Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shia pilgrims killed in two attacks

The Baloch Hal News
At least twenty-nine Shia pilgrims have been killed in what appeared to be a case of sectarian attack orchestrated by Sunni militant groups in Balochistan’s Mastung District, officials confirmed.
According Shah Nawaz, the Assistant Commissioner of Mastung, unidentified people fired shots at a passenger bus which was carrying Shia pilgrims to Iran. The attack resulted in the immediate killing of at least twenty-nine people. The attackers firstly opened fire at the bus but then entered inside the bus and killed more people.
The incident took place in Ganj Dori area of Mastung, authorities said.
Eyewitnesses told The Baloch Hal that the attackers also opened fire at the ambulances which were carrying the injured people to the hospital. Hence, three more people were killed in the attacks on the ambulences.
Most of the injured people have been shifted to Quetta for further medical treatment.
A Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which has killed hundreds of followers of Shia Islam in the past, accepted responsibility for the attack. The LeJ wants to convert Pakistan into a complete Sunni state and has repeatedly warned Shias to leave Balochistan and Pakistan.
The BBC Urdu Service quoted Balochistan’s Home Minister Naseebullah Bazai as saying that the pilgrims had not informed the government of Balochistan about their trip. “Otherwise, the government does have a plan to safeguard the pilgrims,” he claimed.

The human cost of chocolate

It may be unthinkable that the chocolate we enjoy could come from the hands of children working as slaves. Ten years after a protocol was introduced to end child labor in the cocoa industry, little has changed.

Polio cases in Balochistan rise to 37

With two more polio cases reported each in Loralai and Pishin districts their number has risen to 37 in the province.

The toll of confirmed polio cases detected in various districts of the Balochistan during 2011 has risen to 37. Qilla Abdullah District has been declared the worst affected area where as many as 13 cases have so far been reported.

While giving the details of the polio cases detected in Balochistan, Dr Jawahir Habib Communication for development Officer Polio said that as many as 13 children were victimized by the crippling disease of polio in Qila Abdullah district, 9 in Pishin, 5 in Quetta, 3 each in Noshki and Khuzdar and one each in Kohlu, Dera Bugti, Kalat and Lorali during the last couple of months.

"The parents in rural areas of the province are either reluctant or ignorant to immunize their children against the disease which has increased the number of polio cases in parts of Balochistan, she lamented.

When contacted, the Provincial Manager of Expanded Program on immunization (EPI) Dr Yousaf Bizinjo said that Balochistan government was keen to eradicate the menace of polio from the province.

"High level meetings chaired by the CM Balochistan Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani and Chief Secretary Ahmed Baksh Lehir have taken serious notice of the issue and directed the officials to make necessary arrangements for the campaign launched today. "Teams have been constituted to administer Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) to 5 lakh 24 thousands children below the age of five in Balochistan" he said adding that health department in collaboration with the district administration, UNICEF and World Health Organisation had made full arrangements to make the three-day campaign a success. He urged the parents to immunize their children against polio as it is the only preventive measure to save children from the attack of crippling disease.

"The polio teams will launch door to door activity in the 13 districts of the province", he said, adding, the political parties including PML-N, PPP, Pashtunkhwa Milia Awami Party, ANP and JUI have also assured their cooperation and their representatives will also visit each and every house in their respective localities to administer oral drops to the children. "Provincial government had devised a concerted strategy to supervise the work of polio teams and to ensure that the team members had access to each house, he noted. Dr Bijinjo also called for the role of print and electronic media to get maximum results from the drive.

"Taking notice of the refusal of the parents, Balochistan government has issued directives to lodge FIR against them, he noted. He stressed that an awareness campaign through the religious scholars, tribal notables and other opinion makers should be started to educate public about importance of vaccination of children.

ANP welcomes Altaf's retraction

Senior leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) Haji Adeel has welcomed the decision of MQM Chief Altaf Hussain to retract his statement against ANP Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan.

Hussain during his press conference had alleged that Asfandyar had received millions from the US to win the 2008 elections.

Speaking to Geo News Adeel said that if Hussain wanted to end differences he should hold dialogue with Pakhtuns and other ethnic groups that live in Karachi.

Adeel added that everyone's hard work was involved in the prosperity of Karachi and not one but all ethnic groups were stakeholders in the city.

Haqqani network backed by ISI: US think-tank

The Haqqani network, which is blamed for the recent attack on American embassy in Kabul, receives protection and support from the Pakistani spy agency ISI, an influential think-tank has told US lawmakers.
"They receive protection and support from facets of Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI, which continues to drag its feet on taking action against the Haqqanis because they see the network as a useful proxy to expand their influence and establish footholds in Afghanistan," said Frank J Cilluffo, Director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at the George Washington University.
"Because the Haqqani network is seen by parts of Pakistan's government as a valuable ally, the government has refused to take action in the tribal regions of Waziristan which creates safe havens, not only for the Haqqanis but for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, with which the Haqqanis are intimately involved," Cilluffo told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing last week.Noting that the network poses a significant threat to US and India, he observed that "strangely, and inadvisably" it has not been designated a foreign terrorist group.
It is believed that the group is a powerful insurgent force in Afghanistan, one that targets coalition forces as well as Indian investments and interests in the country, he said.
Siraj Haqqani, the son of the famous anti-Soviet fighter Jalaluddin Haqqani, is the current leader of the network. The group originated in the 1970s and has formed significant ties with al-Qaeda and Taliban in the years since its inception.
Today, it is operationally based in North Waziristan, the remote border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Cilluffo said Lashkar-e-Taiba too receives support from the Pakistani establishment.
"Before the United States can take actions to assume a lighter footprint (especially in Afghanistan), it is paramount that we hold Pakistan accountable to take action against the extremist forces festering under their watch," he said.
"The litmus test here is whether Pakistan will sever its historic ties to its proxies, namely LeT in India and the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan. While we acknowledge the fact that there are some factions in Pakistan that will never cut these ties, we must also realize that some in Pakistan recognize the threat these groups pose," he said.
"Those individuals are motivated to cooperate with the US, and we should continue to do all we reasonably can to encourage and support their efforts. This is not only in the best interests of the US and India, but also of Pakistan," Cilluffo added.

Terrorist elements against Pak, Afghan, US interest: Khar

Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said that Pakistan is fighting against terrorism to save its own interest. She was speaking to the media here after meeting with the foreign ministers of England, France and Italy.

While addressing a press conference, the foreign minister said that Pakistan will continue to favour the reconciliation process in Afghanistan and will continue to play its role as a neighboring country.

Khar described her meeting with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as ‘very constructive’ and told that they had an extensive discussions on ‘all facets’ of US-Pakistan relations.

“It went very well,” Khar said after the three-and-half hour meeting.

The two top diplomats are in New York for the 66th session of the UN General Assembly. The foreign minister, in a brief interaction with reporters, also stressed the importance of ‘deeper understanding’ when her attention was drawn to points of differences between the two sides.

She also told that the foreign ministers of different countries agreed on helping the flood victims of Pakistan.

The Pakistan Foreign Minister said that there is complete convergence of interests in counterterrorism goals between Pakistan and the US. She said that terrorist elements are against the mutual interest of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US.