Thursday, January 19, 2017

Video - Many Goodbyes For Obama In Last Days Of Presidency

Video - Betsy DeVos Gets Grilled: The Daily Show

Missing Barack Obama Already

Nicholas Kristof
Barack Obama’s legacy is being systematically unraveled even before he leaves office, with The Wall Street Journal scoffing that he “has been a historic president but perhaps not a consequential one.”
Historians will also note that the Democratic Party is in far worse shape today than when Obama took office: It has lost its House and Senate majorities, as well as 13 governorships and more than 900 state legislative seats.
More broadly, the sunny Obama optimism of “Yes, we can” has faded into a rancorous miasma of distrust and dysfunction. One example of that rancor is unfolding at the Woodmont Country Club outside Washington, where hawkish pro-Israeli members are campaigning to deny Obama membership — even though there’s no official indication he will even apply.
Yet here’s my prediction: America and the world will soon be craving that Obama Cool again.
Voters are fickle and promiscuous, suffering an eight-year itch for a fling with someone who is the opposite of their last infatuation. Sick of Bill Clinton, we turned to a Texas governor who was utterly different. Eight years later, weary of George W. Bush, we elected his polar opposite, a liberal black law professor. And now we’ve elected Obama’s antipode.
Polls suggest that voters are already souring on Donald Trump, in ways that may soon create nostalgia for Obama. Newly elected presidents usually enjoy a honeymoon, but Gallup says Trump’s approval is at the lowest level the pollster has recorded in a presidential transition.
Mostly, I think we journalists overdo the personal and pay insufficient attention to policies — such as those that led Obama’s presidency to enjoy the longest streak of consecutive private-sector job creation in the 78 years the statistic has been recorded. But while Obama’s policy legacy is being whittled away, he also has an important personal legacy that Trump inadvertently burnishes.
A president inevitably is not just commander in chief, but also a role model, a symbol of American values around the world. We won the Cold War not only with American missiles, but also with American “soft power,” and one element of our soft power arsenal is a president who commands respect and admiration at home and abroad. We want our children and the world’s to admire our president — and that is where Obama is strongest and Trump weakest.
Trump spews emotional tweets impetuously and vindictively, lacing his venom with misspellings or grammatical mistakes. We’ll be craving Obama’s prudence, intellect and reserve. The personal differences between them aren’t just that Obama was an African-American son of a single mom, while Trump was the scion of a real estate tycoon. It’s more the behaviors they model. Trump has had five children by three wives, has boasted of his infidelities, has shrugged at conflicts of interest and is a walking scandal.
“He will never, ever, let you down. … Donald is intensely loyal,” we were told at the Republican convention — by his third wife. In contrast, Obama has the most boring personal life imaginable, and is the rare president who got through a second term without significant scandals.
That seems to be because of extreme caution. When Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, he solicited a 13-page memo from Justice Department lawyers verifying that there was absolutely no conflict in accepting it. And then he donated the money to charities.
Whatever our views of Obama’s politics, we should be able to agree that he is a superlative family man. For eight years, this family has made us proud. The graciousness that the Obamas displayed toward the Trumps, even as in private they must have been beating their heads against the wall, exemplified class.
When Obama gave his farewell address in Chicago this month, he was accompanied by Michelle and his older daughter, Malia, but 15-year-old Sasha was missing. Twitter was abuzz, and #WheresSasha was soon trending. It turned out that she wasn’t in a drunken stupor, or staying away in an angry teenage sulk. Rather, it seemed that the Obamas had Sasha stay home to study for an exam the next morning.
If I were Sasha, I’d be annoyed: “C’mon, Dad! You coulda written me a note!” But I’m proud of a first family that so values education, and is so averse to asserting privilege.
We can argue about Obama’s policies. For my part, I deplored his passivity on Syria. But even on issues that I disagreed with him on, I never doubted his integrity or intelligence, his decency or honor.
Trump may dismantle Obamacare and pull out of the Paris climate accord. But he cannot undo Obama’s legacy of dignity and old-fashioned virtue, and the impression he made on all of us.
And if, as I fear, we see the White House transformed into a bog of scandals flowing from an unprincipled narcissist, we as a nation will be more appreciative of a first family that set an impeccable example for all the world.

