Sunday, September 18, 2011

PML-N, PTI wrangle on dengue issue

Pakistan Today

In a critical time when dengue has created serious problems for people and all political forces should coordinate and unite, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) have chosen the warpath to gain political mileage on the dengue issue and have therefore created mistrust among people who are desperately seeking relief instead of a political brawl.
The PML-N-led Punjab government sealed two labs of the Shaukat Khanam Hospital which is being run by PTI Chairman Imran Khan to inflict political and financial damage to him. To this, Khan announced that the Punjab government would be dragged to court to settle the score. The PML-N government had raided all private labs which were found involved in charging over Rs 90 as test fee for detection of dengue.
Raids were conducted right after the CM had announced the low fee on Saturday and proper time to implement the instructions was not given to hospitals. PTI Secretary Information Omer Cheema told Pakistan Today that the party would go to the court against this injustice. “In order to hide its own criminal neglect and to extract political mileage out of a matter which is strictly human, the Punjab government has harassed functionaries of Shaukat Khanum Laboratory Collection Centers and has even arrested some of them,” he said.
He said this tyrant act was done despite the fact that Shaukat Khanam had reduced fee of the basic CBC test to Rs 80 against the government’s announced ceiling of Rs 90. He said this was a condemnable attempt, aimed at stopping the most acclaimed humanitarian organisation, nationally and internationally, from serving the poor of this country.
“The Shaukat Khanam funds are not spent on buying properties and building businesses in London, France and elsewhere in the world. They are, instead, meant for free treatment of people, thousands of whom have been cured of cancer,” he said. Khan, who is in London to launch his book “Pakistan: a personal history” in the UK, when contacted, condemned the act in strongest words and described it as the beginning of the end of a corrupt and anti-people leadership of PML-N.
He urged his party workers and functionaries to stay calm and to serve people in this hour of need. Punjab government spokesman Senator Pervaiz Rashid said Khan had announced to go to the court if action was taken against his laboratories for overcharging the dengue tests. He said Khan must go to the court and the Punjab government was ready to provide him services of the best lawyer at its own expense. However, he said Khan would not go to the court where he would be declared dishonest.
Rashid reminded Khan that there was also a court of the people where his claims of being pro-poor and people-friendly had been fully exposed. He said the Punjab government had fixed Rs 90 as fee for the dengue test in private hospitals and laboratories. He said Khan leveled baseless allegations against the Ittefaq Hospital and Sharif City Hospital as both had opened their doors for dengue patients. He said further that Khan should sympathise with the people instead of supporting the dengue mosquito.

Altaf takes his words back about Asfandyar Wali

MQM Chief Altaf Hussain on Monday took his words back about Asfandyar Wali, saying he was ashamed on hurting Asfandyar and ANP workers, Geo News reported.

Bill Clinton: Cheney trying to cause 2012 mischief

Former President Bill Clinton says he has high regard for Dick Cheney's political skills even if the former vice president tries to cause mischief for Democrats.
Cheney recently praised Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as one of the Obama administration's "most competent" members and said it would be "interesting to speculate" how she might be as president.
Cheney suggested, tongue in cheek, she might want to challenge Barack Obama in 2012, and said he wouldn't discourage a primary fight.
Bill Clinton tells CBS' "Face the Nation" he's "gratified whenever anyone says anything nice" about his wife, but one of Cheney's skills "is sowing discord among the opposition" and he doesn't want to help Cheney's strategy succeed.
Clinton did elbow Cheney, saying, "I admire that he's still out there hitting the ball."

Tumult of Arab Spring Prompts Worries in Washington

While the popular uprisings of the Arab Spring created new opportunities for American diplomacy, the tumult has also presented the United States with challenges — and worst-case scenarios — that would have once been almost unimaginable.

What if the Palestinians’ quest for recognition of a state at the United Nations, despite American pleas otherwise, lands Israel in the International Criminal Court, fuels deeper resentment of the United States, or touches off a new convulsion of violence in the West Bank and Gaza?

Or if Egypt, emerging from decades of autocratic rule under President Hosni Mubarak, responds to anti-Israeli sentiments on the street and abrogates the Camp David peace treaty, a bulwark of Arab-Israeli stability for three decades?

“We’re facing an Arab awakening that nobody could have imagined and few predicted just a few years ago,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a recent interview with reporters and editors of The New York Times. “And it’s sweeping aside a lot of the old preconceptions.”

It may also sweep aside, or at least diminish, American influence in the region. The bold vow on Friday by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to seek full membership at the United Nations amounted to a public rebuff of weeks of feverish American diplomacy. His vow came on top of a rapid and worrisome deterioration of relations between Egypt and Israel and between Israel and Turkey, the three countries that have been the strongest American allies in the region.

Diplomacy has never been easy in the Middle East, but the recent events have so roiled the region that the United States fears being forced to take sides in diplomatic or, worse, military disputes among its friends. Hypothetical outcomes seem chillingly present. What would happen if Turkey, a NATO ally that the United States is bound by treaty to defend, sent warships to escort ships to Gaza in defiance of Israel’s blockade, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to do?

