Monday, March 8, 2010

Steps on to boost cultural image of NWFP(PUKHTUNKHWA)

PESHAWAR: NWFP Minister for Sports and Culture Syed Aqil Shah has said that a full-fledged cultural directorate has been established and its offices would start functioning at Gor Gathri soon.

“Artistes, singers and literati will be encouraged by organising various activities and events to boost cultural image of the province,” he said while speaking as chief guest at a special live programme arranged at Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) hall in connection with its diamond jubilee celebrations.

The directorate would work as an art academy as well, he said, adding that Radio Peshawar had been playing crucial role in creating awareness among the masses on various issues since inception in British era.

The minister said the importance of radio could not be eclipsed despite the introduction of numerous fast tools of communication. Radio Peshawar was the second oldest station in the sub-continent, Aqil Shah said, adding that even the British rulers knew the strategic importance of this region.

He said terrorism could be combated through reviving cultural activities and his party had stood the test of time by laying down 700 precious lives besides 4000 ANP workers were rendered maimed.

The minister said Bacha Khan had struggled for bringing peace and prosperity to the region. He paid glowing tribute to the artistes, singers, intellectuals, poets and writers for their meritorious services to PBC, Peshawar.

Earlier, Muhammad Aslam Khan, a senior compare, highlighted the radio Peshawar’s history and said that it was founded on March 6, 1935 and great writer and politician Aslam Khattak was its first director.

Later, Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, Prof Khatir Ghaznavi, Abdullah Jan Maghmoom, Sajjad Haider, Amir Hamza Khan Shinwari, Samandar Khan Samandar, Ajmal Khattak and numerous other noted artistes and literati contributed to radio Peshawar but it also produced a large number of noted artistes, musicians and writers who played their due role in educating the masses through their powerful writings and voices.

Station director Sardar Ali in his remarks pointed out that PBC Peshawar was committed to quality and merit and trying to produce various programmes, features, plays and talk shows to provide the latest information to the listeners.

Former station director and noted writer Hamdullah Jan Bismil said the artistes, poets and playwrights who were affiliated with radio were the cream of the society.He said the Radio Peshawar had maintained its high standards and quality to date. He said the radio contributed a lot to masses to improve their outlook on life and society.

Dr Muhammad Azam Azam on the occasion said the people of Frontier had a social regard for radio because it always tried to promote their true value.Many known artistes, writers and intellectuals attended the two-hour long live special programme. Wisal Khial, Dr Irfan, Musarrat Momand and Noor Jehan performed at the event and sang some of the famous old songs used to be sung by Abdullah Jan Ustad, Muzafar Khan Ustad, Khial Muhammad, Kishwar Sultan, Mashooq Sultan, Mahjabeen Qazalbash and relayed from radio Peshawar. Muhammad Aslam Khan and Meena Shams compered the special programme in a befitting manner.

Women and girls are key to security
What do women fishing, school building and better farming skills have to do with U.S. national security? A lot — and that’s a bipartisan consensus.

Democrats and Republicans agree there’s a connection between America’s security and smart, effective development. Encouraging education, economic opportunity and good governance helps to build a more secure and safer world — and that includes investing in women and girls. This is worth noting on International Women’s Day.

To see what we mean, check out the International Affairs budget — the 1.4 percent of the federal budget that funds the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and various other agencies like the Peace Corps. While small in monetary terms, it has a big impact around the world.

The news from Haiti in January is a powerful reminder of what a difference U.S. help can make. We can be proud that American assistance over the years — from vaccines to food aid to clean water — has saved millions of lives and improved living conditions for millions more.

But this year’s budget recognizes an important reality: Smart development is in America’s self-interest. Stable, democratic nations are far less likely to engage in war or host terrorist organizations. Stronger health infrastructures enable all of us to fight the danger of international pandemics. Investing in programs that build healthy, educated societies is a big part of making our country — and the world we live in — safer.

Pakistan is a telling example. Recently, Gen. David Petraeus talked about how addressing illiteracy in Pakistan was a top priority for U.S. efforts to stabilize that country and fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban. “We’ve almost found it more helpful to teach [Pakistanis] to read up to an eighth-grade level than anything else,” Petraeus noted.