President Barack Obama Saw Himself — His Persona And Story — As The Answer

ByHoward Fineman

When I first met Barack Obama, in January 2005, he had just arrived in the U.S. Senate. He was 43 years old, but looked 33. A Sinatra-like black suit hung loosely over his lanky frame, and he flashed an enormous smile that lit up the Capitol hallways.
He had “president” written all over him and everyone in the place knew it, most of all ― and quite evidently ― Obama himself. He was a class act, and he knew that, too, and was determined to maintain his dignity. That sounds like a small thing but it was and is not, in a society full of noise, stupidity and accusation.
His had risen fast, but not via lots of elections or by passing lots of legislation, or detailed agendas and platforms. He had done it through eloquent language largely about himself.
His story and lively presence were his own proof of the healing virtues of American struggle and hope. He told all of this in a precocious autobiography published in 1995, and in an electrifying speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.
Now, newly elected and arriving from Illinois, he was a magnet for senators and even reporters, who sidled up to him for photo ops.
I was one of them. “I know who you are,” he said genially. “I read you, I watch you. Come on over to the office once I get things set up.”
Later, I did. His sunny Hart Building office vividly displayed the unique, ambitious and fantastically salable persona he had on offer to the Democratic Party and the country: paintings and portraits of Muhammad Ali, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, an Illinois cornfield and degrees from Columbia and Harvard on the resume.  
He was full of energy, optimism, ideas ― and hope ― in the gloom of the post-9/11 presidency of George W. Bush.
“We have to bring the country together,” he said at one point. “Not red America, or blue America, but America.” 
The loud implication: I can do that because I am that beyond-division America. And it was not only plausible but real. He had the temperament to make it happen.
At that very moment, I knew, Obama’s office was the hub of his nascent 2008 presidential campaign, with press secretary Robert Gibbs hard at work from behind lowered blinds and media guru David Axelrod back in Chicago working the phones.
“This is the One,” Axelrod, whom I had known for decades, told me on the phone time after time.
At least as far as winning the presidency, Axelrod turned out to be right.
Now we know how well the Obama Answer worked. The bottom line: moderately well in domestic affairs, less well in the world, in a presidency that is likely to be regarded more as transitional than transformative, and that feels oddly more like the end of an era than the beginning of the one he promised.
Barack Obama during the National Anthem at the inauguration ceremonies at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 21, 2013.

The Obama Ledger

First the good news.
Obama’s Mr. Cool persona calmed the roiling markets in 2008, even before he took office. Like a good emergency room surgeon, he did what he had to do stop the bleeding, even if that meant violating perceived Democratic Party orthodoxy.
He gave the big money center banks what they needed. He boldly shored up the auto industry, rightly calculating that, if they failed, they would take the Midwest with them. (No good deed goes unpunished in politics, as the 2016 election showed.) He pushed for as much of a throw-it-against-the-wall stimulus package as he could push through Congress — again, rightly figuring that federal cash was more important than precision. Time was of the essence, and he acted. 
Eight years later, all of that is a distant memory. The economic vital signs are strong overall: housing starts, unemployment rates, etc. Widening income and wealth inequality is a global phenomenon, but the American economy as a whole is in decent shape ― and “No Drama Obama” deserves the credit. Even Obamacare, as controversial as it is, has had a stimulative effect by putting money in low-income hands.
The Obama Administration was accused of being too easy on greedy big banks, but it was remarkably free of traditional corruption scandal, even if Republicans tried to make an issue of a few funky energy loans shoveled out as stimulus. Obama ran a clean operation. 
Personally, in “This Town,” Obama and his family were seen as rather aloof, keep-to-themselves types. But the reasons in good measure have to do with devotion to family. They liked and needed to be with each other, and who could blame them?
In the face of unimaginable provocation, Obama and his family have acted with grace and class every moment of every day in public. Being president is hard enough; being the first African-American president is a monumental task of social tightrope walking. Obama’s step has been as surefooted as a mountain goat virtually every step of the way along. He slipped at times, but never fell.
The Obamas are devoted parents, and their children have stayed out of trouble as they have grown from little kids to near-adults. This is no small achievement.
The Obamas’ devotion to the arts, to healthy living, to intellectual life in Washington and the country, are worth noting, too ― easy to dismiss as trivial, but only by those who don’t realize just how valuable the role-modeling of a president and first lady can be.
The Obamas have lived a truly multicultural and multiracial public life in Washington, and in the world ― finally (and logically) opening doors to Cuba after 60 years, traveling extensively in Africa. Controversially, Obama even reached out to Iran, not out of naivete, but in hopes of reconnecting with what was once a great civilization and bringing it back into the world conversation.
A tech nerd by nature, Obama largely has left Silicon Valley alone to do what it does. He rode the rise of Facebook to the presidency, and his own experimentation with other forms of social and digital media have been good for what America does best: communicate. 

