Monday, January 9, 2012

Middle East protests, state repression set to continue in 2012:

Repression and state violence is likely to continue to plague the Middle East and North Africa in 2012 unless governments in the region and international powers wake up to the scale of the changes being demanded of them, Amnesty International warned on Monday in a new report into the dramatic events of last year. In the 80-page report released under the title ‘Year of Rebellion: State of Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa’, the organization describes how governments across the region were willing in 2011 to deploy extreme violence in an attempt to resist unprecedented calls for fundamental reform. Mass uprisings sparked by the self-immolation of a Tunisian vegetable vendor that swept the Arab world last year led to the downfall of presidents Zine ElAbidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi. They continue to rock the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and paved the way for the removal of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. But Amnesty International said that the region’s protest movements appeared to show few signs of abandoning their ambitious goals or accepting piecemeal reforms. “With few exceptions, governments have failed to recognize that everything has changed,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s interim Middle East and North Africa Director. “The protest movements across the region, led in many cases by young people and with women playing central roles, have proved astonishingly resilient in the face of sometimes staggering repression.” “They have shown that they will not be fooled by reforms that make little difference to the way they are treated by the police and security forces. They want concrete changes to the way they are governed and for those responsible for past crimes to be held to account.” “But persistent attempts by states to offer cosmetic changes, to push back against gains made by protesters or to simply brutalize their populations into submission betray the fact that for many governments, regime survival remains their aim.” Despite great optimism in North Africa at the toppling of long-standing rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, Amnesty International said that these gains had not yet been cemented by key institutional reforms to guarantee that the same kinds of abuses would not be repeated. Egypt’s military rulers, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), pledged repeatedly to deliver on the demands of the “January 25 revolution” but Amnesty International found that they had in fact been responsible for a catalogue of abuses that was in some aspects worse than under Hosni Mubarak. The army and security forces have violently suppressed protests, resulting in at least 84 deaths between October and December 2011. Torture in detention has continued while more civilians have been tried before military courts in one year than under 30 years of Mubarak’s rule. Women appear to have been targeted for humiliating treatment to try to deter them from protesting. In December the offices of a number of Egyptian and international NGOs were raided by security forces in an apparent attempt to silence critics of the authorities. Amnesty International said it feared that 2012 could see further attempts by the military council to restrict the ability of Egyptians to protest and freely express their views. The uprising in Tunisia brought significant improvements in human rights, but one year on many consider that the pace of change has been too slow, with families of the victims of the uprising still awaiting justice. Following elections in October a new coalition government was formed. Moncef Marzouki, a human rights activist and former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, is the country’s interim president. Amnesty International said that in 2012 it was critical that Tunisians seized the opportunity of drafting a new constitution to ensure that it guaranteed protection of human rights and equality under the law. In Libya, there were significant questions about the ability of the new authorities to control the armed brigades that had helped oust the pro-Gaddafi forces and prevent them from replicating the patterns of abuse learnt under the old system. Despite the National Transitional Council calling on its supporters to avoid revenge attacks, serious abuses by anti-Qaddafi forces have rarely been condemned. In November the U.N. stated that an estimated 7,000 detainees were being held in makeshift centers under the control of revolutionary brigades, with no prospect of a proper judicial process. Elsewhere, Amnesty International said that governments remained grimly determined to cling onto power, in some cases at almost any cost in human lives and dignity. The Syrian armed forces and intelligence services have been responsible for a pattern of killings and torture amounting to crimes against humanity, in a vain attempt to terrify protesters and opponents into silence and submission. By the end of the year there were over 200 cases of reported deaths in custody, over 40 times the recent average annual figure for Syria. In Yemen the standoff over the Presidency caused further suffering for ordinary Yemenis. More than 200 people were killed in connection with protests while hundreds more died in armed clashes. Tens of thousands were displaced by the violence, causing a humanitarian crisis. There were hopes in Bahrain that the November publication of an independent report by international experts on protest-related abuses might mark a fresh start for the country. At the end of the year the strength of the government’s commitment to implementing the commission’s wide-ranging recommendations remained to be seen. In Iran, whose domestic policies remained largely out of the spotlight during 2011, the government continued to stifle dissent, tightening restrictions on freedom of information and specifically targeting journalists, bloggers, independent trade unionists and political activists. Amnesty International said the response of international powers and regional bodies such as the African Union, Arab League and EU to developments in 2011 had been inconsistent, and had failed to grasp the depth of the challenge to entrenched repressive rule in the region. Human rights were espoused as a reason in favor of a military intervention in Libya, but the Security Council, stymied by Russia and China in particular, had by the end of the year only issued a weak statement condemning the violence in Syria. And while the Arab League acted quickly to suspend Libya from membership in February and later suspended Syria and sent a team of observers, it remained quiet when Saudi Arabian troops, acting under a Gulf Cooperation Council banner, backed the Bahraini government’s efforts to crush protests. “Support from world powers for ordinary people in the region has been typically patchy,” said Philip Luther. “But what has been striking about the last year has been that – with some exceptions – change has largely been achieved through the efforts of local people coming onto the streets, not the influence and involvement of foreign powers.” “The refusal of ordinary people across the region to be deterred from their struggle for dignity and justice is what gives us hope for 2012.”

