Sunday, December 18, 2011

North Korea state TV says Kim Jong-il has died

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il died Saturday on a train trip, a tearful state television announcer, dressed in black, reported Monday.

President Zardari arrives in Karachi from Dubai

President Asif Ali Zardari, who was in Dubai for nearly two weeks for medical treatment, arrived in Karachi on late Sunday night, Geo News reported.

The President arrived in a special plane that landed at PAF base Masror. The plane landed two minutes late.

In the President's plane all medical facilities as well as his personal doctor and other medics were also present. The President was accompanied by his daughter.

Earlier, the medical team of President Asif Ali Zardari declared him completely fit, allowing him to resume his official activities.

President Zardari expected to return tonight: sources

President Asif Ali Zardari

is due to arrive in Karachi in tonight. The Presidential Spokesman Farhatullah Babar also hinted on the early arrival of Zardari.

According to the sources the arrival arrangements for President Zardari are in its final stages. He is expected to arrive in Karachi where he will stay at his residence Bilawal House.

There have been tight security arrangements made for his route from Shahrah-e-Faisal to Bilawal House. Sources also said the president has been declared healthy by a team of doctors in Dubai.

The Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is also expected in Karachi before the arrival of the president.

Obama 'very pleased' with tax cut vote

Arrests as Occupy Protest Turns to Church


From his spot at the center of Duarte Square in Lower Manhattan, Matt Sky watched on Saturday as hundreds of protesters streamed into the public areas of the triangle-shaped space at the center of an ideological tug of war between onetime allies turned adversaries: Occupy Wall Street and Trinity Church. That began a long day of demonstrations and marches that extended as far as Times Square and resulted in at least 50 arrests.

By noon, protesters had streamed into the square from all directions under cold, cloudy skies to reinforce the vibrancy of a movement swept last month from another space, Zuccotti Park, and signal a resolve against ecclesiastical leaders resisting their wish to set up an encampment on property owned by the venerable Episcopal church.

“Everything about this movement is momentum,” said Mr. Sky, 27, an Internet consultant from the East Village. “We need to show people that we are still relevant.”

Even before the protesters were displaced on Nov. 15, Trinity gave many of them hot chocolate, blankets and a place to rest at a space owned by the church. But when the Occupy movement expressed an interest in setting up an organizing camp on vacant Trinity property at Canal Street and Avenue of the Americas, the church said no.

The Occupy Wall Street forces then directed their skills at the church: They took their arguments to the streets. In familiar fashion, police officers converged on the area, standing around the perimeter.

A flier distributed by protesters summed up their mood: “While the event may include a reoccupation, the event itself is a broader celebration and expansion of Occupy Wall Street,” it said. It also advised people to bring backpacks, warm clothes and sleeping bags.

About 3 p.m., several hundred people began to slowly march along the blocks around the park. They went about five blocks north, then circled back. They were carrying homemade wooden ladders, draped with yellow banners. At Grand Street, the protesters made a move: They threw a ladder fashioned into a portable staircase against a chain-link fence separating the sidewalk from the church’s property.

Many people went over the fence that way. Others lifted the fence from the bottom, allowing protesters to squeeze into the space. The protesters were joined by a few clerics, including Bishop George Packard, a retired former supervisor of Episcopal military chaplains.

Within minutes, police officers began taking people into custody. About 4:15 p.m., Bishop Packard was led into a police van.

On the sidewalk, other officers pushed into a line of protesters, ordering them to disperse.

But hundreds of demonstrators marched up Seventh Avenue on Saturday evening, in the street and on the sidewalk — and against traffic.

Police vehicles — cars, scooters, vans — followed, and there were more arrests.

“Is there a problem?” said one protester, who was on a bicycle, as a police officer grabbed him on West 29th Street, near Seventh Avenue.

“The problem is you’re under arrest,” an officer replied.

Earlier in the day, the Rev. Stephen Chinlund, 77, an Episcopal priest who retired seven years ago, held a placard reading: “Trinity Hero of 9/11. Be a Hero Again.”

The mission of the church was to help those in need, he said.

The church’s rector, the Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, expressed sadness over the protesters’ actions on Saturday.

“O.W.S. protestors call out for social and economic justice; Trinity has been supporting these goals for more than 300 years,” Dr. Cooper said in a statement. “We do not, however, believe that erecting a tent city at Duarte Square enhances their mission or ours.”

