EDITORIAL:THE FRONTIER POSTDoes Mian Nawaz Sharif think that the people are too stupid or that he is too clever that he can get away with all manner of hypocrisies and deceits just like that without his foul ever being called? But so mistaken is he. Not that the people know not that he is faking, deceiving and lying so much in these times. They do. But they let his chicanery pass as they have now wiped him out of their hearts and minds as a nonentity. Otherwise, does he know that the people sneer at him when he brags that then Balochistan chief minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal had supported him when the Pakistani nuclear scientists had conducted the May 1998 tests? The people know that he is lying, and blatantly. He indeed had kept Mengal out of the loop on the nuclear testing. And after it was conducted, Mengal had gone to the town whining that he was kept in the dark all through even as the nuclear testing was to be carried out on his domain at Chagai. This is very much a matter of public record. And yet Nawaz has the audacity to tell a lie with a straight face with no streak of qualm on his face. He says that Mengal and other Baloch leaders have been labelled as traitors whereas they are as patriotic Pakistanis as anyone else. Then, what was it that had impelled him not to take Mengal into confidence on the impending nuclear testing, which in fact had become a cause of discord between the two? And what kind of relationship it was that he himself engineered the toppling of Mengal's elected government in Balochistan and returned Mengal's loyalty with his own treachery? Of late, Nawaz has been feigning a lot of sympathy and compassion for Balochistan and its residents, oozing out volumes of wailing that they have been dealt injustices no end by the centre. He has been posing as if he was no part of problem, whereas he was very much of it. He had been the prime minister twice. And he says his was the "golden era". Did that glorious era touch Balochistan even a wee bit? You must be joking. The luckless province never ever blipped on his radar screen. He built a wholly unneeded motorway between Islamabad and Lahore. Which expressway did he build to connect Quetta with Karachi? He spruced up the Lahore airport terminal complex. Which airport he built in Balochistan or gave a facelift to? If he took to the patent rip-off of a yellow cab contrivance, did he think of helping Balochistan's fishermen community to modernise its obsolete fishing fleet? Which dam, which canal, which waterworks, which seaport indeed did he construct in the province? Which university, which higher engineering institute, which medical college, which hospital, which healthcare network did he establish in Balochistan? His slate is, verily, all blank. Then, does he think that the people are such fools that they are chewing up unquestioningly whatever he is dishing out to them? They are not, absolutely. They know what is eating him in reality and what is he aiming at actually. It is to get his bete noire Pervez Musharraf, for which he has primarily latched on to the sad demise of Nawab Akbar Bugti. Of course, he has to have a special infatuation as well for the late Baloch sardar. When possessed by a blinding craze to install himself on this nation as its lifelong Amirul Momineen, a ruler a law unto itself, and was desperately looking for the required parliamentary vote, he had self-servingly lent a big official hand to the late nawab sahib to throw out Kalpars who had earned the latter's ire for one reason or the other, from the Bugti domain. Several thousands of those Kalpars, including children and women, kept roaming around forlornly and haplessly as the internally displaced people all through Nawaz's watch with nobody to mitigate their woe. Certainly, Nawab Akbar Bugti's death must be investigated. And so must be the mass eviction of the Kalpars. No unnatural act should go uninvestigated and unpunished. But Nawaz must take a pause and ponder if he is not holding on to a dicey card. In any case, this country is no political play ground of anybody and its 180 million people are nobody's playthings. Nawaz must seek other avenues to take revenge and settle his personal scores with Musharraf. For his vengeance, he must not play with fire in Balochistan. The unfortunate province is already beleaguered with a multiplicity of dire adversities and miseries. And it would do without Nawaz's dangerously dirty monkeyshines.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Daily TimesAn inspiring documentary on the life and mission of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on Monday received the Peabody Award, the most coveted prize in electronic media, at a glittering presentation ceremony held for 38 recipients in various categories. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was in attendance at the two-hour ceremony, and was recognised by Patrick Stewart of Star Track fame, who was presenting the awards. Bilawal’s aunt, Sanam Bhutto, was also present. ‘Bhutto’ – an 111-minute documentary about the two-time prime minister – gives a strong sense of her endearing personality and courage, mixed with single-minded devotion to promote democracy and human rights. The film’s directors, Duane Baughman and Mark Siegel, received the awards before a large and distinguished gathering at the Grand Ball Room of Waldorf Astoria Hotel. “I was happy that the documentary on Shaheed BB got a prestigious award,” Bilawal said in an interview with APP. He said the film recognised Benazir’s sacrifices for the cause of democracy and the hard work she had put in for the welfare of Pakistani people. “It is an absolute honour to have been recognised with an award as widely respected as the Peabody is,” said Baughman, director and producer of the multi-award winning film. “Benazir Bhutto’s story is an inspiring, heroic, and barrier-shattering for women across continents, religions, and ethnicities. I am humbled to have been able to share her legacy with the West, the world and women everywhere.” Siegel, the co-director, also paid tributes to Bhutto’s work in promoting democracy and rebuilding the country. “Jeeay Bhutto,” he shouted as he left the stage. “The range of the Peabody Awards’ search for excellence has never been wider or deeper than this year,” said Horace Newcomb, director of the Peabody Awards. Newcomb described ‘Bhutto’ as a documentary where “Benazir Bhutto’s life story unfolded like an epic novel, with a fairy tale beginning, a martyr’s death and years of social awakening and political courage in between”. Bilawal arrived in New York on Sunday for an eight-day visit to the United States during which he will meet American lawmakers, senior officials and media organisations, and address a number of think tanks. PPP officials said he would try to explain Pakistan’s position on various issues, remove misperceptions and create a favourable environment for improving US-Pakistan relations.