The Drone President

But there is another side to the Obama ledger.
For one, he has enhanced and perfected a theory of distant cyber war that separates the American people from the consequences ― and even the sight of ― the hell we are creating and dealing with elsewhere.
Obama has been the Drone President, cutting back on troop deployments in favor of ultra-targeted drone killings on distant battlefields. Cool can become callous in such circumstances, and there is something chillingly clinical about it all.
He has cracked down in unprecedented ways on leaks in this same time ― but leaks in this new cyber era are the inevitable consequence of the secret, invisible way he has chosen to wage our wars. How else but through WikiLeaks and others is the public to know?
Yet, at the same time, it’s hard to know if the U.S. is winning the cyber wars raging with China, Russia and others. Judging from what happened in the U.S. election, it doesn’t seem like it. Obama’s administration has seemed too easy to penetrate.
In foreign affairs, Obama started with astronomical hope. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 11 days after taking office. He won it that October, four months after he delivered a speech in Cairo advocating outreach to the world of Islam. It seems never to have occurred to him to politely turn it down until he had accomplished something concrete. His acceptance said more than he realized.
And indeed as he leaves office today it is hard to argue that the world in general ― or the Middle East in particular ― are any closer to peace. In fact, the tectonic plates of international affairs are shifting at an accelerating and dangerous pace, and he seems at the mercy of events, not in any way in control of them.
Despite a supposed “pivot” to Asia, China is aggressively asserting itself in the region, including the South China Sea. Russia largely ignored and defied Obama’s modest efforts to rein in Vladimir Putin for grabbing Crimea and the Eastern Ukraine ― and Putin now has President Donald Trump to sanctify it all. NATO and Europe are living in fear of Russian expansionism and threats. And, if anything, Israel and the Palestinians are farther apart than ever on any kind of regional solution. Turkey is rapidly becoming a theocracy, and the theocracy that already exists in the region, in Iran, has not ended its ambition for Cyrus-like dominion just because it signed a nuclear non-proliferation deal.

Leaving Washington Divided

As for the other unbridgeable region in the world ― Washington, D.C. ― it is more divided than ever. It’s redder than ever, and bluer than ever, but not much in between.
Obama’s caution and dignified self-regard, however worthy as a way of carrying himself in public, made him precisely the wrong character to deal with the denizens of the Congressional Casbah.
He wasn’t much of a serious legislator during his relatively brief time in the Illinois state legislature ― the place bored him. He was a stone skipping across the lake during his four years in the U.S. Senate. More important, he was no fan of ― and not good at ― the naked horse trading of deal-making. He was closer in spirit to Woodrow Wilson, professor and teacher, than he was to, say, Lyndon Johnson or Harry Truman.
From literally the first minute of his presidency, Republicans and conservatives declared their intent to stick fistfuls of spokes into the wheels of the Obama presidency. The proud Obama tried his hand at deal-making with them; they flatly refused. Worse, they were contemptuous and dismissive ― and there is nothing that Barack Obama despises more than to be disrespected.
His response was to firebomb Congress from afar (“YOU have a drink with Mitch McConnell,” he said drily), and pressuring the only people he had the power to pressure, Democrats, via his foul-mouthed chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel. He also relied on professional Democratic arm-twisters of a Congress that was, at the start of the Obama presidency, entirely in Democratic hands.
Everything from the stimulus package to Obamacare was passed on straight party-line votes ― as though America ran on an English-style parliamentary system, rather than the cross-cutting give-and-take of a presidential and congressional one.
The result was the Tea Party explosion of 2010 and the diminishment of the Democratic Party ever since. He leaves behind a party weak, divided and confused at the end of his presidency. But he never really cared about the party. He was above all that.
Obamacare has by some measures been a great success. If you spend a lot of money expanding Medicaid and offering subsidies for insurance, you are going to add a lot of people to the health care rolls. But the tax hikes to pay for it all are only now being fully phased in ― that was on purpose ― and Obama has set it up so that Republicans will have to cut benefits or agree to those hikes.
It was a clever, technocratic and political strategy, sold inside the Beltway by a new wave of policy nerds who could follow Obama’s strange mix of GOP theory (marketplaces) and LBJ-style government “progrums.” But the final result ignored two things: the GOP’s willingness to cut benefits and their furious opposition to any new taxes.
Since he was relying solely on Democrats anyway, perhaps Obama should have tried to sell a more sweeping reform, as suggested by the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders. Perhaps he should have landed with both feet on the banks after bailing them out
Probably yes, but that was never who Obama was. He didn’t want to risk losing it all on any one hand of poker. His dignity had to remain intact. And to the extent he was an ideologue at all, it wasn’t on policy matters such as these. In fact, he wasn’t a hell-for-leather progressive at all; he cared less about ideas (though he was one of the most intellectually adept presidents ever). He cared about winning, and in the end, he won far less than he thought we would.
That’s why his presidency has the feel of the end of an era ― the era of relatively accommodating, market-oriented Clintonism that took over the Democratic Party in 1992 with Bill Clinton’s election after the Ronald Reagan years.
Obama said he admired Reagan, but his presidency looks a lot more like that of George H.W. Bush who, in one of those cinematic symmetries of history, lies ill in a Houston hospital bed.
Some kind of movement of the 99 percent is going to follow Obama now, and Obama won’t be leading it.

