Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mansoor Ijaz booed off London's striptease club

Memogate central character Mansoor Ijaz was caught on camera leaving a striptease club in London.
Mansoor got in the club with his Indian friends and stayed in the club for quite a while before certain youth from the Asian descent spotted and booed him, reported Dunya News.
The club’s security, locally called bouncers, told Mansoor off the club premises. Mansoor was caught on camera trying to hide the lense in order to avoid being filmed.
His latest discovery at a striptease club comes only days after emergence of a video that showed him acting as a commentator for women wrestling where women ripped to bare skin. Mansoor had then pleaded he didn’t know about the ripping part.
On the other hand, in the memo case, Mansoor has refused to visit Pakistan citing security concerns.
The latest shame would definitely sink his reputation further in Pakistan where traditions and values are deep-rooted in society.

US comedian Jay Leno sued over Golden Temple jibe
BY: By Emily Yahr

In case you missed it: Last week on “The Tonight Show,” Jay Leno made a joke about Mitt Romney’s summer home being the Golden Temple of Amritsar, one of the most holy places in Sikh culture. Now, a very offended viewer is suing Leno, reports BBC News, saying the late night host “falsely portrays the holiest place in the Sikh religion as a vacation resort owned by a non-Sikh.”
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player
According to BBC News, Randeep Dhillon filed suit on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, and stated that the joke “clearly exposes plaintiff, other Sikhs and their religion to hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy.”

After the Sikh community publicly objected to the Golden Temple joke , the State Department stepped in to say that Leno’s remarks are constitutionally protected under free speech laws, and appeared to be satirical.

So far, there’s been no response from “The Tonight Show” or NBC reps. Here’s the joke that started it all, from last Thursday:

Family park named after Mehdi Hassan opened

Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan inaugurated a park, named after Ghazal maestro Medhi Hassan, in Block-N of the North Nazimabad on Tuesday. The park is spread over 13 acres.
The inaugural ceremony was attended by Mehdi Hassan, his son Arif Hussain, his daughter-in-law and brother Nisar Mehdi.

Federal Ports and Shipping Minister Babar Ghauri, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Administrator Muhammad Hussain Syed, MPA Abdul Moeed Farooqui, Municipal Commissioner Matanat Ali Khan, Central Administrator Nazir Lakhani, actor Umer Sharif, Salahuddin Tinu, Adnan Jilani, singer Ghulam Abbas, Tabassum Warsi, Arif Ansari, PTV general manager Mustafa Mandokhel, PTV Programme Manager Zartaj Ali, Radio Pakistan Programme Manager Agha Muhammad Ali were also present on the occasion.
The Sindh governor paid tribute to Mehdi Hassan and said he is an asset for the country. “Therefore, no stone should be left unturned to provide him [Mehdi Hassan] with the best of medical treatment,” he added.

Starbucks expanding beer, wine sales this year

Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O), which sells the coffee that helps many Americans get wound up for their day, is offering more of their customers a way to wind down.

The world's biggest coffee chain plans to sell beer and wine in as many as 12 cafes in Atlanta and Southern California by the end of the year, as it expands beyond its well-known coffee.

Starbucks introduced those beverages to a Seattle cafe in October 2010. It now sells beer and wine, as well as evening snacks like cheese plates, flatbread and desserts, in five Seattle-area stores and in one cafe in Portland, Oregon. Beer sells for $5 and wine prices range from $7 to $9.

The company, which is testing beer and wine sales in Spain, previously announced plans to bring the new "adult" beverages to as many as seven Chicago-area cafes by the end of 2012.

Monday's news about the addition of California and Georgia cities to the beer and wine test prompted thousands of comments on social media site Twitter from people excited about the company's plans.

But some restaurant experts told Reuters that selling alcoholic beverages could anger community groups and complicate the company's operations.

The new business opportunity may not outweigh the headaches, said Bob Goldin, executive vice president at consulting firm Technomic, pointing to possible opposition from people who live near the cafes, difficulties obtaining liquor licenses and alcohol laws that vary from state-to-state.

"I think it creates more problems than it may be worth," Goldin said.

Clarice Turner, Starbucks' senior vice president of U.S. operations, told Reuters that many other restaurants sell beer and wine and that Starbucks is no stranger to venturing into new territory.

"It's just a natural place for people to connect and unwind," Turner said.

She added that the company had carefully chosen the roughly 25 U.S. cafes that will be selling alcohol in the afternoon and evenings and that it has no plans to offer beer and wine in all of its 17,000 cafes around the world.

Quick-service restaurant chains in the United States are adding morning and late-night menus and extending food and drink options in an effort to boost sales.

Starbucks, Burger King BKCBK.UL and Sonic Corp (SONC.O) are among the chains experimenting with alcohol sales.

California-based industry watchdog Alcohol Justice has criticized the moves by Starbucks and Burger King, which offers beer at some of its new Whopper Bar restaurants.

"The more places that open, the more risk there is of alcohol-related harm," said Sarah Mart, the group's director of research, pointing to underage drinking.

Seattle-based Starbucks recently completed a restructuring and has been reporting some of the restaurant industry's strongest sales growth.

Starbucks' shares closed down about 1.7 percent to $47.34, ahead of its quarterly financial report on Thursday, but remain up more than 40 percent from a year ago.

Starbucks also plans to open juice bars in the United States this year, a move some analysts said is more compatible with its main business.

Some experts said the chain may be wisest to stick to its knitting.

Edward Jones analyst Jack Russo said restaurant chains historically have had difficulty moving into new meal time slots. He would rather Starbucks focus on its core breakfast and lunch businesses by coming out with new drinks and tastier food.

"I'd prefer to see the company be more focused. You can't be all things to all people," Russo said.

Egyptians mark anniversary of uprising with celebrations, protests

Thousands of Egyptians headed to Tahrir Square on Wednesday to mark the first anniversary of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak with some seeking a new revolt against army rule and others celebrating the changes already achieved.

It is a year since protesters inspired by an uprising in Tunisia took to the streets in Egypt and the Jan. 25 anniversary has exposed divisions in the Arab world’s most populous country over the pace of democratic change.

Once the official “Day of the Police”, Jan. 25 has now been declared “Revolution Day” by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power when Mubarak stepped down last February.

Concerned the generals are obstructing reform to protect their interests, the pro-democracy activists behind the “Jan. 25 revolution” plan marches to Tahrir Square to demand the military council that replaced Mubarak hand power to civilians immediately.

But well-organized Islamist parties which dominated Egypt’s most democratic election since army officers overthrew the king in 1952 are among those who oppose a new uprising.
Signs of friction

Signs of friction were on show as hundreds of people began to congregate in Tahrir Square late on Tuesday, pitching tents in winter rain and hanging the national flag from buildings, according to Reuters.

“The military council is Mubarak,” said Amr al-Zamlout, a 31-year-old protester clutching a sign declaring “there is no change” and stating his aim was to topple the army rulers.

Mohammed Othman, an accountant, stopped to put forward a different view based on the idea that Egypt needs stability for economic recovery, not more protests.

“The council will leave power in any case. Sure the revolution is incomplete but it doesn’t mean we should obstruct life,” he said. His criticism quickly drew a crowd and touched off an argument.