Pakistan’s elected parliament must remove Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry

Author: Ahmed Iqbalabadi

Recently our fellow contributor and supporter, Peja Mistri wrote an excellent article titled “IMC – A monumental failure”. The article was written by Peja with apparent frustration due to the approach of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s conduct in court and the lofty hopes people had pinned with the restored judiciary. This article never reached Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry as it was not published in The News and Jang, which are the two newspapers IMC and his fellow judges reach. It was not covered by Geo News, which is the channel they see and for sure it was not penned by Ansar Abbasi, Shaheen Sehbai, Hamid Mir or Mohammed Mallick that would require Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to pounce on any opportunity to make a joke of the judicial system he is supposed to head and protect.

Last week, a renowned columnist, Kamran Shafi penned an open letter to Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry which had all humble submissions for him to consider. Published in a newspaper which apparently doesn’t go through the partial views of Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Express Tribune, Kamran Shafi has very simply asked “that if Mansoor Ijaz is considered to have told the truth about exactly who wrote the memo and at whose behest, surely he has spoken the truth about the ISI and its dreaded ‘S’ Section too?”.

A few weeks back, a big time supporter of Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and a Pervez Musharraf hater (read Pervez Musharraf and not military rule hater), Matiullah Jan conducted an interview of Justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramday and called referred to the Lawyers Movement that will be noted in history “sunheray huroof” (Golden letters). Let’s hope Matiullah was being sarcastic, but knowing his love for the Lawyers Movement, we think he was quite serious.

There are some questions that we would like to pose to the readers on the conduct of the Lawyers Movement and the restored judges, specifically the CJP.

* Was it the Lawyers Movement that dislodged Musharaf or was it the result of 2008 General Elections that paved the way for the ouster of the General?

* Hasn’t the Lawyers Movement restored some of the most biased and compromised judges in Pakistan; judges that had validated a military coup and sustained it for 8 years and were all PCO and LFO judges having given an Oath, not the Constitution of Pakistan but to a military dictator?

* Hasn’t the Lawyers Movement restored judges that are brazenly Pro- PML N, Pro-murderers, pro-terrorists and anti-PPP and anti-folk singers?

* Hasn’t the Lawyers Movement restored judges (LHC CJ) made public statements of bigotry where the blame Pakistan’s persecuted and peaceful Hindu community for terrorism and NOT the Taliban who shameless take credit for them.

* Hasn’t the Lawyers Movement restored judges completely ignored judicial reforms and inducting and promoting judges on merit to the higher judiciary.

* Haven’t the restored judges openly interfered in the executive and legislature and undermined the elected government?

* With the Constitution the will of the people’s representatives, haven’t the restored judges entertained petitions against legislation passed by parliament?

* Is it not the restored judges have placed themselves above the constitution with such invented / borrowed terms as “Basic Structure”

* Have not the restored judges banned social media and search engines in order to placate and please their important Jamaat-e-Islami backers?

* Hasn’t the restored CJ openly made public statements of intent of opposing legislation that would make Pakistan a secular country?

* The anjuman-e-tehseen bahami judges addressed rallies and give each other extensions?

* Are the movement’s restored judges immune to practicing cronyism as many of them are related to the PML N provincial government leaders and ministers?

* Wasn’t it the CJP who gave an epic judgment that a super store be brought down and amenity plot brought back to its previous state? The previous state was a dumping ground in Lines Area, Karachi. We are talking about Makro judgment! Where in the world investors would consider such a judgment as pro-business?

* Wasn’t it the CJP who gave judgment on McDonalds in a public park in Islamabad, which was operating since 2006?

* Didn’t the Supreme Court cause a lot of worries on the Reko Diq project in Balochistan, forcing the operating company to publish full page ads defending themselves? Aren’t these judgments/cases good enough to keep an investor from doing business in the country? (Company Rejoinder, Fact Sheet)

* Didn’t the Supreme Court give a Judgment against promotion of civil servants despite the executive prerogative of a Prime Minister to promote bureaucrats to grade 22?

* Didn’t the CJ called for a conclave of judges last year on rumors that the government was to take away the executive order that restored them?

* Isn’t Khwaja Sharif one of the restored judges who is likely to appear on behalf of Mumtaz Qadri in his appeal against a death sentence?

* Wasn’t it the restored judiciary who freed the rapists of Mukhtaran Mai, which was nothing but a disgusting verdict? Some judge mentioned “How can two brothers rape someone at same time? In our society there’s so much respect for elder brother”

On top of this, we got the shocker of our life when we read that the CJP has accepted a letter written by a Canadian Pakistani as a petitioner in the “memogate” scandal and issued fresh notices to the President, Prime Minister, ISI Chief and former Ambassador Husain Haqqani!!!! Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, please read our website and use the material against yourself, your partners in judiciary, media and the intelligence to take suo moto notices!

