Monday, April 25, 2011

Is Parachinar not part of Pakistan

Over 100 residents of militant-besieged Parachinar, which is the headquarters of Kurram Agency, have set up a protest camp outside the National Press Club to press the government for ridding them of the armed gangs of Taliban.

Through a memorandum, a copy of which is available with The News, the Youth of Parachinar, a platform of Turi and Bangash tribes, aired some questions: Is Parachinar not a part of Pakistan? Is it really impossible for the government to open and make secure the main Thal Parachinar-Peshawar Road that was closed over four years back?

It continued could a civilised nation justify the crippling embargo on a population of more than 0.5 million people? Is there any humanitarian organisation in Pakistan that could help alleviate deepening sufferings of these people, facing acute shortage of life-saving drugs and other medicines: paucity of daily use items such as rice, atta, tea, sugar and groceries?

“I have met the President at least 20 times and Prime Minister 40 times on different occasions and raised the issue with them but it appears either they are insensitive to our agony or unable to do anything to drive the militants out of Parachinar,” said an MNA from the Kurram Agency’s headquarters Sajid Hussain Turi while talking to The News at the camp.

Turi, who is chairman of the National Assembly’s standing committee on States and Frontier Regions, pointed out as the government functionaries were unable to perform their responsibility in Parachinar there was a breakdown of civil and social services: education and health were the most affected sectors; donors and foreign philanthropists had also stopped visiting the area due to seething insecurity.

Obama reviews cooperation from Pakistan

President Barack Obama on Tuesday reviewed the co-operation being received by Pakistan in the war against terrorism with his national security team.

The review of Pakistan’s co-operation came on a day when several media published secret U.S. cables, allegedly stolen by WikiLeaks, which questioned the level of cooperation from Pakistan authorities in the war against terrorism by the U.S. authorities.

“The President received an update on our efforts to ensure effective cooperation with Pakistan against al-Qaeda and other violent extremists,” White House said in a statement after Mr. Obama chaired his situation room monthly meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan with his national security team.

“The President received a briefing on the security situation in Afghanistan, including our efforts to sustain momentum against Taliban, transition to an Afghan security lead, continued support for the increased capability of Afghan National Security Forces and our efforts to support reintegration and Afghan-led reconciliation,” White House said

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that the meeting was not a decisional one.

“This is not a decisional meeting. This is one of the regular monthly meetings, run by the President on Afghanistan and Pakistan with the usual principals involved in that meeting, but it is not decisional,” he said in response to a question.

Chaired by President Obama, the Af-Pak situation room meeting was attended by Vice President Joe Biden, (via teleconference); Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates; Attorney General, Eric Holder; US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice; National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon; Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John O Brennan.

Also Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman; Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy; Director of Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta; Administrator of Agency for International Development, Rajiv Shah; Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen were present in the meeting.

While U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry; U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Carl Munter and General David Petraeus, Commander of ISAF joined the meeting via videoconference.