Sunday, August 21, 2011

Zardari rules out army action in Karachi, replacing Sindh CM

A high-level meeting at the Presidency held to discuss the law and order situation in Karachi ruled out a proposal to call in the Pakistan Army to restore peace to the city, deciding that the civilian government would be given another opportunity with a changed strategy to apprehend criminals and control the spiraling violence.
The meeting, which was chaired by President Asif Ali Zardari, also discussed a proposal to appoint Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Shah the Sindh chief minister and tasking him with taking all political parties on board over the unabated violence in the country’s powerhouse. However, the proposal was rejected by a majority of participants.
Sources said it was decided that the Sindh government should be given another chance to restore peace to Karachi, as major changes in the Sindh government would be politically harmful for the PPP. The sources said the PPP Sindh cabinet members also criticised the MQM’s role vis-à-vis’ the Karachi situation, with the participants saying the MQM was only criticising the government and playing no role for restoring peace in the city. He said President Zardari directed the Sindh cabinet members to also redress ANP’s concerns, so that both parties could control the situation in Karachi. Syed Khursheed Shah, Murad Ali Shah, Agha Siraj Durrani and Sharjeel Memon were among those who attended the meeting.

KARACHI: ARMY...An option?
The People’s Party has spoken. The government is not going to be calling the army to restore peace in Karachi. The president, prime minister and interior minister have all ruled out the option in separate statements. The no-army school also has on board some rather surprising members. Former information minister Shaikh Rashid, no one’s idea of an army basher, has also said, in his inimitable style, that the army, if deployed, won’t limit itself to Karachi. You would see it in Gujranwala and Faisalabad too.
No one needs to be tutored right now in the perils of involving the army in civilian matters. They are clear to all. Even proponents of a Grand Operation cite the Naseerullah Babar’s deal in ‘96, not the Asif Nawaz fiasco of earlier.
Would it that things were this simple. By now it is clear that the situation in Karachi has ratcheted irrevocably out of the hand of the civil administration. True, the police could be empowered to take strong action but, going by what happened to the veterans of ‘96 later in the Musharraf era, it’d take nothing short of a miracle to motivate the police. Even if that were the case, the extraordinarily political requirements in the Karachi police (again, Musharraf) seem to have all but closed that door.
In the recent London riots, the British premier recounted in parliament his discussion with the metropolitan police chief regarding the option of calling in the army. The police chief had replied that he’d rather be the last man standing before letting the army do its thing. Though the premier had appreciated his spirit but told him that the army was still an option if all else fails.
All else has failed in Karachi. If the British have no compunctions against calling in the army, neither should we. A different country with a different history, granted. But an army operation well within the ambit of a civil czar-liaison wouldn’t be quite the departure from democracy it is being made out to be. If the military can operate in the troubled north, with rights’ activists cheering them on, why not in Karachi?

Karachi’s unending woes

The law and order situation in Karachi has gone totally out of control and government has proved its inability to protect the lives of its citizens. In the latest incident, at least 12 people were killed in straight firing in a scrap market in Sher Shah, mounting the total death toll in past three days to 60.

The people of Karachi are demanding answers from government, as to what the law enforcement agencies are doing and why is the largest city and financial hub of Pakistan suffering from such unrest. Why have the police, rangers and other intelligence agencies failed to stop this continuity in targeted killings, despite Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s assurances and repeated visits to Karachi.

Its time now the government should concentrate and realize the seriousness of the issue and perform its duty to protect the lives of the people of Karachi.

New additions to dictionary reflect today's culture
Don't be a denialist. Instead put on your jeggings (breathe in) or mankini (be careful) and retweet this article.

After all, it's hip to be in the know on the 400 new words and phrases in the 12th edition of Concise Oxford English Dictionary, the abridged version of the Oxford English Dictionary. The smaller dictionary is meant to "cover the language of its own time."

Beware: Not all words are built to last, wrote dictionary editor Angus Stevenson in a blog posting last week.

"Sadly, the new edition has no room for tremendous words like brabble 'paltry noisy quarrel' and growlery 'place to growl in, private room, den' -- what we might call a man cave these days," Stevenson wrote on a blog.

Some of the new words:

-- cyberbullying: n. the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.

-- denialist: n. a person who refuses to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historical evidence.

-- jeggings: pl. n. tight-fitting stretch trousers for women, styled to resemble a pair of denim jeans.

-- mankini: n. (pl. mankinis) a brief one-piece bathing garment for men, with a T-back.

-- retweet: v. (on the social networking service Twitter) repost or forward (a message posted by another user). n. a reposted or forwarded message on Twitter.

-- sexting: n. informal the sending of sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone.