Looking at all the points mentioned above, we can safely say that during the last two and half years, Chief Justice and his colleagues have made a mockery of the judicial system only focusing on the political government and playing to the galleries that has their mai-baaps (Army) and humnawas (Media) sitting! Question is, will another Naeem Bukhari stand up and write a letter demanding action against CJP? Will Pakistan’s elected parliament stand up to the challenge and take appropriate action by removing Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry from his current post in view of his political bias and anti-democracy tactics? We hope so!

PPP demands commissions on Siachen, Kargil, East Pakistan

Daily Times

Former federal minister and Pakistan People’s Party Senator Dr Babar Awan said on Saturday that commissions should be formed on Siachen, Kargil and East Pakistan for fixing responsibility, like the commission set up recently to probe into a “piece of paper”. Addressing a Rai Ahmad Khan Kharl conference organised by Kharl Sangat Pakistan at Alhamra, he said that no one could snatch from the people the right to vote and work in line with the constitution, adding the masses wanted to know the truth behind many issues of national importance.

Babar also said that no institution could derail democracy in the country. Addressing office-bearers of Shakargarh Bar Association at a state guesthouse on Saturday morning, he said that Sub-Article 2 of Article 6, inserted in the constitution when he was law minister, protected democracy from any unconstitutional act.

He said that lawyers would play their role if anyone tried to derail democracy, adding that secret doors had been closed and that only the door of election was open for coming to power. Babar warned that the people would not allow any unconstitutional government, adding that only a constitutional government could function in the country now. He said some people, who remained silent and mum during dictatorships, were trying to target parliament, which was now very strong and functional. Advising the opponents, Babar said their return to country was ensured by the efforts of Benazir Bhutto, parliament and votes of people but they were now conspiring against the democracy. He said the PPP had protected the rights of the people for the last four years and expressed the determination that it would play a positive role in ensuring people’s rights in future as well. He further said the PPP wanted to restore the confidence of the people in elections and the democratic process and added that the PPP would never allow any body to ambush democracy.

Pakistan's "madrassah jail"

EDITORIAL Drug rehabilitation in seminaries

Not a week goes by when Pakistanis aren't left in shock at the preposterous and heinous events unfolding around them.

The latest story of a "madrassah jail" being operated in Karachi in which more than 50 students - ages

7 to 45 - were kept in chains in its basement is just one addition to this chain.

The picture which has emerged from preliminary reports - based on interviews with those held in captivity and statements given by local police - is demonstrative of the ignorance and desperation of the families of these boys and men.

Many of the captives were reportedly drug addicts, and their families had entered them in the seminary for rehabilitation.

A few were apparently mentally ill and were put there to ward off "evil spirits".

What happened in that madrassah is sheer cruelty and abuse of power by the seminary's administration.

The torture marks on many of the captives' bodies, and their verbal statements before the media, are evidence of the kind of "treatment" they were being given.

Forced to live in sub-human conditions, physically tortured, and emotionally isolated from the rest of the world, these boys and men went through more psychological trauma than therapeutic recovery.

But unfortunately, with nearly half the seminaries operating in the country unregistered, there is no way for the authorities to monitor their activities.

This effectively means that they can get away with just about anything as long as it is being done inside their four walls.

Ironically not only did the families willingly bring their children to this jail, but even after they found out about the madrassah's barbaric treatment, some still showed willingness to let their children stay.

This kind of attitude, this acceptance of inhumane treatment, is the result of lack of knowledge about the reality of addiction and mental illnesses.

Studies have indicated that in the last 30 years, drug users in Pakistan have gone up from 50,000 to over 8 million.

There is no credible aggregated data on people with mental health issues, because either people can't identify mental illness or are too ashamed to admit it.

Coupled with this, absence of any effective public awareness campaigns by the government, means that a good percentage of people don't even know who to turn to for help.

Thus it is understandable when parents, falling prey to superstition, rely on the local clerics for help in all matters of life.

Their blind trust on seminaries doing what is best for their child leads to their acceptance of whatever abuse their children might face.

To combat this mindset, there needs to be a decisive policy on eliminating torture, whether in state jails or in religious institutions.

Also, a lot more work needs to be done disseminating information about drug addiction, mental illness and their treatment.

On Tuesday, the police had already started handing over children to their parents after they had been questioned.

Predictably, no parents decided to file a case against the seminary officials.

For those families who had admitted their loved ones for drug addiction treatment, there won't be any follow-up to monitor what they will do next.