The End Of The Road

In his final speech and press conference, he said that he is depending on a rising generation of Americans ― more tolerant, more varied in background ― to carry America to the next step in social and economic progress.
But in the meantime he is leaving behind in the White House a man who has taken Obama’s own personal/personality approach to politics and tripled down on it in a dangerous way.
Donald Trump’s approach to politics makes Obama’s seem modest in both senses of the word. Trump doesn’t need a Shep Fairey poster; he has buildings everywhere with his name emblazoned on them, and a Twitter stream that never stops. He doesn’t need professorial rationality; he has the big brag.
Had he been able to run for a third term, Obama said, he would have won ― a highly debatable notion, but one that springs from his massive self-confidence. 
Calm and collected to the end, Obama talked like a wise dad at his last press conference. He said he told his daughters not to fret about Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton last fall. “The only thing that’s the end of the world is the end of the world,” he told them. 
“We’re going to be OK,” he assured America and the world.
The somber, almost world-weary man I saw on the stage in the White House press room, now looking older than his years, was a far cry from the meteor I saw flash across the Senate sky 12 years earlier.
But it was good to see Barack Obama finish the job as he had begun: as a class act, on a stage that he owned, with a story about himself that was worth telling.

Video - Secretary of State John Kerry says goodbye



Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has renewed his four demands and said that he had launched his anti-government today, which would continue till acceptance of his demands or ouster of the government. While addressing the rally chairman Bilawal highlights many failures of Nawaz government by declaring it an inefficient and corrupt one.
He mentioned the failure of Sasti Roti Scheme, Yellow cab scheme. He vehemently criticised PMLN govt for its privatisation plan, and its failure to overcome the power crises.
Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari lashes out at Sharif Bradran. He said that the farmers were protesting against the government while the industries have been closed due to the government’s policies. He said that he would not remain silent on economic murder of the people. He said that Nawaz Sharif has given banks to his friends while handed over sugar mills to his relatives. He said that schemes of “Sasti Roti” , Danish Schools and other by “Khadam-e-Aala” badly failed.
He urged the people to support him for getting rid of the rulers and said that his movement would continue till elimination of the Zia’s remains. Bilawal alleged that Nawaz Sharif use to phone judges for awarding punishment to PPP leaders.
Following are the highlights of Chairman Bilawal Bhutto’s speech:
  • “I have started my movement, today.”
  • He stated that industries are shutting down resulting in massive unemployment.
  • “The development which you talk about is only seen in advertisements”
  • “We all have to save Pakistan’s economy”
  • “Mian Sahab your government has made our “Industrial Hub” suffer”
  • “National institutes are being destroyed”
  • “Promises to make progress in export sector were made in election rallies”
  • “We even sacrifice our lives for our motherland”
  • “Mian Sahab! Your health and education systems have been failed”
  • “Mian Sahab! You said you will eliminate load shedding; but did the issue resolve?” he asked.
  • “Mian Sahab you are sacrificing your children for your personal sake”
  • “Mian Sahab! Your policy based on personal relations cannot work out”
  • “Pakistan is facing many challenges at the international level.”
  • “India is giving threats to stop our water.”
  • “Mian Sahab you kept on setting up your offshore companies.”
  • “He has demanded a fair and transparent inquiry must be carried out in the PanamaCase.”
  • “I kept saying not to make the CPEC controversial and implement on our resolutions.”
  • “If my four demands are not met; movement will be continued.”

