Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nawaz Sharif's Revolution

Nawaz Sharif, take a chill pill
M Waqar
Well I have been talking about revolution in Pakistan since high school, but its really funny to hear this great word, "revolution'' from Mr Nawaz Sharif . His revolution is for himself not for Pakistan people, he wants a revolution so he can become Prime Minister and let's not forget that Nawaz was PM not once but twice, so what happen then, he had all the power and he could change Pakistan, he could get rid of what he is talking about now. It is obvious that Nawaz Sharif is playing a dangerous game using Punjabi ethnicity for his political gains in Pakistan and he is not alone, Imran Khan even wants to use Taliban for revolution. Nawaz Sharif in Jhelum, asked people to rise and "get ready to make sacrifices for a revolution" and "come out on the streets to change your destiny". Then he says, "PPP has been perfidious in getting me disqualified, and because I cannot wait until the next elections to trounce the PPP, you, the people, should help me do it.'' Nawaz is once again trying to revive Punjabi chauvinism in Pakistan. Obviously what Nawaz promises the nation, is not a revolution but merely a regime-change to his liking. Nawaz talks about NRO but he forgets about his agreement with dictator Musharraf, he talks about judiciary but forgets his attack on Supreme Court, he talks about media but forgets what he did to Rehmat Shah Afridi of Frontier Post, Jang Group and others, he forgets what he did to Junejo. He talks about democracy but he forgot it while making forward bloc. Where was his revolution when Nawaz spent his time at Surror Palace in Jeddah and then in England and poor Pakistanis were selling kids and kidneys? Sharif was indicted for criminal charges, and was allowed to go without facing the them. Now he is back, but he did not face his criminal indictments. Mr Shahbaz Sharif and Mian Nawaz Sharif both are convicted criminals, in a unconstitutional deal with the military dictator General Pervez Musharaf, both went into exile with a promise to stop participating in politics. Pakistani politicians have no moral values and principles, when Nawaz was PM, JI Amir Qazi Hussain Ahmad told his supporters that Nawaz and Pakistan could not co-exist, but for creating disturbance Qazi joined his hands recently. Democracy cannot work in Pakistan unless and until the country rid itself of the culture of dynastic rulers, feudal lords, capricious, greedy rich politicians and military generals who have monopolized and manipulated Pakistan for the last 61 years for their personal interests. These corrupt politicians have now the last chance to save Pakistan from collapsing if their intentions are honest and patriotic but if as always in the past, they are only interested in the thickness of their wallets; the country is doomed as it is surrounded by enemies within and around its borders.
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Dated: Sunday,March 22, 2009, Rabi-ul-Awwal 24, 1430 A.H.

Water Day goes unnoticed in Frontier(PUKHTUNKHWA)

PESHAWAR: The 17th World Water Day (WWD) passed Sunday almost unnoticed as no function was held in the provincial capital to mark the day that is celebrated across the globe on March 22.

‘Sharing Water, Sharing Opportunities’ was the theme of the day this year. The importance of water could be gauged from the fact that the United Nations Conference on Environment Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, declared March 22 as the World Water Day. However, very few people, especially those at the helm of affairs, have realised the importance of water and thought seriously to preserve water reservoirs and protect this basic commodity from being wasted.

According to experts the third world war would be fought for water. Over the last 60 years, there have been more than 200 international water agreements and only 37 cases of reported violence between states over water. But still little efforts have been made to nurture the opportunities for cooperation that trans-boundary water management can provide or share the responsibility for managing the world’s trans-boundary waters for current and future generations.

In a country like Pakistan, water shortage has already started and its effects are visible not only on domestic consumers but also on agriculture yield and energy. The current wave of electricity loadshedding in the country is because of water shortage as the country’s largest dam — Tarbela Dam — has come to a dead level causing drastic reduction in power generation.

The country has been faced with water crisis right from 1948 when India started diverting water from the eastern rivers, which left rivers and canals in Pakistan high and dry. It took 12 years of hard work and the good offices of the World Bank to arrive at the Indus Water Treaty, and another two decades to complete all engineering works, including Tarbela.

