Friday, October 21, 2011

Hillary Clinton says US officials have met with Haqqanis

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday that the United States had held a preliminary meeting with representatives of the Haqqani network, a group of militants Washington has blamed for a series of attacks in Afghanistan.

The revelation came soon after Clinton, in Islamabad with a heavyweight team of U.S. military and intelligence leaders, warned that tough action would have to be taken against Afghan and Pakistani militants if they did not cooperate in efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and pursue peace.

Clinton was asked at a roundtable with journalists about reports that U.S. officials had met with Haqqani representatives directly, even as Washington demanded that Pakistan take a tougher line on the group.

"We have reached out to the Taliban, we have reached out to the Haqqani network to test their willingness and their sincerity, and we are now working among us -- Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States -- to try to put together a process that would sequence us toward an actual negotiation," Clinton said.

No negotiations are underway, she said.

A senior US official said later the meeting took place in the summer, before September's attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul that US officials have linked to the Haqqanis.

They said the meeting had been organized by Pakistan's powerful spy agency, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which US officials have repeatedly charged with playing a "double game" with Islamist militants and working with the Haqqanis.

"Pakistani government officials helped to facilitate such a meeting," Clinton said.

Pakistan is seen as critical to the US drive to end the conflict in Afghanistan. Clinton, CIA director David Petraeus and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey went to Islamabad to deliver a strong demand for more cooperation on cracking down on militants finding safe havens in Pakistan's mountainous west and northwest.

"We had a very in-depth conversation with specifics," Clinton said at an earlier media conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. "And we are looking forward to taking that conversation and operationalizing it over the next days and weeks. Not months and years, days and weeks."

Later, in her comments to journalists, she added an unspecified warning to the U.S. demand for action.

"I'm warning if we don't handle these safe havens together, the consequences could be drastic for us both," she said.

Friday's media appearances came a day after what had been described as "extremely frank" discussions Clinton and her team held with their Pakistani counterparts.

Pressure on Islamabad has been mounting since U.S. special forces found and killed Osama bin Laden in May in a Pakistani garrison town, where he had apparently been living for years.

The secret bin Laden raid was the biggest blow to U.S.-Pakistan relations since Islamabad joined the U.S. "war on terror" after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Pakistan's military said the raid was a flagrant violation of sovereignty. U.S. officials wondered whether an ally that receives billions of dollars in American aid had been sheltering the world's most wanted man, which Pakistan denies.


The United States had not publicly spelled out exactly how it wanted Pakistan to handle the Haqqanis but Clinton urged them to persuade militants to join peace talks.

"We think that Pakistan for a variety of reasons has the capacity to encourage, to push, to squeeze ... terrorists, including the Haqqanis and the Afghan Taliban, to be willing to engage in the peace process," she said.

Pakistan argues that it can't go after the Haqqanis because the army has its hands full with homegrown militants, like Maulvi Fazlullah, an Afghanistan-based Taliban leader who was driven out by an army offensive in 2009 but who has vowed to return to fight.

Analysts, too, say the Pakistani military could suffer heavy casualties if it attacked the Haqqanis. Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the network, recently told Reuters he had more than 10,000 fighters under his command.

Clinton said Pakistan would suffer if it took no action.

"You can't keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors," she said.

Pakistani leaders, however, must tread cautiously because anti-U.S. sentiments run high. In a rare light-hearted moment, one woman in a town hall meeting compared the United States to a nagging mother-in-law, drawing laughter from Clinton and others.

"And you know, once a mother-in-law, always a mother-in-law, but perhaps mother-in-laws can learn new ways also," she said.

Many Pakistanis are angered by US drone strikes against militants in the northwest, and say the country's army is fighting a war based on American interests.

About 90 people staged a protest in the eastern town of Multan against Clinton's visit. In Quetta, capital of the southwestern Baluchistan province, around 150 people burned American flags and hit Clinton's picture with shoes.

Pak woman call US a mother-in-law; leaves Clinton in splits

The often tough talking American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was today left in peals of laughter after a Pakistani woman today compared the US to a nagging mother-in-law."We all know that the whole of Pakistan is facing the brunt of whatever is happening and trying to cooperate with the US, and somehow the US is like a mother-in-law which is just not satisfied with us," said Shamama, who identified herself as working with a women's group in restive northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province near the Afghan border.Her comment not only elicited a huge round of applause from those seated in the town hall here but also from Clinton who answered back in the same wit.Clinton, whose daughter Chelsea is married to an investment banker, said she could personally relate to the woman's perspective because she too was a mother-in-law."I think that's a great analogy I have never heard before," said Clinton adding "Now that I am a mother-in-law, I totally understand what you're saying and hope to do better privately and publicly." She said "I personally believe this relationship is critical, important to us both, and therefore we cannot give it up," and added, "Once a mother-in-law always a mother-in-law, but perhaps mothers-in-law can learn new ways also." Clinton, who was at the town hall for a meeting, is on two-day visit to Pakistan, alongside CIA chief David Petraeus and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Martin Dempsey in an attempt to improve frayed relationship and nudge the Pakistanis to act against the Haqqani network.

Unemployment rates fall in half of US states

Unemployment rates fell in half of U.S. states last month, a sign that September's pickup in hiring was felt around the country.

The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates dropped in 25 states, rose in 14 and stayed the same in 11. That's an improvement from August, when unemployment rose in 26 states.

Nevada reported the highest unemployment rate for the 16th straight month. It stayed at 13.4 percent for the second consecutive month. California was next. The rate there fell from 12.1 in August to 11.9 percent. Michigan had the third-highest rate, at 11.1 percent.

North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate, staying at 3.5 percent for the second straight month. Nebraska had the second lowest rate; it fell from 4.3 percent in August to 4.2 percent.

Nationwide, employers added 103,000 net jobs in September, nearly double the number created in August. And the number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to a six-month low, according to a four-week average calculated by the government. That has helped calm fears that the economy was sliding into another recession, as have other recent data.

Still, hiring remains sluggish. The national unemployment rate has been stuck near 9 percent for more than two years. Employers pulled back on hiring this spring after seeing less demand from consumers. Higher food and gas prices forced consumers to rein in spending.

Employers have added an average of only 72,000 jobs per month in the past five months. That's down from an average of 180,000 in the first four months of this year and far from what is needed to lower the unemployment rate.

In September, 24 states added jobs and one state saw no net change in hiring. The other half of U.S. states lost jobs. That's better than August, when 30 states lost jobs.

Florida, which has had one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation since the recession ended, added 23,300 jobs last month, the biggest gain. The Sunshine State added jobs in education and health care, at hotels and restaurants and in recreation.

Texas created 15,400 jobs, second most among states in September. New positions included jobs in construction and professional and business services, which include accounting, engineering and temporary jobs, among others.

Louisiana added 14,100 jobs, third best.

North Carolina led the nation in jobs lost. It shed 22,200 positions. Most were in government, particularly public education.

Americans are pessimistic about the economy, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. And more than half say President Barack Obama does not inspire confidence about a recovery.

A sizable majority — more than 7 in 10 — believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, the poll found. And 43 percent describe the nation's economy as "very poor," a new high. Among those surveyed, less than 40 percent say Obama's proposed remedies for high unemployment would increase jobs significantly.

Obama signs 3 trade deals, biggest since NAFTA

President Barack Obama signed off Friday on the first three — and possibly last — free trade agreements of his administration, deals with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama that could be worth billions to American exporters and create tens of thousands of jobs.

The three deals were years in the making, and the difficulty of bringing them to fruition make it unlikely there will be another bilateral trade agreement during Obama's current term.

Obama signed them with none of the ceremonial fanfare that normally accompanies such triumphs. Republicans, while supportive of the deals, continue to find fault with Obama's trade policies. And nearly three-fourths of House Democrats voted against the trade measures.

The agreements will bring to 20 those countries that have free trade relations with the United States.