Grocery stores were unusually busy as shoppers stocked up, reflecting concern at the prospect of a repeat of last year when protests went on for 18 days before Mubarak was forced to step down on Feb. 11.

Protests against the military council turned violent in November and December.

The United States, a close ally of Egypt under Mubarak, praised “several historic milestones in its transition to democracy” this week, including the convening of parliament.

“While many challenges remain, Egypt has come a long way in the past year, and we hope that all Egyptians will commemorate this anniversary with the spirit of peace and unity that prevailed last January,” a White House statement said.

Headed by Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the military council has said it will cede power to an elected president by the end of June, thus completing a democratic transition.

Yet pro-democracy activists doubt their intentions, pointing to a surge in military trials and the use of violence against protesters as signs of autocratic ways familiar from the Mubarak era.

Tantawi, for two decades Mubarak’s defense minister, again defended the military from such accusations during a televised speech on Tuesday. “The nation and the armed forces had one aim: for Egypt to become a democratic state,” he said.
Lifting of state of emergency

In an apparent attempt to appease reformist demands, the military council has in recent days pardoned some 2,000 people convicted in military courts since Mubarak was toppled. On Tuesday it announced a partial lifting of a state of emergency.

But it kept a clause saying emergency laws in place since 1981 would still apply in cases of “thuggery”, a vague term that triggered calls for clarification from Washington and more criticism from human rights groups.

But activists claimed the move was cosmetic, denouncing the use of the term “thuggery” as a way to maintain the police’ wide powers of arrest under the law.

“For all purposes, the state of emergency has not been lifted,” Hossam Bahgat, Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), told AFP.

The activist movement, a coalition of groups united in calls for deeper and faster reform, have been fighting back in the run-up to the anniversary against what they describe as state efforts to present them as foreign-backed trouble makers.

Eager to restore its image after accusations of rights abuses, the military has planned mass celebrations with a naval parade in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, air shows in Cairo and fireworks displays around the country.

The SCAF is also issuing commemorative coins for the occasion and is expected to honor public servants.

It has called on Egyptians to “preserve the spirit of Jan. 25, which united the Egyptian people, men and women, young and old, Muslims and Christians.”
Hijacking the revolution

But activists say the revolution has been hijacked by Tantawi, Mubarak’s longtime defense minister.

“We must take to the streets on Wednesday, not to celebrate a revolution which has not achieved its goals, but to demonstrate peacefully our determination to achieve the objectives of the revolution,” wrote prominent novelist and pro-democracy activist Alaa al-Aswani.

These goals remain to “live in dignity, bring about justice, try the killers of the martyrs and achieve a minimum social justice,” Aswani wrote in the independent daily al-Masry al-Youm.

Protesters want Tantawi and the ruling generals to step down immediately and to stay out of the drafting of the country's new constitution, for fear they may enshrine military powers into the charter.

The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group which won nearly half the seats in the parliament, said last week he was against calls for a new revolt against the military.

“I hope we will go down together to be joyful at what we have accomplished, to guard our Egypt and to complete the demands of the revolution,” Mohammed Badie said in an interview with Egypt’s Dream TV.

“The formation of the parliament is the biggest celebration of the anniversary of the revolution,” the Muslim Brotherhood group said on its website, a day after the lower house convened for the first time since it was dissolved following the uprising.

Leading Muslim Brotherhood member Saad al-Katatni was elected speaker of parliament on Monday, in scenes unthinkable just a year ago when the group was still banned under Mubarak.

Meanwhile, security forces say they are on alert for “any attempts to sabotage” the celebration, a thinly veiled warning to the protesters.

But Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said the police “will not be present in the squares or where large celebrations are taking place” and called instead on political forces to “form popular committees” to secure the streets.
Calls for protecting protesters

Amnesty International said the military rulers must protect protesters and uphold the right to peaceful assembly

“Rather than abandoning the sites of planned demonstrations, the security forces must act responsibly by ensuring that everyone can safely exercise their right to peaceful expression and assembly,” said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy director, according to AFP.

“In a polarized environment where protesters have been portrayed by some state media and the authorities as trouble makers and as counter-protests are planned on the day, the position of the authorities risks amounting to a dereliction of their duty,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mubarak will watch the anniversary events from a bed in a Cairo military hospital, where he is in custody accused of involvement in the killing of protesters during the uprising that toppled him.

If found guilty, the former president of 30 years could face the death penalty.

Time to move on...Memogate Drama Vs "Stupidisco" Cameo

THE high drama over memogate has given way to low farce. Yesterday, the high-powered judicial commission formed to assist the Supreme Court ascertain the ‘origin, credibility and purpose’ of the memo tried several times to convince a reluctant Mansoor Ijaz to travel to Pakistan and appear before the commission.

But all the commission managed to do was postpone its next hearing till Feb 9 and give another chance — the last chance, apparently — to Mr Ijaz to make up his mind whether or not he will travel to Pakistan. The only saving grace in yesterday’s events was the decision by the judicial commission to not travel outside Pakistan to record Mr Ijaz’s statement. Had the commission decided otherwise, the whiff of circus around what should be sober legal proceedings would have become overwhelming.

However, let’s concentrate on the person of Mr Ijaz for now. Here is a man whose desperation for being in the media limelight is rivalled perhaps only by his knack for making embarrassing decisions (Exhibit A being the bawdy music video in which Mr Ijaz made a cringe-worthy cameo appearance). He is not a Pakistani citizen; openly acknowledges his ignorance about Pakistan — anyone who does not understand a reference to 1971, as Mr Ijaz claims he did not regarding one of his conversations with Husain Haqqani, is an unlikely candidate to try and reshape this country’s future — and appears to have little interest in Pakistan beyond using it is as a prop in his megalomaniacal schemes. How Mr Ijaz was cast as the central character in a plot to undermine Pakistan’s national security and sovereignty is something that ought to be to the eternal shame of all those involved in creating the hysteria over the memo affair.

In a more rational and sensible world, Mr Ijaz’s theatrics and whims yesterday, as communicated by his lawyer to the commission and the breathless media waiting outside, ought to have drawn the heaviest of censure and his role in pitting institutions of the state against one another should have been propelled towards the dustbin of history by now. It seems an eternity ago that Husain Haqqani was sacrificed by the political government and still nothing has been established beyond that a memo was delivered to Adm Mike Mullen from Mansoor Ijaz setting out a fanciful list of concessions that no civilian government in Pakistan’s history, or foreseeable future, would have had the ability to deliver on. It’s time to let Mr Ijaz return to whatever else catches his fancy elsewhere in the world. He should not be allowed to hold this country hostage to his dangerous shenanigans anymore.

U.S. envoy in Kabul denies partition rumours

The Globe and Mail

A senior American diplomat has issued an unusually blunt denial of rumours of a U.S. plan to break up Afghanistan as part of a peace deal with the Taliban.

The statement issued Tuesday by Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador in Kabul

, reflects the intensity of recent speculation about secret talks to end the war in Afghanistan.American officials recently confirmed a flurry of talks with all three major insurgent factions: the Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami and even the notorious Haqqani network, whose leaders are named on U.S. terrorist lists.

Such direct negotiations would have been hard to imagine in recent years, as U.S. strategy focused on pushing back the insurgents with military might and building up the capacity of the Afghan government. Now that U.S. troops have started to withdraw, however, some Afghans are embracing conspiracy theories about the American exit strategy.