Video - Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addressing from PPP rally in Sheikhupura

Video - Bilawal Bhutto Speech In PPP Rally 19 January 2017 Bashing Nawaz Sharif


Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said that the nation has to rid the country of the Sharif family, adding that the country will get rid of Sharif family in 2017.While addressing the workers during the anti-government rally, he said progress is not being made in the country but in advertisements.

The rally has commenced and will not stop now, he added.
Bilawal pronounced that PPP has started preparations and is organizing the workers.
He urged the youth to support him as he has come out to complete the mission of his mother and grandfather and eliminate the remains of Zia era.
He asserted that authoritarian approach is still present in the current government as the Sharifs have held the people of Punjab as hostages and have hemmed the country in caste system and sectarianism.
Bilawal also raised the slogan of ‘Jaag Punjab jaag teri pug nu lg gya Sharifan da daag’.
He claimed that the government wants to provide protection to banned organizations.
During the address the pumped up workers also raised the slogan ‘Go Nawaz Go’.
The PPP chairman said that creating jobs and poverty alleviation is the responsibility of the government.
He asked how a nation can progress if income sources are very limited.
The PPP chairman said that creating jobs and poverty alleviation is the responsibility of the government. He asked how a nation can progress if income sources are very limited.
Bilawal said that factories and industries are shutting down, unemployment is rising and there are power and gas shortages in the country.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Video - Fake-news makers are worse than prostitutes - Putin slams Trump 'leak' publishers

President Obama Is Ending His Time in Office With Pretty High Approval Ratings

Sarah Begley

As his time in the White House comes to a close, President Obama's approval ratings are at a high not seen since the early days of his first term, according to a new poll.
The ABC News/Washington Post survey found that 60% of Americans approve of Obama's job performance. The last time he saw approval ratings that high was five months into his presidency, in June of 2009.
Obama's approval ratings upon leaving the office are relatively high for a modern president, akin to that of Ronald Reagan and Dwight D. Eisenhower,ABC reports. But his all-time career average is relatively low at 50%, more akin to George W. Bush and Richard Nixon. Fifty-one percent said Obama's legacy would be above average, compared to 16% who said the same of Bush.
The poll of 1,005 adults, conducted Jan. 12-15, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