Pakistan’s public-school system has been unable to provide education to large numbers of children. U.S. support for education is an essential to fighting poverty and illiteracy there, as well as reducing the influence of the madrassas that are tied to extremist, anti-American groups.

Investment in women and girls’ education and empowerment is increasingly recognized as a linchpin to advancing social, economic and political progress in most poor countries.

Girls with just one year of formal education are less likely to suffer from illness or hunger and are more likely to avoid teen pregnancy, and their children are less likely to die in infancy. Microfinance loans for women entrepreneurs build more stable communities, because they invest proceeds in their families and communities.

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “Women and girls are one of the world’s greatest untapped resources. Remember the proverb, ‘Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime?’ Well, if you teach a woman to fish, she’ll feed the whole village.”

Spending on human and economic development now — on education, basic health and infrastructure — is a smart investment. That’s why Democrats and Republicans agree that more resources are needed for these programs, including funds for agricultural development, health and women and girls.

As Congress begins debate on the president’s budget request, they would do well to consider just how much funding the International Affairs budget matters to the United States’ security and future. In today’s world, it is imperative that we adequately support our diplomacy and development efforts.

This is a worthwhile investment to help keep our nation safe and build the peaceful future we want for everyone’s children.

NWFP(PUKHTUNKHWA)Govt fails to provide Hepatitis drugs to patients.

PESHAWAR: The lackluster performance of the NWFP health department can be judged by the fact that it had provided medicines for Hepatitis B & C to only 3504 patients out of a total 9735 registered patients, during last four years (2005-2009). According to the details available to The Frontier Post there are a total of 1463 registered patients of Hepatitis-B and 8272 registered patients of Hepatitis-C in NWFP. A source of the health department said, due to the financial constraints the department had failed to provide medicines of the said diseases to majority of the registered patients. The department is looking towards the government for funds in order to provide medicines to the remaining patients, the source added. However, the government has approved Rs 360.470 million Prevention and Control of Hepatitis NWFP project which according to the source would help in better control of the disease. The government every year arranges World Hepatitis Day and spends huge amount on advertisement and arranging functions and still it is unable to provide medicines to all the registered patients. According to the statistics these patients are registered in 17 DHQs and four major hospitals of Peshawar. Hepatitis has become a major public health issue in recent years. Globally 385 million people infected with Hepatitis B, 200 million people infected with Hepatitis C, 85% gets chronic infection. The Annual Incidence rate of HCV is 3-4 million; disease specific death rate is one million. In Pakistan the current prevalence rate of Hepatitis B is 3-4% (6 million infections) and Hepatitis C is 5-6% (7.5 million infections). According to sources of the Health Department in NWFP and FATA all five distinct types of hepatitis viruses; A-E are prevalent. Current estimated prevalence of Hepatitis B is 0.7852 million in NWFP & 0.124 million infections in FATA, and Hepatitis C is 1.1778 million in NWFP and 0.19 million infections in FATA. Unsafe injection and unhygienic invasive practices (dentists, barbers, beauty parlors, ear and nose piercing etc.) apparently appears to be the major causes of the disease in the NWF Province. The overall social and economic impact of chronic Hepatitis B&C are devastating. The Prime Minister Program for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis in Pakistan was launched on August 29, 2005 to substantially decrease the prevalence, morbidity and mortality due to viral hepatitis in the general population by utilizing the existing health infrastructure. The total cost of the program is Rs.2.59 billion for financial years 2005 till 2010. But, even than the government has failed to control the said disease and provide vaccine to the registered patients. The foreign donor agencies have more concerned about unregistered patients which may run manifold than official statistics. The government should be register as many people as according to the statistics given above, there is still a huge number of people that have not yet been registered.