Has the Arab League failed in Syria?

End support to Taliban for peace

Afghanistan on Monday asked Pakistan to end its "unequivocally abundant support" to Taliban to check terrorist activities in the region that are hurting both countries. A top advisor to Afghan President Hamid Karzai said while bold and open discussions have been held between Kabul and Islamabad on the issue of tackling terrorism, Pakistan now needs to "walk the talk". "Both countries are suffering from losses due to increasing terrorist activities," Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, an advisor on the Home Security to the President, said on the sidelines of a workshop to discuss the Afghan transition. End support to Taliban for peace: Afghans to Pak He said while notable progress has been made in strengthening the security sector in Afghanistan, it was only in 2011 when the government's comprehensive, population- centric counter-insurgency operations started bearing results and the trend started reversing. "This is, however, a delicate progress and can reverse, if not managed well. With the unequivocally abundant support funnelled to them from outside the Afghan borders, insurgents are increasingly shifting tactics focusing on high profile targets thus rejecting any notion that they are losing the war," he told over 100 delegates, including high ranking diplomats and representatives from the Pakistan and Indian High Commissions. Other Afghan delegates too insisted that Pakistan was a source of insurgency in their country, and any fencing of the 2,400 km of border would not help contain terrorists. Stanekzai, who is also the chief executive officer of the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme, said there was trust-deficit between the two countries which remained a major hurdle in taking clearer action on the ground. "Stabilising Afghanistan following NATO's departure 2014 will not be possible unless the international community establishes a realistic strategy for the government to respect the rule of the law," stressed Fawzia Koofi, the Afghanistan member of parliament and one of the 10-member Afghan delegates at the workshop, the first of its kind to be hosted in Southeast Asia and Singapore. "The Taliban must stop getting military supplies from other side of the border, namely, Pakistan," said Koofi, expressing concern over the possibility of Taliban's return that, she said, would hit women the most.