http://www.firstpost.comPakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai has agreed to extend the transit trade agreement between the two countries to the Central Asia Republics. “Once the decision has been taken, modalities for extending the transit trade to Central Asia will be worked out by the officials from two sides,” the Pak President’s spokesperson, Farhatullah Babar, said after the meeting held in Chicago on the sidelines of the NATO Summit yesterday.During the meeting that lasted for nearly 45 minutes, Zardari also emphasised on long term regional economic engagement and stressed that projects like Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, CASA-1000, Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (RoZs) and rail and road connectivity could change the destiny of the region, calling also for concerted efforts to implement these projects. Zardari said that Pakistan would support every effort for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan including the Qatar process as long as they were acceptable to Afghans, Babar said. Noting that peace and stability in Afghanistan is a central concern of Pakistan, Zardari reiterated that the Pakistani territory shall not be used for any kind of attacks on any other country. Pakistan Parliament had also recently reiterated this principle and also declared that all foreign fighters shall be expelled from its soil, the spokesperson noted. Farhatullah Babar said that the post 2008 period has been marked by frequent Pak-Afghan meetings at the leadership level. Karzai visited Pakistan to participate in the Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan trilateral summit February 2012 during which he held bilateral meeting with both Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani and Zardari.
By Sherry RehmanThe NATO summit in Chicago will focus on the endgame in Afghanistan on the heels of U.S. House debate on bills that will shape the nature of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. The tone of this debate and the diplomacy of the Obama administration will send a clear signal to the 180 million people of Pakistan as to whether the world's oldest democracy will stand with one of the world's newest democracies to defeat terrorism and extremism for a politically stable and economically viable South Asia. Many are pessimistic. However, a series of confidence-building measures could recast our bilateral relationship. If the war against extremism is to succeed, the war of words between democratic allies must end. The U.S. and Pakistan have had a rocky year. The unilateral raid on Abbottabad, the Raymond Davis CIA provocation, the U.S.-led NATO air assault in Salalah that tragically killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and the continuing unauthorized drone attacks on Pakistani soil have frayed our 60-year special relationship. We can dwell on the things that have separated us or work toward rebuilding the relationship. Pakistan has taken the first step to restoring normalcy to U.S.-Pakistan relations by working to reopen the NATO supply routes that were closed after the Salalah tragedy. Significant progress could be made toward resetting the relationship between our countries if the U.S. were to: •Finally apologize for the battlefield deaths at Salalah. •Reimburse the Coalition Support Funds — U.S. repayments to Pakistan for the cost of battling terrorism — owed to Pakistan, a very small part of the $78 billion that Pakistan has lost on account of the war against extremism since 2001. •Increase the sharing of counterterrorism intelligence to assist our military in combating extremism. •Cease the controversial drone operations that violate our sovereignty and the norms of international law. •Shift to a policy of trade not aid by providing enhanced access to U.S. markets for Pakistan's exports. These game-changing steps would serve as a deathblow to extremist expansion in the region. As the U.S. prepares to exit from South and Central Asia — again — in 2014, those of us who live and will remain in the region have a legitimate interest in a stable and responsible security transition in Afghanistan. Pakistan has paid an enormous price in our battle against al-Qaida, with more than 37,000 civilians and nearly 6,300 security forces killed. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto gave her life fighting this scourge. Given this level of clear commitment, coupled with sacrifice, it is unseemly for our resolve against terrorism to be questioned by the West. The 46 nations fighting in Afghanistan represent countries with an aggregate gross domestic product of more than $365 trillion, and an aggregate military force of nearly 22 million troops. When this unprecedented coalition cannot contain the terrorists on the Afghan side of the border, it is naive to assume that Pakistan alone can completely eliminate terrorist activity on our side of the border. We have 140,000 troops in daily combat against the militants in FATA, Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and Waziristan. We are hardly passive allies in our existential battle against militancy. America may not be aware that our successful (and costly) effort to clear thousands of terrorists from Swat, Bajaur and Mohmand has been undermined by militants who now find sanctuary in eastern Afghanistan from which they continuously attack our civilians and our soldiers. Despite the enormous efforts taken and huge casualties suffered, Pakistan's efforts are in vain if NATO cannot provide the anvil to Pakistan's hammer. The threat to Pakistan is real and constant. The daily attacks shatter lives on a level we could never have imagined before 2001. Each military offensive launched in our tribal areas results in immediate attacks on our schools, hospitals, markets and religious shrines across our nation. Yet we are resilient. We continue the fight. My embassy updates the U.S. Congress on a weekly basis of the toll this fight has taken on the men, women and children of our country — a staggering 43,726 confirmed dead. Just last week an additional 34 Pakistani civilians and 18 security personnel were killed in my country as we fight this war. This is our reality. While some may question our commitment and ask whether we are doing enough, the truth is that Pakistan — our government, civilians and our soldiers — want a swift victory over terror more than anyone. Our existence depends on it. In order to succeed, America and Pakistan must forge a new beginning together, starting today.
Sherry Rehman is Pakistan's ambassador to the United States.
Daily TimesPresidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the impression that Pakistan was going to announce restoration of NATO supply routes during the Chicago summit as a condition for the country’s attendance had been proven wrong. Babar was briefing journalists along with Ambassador Sherry Rehman at the conclusion of the two-day summit, attended by President Asif Ali Zardari and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. The spokesman noted that President Asif Ali Zardari’s articulation of Pakistan’s position on restoration of ground lines of communication and other issues has led to clarity and understanding of Islamabad’s perspective. In his interactions, President Zardari made it clear that the Salala incident on November 26, 2011, which resulted in deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers, forced upon Islamabad a review of the relationship. The president also stated that parliament has issued guidelines for the bilateral relationship and that Islamabad is bound to follow those guidelines. “This impression has been wrong, there is now greater clarity on both sides whether it was meeting with Secretary Hillary Clinton or speech at the NATO-ISAF meeting or a brief encounter with US President Barack Obama, all these have resulted in greater clarity and understanding of the Pakistani position,” Babar said. He explained his point that clarity means recognition by President Obama that the two sides need to work through issues. “If President Obama says we need to work through tensions and President Zardari says we are bound to follow parliamentary guidelines, it is clarity.” Pakistan, he said, has created space for diplomacy. About conditions for resumption of NATO supply routes, Babar said the most important thing is that there is mutual trust and respect. He also briefed the media about President Zardari’s meetings with his Turkish counterpart Abullah Gul and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Sherry Rehman said the democratic government has been dealing with issues unambiguously and transparently. Pakistan, she said, clearly has concerns. “We cannot gloss over differences – we are dealing with issues without compromising Pakistan’s strategic concerns, we are following parliamentary guidelines – we are looking for an apology.” She said that Pakistan and the United States are trying to work through their differences. “Pakistan’s national interest cannot be traded for positive feedback at conferences,” she said in answer to a suggestion that Pakistan’s gestures could have won it international appreciation. “No country is trading their interests. Pakistan, the US and NATO are all searching for common ground.” She said Pakistan has been very clear about its sovereignty
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Sri Lanka marks the third anniversary of the end of the nearly three decade war against Tamil Tiger rebels with a military march
Three men charged with conspiring to commit domestic terrorism during the NATO summit were plotting to attack President Obama's Chicago campaign headquarters, the Chicago mayor's home and police stations, authorities said Saturday. A police investigation that began early this month revealed that the three suspects are "self-proclaimed anarchists" and members of the "Black Bloc" group who traveled together from Florida to Chicago to commit violence as a protest against the NATO summit, authorities said in a statement.