Trade will not go away as an issue, as the administration pushes ahead with a major Pacific rim trade pact, Congress and the White House scuffle over China, and Republicans take aim at Obama's policies during the presidential campaign.

But, "I don't see this administration coming up with new free trade agreements," said National Foreign Trade Council president Bill Reinsch. "For the next six months we ought to go after trade liberalization in manageable pieces."

Republicans accuse the administration of moving too slowly to find new free trade partners, resulting in U.S. exporters losing out to foreign rivals. The administration says it is promoting free trade, but wants to assure that the other side is playing by the rules, that basic worker and environmental rights are observed, and that deals promote U.S. job growth.

"From day one," U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told The Associated Press, the guiding principle has been not just to complete the three trade agreements but "to develop a new paradigm for trade, and rebuild and restore America's confidence in our trading policy."

He added that the administration was on track of reaching Obama's goal, set early last year, of doubling U.S. exports over a five-year period.

Trade officials, in justifying their approach, point to the 83 Senate votes for the South Korean deal, which was renegotiated by Obama to expand access for U.S. vehicles in Korea. That was the highest total ever for a free trade vote.

The accord with South Korea, America's seventh-largest trading partner, is estimated to support 70,000 jobs, and the signing capped a singular moment of triumph for a president who over the past year has seen his jobs agenda blocked on every front by unified Republican opposition. This time Republicans were his eager partners, urging him to move even faster to complete the long-delayed trade deals and move on to new ones.

Obama also signed legislation extending a program, a Democratic favorite, to help workers hurt by foreign trade. Yet the quiet signing ceremony and a low-key reception at the White House for those who might benefit from the agreements reflected the unpopularity of free trade pacts among Obama's core labor supporters — and the uncertainty of his future trade policy.

Supporters say the three deals are a winning proposition for American businessmen and farmers who now face high tariffs in those three countries, while those countries can ship goods to the United States with few or no duties. The deal with Korea could boost exports by $10 billion, erasing the current trade gap. Exports could go up another $1 billion a year to Colombia, one of the U.S.'s strongest allies in Latin America.

The three deals were initially signed in the George W. Bush administration but were slowed down as the Obama White House renegotiated changes and haggled with Republicans over the worker aid program. Democratic opposition was strongest against the Colombia deal because of that country's record of violence against labor leaders.

The U.S. Trade Representative Office is now shifting its attention to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an economic alliance that would link the United States with Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, Vietnam and four countries that are already free trade partners — Australia, Chile, Peru and Singapore. Going beyond cutting tariffs, the alliance would tackle such areas as financial services, intellectual property rights, government procurement, investment and conservation.

Kirk said negotiators had been "making really good progress" and they hoped to have the broad outline of an agreement when leaders meet in Honolulu next month for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

"TPP is the one game in town and there is going to be a lot of focus on that," said John Murphy, vice president for international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Kirk also emphasized the importance of getting other countries to abide by existing trade rules. "Enforcement has been paramount to the work we have done on market access," he said, adding that "if we could get China to a better place where they were really opening up their markets," it would be a major windfall to U.S. exporters.

Mitt Romney, currently viewed as the strongest contender for the Republican presidential nomination, said in a trade policy speech this month that he would work to reestablish TPA and promote more free trade agreements. He also singled out China, saying that as president he would take punitive actions if China continues to unfairly subsidize its domestic products and manipulate its currency.

The Obama administration was cool to legislation passed by the Senate last month that would make it easier to impose higher tariffs on China if it continues to keep its currency undervalued as a way to make its exports cheaper.

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, a group that has strongly opposed past trade agreements, said Obama may have to get tougher on China if he is to defend Ohio and other states where workers hit by foreign trade don't agree with his promotion of free trade.

She said Obama has already lost ground among Democrats, noting that a greater percentage of House Democrats, 71.4 percent, voted against Obama on the trade deals than on any other legislation since he took office.

Among other prickly subjects in the coming year, Russia is close to being accepted into the World Trade Organization, but U.S. businesses would not benefit from lower Russian tariffs unless Congress repeals the Cold War Jackson-Vanik law that barred normal trade relations with the Soviet Union because of its policies on Jewish emigration. And the U.S. still has to make sure that South Korea, Colombia and Panama are ready to carry out their trade agreement commitments, a process that could take months.

But the Chamber's Murphy said they are for now putting aside their frustrations over trade. "This isn't the moment for that. This is a week for sunny optimism."

Chocolate fashion show in Paris

On the stiletto heels of Paris Fashion Week, models will sashay down the catwalk enrobed in garb of an entirely different kind this week: cocoa.

Chocolate-covered ladies will model haute couture designs at the annual Salon de Chocolat show in Paris where chocolatiers and designers will illustrate chocolate trends against a baroque-burlesque backdrop.

Collaborations include chocolate house Cacao Barry, and visual designer Willy G, whose strapless dress is studded with macarons and profiteroles. The dress, says the designer, was inspired by the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl who, legend has it, brought cocoa to mankind. The Aztecs also traded cacao beans as currency.

French singer Juliette Katz will model the dress of tulle, taffeta and Aztec jewelry at the gala fashion show October 19. The dress will also be displayed every day at 5 pm beginning October 20 in a nightly fashion show for the public.

Other chocolatier and designer collaborations include Jean-Paul Hévin and designer Caroline Chuu for Aya, and Jacques Bellanger and Audrey Biarnais.

The Salon de Chocolat takes place in Paris between October 20 and 24.

Hilary Clinton met with President Asif Ali Zardari

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton met with President Asif Ali Zardari at the Presidency and discussed bilateral ties with special focus on war on terror, Afghanistan situation and regional security issues, Geo News reported Friday.

According to sources, President Zardari emphasized on the fact that both the countries need to focus on serious dialogue process. He said that criticism on Pakistan’s role is affecting war on terror and the bilateral ties should be based on mutual respect and partnership as Pakistan has already sacrificed a lot in the ongoing war.

On the other hand, Clinton said that the US appreciates Pakistan’s role in the peace process. However, she urged Pakistan to take "strong steps" to deny Afghan militants’ safe havens.

She further said that the US wants long-term partnership with Pakistan but it has to ensure that the US interests are protected in the region.

In the meeting, Clinton was accompanied by US envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Mark Grossman, US Ambassador Cameron Munter and other US officials.

Pakistan delegation consisted of Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and Interior Mnister Rehman Malik.

For $1 billion, one dictator....Qaddafi billion dollar Man !