President Obama's parting message: Hope

By Christi Parsons

President Obama closed his presidency on a note of optimism Wednesday, telling a room of reporters that, despite the worry felt by many of his fellow partisans about the incoming Trump administration, “we’re going to be okay.”
In what was scheduled as the final news conference of his presidency, Obama said that after all he has witnessed, he is walking away with a sense of hopefulness about the country and where it is going.
He framed the comments as a description of what he had told his daughters after this year's election, but his remarks, likely to be among his last public statements from the White House, also served as a message to his fellow Democrats.
Many on his side of the aisle have talked in near-apocalyptic tones in recent weeks about the impending Trump administration. Obama was more measured.
“I believe in this country,” he said. “I believe in the American people. I believe that people are more good than bad. I believe tragic things happen. I think there's evil in the world, but I think at the end of the day, if we work hard and if we're true to those things in us that feel true and feel right, that the world gets a little better each time.”
“That's what this presidency has tried to be about,” he said.
The message will likely be his last one in public for a while. Obama said he reserves the right to speak up, especially if what he called America's "core values" come under assault. Short of that, however, he plans now to go into a period of “quiet” and "not hear [himself] talk so darn much." He’ll devote himself to writing and contemplation, he said, taking time for reflection that he hasn’t had under the pressures of the Oval Office.
His departure on Friday comes at a time of anxiety for many of his fellow Democrats. Dozens of Democratic members of Congress are planning to boycott Donald Trump’s inauguration. Women’s groups and unions are organizing demonstrations for the coming weekend.
Obama has not repudiated the criticisms he leveled at Trump during the campaign. But since the election, he has also looked for positive things to say, focusing on Trump’s willingness to listen to him and, perhaps, to change his mind when persuaded.
On Wednesday, as he took his final round of questions, Obama said he would wait to see whether Trump had accepted any of his thoughts. He also said he was sure he wouldn’t be the last nonwhite man to hold the presidency.
“I think we're going to see people of merit rise up from every race, faith, corner of this country, because that's America's strength,” Obama said. “When we have everybody getting a chance and everybody's on the field, we end up being better.”
He added: “Yeah, we're going to have a woman president. We're going to have a Latino president. And we'll have a Jewish president, a Hindu president. You know, who knows who we're going to have? I suspect we'll have a whole bunch of mixed-up presidents at some point that nobody really knows what to call them.”
Much of his optimism, he said, stemmed from watching a younger generation that is much more open to differences of all kinds. As evidence, he cited his daughters, Malia and Sasha, one headed to college and the other now in high school.
The two have grown up in an environment where they couldn’t help but be patriotic, Obama said, to see the country’s flaws and to feel a sense of responsibility to fix them.

And they were well-aware of their parents’ concerns about Trump and the movement behind him. Their father campaigned hard for fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton, and their mother delivered a speech in October in which she addressed Trump’s vulgar words about women, disclosed on a videotape, saying she was “shaken … to [her] core” by his remarks.
“They were disappointed,” Obama said. “They paid attention to what their mom said during the campaign and believed it because it's consistent with what we have tried to teach them in our household, and what I've tried to model as a father with their mom, and what we've asked them to expect from future boyfriends or spouses.”
Still, he said, his daughters hadn’t gotten cynical.
“They have not assumed because their side didn't win, or because some of the values that they care about don't seem as if they were vindicated, that automatically America has somehow rejected them or rejected their values,” he said.
Instead, they have “appreciated the fact that this is a big, complicated country, and democracy is messy; it doesn't always work exactly the way you might want. It doesn't guarantee certain outcomes,” he said.
But, he said, his daughters know that “there's a core decency to this country and that they got to be a part of lifting that up. And I expect they will be.”
For months, Obama has said he would relish the moment when he could set aside the responsibilities of governing and return to thinking and analyzing and talking about the country like a citizen. He told friends he looked forward to being able to see the world not through the gloom and doom of the presidential daily briefing.
That moment seemed to dawn at the end of the news conference Wednesday as he was channeling the optimism of Malia and Sasha Obama.
“Sometimes I get mad and frustrated like everybody else does, but at my core, I think we're going to be OK,” he said. “We just have to fight for it; we have to work for it and not take it for granted.”

Video - Obama On Sasha, Malia's Reaction To Trump's Win

Video - President Obama Holds his Final Press Conference

#PPP Song - Dilan Teer Bijan

#PPP Music Video - Kal Bhi Bhutto Zinda Tha Aaj Bhi Bhutto Zinda Hai..

Pakistan - Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari announces PPP rally from Lahore to Faisalabad tomorrow

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari announced that the party will hold a rally on Thursday.
Taking to Twitter to make the announcement, Bhutto-Zardari said: "PPP rally from Lahore to Faisalabad tomorrow. Your show is over Nawaz."
Bilawal had earlier tweeted that the PPP would begin its grassroots campaign with the rally.
The development comes days after PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari left Pakistan for Dubai where he spent a few days before travelling to the United States.
Zardari, upon his return to Pakistan from an 18-month, self-imposed exile, announced that both he and his son, Bilawal, would be contesting by-polls for seats in the National Assembly to be part of "this Parliament".
An informed source earlier told Dawn that Asif Ali Zardari was president of the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPP-P) and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari patron-in-chief of the PPP as per the list of political parties enlisted with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
He said the PPP-P had been allotted the symbol of ‘arrow’ and the PPP ‘two swords’ by the ECP prior to the 2013 general elections. And now the two leaders are required to contest the polls from the platforms of their respective political parties under separate election symbols.
The PPP had formed a separate entity, PPP-P, in August 2002 to meet the requirements of a decree issued by the then military ruler.
A law was framed to bar Benazir Bhutto from holding a party office and the new political entity was a bid to avert the imminent threat of losing the chance of contesting the elections.