-- woot: exclam. informal (especially in electronic communication) used to express elation, enthusiasm, or triumph.

The dictionary also adds new definitions of familiar words.

Thought a cougar was just an ornery old cat you might encounter in the American West? By now you know a cougar also is "an older woman seeking a sexual relationship with a younger man."

Karachi Violence Kills 17 People, Army Chief Ready to Intervene

akistani officials say ongoing violence in Karachi has killed at least 17 people since Saturday, prompting the country's army chief to say the military is ready to restore peace if the government asks for help.

Authorities Sunday said the latest victims of criminal and ethnic violence in the Pakistani commercial capital include two children killed in a gunbattle between drug gangs. They said other victims' bodies were found dumped in the streets with bullet wounds and signs of torture.

Hundreds of people have been killed in Karachi in recent months, in one of the worst waves of violence there in years. Many of the killings are blamed on ethnic gangs linked to rival political factions such as the majority Urdu-speaking Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party of Pashtun migrants.

Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani says a continued deterioration of the situation in Karachi would be a “great injustice” because the city is the “jugular vein of the Pakistani economy,” as he put it.

In an interview with the Pakistani newspaper The News published Sunday, Kayani says the army is ready to intervene if Pakistan's civilian government requests such a move. But he also says the government's police and paramilitary forces can deal with the unrest if they are properly deployed.

In other developments, Pakistani militants carried out a series of attacks on government troops in tribal regions bordering Afghanistan Sunday, killing two soldiers and wounding 12 others. Pakistan officials say army forces killed two militants in the fighting.

In Pakistan, top media group wields clout amid controversy

In a nation that often appears engulfed by religious radicalism, a hit Pakistani film endorses ideas that are by local measures boldly liberal — inter-sectarian marriage, women’s rights and population control.

Yet the movie has what might seem an unlikely distributor: Pakistan’s largest media company, commonly referred to as the Geo-Jang Group, which is regularly criticized for using its four domestic television stations and two top newspapers to promote some very different ideas, including Islamist extremism, anti-Americanism and government loathing.

The ruling party of President Asif Ali Zardari, whose alleged corruption is obsessively chronicled by Geo Television, officially boycotts the group and portrays it as an enemy of democracy. The U.S. Embassy has accused it of fueling conspiracy theories.

But Geo — the group’s signature property — continues to thrive on a blend of rumor-filled talk shows, sensationalist breaking news and dashes of progressive programming. Its successes — and mixed messaging — serve as a barometer of the evolving tastes of Pakistan’s growing urban middle class and the power of private television in a country where the military and the mullahs often seem to drive the agenda.

So broad is Geo’s reach that the United States, despite its misgivings, subsidizes it. Geo is paid to broadcast a segment four nights a week from the U.S. government’s Voice of America, an arrangement that the U.S. Embassy sought to end in 2008 because of what it called the group’s “blatant hate speech and intentionally inaccurate and irresponsible reporting,” according to a cable obtained by WikiLeaks. That plea fizzled, U.S. officials said.

“We recognize them as . . . the biggest and most influential media outlet in the country,” said U.S. Embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez. “How can we not engage with them?”

Geo pioneered the television revolution in Pakistan, which had one state-owned broadcaster until media laws were relaxed in 2002. Today, one-third of Pakistan’s 180 million people have access to about 100 private channels via cable and satellite. Geo claims to broadcast 70 of the top 100 programs and, with Jang’s various publications, to have one reporter stationed nearly every four miles.

A May survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center found that 76 percent of Pakistanis said the media positively influence the country, while only 20 percent said the U.S.-backed civilian government does. The ruling Pakistan People’s Party says that is partly the result of a Geo campaign to demonize it.

“They are soft on Islamists and tough on liberals,” said Farahnaz Ispahani, a spokeswoman for Zardari, the secular party’s co-chairman.

Geo and Jang executives dismiss such comments as stale criticism from people who can’t handle scrutiny. At his office on the edge of a buzzing newsroom in this southern metropolis, Geo chief executive Mir Ibrahim Rahman insisted the network supports tolerance and would gain nothing by scuttling democracy. The initial years of free debate in any country always magnify conflict and corruption, he said, illustrating his point with a graph he studied in a statistics class at Harvard, where he earned a master’s degree last year.

“Eventually, the dust will settle and we’ll have a cleaner room — a cleaner country,” said Rahman, 33, whose grandfather founded Jang.

Geo burnished its image as a populist crusader in 2007 when Pervez Musharraf, then Pakistan’s president, shut the network for two months as it avidly covered protests that eventually led to his ouster.

Today, it has cast itself in a starring role in Pakistan’s political theater by covering its own battles with the government. Geo accuses authorities of pulling the network off the air on various occasions — including after its coverage last summer of a Pakistani who threw a shoe at Zardari in London.