Crises like the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador in Turkey, the storming of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo and protests outside the one in Amman, Jordan, have compounded a sense of urgency and forced the Obama administration to reassess some of this country’s fundamental assumptions, and to do so on the fly.

“The region has come unglued,” said Robert Malley, a senior analyst in Washington for the International Crisis Group. “And all the tools the United States has marshaled in the past are no longer as effective.”

The United States, as a global power and permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, still has significant ability to shape events in the region. This was underscored by the flurry of telephone calls that President Obama, Mrs. Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta made to their Egyptian and Israeli counterparts to diffuse tensions after the siege of Israeli Embassy in Cairo this month.

At the same time, the toppling of leaders who preserved a stable, if strained, status quo for decades — Mr. Mubarak, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia — has unleashed powerful and still unpredictable forces that the United States has only begun to grapple with and is likely to be doing so for years.

In the process, diplomats worry, the actions of the United States could even nudge the Arab Spring toward radicalism by angering newly enfranchised citizens of democratic nations.

In the case of Egypt, the administration has promised millions of dollars in aid to support a democratic transition, only to see the military council ruling the country object to how and where it is spent, according to two administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic matters. The objection echoed similar ones that came from Mr. Mubarak’s government. The government and the political parties vying for support before new elections there have also intensified anti-American talk. The officials privately warned of the emergence of an outwardly hostile government, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and remnants of Mr. Mubarak’s party.

The upheaval in Egypt has even raised the prospect that it might break its Camp David peace treaty with Israel, with Egypt’s prime minister, Essam Sharaf, telling a Turkish television channel last week that the deal was “not a sacred thing and is always open to discussion.”

The administration, especially Mrs. Clinton, also spent months trying to mediate between Turkey and Israel over the response to the Israeli military operation last year that killed nine passengers aboard a ship trying to deliver aid to Gaza despite an Israeli embargo — only to see both sides harden their views after a United Nations report on the episode became public.

Unflinching support for Israel has, of course, been a constant of American foreign policy for years, often at the cost of political and diplomatic support elsewhere in the region, but the Obama administration has also sought to improve ties with Turkey after the chill that followed the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Turkey, which aspires to broaden its own influence in the region, has been a crucial if imperfect partner, from the administration’s point of view, in the international response to the fighting in Libya and the diplomatic efforts to isolate Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad.

The administration deferred to Turkey’s request last month to delay new sanctions on Mr. Assad’s government to give diplomacy another chance.

This month, only days before expelling Israel’s ambassador, Turkey agreed to install an American radar system that is part of a new NATO missile defense system, underscoring its importance to a policy goal of the last two administrations.

Mrs. Clinton, in the interview, expressed hope that the United States would be able to support the democratic aspirations of the Arab uprisings. She also acknowledged the constraints that the administration faced at home, given the country’s budget crisis and Republican calls in Congress to cut foreign aid, especially to the Palestinians and others seen as hostile to Israel.

“It’s a great opportunity for the United States, but we are constrained by budget and to some extent constrained by political obstacles,” she said. “I’m determined that we’re going to do as much as we can within those constraints to deal with the opportunities that I see from Tunisia to Libya and Egypt and beyond.”

The administration has faced criticism from all quarters — that it has not done enough to support Israel or has done too much, that it has supported some Arab uprisings, while remaining silent on the repression in Bahrain. That in itself illustrates how tumultuous the region has become and how the United States has had to scramble to keep up with events that are still unfolding.

“Things are so fluid,” said Robert Danin, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “They’re not driving the train. They’re reacting to the train, and no one knows where the train is going.”

