraising for the construction of Dams,” read the notice.

 The report also requires TV channels to provide the schedule a day prior of the one minute spot for appealing to the public to “donate generously for this noble cause to PEMRA for onward submission to the office of Additional Attorney General for Pakistan.”
It has instructed TV channels to also hold telethons featuring celebrities requesting the public to contribute to the cause, the report and schedule of which must be submitted within a three day period with an advanced program concerning the spot, from today on. 
As of now, the CJP's dam fund stands at Rs812,043,593 with contributions from numerous luminaries from all around including cricketers Shahid Afridi, boxer Amir Khan,  actor Hamza Ali Abbasi and prominent real estate mogul Malik Riaz. 

Samsung Unveils Newest Smartphone Hoping For Sales Boost

NEW YORK (AFP) South Korean electronics giant Samsung unveiled the new Galaxy Note 9 smartphone Thursday, its latest effort to address flagging sales of the high-functioning gadgets.
Boosting the power and the price, Samsung hopes to win back customers in the competitive market. The consistent leader in the global smartphone market, the company nonetheless suffered a 22 percent drop in mobile technology sales in the second quarter.
The company blamed the drop in part to disappointing demand for the Galaxy S9, but it also has been pressured by growth in Chinese competitor Huawei.
At a glitzy the launch event in Brooklyn, Samsung unveiled a suite of high tech products, including a smart speaker and watch, and then showed off the new Galaxy Note 9, which will be available for purchase on August 24.
The phone contains a series of improvements but was described by analysts as having no radical new innovations. The latest model boosts memory capacity and allows customers to play video games such as the popular Fortnite.
Customers will have the option of 128 or 512 gigabytes of memory, and also can insert a micro card to boost capacity beyond a terabyte, a record for a smartphone.
Samsung also enhanced the gadget´s batteries so it can now be used for an entire day without needing to be recharged -- a common headache for cell phone users.
Other improvements include tweaks to the device´s "S Pen" feature, which can be used as a remote control for taking pictures or selfies using Bluetooth technology.
And the new model has enough capacity for video games. Samsung has set up a promotion with the popular Fortnite game that lets users download a special mobile version.
According to some trade media sources, the Galaxy Note 9 version with 512 gigabytes will be the most expensive smartphone geared towards the general public.

Pricey, Not Radically New

The price for that model will be $1,1250 in the United States, while the 128-gigabyte version will go for $1,000. Apple´s iPhone X in a 256-gigabyte version sells for about $1,150.
Global smartphone sales fell 1.8 percent in the second quarter to 342 million amid market saturation and rising prices, according to tech-industry trackers International Data Corporation.
Avi Greengart, an analyst at GlobalData, described the upgrades in the latest Samsung as "iterative," adding "there is nothing radically new here."
"It´s a really expensive phone and for people who are looking for a premium Android phone, they may well find it quite appealing," he said. "But it isn´t likely to get people to consider the Note for the very first time."
By contrast, Apple´s more dramatic overhaul of the iPhone X design and user interface showed there is a "large group of people who are willing to spend whatever it takes" to upgrade, Greengart said.
Samsung also introduced the Galaxy Watch and the Galaxy Home speaker device, a first for the South Korean company in a market that already contains Amazon´s Echo and Alphabet´s Google Home program.
The company also announced a partnership with streaming music service Spotify to allow "streamless listening" across all Samsung devices, including phones, tablets and smart TVs, as well as the Galaxy Home.
The smart speaker may have a better shot outside the United States, said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
"In the US, Alexa is very entrenched and so is Google Assistant so it might be a challenge, but not so much in other parts of the world," Moorhead said.