Call him the billion-dollar man. One billion for one dictator.
According to the Pentagon, that was the cost to U.S. taxpayers for Muammar el-Qaddafi's head: $1.1 billion through September, the latest figure just out of the Defense Department.And that's just for the Americans.
The final totals will take some time to add up, and still do not include the State Department, CIA, and other agencies involved or other NATO and participating countries. Vice President Joe Biden said that the U.S. "spent $2 billion total and didn't lose a single life." NATO does not track the operational costs to each member country, but the funds directly taken from a common NATO account for Libya operations have totaled about $7.4 million per month for electronic warfare capabilities and $1.1 million per month for headquarters and command staff, a NATO spokesman said.
From the beginning of Operation Unified Protector in March, critics have questioned whether the U.S. could afford to open a third front. The Congressional Research Services estimate the Afghanistan war has cost nearly $500 billion so far. With Iraq, the figure easily tops $1 trillion.
In the first week of Libya operations, bombs were dropped from B-2 stealth planes flown from Missouri and roughly 200 missiles launched from submarines in the Mediterranean, causing alarm that any extended campaign would quickly cost billions more.
But after the U.S. military ramped up the operation, other NATO countries shouldered most of the air burden. Americans took a supporting role: aerial refueling tankers, electronic jamming, and surveillance.
The behind-the-scenes role was something President Obama celebrated in remarks in the Rose Garden on Thursday.
"Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives and our NATO mission will soon come to an end," Obama said.
As to when that mission would end, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement NATO issued from Brussels, "We will terminate our mission in coordination with the United Nations and the National Transitional Council."
U.S. and NATO officials steadily maintained their mission was never to hunt, capture or kill the Libyan leader. The mission, they said, was to enforce the arms embargo, establish and hold a no-fly zone, and take actions to protect civilians from attack or the threat of attack.
That last directive seemed to give plenty of reason to target Libya's top commander. But Pentagon officials said for months that if Qaddafi should happen to be at one of those locations when NATO missiles strike, so be it.
Since the operation began on March 31, getting to Qaddafi's final stand required 7,725 air sorties and 1,845 strike sorties, 397 of which dropped ordnance, and 145 Predator drone strikes.
NATO aircraft, including those supplied by the U.S., totaled 26,089 sorties and 9,618 strike sorties through Wednesday.
More than 70 U.S. aircraft have supported the operation, including Predator drones.
NATO flew 67 sorties and 16 strikes sorties over Libya one day before Qaddafi was killed.
The NATO mission also employed submarines, aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, destroyers, frigates, and supply ships—as many as 21 vessels at one time.
Additionally, as of one week ago, the U.S. had sold participating countries in the operation roughly $250 million in ammunition, parts, fuel, technical assistance, and other support, according to the Pentagon.
Several members of Congress put out statements celebrating Qaddafi's downfall but did not comment on the cost. Several offices contacted did not provide additional reaction to the monetary figures.
But presidential candidate Ambassador Jon Huntsman did question the cost of the Libya operation. His statement on Thursday said, "I remain firm in my belief that America can best serve our interests and that transition through non-military assistance and rebuilding our own economic core here at home."

Sarkozy calls for forgiveness in Libya

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for forgiveness and reconciliation in Libya on Friday, adding that Muammar Gaddafi's death is not a cause for celebration despite his crimes.

Libya has found “its freedom and democratic hope. ... Now it is up to the Libyans to turn the page on the terrible years of Gaddafi and to build this future. The Libyans have a duty of forgiveness, reconciliation and unity,” Sarkozy said on the sidelines of a development conference held as part France's chairmanship of the G20.

“Obviously as long as there was fighting, threats existed,” Sarkozy said, “(but) we should never rejoice at the death of a man no matter what he did.”

“The threat posed by Gaddafi and the group of mercenaries that was with him was a real threat to the future of Libya. Now it is time to turn the page and move toward the future.”

Asked if NATO's operations in Libya were now over, Sarkozy said: “We will decide it with our allies and also listening to the NTC (Libya's National Transitional Council).” But he added that “the operation is coming to its end.”

French, US and British forces spearheaded the air campaign against Gaddafi's military by the NATO military alliance, which has carried out nearly 1 000 strike sorties since March 31.

France was even involved in the ex-strongman's capture when one of its aircraft fired a warning shot at a convoy of vehicles to stop Gaddafi's escape attempt.

Will the end of Gadhafi sway U.S. politics?
With Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's dramatic demise this Thursday morning, the world is rid of a tyrant, and a free Libya has jumped a mile forward to stability (though, as CNN's Ben Wedeman reports, there are still many more miles to go).

Yet in America, we are speeding toward the 2012 presidential elections, and talk quickly turns to the political considerations here. President Obama appeared Thursday afternoon in the White House Rose Garden to celebrate this "momentous day in the history of Libya" and to declare that "one of the world's longest dictators is no more."

As Obama pledged his support to Libya's future, many in the crowd and watching at home surely began to wonder about the president's own future. It is a much-discussed irony that a president elected largely around domestic concerns has gone on to amass some sterling foreign policy bona fides, while his approval on matters stateside sinks deeper and deeper. But what impact, if any, will his string of overseas successes have on his standing -- and re-election prospects -- here at home?The first, most obvious answer is: not much. While you might expect a president who has bagged Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, and now Moammar Gadhafi in just under six months to be riding high in the public's estimation, foreign policy concerns simply don't register much on the public's radar these days. With the economy sputtering -- and veering dangerously toward the edge of another downturn -- voters are homed in there. An October Gallup poll found 32% mentioning "unemployment/jobs" as the most important issue facing the nation, with another 31% mentioning "the economy in general." Where did "wars/fear of war" and "terrorism" stack up? Two percent each.

Nor does it help that Libya was never a particularly popular war in the first place. A March Gallup poll taken just one day after our Air Force began helping enforce the no-fly zone over Libya showed Americans approving of our involvement, 47% to 37% -- a majority, yes, but lower than every other foreign military action since Vietnam (including Grenada and Kosovo). Critics may likewise downplay how much credit the president deserves for Gadhafi's demise -- after all, there's no indication American forces took him out, the way they got al-Awlaki and, unforgettably, bin Laden.Nevertheless, there may be some political benefits in this string of successes for Obama: Even if they don't lift his approval up to dazzling heights, they fortify him against criticism on the foreign policy flank and give courage to his remaining supporters. The victories may also help firm up the president's standing as a decisive leader, a contrast that may prove helpful if he faces former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- whom rivals on both sides of the aisle like to portray as changing with the wind -- in the general election.

Defense Secretary Bob Gates said in September that Obama's decision to go after bin Laden with Navy SEALs was one of the most courageous ever made by any of the eight presidents he has served -- and Obama's gamble on Libya (derided by critics quoting the characterization of "leading from behind") certainly seems to be paying off as well. His approach (later redubbed by the publication that first reported it, "leading from behind the scenes") will also bolster a campaign argument that may resonate not only with his base, but also with swing voters increasingly wary of foreign engagements: that Obama wields force much more prudently and surgically than the reckless GOP -- that he has wound down Iraq and helped win back international respect, all while delivering strong results.

Still, domestic issues reign supreme, and so it's hard to say that the credit Obama will get for these successes abroad will be enough to turn back the tide of his sinking poll numbers. An August NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Obama's approval on foreign policy a positive 50% to 45%, but the same poll gave him horrendous 37% to 59% marks on the economy and a 44% to 51% disapproval overall. Since then, he's only slipped, with the latest Gallup tracking poll putting his total approval at 39% to 54%.

Obama may yet get a bump from the Gadhafi news, but it's hard to imagine it overshadowing the bin Laden spike, which itself proved extraordinarily fleeting. In the meantime, if he wants to bring the numbers back up for the long haul, the president will have to find a way to transfer some of that daring success of his War Room into his domestic Cabinet.

In their second terms, presidents often find themselves drifting into more and more foreign policy initiatives, both as a way to bolster their legacies and because they find that, with their domestic political capital usually spent, it's the only arena left where they can make a big impact. Obama has gone through that cycle a bit quicker than most, and it leaves one questioning what his second term would look like.

Whether or not that comes to pass, he will at the very least be able to console himself that even if the voters aren't rushing to record these international victories, the history books one day will.

US boosts pressure on Pakistan over terrorism

The Obama administration on Friday intensified pressure on Pakistan to do more to crack down on Islamist militants destabilizing Afghanistan, as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a tough public message that extremists have been able to operate in and from Pakistan for too long.

For the second time in two days, Clinton pressed Pakistani authorities to step up efforts against the Haqqani militant network, which is based in the country's rugged tribal region, and is blamed for attacks both inside Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

After leading an unusually large and powerful U.S. delegation, including CIA director David Petraeus and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, for four hours of talks with Pakistani officials late Thursday, Clinton met Friday with Pakistan's president and foreign minister to make the case.

"We should be able to agree that for too long extremists have been able to operate here in Pakistan and from Pakistani soil," she said. "No one who targets innocent civilians, whether they be Pakistanis, Afghans, Americans or anyone else should be tolerated or protected."

The U.S. has grown increasingly impatient with Pakistan's refusal to take military action against the Taliban-linked Haqqani network and its ambivalence, if not hostility, to supporting Afghan attempts to reconcile Taliban fighters into society.