However, the rulers are yet to come out of slumber and take serious steps for overcoming the water and power crisis in the country. More than three decades were wasted on politics played over building of big water reservoirs.

After the signing of a water accord in 1991, there arose internal disputes over water distribution, especially during the shortage period. According to the water accord, the distribution of water among the provinces included a considerable volume of water from storages, which were never built for want of consensus. Demand of water per capita is on the rise and the present situation is that water availability per capita is just on the borderline, which will soon fall below the base level, opines an expert.

On the other hand, the availability of good quality freshwater has been reduced due to pollution from human waste, industry and agriculture.

Though the figures are disturbing worldwide as everyday two million tons of human waste is being dumped in watercourses, situation in Pakistan, particularly NWFP, is more alarming.

Water pollution in the NWFP has gone to the extent that according to experts the water of River Kabul is even not suitable for agriculture, let alone human consumption like drinking and domestic use.

In Peshawar, sewerage water is being disposed of in canals passing through the city besides dumping of solid waste. Same is the situation of Swat River where all hotel waste is disposed of in the river polluting the water beyond consumption.

Untreated waste of Hayatabad industrial units is being dumped into nullahs that ultimately reach Kabul River.

But unfortunately the successive governments and concerned authorities are yet to realise their responsibility of saving water from pollution and waste.

Naming institutions after great party leaders

PESHAWAR: With little focus on genuine problems of the electorates, partners in the NWFP coalition government are preoccupied with renaming old or naming new institutions after their party leaders, built purely at the expense of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.Although the culture of naming buildings, playgrounds, hospitals, educational institutions, roads, etc, after leaders of political parties or national heroes traces back to the early days of the country’s birth: the names-giving spree of political parties gathered considerable momentum over the past few years.Each ruling party, both in the Centre or provinces, tries to outdo its predecessor in naming and renaming more and more public properties after its leaders in an apparent move to win a popular image among the masses although majority of people despise the practice.In some cases in the recent past, construction projects named after party leaders and founders were prematurely inaugurated due to fear of attempts by rival parties to claim it to the names of their leaders. One such recently-taken step by the incumbent provincial government is the construction of a new block at the Civil Secretariat in the name of late Khan Abdul Wali Khan, the seasoned Awami National Party (ANP) leader known for his straightforwardness and belief in practical work instead of running after reputation through nameplates.Besides the construction of the new block at the Civil Secretariat, the ANP government is also going to establish a university in Mardan, the hometown of Chief Minister Ameer Haidar Hoti. The university is named after the veteran Pakhtun leader Khan Abdul Wali Khan. The ANP cannot be singled out for the names-giving spree as its ally in the provincial government, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), is also going all-out to stretch the list of institutions and public buildings being named and renamed after the former two-time prime minister Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.A hospital planned to be constructed in Peshawar city is named as Benazir Bhutto Hospital. A hostel housing the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Bajaur in Risalpur area of Nowshera district is also named after the late PPP chairperson, while the campus of Malakand University in Upper Dir district has recently been approved as Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University for Science and Technology.The trend was the same when the government of religious parties in the name of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) was in place in the province.
The Mufti Mahmood Hospital operational in the NWFP’s southern district of Dera Ismail Khan, the hometown of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, was established when the JUI-F was in the driving seat of the provincial government from the year 2002 till late 2007. Mufti Mahmood was the former chief minister of NWFP and father of JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman.The MMA government had also planned a flyover project in the city to be named as Mufti Mahmood Flyover. However, the project was shelved owing to security concerns just before the completion of the five-year term of MMA government. Durrani Media Colony for journalists on the outskirts of Peshawar and Akram Durrani Model School in Bannu district are two other public projects named after former chief minister Akram Khan Durrani.Hailing from NWFP’s southern district of Bannu, a hospital, named after father of ex-CM Durrani, is also operational there, while a school in Swabi district has been named as Fazle Ali Public School. Maulana Fazle Ali of the JUI-F was elected to the NWFP Assembly from Swabi and served as education minister in the previous provincial set-up. An education institution was named after Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad in Nowshera district, the hometown of JI ameer.In addition, Fazle Haq College Mardan, Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute for Science and Technology in Topi (Swabi) and Hayat Shaheed Teaching Hospital Peshawar are also named after political leaders, no doubt all the three institutions are rendering great services for the people of NWFP.
The Frontier Assembly had also passed a resolution for renaming the Peshawar International Airport as Baacha Khan Airport Peshawar.Remembering leaders like Abdul Wali Khan, Benazir Bhutto or Mufti Mahmood is no doubt a noble task as all the three figures rendered great sacrifices for the country and democracy, but the people want their successors to stick to their political philosophies and truly serve the masses instead of cashing names of their leaders for political gains.