Mr. Crocker tried to address those rumours head on.

“Rumours that the United States has a plan to divide Afghanistan or change its form of government are, frankly speaking, lies that dishonour the sacrifice of more than 1,800 American service members who have died in the cause of a unified Afghanistan, governed by its constitution,” the ambassador’s statement said.

Tensions have existed for centuries in Afghanistan between the predominately Pashto-speaking south and the Dari-speaking north. Speculation about partition escalated anew this month after four powerful Afghan politicians f met with members of the U.S. Congress in Berlin. The powerbrokers, part of the Northern Alliance that fought the Taliban during its years in power, issued a joint statement calling for a decentralization of power from Kabul to the provinces. While not overtly suggesting partition or federalism, that statement represented “a push for decentralization [that] was probably never made so prominently,” said Thomas Ruttig, a leading Afghanistan expert, in his blog for the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

Afghanistan's Foreign Ministry reacted sharply to the Berlin meeting, accusing the United States of interference in the country's internal affairs and warning that such meetings should not happen again.

Even the Taliban expressed outrage, rejecting the notion of partition on the basis that the insurgents would never be satisfied with only partial conquest of Afghanistan. The group “rejects the poisonous propaganda of the enemy which depicts as if the Islamic Emirate will be content with having control of a few provinces,” a Taliban statement said.

Another Taliban press release declared victory in the war against NATO and Afghan forces that is now in its 10th year, saying that international forces were now “compelled” to start negotiations at a new office the Taliban have been invited to open in the Persian Gulf country of Qatar.

In his comments on Tuesday, Mr. Crocker sought to dispel any fears from Afghan leaders that any talks with the Taliban in Qatar would exclude the Afghan government or undermine its authority over the whole of the country.

“Let me also address another false and absurd rumour: that the United States is seeking a secret deal with the Taliban at the expense of the Afghan government and people,” Mr. Crocker said.

Like other American officials, the U.S. diplomat continued to call the negotiations an “Afghan-led process,” despite Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s obvious discomfort with talks happening outside the borders of his country and beyond its control. Afghanistan withdrew its ambassador to Qatar last month to protest against that country's role in trying to start negotiations.

Afghan army's night raiders ready to take control

At an army compound on Kabul's ramshackle fringe, a few of Afghanistan's most elite soldiers are running assault drills in a race to remove one of the most serious irritants in Afghan-NATO relations.

Sergeant Ghulam Mohammad shouts orders to his men -- soon to be joined for the first time by women special forces -- on how to conduct night raids, which more than any other NATO counter-insurgency tactic have angered mercurial President Hamid Karzai.

"Be ready to attack! You attack the enemy and don't give them a chance to raise their heads to fight you," Mohammad says as soldiers charge and automatic gunfire rattles over a weapons range blanketed in snow.

Foreign troops say night raids and home searches -- usually carried out by special forces -- are one of their most effective weapons in the fight against insurgents, but they are a major cause of friction between Karzai and his Western backers.

The raids enrage entire communities and fuel anti-American sentiment and are politically calamitous for Karzai and his government. Joint Afghan-U.S. raids began in 2009 to try to dampen public opposition.

But Karzai last year told a meeting of leaders from across the country that unless night raids by NATO forces ended, he would not conclude a strategic agreement covering the presence of U.S. soldiers in the country beyond 2014.

In a compromise, Afghan defense officials decided in late December to form special forces -- benignly named the Afghan Partnering Unit (APU) -- to take over raids on private homes as soon as possible, with members selected from commando units.

"Our capabilities and the quality of our equipment have increased to the point that we are now able to take responsibility for night raids in the country." General Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for the Defence Ministry, told Reuters.

And in a bid to make the raids less provocative, Azimi said commanders were also trying to recruit female commandos to enter homes and search areas often reserved for women.

"In the future, when an Afghan-led force takes responsibility for night raids, there must be women." Azimi said.


Colonel Jalaluddin Yaftali, head of Afghan special forces, said he was waiting for approval to begin training women to fill what he described as a major gap in a force that would eventually number about 3,000.

Afghan control of night raids would help lower civilian casualties, as well as ease anger among Afghans about cultural transgressions during operations, Yaftali said.

But Azimi said the APU, while well-equipped compared to other Afghan units with American M4 rifles and night vision gear essential to night operations, still lacked some capabilities, most importantly better helicopters used by NATO forces.

"The helicopters they use in the night raids are kind of special. They don't produce lots of noise. The United States could assist us by giving such helicopters," Azimi said.

Afghanistan's special forces over the past three years have been carrying out operations independent of their western mentors in four of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, mainly in the east.

Last week, in Balkh province, in the town of Chawk-e-Kamgar, Afghan APU soldiers killed Mullah Rabani, the deputy Taliban commander for north Afghanistan.

Yaftali said over the past four months Afghan-only night raids had been carried out in Khost, Paktia and Logar provinces, as well as Wardak, to the west of Kabul.

Jimmie Cummings, spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, said the Afghans were showing their increased capabilities by executing these type of operations on their own.

"They are doing more and more of these each day. Coalition forces have made great strides in training and partnering with Afghan forces so that they can assume responsibility for all types of tactical operations," he said.

Veena Malik injures co-star

Veena Malik has accused hurting Vedita during an action sequence in ‘Mumbai 125km’.
Veena, who reportedly does not share a good rapport with Vedita, had to enact a fight sequence, which demanded little acting. But Veena took the scene more seriously than was perhaps required and as a result Vedita had to be rushed to the hospital.
The source revealed, "In the scene, Veena had to pull Vedita by the neck and bang her head on an iron rod. It created a lot of commotion on the sets and director Hemant Madhukar was brought in to resolve the issue.
Vedita confirmed the incident and said, “It was an action sequence. I was supposed to be beaten up. I don’t know what happened to Veena. She actually hurt me and she did it so badly that I had nail marks on my body. I don’t know what was wrong with her. And then she pushed me so badly and banged my head on the rod.

Raja Riaz demands Shahbazs resignation over PIC deaths issue

pposition leader in Punab Assembly Raja Riaz Wednesday held Chief Minister Punjab responsible for the deaths of heart patients due to PIC medicines and demanded his resignation.

Talking to media persons outside Punjab Assembly, the opposition leader said that Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif was holding 22 departments charge including health and he (CM) thought himself perfect intellectual.

He said that 800 people had died of dengue fever and now people are dying due to medicines reaction.

He requested the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take suo moto notice over deaths due to reaction of cardiac medicines which were provided by PIC free to poor heart patients in Lahore.

He said that to dismiss somebody was not the solution of the issue rather the CM should resign by taking the responsibility.

Raja Riaz said that Punjab government has completely failed to control robberies in the province and there is now a dacoit raj, adding that a person who violated the law was given top slot of law minister.

He said that memogate conspiracy was hatched against PPP government which has failed and now PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has fled to a foreign country for hiding himself from the people.

The leader of the opposition said that nation need entertainment in the country and his party did not support resolution which was passed by Punjab Assembly Tuesday banning musical concerts in the province.

