Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lahore grieves over heart pill deaths

BBC.COMBy:Orla Guerin

A chorus of grief rose from the narrow backstreets of Lahore, where members of the Hussain family were saying a last goodbye to a much-loved father and grandfather.

Head-scarved women wept and wailed around the body of Ashiq Hussain, which was wrapped in a white sheet and covered with rose petals.

He was the latest victim of the free heart drugs that have cost more than 100 - and doctors are warning the death toll could continue to rise.

In one of the last photos ever taken of Ashiq, the white-haired pensioner was hugging his grandson, and smiling broadly. Relatives say they seldom saw him any other way.

"He was smiling till the day he died," said Nazia Hussain, his granddaughter. "He was always happy and jolly. He never complained once that he was in pain, even in his final days in the hospital."Nazia travelled to Lahore from her home in Birmingham to bury her grandfather, and to seek justice for him - though she doesn't expect to get it.

She fears that the three pharmaceutical company owners who have been arrested will be freed quietly in the future. "They'll get released, and you will never hear of them again," she said. "If you are rich you can do anything here."

The deadly drugs were distributed by the Punjab Institute for Cardiology in Lahore. This well-regarded regional centre is Pakistan's largest heart hospital, and has been a place of healing for many.

But as soon as we arrived in the grounds we were surrounded by sick patients, and bereaved relatives - people like Mukhtar Ahmad, a tall bearded man, clutching a death certificate. He told us he had been robbed of his father and great-uncle.Bleeding

A weary-looking patient called Abdul Rauf was still holding blister packs of the suspect tablets. "No-one contacted me about the drugs," he said. "I only stopped taking them on Tuesday, when I saw ads on TV."About 46,000 needy patients like him received the drugs in December. Within days some were bleeding profusely. Within weeks there were deaths.

Initially doctors suspected dengue fever, not faulty drugs. Patients weren't warned until 11 January.

The head of the hospital admits an earlier response could have saved more lives, but insists staff acted as quickly as possible.

"We did not see this complication before," said Professor Muhammad Azhar, a slight, wiry man wearing green surgical scrubs, and a stethoscope.

"It took us 10 to 15 days to connect it to our medicine," he said.

"The minute we knew, we took action. God forbid it ever happens again we will be much quicker next time."

State-run hospitals like his are compelled to buy the cheapest drugs available. But Professor Azhar stressed that the suspect drugs came from regular suppliers, used for years - without incident.'Hurt by medicines'

"This is one of the most terrible parts of my life," he said, his soft voice becoming softer still."We were trying to help the patients," he said. "Now some have been hurt by our medicines."

Across town in Jinnah hospital, we met some of the casualties. Doctors can only treat their symptoms, as they still don't know exactly what caused their illness.

Shahid Nasim, a gents' tailor, was well enough to sit up in his hospital bed, but not well enough to leave it. He had a prescription for those who produced the contaminated pills.

"They should hang them publicly in the squares," he said forcefully, "like they do in Saudi Arabia. The people who died left children behind. What will happen to them?"Many of the dead were the sole breadwinners for low-income families, according to Professor Javed Akram, CEO of Jinnah Hospital, who is leading a provincial government inquiry into the deaths.Regulatory failure'

He says the policy of buying the cheapest drugs has to stop - a view echoed by the Pakistan Medical Association.

"We shouldn't be going for the lowest price," he said, "we should be going for the safest product. The drugs were purchased at unrealistically low prices. No-one could supply quality medicine at that price."Five Pakistani drug firms are under investigation - none of them have commented on the allegations.

The BBC has learned that one of the firms no longer had a licence to produce drugs. But that's no surprise, says Professor Akram, because there is nowhere to renew a licence at present.

"The regulatory mechanism for drugs was a federal one," he said. "This responsibility was supposed to shift to the provinces, but they haven't established drug regulatory authorities as yet."

Samples of the drugs under suspicion are being analysed at several laboratories in Europe. They may have been contaminated - deliberately or accidentally - with a metallic ingredient, according to Professor Akram.

He says the drug companies aren't the only ones to blame. He points the finger at successive governments which have, he claims, starved Pakistan's ailing health service of funding.

The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) highlights another danger here - corruption. It estimates that there may be as many as 600 unregistered drug manufacturers in Punjab province - thanks to payoffs.

"If you have got connections with politicians and support from the administration you can do it," said Dr Izhar Ahmad of the PMA. "A lot of money and kickbacks are involved in this business."For victims like Ashiq Hussain, there may be no justice.
As his body was carried shoulder high through the streets, on a traditional woven bed, there were indications that the inquiry into the deaths may not get far.