TOLONEWSThe Afghan Local Police (ALP) are violating human rights in several areas of the country, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said in a report released Saturday. AIHRC chief Sima Samar released the report saying that the local police have sometimes created more unrest in the areas under their control. "Some powerful figures sought the creation of the local police, but they have violated human rights in some districts," Samar said. Samar said that in some areas, the ALP were as troublesome as illegally armed groups. "You can't distinguish the ALP from other illegally armed groups," she said. Samar questioned the need for the largely local and illiterate force at all. "What is the need of a local police force if we have more than 250,000 in the army and a police force beyond 2014. Their [ALP] role for after 2014 should be clarified," she said. Afghanistan's Ministry of Interior (MOI), which oversees the ALP, rejected the claims saying that while the local police had been involved in 13 known human rights violations last year, all of these cases were prosecuted. "The local police have only been involved in 13 cases of human rights violations in some parts of the country, for which the perpetrators were prosecuted," MOI spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said. "Local police have been effective in bringing security to the districts under their control. They are a threat to insurgents." Around 13,000 local police have been assigned in 66 districts, and have found to be effective in fighting insurgents, he added. Their number is rise to 30,000 at the end of 2014 when the Nato-led combat troops are set to leave Afghanistan, according to the MOI.
“An alliance for growth” was French daily newspaper Le Monde's depiction of the historic first meeting between new president François Hollande and his American counterpart Barack Obama. Echoed by many other French media outlets, Le Monde's Saturday edition headline reflected the gaining momentum of Hollande‘s call to move away from austerity in tackling the ever-worsening eurozone crisis. He was buoyed by the backing he received from Obama calling for a "strong growth agenda in Europe" as the two heads of state met for the first time at the White House on Friday. "Even if the wording was general, it was important for Hollande," Le Monde said. "The head of state now has a heavyweight ally in his condemnation of austerity policies." The new alliance, forged in a meeting lasting little over an hour, is a happy beginning for Hollande heading into this weekend’s G8 summit meeting of the world’s most powerful leaders at Camp David.World leaders echo Hollande's call France's new president has long insisted the gloom hanging over Europe’s economies can only be lifted if harsh belt-tightening policies demanded by Germany are complimented by measures to kick-start the eurozone’s ailing economies. Following Obama’s ringing endorsement of Hollande’s ideas, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who met with Hollande for the first time on Friday evening, was the next to align himself with the French president, suggesting the two shared the same views on growth. "There is no conflict between austerity and growth," Cameron told reporters. "You need to have a strong deficit reduction program in order to get growth. President Hollande believes that, and I believe that." Cameron did, however, set up a future clash with Hollande over the Frenchman’s promise to introduce a Tobin Tax on financial transactions, saying he would not support the move. European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso also echoed Hollande’s call for more job-creating measures to help Europe out of the mire. "We need to take action for growth while staying the course in terms of putting our public finances in order. Stability and growth go together. They are two sides of the same coin," he said. Italy’s prime minister Mario Monti has already come out in support of growth measures to tackle a crisis that appears to be reaching a breaking point, with Greece heading toward an election that could throw its eurozone membership into question. Merkel in danger of being isolated When Hollande made a pre-election promise to tear up the European Union's fiscal pact, of which his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy was so proud, it set the Socialist on course for a clash with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She insisted Europe must continue to take the poison when it comes to austerity.But the sands now appear to be shifting in Hollande’s favour. Instead of the Frenchman looking like he's in over his head, it is his German counterpart who appears more likely to cut a lonely figure at Camp David. "Germany is absolutely isolated," said Domenico Lombardi, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank, in an interview with Reuters news agency. Lombardi said the dire situation of Greece has shifted the focus of the debate and heightened the need for a different solution to the crisis. Even Obama sensed the growing pressure on Merkel, commenting she must have "things on her mind" after she responded to his greeting with a resigned shrug of her shoulders. Hervé Favre, in an editorial for French paper La Voix du Nord, said with Obama’s backing Hollande could now “pile the pressure on Angela Merkel”. After Camp David, Hollande’s crash course in diplomacy will continue at a two day NATO summit on Sunday and Monday where Afghanistan, Syria and Iran will all be on the agenda. The French president then returns to Europe, where he will once again come face to face with Merkel at a European Summit in Brussels on May 23. After this weekend, it's possible he'll go into that meeting with his head held high.