Bajaur IDPs refuse to return

NOWSHERA: Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Jalozai Camp Sunday refused to go back to their homes in Bajaur though peace had been restored in the agency.

Reacting to the government decision of sending back the IDPs to Bajaur, the IDPs took out a protest rally.

The IDPs threatened to take to road if their demands were not met by March 25, adding that their protest would continue till the acceptance of their demands including enforcement of Nizam-e-Adl Regulation in Bajaur; grant of Rs0.5 million to each family for rehabilitation and guarantee of peace. They said their houses were destroyed in the operation, besides most of their relatives were killed and injured.

Official sources said that almost 6,000 families, comprising 32,000 individuals, had been accommodated in the camp.

Earlier, an official of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said the situations were peaceful in the agency and the affectees could return to their homes.

Geology students without field work opportunities

The students Geology at various universities, especially the Punjab Universities (PU), have been missing opportunities of field work in various parts of the NWFP because of the prevailing instability in the country. Nonetheless, cuts in grants to institutes of higher learning by the federal government is said to be another factor behind “limited” field work, which is undoubtedly the backbone of geological research.The students believe that the curtailment in connection with duration and destination of field work is badly affecting the standard of education.Unlike past, the universities now have been imposing more and more restrictions in connection with field visits which, according to the students and teachers, have marred the real spirit of the research based program.According to a senior faculty member, who wished to remain anonymous, the PU department of geology is the oldest seat of geological learning in the country which produced many eminent geologists.He said in geology the field work was considered a natural lab work, therefore, students in the applied courses were sent to 50 days guided excursion as a whole during 3 years BSc and for 90 days for theses work. He further said students were also paid daily allowance for it in the past, but, He added, the things had changed.He said the field work duration had been reduced to 30 and 20 days for BSc and theses work respectively.According to him, working conditions were no more favorable in remote areas, especially in several of the NWFP areas like Swat and some parts of Balochistan. He added meager funding to the universities by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) was also one of the important factors for shortening the field work. He said owing to security reasons most of the field visits were restricted to areas like Salt Range, Murree, Khanaspur and Abbotabad etc. He was of the view areas like Swat, Kohat and Bajur etc were some of the most suitable places for geological research in the country besides some parts of Balochistan.“However, under the prevailing circumstance it is impossible to carry out field work in such areas”, he added.The faculty member was also of the view that geological fieldwork involved some level of risk, however, he added, it could be greatly reduced by awareness of hazards and experiences.He further said owing to the prevailing circumstances more risk was involved in visiting these areas because of which field work was not being carried out there. However another faculty member said still there were suitable areas for field work if university allowed and provided finances.He said it was strange that field visits were not being arranged in areas like DG Khan, Rajanpur and some parts of Sindh province.According to a student, the curtailment in connection with duration was badly affecting the standard of education.A senior official of PU Institute of Geology commenting over the issue said the PU Vice Chancellor had been informed about the problems being faced in connection with field work. He said it was expected that the issue would be resolved soon.He, however, agreed that field trips to areas like Swat, Kohat and other areas of the NWFP and Balochistan were not being arranged owing to security risks involved.

2,300 years later, 'Alexander-mania' grips Macedonia

Much to the anger of Greece, the ancient conqueror is making a big comeback in Macedonia – he's arriving just in time for Sunday's election.