Pakistan's Bedouin Masters - Hunt for the Houbara

By Sikandar Ali Hullio

Winter, largely in the south of Pakistan, is less cold. In the past, this attracted tourists from the western part of the country. However, an ongoing terror scourge birthed by the global war on terror has robbed the area of its seasonal attraction. The moderate weather, however, still suits and attracts a large number of migratory birds from the west which are then selectively killed.
This season, from Punjab’s Bhakkar to Balochistan’s Lasbela and from Sindh’s Ghotki to Tharparkar, hunters have been reportedly seen and filmed.
These hunters are said to have been on the hunt for a rare, shy and endangered bird, the Houbara Bustard, along with other migratory birds and indigenous animals.
The desert belts as well as some barren and seasonally cropped areas are the hunting grounds for these birds in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is an exception because the provincial government there has banned hunting of endangered animals, despite requests by the federal government which has already issued special grants to overseas hunters, who come loaded with hi-tech sports vehicles and turbans and assisted by the latest electronic gadgets and hosts with elite backgrounds, irrespective of political affiliations.

In recent times the Arab world has attracted cheap labour from this region for its hi-tech development – made possible largely through oil discoveries in the Gulf region. This has led to their prosperity and lavish pleasures.
One of these pleasures is hunting down a migratory and endangered bird, the Houbara Bustard (locally named ‘taloor’) found mostly in barren and deserted belts across the country.
This year, the news value and controversy on hunting down the Houbara remained at its peak, either on mainstream or social media.
The hunters are mostly from royal families. As they roam around from the plains to the mountains to desert beds, these hunters are treated with specially granted permissions and protocols. They use specified electronic machines and inmate birds to track down their prey.
What is this mythical bird and why are rich hunters so crazy about it? The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies the particular variant of the bustard hunted in Pakistan as ‘threatened’ – a classification below ‘endangered’ and ‘critically endangered’. It is one of those endangered species which flies every year from the Siberian region when mercury there zeroes down, often crossing -50 degrees Celsius.
While the Russians can only dream about the ‘warm waters’ of this region, their birds don’t need any strategic approval – so they fly every year, touch our waters and enjoy the warmth of the weather. As birds don’t need any visa or comply with any border controls, the sky is the limit for them. However, the hunters shoot them down just to please their hunting passion.
The hunt of this bird has become a new, key instrument of our national foreign policy that deals with the Gulf region and its wealthier royals and their rich friends.
In October 2015, there were reports that the federal government had attempted to overturn an earlier Supreme Court edict that banned any governments, provincial or federal, from issuing special hunting permits.
Last month, in Punjab’s Bhakkar district, there were some protests against the Arab hunters. The demonstrators shouted slogans against the government and the hunters.
The hunters were apparently destroying the only crop – chickpea – that could be produced in the sandy soil of that particular area and took an entire season to harvest.
In recent years, there have been protests across the country against these hunters for the damage they inflict on the crop. However, local authorities did not consider the destruction as grave as the demonstrators tried to show it was. Rather, the authorities blamed local farmers for being accustomed to getting compensation from royal hunters by holding demonstrations against them.
Arab hunters have also initiated
various ‘development projects’ in the hunting areas but these are too symbolic and cosmetic to realistically tackle the area’s chronic issues and abject poverty.
Moreover, this is not a matter of endangering or conserving any bird. It is more a matter of protecting your national identity and integrity. It is interesting to see how foreign nationals are granted hunting permissions and how our entire ruling elite crumbles down at the cost of their vested interests.
This needs drastic revaluation and reassessment at the national level. Will any of our ruling elites ever be allowed in any Gulf country for a similar hunting spree?
The writer is an Islamabad-based anthropologist and analyst.