As things go, there probably won't be any effort to educate the families about the options available to them to rehabilitate their family members.

The raid was a result of a news package which pointed out human rights violations in the vicinity of the madrassah.

It is hoped that the seminary officials are captured and made to face the consequences of their actions.

But what the media, our policy-makers, city district government, and concerned citizens, must also focus on is what happens to the captives after they return home and the story has run its usual news cycle.

This raid has not changed the challenges they and their families are facing.

It is up to us to make sure a recurrent fate does not await them in some other seminary.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor launches anti-polio campaign

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor, Barrister Masood Kausar formally inaugurated the 3-day Sub-National Immunisation Campaign for Polio eradication; starting from Monday (tomorrow) in selected districts of the province as well as all the tribal agencies and certain frontier regions of FATA by giving polio drops to children in Peshawar on Saturday.

Governor said that it is a matter of grave concern that an increase in the reported cases of polio has been noted in our country during the current year, as against the preceding year.

In the backdrop of the reality that the fatal disease has been wiped out from all over the world, he added, this is a matter of extremely grave concern that our motherland, Pakistan is not only numbered amongst couple of those countries where not only re-emergence of the disease has been noted but increase in reported cases has also be recorded.

Pointing towards a large number of health professionals, faculty members and students of the Khyber Medical College; the Governor said that prevention and care is far better than treatment and therefore, there is a dire need to make this campaign a real success.

Provincial Special Secretary Health Noorul Aiman was also present on this occasion.

It is worth to mention here that under the campaign almost 36,72,628 children of up to five years have been targeted to be vaccinated in Buner, Bannu, Charsadda, D.I.Khan, Dir Lower, Dir Upper, Hangu, Haripur, Karak, Kohat, Malakand, Mansehra, Mardan, Peshawar, Swat, Swabi, Tank and Torghar districts of the province for which 11174 vaccination teams have been deputed, while in FATA 937329 children of the desired age in all the tribal agencies as well as frontier regions of Tank, Bannu, Kohat and Peshawar have been targeted for vaccination through 2778 mobile teams.

Veena Malik has been found

Veena Malik has been found. The actress is allegedly staying at a service apartment in Juhu for the last two days. Her manager Prateik Mehta told TOI, `` I am on my way to meet Veena who is at Oakwood Park. I have only spoken to her briefly.''

The Pakistani actor had gone missing from Aarey Milk Colony road from Friday morning. She had been shooting for the film Mumbai 135kms for the last 15 days.

The film's director Hemant Madhukar told TOI, "Veena was shooting with us from 6pm to 6am for the last 15 days. From Thursday evening to the time she disappeared from the movie sets, Veena seemed distracted and upset."

Around 5.30am, she was advised to go to her vanity van. "I told her we would call her once the shot was ready. When my assistant went to the van, she was not there," said Madhukar. The production team sent a car daily to pick up and drop Veena. On Friday morning, she didn't use the car. "I know there was a car waiting for her for nearly three hours. Maybe she took the car but I am not sure," said Madhukar.
Veena hit headlines recently after a nude shoot for a magazine cover. She though denied participating in the shoot after a controversy broke out in Pakistan

Memogate fiasco: Claims and counter-claims

EDITORAIL:daily times

The balloon floated through Memogate has now been pinpricked by its very own author, Mansoor Ijaz. The whole edifice built around the controversial memo is unravelling under the weight of Mr Ijaz’s own contradictions. General James Jones, the intermediary between Ijaz and Admiral Mike Mullen, has declared the memo as unreliable. General Jones said, “At no time during the call do I remember Mr Ijaz mentioning Ambassador Haqqani, and he gave me no reason to believe that he was acting at the direction of Ambassador Haqqani, with his participation, or that Ambassador Haqqani had knowledge of the call or the contents of the message.” Mr Ijaz is not known for his credibility in the first place and with General James’ claim that he thought Ijaz himself wrote the memo, it further makes it clear how one man tried to manipulate many parties and tried to disrupt the system in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Gilani met army chief General Kayani for three hours to discuss the situation. Mr Gilani feels that there is no standoff between the army and the government. It seems that the tensions between the military establishment and the civilian government have defused to a certain extent. That in itself is a positive indicator. The National Assembly also debated the memo issue. PML-N MNA Ayaz Amir voiced his fear that it seems like there is another conspiracy afoot to dislodge a civilian government as happened back in 1977. Even though this is not the PML-N’s official line and is also an alarmist prognosis, all political parties should still pay heed to such warnings and tread with caution. If the PPP-led coalition government is ousted by undemocratic means, it would be a blow to the future of all political parties. Thus, it was not surprising that the PPP’s coalition partners, the ANP and the MQM, have vowed to stand behind the government. Another aspect that has now reared its head is Article 47, which says: “(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the constitution, the president may, in accordance with the provisions of this Article, be removed from office on the ground of physical or mental incapacity or impeached on a charge of violating the constitution or gross misconduct...” President Zardari has ruled out this option as he is recovering from his illness and will soon be back in the country. The flurry of speculation and the scandalisation of his illness was further fed by media frenzy, especially the electronic media. This is not a good development. Any human being can fall ill and President Zardari is no different. Just because he was incapacitated for a few days does not mean he is not fit to run the country. Making a mountain out of a molehill should be avoided at all costs.