Federal and provincial authorities are working in isolation, warned Professor Akram. "There's no joint investigation," he said.

"The authorities are not co-operating with each other. They are contradicting each other."

And there may be risks for patients outside Pakistan.

Two of the pharmaceutical firms under investigation export drugs to other Asian nations, and to Africa.

Shahbaz Sharif responsible for deaths by spurious drugs

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Punjab president Imtiaz Safdar Warraich on Saturday said hundreds of people have died due to spurious medicines in Punjab but the chief minister was worried about security of a US national.

Talking to a private news channel, he said that responsibility of the deaths due to spurious drugs lies with the Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif because he also holds the charge of health ministry.

He said that Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) came to action as Punjab government did not take any action on the issue.

He said that the chief minister should get actress Sapna and Shahbaz Taseer recovered instead of taking the responsibility of a US national Mansoor Ijaz.

Warraich said that the chief minister was responsible for the security of people of Punjab and not of Mansoor Ijaz.

He blamed the chief minister for converting non-issues into issues.

He said that President Asif Ali Zardari was elected with two-thirds majority but Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was not used to accept a democratic president in the country and it likes military dictators like Gen. Ziaul Haq and Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Death toll from PIC drug reaction reaches 110

More than hundred cardiac patients have died after contaminated drugs intake provided by Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) and dozens more are in a critical condition in the hospitals. According to sources, the reports of the samples sent to CDL and NIH laboratories have been received by the government but the provincial authorities didn't confirm about it. Today, three more patients including two women passed away at Services Hospital in Lahore.

PESHAWAR: Anti-polio campaign from Jan 31

A three-day Polio eradication campaign in 36 high risk union councils of Peshawar will start from January 31, while such drive in medium risk union councils will be initiated from February 7.

This was stated by Field Coordinator, National Institute of Research & Development (NRDF), district, Peshawar, Mian Shahab while addressing a press conference here on Friday.

He was flanked by Maulana Jehanzeb Zahid, a local JUI-F activist and member of NRDF and Qari Rafiq Shah.

Kidnappings of foreigners throw spotlight on dangers in Pakistan, hampering aid efforts

The Washington Post

Seven foreigners have been kidnapped in Pakistan in the last six months, four in January alone, highlighting the security threat in the country and hampering aid efforts.

Islamist militants, separatist rebels or regular criminals are suspected in the abductions, with motives ranging from ransom, publicity or concessions from the U.S. or Pakistani governments such as prisoner releases or a halt to army operations.Development workers who have been helping victims of flooding or those affected by military campaigns against militants in the northwest close to Afghanistan have been the primary targets, although two Swiss tourists also have been seized.

Large ransoms have reportedly been paid in the past to secure the freedom of foreign and Pakistani hostages, while the kidnappers have killed others.

On Jan. 5, armed men kidnapped a British man working for the Red Cross in Quetta, the capital of southwestern Baluchistan, which is home to separatist insurgents and Islamic militants. City police say they believe he is no longer in the city, but otherwise have no information about who is holding him.

Last year, a pair of Swiss tourists were seized in the same province. The man and woman appeared in a video released by their captors, the Pakistani Taliban, who they said had threatened to kill them.

Gunmen bundled two European aid workers — one Italian and one German — into a car in the Pakistani city of Multan in central Punjab province last week. A Kenyan, also working for an international group, disappeared Monday as he drove from the city of Sukkur, in Sindh province.

All three men were working on relief projects following floods in 2010 and 2011 that destroyed or damaged hundreds of thousands of homes in Sindh and Punjab provinces, triggering a major international aid effort. While many projects have wound up, others are continuing, employing Pakistanis and foreigners.

In one of the highest-profile cases, a 70-year-old American humanitarian aid worker was kidnapped from his house in the Punjabi city of Lahore in August.

Al-Qaida claimed to be holding the man, Warren Weinstein, and said in a video he would be released if the United States stopped airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Unusually, the video did not contain footage, photos or any other evidence that Weinstein was alive or even in al-Qaida’s custody.

Pakistan has been plagued by militant violence since 2007, and international agencies were already operating under severe security restrictions.

Pakistani employees, who make up the vast majority of international agencies staff, have also been frequently targeted for abduction.

“We are concerned for the people who have been kidnapped and the ability of NGOs to carry out the work,” said Aine Fay, chairman of the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum, which represents 42 international aid groups in the country. “There are people in need out there. It’s people on the ground that suffer.”