Clinton made clear that that was no longer acceptable while American officials warned that if Pakistan continued to balk, the U.S. would act unilaterally to end the militant threat.

"Pakistan has a critical role to play in supporting Afghan reconciliation and ending the conflict," Clinton told reporters at a joint press conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. "We look to Pakistan to take strong steps to deny Afghan insurgents safe havens and to encourage the Taliban to enter negotiations in good faith."

The Haqqani group is considered the greatest threat to American troops in Afghanistan, and U.S. officials have accused Pakistan's military spy agency, the ISI, of providing it with support — an allegation denied by Islamabad. Clinton noted that U.S. and Afghan forces had recently launched a successful operation against Haqqani safe havens in Afghanistan and that Pakistan must do the same. On Thursday in the Afghan capital, she said those who allow such safe havens to remain would pay "a very big price."

After the lengthy meeting with Pakistan's prime minister and army and intelligence chiefs on Thursday and Friday's talks with Kahr, Clinton said the U.S. delegation had asked "very specifically for greater cooperation from the Pakistan side to squeeze the Haqqani network and other terrorists because we know that trying to eliminate terrorists and safe havens from one side of the border is not going to work."

"It's like that old story: you can't keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors," she said.

Clinton made the same argument later in a town hall meeting with civic leaders.

"No policy that draws distinctions between good terrorists and bad terrorists can provide long-term security," she said.

She also acknowledged that U.S.-Pakistani ties were now badly strained. "Our relationship of late has not been an easy one," she said. "We have seen common interests give way to mutual suspicion."

For her part, Kahr repeated Pakistani denials of any government connection to the Haqqanis.

"There is no question of any support by any Pakistani institution to safe havens in Pakistan," she said.

And, she insisted that Pakistan and the U.S. shared the same goal.

"Pakistan takes the threat of terrorism seriously," she said, noting that thousands of Pakistanis had been killed by extremists over the past decade. "We are committed to this process, we would be willing to do whatever we can to be able to make this a success."

What is needed now, she said, is to try to agree on how to "operationalize" efforts to end the threat.

Clinton said the urgency of the situation required that that the operationalization take place "over the next days and weeks, not months and years."

Earlier this week, Pakistan's powerful army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani said in a rare briefing to two parliamentary defense committees that the country has been getting mixed signals from the United States, with the Pentagon urging the military to focus on fighting militants and the State Department requesting help in negotiating with the insurgents, said a parliament member who attended the meeting.

Kayani said Washington needs to make up its mind because it won't work to attack them and try to negotiate with them at the same time, according to the lawmaker.

The large U.S. contingent was meant to display unity among the various U.S. agencies with an interest in Pakistan, including the CIA, Pentagon and State Department. Clinton arrived in Islamabad after saying In Kabul that she and the team would "push Pakistan very hard."

The Pakistani military has said it can't launch an offensive against the Haqqani network in its safe haven in the North Waziristan tribal area because its troops are stretched too thin by other operations against insurgents at war with the state.

But many analysts suspect the military is reluctant to target a group that is seen as an important potential ally in Afghanistan once foreign troops withdraw. Both the U.S. and Pakistani governments had close relations with the founder of the Haqqani network, Jalaluddin Haqqani, during the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Syria is not another Libya

The Western media have been sensationalizing China's stance on Syria, with one of them saying: "China demanded that Syria's leader President Bashar al-Assad move toward faster political reform, a rare change of policy and a deviation from its usual refusal to intervene in the affairs of strategic allies."

That is a wrong analysis, for China's actions are aimed at restoring normalcy in the lives of the Syrian people as soon as possible and bringing back peace and stability in the Middle East.

After the change of governments in Egypt and Libya, Syria has been in the eye of the storm sweeping the Middle East. Thanks to the intervention of Western powers, especially the United States, violent conflicts between different groups in Syria have intensified, greatly raising the risk of civil war in the country.

With a population of 22.25 million and a territory of 185,000 square kilometers, Syria is a middle-sized country in the Middle East but plays a big role in the region because of its geographic importance. Since it shares its borders with countries like Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel, it has had to bear the brunt of Arab-Israeli conflicts and even lose its territory, the Golan Heights, to Israel.

Given these factors, it is impossible to restore peace in the region without the active participation of Syria. Besides, its cooperation with Iran, influence on Lebanon's Hezbollah party and the presence of 2 million Kurdish people within its territory make its stability especially important.

No wonder, it has become a target of the West's selective intervention policy in the "democratization" wave that is sweeping across the Arab world. As soon as anti-government protests started in Syria in March this year, Western countries began supporting opposition forces through every possible means - imposing economic sanctions, limiting senior officials' travels abroad, and even directly telling Bashar al-Assad to resign.

The West has tried to treat Syria in the same way that it treated Libya. It tried to propel the UN Security Council to impose further sanctions and even launch an attack on Syria.

The US and its Western allies are dreaming of turning the Mediterranean Sea into "NATO's internal lake". If the Western powers can topple Bashar al-Assad, they can isolate Iran further and take forward their plan to establish a "Great Middle East".

By intervening selectively in the Middle East, Western countries are in fact fulfilling their own interests instead of promoting their avowed universal values. They identify a country where they want to intervene not because it is undemocratic but because it threatens or is deemed to threaten their interests. And the Western media never hesitate in advocating mass protests in the countries that hinder or are deemed to hinder Western interests.

Syria and Libya (during Muammar Gadhafi's rule) have both been thorns in America's side for opposing its wider "democracy" plan in the Middle East and NATO's ambition to include the whole of the Mediterranean region in its orbit. Now that Gadhafi has been ousted from power in Libya, the Western alliance has turned to Syria.

But Syria is not Libya. Although armed conflicts have occurred between different groups in the country, Qadri Jamil, leader of the Popular Front for Change, has declared openly that he and his party reject all forms of foreign intervention and the Syrian people should decide the country's future. On Oct 12, thousands of people demonstrated in support of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and expressed opposition to foreign intervention.

As a responsible country which believes in non-intervention in the internal affairs of a country, China on Oct 5 vetoed a move in the United Nations Security Council to intervene in Syria. For long, China has advocated political dialogue between different groups to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East. It expects the Syrian government to make good its promises on reform and start the process of inclusive politics, and supports the negotiation efforts of all.

China's actions best illustrate its principle of peaceful diplomacy and pursuit of a harmonious world.

China does have interests in the region, but they are in accordance with those of Middle East countries. Peace and stability mean lower risks and less threat to the lives of people in the Middle East.

China and the Middle East countries have to continue promoting economic cooperation and oil trade, which will not only secure China's oil supply, but also help oil-producing countries stabilize oil prices. Moreover, peace and stability will help eliminate terrorism, separatism and extremism, which is the common pursuit of most countries.

If the UN had passed the proposal to intervene in Syria, not only Syria, but also the entire Middle East would have soon become mired in chaos and people of the region would have been subjected to even greater suffering.

Clinton to continue 'frank' talks with Pakistani officials

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will continue "frank" talks with Pakistani officials Friday, a day after urging the nation's prime minister to strengthen efforts to combat terrorism, senior State Department officials said.

CIA chief David Petraeus and other military officials were part of the meeting with Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Thursday night.

Gilani characterized the meeting as "cordial and frank."

"Disagreements between the coalition partners in the war on terror should not undermine the strategic relationship which is so vital for the promotion of mutual interests of the two countries," Gilani said in a statement.

Before going to Pakistan, Clinton had said she planned to urge Pakistani leaders to step up efforts to target terror groups."We intend to push the Pakistanis very hard," Clinton said Thursday, calling it a "time for clarity."

The United States, she said, knows the Haqqani terrorist network operates out of havens in Pakistan.

"Our message is very clear: We're going to be fighting, we're going to be talking, we're going to be building," she said. "And they can either be helping or hindering. But we are not going to stop our efforts to create a strong foundation for an Afghanistan free from interference, violent conflict and one that has a chance to chart its own future."