Government officials and the 2008 U.S. diplomatic cable allege that Geo stages blackouts so it can condemn state censorship. Geo officials deny that, although they acknowledge that the clashes help business.

“Every time we are shut, our ratings go up, our credibility goes up, and we are able to charge higher rates,” Rahman said.

That has remained the case despite scandals that critics cite as evidence that Geo fans intolerance. In 2007, Geo played mediator between militants holed up in an Islamabad mosque and the army forces surrounding it. In 2008, the assassinations of two leaders from the Ahmadi minority sect were widely blamed on hate-laced comments by guests on a religious talk show aired by Geo.

Last year, a recording allegedly captured Hamid Mir, the host of a popular Geo program, giving information to a Taliban militant about a former spy who was then in Taliban custody. Mir said the tapes were doctored by intelligence officers angry at him for reporting on state-sponsored abductions; Rahman said an internal investigation supported that account.

Some Geo-Jang Group editors say privately that Mir should have been fired. Imran Aslam, Geo’s president, said efforts have been made to hire more “rational and reasoned political analysts,” including Najam Sethi, a prominent left-wing journalist who hosts a new program.

“From the news business, it went to show business. It needs to go back,” said Mohammad Malick, a Geo talk show host and editor of the group’s English-language daily, the News.

Geo has, at times, taken on progressive issues that few politicians are willing to touch. In 2006, the network campaigned against Islamic laws equating rape with criminal adultery, a project that even critics acknowledge led to the laws’ amendment. One current initiative urges people to pay taxes; another promotes peace with Pakistan’s arch-foe India, which could vastly expand Geo’s market. “Bol,” the summer’s hit movie, promotes family planning, an explosive idea among conservative Muslims.

Pakistani liberals say those campaigns, while positive, skirt scrutiny of the institution most responsible for stoking religious intolerance and hyper-nationalism: the powerful military. The army is widely believed to be tainted by corruption and supportive of some Islamist militant groups, but Geo, like its competitors, avoids deep probes.

“The private media in general is polishing the military’s boots,” said Aasim Sajjad, an assistant professor of political economy at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad.

That changed somewhat after the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May, which prompted even some of Geo’s most jingoistic anchors to lambaste the military. Jang editors contend that the group holds little favor with the army, and some admit they tread carefully after decades of military rule.

“Tomorrow, the civilian government may be rolled up,” said Rana Jawad, Geo’s bureau chief in Islamabad. “There may be no courts to hear your plight.”

The 2008 U.S. Embassy cable concluded that the Jang Group’s reporting was driven by one agenda: ratings.

Three years later, Rahman said, such considerations are prompting Geo to question the partnership with Voice of America. As anti-Americanism and outrage over CIA drone strikes rise, the network might be labeled a U.S. ally, he said.

“It’s just too risky for us,” Rahman said of airing American content. “It’s a perception issue.”

Libyan Rebels Seize Major Tripoli Military Base

Libyan rebels have seized a major military base defending Tripoli, as the fight for the capital intensifies. Reports suggested the fighters had captured the base of the Khamis Brigade, 16 miles west of the capital.

It is said to be one of the best-trained and equipped units in the Libyan military and is commanded by Col Gaddafi's 27-year-old son Khamis.

Around 200 rebel reinforcements have also reached the capital by sea, according to an activist.

Meanwhile fighting has broken out in the city's Mitiga airbase, while the suburb of Tajoura is now reportedly under rebel control.

Fighting has also broken out in other locations in and around the city, including near the hotel where foreign media are staying.Around 376 were killed on both sides overnight in Tripoli and 1,000 injured, a Libyan government official said.

Col Gaddafi broadcast a message on state television calling on Libyan people to come from all regions and liberate Tripoli from rebels.

He said he was "afraid Tripoli will burn" but that he will remain in Tripoli and stay until the end.

The Libyan government earlier appealed for an immediate ceasefire and an end to Nato's "aggression" as it responded to the rebel force's advances.

Spokesman for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime, Moussa Ibrahim, told reporters the rebels were nothing without Nato and they would never be able to take Libya.

He claimed the people of Tripoli would never rise up and join the rebels and warned of a bloodbath on the streets as they moved closer to the capital.

"Tripoli is well protected and we have thousands upon thousands of professional soldiers ready to defend this city against any possible invasion by rebels under the cover of Nato."He added: "What is happening now and what is going to happen is not the power of the rebels.

"It's the power of Nato - a major force for evil that has no heart, using armed gangs to occupy a whole nation."

Rebels initially came under sniper fire at the western gate of Tripoli, forcing them to retreat slightly.