SWAT:Malam Jabba: More than a ski resort

Pakistan Today

While Swat was once known as paradise on earth, the valley that fell into darkness under the reign of the Taliban, is now rearing to welcome back tourists and honeymoon couples with the restoration of the Malam Jabba ski resort and the upcoming National Ski Championship in the last week of January, Pakistan Today has learnt.

Located in the Hindu Kush mountain range, home to several ancient cultures, Swat is reputed all over the globe for its fascinating landscapes, crystal clear water torrents, diverse flora and fanna, hospitality, ancient relics and mesmerizing lakes which attract innumerable nature lovers from all over the world.
Malam Jabba, stands at 9200 feet above from sea level, stands on top of a Hindu Kush range mountain, 40 kilometers north east of Saidu Sharif. Surrounded by a wonderful panorama of scenic splendor and mighty mountains, Malam Jabba is much more than just a ski resort. It is a holiday resort that attracts tourists and is home to the remains of ancient civilization. Malam Jabba is 314 kilometers from Islamabad and 51 kilometers from Saidu Sharif airport. Malam Jabba, the land of romance and beauty offers a scenic view that spans the mighty Hindu Kush and Karakorram ranges, one that combines black mountains, gentle slopes, placid plains, torrential streams, lush green meadows and thick green forests of pine. It is nature’s art gallery.

This scenic valley was swept into darkness under Taliban rule when they bombed the PTDC’s Malam Jabba ski-cum-resort, sold its furniture and equipement and destroyed the 800-metre long chair lift. The tourist economy of Swat was destroyed during the Taliban rule, guides lost clients, hotels lost tourists, but hope has returned to Swat as tourism returns to Malam Jabba with the return of the skiing season.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, Ski Federation In-charge Matiullah Khan said that they will host the National Ski Championship in the last week of January in collaboration with the Pakistan Army. He said the provincial government was not taking interest in the event and had yet to provide any assistance. He said the event is expected to attract winter sports lovers from across the country and generate interest amongst the youth. He said foreign skiers had also arrived for the ski championship, take part in the competition and spend two weeks here. He said the event will be a positive gesture to Swat’s business sector but the non-availability of chairlifts, a basic requirement for skiing, would be an impediment. “Skiers will have to climb up the snow-filled mountain while carrying their skiing tools. It is injustice,” said Matiullah, “The government must re-construct the chairlift facility immediately to facilitate skiers.” He said if the government does not assist, the winter sport may loose in charms and shut down in Pakistan.

Pro-Taliban Punjab Assembly bans musical concerts in public, private educational institutions

Punjab Assembly bans musical concerts in public, private educational institutions

In quite an unparallel move, the Punjab Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution demanding a ban on ‘objectionable’ musical concerts in the public and private educational institutions in the province.

Seemal Kamran, the PML-Q MPA, tabled the resolution, seeking a ban on all concerts and musical shows in educational institutions, and terming them immoral. It was among a total of eight resolutions presented in the House of which five were passed, two were pended and one was casted away.

About the draft, Deputy Speaker Rana Mashhood asked Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan if the treasury members (PML-N) opposed the bill. The minister answered in the affirmative, after which Kamran was asked to argue in favour of her resolution.

She observed, “Pakistan is an Islamic Republic. Allowing concerts in educational institutions is against our morals. When I was in college, we used to get into trouble for keeping long or painted nails. Institutions have now done away with that kind of discipline in the name of moderation.”

She further claimed that such musical shows were nothing more than publicity tools for educational institutions. Quoting the dreadful incident of Alhamra Cultural Complex in which three girls lost their lives earlier this month, she demanded the members to adopt the resolution for safe future of the next generation.

Rana Sanaullah, the provincial law minister, speaking on point of order observed that three students had died in a stamped occurred in a concert, which had been organized by a private institutions.

He asserted, “Had the event been organised by a public college, the media would’ve blamed the government. It was unfortunate that the media had downplayed the incident “because the man who owns that group of colleges also owns a news channel”.

He also criticised the media for setting a precedent saying, “This means that anyone who owns a newspaper or a TV channel can cover up any misconduct.”

He, however, proposed an amendment in the draft. In his view, there should be no complete ban on all musical shows but on objectionable concerts. The bill-mover was agreed and resolution was passed unanimously in the Hous

SHIA lawyers shot dead in Karachi

nknown motorcyclists shot three lawyers dead at Pakistan Chowk in Karachi on Wednesday.

As per details, four lawyers were on their way at Pakistan Chowk when four unknown gunmnen on two motorcycles opend fire at the car of the lawyers.

As a result, three lawyers died on the spot while fourth of them sustained severe injuries and was rushed to the hospital. The dead lawyers include Kafeel, Shakeel and Badar Ali.

The attackers escaped from the scene after committing crime in open day light. The lawyer community announced a countrywide srtrike tomorrow (Thursday).

An eyewitness said that there was crowed of people in the bazaar when the mishap occurred. Interior Minister Sindh Manzoor Wasan said that he ordered the IG Sindh to arrest the killer within 24 hours.

After the incident, security men reached the spot and cordoned off the area.

Zardari confers Benazir democracy award on Suu Kyi

President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday conferred ‘Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Award for Democracy’ on Aung San Suu Kyi, the icon of long struggle for democracy.

The president, who arrived in Myanmar Tuesday, especially flew from Naypyidaw to Yangon to meet the head of National League for Democracy.

In a special investiture ceremony to pay tribute to Suu Kyi, he awarded the leader known for her 22-year long struggle for democracy.

The children of the president – Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Bakhtawar and Aseefa were also present.

Zardari said on the occasion that the people of Pakistan hold Suu Kyi in high esteem for her sacrifices.

Suu Kyi was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and is known worldwide for her decades of long struggle for the democracy.

Violence spikes in key Afghan regions

By Nick Paton Walsh

Attacks by the Taliban in southern and eastern Afghanistan have risen sharply in recent months, according to figures released by the U.S.-led coalition, a sign that the allied offensive against the insurgency is yet to blunt its potency.

The figures are in contrast to the broader trend of decreasing violence nationwide depicted by the NATO mission. That depiction is challenged by non-government organizations active in Afghanistan; Human Rights Watch describes 2011 as "the most violent year ever."

NATO's International Security and Assistance Force, or ISAF, says overall enemy attacks declined by 9% across the country in 2011. But the number of attacks by the insurgency rose last year by 19% in the east when compared to 2010. A smaller rise was seen in the south of the country, 6%.

These two areas - known by ISAF as RC South and RC East - account for nearly two-thirds of insurgent attacks across the country.The statistics are significant, as NATO is consistently reporting a decrease in violence nationwide, which should pave the way for a handover to Afghan security forces and a NATO withdrawal.

One analyst said the figures from the south are especially noteworthy, as this region was the target of major NATO operations in 2010. Even taking into account the insurgent violence triggered by those 2010 operations, last year was still more violent.

The increase suggests a continuation of fighting during the traditionally quieter winter months. In fact, the south and east of Afghanistan, according to NATO figures, saw a decline in violence in late summer (compared to 2010) only to spike as winter approached.

An ISAF spokesman, Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, said the rise in insurgent attacks was a result of coalition forces taking the fight to the enemy.

"This increase in enemy-initiated attacks is attributed to deliberate operations (surge) in both the east and south by Afghan and ISAF forces in the fall designed to further pressure insurgents in former Taliban strongholds," he said in an e-mail statement.

