Tuesday, 21 October 2014

You And Whose Army!

What a magnificent turn-out for the four hour strike last Monday 13th October. All in all LAS UNISON organised 34 picket lines across the LAS. We attracted a lot of media attention around the stations in general and particularly at Waterloo HQ.
 
Thanks go to all our members. Whatever role you played on the day, you were all part of our action against the pay policy of this Coalition government.
 
The rain and the military did not deter us!

NO PROSECUTION OF GALLOWAY OVER ‘ISRAEL-FREE ZONE’ SPEECH

The Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed that Bradford West MP George Galloway will not be charged over a speech in made in Leeds in August declaring that Bradford was an ‘an Israel-free zone’.
Following the speech on August 2, which was posted online, several complaints were made to Yorkshire police that Galloway’s comments amounted to hate crime. These allegations have been comprehensively dismissed by the CPS.
“This has been an extremely expensive waste of police’ and CPS’ time forced on them by ultra-Zionists who were pursuing a vendetta against me,” Galloway said. “My comments were aimed at the state of Israel which – I repeat what I said at the time – is an illegal, savage and barbarous state, and had nothing whatever to do with race or religion. And they have the benefit of being true. That country has more censures against it by the United Nations than the rest of the countries in the world put together, refuses to abide by resolutions and continues to illegally grab land and persecute the rightful owners of it and uses its military to blockade and murder the people of Gaza. I take back not a word and I will continue to forcefully condemn Israel.”
Galloway described a visit by the Israeli ambassador to Bradford shortly after the speech as a “cheap and vulgar publicity stunt” and condemned the local Muslims who had met him as “willing dupes”.
He continued: “It remains the case that there is a worldwide boycott of Israel, its goods, its services, its academics. I hope the citizens of Bradford will join me in refusing to treat with the advocates of this hateful and oppressive regime and truly make Bradford an Israel-free zone.”

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The tragedy that is Karachi

The cuts in development funds played havoc with the already poor state of jobs and infrastructure as the pressure of a forever rising population increased the misery of the people
One of the three truly metropolitan cities of the subcontinent, along with Mumbai and Kolkata, Karachi has the honour of being Jinnah's choice of Pakistan's Capital and his final resting place. Referred to as 'the city of lights' in the not too distant past and the commercial nerve centre of the nation, Karachi's dynamism provided hope to the country's aspirations. From Mai Kolachi's sleeping village on the sea to witness of the birth and engine of the early development of a new nation to now a bleeding and bruised metropolis of 20 million oppressed souls, is certainly a tragedy of great proportions for the city as well as the country.
Peaceful and progressive, Karachi was the gift of the generous Sindhis to the Quaid and it welcomed all with open arms; the refugees flocked from India and then the Pathans from the frontier and also the Punjabis and Baloch came, all to try their luck in the capital. The city grew from less than 500,000 people to over two million in no time! Due to the Korean boom speedy industrialisation was taking place in the city; jobs were being created so was an entrepreneur class coming into being. The nation was beginning to forget its painful birth and Karachi was leading it all.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Let's Not Make Child Grooming about Ethnicity, But We Can Talk About Race If You'd Like

by: Assed Baig

The level of depravity and abuse revealed by the Jay report into the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal has shocked the entire country.
The fact that 1,400 children have been abused has been lost on some as they rush to link the crimes of predatory men to ethnicity.
The case that these crimes were carried out by Pakistani men does not warrant the level of attention it has received in the press.
We do not judge other crimes by race. But we could try. If journalists and politicians were to talk about crimes based on race what would it sound like?
"Ten white straight men jailed over North Yorkshire girl's sex exploitation" is one headline a twitter user sent me. Are white people more inclined towards acts of mass murder - like murdering Native Americans; bombing Iraq, Afghanistan, Hiroshima, Nagasaki; slavery and colonialism? White people carry out the majority of sexual attacks committed against animals in this country. Is it something in white culture? Can I hear white community leaders condemning such acts? In fact, let's hear from the highest ranking white community leader in this country, David Cameron, and have him explain and apologise for these actions carried out by white people.
Ridiculous isn't it? No more ridiculous than repeated attempts to suggest that there is something inherent in Pakistani identity that would drive men from that background to commit sexual crimes against children.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