As well as threats from militants, humanitarian workers have complained about harassment from Pakistani intelligence agencies in the wake of the unilateral American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011. The CIA ran a vaccination campaign in the town where bin Laden was living ahead of the raid to try and get information about him.

The army was infuriated by the raid and whipped up already strong anti-Western sentiment in the country. It continues to subject foreigners in the country to intense scrutiny, the implication being that they maybe spies.

One development worker, who declined to be identified because he didn’t want to draw unnecessary attention his employer in the media, said his colleagues had been told to keep a much lower profile but faced no extra restrictions.

“Everyone is a keeping close eye on it. The big question is whether this is banditry or something more sinister,” he said, referring to concerns that foreigners maybe targeted by criminal gangs, then “sold on” to militants.

Peshawar Airport renamed after Bacha Khan

Peshawar International airport renamed after founder Khudai Khidmatgar Movement Bach Khan.A ceremony was held in executive lounge regarding changing the name of Peshawar International Airport in which senior leadership of ANP was present.
After unanimous resolution passed by KP Assembly, the prime minister gave approval of renaming Peshawar Airport after name of Bacha Khan.

France to withdraw from Afghanistan early, Sarkozy announces

President Nicolas Sarkozy

said Friday that France would pull its forces out of Afghanistan a year earlier than planned, a week after the killing of four French servicemen by a renegade Afghan soldier.

After meeting Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Paris, Sarkozy said France had decided to transfer security in the eastern Kapisa province, where most of the 3,600-strong French contingent is based and the scene of the shooting, to Afghan forces from March of this year.

“The pursuit of the transition and this gradual transfer of combat responsibilities will allow us to plan for a return of all our combat forces by the end of 2013,” Sarkozy said, adding that 1,000 troops would return in 2012.

“President Karzai has assured us that Kapisa province where the French contingent is based will pass under Afghan responsibility from March,” he said.

This decision was made “in agreement with president Karzai and in agreement with our allies, in an organized and reasonable way,” Sarkozy added.

“A few hundred” French troops would stay on after 2013 to train Afghan troops, Sarkozy said.

End to frontline military operations

While the French decision was not an outright retreat, the move effectively brings an end to Paris’ frontline military operations, a decision that could prove a boost to Sarkozy ahead of a presidential election.

Sarkozy said he would encourage NATO to consider transferring all its combat operations to Afghan forces in 2013, instead of the scheduled deadline of end-2014.

French training operations in Afghanistan, suspended after the shooting, would resume on Saturday, the French president added.

Sarkozy said he would speak to U.S President Barack Obama on Saturday..

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the French announcement was part of the “managed effort” to withdraw from Afghanistan.

“This was not precipitous ... this was worked through carefully with NATO, with the Afghans and in consultation with all of us,” she told reporters.

“There were some concerns expressed in NATO countries... as well as in Afghanistan that whatever was done needed to be done in a consultative fashion, needed to be done in a managed fashion,” Nuland said.

“And what we see now is just that, a consulted and managed effort.”

A NATO spokeswoman said only: “We take note of the French statement.”

Karzai is on a five-day European trip to sign long-term strategic partnership agreements aimed at bolstering support for Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development.

He was next to travel to London to meet Prime Minister David Cameron.
In time for elections

Most French -- 84 percent of them -- want their troops back home by the end of 2012, according to an opinion poll published this week.

Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande, tipped to beat Sarkozy in elections in three months, pledged Thursday to withdraw French troops from Afghanistan this year if he becomes president.

After the deaths of the four soldiers, Sarkozy sent Defense Minister Gerard Longuet to Kabul to evaluate ways to improve the security of French troops training the Afghan army.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has ruled out a “hasty” retreat and most analysts believe it will technically be difficult for Paris to drop out of the NATO-led coalition so quickly.

“Announcing a French withdrawal could set off panic among other European countries in Afghanistan,” said military analyst Jean-Dominique Merchet.

Sarkozy warned after the attacks that he may accelerate France’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, prompting NATO’s chief to call on contributing nations to remain committed to the security transition.

Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he understood French concerns, but noted that NATO nations had agreed on a 2014 date to withdraw combat forces and transfer security to Afghans.

Longuet said he was told the killer was a Taliban infiltrator in the Afghan army, but Afghan security sources said he opened fire because of a video showing U.S. Marines urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban insurgents.