SKOPJE, Macedonia - As part of a stunning new homegrown ideology of history and identity based on Alexander the Great, this capital city's main square may soon boast a huge new statue of the ancient conqueror.
Two years ago, the national airport was renamed after Alexander, infuriating Greece.
In January, despite a recent Greek nixing of Macedonia's NATO bid over the airport name, the ruling nationalists here changed the name of its main roadway to Alexander of Macedon Highway.
In Macedonia, it is becoming all Alexander the Great, all the time. Ahead of Sunday's presidential elections, the ruling party's Alexander ideology is seen as fantastic, even by Balkan standards.
In an intense media campaign, locals are told that ethnic Macedonians are the proud direct descendants of Alexander, and thus a people responsible for spawning the white race of planet Earth, from the Caucasus "to the seas off Japan," according to a public service spot on national TV.
The "Alexander-mania," as critics call it, is partly a vote-getting strategy by the ruling party, known by its initials VMRO. Doubts exist as to whether party leaders actually believe the claims, but they are being sold as truth. The failure last spring to get a clear NATO invitation prompted fury in Skopje, and the Alexander campaign is seen as an effort to up the ante.
By pushing its thumb further into the already sore eye of Greece, both NATO and EU membership for the small, landlocked state remains in limbo. Macedonia is also distracted from reducing tensions with its sizable Albanian minority community following a brief ethnic war in 2001, diplomats say.
The dispute with Greece, largely unchanged since 1991, centers on a fight over the use of "Macedonia" as the country's name. Greece wants a name that doesn't include or at least deemphasizes "Macedonia," which Greeks say is their own. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia says its name is its own sovereign business. Negotiations have been endless.
For years, Greek demands were seen as cock-eyed and petty in diplomatic circles. Yet Macedonia has been losing sympathy as it roars out heritage claims on Alexander.
"If the name is the condition of our survival, which it seems to be, we are very far from reaching our strategic aims: NATO and the EU," says former Macedonian Foreign Minister Denko Maleski. "The new way of thinking about history is keeping tensions alive. We are a new nation, liberal and international, suddenly veering into the 19th century."
A poll last month showed that 97 percent of ethnic Macedonians favored staying out of the EU if it meant compromising on the name.
"The name dispute is more than a bilateral issue between Skopje and Athens. It risks derailing the main strategy of both NATO and the EU for stabilizing Macedonia," says a recent report from the International Crisis Group.
Some diplomats frame Sunday's elections as a vote for a president who may push Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski for a name resolution versus a nationalist who would not. Right now, it appears that VMRO's George Ivanov, an architect of the Alexander discourse, is set to win big. The opposition is in disarray, and Macedonia could end up with a one-party state.
"The entire nationalism hysteria, which only few question as most media get huge sums of money through government advertising, serves not only as a distraction from serious problems ... but has created an atmosphere that makes compromise difficult. It reminds me a bit of the madness of Serbia in the '90s, though not on the same scale, when Serbs spoke of themselves as 'the heavenly people,' " says Ana Petruseva, managing editor of Balkan Insight, in Skopje.
Indee, Macedonia's bold claim to be the taproot of Western civilization is daily media fare.