“Are We Going To Die In Our Sleep Tonight?”

by MrE Commenter

It is past 1:30 am and I have given up trying to sleep.
Seeing the death and destruction of innocent lives in Gaza is hitting me like little else has ever done. May be its because I have three nieces and nephews, and it is only too easy to imagine them in that situation, asking me the same question that Gazan elders have to face:

Are we going to die in our sleep tonight?”
“Why are they bombing us?”
“Am I going to be killed tonight? I was going to wear my favourite dress”

The only response I could possibly give to these questions is silence, and in that silence are echoes.

The words that are echoing in my mind are HasbunAllahu Wa Ni’mal Wakeel (roughly translated as Allah is sufficient for us and He is the best disposer of affairs). These words echo in my mind, not because I am trying to stave off any sense of responsibility for the genocide by fobbing it onto the lap of God, and leaving it to Him to sort out.

No, these words echo in my mind, they echo with the same voice that I first heard them – shouted into the smoke-filled air by a man who had just seen his home being obliterated.

It was the voice of a man who has just seen every possession in his life being vaporised, in one short moment. And this is being repeated time and time again, in one neighbourhood after another, all across the Gaza Strip.

If the word PAIN was to be redefined it will be for this
 man  who has just lost all his grandchildren at once
These are people who have survived decades of occupation, put together something that could possibly be called ‘life’ against all odds – only to have it torn from their grasp.

For these people every job, every schoolchild, every meal, every day, every smile, every breath and every action is an act of defiance against the occupier. A moment in their lives is more valuable than a month full of my sleepless night.


It’s now past 2:30 am and I am no closer to falling asleep. But when the morning comes, Insha’Allah (if Allah wills) I will dedicate the day to doing something worthwhile for my Ummah, and the day after that, and the day after that, and so on. May be then – just may be – I’ll deserve to sleep at night.

Friday, 8 August 2014

GALLOWAY TO LAUNCH PUBLIC ENQUIRY INTO BBC

 George Galloway has announced that he will establish his own public enquiry into the BBC’s role in reporting the events of the past few weeks in Gaza.
    The Bradford West MP had previously announced that he is refusing to pay his licence fee until the BBC demonstrated a more impartial standard of broadcasting on the conflict. Galloway has been openly critical of the its editorial standpoint on the conflict, arguing that the BBC has a duty, as a publicly funded organisation, to adopt an unbiased approach to such major stories.
    Many in the country were outraged when the BBC failed to report on the July 19th national demonstration which had been attended by tens of thousands of demonstrators. It belatedly addressed this with a hastily-arranged piece on its website, for which it had to borrow an image from a rival broadcaster. It has also been commented that since the outcry, the BBC’s reporting had apparently become more balanced. This was in part down to the reporting of Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen from the front-line in Gaza. Strangely – indeed, inexplicably – Bowen is absent from the reporting this week as he is, according to Twitter, ‘on holiday’.
    The BBC has been dogged by scandals in the past year and has faced questioning on its integrity, from the child abuse scandal to questions about executive pay-offs, with licence fee payers increasingly turning their backs on the institution in favour of other media outlets.
    We will keep you up to date with the developments on the public enquiry. If you can help in any way with the enquiry, please email gallowayg@parliament.uk

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Quranic justification for cutting trees during war...