The United States, Britain, Germany and Italy are the main contributors to the NATO-led force of some 130,000 troops fighting a 10-year insurgency by hardline Islamist Taliban forces ousted from power after the 9/11 attacks.

More than 2,500 foreign soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001. The latest killings take the French toll to 82.

Bahrain fired 3,000 employees in 2011

The Al Khalifa regime in Bahrain has dismissed more than 3,000 employees on charges of participating in anti-regime demonstrations over the past year.

The regime has fired Shia and even Sunni employees over months of peaceful protests in the country.

The government has, instead, hired its own military forces and foreign nationals in state offices, with the purpose of reducing the number of Shia employees to less than 50 percent of the total work force.

Al Khalifa regime has recently granted Bahraini nationality to a number of Iraqi Ba'athists and of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein loyalists who had fled their country.

The Bahraini government arrests civilians who participate in peaceful demonstrations and tortures them in different ways every day. Even children have been killed by security forces during protests.

However, the US and Britain continue supporting the Bahraini regime.

The US Navy's Fifth Fleet is stationed in the Bahraini capital and has provided support for the Al Khalifa regime during months of crackdown on peaceful protesters in the Persian Gulf state.

Bahrain has been hit by a wave of anti-regime protests since mid-February 2011.

Dozens of demonstrators have been killed and hundreds wounded in the popular uprising in the Persian Gulf nation.

Bahrain criticised over 'inappropriate' use of tear gas


Amnesty International has called for an investigation into what it says is the misuse of tear gas by Bahraini security forces.

The organisation says that more than a dozen deaths may have resulted from the heavy use of tear gas in residential areas.

Police are struggling to contain a growing wave of protests in the gulf island kingdom.

The most recent death attributed by activists to tear gas was on Wednesday.

Saeed Ali Hasan al-Sakri, 65-years-old, is said by his family to have collapsed after a heavy volley of tear gas was unleashed near their home in a Shia village on Tuesday.

Shia in Bahrain have long complained of discrimination at the hands of the Sunni ruling family. Pro-democracy protesters briefly occupied a prominent traffic roundabout in February of last year.

Since being driven out of Pearl Roundabout in mid-March, mainly Shia demonstrators have continued to agitate against the government.

'Police abuses'

An independent panel of human rights experts was appointed by King Hamad after growing international condemnation of human rights abuses.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

The security forces must be instructed on how to use tear gas in line with international policing standards”

End Quote Amnesty International

The report published in November confirmed excessive use of force and systematic torture of prisoners in detention by security forces.

But according to both activists in the country and international human rights organisations little has been done to curb the police.

Eye witnesses have told the BBC of stun grenades and tear gas canisters being fired into houses in violation of international standards that Bahrain has signed up to. Amnesty International has called for an investigation into the deaths, adding: "The security forces must be instructed on how to use tear gas in line with international policing standards."

Amnesty International says that in some cases death seems to have resulted from an adverse reaction because of pre-existing health conditions such as asthma.

Rising death toll

This week, four deaths have been attributed by activists to the actions of the security forces.

That brings the death toll since unrest began last year to at least 50, including four security officers.

In addition to Mr Sakri, activists say that 24 year old Abbas Jaffar al-Shaikh died Wednesday of complications after being hit in the back with birdshot nearly two months ago.

A spokesperson for the government said he was being treated for cancer when he died.

The spokesperson said that Mr Sakri had died after a fall in his bathroom, adding "the Public Prosecutor ordered forensic examination to test blood but no results have been released yet".

Muntadher Saeed Fakhr was said by the Ministry of the Interior to have died in a traffic accident on Wednesday afternoon. Activists say he was deliberately run off the road by police.

The BBC has seen a picture that is said to be of Mr Fakrh handcuffed and bleeding in a police vehicle.Mohamed Ibrahim Yaqoob died in hospital late Wednesday night. The BBC has seen two videos, one that appears to show the 19-year-old being chased and run down by a police vehicle in the village of Sitra.

The second released by the police shows him in custody in a police car, apparently unhurt.

A source told the BBC that Mr Yaqoob was first taken to a police station, and held for two hours before being admitted to hospital. The source says he died of internal bleeding four hours later.

The Ministry of Interior is responsible for the security forces.

On its website it says that Mr Yaqoob died of what it called "natural causes" after being taken to Salmaniya Hospital immediately after informing arresting officers that he suffered from sickle cell anaemia.

But the BBC has seen photographic evidence of cuts and bruises on his body.

