Friday, June 24, 2011

Hina Rabbani set to be Pak’s new foreign minister

Hina Rabbani Khar

, Pakistan's minister of state for foreign affairs, is being widely tipped to be elevated as a full-fledged foreign minister ahead of crucial talks with India next month, official sources said today.

Khar, 34, is the daughter of veteran politician Malik Ghulam Noor Rabbani Khar and the niece of former governor Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar. She was a member of the PML-Q party during former military ruler Pervez Musharraf 's regime and joined the ruling Pakistan People's Party ahead of the 2008 general election.

Insiders in Pakistan's foreign office said that Khar had emerged as a front-runner in the race for the slot of foreign minister, which has been vacant since previous incumbent Shah Mahmood Qureshi was removed during a cabinet reshuffle in February.

Other candidates vying for the position, including federal ministers Sardar Aseff Ahmad Ali and Makhdoom Sahabuddin and national assembly speaker Fehmida Mirza, were no longer considered strong contenders for the slot, the sources said.

The move to appoint a full-time minister for the foreign office has gained urgency as talks between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan are expected to be held next month.

Nawaz Sharif Tell nation why you fled country?

Former federal law minister Babar Awan has asked the Sharif brothers to tell the nation as to why they had fled the country twice, saying the state is like a mother and every sincere son cannot leave his mother alone in critical situation. Talking to reporters on Supreme Court premises on Thursday, Babar said that after a devastating defeat of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab elections, its top brass would again take off to a foreign country. He said that unlike the Sharifs, PPP leadership would not leave its motherland in any untoward situation as they belonged to a party that was quite popular among the masses for giving sacrifices for the cause of the nation and country. The former law minister also said that the PPP was determined to respond to any decree given by “Maulvi” Nawaz Sharif. “The political environment is quite sound in Gilgit-Baltistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, but the Lahore thrown is uneasy for which the Sharifs have constituted a bullets-and-abuses squad for giving a flurry of decrees (against the ruling PPP),” he added.

How Pakistan’s 'filthy rich' ruling elite project themselves as 'poor' to public!

The assets declared by the ruling elites of the Sindh and Punjab assemblies demonstrate the laughably pitiful attitude of Pakistan parliamentarians to hide their wealth details.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has made public the asset details of the ‘filthy rich’ ruling elites of the two provincial assemblies, in which they sound quite ‘timid’ in revealing their otherwise aristocratic lifestyles.

Despite the fact that Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif has assets worth over 175 million rupees in the United Kingdom, including a 146-million-rupee mortgaged property there, no record of his believably big assets in Saudi Arabia is provided in his assets returns.

Perhaps the huge brigade of vehicles parked at his Raiwand residence are just ‘delusional’ entities, as according to the asset details with the ECP, Shahbaz actually owns only one car ‘gifted’ to him, 2006 model Toyota Land Cruiser.

On the other hand, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah conveniently managed to conceal the actual worth of his land details by attaching a two-line note right at the top of his assets returns which read: “These represent costs/valuations made by government agencies several years ago. No fresh valuations are available.”

The value of the imported bullet proof Toyota Land Cruiser that belongs to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son Abdul Qadir Gilani, according to his assets returns, is 128 million rupees.

He has 500 tolas of gold that value 13 million rupees, according to the asset details with the ECP, but considering the current market price of gold being 49,110 rupees per tola, the 500 tolas of gold do not value less than 24 million rupees, The Nation reports.

The ‘poorest’ parliamentarians include Shazia Mari, Faisal Sabzwari, Nadia Gabol, Farah Deeba and several others, who do not have any movable or immovable property registered in their names, and are perhaps leading their ‘miserable’ lives with sheer reliance either on petty savings, small investments or some divine intervention!

Sharif Brothers pursuing failed policies of past: Shahzia Marri

Sindh Minister for Electric Power Ms. Shazia Marri on Friday condemned the offending statements of PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif against the President Asif Ali Zardari and termed it ‘unwise’. Speaking at the floor of the house in Sindh Assembly on Friday, she lamented Sharif Brothers for being undemocratic in the democratic environment. She said they had been promoting their hostile politics of the past during the tenure of democratically elected government of PPP, which would never be accepted.

Pakistan must be part of Afghan peace process: US

Pakistan must be a part of the Afghan peace process, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress on Thursday while announcing that senior Afghan, Pakistani and American officials would meet next week for further talks on this issue.

But the outgoing Defence Secretary Robert Gates said that success was possible in the war in Afghanistan even if Pakistan failed to fully cooperate in countering militants along its border.

In an interview to the AFP news agency, Mr Gates said that “some positive steps” by Pakistan were needed but “as long as the picture stays mixed like that, that we can be successful”.

In her opening remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary Clinton disclosed that the United States had also included Iran in the peace process.

US Special Representative Marc Grossman was leading an active diplomatic effort to build support for a political solution to the Afghan war, she said.

“What we call the Core Group — Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States — has met twice and will convene again next week,” Mrs Clinton said, without saying where this group would meet.

But diplomatic sources told Dawn that the meeting would be held in Kabul on June 27 and Mr Grossman would lead the US delegation.

Reports in the US and international media suggest that senior American officials have already had several meetings with senior Taliban officials in Germany and other places. Pakistan also participated in these meetings. “Pakistan must be part of this process,” said Secretary Clinton, indirectly confirming Pakistan`s participation.

The US, she said, was also engaging other countries in the region “around a common vision of an independent, stable Afghanistan and a region free of Al Qaeda.”

The talks with those nations, she said, were also progressing smoothly. “We believe we`ve made progress with all of the neighbours, including India, Russia, and even Iran.”

Secretary Clinton noted that last Friday the UN Security Council voted unanimously to support reconciliation by splitting its sanctions on Al Qaeda and the Taliban into two separate lists.

This, she said, opened the door for the insurgents to abandon the terrorists and choose a different path.

“We welcome these steps, and for the United States the key diplomatic priority and indeed a lynchpin of this entire effort is closing the gap between Kabul and Islamabad.”

Secretary Clinton recalled that earlier this month, Pakistan and Afghanistan launched a joint peace commission and held substantive talks at the highest levels.

“Also, very significant, was the full implementation on June 12th of the Transit Trade Agreement, which will create new economic opportunity on both sides of the Durand Line and lay the foundation for a broader vision of regional economic integration and cooperation,” she said.

Secretary Clinton said that she recently visited Pakistan, and had, “as we say in diplo-speak, very candid discussions” with its leaders.

“The United States has clear expectations for this relationship, and as President Obama said last night, the United States will never tolerate a safe haven for those who kill Americans,” she said.

“We are looking to Pakistan to take concrete actions on the goals we share: Defeating violent extremism, which has also taken so many innocent Pakistani lives; ending the conflict in Afghanistan; and securing a stable, democratic, prosperous future.”