Replies to SC by Kayani, Pasha illegal, says Yousaf Raza Gilani

Pakistan Today In yet another twist in the memo scandal, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani today suggested that the replies submitted to the Supreme Court by the chiefs of the army and ISI were "unconstitutional and illegal" as they were sent without obtaining the government's approval. The responses given by the army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha to the Supreme Court in connection with the alleged memo did not have the approval of the competent authority as required under the rules of business, Gilani said. No summary or formal proposal seeking the approval of the competent authority for these two replies was initiated by the Defence Ministry, Gilani said during an interview to a Chinese newspaper. Any official action by a government functionary without the prior approval of the government is "unconstitutional and illegal", he said. Gilani pointed out that the Supreme Court Chief Justice had observed that any act of a government functionary without the government's nod is unconstitutional and therefore illegal. The prime minister said in both the memo controversy and the recent NATO air strike on Pakistani military border posts, the civil and military leadership of Pakistan had held detailed meetings and taken immediate decisions. He said both issues were referred to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and the government had accepted the resignation of Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's former envoy to the US. After the memo issue was referred to the parliamentary committee, the Supreme Court took suo moto action, he said. Gilani described the memo as a "letter written by one American national to another American". This is not the first time that Gilani has criticised the army and ISI for their handling of the memo issue. Gilani was recently angered by an affidavit submitted to the apex court by Defence Secretary Khalid Naeem Lodhi, a retired general considered to be close to the army chief. Lodhi's affidavit had contended that the civilian government had no control over the operational matters of the army and the powerful ISI. Gilani responded by saying it was unacceptable for the army to act like a "state within a state". The civilian government and the military adopted divergent stands when the apex court took up the memo issue. The government challenged the court's jurisdiction to hear the matter, saying it was already being investigated by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security. The chiefs of the army and ISI urged the court to conduct an independent probe. The alleged memo, made public by Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, sought US help to stave off a feared military coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May last year.

U.S.A. : Ending a cruel immigration twist

The Washington Post
AMERICA’S HALF-BAKED immigration system is riddled with unfair, arbitrary and inhumane provisions, but few are so senseless and cruel as those covering the undocumented immigrant spouses and children of U.S. citizens. Now the Obama administration is proposing a prudent rule change that would prevent thousands of pointless family separations and prompt untold numbers of illegal immigrants to seek legal status through lawful channels.
Currently, undocumented spouses and children of American citizens are eligible for green cards if they return to their native countries to apply for U.S. visas. But when they do, they are automatically barred from reentering the United States for up to 10 years — the penalty for having been unlawfully present here. The way around those harsh measures is to prove that family separation would cause a U.S. citizen “extreme hardship” — for instance, by depriving him of the family income or help with child care that the immigrant spouse provided. The catch is that while U.S. immigration authorities grant thousands of such waivers annually, the process takes six months on average, and sometimes much longer, stranding spouses and children far from their families. Given the long delays and possibility of rejection — and prolonged family separations — many never bother to apply.
In practice, most of those who apply for waivers are Mexicans, and the vast majority of them are successful. Of some 17,000 waiver applications filed with the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, which handles the paperwork in Mexico, about 90 percent were approved. The rule change, proposed by the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, would allow such spouses and children to remain in this country while they seek provisional waivers. Nothing else would change: Once a waiver is granted, the immigrant would still be required to return to his home country to apply for a visa. But the shift would streamline the process and cut family separations to the days or weeks it takes to issue a visa, rather than the months required for a waiver application. It’s possible that opponents of illegal immigration will cry “amnesty” — they rarely miss an opportunity — but the proposal is little more than a tweak. After all, it would favor people who are already members of American families and are overwhelmingly eligible to receive green cards anyway. Why tear them from their jobs, homes, spouses and parents for months on end? Nor is it likely to encourage phony marriages, since immigration and visa authorities would apply the same scrutiny to such arrangements as they do now. Officials hope that the proposal — a change in administrative law that does not require congressional approval — will go into effect after a comment period by the end of this year. If it does, it could help tens or hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their American families to lead normal lives, free of the burdens imposed by a dysfunctional immigration system.