Cummings added that operations in the south had helped reduce high-profile attacks in the city of Kandahar by about a third compared to 2010.

The issue of whether violence across Afghanistan is rising or falling is key to the NATO-led mission's objective of pacifying the country and handing it over to Afghan forces so NATO combat troops can slowly withdraw by 2014.

Human Rights Watch takes issue with NATO's depiction of declining violence, especially as it affects civilians. The organization's Afghanistan researcher Heather Barr told CNN: "This has been the most violent year ever and the worst year for civilian casualties. If this is what winning looks like, it does not look that way for the Afghan communities experiencing this violence first hand."

Barr said the group's analysis was based on data that it considered credible from the United Nations and from the Afghan Non-government Safety Organization, or ANSO, which uses similar data to ISAF's to evaluate the risk for charity and development groups working nationwide.

A recent U.N. report highlighted a considerable rise in security incidents. ANSO said in its last quarterly report that there was a continuing rise in violence, and that attacks by the insurgency nationwide were 14% higher last year than in 2010.

But ANSO said that is significantly lower than year-on-year rises recorded previously, and it's unclear whether that's because ISAF has the insurgency under pressure or because the insurgents have, ahead of the 2014 withdrawal, made "the calculus that there is no point sprinting to the finish if everyone else has dropped out of the race."

ANSO also challenges NATO's analysis of insurgent violence. Its latest report says the group is unable to analyze NATO statistics that pointed to a 3% reduction in attacks in the first eight months of 2011, compared with the same period in 2010.

But it adds: "We find their suggestion that the insurgency is waning to be a dangerous political fiction that should be given no consideration in NGO risk assessment for the coming year."

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Police Encounter With Occupy Wall Street West Protesters -- Alleged Violence

A video shot during last Friday's Occupy Wall Street West protests in downtown San Francisco allegedly shows San Francisco police officers engaging protesters violently, according to reports.

The video, posted on YouTube, seems to show a "high-commanding police officer" using his baton to clear protesters on the street near Sacramento and Montgomery streets, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

The video, shot on a tablet, captures a group of police on dirt bikes muscling their way through a line of protesters. A young Asian woman appears to be hit by a second dirt bike, according to the newspaper.

Another officer, identified by protesters as SFPD Commander Mikail Ali, then steps over the camera and uses his baton to ward off protesters.

A second video angle captures the same scene, in which police use batons to clear a line of protesters blocking the street.

Police spokesmen did not comment to the Examiner.

UN's new Afghan envoy heartened by talk of peace

The U.N.'s new representative to Afghanistan says that while the country remains dangerous, he is encouraged by widespread discussion across the country about prospects for peace with the Taliban.

Jan Kubis, the new special representative of the U.N. Secretary-General, says he thinks people are tired of the 10-year war and are interested in supporting steps that would bring more stability and eventually peace to Afghanistan.

Talking to reporters Wednesday in Kabul, Kubis cautioned that Afghans need to lead the way to peace and that no major, relevant party can be excluded from the discussion.

The U.S. has engaged in secret talks with Taliban figures, and the Afghan government and other regional players have also opened lines of communication with the insurgency.

Saudi female who defied driving ban on women in fatal accident Read

Saudi police say that an unnamed Saudi woman who defied the driving ban in Saudi Arabia was seriously injured and her companion killed in a road accident in the northern Hael province on Saturday.
AFP reports that according to police spokesman Abdulaziz al-Zunaidi, "One woman was immediately killed and her companion who was driving the car was hospitalized after she suffered several injuries when their four-wheel-drive vehicle overturned late on Saturday."
According to AFP, there have recently been in Saudi Arabia, a number of incidents involving women defying the driving ban killed in accidents. In November 2010, another Saudi woman who defied the driving ban was killed along with three of her 10 female passengers when the car overturned in a crash.
Saudi Arabia: Defying the ban on women driving
Manal al-Sharif came to international attention and become a icon of the of campaign against the ban on women driving in Saudi when she posted on YouTube, a video of herself driving a car around the eastern city of Khobar. The 32-year-old computer security consultant was arrested on May 22 and detained for 10 days.
Her action emboldened other women to defy the ban and to film themselves defying it. Many women have been arrested driving. According to AFP, five Saudi women were arrested driving in late June in Jeddah.
The Telegraph reports that al-Sharif and a group of women activists started a Facebook page called "Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself," on which they urged the authorities to lift the ban.
Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries in the world where women are not allowed to drive cars, but women sometimes take advantage of remoteness from the capital where the law is most zealously enforced to drive. In major cities, women who can afford it hire drivers while those who cannot rely on male relatives to drive them.
The Independent reports that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia declared last year that women would receive the right to vote and run in national elections in 2015. But only two days after the announcement, in what seemed a retrogressive step, a woman was sentenced to 10 lashes for driving in public, but the sentence was overturned after public pressure mounted.

Arrests in Bahrain as Shiites protest


Bahraini police uses force to disperse a peaceful protest by opposition groups, making several arrests in Shiite villages

Bahraini police dispersed anti-government protesters who blocked roads in several villages, an official statement said on Wednesday, as tensions in the Shiite-majority Gulf kingdom continue to rise.

Public Security Chief Major General Tariq al-Hassan said "vandals blocked roads" and threw petrol bombs during Tuesday night clashes, according to a statement published on the official BNA news agency website.

Hassan said security forces made "several arrests" in Shiite villages, but gave no further details on the exact location of the clashes or if there were any injuries.

Former opposition MP Matar Matar told AFP that protesters clashed with security forces in at least four Shiite villages, leaving several people injured, including one who remains in serious condition after being hit on the head with a tear gas canister.

"One young man is in hospital and is in critical condition," said Matar, who is also a member of the key Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq, noting another two protesters have been killed in recent months from similar tear gas injuries.

"This indicates the existence of a (government) policy to intentionally injure protesters rather than just merely disperse them," said Matar.

On December 31, Al-Wefaq said 15-year-old Sayyed Hashem Saeed died after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister.

The government at the time released a statement saying they would investigate the teenager's death.

According to Matar, Tuesday night's clashes erupted after posts on social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, called on Bahrainis to go out and "confront" the security forces.

Al-Wefaq has posted videos and pictures of the unrest on its Facebook page, including images of police officers in the Shiite villages of Sitra and Bani Jamra, dressed in full riot gear and hurling objects, including metal rods, at a small crowd of young men.

In another image posted on the page, plumes of tear gas can be seen wafting through the night skies over the Shiite town of Bani Jamra.

On Monday, the United States said it was relocating embassy staff and their families to new neighborhoods in Bahrain's capital Manama as part of safety precautions amid anti-government unrest.

A crackdown on Shiite-led protests in mid-March last year led to the deaths of 35 people, including five security personnel and five detainees tortured to death, a commission appointed by the king to investigate the unrest said.

Tensions have remained high in Bahrain since the initial crackdown last spring, and sporadic violence has risen in recent weeks as the first anniversary approaches of the launch of the protests against the government.

Bahrain's Shiite community, although a majority in the kingdom ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty, has complained of marginalisation.