In the name of Allah, the most Gracious the most Merciful

I wrote this article in response to the question posed by an atheist friend of mine who quoted the following aayah of the Qur’an:

Whatever you have cut down of [their] palm trees or left standing on their trunks - it was by permission of Allah and so He would disgrace the defiantly disobedient.
(Quran 59;5)

His argument has been that, "I have been told hundreds of times that Islamic ethics of war even prohibit chopping of trees unnecessarily, let alone killing of innocent civilians, women and children. Yet the above verse of Quran justifies not only the way Jews of Medina were treated but the chopping of tender palm trees."

Response:

In order to understand the reasoning behind Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) dealing with the Jews of Medina and ordering the cutting of ‘tender’ palm trees, it is important to understand the historical background of that particular incident.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Missing In Action

by Eric Roberts 

Pay within the National Health Service has been cut from between 8% and 12% since 2010!
 
Coincidentally from the same time the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats took it upon themselves (they have no mandate from the British people) to butcher the NHS and sell the carcass on to the highest bidder, who, nine times out of ten, have been wealthy donors to, and, supporters of,  you've guessed it, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties!
 
60% of staff within the NHS will not get a pay increase in 2014! The 'lucky' 40% who do, will get 1% (non consolidated) with not so much strings attached, but River Mersey ferry docking ropes attached!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Case of Emergency Disaster Management for Karachi

by: Bilquis Rehman
General Manager, ICR & Advocacy Department


“Staff of the emergency medical team should be technically equipped and trained to save the lives, to do the most for the most”, said Dr. Samad Billoo, at a seminar on ‘Management of Medical Emergencies in Karachi - An Expert Opinion’, organized by HANDS Pakistan and HANDS International, on Wednesday, April 30, 2014, at Movenpick Hotel. Mr. Roshan Shaikh, Secretary Relief and Rehabilitation, Government of Sindh, was the chief guest at the event.

The seminar was organized to focus on the expert opinion from Dr. Samad Billoo, on existing practices and challenges involved in medical emergencies as part of daily occurrences across the country, Karachi being prone to natural and manmade calamities, is badly suffering due to lack of learning, sharing, regulations and systems. He highlighted the importance of understanding “Structured Response Methodologies” for disaster and emergencies. Dr. Shaikh Tanveer Ahmed, Chief Executive, HANDS, gave the welcome address and presented HANDS approach on emergency relief to the audience.

In this regard, the key stakeholders of Karachi medical emergencies were invited to present their medical emergencies approaches. Mr. Salman Shah, DG Provincial Disaster Management Auhtority, Sindh, Ms. Joan Dodman, USAID Health Specialist, Prof. Saeed Qureshi from Civil Hospital, Dr. Junaid Razaque from Aman Foundation, Mr. Ubaid Hashmi from Al-Mustafa Trust, Mr. M. Ramzan Chhipa from Chhipa Welfare Association, Dr. M. Shahid from Indus Hospital, Dr. Seemi from Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation and Mr. Abdul Aziz from Al-Khidmat Welfare Society shared their strengths, weaknesses, posed challenges, and gave recommendations.

Dr. Billoo briefed the audience on technically equipped and trained appointed staff to work in emergencies. According to him the inability to mitigate the disaster on the day one occurs is failure of planning. “‘It will never happen to us’ is not an acceptable excuse for the absence of adequate planning”, he remarked.

 Dr. Billoo pointed out that during an emergency there should be a major incident plan in place for every EMS provider (ambulance service), each hospital that accepts emergencies, high risk venues, such as sports stadiums and concert halls and a regional, provincial and national plan for the coordination of resources on a wider scale.

Dr. Ghaffar Billoo, Chairman HANDS, thanked the audience and urged to gather up for the needs of Karachi and overall humanity.

Dr. Billoo has over 23 years’ experience in the Emergency Medical Services field and currently working for‘The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC)’ in London, a consecutive award winning organization by the UK government.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Absolute power in the Middle East is beneficial to the West

by Farooq Sumar

Monarchies, particularly the absolute kind are anathema to most of us, but political realism induces their acceptance even in this day and age. The muted and symbolic ones, mostly in the European Union, are a matter for the countries where they exist to see the cost-benefit ratio of their emotional needs. Our concern is with the absolute Monarchies, most of them exist in the Muslim Middle East, that adversely impact the fundamental rights of their people, the migrants that work for them and their actions in global politics that affect the region as well as the rest of us.