Karzai’s Ultimatum Complicates U.S. Exit Strategy

President Hamid Karzai’s
denunciation last week of abuses at the main American prison in Afghanistan — and his abrupt demand that Americans cede control of the site within a month — surprised many here. The prison, at Bagram Air Base, is one of the few in the country where Afghan and Western rights advocates say that conditions are relatively humane. American officials, caught off guard by the president’s order, scrambled to figure out the source of the allegations. Now they have at least part of an answer: the Afghan commission that documented the abuses appears to have focused mainly on the side of the prison run by Afghan authorities, not the American-run part, according to interviews with American and Afghan officials. Mr. Karzai was, in essence, demanding that the Americans cede control of a prison to Afghan authorities to stop abuses being committed by Afghan authorities. But the American snickering subsided quickly as it became apparent that the Afghans were not backing off their demand, the officials said, and instead appeared intent on turning it into a test of their national sovereignty. “We have the right to rule on our own soil,” said Gul Rahman Qazi, the chief of the Afghan commission that investigated the prison, at a weekend news conference in which his panel listed accusations of abuses. The matter is exposing the deep vein of mutual mistrust and suspicion that runs beneath the American and Afghan talk of partnership, and officials characterize the prison dispute as a critical complication for the United States’ intent to withdraw from the Afghan war on its own terms. The prison plays a key role in the war effort, housing almost all the detainees that forces from the American-led coalition deem “high value,” including Taliban operatives. Transferring the prison to Afghan control is a central issue in the on-again, off-again negotiations between Washington and Kabul over the shape of the relationship between the two countries after NATO ends combat operations in 2014. “It doesn’t make it easy to keep talking when you’re getting ultimatums,” said an American official who did not want to be identified for fear of straining already delicate relations. “This isn’t a side issue or something that we can just let go and see what happens.” It is the latest — and one of the most serious — case of how increasingly frequent and unilateral outbursts by Mr. Karzai and his allies indicate growing resentment of the Americans, even as he is trying to negotiate some sort of American military support past the 2014 deadline. Afghan and Western officials close to the matter describe Mr. Karzai as increasingly suspicious about being cut out and worked around by the Americans, and anti-Western advisers have been gaining in influence in his circle, for the moment at least, the officials said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to harm relations with the president and one another. That has become apparent in the past two months, as the positive talk heard at an international conference on Afghanistan’s future in Bonn, Germany, has given way to a markedly more hostile tone. Mr. Karzai is again demanding an immediate end to the night commando raids that the United States consider vital to getting at insurgent field commanders. Another presidential commission late last month publicly condemned NATO forces for killing civilians without mentioning that the Taliban killed far more innocents, according to United Nations assessments of Afghan casualties. Mr. Karzai came close last month to disrupting the latest American move to jump-start talks with the Taliban when he abruptly rejected a plan for the Persian Gulf state of Qatar to host an insurgent negotiating office. He has since acquiesced, but his aides say the overtures to the Taliban are another example of the Americans’ trying to sidestep Mr. Karzai’s administration. Statements from the presidential palace about the talks have pointedly made reference to foreigners as the source of Afghanistan’s troubles. Then, on Thursday came the sudden demand for control over the American prison, known as the Parwan Detention Facility. The Americans were given no warning the order was going to be issued. Asked about the timing, Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for Mr. Karzai, said: “It was decided, and then we issued it. I don’t think it is not clear.” American officials planned to meet with the Afghans to discuss the matter on Saturday after a scheduled news conference, waiting to see whether Afghan officials changed their tone. They did not. Mr. Qazi, the chief of the Afghan commission, told reporters that Afghan officials considered transfer of the prison a critical matter of national sovereignty. The commissioners said prisoners had complained of torture, humiliating strip searches, being held in freezing cells and a lack of due process. The commission’s legal adviser, Ahmad Hanif Hanifi, stood and recited a list of suspected abuses during the news conference. But when pressed for details, especially about under whose watch the abuses might have happened, the Afghan officials began backing away. Mr. Qazi acknowledged that “we do not have a lot of information on the details” of what had taken place in the American side of the prison, which the commission visited briefly only on Dec. 27. During an earlier visit, in May, the commission was not given access to the American side of the prison, a statement American officials did not dispute. Despite the lack of details, Mr. Qazi said, “what has happened there will become clear” in time. Afterward, the commission’s deputy chief, Abdul Qader Adalatkhah, said in a brief interview that most of the abuses documented so far were from the Afghan side of the prison. No matter, he said, there are “problems in the international side,” as well. He would not elaborate. Despite the tenor of the news conference, a Western official said the meeting later Saturday between Afghan and American officials about the prison had been “productive.” The official would not provide details. Built as part of the Obama administration’s revamping of American detention facilities and policies, the $60 million prison abuts Bagram Air Base, one of the main coalition bases in the country. It replaced an older prison that was housed in a Soviet-era machinery hangar inside Bagram and was the site of well-documented abuse cases. Conditions at the new prison are markedly better, according to independent Afghan and Western assessments, although arbitrary detentions and a lack of due process remain serious problems. It is unclear how the Afghan officials will proceed in pressing their authority to take control of the prison. Whether they have the capacity is another question. The Americans have been slowly training Afghan guards and administrators, but the efforts are said to be behind schedule. Mr. Faizi, the presidential spokesman, brushed aside concerns about Afghan readiness. He said the government was only sticking to an agreed upon plan to hand over the prison by the end of 2011. Yet, even that is in dispute. American officials said there was never a hard deadline. An internal Afghan government document about the prison in 2010, obtained by The New York Times, appears to back up their point. “The transition will be based on demonstration of capacity rather than a specific time table,” the document reads. It is signed by a number of government officials, including the minister of defense, Abdul Rahim Wardak. American officials said they believed the prison’s fate would ultimately be decided in the talks on the so-called strategic partnership document, which is intended to spell out the relationship between Afghanistan and the United States after 2014. The next round of talks has not yet been scheduled.