PAKISTAN'S CHILD ABUSE - No doubt crime committed in Tayyaba 'torture' case: CJP

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar remarked on Wednesday that there was no doubt that a criminal act had been committed in the Tayyaba case.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by the CJP was hearing a suo moto case regarding the 10-year-old's alleged torture.
The child had allegedly been employed as a maid and abused by the now deposed Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife.
CJP Nisar directed the police to submit a challan in order for the trial to began.
The police submitted its investigation report for the case, but additionally sought a week's time to complete investigations and submit a final medico-legal report, saying they were still waiting for the results of a DNA test.
During proceedings, the CJP asked how crimes such as child abuse could be stopped in the future and whether Tayyaba's case could be considered bonded-labour.
Human rights lawyer Tariq Mehmood informed the court that there had been no progress on a bill concerning children's rights after it was presented in the Senate.
Under present law, anyone found guilty of employing a child is fined Rs200 and the child's parents Rs50, said Mahmood, who is a retired justice.
CJP Nisar also questioned the grounds on which Khan's wife, Maheen Zafar, was granted bail. Her lawyer Sardar Aslam responded that the offence her client has been accused of is bailable.
What kind of a law is it that you beat up a child and obtain bail, CJP Nisar remarked, observing that the bail could now be reviewed as new clauses had been added to the FIR.
The hearing was subsequently adjourned till January 25.
PIMS Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Akram had said earlier this month that after an examination conducted on Tayyaba's first visit to the hospital there was no doubt that Tayyaba had been physically abused
The girl was allegedly tortured by the family of ADSJ Raja Khurram Ali Khan on Dec 28 and an FIR was registered against him and his wife on Dec 29.
Tayyaba is being kept at Pakistan Sweet Home, a government-funded orphanage, on court orders.
Initially, police had prepared a report stating that the girl had fallen down some stairs and was accidentally injured.
But after the Islamabad High Court took notice of the matter, the girl changed her statement and told a magistrate that she had been tortured by the family of the accused.
The judge and his wife were able to obtain bail after a couple claiming to be the child’s parents arrived in Islamabad and submitted affidavits to a local court stating they did not want to lodge a complaint against the accused.
However, after the Supreme Court took suo motu notice of the incident, the district administration wrote to PIMS asking for another medical examination to be carried out.

Pakistan - After genetic sequencing: Polio virus in Peshawar traced back to Lahore

By Umer Farooq
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s health department officials were shocked to find that traces of the poliovirus found in Peshawar’s Shaheen Muslim Town area’s environmental samples had originated from Lahore.
A senior health official, who deals with polio eradication campaigns, told The Express Tribune that whenever environmental samples are found to be positive we carry out genetic sequencing to check where the virus had originated from.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that they were shocked to know that the virus found in the Shaheen Muslim Town’s samples had originated from Lahore.
The official also revealed that the environmental samples of the Larama area of the provincial capital have also tested positive. He added that the origins of Larama’s virus were traced back to the Shaheen Muslim Town area. In view of this, he said it could be that Larama’s virus may also have travelled from Lahore.
The official said that the samples collected from other districts, including Charsadda, Mardan and Nowshera, tested negative.
First campaign of 2017
This year’s first nationwide anti-polio campaign kicked off on Monday in 145 out of 166 districts/agencies /towns of the country. The campaign will aim to inoculate around 37.7 million children.
However, the campaigns in Quetta, Pishin, Killa Abdullah areas of Balochistan; South Waziristan’s Wana; and the Khyber agency were rescheduled from January 23 to January 29. The reason for delaying the campaign in Quetta was because a monovalent oral polio special round (mOPV) campaign had already been carried out in Balochistan’s capital. On the other hand, the delay in Wana was due to the induction trainings of CBV data. However, the campaign was delayed in Khyber agency upon the request of the APCR.
The campaign has also been postponed in 16 districts of Balochistan, 47 UCs of K-P, three UCs of Gilgit-Baltistan, three UCs of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and four UCs of Fata due to heavy snowfall and will also start on January 23. Some 250,000 personnel will be participating in the campaign which will include 24,045 area incharges; 7,508 UC medical officers; 188,134 mobile teams; 10,459 fixed and 12,076 transit team members.
Meanwhile, K-P’s polio campaign was inaugurated by K-P’s Deputy Speaker Dr Mehar Taj Roghani at the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) on Monday.
The deputy speaker lauded the K-P government for ensuring that the polio cases had dropped down to only eight in 2016. (With input from our correspondent in Islamabad)