Clinton is scheduled to meet with President Asif Ali Zardari and others Friday

NATO and U.S. officials have said recently that they are seeing a marked increase in infiltration into Afghanistan from Pakistan by the militant Haqqani network.

Before going to Pakistan, Clinton stopped in Afghanistan to meet with President Hamid Karzai. Her visit to Afghanistan followed a stop in Libya.

Lessons from Libya: What lies ahead for Arab uprisings?

After a grueling and eight-month bloody battle that resulted in the death of Muammar Qaddafi on Thursday, Libyans face a host of challenges as they begin to build their country.

Qaddafi became the first leader of a nation belonging to the Arab Spring fraternity to die at the hands of his own people. There were no deals of immunity and no long-winded trials that may have exposed some ugly truths, much to the collective sigh of relief of western nations that once supported Qaddafi.

Pundits have been scurrying since his death to list the challenges the new rulers of the National Transitional Council face but arguably, their greatest priority will be to secure law and order.

The very thing that secured Libyans their victory ─ arms ─ could pose the greatest challenge for the NTC. Fighters in Misrata, Tripoli, Benghazi and now Sirte each claim responsibility for “freeing Libya”, and feel a sense of entitlement to the spoils of war – be that roles in the new government or continuing to play the role of law enforcement. Herein lies the danger as the past few weeks have shown that revenge attacks have been common and despite NTC’s attempts to de-weaponize its fighters, it has not wielded in the results they hoped for. These fears have been expressed by various human rights organizations too.

However, for protestors in other Arab nations witnessing bloody uprisings, the Libyan victory – unique because its fighters were armed and it had international military intervention ─ will provide a great deal of succor, namely that victory is possible.

For the Syrian opposition, this is an opportunity to band together and begin a concerted effort to push for international intervention against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. This is ultimately what the NTC did when months ago it began to canvas for international support that saw the enforcement of no-fly zones in Libya, shipment of arms and ultimately recognition of their legitimacy as the new leaders.

For Yemenis determined to put to end the 33 years of rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the challenges lie in remaining a peaceful protest in the face of gross brutality. Yemen is already a heavily weaponized and tribal society with factions already pitted against one another which have served Saleh well as he’s used this, along with the al-Qaeda threat, to perpetuate his own rule. Yemenis want to stay committed to peaceful resistance, as exemplified by its courageous Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawwakul Karman, but that runs the risk of changing if and when Yemenis turn to the Libyan model to bring about change.

The year will undoubtedly be remembered for the Arab Spring and the fate its leaders met: Tunisia’s President Zine ElAbedine Ben Ali went into self-exile in Saudi Arabia, Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak Ali faces trial on charges of corruption and Qaddafi has been killed. The victors remain the same: the people who called for, and achieved, democracy. How the end plays out for other Arab nations remains to be seen but it is safe (and tragic) to assume two things: remaining leaders won’t go quietly and democracy is no longer a pipe dream, but a reality just waiting to give birth.

Gaddafi was 'killed in crossfire'


Libya's Col Muammar Gaddafi was killed in crossfire after being captured in his birthplace of Sirte, officials say.

Acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said he had been shot in the head in an exchange between Gaddafi loyalists and National Transitional Council fighters.

He confirmed that Col Gaddafi, who had been taken alive, had died before reaching hospital.

Nato's governing body, meeting in the coming hours, is expected to declare an end to its Libyan bombing campaign.

Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that with the death of Col Gaddafi "that moment has now moved much closer".

"After 42 years, Col Gaddafi's rule of fear has finally come to an end," he said. "I call on all Libyans to put aside their differences and work together to build a brighter future."

Wild scenes of celebration continued late into the night in towns and cities across Libya at news of the colonel's death.

Groups of young men fired guns in the air, and drivers honked their horns in celebration.

In the capital, Tripoli, cars clogged the city centre.
Golden gun

Mr Jibril, number two in the National Transitional Council (NTC), held a news conference in Tripoli to confirm the colonel's death.

"We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammar Gaddafi has been killed," he said.
Video footage suggests Col Gaddafi was dragged through the streets.
It is unclear from the footage, broadcast by al-Jazeera TV, whether he was alive or dead at the time.

Later, Mr Jibril told journalists that a "forensic report" had concluded that the colonel had died from bullet wounds after he had been captured and driven away.

"When the car was moving it was caught in crossfire between the revolutionaries and Gaddafi forces in which he was hit by a bullet in the head," he said, quoting from the report.

"The forensic doctor could not tell if it came from the revolutionaries or from Gaddafi's forces."

Earlier, some NTC fighters gave a different account of the colonel's death, saying he had been shot by his captors when he tried to escape.

One NTC fighter told the BBC that he found Col Gaddafi hiding in a hole, and the former leader had begged him not to shoot.

The fighter showed reporters a golden pistol he said he had taken from Col Gaddafi.

Arabic TV channels showed images of troops surrounding two large drainage pipes where the reporters said Col Gaddafi was found.

US President Barack Obama said it was a "momentous day" for Libya.

He said the country had a "long and winding road towards full democracy", but the US and other countries would stand behind Tripoli.

Col Gaddafi was toppled from power in August after 42 years in charge of the country.

He was making his last stand in Sirte alongside two of his sons, Mutassim and Saif al-Islam, according to reports.
Nato air strike

A body that officials identified as that of Mutassim has been shown on Libyan TV.

A reporter with Reuters news agency described how the body of Mutassim - the former national security adviser - had been laid out on blankets on the floor of a house in the city of Misrata, while people jostled to take pictures of the corpse with their mobile phones.

The body of Col Gaddafi was also taken to Misrata.

There are conflicting reports as to the whereabouts of Saif al-Islam.

Acting Justice Minister Mohammad al-Alagi told AP news agency that Saif al-Islam had been captured and taken to hospital with a leg wound.

But another NTC official said his whereabouts were unknown.

Nato, which has been running a bombing campaign in Libya for months, said it had carried out an air strike earlier on Thursday.

French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said French jets had fired warning shots to halt a convoy carrying Col Gaddafi as it tried to flee Sirte.

He said Libyan fighters had then descended and taken the colonel.

Proof of Col Gaddafi's fate came in grainy pieces of video, first circulated among fighters, and then broadcast by international news channels.

The first images showed a bloodied figure presumed to be Col Gaddafi.

Later, video emerged of the colonel being bundled on to the back of a pick-up truck after being captured alive.

None of the video footage has been independently verified.Col Gaddafi's death came after weeks of fierce fighting for Sirte, one of the last remaining pockets of resistance.

A senior official, Mahmoud Shammam, told the BBC that fighting throughout Libya was over.

World leaders urged the NTC to carry through its promise to reform the country.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who had taken a leading role in Nato's intervention, said it was "a day to remember all of Col Gaddafi's victims".

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called it a "historic" moment, but warned: "The road ahead for Libya and its people will be difficult and full of challenges."

China said the death of Col Gaddafi marked the turning of a page in Libya's history. It called for an inclusive political transition in Libya as soon as possible, to protect the unity of the country and restore social stability.

Russia's President Dimitry Medvedev said he hoped Libya could achieve a peaceful transition to a modern democratic state.

Officials said the NTC intended to announce the "liberation of the country" in the coming days, allowing them to begin pushing through democratic reforms that will lead to elections.

Obama: Gadhafi's Death Opens New Chapter

Red alert against dengue and congo fever in Fata, FRs

Like other parts of the country, the health facilities in FATA and frontier regions have been put on high alert to stop the epidemics of fatal diseases caused by spread of dengue and Congo viruses.For people awareness, FATA Secretariat has started a campaign in the tribal regions against the spread of epidemics. As per details health and social welfare institutes dealing with research revealed that Congo virus was more dangerous than dengue virus. The farmers associated with livestock and cattle head business and the adjacent communities are more vulnerable to the Congo virus.Similarly, on Eid ul Azha, the Congo virus could grow after slaughter of sacrificial animals; therefore they advised to take appropriate measures to avoid getting affected by the disease.