Nawaz Sharif and Sindh

Nowadays, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif is worried for the people of Sindh as evident from his speeches delivered during his recent frequent tours of Sindh but those who know his past, are not much surprised about his changing colours like a chameleon.

Nawaz Sharif is responsible for the neglecting Sindh miserably particularly during his two tenures as Prime Minister (total period about six years).

He did not launch or complete any single mega-development project in Sindh.

On the contrary, he eliminated two mega-development projects launched in Sindh by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto as prime minister.

They were construction of Keti Bandar meant to save the Indus Delta - the sixth largest in the world and the construction of power plants there and also the utilisation of the gigantic Thar coal project to produce electricity to cater the need of the whole of the country.

Therefore, for the present power crisis in the country, only Nawaz Sharif is mainly responsible.

‘Feudalism main cause of bonded labour in Pakistan’


Renowned scholar and Professor Emeritus Jan Breman of Amsterdam University has said that feudalism is the main cause of
bonded labour in Pakistan where 10 per cent of the people are landlords and they dominate 90 per cent of the landless people in rural areas.

He made this statement on Sunday while releasing a report “Effectiveness of Interventions for the Release and Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourers in Pakistan” conducted by young researcher Zulfiqar Shah. The launching of the report was jointly organised by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and Karachi Press Club (KPC).
Prof Breman while commenting on the prevalent situation observed that the government was distancing itself from intervening in labour issues and leaving workers at the mercy of market forces which was a very dangerous trend. “If this situation continues, you will have people living in horrible conditions as the market is very cruel. Capitalism only thinks of profit, not human dignity,” he added. He maintained that widespread poverty is the result of labour exploitation and added that bonded labour is the result of both social and economic exploitation.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Nighat Saeed Khan of ASR Resource Centre Lahore, Karamat Ali of PILER, Imtiaz Faran and A H Khanzada of KPC and Zulfiqar Shah.
The research report strongly recommends massive land reforms in the country to end labour exploitation practices such as bonded labour. It says that despite a number of interventions on the part of judiciary, government, civil society and media, the problem of bondage is intact and estimated 1.8 million people are still in the bonded share cropping practices across Pakistan in agriculture alone. Other sectors involving bonded labour include brick kilns, carpet weaving, mining, glass-bangle manufacturing units, tanneries, domestic work and beggary.
The report discussed in detail the status of bonded labour in brick kiln, agriculture and carpet weaving sectors and also deliberated on the status of legislation in Pakistan and interventions by different sections of the society.
The research pointed out that international organisations consider bonded labour as a contemporary form of slavery that involves an estimated 20 million people all over the world.

Bonded labour is outlawed by the Constitution of Pakistan and the country has ratified many international conventions promising to bring this menace to an ultimate end, yet the practice persists. The issue of bonded labour cannot be seen in isolation. It is closely linked with the state of human rights and labour rights, especially of rural and agricultural workers, the research report says.
The definition of bondage or bonded labour in Pakistan, generally focuses on debt under which poor workers were coerced into a situation where they were compelled to work against their wishes not for some years but for generations and in many cases with restricted movements and limited or no freedom of choice.

In conversation with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy


Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is bold. She seeks stories that touch the heart and turns them into movies that break it. Having worked on subjects ranging from child abuse, violence against women, terrorism and natural disasters, Chinoy is passionate about films and views everything through a human mind and yet with the lens of her camera.

From being a brilliant journalist, to an established filmmaker, Chinoy has come a long way. After becoming the first Pakistani to win an Emmy Award, the first non-US citizen to win the Livingston Award for Young Journalist, she has now become the first Pakistani individual to earn an Oscar nomination.

Last October, Chinoy revealed that her documentary Saving Face had entered the shortlist of Best Documentary (short film) category for the Oscars.

Here, she talks to about the long journey to the Oscars, moments after the Oscar nominations were revealed.

What was it that motivated you to work on this subject, which continues to be neglected in the mainstream media?
The film chronicles the work of acclaimed British Pakistani plastic surgeon, Dr Mohammad Jawad as he travelled to Pakistan and performed reconstructive surgery on survivors of acid violence. There my co-director, Daniel Junge suggested that we should make a documentary on this. I was sold in an instant, since I personally feel that acid attacks are the worst form of violence, I stuck to the idea and was determined to show the world the process a woman goes through after this hideous act. I would also like to thank the women for the resilience, patience and dedication they showed throughout the filming of this documentary.

The movie is shot entirely in the Seraiki belt. How common are acid attacks in that part of the country?
The Seraiki belt is sadly the most backward and conservative area of Pakistan, where torturing women is not considered a crime.

What have your critics said about the documentary and its nomination now?
It has been released only in American cinemas and has received a great response so far. Regarding the nomination [chuckles], it has just been an hour since the nominations came out so no criticism yet.

Do you have any plans to follow the lives of these victims?
Yes we have a complete program ready for this. We will be reaching out through a nationwide program, where we will screen this documentary and encourage the victims to speak at local colleges and schools in order to spread awareness. Also, we will be working with international organisations to provide the victims with skills through training programs and there are plans to rehabilitate some of these women.

What is the status of Taboo Beauty?
Taboo Beauty has been renamed to Transgenders: Pakistan’s Open Secret and has already been screened in the UK.

When and how does the Pakistani public get to see Saving Face?
The film will be aired on March 8 by HBO, which will be followed by screening in selected cinemas across Pakistan.

Mansoor digs in despite Rehman’s ‘assurances’

As Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, the central character in the memo controversy, refused to come to Pakistan citing serious threats to his life from Interior