China slams US defense strategy with Asian slant

China has slammed as "groundless and untrustworthy" the United States' new defense strategy that says China's strategic intentions are unclear. The strategy unveiled Thursday intends to assert America's position in the Asia-Pacific region. The document says the growth of China's military power must be accompanied by greater clarity of its strategic intentions to avoid causing friction in the region. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said Monday: "China's strategic intent is clear, open and transparent." He says China is committed to peaceful development and a "defensive" policy. Liu says China's defense modernization plays an active role in maintaining regional peace and security and "will not pose any threat to any country."

Bill Gates contacts Arfa's father for treatment

Chairman of Microsoft, billionaire Bill Gates has made contact with the parents of the world's youngest Microsoft Certified Professional
Arfa Karim for her treatment, Geo News reported. According Arfa's father, Amjab Karim Randhawa, Bill Gates telephoned him and expressed his wish about Arfa's treatment in the US. Gates has also directed his doctors to adopt every kind of measure for the treatment of the young genius Microsoft professional. Gates' doctors contacted Arfa's Pakistani doctors and received details about the illness through the internet. Meanwhile, Pakistani doctors are of the view that Arfa is on ventilator, therefore, it will be hard to shift her to any other hospital.

Any official action by govt functionary, without approval is unconstitutional

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Monday said that any official action by a government functionary without the prior approval of the government is unconstitutional and illegal. While giving an interview to People's Daily Online he referred to the observation of the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan that any act of a government functionary without the government's nod is unconstitutional and therefore illegal. The Prime Minister stated that in two simultaneous issues, one relating to the NATO attack on Pakistan's borders and the other relating to a letter written by one American national to another American, the civil and military leadership of Pakistan held detailed meetings and took immediate decisions. In case of the attack by the NATO, the Prime Minister said it was decided to refer the matter to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security. In the second case it was also decided to refer the matter to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, besides accepting the resignation of Mr Hussain Haqqani. The Prime Minister stated that after having referred both the matters to Parliamentary Committee on National Security, the Supreme Court took suo motto action on the alleged Memo Case. He further pointed out that the responses given by the Army Chief and the DG (ISI) to the Supreme Court in connection with the alleged Memo controversy do not contain the approval of the Competent Authority as required under the Rules of Business. No summary seeking approval of the Competent Authority was initiated by the Ministry of Defence. Nor any approval was obtained from the Defence Minister in this regard.