The Middle East’s present political and geographical map was carved by the British and French after defeating the Ottoman Empire in World War 1, according to the Sykes—Picot Agreement of 1916. Its aims were to dismantle the Ottoman Empire, divide Turkey, strip it and abolish the Caliphate and eradicate as much of its Islamic zeal as possible; In order to weaken Islam artificial countries were formed in the Middle East bereft of logical borders but with future possibilities of discord and each one was given a “King” or a “Ruler” dependent and firmly allied to its master’s interests, or a direct Mandate as in Syria and Palestine. Since the Crusades this was the only opportunity to tame the Muslim world and it could not be wasted. The British and French performed a thorough job that pays dividends even today for the Western alliance.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Pay! We Are Worth It!

Let us be very clear: A dispute is looming within the National Health Service over pay!

After pay freezes and real time pay cuts, the way this government has treated the Pay Review Body (PRB) is disgraceful and unacceptable.

Bearing in mind that the PRB recommendation of 1% was not a King’s ransom, the action of the Government is doubly deplorable.

I hate to say it but brace yourself for industrial action within the UK Ambulance Services!
Last week’s UNISON Health Conference in Brighton was full of angry delegates. Delegates who are health professionals throughout the NHS, Delegates who hold responsible positions at all levels, Delegates who love their jobs and care for patients.

How any Government or Health Secretary can push these people to breaking point is beyond me. But push them they have!

Health professionals calling for strike is a warning not to be ignored.

UNISON Head of Health, Christina McAnea, sent a letter to the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt, a week or so ago, telling him to step back from the brink!. I have never, ever, read such a strong letter and message to any Secretary of State.

The Conference also passed an Emergency Motion from the Health Service Group Executive (HSEG) calling for a sustained campaign and strike ballots. It put in position a strategy to involve all members and all parts of the Health Service.

I spoke in the debate on behalf of the Executive.

We are guardians of the NHS. This pay ‘offer’ is divisive, not only in the workplace but also across the UK. It is being treated differently within the devolved nations
.
We know that a gauntlet has been thrown down. We pick it up or we walk the other way! UNISON will pick it up on behalf of our members, patients and the NHS.

If we had been able to negotiate with the London Ambulance Service who knows what would have happened.

We couldn't, we didn't, we haven’t!

We are part of a national union and part of national pay bargaining, albeit with the PRB as a conduit (for now!).

We know this is not the fault of LAS management and our dispute is not with the LAS; but because of the disgraceful attitude if this Government towards public sector staff, particularly health staff, we are all dragged into any dispute and action that emerges.

Our dispute will be radical and not reckless. No baby will be thrown out of the bathtub!

Support your Union. Support the NHS. Support NHS Ambulance Services.


Eric Roberts

Branch Secretary, LAS UNISON

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

US and Israel rule the Middle East

The US has a rather murky history of enforcing its will through covert actions, sometime by waging war on its opponents and against those who do not agree to protect American vested interests
It is difficult to trust or believe in western journalists and analysts when it comes to the question of protecting western vested interests. There are a very few exceptions who try to be objective and even fewer who understand the various psyches of the east. The large majority is biased and a great number are western propagandists. We have seen their role time and again all over the world. In the past it used to be muted and subtle, but now it is brazen and downright insulting the sensibilities as well as the intelligence of our people. Power has the ability of expanding one's ego and denting the faculties.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Our interests must be paramount

Pakistan’s policy making capabilities have always displayed a lack of foresight, a dearth of planning, and a result of reactive thinking rather than a well thought out strategic approach that accounts for the possible repercussions also. Besides this the accommodation of foreign influences and pressures leaves little room to pursue national interests.