Minister Rehman Malik, the judicial commission investigating the scandal rejected his petition seeking to have his statement recorded abroad and hoped on Tuesday that the US national would appear before it on February 9, the next date of hearing, saying the assurances made by the attorney general and interior minister were enough to allay apprehensions vis-à-vis his security and the safety of the evidence he would be bringing with him.
The commission said in its order that Commission Secretary Raja Jawad Abbas Hassan would receive Ijaz from his seat in the plane and escort him all the way to the Islamabad High Court for his appearance before the commission, or wherever he wanted to reside during his stay in Pakistan. It also directed the Civil Aviation Authority, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Immigration Department to facilitate the commission secretary in this regard.
Commission Chairman Justice Qazi Faez Isa said the “genuine concerns” of Ijaz regarding his security had been addressed and the commission would accept no further excuses from him for not coming to Pakistan. During the course of the proceedings, Ijaz’s counsel, Akram Shaikh, insisted on the provision of security cover to his client exclusively by the army, to which the commission did not agree, saying personnel of four law enforcement agencies would provide security to him.
As Shaikh told the commission that his client did not choose to come to Pakistan because of security threats, former ambassador Husain Haqqani’s counsel Zahid Bukhari pressed the commission to not afford another opportunity to Ijaz to testify, as he did not come to Pakistan despite security assurances from the quarters concerned. However, Justice Isa told him: “Why don’t you go for a knockout in case he fails to appear before the commission next time. How will you be vindicated without a finding? Haqqani himself wanted an enquiry as stated in his resignation. You will stand penalised if you are not vindicated.”
Some of the petitioners in the memo case asked the commission to make arrangements to collect evidence from Ijaz abroad, but Haqqani’s lawyer opposed the proposal, saying the US national should not be given another opportunity to testify. However, the chairman dropped a hint that the commission would have to seek the apex court’s permission if it wanted to go abroad for collection of evidence. Earlier, Shaikh told the commission that security threats to his client emanated from none other than the interior minister himself. He referred to the statements attributed to the Rehman Malik in which he allegedly said Ijaz’s name would be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) if the Parliamentary Committee on National Security so desired. Shaikh said Ijaz had no trust in Malik or anybody deployed by him to his security detail. “The gadgets that my client wants to bring with him might be stolen”, he added. The chairman then asked the attorney general if the interior minister’s statements were not contradicting the undertaking he had submitted to the commission and its orders. “He (Malik) should let us know if he has got some judicial powers,”
said Justice Isa, and asked the attorney general to call the interior minister so as to clear his position vis-à-vis his press statements. He was also critical of the statements of the prime minister on the commission’s proceedings. Malik later submitted to the commission that he had no intentions to put Ijaz’s name on the ECL and had not directed any authorities to do so. He denied the press statements attributed to him to the satisfaction of the commission.
Justice Isa observed that the courts were sanctuaries and even criminals had the right to approach the court. He said the commission would ensure safe arrival and return of each and every witness who wanted to depose before it as the commission was mindful of the security of every witness.
He observed that the commission was not being allowed to do its work and questioned why these people (government functionaries) were obstructing the arrival of Ijaz in Pakistan. Addressing the interior minister, Justice Isa said: “Your statements have created this disturbance. Had these not been there the court’s time would not have been wasted”.
However, Malik stated before the commission that Ijaz would not be put on the ECL and full security would be provided to him upon his arrival in Pakistan.
On two occasions, the chairman asked the court assistants to bring out the Code of Conduct for Lawyers as the attorney general and Haqqani’s counsel interrupted the proceedings. The commission also took it as strange that the lawyers in the memo case were approaching the media, which it termed a violation of the Codes of Conduct. He hoped that in future none of the lawyers engaged in the case would talk to the media on the issue. The commission was not satisfied with the affidavit submitted by Haqqani as it lacked clarity on all four points the commission had sought replies to. Haqqani did not say in clear terms when he last used his two missing BlackBerry smartphones or whose property they were. On the question of waiving his privacy rights, Haqqani submitted that it would be decided after evidence from Ijaz was presented to the commission.
The commission termed Haqqani’s affidavit “ambiguous”. The attorney general told the commission that so far the Canadian High Commission in Pakistan had not responded to its letter, which sought data from the Canadian manufacturer of BlackBerry smartphones.
The commission then adjourned the hearing for February 9 and is going to seek more time from the apex court for completion of the task assigned to it.

Mansoor Ijaz balloon punctured


The central character in the so-called Memogate affair, Mansoor Ijaz, has refused to come to Pakistan just one day before he was supposed to appear before the judicial commission investigating the matter. The reasons for his refusal, according to Mr Ijaz and his counsel Akram Sheikh, are that he fears for his safety and life, there is a security threat to both from the authorities in Pakistan, and apprehensions that the body of evidence he claims is in his possession to prove his allegations against ex-ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani and his ‘boss’ may be destroyed if it falls into the ‘wrong’ hands. Mr Sheikh has been at pains to assert that the assurance s extended by the Attorney General (AG) and the instructions of the commission in its hearing on January 9 that Ijaz’s security would be handled by the army have not been adhered to. At one point, in an apoplectic rage, Mr Sheikh went so far as to assert that both the COAS and the AG would be in contempt of court if they did not follow the orders of the commission. Now, however, that Mr Ijaz has decided not to show, it would not be out of place to remind Mr Sheikh that he is on record as having told the commission that if his client did not appear on the date agreed (which the commission was generous enough to extend at least three times), he would not trouble the commission any more. Now, instead, his client wants the commission to travel to London or Zurich and record his statement there. In the first place, the commission’s instructions notwithstanding, security under the law for any citizen or visitor is the responsibility of the interior ministry, which not only appointed a senior officer to take charge of Mr Ijaz’s security in Pakistan, the authorities went so far as to announce that an army officer had been attached to help with the security duties of Mr Ijaz. This too proved insufficient for ‘viceroy’ Ijaz. The authorities’ bending over backwards to accommodate Mansoor Ijaz’s concerns has only yielded the damp squib at the end of the day of a cop-out by monsieur.

In response to this latest twist in the tale, Haqqani’s counsel has moved the commission not to allow the absconding Mansoor Ijaz any further chance to record his statement after he failed to live up to his commitment to appear. The no-show has eroded whatever was left of Mansoor Ijaz’s credibility. The only surprise in this for knowledgeable observers is the amount of time and space devoted to this ‘drama queen’ at the expense (almost) of destabilising the government and arguably democracy per se. Both Ijaz and Sheikh have quoted Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s statements to justify their apprehensions about Ijaz’s fate if he lands on Pakistani soil. These statements have landed Mr Malik with a summons by the parliamentary committee on national security that is also seized of the memo matter to clarify the content and purpose of his remarks that have so spooked Mansoor Ijaz. As if Rehman Malik’s statements were not enough, PPP Punjab leader Raja Riaz wants to be made a party to the commission’s proceedings since he wants to bring up Mansoor Ijaz’s revelation that he was part of efforts to topple Benazir Bhutto’s government in 1989. Raja Riaz wants Article 6 to come into play. Both Mr Malik and Mr Riaz are doing a first class job of scaring the ‘scarecrow’ away. These efforts notwithstanding, Mansoor Ijaz has lived up to his track record of shifting the goal posts whenever things get sticky or uncomfortable. Those seeking to take advantage of the whole affair to score political points, such as the Punjab chief minister, must be ruing the ‘champion’ they picked for the purpose.

It is not clear at the time of writing these lines how the commission will respond to the latest developments. The sensible jurisprudence would appear to be to drop the whole thing and leave it in the lap of the parliamentary committee (where, arguably, it always belonged, the penchant of the Supreme Court to take up any and all matters irrespective of potential embarrassment notwithstanding).

HRCP shows concern over death of another military detainee

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed alarm at reports that another person who had been detained for suspected involvement in an attack on the military headquarters has been found dead.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the commission said, “HRCP shows its serious concern that with the recovery of Abdul Saboor’s body in Peshawar late last week, four of the 11 persons held on charges of involvement in the GHQ attack have now turned up dead. Their families had earlier spoken of the detained men being tortured and apprehended that they would be killed. The plight of the families of the four men killed and the seven who are believed to be alive, at least for now, is similar to hundreds of others who have been devastated by enforced disappearances by agents of the state across the country.” “HRCP stressed that charges of involvement in acts of terrorism, do not deprive those accused of their due process rights.

Lala sings paeans to Bacha Khan & Wali Khan

Lauding their matchless sacrifices based on the principles and philosophy of non-violence for freedom and democratic rights of the masses, veteran politician former Federal Minister and senior leader of Awami National Party Mohammad Afzal Khan Lala has paid rich tributes to Bacha Khan and Wali Khan on their death anniversary.

In a statement he pointed out that Indians claim that the Mahtama Gandhi was the proponent of the philosophy of non-violence while the Pakhtuns claim to be Bacha Khan but the fact is that it seemed to be impossible to attract Pakhtuns otherwise known for taking revenge at all costs to nonviolence.