U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are set to address a host of pressing economic and military security issues this weekend as the United States hosts a high stakes Group of Eight summit outside Washington and a NATO summit in Chicago.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Saturday highlighting the importance of educational facilities for the people, said education, especially in the fields of science and technology, was very important for the progress and prosperity of the country and the welfare of the nation. Addressing the third Convocation of Virtual University here, Prime Minister Gilani said, "The 21st Century is a century of knowledge, creativity and innovation and only those nations will call the shots on political and economic landscape that will be leaders in the field of knowledge and education." The Prime Minister announced the establishment of 30 more campuses of Virtual University throughout the country, including the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan. He also announced "IT Awards" of Rs 20 million to help the talented students from the remotest and backward areas of the country. The Prime Minister said broadband centres would be established at all the union councils of the country to provide 30,000 jobs to the students this year. He said the Federal Government had already spent 22 billion rupees on the development of IT infrastructure and broadband connectivity. He also announced an allocation of Rs 17 billion more for strengthening broadband connectivity in other unserved areas of the country. Gilani said PAK-SAT would provide one hour free transmission facility to the Virtual University. He also directed for provision of land for the construction of Central Campus of the Virtual University in Islamabad and ordered the Capital Development Authority to submit a report in that regard within two weeks. The Prime Minister also directed the Minister for IT to expedite the matter of 3G technology. He said that technology would not only bring about a revolution, but also create employment opportunities and ensure more development. He said he had already directed the Finance Minister to create 100,000 jobs in the coming budget 2012-13. The Prime Minister said the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) had not come to power through backdoor and it was governing the country with the support of people. He said some forces were bent upon obstructing the PPP's successful development programmes and removing the Prime Minister through unconstitutional means. "However, they will fail in their unfair and unconstitutional drive as we have come to power through a public mandate and will continue to serve the masses," he added.
The Express Tribune News Network.The Government of Punjab after withdrawing the protocol of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has now started to create issues on his security as well. A scuffle between Gilani’s staff and Punjab Police personnel is said to be the first move on the part of the provincial government to convey a message to the centre: ‘You cannot move without getting approval from the Punjab government’. A brawl between the security staff and police personnel erupted over the issue of access to the stage where the prime minister was seated as chief guest. Gilani was attending the convocation of Virtual University at Expo Center in Johar Town, where he distributed certificates among the participants. SP Sadar Police Division Athar Waheed said that Station House Officer (SHO) of PS Mustafa Town, Muneer had been stopped by a constable part of the prime minister’s security team. He said that he was also not allowed to go near the stage, claiming that both he and the SHO were insulted by the security team and harsh words had been exchanged. A member of the Punjab police and the security team scuffled inside for 15 minutes after Gilani left the venue, and were joined by their colleagues later. The man from the prime minister’s security team was identified as Talat. SP Waheed said he had offered that Talat apologise to the SHO and local police, but he had refused and had instead suggested that he be taken to the police station. The SP then ordered the policemen to take Talat to the police station, adding that an FIR will be lodged against him if he does not apologise. The SP said that he is the one responsible for security of the venue and the whole system would be destroyed if he is not respected. SP Athar Waheed is a renowned police officer who has openly expressed his inclination with Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N). During the Long March, Waheed – who was posted as SP Gujranwala – had refused to crackdown against PML-N workers. Later, he had resigned in protest. PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had openly applauded Waheed’s action and had vowed that he would be honoured once they were in power. Security parameters According to security protocol, the premier has been given P2 security under the Blue Book. P2 (Pakistan) is the highest level security in which three cordons are made. Before the arrival of the prime minister, local police under supervision of the SP or DPO searched the venue and area through the Special Branch, Bomb Disposal Squad, metal and explosive detectors and sniffer dogs. After the police checked the venue, security staff of the prime minster had arrived and declared the venue clear. The Chief Security Officer of the prime minister belongs to the Army and is equal to a Major. However, it is the local SP or DPO who are responsible of overall security affairs of the prime minister. Three cordons The prime minister is provided with three security cordons – inner, middle and outer. The inner cordon comprises of the prime minister’s security, middle is provided by the Special Branch and the outer is handled by local police. The incident took place between the inner and outer cordons, as the security staff insisted that the police was not allowed to enter the inner