Last summer, the government flew in members of Pakistan's Hunza tribe, considered lost descendants of Alexander, to tour the country. Startled and pleased Hunza were greeted at Alexander airport with flowers and treated like long lost cousins as they disported across the nation, cameras in tow.
Even "God" has gotten involved. A nine-minute TV ad starts with a petition from Macedonia to the heavens: "Our neighbors distributed thousands of books across the world, containing false history and portraying a wrong picture about Macedonia. ... Only you know our pain." The Almighty then responds: "From you, Macedonians, descendants of Macedon, I conceived the white race. All that stretches to the seas off Japan is conceived from your genes."
Sinisa-Jakov Marusic, a columnist for Balkan Insight, cheekily observed, "So there you have it! What better proof than God himself?"
Beyond theatrics, the new program deeply troubles many scholars and intellectuals here – who are being sidelined – for its promulgation of myth as truth. The new taxpayer-funded Alexander ideology has no serious texts.
Unlike Serbia's Kosovo story, based on centuries of poetry and legend, the Macedonian ideology is being both invented and presented at the same time. There is no outside scholarly consensus, no textual tradition; the result is a kind of history-free history. The top-down, debate-free imposition of the new history is itself seen as illiberal and authoritarian.
The new program deeply troubles many scholars here. "What is the content of 'Alexanderization?'" asks Irena Stefoska, a Byzantine scholar at the Institute of National History here. "Who knows? It is a new reading of history completely different from the previous, not done from an academic point of view, but from a purely political view."
Alexander is considered one of the greatest military leaders of all time. Born in the Greek city of Pella in 356 BC, his conquests extended to most of his known world by the time of his death at age 32. He opened up Greek civilization from the Mediterranean to India, and is regarded as the first to link Europe, Asia, and Africa.
"Alexander was the captain general of all the Hellenes. He spoke Greek. He went to war on behalf of the Hellenes. No one in the ancient, medieval, or modern world has disputed this," says Michael Wood, a historian and British filmmaker who has produced a work on Alexander and has another in the making.
"The Macedonian state claim has no basis in history; it is a state-sponsored myth. I tell my Macedonian and Greek friends to ignore it," Mr. Wood adds.
State archaeologists in Skopje and Athens, however, are busy unearthing ancient Hellenic artifacts, which are then presented as evidence of Alexander heritage. Advocates of this new history leap from the present day to ancient times, ignoring Ottoman, Slavonian, and Byzantine periods when the Balkan peoples migrated and mingled.
"The problem is that no one today can be the direct descendants of ancient civilizations," says Ms. Stefoska. "Macedonians are Slavs. Our Slavonic heritage is accepted by historians."
Several years ago, VMRO officials claimed that Macedonia's majority population had an ethnic Bulgarian or Slavic origin.
A chief fear here is a scenario of partition – of north Kosovo Serbs in the Mitrovica area joining Serbia proper, which could push Macedonian and Kosovar Albanians into a union, breaking up Macedonia.
So far, ethnic Albanians here have been patient over the Macedonia-Greece dispute. Albanian parties are in the ruling coalition. Yet the patience may not be unlimited, senior diplomats say.
Artan Grubi, head of an Albanian civil society organization, says, "Most Albanians will tell you they have nothing against building a Macedonian identity. But they don't want to suffer because of it. At the moment, the policies of this government are moving us further from Europe."