Pakistan has Haqqani links: U.S. official

The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan accused the government there of having links to the Haqqani network, a pro-Taliban militant group that U.S. officials blame for this week's attack on the U.S. Embassy and NATO command center in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Speaking to Radio Pakistan, Ambassador Cameron Munter said relations between the United States and Pakistan "need a lot of work" and urged closer cooperation. The interview was available Saturday on the Radio Pakistan website.
A Taliban assault on the U.S. Embassy and NATO command center in central Kabul was brought to a bloody end Wednesday with the deaths of half a dozen militants. Four policemen and two civilians were killed and 27 injured in that attack and a handful of other incidents across Kabul, according to Afghan government figures.
"The attack that took place in Kabul a few days ago -- that was the work of the Haqqani network," Munter told Radio Pakistan. "There is evidence linking the Haqqani network to the Pakistani government. This is something that must stop. We have to make sure that we work together to fight terrorism."
U.S. officials have previously blamed this week's attack on the Haqqani network, a pro-Taliban militant group based in Pakistan's North Waziristan region. They have also previously accused the Pakistani government of maintaining a relationship with that network.Still, Munter's comments are noteworthy for their timing, amid heightened tensions between Pakistan and the United States, and because of their blunt nature.
They came one day after U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen told his Pakistani counterpart he was deeply concerned about the brazenness of attacks being staged by operatives loyal to the Haqqani network.
During a lengthy one-on-one meeting in Seville, Spain, Mullen "conveyed his deep concerns about the increasing -- and increasingly brazen -- activities of the Haqqani network and restated his strong desire to see the Pakistani military take action against them and their safe havens in North Waziristan," Capt. John Kirby, Mullen's spokesman, told CNN.
Mullen believes that "elements" of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, known as the ISI, "directly support" the Haqqani network, Kirby said.
The Haqqani network is aligned with the Taliban and al Qaeda and is considered one the most significant threats to stability in Afghanistan. U.S. officials believe Haqqani operatives are moving unfettered across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and are responsible for several recent high-profile attacks in Kabul, including this week's assault.
In late April, Mullen said on Pakistan's Geo TV that the ISI has a "long-standing relationship" with the Haqqani network.
Pakistani officials have denied the existence of such a relationship.
Mullen, who is retiring at the end of this month, met with Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, for more than two hours in what was their final official meeting. Both men were in Spain to attend a high-level NATO military meeting.
"They agreed that the relationship between our two countries remained vital to the region and that both sides had taken positive steps to improve that relationship over the past few months. They also discussed the state of military-to-military cooperation and pledged to continue to find ways to make it better," Kirby said.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan's Interior Minister Bismillah Muhammadi avoided blaming Pakistan directly for this week's attack in Kabul. However, he used the phase "across the borders of Afghanistan," a typical way of referring to Pakistan in connection to the recovered phones of the attackers.
"The six cell phones we found on them, and the evidence we got on them all shows that this plot was made across the borders of Afghanistan," he said. "Without doubt they are across the borders of Afghanistan. They get equipped, they get trained there, and then they get sent here for killing of our people."

US drone crashes in Pakistan: security officials

An unmanned United States drone aircraft crashed in Pakistan's lawless northwestern tribal district on Sunday after suffering a technical fault, local security officials said.
The drone, the second to crash in Pakistan within the last month, went down in South Waziristan, part of the lawless tribal belt on the Afghan border that Washington calls a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda.
"The American drone crashed in Zangara village of South Waziristan, apparently because of some technical faults," a security official in Peshawar, the main town in Pakistan's northwest, told AFP.
Two intelligence officials in Wana, the main town of South Waziristan, confirmed the incident. It was an armed Predator drone, they said.
The United States uses unmanned surveillance aircraft in its war against the Taliban in Afghanistan to monitor militants in Pakistan, from where Al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked fighters launch attacks in Afghanistan.
It also uses Predator armed drones to launch missile attacks aimed at militants in Pakistan's unstable northwestern border areas.
US drone crashes are very rare in Pakistan, but a surveillance drone equipped with a camera crashed in southwestern Pakistan on August 25.
In September 2008, tribesmen in South Waziristan claimed to have shot down another surveillance drone in Jalal village, near the Afghan border.
The Pakistani army said at the time that it was investigating that incident but did not make the results of the probe public.
The US drone campaign is deeply unpopular among an anti-American Pakistani public and the government has publicly demanded an end to the attacks.
However, in private, Pakistani military and civilian leaders are thought to co-operate with the programme and Washington says it has been successful in eliminating a number of Al-Qaeda- and Taliban-linked militants in Pakistan.
Around two dozen drone strikes have been reported in Pakistan since elite US forces killed Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in a suburban home near Pakistan's main military academy in Abbottabad, close to the capital, on May 2.
The raid humiliated Pakistan and prompted allegations of incompetence and complicity in sheltering bin Laden.
Pakistan is seen as a key ally for the United States in its fight against Islamist militancy, but relations soured after the bin Laden raid, which both countries say was carried out without Islamabad being warned.

Human Right situation in Baluchistan quite bleak: HRCP

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Baluchistan chapter’s leader Tahir Hussain Advocate has said that some 143 people were killed and about 180 were injured in the incidents of target killings, bomb blasts and other terrorists’ activities in Balochistan province.

Hussain expressed his apprehension during a press conference at Quetta Press Club here on Saturday. He said that HRCP had always raised its voice against human rights violation in the province. He said that extra judicial arrests, non-recovery of missing persons, targeted killings, kidnapping for ransom, religious terrorism and highway robberies have become a daily routine in Balochistan.

He said that political workers and people form other walks of life are disappearing , which is the violation of the law .Commission constituted for recovery of missing persons has also filed a writ petition in this regard, but no recovery could not be made so far.

He said that the incidents of finding defaced dead bodies are on the rise. He said that last year 50 people from Hindu community were kidnapped, returned after paying ransom. The minorities have stopped their children from going to school due to sense of insecurity in Balochistan. Similarly two people were killed in the name of religious terrorism during last month in the province.

He said that during last few years some 188 mutilated dead bodies were recovered , in addition to this some 83 people were killed in 50 incidents of targeted killings., whereas 58 lost their lives and 174 injured in 12 big blasts, whereas 26 people were kidnapped for ransom.

He severely condemned the incidents of acid throwing on the female teachers and demanded the government to provide security to them in the province.