They then advanced again, taking in several towns along the way and then staged large protests around the city.

Residents in the city have either been too scared to leave their homes, leaving streets deserted, or have risked their lives to protect their families from the violence.Sky News' special correspondent Alex Crawford, reporting from the village of Mayah, said the rebel force consisted of several dozen foot soldiers and an armed convoy.

She said they had encountered "very little resistance" as they passed through the town of Jaddaim into Mayah.

"This is a march on the capital, they are heading for the presidential palace," she said.

"They will try to indicate to the Tripoli-based population that they are in charge and, as quick as they can, they need to switch sides.

"They want to raise the rebel flag above Gaddafi's presidential palace.

Museum exhibit highlights Pakistan's Buddhist roots

A statue resembling the goddess Athena and jewelry bearing images from Greco-Roman mythology may not be objects you'd expect to see in a museum exhibit of Buddhist art from Pakistan.
Their presence among carvings of Buddha and Indian deities is meant to serve as a reminder of Pakistan's oft-forgotten multicultural roots, which form the basis of a new exhibit, "The Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan: Art of Gandhara."
The show, which runs until October 30 at New York's Asia Society, is the first to bring works of Gandharan art to the United States since 1960. The pieces, on loan from museums in Karachi and Lahore, highlight Pakistan's history as a crossroads of cultural influences, despite present-day associations of the country as an incubator of religious extremism, museum director Melissa Chiu said.
"When we think of Pakistan, Americans might associate it with the place where Osama bin Laden was captured, with terrorism and natural disasters," she said. "But actually, it has a much longer history that dates back to an ancient culture that gives us a sense of a pluralistic tradition that was all about tolerance."
At its height, Gandhara encompassed present-day Peshawar in northwest Pakistan and parts of eastern Afghanistan, the Hindu Kush, and northwest India, making it a major center of trade, commerce and the development of arts and education. Pakistan may be 95% Muslim today, but Buddhism flourished in Gandhara between the 2nd century B.C. and 10th century A.D., giving rise to a distinct style of Buddhist visual art.
The statue of Athena and a gold carving of Aphrodite in the exhibit demonstrate the early influence of Greco-Roman culture in the region, which began with its conquest by Alexander the Great. Themes from classical Roman art persisted in Gandharan art even as Buddhism began to flourish in the first century A.D., fostered by Silk Road trade and cross-cultural connections from the Mediterranean to China.
Depictions of the Buddha and the concept of bodhisattvas, or "enlightened beings," became the main icons of Gandharan art. A section of the exhibition, "Buddhas and Bodhisattvas," explores the diverse visual imagery of Buddha and bodhisattvas in Gandhara and how it relates to the multifaceted nature of Buddhism in the region.
A carving of a standing Bodhisattva bears drapery and folds reminiscent of what you might find in classical art; another flaunts a chiseled torso reminiscent of, well, a Greek god, Chiu said.
"A number of sculptures show us the narrative of the life of Buddha, where we see Buddha represented as person, in symbols, footprint, but it's his representation in human form that went on to influence art that went to China, Japan, Korea, other parts of Asia," she said.
Getting the pieces to the United States is a tale of bureaucracy in true form two years in the making, but the initiative never suffered from a lack of desire, Chiu said.
As an international team begins rebuilding two massive Buddha statues in Afghanistan destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, the exhibit also demonstrates Pakistan's dedication to preserving its multicultural heritage, Pakistan's representative to the United Nations said.
With Buddha at its thematic core, the exhibit also highlights lessons of tolerance and humanity of enduring relevance, especially in a time when relations between the U.S. and Pakistan are not at their best, UN Amabassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon said.
"Buddha represents a human being whose ethereal qualities were so magnified by his enormous wisdom that his values of himself, which were espoused by Gandhi and so many others, became his contributions to mankind," said Haroon, who was instrumental in helping secure the works on loan from the National Museum in Karachi and the Lahore Museum in Lahore.
"This was one of the great periods of the world of fundamental equity, of human rights and so many other important principles, which are important to Pakistan and the United States today," he said.
"We're constantly going to strive for a better understanding of each other and a better relationship, and despite what's happening between the U.S. and Pakistan, there are very strong grounds for us to coexist in peaceful fashion."

Gunfire in Tripoli as rebels close on Gaddafi

Explosions and gunfire rang out in Tripoli as opponents of Muammar Gaddafi launched an uprising and rebel forces edged toward the city, declaring a final push to end his four-decade rule.

Gaddafi said in a message broadcast on state television that an assault by "rats" -- his description of the rebels -- had been repelled. A senior rebel official said "zero hour" was approaching for the Libyan leader.

At daybreak, more than 12 hours after the fighting first broke out, shooting could still be heard in the capital, though it was less heavy and sustained.