The weak and unprincipled governments that our non-system keeps throwing up therefore rule with a bundle of contradictions that create chaos, mismanagement and failures which keep aggravating the miseries of the people and enriching the ruling classes.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Justice, Not Prayer, Is The First Obligation of a Muslim 

by: Asghar Bukhari


Apolitical practicing Muslims claim that the first and highest priority of a Muslim has always been the rituals they perform and the great ethical causes of the world are of secondary importance.

Although I usually stay clear of theological debates, I am drawn to this particular argument, because of the damage it has done to the revolutionary message of Islam and how today this argument is used to undermine any political awakening of the Muslims.

Muslims are taught to spend their lives on the impossible task of perfecting themselves through ritualistic worship and never wake up to the true cause of Islam.

This theological concept was implanted in the minds of our religious leadership by those who unjustly ruled us. They feared that the ethics of Islam would undermine their authority. So they allowed Muslims to pray — just as long as they were silent on injustice. Over time that is exactly what we did.

Are rituals the first and most important thing a Muslim should do? Was perfecting ones rituals our mission on this earth? Or did ethics take precedence? Perhaps history could give us an insight and an answer to this troublesome argument about priorities.

Monday, 20 January 2014

The Muslim story that could get you killed

by: Asghar Bukhari

I am going to tell you a tale of two stories’ and one of them could get you killed.
The first is the story of Western political elites. Their story is about Islam. They tell you that Islam (or if they can’t be honest ‘ Islamism’), is a threat to the world, that this medieval religion is violent and barbaric, a faith that leads to violence and one that the West must take action against in order to defend itself. It is a story that inevitably leads to a clash of civilizations.

It is repeated in newspapers & news channels in the Western World every single day in various subtle ways and as a result white westerners believe it.

Muslims also tell a story, and it also involves Islam. This is the one that could get you killed. They tell a story of an American Empire pushed by Israel and its lobby and old European hatreds into yet another war against Muslims. In their story the West had been waging wars to uphold their manufactured borders across the Muslim world that allowed them to control and dominate the region and kept that order & maintained it by propping up ruthless dictators. The resulting deaths and broken lives now measured in their millions.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO GOD

It must be said at the outset that this is no scholarly dissertation for academic appraisal nor does it aspire to qualify for theological approval. It is simply the attempt of a layman to understand and share that understanding with others.

During the thousands of years of Man’s existence numerous civilisations have come and gone. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) tells us that one hundred and twenty four thousand Prophets were sent, presumably therefore as many religions came and except for a small number remaining till today all the rest vanished. All species face death and disappear. Innovations, discoveries, technologies have always come only to become obsolete with time. It tells us that change and evolution are probably the most essential dynamics in the Divine scheme of things.

However there are constants too, for the believer God is an absolute constant. The Sun, Moon and various planets have been there for millions of years. What about the search for knowledge and truth? Have they not been a constant endeavour of mankind? Evil and good have existed since Adam. The need for security and a competitive spirit has been part of our nature. The capacity to love and the desire to kill coexist in humans just as the aspiration for freedom and the instinct to subjugate are ever present. Power and piety have always had their disciples. Extremists and moderates have for ever battled for ascendancy.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Why?

The ‘free movement of labour’ (the other side of the coin to the 'free movement of capital' (pardon the pun!) can sometimes be a double edged sword, as well as also being counterproductive; particularly to vital public sector services.
Take the NHS for example. Because of the austerity measures being pursued by the Coalition government, thousands upon thousands of nursing and support jobs have been culled. I use the word culled deliberately.
It is no surprise then, that winter, and the pressures upon the NHS that these cold months bring, has forced the employers to accept that it has a severe shortage of staff!
The remedy?  Poach nurses from overseas. Entice staff from other countries (EU and beyond) to plug the UK shortages. Bring staff from countries that themselves are struggling with basic health needs.