Nawaz Lohar : What has he on offer?


What has he on offer?

With much ado has the PML (N) supremo, Mian Nawaz Sharif, launched a campaign to oust the Zardari regime. Definitely, no mountains will weep and no streets will wail if this regime goes, such an unprecedented grand failure has it been in administering the state and in giving an alleviating deal to the country’s masses. But the guru must tell the people what has he on offer for them, as certainly they wouldn’t want to be out of the frying-pan to fall into the fire. It is not their painful adversities he has to dwell upon. They need no telling of this. Living in the splendours of Raiwind palaces and luxurious abodes here and abroad, mixing with the rich and supping with the wealthy, and moving around in the select company of the nation’s fat bellies, he couldn’t imaginably have even the foggiest idea of the burning grill they are being roasted on. They want to hear of recipes, if he has any in his bag, to address their tragic lot. And it is not just corruption in high places they want to hear from him when his own credentials on this score stand devastatingly besmirched in the popular eye. He may be thinking, mistakenly, that with this chant he is scoring points with the public, which in fact he is not. On the street, his postures of piety have no takers. He and his siblings too are facing corruption cases, pending before the courts. His contention of the cases being politically motivated carries no conviction with the people, either. The Zardari crowd too takes the same stand, asserting they had been framed up by him vindictively. So long as the courts do not exonerate him, he too stands accused of corruption charges as they do. Both are thus sailing in the same boat in the popular perception. In fact, the people’s woes go much beyond corruption in high places, when this evil phenomenon is so ubiquitously entrenched that it confronts them at every official level to have even their most legitimate works done by greasing some palms. For decades on end, they have craved for clean, lean and efficient administration firmly hinged on merit and quality, which they have got not. Not even he himself fulfilled their wish in his own two stints in power. He too stuffed up the administrative machinery with favourites in key positions and political appointees all around. Still, if he is to come any credible on this plane, he must tell the masses what has he in plans to give them a reformed and delivering administration, with merit the sole criterion of recruitment and no political interference and patronage in postings and transfers. Now for a change he must stop lamenting the Zardari regime’s collapse in tackling the people’s economic woes and start speaking of what cures has he in mind to alleviate their economic predicament. He must tell how he intends to revive the nation’s sagging economy to produce national wealth and bring about progress and prosperity to the country and the people. Instead of deploring the raging unemployment, he must unveil his job creation plans. Enough of crocodile tears has he shed on the disastrous energy shortage on the Zardari sinecures’ watch. He should now turn to speaking out the remedies he has thought out, if at all, to wipe out this destructive shortage playing havoc with our people’s lives and the nation’s industries and businesses. The people’s needs are urgent and he must tell what quick fixes has he charted out to meet their pressing demand.Further, he should start telling what has he planned for the emancipation of haris and tenants from the land barons’ serfdom, the salvation of enslaved bonded labour living in the debt trap generations after generations, equitable redistribution of farming land, spread of social networks for the downtrodden, and expansion of speakable family healthcare and children educational facilities for the poor. The point is now that he has launched into a regime change venture, the people must know what on offer is a deal for which they should storm out on the streets and brave by the police lathies. After all, what could be the sense if one pack of clueless rulers is dispatched to be replaced by another clueless pack?And he would better stop rubbing too much his democracy crap, a big hoax. No democracy are we, but only a plutocracy actually. The people know this, and also that we will stay a plutocracy so long as the fat bellies hold the monopoly of the nation’s politics, which they certainly would in ages to come. The guru himself has famously hungered once unquenchably to be the nation’s Amirul Momineen, a law unto himself, answerable to none, and an unchallengeable ruler for lifetime

Punjab under SHARIF LOHARS experiences worst dictatorship in the name of democracy: Governor

Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa has said that corruption of Sharif brothers would be exposed through an independent commission and those creating hurdles in Accountability bill would not escape from prosecution.Speaking at a Seminar “Fight against violence in Pakistan” here on Thursday, the Governor said worst type of dictatorship was in place in Punjab in the name of democracy.He said the PML-N was free to hold as much marches and dharnas but President Zardari and the government would complete their constitutional term. He said he would seek the explanations of DCOs for utilizing government resources for the meetings of Nawaz Sharif. He said government offices were damaged and motorcycles of the poor were set ablaze under the supervision of PML-N during protests against loadshedding.He questioned the utilization of government machinery by Nawaz Sharif and pointed out that in what capacity he was using it as he was neither Governor nor the Chief Minister. He said after the expiry of ten year period, Nawaz Sharif has started taking part in active politics.The Governor said that those objecting over the appointment of NAB chairman were afraid of reopening of cases against them. He said if every case is to be handled by the Supreme Court then what the subordinate judiciary would do?Sardar Latif Khosa blamed that Raiwind palace, Ittefaq foundary, fake accounts in London and other assets and properties were made through corruption. He said corruption in politics is the hallmark of Sharifs and they have made politics a business.He said if their hands were clean, they would be happy over the appointment of NAB chairman.The Governor said during the past three years there has not been a single charge of corruption against President Zardari while Rs 45 billion were plundered in Punjab in the name of Sasti roti, Danish Schools, Yellow Cab scheme, Dengue spray.He questioned as to why the Provincial Government was not implementing the report prepared on the instruction s of the Supreme Court about devastations caused by floods last year.To a question, the Governor said all the proofs are there about the marriage of son of Chief Minister Punjab with Aisha Ahad. If he wants separation, it should be done through legal way.

PPP to hold Protect Democracy Rally on 26th

Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Karachi Division announced on Thursday to carry out ‘protect democracy rally’ on October 26 in a riposte against PML-N for spearheading the ‘go-Zardari-go’ campaign and described it as an attempt to derail democracy.”Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Chief Nawaz Sharif is waging war against the long-awaited democracy through his bigoted policies and now making foul attempts to assume power,” said Najmi Alam, President PPP Karachi Division at a press conference at Karachi Press Club.He told that Peoples Youth Karachi Division would lead the rally from Peoples Secretariat near Mazar-e-Quaid to Karachi Press Club to show the strength of party. He warned the PPP won’t tolerate any attempt to disrupt democratic process in the country. “We will show PML-N our strength the same day they are holding protest against PPP and the democracy,” he added.He recalled that PML-Chief, being a part of Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD), formed All Party Democratic Alliance (APDM) in 2007 and decided to contest General Elections of 2008, reneging its earlier pledge to boycott the election.He said Nawaz Sharif had backtracked on his promises many a times including non-allotment of party ticket to fake degree holders, refraining from horse trading and struggle against anti-democratic forces. “All such statements later proved to be no more than a word of mouth,” he criticized.He said PML-N Chief returned to the country after observing that the then President General Pervaiz Musharraf had lost all his powers.He said Shaheed Benazir Bhutto welcomed Sharif into ARD but he flew off to Jeddah, leaving country in serious political crisis.

Security forces to conduct operation in Khyber Agency

Security forces have decided to conduct an operation in Tehsil Bara of Khyber Agency, following attacks on forces by the militants, Geo News reported Friday.

According to security forces, 13 personnel lost their lives in two days when they were ambushed by the militants. Therefore, a decision has been made to conduct a vigorous operation against militants starting from today.

The forces have asked the residents to shift to safer places by noon today to avoid any damage to the civilian community.

Forty-eight militants were killed and seven compounds were destroyed in the ongoing clashes. while curfew was imposed in Tehsil Bara two years back which is still continuing.