A Reuters reporter at a hotel in the city center said she could hear bursts of machine gun fire about every few minutes, and occasional booms from heavy weapons.

A rebel activist in Tripoli said pro-Gaddafi forces had positioned snipers on the rooftops of buildings around Bab al-Aziziyah, Gaddafi's compound, and on the top of a water tower.

As he spoke, single gunshots could be heard in the background, at intervals of a few seconds.

"Gaddafi's forces are getting reinforcements to comb the capital," said the activist, who spoke to a Reuters reporter outside Libya.

"Residents are crying, seeking help. One resident was martyred, many were wounded," It was not immediately possible to verify his account independently.

The fighting inside Tripoli, combined with rebel advances toward the outskirts of the city, appeared to signal the decisive phase in a six month conflict that has become the bloodiest of the "Arab Spring" uprisings and embroiled NATO powers.

But Gaddafi's fall is far from certain.

His security forces, facing rebel advances on three fronts, have not buckled as some rebels had predicted. The uprising appeared to be isolated to a few neighborhoods, and had not spread to the whole city.

State television flashed up a message on the screen urging residents not to allow rebel gunmen to hide out on their rooftops.

"Agents and al Qaeda members are trying to destabilize and sabotage the city. You should prevent them from exploiting your houses and buildings, confront them and cooperate with counter-terrorism units, to capture them," it said.

The rebels said the uprising was being coordinated with anti-Gaddafi fighters outside the city. They were fighting toward Tripoli from the town of Zawiyah, to the west, and also along the main highway to the south of the capital.

A straightforward military conquest of Tripoli could be an enormous task for the poorly armed and trained rebel forces. Clearly Gaddafi's opponents are hoping for a disintegration of the leader's forces under pressure from a sustained uprising.

Near the southern front line, rebels were gathering forces to try to advance on Al-Aziziyah, which is about 45 km (27 miles) south of Tripoli and is the southern gateway to the capital.

At a checkpoint south of Al-Aziziyah, a Reuters reporter saw rebels bring mortar launchers up to the front. Pick-up trucks with anti-aircraft guns bolted to the back drove through the checkpoint heading north.

"Hopefully we'll take Al-Aziziyah today and then march to Tripoli," said Mohammed, among a group of rebels waiting for the order to move forward.

In the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, the rebels' main stronghold, a rebel official said fighters were being transported from the city by sea to Zawiyah, which has a port, to reinforce their colleagues advancing on Tripoli.


In an audio recording broadcast soon after midnight, Gaddafi sought to show residents he was still in control.

"Those rats ... were attacked by the masses tonight and we eliminated them," Gaddafi said. "I know that there are air bombardments but the fireworks were louder than the sound of the bombs thrown by the aircraft."

In the eastern city of Benghazi, the rebel National Transitional Council -- seen by Western powers as Libya's legitimate government -- said the fighting in Tripoli was part of a pre-planned and coordinated revolt.

"The zero hour has started. The rebels in Tripoli have risen up," Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice-chairman of the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC), based in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, told Reuters.

Gaddafi's influential former number two, Abdel Salam Jalloud, who defected to the rebel cause a day earlier, appeared on Al Jazeera by Internet video link and called on the capital to rise against "the tyrant."

"Tonight you claim victory over fear," he said. An NTC official, Mohammed al-Allaqi, said Jalloud was in Rome.

The clashes inside the capital triggered massive street celebrations in Benghazi as well as elsewhere in rebel-controlled parts of the country and in the capital of neighboring Tunisia.

Rebel advances on Tripoli have transformed the war since they seized the city of Zawiyah on Tripoli's Western outskirts a week ago, cutting the capital off from its main road link to the outside world and putting unprecedented pressure on Gaddafi.

Before dawn, state television showed Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam addressing what it called a youth conference. A roomful of supporters broke into occasional chants and applause as he declared that the rebels would be defeated.

"The revolt in Libya will not succeed. You will never see us as Libyans surrender and raise the white flag: that is impossible. This is our country and we will never leave it."


Residents in Tripoli said the fighting was triggered at sunset, when Muslim clerics used the loudspeakers on mosque minarets to call people on to the streets.

A Reuters reporter in a hotel near the center of Tripoli said there was heavy and sustained gunfire for hours. At times there would be a lull, then it would start up again.

Accounts from residents suggested that the fighting was concentrated in the Tajourah and Fashloom districts in the east of Tripoli, and the Souk al-Jumaa district near the center --all areas where anti-Gaddafi feeling runs high.

"We can hear shooting in different places," another resident said. "Most of the regions of the city have gone out, mostly young people ... it's the uprising... They went out after breaking the (Ramadan) fast."