The ministry has not yet commented on the call by Amnesty International to investigate deaths said to be related to the use of tear gas by its security forces.

Russia Clashes with Europeans, Arabs Over Syria UN Resolution

European and Arab nations are calling on the U.N. Security Council to back a resolution supporting the Arab League’s plan to end the 10-month-old political crisis in Syria. But, Russia has expressed concerns about the new text.

Following a lengthy closed-door discussion Friday afternoon on a draft resolution proposed by council members Morocco, Britain and France, Russia’s Ambassador Vitaly Churkin

told reporters that the new text ignores what he called Moscow’s “red lines” where they could not go.

“The red lines included any indications of sanctions, the red lines included any sort of imposition of arms embargo - because we know how in real life arms embargo means you supply arms to illegal groups but you cannot supply weapons to the government - we cannot accept that," he said. "Unfortunately, the draft we saw today did not only ignore our red lines but also added some new elements which we find unacceptable as a matter of principle.”

The Russian envoy said the Arab League plan, which includes the transfer of power from President Bashar al-Assad to a deputy in preparation for multi-party elections, imposes a certain outcome of political dialogue before that dialogue even starts.

“We need to concentrate on establishing political dialogue," he said. "The Arab League may have its ideas about where that political dialogue should go, they are free to express those ideas, but certainly the Security Council cannot be a tool to impose specific solutions on countries, including in this particular situation, Syria.”

He said Moscow does not see the new draft text as one on which they could agree, but said they would be willing to engage in negotiations.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant rejected his colleague's objections, saying the proposed text does not include an arms embargo or sanctions, nor does it call for regime change. He noted that it also includes some language from an earlier Russian proposed draft resolution on the subject. Essentially, Lyall Grant said, the new resolution simply supports the Arab League’s efforts to end the crisis.

“Frankly, the time has come where we should be supporting the Arab League’s efforts," he said. "They took a very strong, binding decision on the Arab League members at the weekend. They have come with a credible plan that involves dialogue, a political transition, and we believe that we should support it.”

Lyall Grant said negotiations on the text would begin Monday and he hoped to have a vote on the measure next week, possibly as early as Wednesday.

On Tuesday afternoon the Arab League Secretary-General Nabil ElAraby and the Prime Minister of Qatar will brief the 15-member Security Council on the League’s month-long monitoring mission in Syria, which was plagued by difficulties.

Syria has rejected the Arab League’s plan of January 22nd, but has said the League’s observer mission may remain in the country for another month.

The United Nations estimates that more than 5,000 people have been killed during the 10-month-long crackdown on anti-government dissenters. On Friday, the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, said nearly 400 children have been killed during the crisis.

CM Punjab must resign

By Dr Saif

Around 100 tragic deaths of heart patients due to the medicines supplied at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) have occurred. This is yet another blunder by Chief Minister (CM) Punjab Shahbaz Sharif. For three weeks, he was waiting for more deaths, which is exactly what he did while responding to the dengue epidemic. In March 2011, the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad and the federal government had requested the Punjab government to take necessary steps against an impending dengue outbreak again. NIH is Pakistan's leading scientific research institute, as it plays an important role in diseases, the biological effects of environmental contamination and provision of vaccines. It also has an early warning of disease system. NIH had warned the Punjab government about possible consequences but they paid no heed and as the dengue outbreak took place, Mr Sharif's response was poor. Late fumigation and the lack of a public awareness campaign led to the dengue epidemic in Punjab. Moreover, the most effective way to control dengue virus transmission is a biological method. Dengue fever took around 1,000 lives.

Shahbaz Sharif must resign over the current death casualties due to substandard lifesaving drugs because PIC is the largest cardiac centre in Pakistan. It is the first ISO-certified hospital in the government sector. During his four years' administration, PIC has been put into dubious deals with unauthorised local pharmaceutical companies. According to the Drug Act 1976, the quality control system at the federal and provincial level is supported by the professionally competent drug inspectorates and laboratory services. This is absolutely criminal negligence on the part of the Punjab government — it is another faux pas within 10 months. It is quite incredible that instead of tendering his resignation, Shahbaz Sharif is still trying to fool the nation that substandard lifesaving drugs are of imported brand. In my opinion, such an incompetent chief minister must be removed by a no-confidence motion in the Punjab Assembly without any delay so that the institutions in Punjab are made safe once again and such tragic incidents are averted in the future.