Even though the sense of crisis that had been created in recent days seems to have abated, there are lessons to be learnt from this whole fiasco. One, a clash between the executive and the judiciary and/or government and the military could have been caused due to an unreliable person’s claims. Two, if — God forbid — the democratic system is disrupted due to Ijaz’s claims, it means that anybody can get away with a conspiracy in this land of the pure without credible proof. All state institutions should be on their guard and not let someone with dubious credentials undo a system that has been mandated by the people of Pakistan.

Memogate fiasco should end after Gen Jones’ statement


A day after his late-night meeting with the army chief, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani dispelled the impression of any confrontation between the government and the military by categorically stating that the army and the judiciary were the supporter of democracy and that no one had any intention of derailing the democratic process in the country.

Denying any issues between the civilian government and the military leadership over the memo scandal, Gilani felt if any such impression was created by some circles, it had been removed by his meeting with General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Gilani also urged that the memogate fiasco should come to an end following the statement of former US national security adviser Gen James Jones.

The prime minister, who was talking to a selective group of journalists from the print media, looked composed and talked extensively on issues making headlines, ranging from memo the issue and relations with US to the political situation and future elections in the country.

Gilani called the memo case a non-issue and emphasised that Pakistan and its interest were supreme and made it clear that the government had never directed anyone to write such a memo.

He said that whatever the army chief and the ISI director general submitted in the apex court over this issue was in the ambit of the system and that their statements were routed through the appropriate government forums.

Gilani said that the army was the institution of the country and that he defended it more than them when the Abbottabad incident occurred and questioned what some people and the media wanted to derive from a piece of paper which contained nothing.

He said that the matter was now sub judice and recommended that the inquiry be allowed to take its course, adding that the government would act on whatever came from it. Gilani disclosed that the army chief also talked with President Asif Ali Zardari when he met him and that he received a phone call from the president during the meeting. About the president’s return to the country, he said that the president would be in the country on December 27 if the doctors allowed him to travel. The prime minister said that Pakistan a wanted relationship with the US in “black and white” with nothing hidden in the bilateral ties, declaring that a new understanding with the US would be empowered through the mandate to be given by parliament and the people of the country.

He said that in his meeting with US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, he had put forward three suggestions to the US envoy to build bilateral ties on a durable and solid foundation.

Elaborating on the meeting with Munter, Gilani said that he had asked the US to give him the political space as the people of Pakistan wanted from their prime minister not to compromise on the national sovereignty and that he sought a guarantee that no incident like the Abbottabad operation would take place in future. On the military side, the US envoy was asked to sit with the Pakistani military to evolve a mechanism that would help avoid collateral damage by relying on information from Pakistan, particularly on drone strikes.

Blast damages Khyber school bldg.

Militants set off explosives at a girls' high school at Ghundi in Tehsil Jamrud area of the northwestern region of Khyber, near the Afghan border.

The building was partially damaged, officials in the area said.

However no loss of life was reported.

Overall 53 schools were blown off in Khyber Agency during the last three years.

People to drag Nawaz Sharif into court

Federal Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Mola Bux Chandio has said that what could be a conspiracy bigger than PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif’s declaring Parliament as useless and that too in the court of law, Geo News reported.

Talking to Geo News outside Parliament House, he said that the matter of President Asif Ali Zardari’s submitting his reply in the Supreme Court would be decided on his (President’s) homecoming.

Chandio said that Prime Minister was a part of Parliament, adding any conspiracy against Parliament would be a conspiracy against him (PM).

Criticizing Sharif he said that on hand he claimed to be an antagonist of all kinds of unconstitutional actions but on the other he had laid the foundation of a conspiracy against Parliament.

“Sharif would find himself standing in the dock of court if he ever tried to raise voice against the Parliament”, Chandio said categorically.