"They are shouting religious slogans: 'God is greatest!'"

Washington says Gaddafi's days are numbered, and reports have emerged of more defections from his ranks. President Barack Obama, on vacation in Martha's Vineyard, was receiving regular updates on Libya, a senior White House official said.

"If Tripoli eventually falls to the rebels, Gaddafi's already limited options become even more limited. Pressure on him and his shrinking circle of loyalists has to be taking a serious toll," a senior White House official said.

Anna Hazare's fast enters sixth day
Anna Hazare's fast demanding a strong Lokpal entered the sixth day today with more and more people pouring into his protest venue, extending support to his campaign.

Hazare came to the podium at around 10 AM as supporters started pouring into Ramlila Maidan where he launched his protest on Friday after coming out of Tihar Jail.

After reaching the podium, Hazare "thanked" people for extending whole-hearted support to his campaign against corruption.

"I thank all of you for coming here and supporting the movement," the 73-year-old anti-corruption crusader said in a brief comment.

Earlier in the morning, Hazare and his close associates - Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Shanti Bhushan, Manish Sisodia - held a meeting. Activist Medha Patkar was also present.

Although Government and Team Anna yesterday spoke of the need for a dialogue on the Lokpal issue, no such channel of communication has yet been opened, according to activists.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said yesterday that there was "a lot of scope for give and take" and that the government was open to "discussion and dialogue".

Kejriwal had later said Team Anna was also ready for talks but asked "whom should we meet, where should we meet and when should we meet." There were no signs as to which side would take the initiative to break the deadlock.

Pandering to the populist mood at Ramlila Grounds where Hazare is fasting, his associates Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Kiran Bedi had also spoken some tough words like "we cannot trust this government", but, at the same time, maintained that the government should come forward and start discussions.

Meanwhile, there was no indication of support for Hazare fizzling out with time as the second consecutive night of the Gandhian's protest witnessed more crowds than the first.

Hazare had launched his protest in Ramlila Maidan on Friday after coming out of Tihar Jail.

Scores of protesters stayed back at the spacious grounds throughout the night raising impromptu slogans, majority of which were anti-government and anti-Congress, singing patriotic songs, bhajans, and playing musical instruments like tabla and violin.

More and more people started coming to the protest site in the morning as they raised slogans supporting the Gandhian in his fight against corruption.

Syria's president to appear in TV interview

Syria's President Bashar Assad will comment on U.S. and European demands that he step down and sanctions in an interview that will be broadcast Sunday on state television.
The state-run news agency says Assad will also speak about government reforms and his "future vision" for Syria.
Assad's TV interview will be his fourth public appearance since the revolt against his family's 40-year rule erupted in mid-March.
The Syrian leader has come under mounting criticism over the brutal offensive against the 5-month-old uprising, most recently from the United States and its European allies who on Thursday demanded he step down.
SANA did not give a time for when the interview would be aired.

Guess Where Coca-Cola Is Investing $4 Billion

Who says American companies aren't investing? They are. Billions, in fact. Only, they are just not investing here in the U.S.
Atlanta based Coca-Cola (KO) plans to invest $4 billion in China, the company's CEO Muhtar Kent told reporters in Shanghai this week. It's the company's biggest planned investment in China since the 2009 investment of $2 billion. The investments will start next year and is part of the company's China capex until 2014.
Kent said the company is even considering listing its shares on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, adding itself to the list of mainstream brands listing their depositary receipts on exchanges outside of their home base. Massachusetts luggage maker Samsonite opted to list in Hong Kong in the second quarter rather than do its initial public offering on the NYSE. The new China investments will focus on innovation, infrastructure and expansion of its production capacity. The company now has six manufacturing centers in the country.
"U.S. corporations are actually in good shape and a lot of that is due to emerging markets, particularly the BRIC countries," fund manager Paul Dietrich of Foxhall Capital Management in Orange, Conn told Forbes on Friday. The BRIC countries are Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Low growth in the U.S. and Europe have essentially forced the hands of the big multinationals to look for growth elsewhere. "In this low growth environment, we will continue to see European and American multinational companies spending in countries far from home," says Martin Schulz, managing director of international equities at PNC Capital Advisors in Columbus, Ohio.

Afghan election officials to expel 9 legislators

Afghan election officials say nine parliamentarians will be removed from their posts because of election fraud allegations.
Election commission chairman Fazel Ahmad Manawi says the decision comes after the election commission reviewed court findings that 62 parliamentarians should be expelled because of fraud that skewed the results.
Manawi said Sunday two of those who will lose their seats are from Herat province. The others represent Paktika, Badakhshan, Baghland, Samangan, Helmand and Zabul.
The Afghan parliament has been in limbo for months because of the electoral fraud charges.