Early elections clamour

EDITORIAL:DAILY TIMES Of late, a chorus of voices is clamouring for early general elections. The ruling PPP had not seen fit to respond to this clamour until recently, except to endlessly repeat its mantra that the government would complete its tenure, i.e. that the elections would be held in February 2013. However, responding to the rising crescendo of demands for early elections, and perhaps seeing that the post-March 2012 Senate elections scenario would give it political advantage, the PPP has recently discussed the issue in its core committee and indicated through hints and suggestions that it was contemplating elections in October 2012. That would be only a few months before its scheduled end of tenure and could be informed by the perception that incumbency in the face of continuing serious problems afflicting the country may not be conducive to its interests beyond that. Given this change of view, it is surprising to note that Nawaz Sharif in Quetta the other day came out with one more of his ‘either/or’ ultimatums. This one makes even less sense than some of the other choice ones the PML-N chief has delivered in the past. Nawaz says he cannot wait till October and wants the elections ‘now’. He goes on to assert that October 2012 would be too late, but fails to explain too late for what? Further, if he is taken at his word that he cannot wait till October, what does he intend to do between now and then if the PPP sticks to its view? Statements by prominent political leaders and prime-ministers-in-waiting should be better considered and weighed than this. As to the rumoured attempt by Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Aslam Raisani to arrange a meeting between Nawaz Sharif and President Asif Zardari, the PML-N chief says he knows nothing about it. So much for that. To add fuel to the fire, his younger sibling, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif delivered himself of the wisdom on his return from Turkey that he was ruling out any talks with Mr Zardari. In a democratic system, doors are never shut on discussion, even with political rivals. The younger Sharif should therefore stop spewing such vitriol, which can only exacerbate tension in the polity at a time when cooler approaches are required. In contrast to the Punjab chief minister’s ‘can’t play, won’t play’ attitude, the PPP has initiated discussions with all political parties to forge a consensus around the elections date. Although this is not required by any constitutional or even democratic political norms, it speaks well of the PPP’s continuing efforts to take the polity along on such fundamental decisions. The PPP would obviously like a consensus around holding the elections after the Senate elections, preferably in October 2012. The PML-N and Jamaat-i-Islami are pressing for an earlier date, if not immediate polls. The PTI of Imran Khan seems inclined towards September/October 2012, but only after updating the electoral rolls and eliminating the 35 million invalid votes identified, along with the registration of new entrants, amongst whom it counts on the youth. PTI is also tilting against elections under President Zardari, although this does not sit squarely with its demand for a credible, independent Election Commission (EC). If this demand gets fulfilled, what does it matter who is the president, who then will have little say in the electoral process? ANP and the PML-Q still adhere to the original position that the government should complete its tenure. The PPP’s view is that the MQM will go with the tide, its only core interest being maintaining its hold on Karachi. Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the JUI sets three conditions for early elections: an independent EC, agreement on the caretaker setup to conduct the elections, and updating and correcting the electoral rolls. A mere iteration of these respective positions of the biggest players in the field indicates the need and wisdom in conducting consultations amongst all stakeholders to agree a mutually acceptable date. Nothing stops the incumbent government from taking this decision unilaterally, but its approach is clearly intended to avoid ruction over the decision. All parties should therefore welcome any such initiative and come to the table to sort out the elections date.