Holbrooke: western Pakistan key to resolving Afghanistan war

The US special envoy told allies at the Brussels Forum that the Talibanization of the region was a top concern.
NATO meeting – and Barack Obama's first presidential trip outside North America – US special envoy to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke says that western Pakistan presents the chief problem in resolving an eight-year war that has divided allies and threatens the standing of an alliance ready to mark its 60th anniversary.
The Talibanization of west Pakistan, in the Swat region that borders Afghanistan, was the greatest surprise to envoy Mr. Holbrooke on his first fact-finding mission to the region last month. It was the top issue he relayed to Mr. Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and National Security Adviser Jim Jones, Holbrooke told the Monitor on the sidelines of the Brussels Forum, a security meeting here.
"A year ago, I visited Peshawar [near the Khyber Pass] and I was asked about starting an Asia Society office there," Holbrooke said. "Last month, people were afraid to go outside after dark and walk their dogs. The change in the situation was stunning. Geopolitically Afghanistan hasn't changed; Pakistan has."
Holbrooke spoke at the Brussels Forum and meets here this week with NATO officials ahead of a much-anticipated Obama strategy for dealing with Afghanistan.
"The heart of the problem for the West is in western Pakistan," the envoy said. "But there are not going to be US or NATO troops on the ground in Pakistan. There is a red line for the government of Pakistan, and one which we must respect."
Holbrooke said the US had twice made "historic mistakes" by leaving – once after Soviet forces pulled out in the late 1980s, and again after the first campaign against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in 2003. The Obama team will take a "regional" approach to the Afghan crisis – and will focus on training and building up the Afghan police force, which he said is "an inadequate and deeply corrupt organization … the weak link in the chain." The New York Times reported days ago that Obama anticipates boosting the Afghan police to 400,000 from current training levels of 82,000 troops. Holbrooke said the 400,000 figure was "speculative" but implied it would be "quite large."
Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona warned European policymakers at the forum that "minimalist" approaches would be ineffective, and urged US and Europeans to engage in "straight talk" with their publics about a war where "the going will be extremely hard." He later told the Monitor that "it will take a lot more than the 17,000 troops [now being sent] to take care of this job." He added: "a group ... on this side of the Atlantic, and on the other side, want to get rid of as many terrorists as we can," and leave. "We need a long-term commitment."
The US is looking for more troops from a Europe leery of sending them. On March 31, Secretary Clinton will hold a "big tent" meeting at The Hague to further sort out the new Afghan strategy.
Holbrooke stated in Brussels, "We are not coming to Europe to hammer on individual countries. But additional troops will be needed. The idea that the US will demand … that era is over."
The new strategy, Holbrooke says, will attempt to bring in all the regional players – including Iran and China.
Holbrooke said some $800 million spent on poppy eradication – a source of Taliban funding – was "the most wasteful and ineffective program I have seen in 40 years."
Holbrooke said western Pakistan was filled with jobless young men paid more to join the Taliban than to fight with the Afghan Army, and that the Taliban "give them guns," a prized possession.
He also said that the Taliban-linked leader in Swat, Maulana Fazlullah, has "set up 150 low-wattage FM stations … just like we saw in Rwanda," implying the stations are a key source of direction – and effective in convincing local populations that NATO is an occupation force. -

Pakistan among eight TB-hit countries: PCS

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Chest Society (PCS) President Dr Arshad Javed Saturday Pakistan was one of the eight countries having a high prevalence of tuberculosis (TB), and vowed to continue the efforts to contain the disease.

Addressing a news conference here, he said almost a population of nine millions was suffering from the disease across the world.

He said the PCS and TB Control Programme should appraise the masses and speed up their efforts to eradicate the ailment.

He said the PCS, in collaboration with the TB Control programme, had arranged a symposium and staged an awareness rally on March 11 this year.

He added that around 29,000 patients in the year 2007 and 30,000 in 2008 were registered at TB control centres.

He informed the TB control programme had established 214 diagnosing centres in different parts of the NWFP, saying scores of the centres were providing free of cost medicines with the assistance of Health Department and TB control programme.

He warned that the disease could take a more dangerous shape, ie MDRTB, commonly known as resistive TB, if not properly treated.

He said the wrong use of medicines could deteriorate TB further. Dr Javed urged the government in general and the health department officials in particular to intensify efforts for eradication of the disease. He maintained that with the collaboration of the expert doctors and specialists, the PCS had formulated guidelines, which played a vital role in treatment of the MDRTB.

The government, he said, would also provide all kinds of medicines to TB control centres for the treatment of MDRTB, and would also appoint chest specialists for checking it.

Chief Justice Iftikhar takes charge of his office

ISLAMABAD :Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Sunday has taken charge as the Chief Justice of Pakistan after the retirement of Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, Aaj TV reported.

According to the notification regarding the restoration of deposed judges issued by the Ministry of Law on March 17, Justice Chaudhry has to resume the charge of Chief Justice after the retirement of Justice Dogar who spent his last day as CJP on March 21.

According to the schedule announced by the Supreme Court Bar Association, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry will reach the Supreme Court on March 24 accompanied by the members of the Executive Committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan (SCBA) and other lawyers.

According to a press release issued by SCBA, it has been decided that Executive Committee, Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan will go to the residence of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on March 24 to accompany him to the Supreme Court, where he will attend his office after restoration.

Today, political and civil society activists will gather besides lawyers at CJ residence at Judges’ Enclave Islamabad where Naheed Khan will hoist the national flag.