Pakistani PM demands end to US threats

Pakistan's Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani has urged US officials to stop accusing Islamabad and threatening it with unilateral military action.
Gilani raised the objection during a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Islamabad Thursday evening, Pakistani sources said.
The Pakistani premier reiterated that the United States must use the bilateral forum to raise any complaints.
Reports of US troops massing in Afghanistan along the Pakistani border have raised concerns in the South Asian country about a potential US plan to wage a military offensive on its North Waziristan region.
Leading a high-level delegation, Clinton arrived in Islamabad Thursday on a two-day official tour, following her earlier visit to Afghanistan, Xinhua reported.
Top US officials have alleged that the Pakistani intelligence agency assisted the Haqqani network in attacks against the US Embassy in Afghanistan last month, a charge firmly disputed by Pakistan.
The Haqqani group has been accused of attacking the US Embassy in Kabul and carrying out a truck bombing against a NATO outpost that wounded more than 70 American soldiers in September.
Relations between Islamabad and Washington have already been strained over high civilian casualties caused by the non-UN-sanctioned US drone attacks, which Pakistan has repeatedly condemned as violations of its sovereignty.
Tensions between the two allies further increased following a secret US raid into Pakistan that allegedly led to the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May.

Pak-Afghan border clashes must end: US

A deeply concerned U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has demanded an end to cross border exchange of fire between Nato troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan army, Geo News reported.

Talking to an American TV channel,she said General John Allen during his meeting with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani brought this issue up with special emphasis. Both generals were on the same page in this regard, she added.

She gave full vent to US worries over such incidents.

She said, “We were trying to dig into what sparked these cross-border skirmishes between the two neighbouring nations”.

Secretary Clinton endorsed Admiral Mike Mullen’s allegations regarding ISI-Haqqani covert connections, adding back in the day Americans were not the target set in the ‘cross hair’ of Haqqanis’ but now they are, which gives us a strong reason to do something about it.

Sending a tough message to Pakistan she said we couldn’t stomach today what we had somehow put up with yesterday.

"They must be part of the solution and that means ridding their own country of terrorists who kill their own people and cross the border to kill in Afghanistan," Clinton said.

"We're going to be fighting, we're going to be talking and we're going to be building. And they can either be helping or hindering, but we are not going to stop our efforts."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Women applying makeup while driving to be fined in Dubai

"Women drivers in Dubai beware!

Applying makeup while driving can now get you pulled over and fined. If texting, speaking on mobiles phones and reading newspapers while driving is dangerous, so is applying make-up, said a top traffic official."

Nawaz, Musharraf responsible for energy crises

Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Faheem has said that Pervez Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif are responsible for the energy crises as they failed to produce even one megawatt of electricity during their tenures.
While speaking to journalists after inaugurating the 6th Expo 2011 here on Thursday, he said that PPP was in the power and PML-N was strolling in the streets.
The country was facing acute energy crisis, he said further adding that it was also expected fact that most of the business community was shifting its investment to foreign countries.
He said the government was working on the projects of power generation besides huge dams and small water reservoirs. Pak Iran gas pipeline and start of Diamir Bhasha Dam was the important developments in this regard, he said and added that the condition of law and order in the country was also getting improving slowly.
Earlier while speaking to the inaugural ceremony of the Expo 2011, the minister said the federal cabinet would give approval regarding trade policy soon. He said the expo would not only promote the business related activates in the country but would al

Celebrations erupt in Libya


Even before confirmation of ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's death came from the nation's interim government Thursday, Libyans erupted in jubilation after early reports said he had been captured or killed.

A "cacophony of celebration" could be heard in Tripoli as ships and cars blasted their horns and shots were fired into the air, said CNN's Dan Rivers.

"It is very, very loud -- a lot of excitement," Rivers said.

"It's a great moment," said Mahmoud Shammam, information minister for Libya's National Transitional Council. "I've been waiting for this moment for decades, and I'm thanking God that I'm alive to see this moment."

Muammar Gaddafi called the rebels who rose up against his 42-years of one-man rule "rats," but in the end it was he who was captured cowering in a drainage pipe full of rubbish and filth.

"He called us rats, but look where we found him," said Ahmed Al Sahati, a 27-year-old government fighter, standing next to two stinking drainage pipes under a six-lane highway.

Government fighters, video evidence and the scenes of sheer carnage nearby told the story of the dictator's final hours.

Shortly before dawn prayers on Thursday, Gaddafi surrounded by a few dozen loyal bodyguards and accompanied by the head of his now non-existent army Abu Bakr Younis Jabr broke out of the two-month siege of Sirte and made a break for the west.

But they did not get far.

NATO said its aircraft struck military vehicles belonging to pro-Gaddafi forces near Sirte at about 8:30 a.m. (0630 GMT) on Thursday, but the alliance said it was unsure whether the strikes had killed Gaddafi.

Fifteen pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns lay burned out, smashed and smoldering next to an electricity sub station some 20 meters from the main road, about two miles west of Sirte.

They had clearly been hit by a force far beyond anything the motley army the former rebels have assembled during eight months of revolt to overthrow the once feared leader.

But there was no bomb crater, indicating the strike may have been carried out by a helicopter gunship, or had been strafed by a fighter jet.

Inside the trucks still in their seats sat the charred skeletal remains of drivers and passengers killed instantly by the strike. Other bodies lay mutilated and contorted strewn in the grass. Some 50 bodies in all.

Gaddafi himself and a handful of his men escaped death and appeared to have ran through a stand of trees toward the main road and hid in the two drainage pipes.

But a group of government fighters were on their tail.

"At first we fired at them with anti-aircraft guns, but it was no use," said Salem Bakeer, while being feted by his comrades near the road. "Then we went in on foot.

"One of Gaddafi's men came out waving his rifle in the air and shouting surrender, but as soon as he saw my face he started shooting at me," he told Reuters.

"Then I think Gaddafi must have told them to stop. 'My master is here, my master is here', he said, 'Muammar Gaddafi is here and he is wounded'," said Bakeer.

"We went in and brought Gaddafi out. He was saying 'what's wrong? What's wrong? What's going on?'. Then we took him and put him in the car," Bakeer said.

At the time of capture, Gaddafi was already wounded with gunshots to his leg and to his back, Bakeer said.

Other government fighters who said they took part in Gaddafi's capture, separately confirmed Bakeer's version of events, though one said the man who ruled Libya for 42 years was shot and wounded at the last minute by one of his own men.

"One of Muammar Gaddafi's guards shot him in the chest," said Omran Jouma Shawan.

Army chief Jabr was also captured alive, Bakeer said. NTC officials later announced he was dead.

Fallen electricity cables partially covered the entrance to the pipes and the bodies of three men, apparently Gaddafi bodyguards lay at the entrance to one end, one in shorts probably due to a bandaged wound on his leg.

Four more bodies lay at the other end of the pipes. All black men, one had his brains blown out, another man had been decapitated, his dreadlocked head lying beside his torso.

Joyous government fighters fired their weapons in the air, shouted "Allahu Akbar" and posed for pictures. Others wrote graffiti on the concrete parapets of the highway.

"Gaddafi was captured here," said one simply.

From there Gaddafi was taken to the nearby city of Sirte where he and his dwindling band of die-hard supporters had made a last stand under a rain of missile and artillery fire in a desperate two-month siege.

Video footage showed Gaddafi, dazed and wounded, but still clearly alive and gesturing with his hands as he was dragged from a pick-up truck by a crowd of angry jostling group of government soldiers who hit him and pulled his hair.

He then appeared to fall to the ground and was enveloped by the crowd. NTC officials later announced Gaddafi had died of his wounds after capture.