cordon, while SP Waheed said that he had the right to visit all cordons. Tit for tat? Sources in PML-N said that during Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Sindh on May 15 and 16, the provincial government had withdrawn bullet proof vehicles and security, and that the PML-N media office had also issued a protest statement. The second action from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) coalition government came when Interior Minister Rehman Malik had ordered SSP Islamabad to issues notices to the Sharif brothers for an inquiry into an ‘attack on the Supreme Court’ in 1998. Sources have claimed that SP Waheed’s move was very calculated. Governor Punjab orders SP’s transfer Governor Punjab Sardar Latif Khosa, taking notice of the incident, directed the transfer of SP Waheed to Balochistan. However, Police spokesperson Nabeela Ghazanfar said that Inspector General (IG) Police Haji Habibur Rehman has transferred Waheed to Provincial Headquarter Office. Sources said that the IG on the directives of Shahbaz Sharif had refused to surrender Waheed’s services to the federal government or to relieve him. ‘No transfers’ Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said that the Punjab government cannot transfer officers on the wishes of others, adding that the incident had accidently occurred between the security and police officers. He said the security staff should have obeyed the orders of SP Waheed as he was in charge of security in the whole area. Sanaullah suggested that the matter should not be given a political angle, adding that no official would be transferred to Balochistan. DIG Operation Rai Muhammad Tahir said that the matter had been resolved, and added that Punjab Police was investigation the matter.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Does 'progressive leadership' or something more complex and sinister explain why Algeria's 'Spring' never materialised? The 'Arab Spring' of 2011 brought down autocratic governments across North Africa and the Middle East. But, despite widespread street protests that initially threatened to spark a Tunisian or Egyptian style revolt, an expected uprising in Algeria failed to materialise. President Abdelazziz Bouteflika's regime - often accused of being one of the most repressive in the region - promised modest political reform and managed to hold onto power. Earlier this month it claimed to have delivered on these promises when parliamentary elections were held, in which the ruling National Liberation Front (or FLN) won an overwhelming majority of the votes. Although opposition groups were quick to deride the poll as a sham and to accuse the government of manipulating the results, European and American observers called the poll a step toward democracy. So what has been going on in Algeria for the last year? Did it genuinely, as the government would claim, avoid the upheaval that swept through the rest of North Africa last year because of the Bouteflika regime's 'progressive leadership'? Or has something darker and more complex been going on - a story that opponents and human rights activists say has more to do with a wary population traumatised by the country's violent past and living in fear of its secret police? People & Power wanted to find out, but getting into Algeria is difficult - not least because Al Jazeera has been denied official access to the country since 2004. Nevertheless, when our requests for journalist visas were ignored, our filmmakers managed to get in unofficially and were able to work discreetly. Producer Caroline Pare describes what they found.
Human rights campaigners have orgainsed a protest outside the Bahraini embassy in London to raise their voices against the invitation of ‘Bahraini tyrant’ to a Diamond Jubilee event. Human rights activists are outraged that the King of Bahrain will lunch with the Queen at Windsor Castle - after his regime was accused of a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners. Protestors say the guest list at today's special Jubilee lunch features a range of foreign monarchs who have been widely condemned for their human rights records, or their extravagant lifestyles. Among the guests sitting down with the Queen is the King of Bahrain, where demonstrations calling for more democratic involvement in the country's government were violently suppressed, with the help of Saudi troops. At least fifty people have been killed in the tiny Persian Gulf island nation since February last year. Campaigners have described the invitation to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa as "inappropriate, insensitive, and ill-advised." "The King of Bahrain has been incriminated in grave violations of human rights. While he basks in the magnaminity of today's pomp and ceremony, the people of Bahrain are being shot, tear-gassed and tortured by his security forces. The British royal family is staining their own reputation by keeping company of dictators", said the writer and pro-democracy activist, Dr Ala'a Shebabi. Other guests from controversial regimes are also at the lunch, including Swaziland's King Mswati, who has 13 wives, and is Africa's last absolute monarch. He is accused of leading a lavish lifestyle while his people are starving. The rulers of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are there too - human rights group Amnesty International has accused both countries of rights violations. The human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has called on protestors to gather outside Buckingham palace tonight as guests arrive for dinner with Prince Charles, demanding that invitations to those he described as "royal tyrants" should be withdrawn. "Inviting these blood-soaked dictators brings shame to the monarchy and tarnishes the Diamond Jubilee celebrations", he said. "The invitations are a shocking misjudgement. They show the Queen is out of touch with the humanitarian values of most British people. She's putting royalty before human rights."
The Express Tribune News Network.