PML-N won’t get seat outside Punjab in Senate polls

PML-Q President Shujaat Hussain has said the PML-N will not manage to get any seats outside the Punjab in the Senate polls whereas the PML-Q will successfully manage to bag representation in every province. “I had advised Nawaz Sharif during his tenure as prime minister to avoid being proud and not to pay any heed to liars and sycophants, but he turned a deaf ear which eventually led to his fall,” said Shujaat while talking to the media on Sunday at a reception hosted by former PPP MPA Shabina Riaz Sheikh and her husband, a close confidant of President Asif Zardari, Ahmed Riaz Sheikh, over the acquittal of Moonis Elahi from court. It was the first interaction of the central cadre of both parties — previously rivals — with the media in Lahore after coming up in coalition. Pervaiz Elahi, the former chief minister, Senator Jehangir Badr, the PPP Secretary General, Governor Sardar Latif Khosa, PML-Q leaders including Basharat Raja, Ch Zaheeruddin, federal minister Manzoor Wattoo, Evacuee Trust Property Board Chairman Syed Asif Hashmi, Ch Shafaat Hussain, Naveed Chaudhry, Qasim Zia, PM’s son Abdul Qadir Gilani, Aurangzeb Burki, Khurram Latif Khosa and a large number of members from both sides attended the reception. To a query about the recent interview of President Zardari, Shujaat stated that the positive thing was the use of word ‘we’ by the president instead of ‘I’. He said Nawaz Sharif and even Musharraf were advised by him to avoid arrogance. To another question about the unification of the Muslim League and his chance of meeting with PML-N President Nawaz Sharif, he said that like other leaders, he would also meet Nawaz at the moot. “Does anyone trust Nawaz Sharif?” replied Shujaat when asked to comment over the statement of the PML-N leadership that the party didn’t trust Zardari anymore. He said he had discussed the Senate elections with the president and dates for the polls would be announced soon. Regarding the memo issue, he said the PML-N would continue to live in a dream world without realising that dreams were dreams, not reality. To a query about the revelation made by President Zardari during his interview that in 1989, Benazir Bhutto had a dialogue with the Chaudhrys while she was the prime minister, Shujaat confirmed it but stated that the process later got postponed. Shujaat went on to say that the ‘champions of justice’ should also cite the example of the court that had acquitted Moonis Elahi. He said when Moonis was under detention, there were suggestions from lawyers to get bail but Moonis insisted on fighting the case and was finally acquitted of all charges. Governor Sardar Latif Khosa, in his address, congratulated the PML-Q leadership on the acquittal of Moonis Elahi and called for legislation over the registration of fake cases against a person. He said Asif Zardari was kept in prison for 11 years but nothing was proved against him and similarly, Moonis Elahi, who was proven innocent, remained in captivity for nearly a year. He said in the case of Moonis, an investigation officer was appointed again and again while Moonis’ constant media trial was carried out as if he was the biggest culprit in the country. PPP Secretary General Jehangir Badr said that democracy was the only purpose of the PPP and it would continue to make efforts to strengthen it. He said in the past, PML-N President Nawaz Sharif had left no stone unturned to target the PPP leadership but for the sake of democracy, it forgot bitterness and signed the ‘Charter of Democracy’. He also said that Musharraf had offered PPP Co-chairman Zardari to form governments in all the provinces and Centre and let him continue to hold the office of president but he not only managed to form provincial governments but also forced Musharraf to quit the presidency in a democratic way. Federal Minister Manzoor Wattoo said it was the fruit of democracy that there wasn’t a single political prisoner in the country contrary to the past, when victimisation of politicians was quite common. Criticising the PML-N leadership, he said politicians full of vanity were isolated whereas all democratic forces had joined hands to save the country. INP adds: Chaudhry Shujaat said self-centred politics had damaged Pervez Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif, while President Asif Ali Zardari was the only politician who used the word ‘we’ instead of ‘me,’ as used by Nawaz and Musharraf. “When Nawaz Sharif was elected as a prime minister, a number of flatterers gathered around him at a function. I came out of the function and later told Nawaz Sharif to avoid flatterers, hypocrisy and habitual use of the word ‘me’ if he wants to become a successful prime minister, but he never paid any heed and was shown the door,” Shujaat added. Similarly, the PML-Q chief said, he also conveyed to Musharraf through General Ihsan to avoid repeated use of word ‘me’ but he too never paid any heed. About the possibility of early polls, Chaudhry Shujaat said there was no ban on Nawaz Sharif having such dreams. “If Musharraf wants to come back to Pakistan, he is most welcome,” he added. To another question, Chaudhry Shujaat said there had been contacts with the PPP in 1989, but no progress was made. “Moonis Elahi was released after facing the courts and going through the due process of law,” he added. NNI adds: PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain on Sunday telephoned President Asif Ali Zardari to discuss the current political situation, especially the upcoming Senate polls. According to sources, the current political situation of the country and Senate elections came under discussion during the telephonic conversation between Ch Shujaat and President Zardari. Both leaders also discussed cases being heard by the courts and the demand by other political parties for early elections, sources added.