But Bacha Khan not only did so but achieved freedom for his nation and saved them from the destructive war machine of the British Imperialism.

With regard to the role and services of Khan Abdul Wali Khan, he pointed out that he was not only the son of that great freedom fighter and icon of non-violence Bacha Khan but a true follower and political comrade too, who through out his life uphold these principles and philosophy.

Mohammad Afzal Khan called upon all the Pakhtuns to shun violence and unite for restoration of peace on their homeland and ensuring prosperity for their future generations.

Pakistan may become 4th most populous country by 2050

Pakistan would become fourth most populous country till 2050, if concrete and timely steps are not taken to address this major challenge.

The population of the country is likely to reach to 325 million till 2050 but the figure can be restricted to 270 million by introducing comprehensive policy.

These views were expressed on Tuesday by parliamentarians and health experts at an “Interactive dialogue between Policy Makers and Youth”, jointly organized by Planning Division, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Rehnuma-Family Planning Association of Pakistan (FPAP).

Member National Assembly Donia Aziz sharing her views said family planning is not against Islam. She said the country needs a new school every day to fulfil educational needs of our population but we do not have enough resources.

Member National Assembly Dr Tariq Fazal claimed that information conveyed through media is not complete and causing damages to our younger generation.

He added that youth in the age of adolescents are facing serious health and psychological issues and there is a dire need to give them proper guidance.

Tariq said our religion gave us liberty to discuss these issue within a limit but our society and cultural norms have imposed self created ban on discussion.

Raheela Durrani, Member Provincial Assembly Balochistan opined that it is time to train parents and bridge gap between parents and children as they are the best guide to address queries of their kids.

Member Provincial Assembly Sindh Nusrat Abbasi informed the participants that she would table a bill in the parliament soon for including issues of reproductive health into curriculum.

She said hiding information is not the way to handle these problems and it is time to initiate debate on these issues for finding out sustainable solution and safeguarding future of our younger generation.

Member Provincial Assembly Punjab, Khurram Gulfam said Punjab Assembly has passed the resolution of including reproductive health information in curriculum and action would be taken on it within three month.

Member Provincial Assembly Khyber Pukhtunkwa, Shazia Tehmas Khan shared that the provincial government has taken special measures for disseminating information of Reproductive Health.

She said new Family Welfare Centres have been established where a lady doctor, a trained nurse, a midwife and supporting staff has been appointed for the assistance of masses.

Furthermore, she said, a mobile service unit has also been provided to these centres for immediately health care. “We have also registered ‘maulanas’ who would include such kind of information in their Friday Sermons with complete religious context.

Dr. Zeba Sathar, Country Director, Population Council informed that in 1951 the population of the country was 30 million and today it has increased six times and if proper steps are not taken it would become 200 million by 2018 and onwards.

Being 6th most populous country of the world, Pakistan has the largest potential in the working age group as three out of four persons fall under working age group.

Dr. Zeba said the rate of urbanization is also quite high and every one out of three persons live in cities having access to majority of resources.

Chief Executive Officer Rehnuma-FPAP Syed Kamal Shah said majority world youth hails from South Asia posing challenges to governments in the region to meet their needs.

Lahore: Another four succumb to ‘drug reaction’


The drugs reaction scandal claimed lives of another four patients in the city on Tuesday raising the death toll to 71 so far.

A health department spokesman confirmed 69 deaths at various government hospitals.

In a handout issued on Tuesday, the spokesman said 38 patients died at Services Hospital, 13 at Sir Ganga Ram and nine each at Jinnah and Mayo.

However, the death toll given by King Edward Medical University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Asad Aslam was different to that of the health department spokesman.

Dr Asad told Dawn that a total of 11 cardiac patients died at Mayo Hospital during the last three weeks or so.

The spokesman further said that 352 cardiac patients of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology were shifted to various hospitals of the city since the incidence of reaction to suspected drugs surfaced. “Of them, 174 are still under treatment at hospitals.”

Of the four fresh victims, Tufail Ahmad of Bhalwal and Sher Muhammad of Shahdara died at Punjab Institute of Cardiology and Israr Ahmad at Services. Zulfiqar Ali succumbed to cardiac disease at his Dharampura residence.

According to sources, they had consumed suspected drugs disbursed by the PIC free of cost.

They said another 44 patients were shifted to different public sector hospitals of the city on Tuesday following the cardiac complications they faced after consuming drugs.

Of them, 29 were reported to the Jinnah, six to the Lahore General Hospital, five to Services and four patients to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, the sources said.

Allama Iqbal Medical College Principal Prof Dr Javed Akram confirmed admission of 29 new patients to Jinnah Hospital, saying that a majority of them was having low platelets and white blood counts after they consumed suspected drugs. “The Jinnah Hospital has received a total of 81 patients for the last three weeks or so.”

The KEMU vice-chancellor said Mayo Hospital received 70 cardiac patients of PIC from Jan 4 to 24.

Of them, he said 11 died of suspected drugs reaction while 37 were still under treatment for the complications of cardiac diseases. All of them were registered patients of the PIC, he said.

LGH Medical Superintendent Dr Muhammad Ahsan told this reporter that out of total 11 patients, three had been discharged after necessary treatment while eight were admitted yet.

Later addressing a press conference on Tuesday night, Dr Javed Akram said the chief minister had changed medicine purchase protocol. He said post mortem of every victim would be conducted. “We have withdrawn the suspected drugs from 9,000 patients so far.”

Speaking on the occasion, MPA Khwaja Salman Rafiq said the Punjab government would grant Rs500,000 compensation to family of each patient who died and Rs 200,000 to those who were under treatment.

Meanwhile, some patients and their relatives lodged a protest outside the PIC shortly after they were refused the required quantity of the medicines.

The patients alleged that the PIC administration had given them only two kinds of medicines out of the combination of four to five drugs they had been taking earlier from the institute.

They said the given medicines were for one week use only while in the past they had been taking a stock of one month at least.

As most of the agitators were belonging to other districts, they said, being members of poor families it was not possible for them to bear travelling cost every week to get medicines from an institute located in the provincial capital.

According to the health department spokesman, 178 cardiac patients have been discharged from various hospitals of the city after treatment.

PPP to lodge case against Shahbaz

The Pakistan People’s Party Punjab chapter says it will try to lodge a case against Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif over the death of patients owing to alleged reaction of free drugs.

“We will not only try to get a murder case registered against Sharif being a health minister but also demand his resignation over the loss of precious lives,” PPP Punjab deputy parliamentary leader Shaukat Basra said.

Talking to Dawn on Tuesday, Mr Basra said it had been a gross negligence on part of the chief executive of the province who was not ready to take responsibility of the deaths.

He said the chief minister had made a team of his ‘favourites’ which had failed to deliver.

Pakistan: Peace Talks Considered

Pakistani civilian and military leaders met Tuesday to discuss policy toward Afghanistan, including possible peace talks with Taliban militants. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani met with the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani; the head of the spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence, Lt. Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha; and the foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, a government news release said. President Asif Ali Zardari was on a two-day trip to Myanmar. The statement said that the prime minister asked Ms. Khar to plan a visit to Afghanistan and that participants discussed the “ongoing reconciliation process” — a euphemism for possible peace talks with the Taliban.