Mariah Stuns on Red Carpet

Balochistan , The volcano


The replacement of Musharraf’s military regime with a democratic government seemed a positive development, particularly for Balochistan which had suffered unprecedented repression during the dictator’s rule. In fact, it was his excesses and the arrogance with which he battered the province that radicalised common Baloch people the most. The assassination of Nawab Akbar Bugti and the torture of countless illegally detained students and the thousands of ‘disappearances’ of political activists aggravated the situation. Mindful of repeatedly having been excluded from the development process in the past, the local population saw the launch of mega projects such the Gwadar port and the Coastal High with suspicion that swelled their sense of deprivation. The authorities thought that they could make the Balochistan issue disappear by removing from the scene political activists demanding autonomy for Balochistan. They were wrong. According to the latest report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Balochistan can only be likened to ‘an active volcano that may erupt anytime with dire consequences’. The report notes with concern that violations of human rights in the province are ‘widespread’ and ‘harrowing’ and incidents of ‘enforced disappearances’ are continuing. A fact-finding mission of the commission claims to be in possession of ample evidence to support the allegations of victims’ families that the perpetrators of enforced disappearances are intelligence agencies and security forces. People from all over the province have also complained of humiliation they suffer at check posts. The HRCP says what has been reported appears to be only ‘the tip of the iceberg’ as a large number of families do not have access to any forum to protest. The report says that ‘the so-called transition to democracy has not yet started in the province as the government is being run the way it was being run since the 1999 military coup’ and that ‘it is the military that still calls the shots’.

The reality is that Balochistan has been a victim of repeated betrayals. It has been fed on hollow hopes and false promises. It has been engaged in dialogue only to be stabbed in the back with use of force. We have seen committee after committee being formed to resolve the problem peacefully but use of force has been what is finally relied on by the establishment. The country’s political leadership has publicly apologised to the Baloch people several times for the atrocities successive regimes have committed but the state policy towards this most resourceful but most backward province remains the same. The much trumpeted Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package is awaiting implementation and is already seen as too little too late. So how do we come out of this morass? Demilitarisation, as has been recommended by the HRCP, should be the first step towards a peaceful solution. The release of all political prisoners and an end to illegal detentions can also help restore some public trust. However, nothing will work if the state continues to deny the Baloch people their due share in the resources that Balochistan possesses.

Gates looks to broader Afghan offensive

KABUL U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Kabul on Monday to press for details from his generals on upcoming plans to broaden the fight against the Taliban and warned of "very hard days" ahead.He also signaled to Iran, whose president may visit Kabul this week, that Washington would respond if it started aggressively trying to undermine the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan -- something it has not attempted to any real extent so far.
Gates, on his first Afghan trip since the start of President Barack Obama's surge of 30,000 forces, acknowledged recent gains against the Taliban, including a push to take control of the Taliban stronghold of Marjah.
But he cautioned against reading too much into "bits and pieces of good news" on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border and said it was too soon to say whether the momentum in the more than 8-year-old conflict had finally shifted.
"I don't think we should lean too far forward in reading too much into specific, positive developments," Gates told reporters before his arrival.
"The early signs are encouraging. But I worry that people will get too impatient and think things are better than they actually are. There are still some tough times ahead."
Controlling expectations will be critical for Washington and its allies to maintain support for a war in which military casualties and costs are rising. Obama has said U.S. forces will begin to draw down in July 2011, but officials stress the military role will continue well beyond that date.Gates said he would seek an update on the Marjah operation --- billed as the biggest offensive since U.S. forces toppled the Taliban in 2001 -- from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan.
He will also seek details from McChrystal about his vision for future operations to get full control of Kandahar, the former "capital city" of the Taliban.A senior Obama administration official said last month the U.S. military would launch operations to take full control of Kandahar later this year, a massive undertaking that analysts see as a potential turning point in the conflict.
Gates said he would also hear from Karzai about his plans to pursue Taliban reconciliation. He has expressed hope for defections at low levels, but voiced renewed skepticism that senior Taliban leaders would be ready to lay down their arms as long as they thought they could still win the war."My guess is they're not at that point yet," Gates said.

"I think that more needs to be done. After all, we only have got about 6,000 of the 30,000 troops from the surge into Afghanistan at this point," he said.
Gates' visit might overlap with one by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced by Iranian media.Gates reiterated his concerns that Tehran was playing a "double game" in Afghanistan, being friendly to the Afghan government while looking to undermine the United States."They do not want us to be successful," Gates said.
Still, he said the level of Iranian support to insurgents was still "relatively low" and acknowledged Tehran "could do a lot more" against U.S. interests in Afghanistan if it wanted to. "Whether they're providing money and some low level of support, they also understand that our reaction, should they get too aggressive in this, is not one that they would want to think about," Gates said. Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said Gates was referring only to possible reaction within Afghanistan. The comments came as U.S. and Israeli officials play down the possibility of any imminent military action against Iran while U.S. officials pursue sanctions against the country over its nuclear program. Israel cites Ahmadinejad's repeated calls for the destruction of the Jewish state as a clear sign an Iranian nuclear weapon would threaten the country's existence.