Biden says China, US share global responsibilities

U.S.Vice President Joe Biden reassured China on Sunday on the safety of its U.S. debt holdings and said the United States and China need to recognize their mutual global responsibilities and ensure greater fairness in trade and investment conditions.
Biden brought a strong message of mutual interdependence on his visit to the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu on the final day of a five-day visit to the world's second-largest economy and key U.S. trading partner.
And, as he did earlier in his visit, Biden endeavored to ease China's concerns over its $1.2 trillion in U.S. Treasury holdings despite the massive U.S. deficit and downgrading of America's credit rating, saying, "You're safe."
"We could not afford not to make good" on U.S. commitments, Biden told students in a question-and-answer session following a speech at Sichuan University.
Biden noted that the interest rate on Treasurys fell following the downgrade, making them more sought-after than ever.
"If the world thought, my God, they've been downgraded and they're not going to make good on their debt, it would not have been viewed as the safest haven in all the world to invest. We are still the single-best bet in the world in terms of where to invest," he said.
Since Americans own 85 percent of the national debt, any politician that defaults would have to disappoint them, and "no politician wants to do that," he said.
Biden emphasized the frequent exchanges between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao along with government officials in the political and economic field. He said there needed to be more exchanges between their civilian and military leaders over security issues, especially on cybersecurity and maritime issues where the sides view matters from different perspectives.
"The fact is, China and the United States face many of the same threats and share many of the same objectives and responsibilities," Biden said. "Our generals should be talking to each other as frequently as our diplomats."
Military-to-military exchanges have a troubled history, with China suspending them to register its anger at U.S. actions on the political front or toward Taiwan, the U.S. ally Beijing claims as its own territory. Though revived last year, they face a new threat when the U.S. announces on Oct. 1 whether it will provide new F-16 warplanes to the island.
Biden said the U.S. and China both need global stability, including preventing Iran and North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons. He also reasserted that the U.S. will remain a Pacific nation in the future, saying that the American presence had benefited regional stability and allowed China to focus on economic development.
"Asia and the United States are not separated by this great ocean. We are bound by it," he said.
Biden said he recognized frustrations among many Chinese businessmen and officials at the time needed to obtain visas to visit the U.S. and said Washington was working on improvements.
But he said U.S. companies continue to face major investment barriers in China, a frequent complaint among the business community here. He said U.S. businesses were locked out of entire fields and face "restrictions that no other major economy imposes on us or so broadly."
Chinese and U.S. prosperity is key to reviving the global economy and no serious problems can be resolved without Beijing and Washington at the table, Biden said.
"We're the two biggest engines in the world to be able to do that," he said.
The U.S. relishes competition from China and hopes for continued Chinese prosperity, with the $110 billion in U.S. exports to China last year generating hundreds of thousands of jobs, Biden said.
Biden was to spend the rest of the day Sunday visiting sites with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, who is expected to become the country's next leader.

AJK cabinet condemns Nawaz remarks

The AJK cabinet in its meeting here on Saturday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Abdul Majeed Chaudhry unanimously condemned PML–N President Mian Nawaz Sharif’s alleged objectionable remarks vis-a-vis “Two Nation Theory” in a recent Lahore SAFMA event that drew criticism from other public quarters as well. An official handout issued after the cabinet meeting termed the alleged Mian remarks “a conspiracy against democracy and democratic norms” describing it “against the constitution of Pakistan, charter of democracy and a betrayal of Kashmir cause.”

Via another resolution the cabinet asked Mian Nawaz Sharif to respect the mandate of the people of Pakistan and wait for the elections till the completion of the tenure (of the present Pakistan government) in accordance with the dictates of the constitution. However it was appreciative of a reported statement by Editor-in-Chief of Daily Nawa-e-waqt, Mr Majeed Nizami “condemning” Mian Nawaz Sharif remarks to SAFMA on “Two Nation’s Theory”.