‘Haqqani to escape punishment even if link with memo proved’

DAWN.COM Zahid Hussain Bukhari, the counsel for Husain Haqqani, has said that even if any link between his client and the controversial memo is established the former ambassador to the US will not be punished. In an interview with DawnNews, Mr Bukhari however denied any link between Mr Haqqani and the memo, adding that the controversy had been created by Mansoor Ijaz, described as the main character in the episode. “But I say even if the link is proved — there is still no crime in it,” Mr Bukhari said. “We will then have to ask Mr Shahbaz Sharif and Mr Nawaz Sharif as to what did they say when Gen Musharraf was toppling the PML-N government.” Talking to Matiullah Jan of DawnNews TV, Mr Bukhari remarked: “We will ask whom did he ask for help at that time and it has to be noted who has not asked for help from the US in our history.” Sources said that Nawaz Sharif was expected to appear on Monday before the judicial commission investigating the case. Mr Bukhari has replaced Asma Jehangir, who has quit the case for not having confidence in the commission set up by Supreme Court to investigate the matter. Mr Bukhari, who is a former judge of the Lahore High Court and former president of the People’s Lawyers Forum, expressed the confidence that Mr Haqqani would not be punished under the law. Answering a question, Mr Bukhari said he would fully cooperate with the commission. “I will cooperate as long as the commission remains within the ambit of the law and the rights granted to my client Husain Haqqani under the law are honoured,” he added. He said the commission was not authorised to punish or even accuse anybody — its responsibility is only to investigate the matter and forward findings to the Supreme Court. “The case will be decided by the Supreme Court.” Mr Bukhari said the Supreme Court had only agreed to the existence of the memo. “They have not made any remarks on the status of the memo. “And it’s a fact we all agree on, that there is a memo,” he said and added: “But we say that this memo is the brainchild of Mansoor Ijaz and Mr Haqqani has nothing to do with it in any way.” Mr Bukhari said the apex court should treat Husain Haqqani and Mansoor Ijaz on equal terms. “When Mansoor Ijaz has spelt out his conditions to the court, all these apply to Mr Haqqani too,” the counsel said. “The court has restricted Mr Haqqani from leaving the country. Mansoor Ijaz should also be barred from leaving Pakistan till the case is decided.”

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor pays rich tributes to Naseerullah Babar

Khyber Pakhtun-khwa Governor Masood Kausar on Sunday said that the Pakistan People’s Party under the leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari would carry forward the mission of the deceased party leaders. Talking to reporters at an event marking the first death anniversary of the former minister for interior Maj Gen Naseerullah Babar, he said the PPP leaders had sacrificed their lives for democracy in the country. Lauding the services of Naseerullah Babar, the governor said the late PPP leader had resolved the bus hijacking issue, restored peace in Karachi and established lasting relations with Afghanistan. He said Maj Gen Babar was the first governor who initiated development activities in the tribal areas and increased the funds for Fata. He added that his services as an army general, governor, minister and party worker would be remembered for years. Maj Gen Babar had twice received Sitara-e-Jurrat during his military service for his bravery and professionalism, he said. He said his death was the third great tragedy for the PPP after the deaths of its founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Hundreds of party activists, Maj Gen Babar’s family members, MNA Tariq Khattak, Federal Ombudsman Shoaib Suddle and president of the ex-serviceman association Brig Muhammad Mehmood, Malik Attaullah of the Mohmand tribal jirga and Provincial Minister Liaqat Shabab attended the fateha Khwani.

There are many cases against Nawaz Issuing a direct threat to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rahman Malik on Sunday said he has many cases against Nawaz in his brief case that could be opened. He lashed out at PML-N chief for his role in ‘memo conspiracy’ and asked him to disclose his links with Mansoor Ijaz; the protagonist of the memo case. Malik termed memogate ‘Fasaadgate’ and said that it had hurt Pakistanis. He said Mansoor Ijaz was not a Pakistani citizen and Malik suspected Ijaz had hatched the memo conspiracy to sell his article. Talking to media after a meeting with former federal minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf, Malik said the assassins of Benazir Bhutto had been exposed. Malik said he and Raja Pervez Ashraf were against the last rally addressed by Benazir Bhutto at Liaqat Bagh. Malik further said that President Zardari’s recent interview to a private TV channel helped removing misunderstandings on different issues. Speaking on the occasion, Raja Pervez Ashraf said President Zardari presented his point of view in simple words before the people.