Lahore: Death toll from PIC drug reaction reaches 109

Three more died on Saturday from reaction of spurious drugs, taking the death toll to 109.More than hundred cardiac patients have died after contaminated drugs intake provided by Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) and dozens more are in a critical condition in the hospitals.
Today, three more patients including two women passed away at Services Hospital in Lahore.
According to report, around 400 patients have been admitted in different hospitals across the city after reaction from faulty medicines.

In another development,A petition has been filed in the LHC against CM Shahbaz for retaining 18 ministries with him.A petition filed by Advocate Naushab Khan maintained that Punjab Chief Minister is an administrative authority but his act of holding other ministries is unconstitutional.The petitioner also requested the Lahore High Court to take suo motu notice of criminal negligence resulting in deaths of more than hundred cardiac patients due to faulty PIC drug intake.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif should be summoned in the court for written clarification into PIC deaths, the petitioner wrote.

FATA: A welcome change

EDITORIAL: Frontier Post

In a welcome move, party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan has appreciably signalled renunciation of his ANP’s long-held stance of merging the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and acceptance of the tribal people’s inalienable right to decide if to become this province’s part or a separate province of their own. And there is no ambiguity whatsoever about their will. Never ever have the tribal people asked for any such merger. It is only the ANP that has been pressing for it, and that too quite untenably, rather irrationally. Indeed, the very basis of ethnicity and linguistic affinity that the party had been flaunting to advance its case on FATA has now landed it into hot water. This very criterion now the Hazara region’s residents are touting up to be partitioned off from KP and turned into a separate province.The tribal people are, verily, a very wronged people to the point of utter degradation and deprivation. Volitionally and happily, they had thrown their lot with Pakistan, owing full allegiance to the Pakistani State and expecting to be treated as equally as their compatriots in rest of the country. But the snooty officialdom of the Pakistani State had other ideas in its brain. For reasons best known to it, it quarantined them as some kind of a wild people, not amenable to civilised ways and unfit to modernity and progress. For decades, they were kept denied of development, thus depriving them of the means to grow economically and consequently advance socially and politically. The brief break in this long spell of official neglect on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s watch was not much of it as he too latterly lost much of his steam in introducing the tribal people to economic development. As such, for them it has been more or less a colonial dispensation for the most part, with just a change in the complexion of rulers’ faces from the white of the British to the brown of the natives. Even now, there is not much of a change. The fiddling with the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), of which the incumbent hierarchy is making so much, is really no big deal. Of course, the draconian law has been their great tormentor. And sour they are over it. But it is not just tinkering with this law that had been their dying aspiration. It could be of an uninformed officialdom and an ignorant civil society. Their cherished dream goes far beyond. What they actually have been aspiring for is to be the masters of a system where they make their laws in accordance with their particular needs, demands and hopes, formulate programmes, schemes and plans for their economic advancement and social emancipation, and execute their laws and development agendas as do their rest of the compatriots.Nor were they ever hankering for any political parties act’s extension to their region. That indeed was the political parties’ demand. Not theirs. Of course, this restriction had played to the rightist parties’ advantage and to the others’ disadvantage. Despite the restriction, the rightists for their religious garb had a free access to the region’s pulpit to peddle their religiosity, which some blame, perhaps not wrongly, no lesser for the deeply-ingrained conservatism in the area. But had they been sucked into the national mainstream, the tribal people would have forked out into a multiplicity of political hues and stripes like their other compatriots, and in all probability had formed up their own political parties and groups. But since they were denied entry into the mainstream, they have remained captive to their own firebrand rabble-rousers and guests using their pulpit. Their own grandees who make to the parliament could by no stretch be construed political substitutes for them. These eminences all know buy out their memberships and then set out to recoup their investments and make hefty returns on their capital. But the time has certainly come when instead of playing hanky-panky with them, their citizenship of this country as equal, no lesser, compatriots should be recognised in substance and respected in content. A province they should become forthwith at any rate. Once they are a province, an inspiring sense of ownership and a creative sense of responsibility will add up to impel them to chart out their lives anew to move forward politically and give their region a new shape economically and socially, no lesser by exploiting its tremendous natural wealth, particularly its believably immense mineral, oil and gas riches. The army may presently be engaged appreciably in developing the region. But it is no there to stay for ever. Once it is done with its pacification campaign, it will be gone back to its barracks. It is the tribal people who are to stay there for ever, generations after generations. And it is they alone who can give permanence to the region’s rebuilding and reshaping. Let them become a province, with their own elected assembly, elected government, own governor and bureaucracy, and then do the miracle. Yet, appallingly, when there is so much of contentious noise about new provinces, there is not even whimper for a legitimate FATA province. No parliamentary resolution has been tabled for its creation. Will the mindset of our opportunist politicos and snooty officialdom ever change?

Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice

By:Stephanie Pappas
There's no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.

The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.

"Prejudice is extremely complex and multifaceted, making it critical that any factors contributing to bias are uncovered and understood," he said.

Controversy ahead

The findings combine three hot-button topics.

"They've pulled off the trifecta of controversial topics," said Brian Nosek, a social and cognitive psychologist at the University of Virginia who was not involved in the study. "When one selects intelligence, political ideology and racism and looks at any of the relationships between those three variables, it's bound to upset somebody."

Polling data and social and political science research do show that prejudice is more common in those who hold right-wing ideals that those of other political persuasions, Nosek told LiveScience. [7 Thoughts That Are Bad For You]

"The unique contribution here is trying to make some progress on the most challenging aspect of this," Nosek said, referring to the new study. "It's not that a relationship like that exists, but why it exists."

Brains and bias

Earlier studies have found links between low levels of education and higher levels of prejudice, Hodson said, so studying intelligence seemed a logical next step. The researchers turned to two studies of citizens in the United Kingdom, one that has followed babies since their births in March 1958, and another that did the same for babies born in April 1970. The children in the studies had their intelligence assessed at age 10 or 11; as adults ages 30 or 33, their levels of social conservatism and racism were measured. [Life's Extremes: Democrat vs. Republican]

In the first study, verbal and nonverbal intelligence was measured using tests that asked people to find similarities and differences between words, shapes and symbols. The second study measured cognitive abilities in four ways, including number recall, shape-drawing tasks, defining words and identifying patterns and similarities among words. Average IQ is set at 100.

Social conservatives were defined as people who agreed with a laundry list of statements such as "Family life suffers if mum is working full-time," and "Schools should teach children to obey authority." Attitudes toward other races were captured by measuring agreement with statements such as "I wouldn't mind working with people from other races." (These questions measured overt prejudiced attitudes, but most people, no matter how egalitarian, do hold unconscious racial biases; Hodson's work can't speak to this "underground" racism.)

As suspected, low intelligence in childhood corresponded with racism in adulthood. But the factor that explained the relationship between these two variables was political: When researchers included social conservatism in the analysis, those ideologies accounted for much of the link between brains and bias.

People with lower cognitive abilities also had less contact with people of other races.

"This finding is consistent with recent research demonstrating that intergroup contact is mentally challenging and cognitively draining, and consistent with findings that contact reduces prejudice," said Hodson, who along with his colleagues published these results online Jan. 5 in the journal Psychological Science.

A study of averages

Hodson was quick to note that the despite the link found between low intelligence and social conservatism, the researchers aren't implying that all liberals are brilliant and all conservatives stupid. The research is a study of averages over large groups, he said.

"There are multiple examples of very bright conservatives and not-so-bright liberals, and many examples of very principled conservatives and very intolerant liberals," Hodson said.

Nosek gave another example to illustrate the dangers of taking the findings too literally.

"We can say definitively men are taller than women on average," he said. "But you can't say if you take a random man and you take a random woman that the man is going to be taller. There's plenty of overlap."

Nonetheless, there is reason to believe that strict right-wing ideology might appeal to those who have trouble grasping the complexity of the world.

"Socially conservative ideologies tend to offer structure and order," Hodson said, explaining why these beliefs might draw those with low intelligence. "Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice."

In another study, this one in the United States, Hodson and Busseri compared 254 people with the same amount of education but different levels of ability in abstract reasoning. They found that what applies to racism may also apply to homophobia. People who were poorer at abstract reasoning were more likely to exhibit prejudice against gays. As in the U.K. citizens, a lack of contact with gays and more acceptance of right-wing authoritarianism explained the link. [5 Myths About Gay People Debunked]

Simple viewpoints

Hodson and Busseri's explanation of their findings is reasonable, Nosek said, but it is correlational. That means the researchers didn't conclusively prove that the low intelligence caused the later prejudice. To do that, you'd have to somehow randomly assign otherwise identical people to be smart or dumb, liberal or conservative. Those sorts of studies obviously aren't possible.

The researchers controlled for factors such as education and socioeconomic status, making their case stronger, Nosek said. But there are other possible explanations that fit the data. For example, Nosek said, a study of left-wing liberals with stereotypically naïve views like "every kid is a genius in his or her own way," might find that people who hold these attitudes are also less bright. In other words, it might not be a particular ideology that is linked to stupidity, but extremist views in general.