A bloody Ramzan


In what has to be the deadliest attack to target Pakistani Muslims in the holy month of Ramzan, a teenage suicide bomber blew himself up in Jamia Madina mosque in Jamrud, Khyber Agency, where more than 500 people were offering their Friday prayers. The official death toll has reached 51 with over a hundred badly injured. Blood stained mosque walls, Muslims killed during their mandatory weekly prayers and the holiest month in the Islamic calendar — one would have liked to believe that the militants, who claim to be the ‘true torchbearers’ of Islam, would not be up to their old tricks at this time. However, it seems that Ramzan has given them a warped licence to up the ante on their killing sprees.
The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for this bloody attack, which has left even helpless women and children dead. The suicide bomber was no more than 16 years of age, again verifying that these militant monsters will go to any lengths — including the recruiting of children for deadly bombings — to achieve their nefarious goals. But why this mosque? And why now?
To understand the tactics employed by the terrorists, one has to first understand the tactics used by the state (or lack thereof) in its ‘counter-terrorism’ methods. FATA is teeming with militant sanctuaries and pockets of their safe havens. The state has, so far, proved to be as competent as a sitting duck in eliminating the threat they represent. Frequently, the TTP targets mosques and other areas in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to let the state and its citizenry know of their malicious presence. It is because of the lack of government presence and a military offensive against these elements that many of the tribal groups in FATA have armed themselves and formed lashkars (armed militias) to ward off the militants. In some cases, the Pakistan Army seems fine with this arrangement as these lashkars, they hope, will do the job for them. However, how effective pockets of lashkars can be against a well armed guerrilla enemy is anyone’s guess.
The Kukikhel tribe belongs to the Jamrud region in Khyber Agency, and it is here that this tribe has formed an armed lashkar that has shown stiff resistance to Taliban pressure. It is believed that the mosque was targeted to strike at the Kukikhel tribe to debilitate its counter-terrorism efforts. With over 50 people dead, the attack is a seething blow to anyone and any group trying to beat back the militants.
The TTP is a vile enemy. It cares not for religion, people or culture. It laughs in the face of religious ritual and obligation by blowing to smithereens houses and worshippers of God. Ironically, it slaughters Muslims in the name of Allah. While this bloody attack will definitely demoralise any individual efforts to stave off the terrorists, it is hoped that this tragic bloodshed will only serve to reinvigorate anti-terrorism efforts in this war.
It is imperative that the state becomes an equal party in beating back the terrorists. The government and the military/intelligence establishment need to renew their efforts. Whilst the lashkars have proven to be enough of a threat to the TTP to make them attack their mosques and lands in these cruel ways, it is the responsibility of the state to launch a full throttle offensive against the militants. This will mean reinvigorating and increasing intelligence and not only relying on tribal folk to look after their own. All the same, lashkars such as those belonging to the Kukikhel tribe must be fully supported by the state so that they keep playing their role to ward off the terror threat. Countering this monster requires determined efforts from all sides.

ANP calls for decisive action against criminals in Karachi

The Awami National Party (ANP) expressing its reservation on the law and order situation in Karachi has called for a decisive operation against the criminals.
ANP spokesman Senator Zahid Khan said that his party’s demand of an army operation against the terrorists is now being supported by all segments of society, including the business community.
“We support a decisive operation against criminals irrespective of caste, creed and political affiliation,” he said.
Khan said all political parties whether inside the Sindh Assembly or outside should be taken on board for evolving a strategy to stop the killing of innocent people.
He said that ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan had convened a meeting of the party on August 28 to discuss the fragile security situation in Karachi and put forward its recommendations before the government.
“We will also discuss the ANP Sindh chapter’s recommendation to part away from the Sindh coalition government,” Khan added.
“There is an urgent need to devise a sincere policy and make efforts to save Karachi from the current situation. Bodies of innocent people are found from the streets of the city on a daily basis, which needs to be stopped immediately,” he said.

Eve teasers to get 3-year jail or rupees half million fine: Iftikhar Says Bacha Khan raised voice for woman rights in 1930

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Information Mian Iftikhar Hussain Saturday assured strict action against the people involved in women harassment under relevant section of the law.Women harassment is an offence under section 509 of Pakistan Penal Code and the violators could be fined to the tune of half a million rupees or three years imprisonment, said the Information Minister while talking to a delegation of “Asha”, an organization working for the rights of women. Councilor Khurshid Bano led the delegation.The Minister maintained harassment of the women at the work places, public spots and any other place has been declared as a legal offence and the law came in to action whenever such matter was reported to police.He said not only the women but every person of the society has to be protected against harassment and added that the problem of the women is very delicate and sensitive and has to be dealt with extreme caution and care.The Info Minister said that only illiterate and narrow-minded people in the society were against educating women. .He said that women are part of our society and we do not consider them as an unequal part of humanity but rather our religion Islam accords highest respect and regard to mother, daughter, sister and wife, which has no precedence in other religion of the world.The ANP has a very consistent stance on the rights of the women and recalled the Fakhr-e-Afghan Bacha Khan had raised voice for the rights of women at a time when nobody could think of it.There was a separate space in the Pakhtun magazine in 1930 about the rights of women wherein the women used to express their point of view very explicitly.He further recalled that Fakhar­e-Afghan Bacha Khan gave equal status to women in education, politics, inherited property and other social sectors.Mian Iftikhar further assured that campaign would be launched through media about the rights of women and their respective law so that its implementation was made effective.