Moammar Gadhafi Dead: White House Reaction

Clinton arrives in Pakistan for talks

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

on Thursday flew into Pakistan for crunch talks with the leadership after calling on Islamabad to "do more".
She touched down at the Chaklala military airbase shortly after 7:00pm (1400 GMT) and was expected to head straight into a first round of meetings, said a correspondent travelling with her.
Earlier Hillary Clinton demanded that Pakistan dismantle Taliban safe havens, stepping up the pressure on Islamabad as American troops pressed a major offensive along the border.
She warned the Taliban to be part of a peaceful future or face a continuing assault, but urged Islamabad to play a "constructive" role in bringing militants to negotiations aimed at ending the 10-year war in Afghanistan.
"And now it's a question as to how much cooperation Pakistanis will provide in going after those safe havens," she said.
"We intend to push the Pakistanis very hard as to what they are willing and able to do with us... to remove the safe havens and the continuing threats across the border to Afghans," said Clinton.
She warned militants that "we are going to seek you in your safe havens" on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border and confirmed a US operation against the hardline Haqqani network it blames for some of the worst war attacks.
"There was a major military operation inside Afghanistan in recent days that has been rounding up and eliminating Haqqani operatives on this side of the border," Clinton told reporters in a leafy plaza of Karzai's palace.
She later flew into Pakistan, where she was to be joined by CIA chief David Petraeus and top US military officer Martin Dempsey for her talks.
But policy makers in Islamabad fundamentally disagree with US strategy in Afghanistan, believing military options are limited and that now is the time to press for a comprehensive reconciliation ahead of a NATO withdrawal in 2014.
It is Clinton's first visit to the region since a siege of the US embassy in Kabul and a truck bombing on a NATO outpost that wounded 77 Americans last month.
Washington blamed the attacks on the Haqqanis, who have a haven in Pakistan.
Dempsey's predecessor Admiral Mike Mullen called the Haqqani network the "veritable arm" of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and accused Pakistani spies of being involved in the embassy siege, dramatically worsening ties.
US commanders say the Haqqanis are their most potent enemy in eastern Afghanistan and increasingly capable of launching high-profile attacks in Kabul. It is an Afghan Taliban faction, loyal to Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
In what Pakistanis are likely to interpret as a contradiction, Clinton said her talks will focus on "how to increase pressure on the safe havens" while urging Pakistan to support efforts at negotiations.
"We believe that they can play either a constructive or a destructive role in helping to bring into talks those with whom the Afghans themselves must sit across the table and hammer out a negotiated settlement," she said.
"We will be looking to the Pakistanis to take the lead because the terrorists operating outside of Pakistan pose a threat to Pakistanis, as well as to Afghans and others," she said.
Karzai spoke of "shifting the focus" of the peace effort to Pakistan, saying that establishments there control to a "very, very great extent" the Taliban.
Pakistani security officials say privately that contacts are maintained with insurgent groups to facilitate any eventual settlement in Afghanistan -- a possibility that would be squandered if it launched any new offensive.
Islamabad argues that it has already made tremendous sacrifices, losing 3,000 soldiers and thousands of civilians in bomb attacks on its soil, and that it cannot do what the Americans demand when the relationship is so unpopular.
Minutes before Clinton arrived, the paramilitary announced that at least three soldiers and up to 34 militants were killed in a gun battle in the tribal district of Khyber, a key route for NATO supplies into Afghanistan.
"When the Americans ask us to do more, why don't they try to understand our problems and address our reservations and concerns?" one Pakistani security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"Pakistan will tell the Americans that the military options are getting limited in Afghanistan and there is a need to promote a genuine Afghan-led peace process," he added.

Sharif brothers involve in Rs. 50m corruption

Pakistan Today

Secretary Information Pakistan People’s Party Punjab chapter, Dr. Fakhar ud Din Chaudhry has said that Sharif brothers were involved in Rs. 50 million corruptions in purchasing medicines for flood affected people.
Addressing a press conference at National Press Club here on Thursday Dr Fakhar Uddin Chaudhry said that sharif brothers purchased medicines worth of Rs. 80 million for the flood affected people without releasing any tender. The actual amount spent for the medicines is Rs 50 million, he claimed.
He said that Punjab government purchased all the medicines from fake pharmaceutical companies. He said that the provincial government spent Rs 19.80 on a blister pack of tablets, however, the real prices of this pack in open market is Rs. 3.30 while syrup of Rs 10.95 has been purchased at Rs 39.00.
The Information Secretary further said that sharif brothers used national exchequer for their personal benefits, as they spent Rs 80 billion of PWB for their accommodations and Rs 70 million of Sui gas used for their residence. He said that sharif brothers used Rs 300 million for the construction of a road which goes to their house while 180 million used for construction of a canal for the renovation of the house.
He said that telephone cable worth of Rs 220 million has been stretched and Rs 50 million has been spent to lay down electric cable to facilitate the sharif brothers.
Dr Fakhar uddin further said that sharif brothers are also involved transferring money to the other countries though different currencies but no action has been seen so far against them. He alleged that sharif brothers have close links with banned outfits and Punjab government is providing “chanda” to these banned outfits.
Talking about the mismanagement of Board Of Intermediate & Secondary Education he said that provincial government is will fully destroying the educational system of the province as they hired services of Dr Majid who is close relative of Ishaq Dar and is right hand of the provincial government.
He demanded that Chief Justice of Pakistan should take suo moto against the corruption of Punjab government and all the details should be disclosed to the masses.
Answering to question Provincial secretary information that their party respects the verdicts of Supreme Court however; it is our opinion that justice should be implemented equally in all provinces. Supreme Court’s verdict should be implemented with its true spirit, he added.
He said that Chief Justice should take notice of corruption of Punjab government.
To another question, he said that his party jointly worked with PML-N in the great interest of the country and initially Nawaz sharif assured them that with combined efforts we would succeed to control the problems of our country.
He said that law enforcement agencies are providing protocol services to sharif brothers and their blue eyed personalities.
He said that chief minister Shahbaz sharif visited flood affected areas on motorcycle and mocked with the affected people.


Former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has been killed, interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said in Tripoli today.

Gadhafi reportedly shot on the run
Fighters attacked the house where Moammar Gadhafi was hiding and shot him when he tried to flee, a spokesman for Libya's new government says.


Gadhafi reportedly shot on the run
Fighters attacked the house where Moammar Gadhafi was hiding and shot him when he tried to flee, a spokesman for Libya's new government says.

Gaddafi dies of injuries after capture

Former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi has been reported killed due to injuries after an earlier capture in the town of Sirte.

Bahrain sentences 20 protesters to jail

A Bahraini military court has given six-month jail terms to 20 more people arrested during anti-regime protests in the tiny Persian Gulf country.

Thursday's verdicts came as the court issued more than 130 convictions related to anti-government demonstrations against the ruling monarchy.

The harsh sentences have drawn international criticism. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed “deep concern” over the sentences and called for the release of all political detainees in Bahrain.

The Saudi-backed Al Khalifa regime of Bahrain has been dealing with protesters harshly since the popular uprising began in the Persian Gulf sheikhdom in mid-February.

Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds of others, including physicians and academics, have been jailed.

Some of them say they were tortured while in custody. International lawyers have filed suit against the Bahraini regime at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Detained US protesters demand jury trial

Two dozen Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters that had been arrested for trespassing on state property have appeared in a US court, pleading not guilty and asking for jury trials.
Some of the detained protesters were released while others were charged and fined. Yet, several more protesters that refused to plead guilty have demanded a jury trial.Some of the protesters had previously warned that they would demand a jury trial and pursue charges against arresting officers if the charges against them weren't dropped, Bloomberg reported.In an apparent attempt to bring an end to the steadily growing protest rallies, the New York police had previously arrested hundreds of anti-Wall Street protesters for joining a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1.

The OWS protest began September 17 in the US in opposition to the corporatism that overshadows the country. It has now become a popular widespread movement against capitalism and corporatism throughout the US. The people of Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and others are also protesting along similar lines. According to a Press TV survey, many believe that the American Awakening -- represented by the OWS movement -- is in direct response to the misguided financial policies of the US establishment, thought to be behind the country's current economic crisis.

Global anti-capitalism protesters also demand an end to widespread corruption and inequality that accompany capitalism. European demonstrators have expressed solidarity with the OWS movement by often using the keyword occupy for their mottos and slogans in protest rallies.