Blast hits police building in Pakistan, 12 dead

LAHORE, Pakistan – A suicide car bomber struck a building where police interrogate high-value suspects in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore on Monday, killing at least 12 people and wounding 61 more including women taking children to school, officials said.

The attack broke what had been a relative lull in major violence in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country reviled by some militant groups for its alliance with the U.S. It also showed that insurgents retain the ability to strike the country's heartland, far from the Afghan border regions where al-Qaida and the Taliban have long thrived, despite army offensives aimed at wiping them out.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion fell on the Pakistani Taliban and allied militant groups. Those groups are believed responsible for a wave of attacks that killed more than 600 people starting in October, including several in major Pakistani cities. More recent attacks have been smaller and confined to remote northwest regions near Afghanistan.

The bomb blast Monday comes amid reports of a Pakistani crackdown on Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida operatives using its soil. Among the militants said to have been arrested is the Afghan Taliban's No. 2 commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

The explosion went off outside a Punjab province police building, police official Zulfikar Hameed said. TV footage showed a huge crater in the ground where the blast seemed to have originated. It appeared the suicide bomber rammed a car packed with as much as 1,300 pounds (600 kilograms) of explosives into the building's perimeter wall, officials said.

"This place was used to interrogate important suspects, but presently there was none such suspect, but more then 40 staff were manning the place," Lahore police chief Pervez Rathore said.

Noorul Huda, a student at a nearby religious school, was in his first class when the blast shook the area, he told TV reporters.

"With the huge bang, blocks and pieces of the roof fell upon us and six of us were wounded," said the young man, who suffered a head injury that was covered by a bloodstained cloth. "It was total chaos outside and people were running and crying for help."

Pakistanis in the neighborhood had filed complaints urging authorities to move the unmarked interrogation facility out of the residential area so the street wouldn't become a target for an attack, said Mohammad Musharraf, who lives nearby.

"My whole house was shaken and I thought it was an earthquake," he said. "A window dislodged and fell on my son, fracturing his arm."

Police official Chaudhry Shafiq said 12 people had died. Of the 61 people wounded, several were in critical condition.

Hospital official Jawed Akram said the dead included at least one woman and a young girl, apparently part of a group heading to a school. Several women were among the wounded.

"People are coming with multiple wounds, many with head injuries and broken limbs," Akram said.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik painted the attack as sign of desperation from militants whose "backs have been broken" by the army.

"They are taking guerrilla actions but gradually it is decreasing and they are being arrested and in the coming days they will have no chance," Malik said.

Much of the brick building collapsed Monday, and there were piles of bricks and metal everywhere at the site, TV footage showed. Other nearby homes and other buildings, including a mosque, also were damaged.

Militant attacks in Pakistan frequently target security forces, though civilian targets have not escaped.

During the bloody wave of attacks that began in October — coinciding with a major army ground offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan tribal area — Lahore was hit several times.

In mid-October, three groups of gunmen attacked three separate security facilities in the eastern city, a rampage that left 28 dead. Twin suicide bombings at a market in Lahore in December killed nearly 50 people.

'Hurt Locker' is best picture, wins six Oscars

"The Hurt Locker" earned six Oscars at the 82nd annual Academy Awards Sunday night, taking home the biggest prize -- best picture -- as well as honors for its director, original screenplay, sound editing, sound mixing and film editing.

The small-budget movie, one of the lowest-grossing films to be nominated in the post-"Star Wars" blockbuster era, defeated its primary competition, James Cameron's "Avatar," the big-budget, highest-grossing film of all time. The groundbreaking "Avatar," with its dazzling effects and creative presentation, won three Oscars, for cinematography, visual effects and art direction.
"The Hurt Locker," a film about a bomb disposal unit in the early part of the Iraq War, developed its momentum slowly, winning notice at festivals in the latter part of 2008 before earning a national release in the summer of 2009. Despite fading quickly at the box office -- to date, it's earned just $21 million worldwide, versus more than $2.6 billion for "Avatar" -- it was remembered by critics and peers at the end of the year, winning several awards.