"My speculation is that it's not as simple as their model presents it," Nosek said. "I think that lower cognitive capacity can lead to multiple simple ways to represent the world, and one of those can be embodied in a right-wing ideology where 'People I don't know are threats' and 'The world is a dangerous place'. ... Another simple way would be to just assume everybody is wonderful."

Prejudice is of particular interest because understanding the roots of racism and bias could help eliminate them, Hodson said. For example, he said, many anti-prejudice programs encourage participants to see things from another group's point of view. That mental exercise may be too taxing for people of low IQ.

"There may be cognitive limits in the ability to take the perspective of others, particularly foreigners," Hodson said. "Much of the present research literature suggests that our prejudices are primarily emotional in origin rather than cognitive. These two pieces of information suggest that it might be particularly fruitful for researchers to consider strategies to change feelings toward outgroups," rather than thoughts.

In Michigan, Obama Calls for Overhaul of Financial Aid

President Obama

called on Congress to approve a financial-aid overhaul that for the first time would tie federal financing to colleges and universities to the success of these institutions in improving affordability and value for students.

Wrapping up a three-day post State of the Union tour that has forecast Mr. Obama’s narrative for his re-election battle with Republicans, Mr. Obama said it was the government’s obligation to narrow the gap between rich and poor. He proposed a $1 billion grant competition to reward states that take action to keep college costs down, and a separate $55 million competition for colleges to increase their value and efficiency.

“I am only standing here because scholarships and student loans gave me a shot at a decent education,” Mr. Obama told the crowd at the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan, where students braved early-morning snow to stand in line to see the president.

“Your president and your first lady were in your shoes just a few years ago,” Mr. Obama said. “We didn’t come from wealthy families. The only reason we were able to achieve what we achieved was because of education.”

Mr. Obama’s proposal would also require colleges and universities to offer students a comparison that shows postgraduate and employment records for their institutions.

As is typically the case when the president speaks on a college campus, the event was high energy, complete with a marching band playing fight songs to warm the crowd up beforehand. And Mr. Obama, who is clearly already in campaign mode, was revved up. He further lit up the crowd with the obligatory “Go Blue” cheer.

“Easy applause line,” he acknowledged.

“We want this to be a big bold generous country where everybody gets a shot,” Mr. Obama told the crowd in the Al Glick Field House. “If there’s anywhere that can teach us about how to bring back manufacturing, it’s the great state of Michigan.”

One night after a Republican debate that saw Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney beating each other up on everything from immigration to personal finances, the president, without mentioning either man, still sought to draw a comparison between his vision for the country and the Republican vision, which he painted as more of a fend-for-yourself one.

Panetta believes Pakistan knew Osama hideout


US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta is acknowledging publicly for the first time that a Pakistani doctor provided key information to the US in advance of the successful Navy SEAL assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound last May.

Panetta told CBS’s ”60 Minutes,” in a profile to be broadcast on Sunday, that Shakil Afridi helped provide intelligence for the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad.

Afridi ran a vaccination program for the CIA to collect DNA and verify bin Laden’s presence in the compound. He has since been charged by Pakistan with treason. Panetta said he is ”very concerned” for the doctor.

Panetta still believes someone in authority in Pakistan knew where Osama bin Laden was hiding before US forces went in to find him.

Intelligence reports found Pakistani military helicopters had passed over the compound in Abbottabad where US Navy SEALs discovered and killed bin Laden last year, according to excerpts of Panetta’s interview.

“I personally have always felt that somebody must have had some sense of what was happening at this compound. Don’t forget, this compound had 18-foot walls… It was the largest compound in the area.

“So you would have thought that somebody would have asked the question, ‘What the hell’s going on there?’” Panetta told CBS.

The Pentagon chief said that concern played a significant factor in Washington not warning Pakistani officials of the impending raid: “It concerned us that, if we, in fact, brought (Pakistan) into it, that — they might…give bin Laden a heads up,” he said.

Panetta acknowledged he did not have “hard evidence” Pakistan knew of the Al-Qaeda leader’s whereabouts.

US Navy SEALs killed Bin Laden on May 2 in a raid on a compound in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, north of Islamabad, and later buried the 9/11 mastermind at sea.

Biden dishes on bin Laden decision

The mission to get Osama bin Laden seems to be the raid that keeps on giving for the Obama White House. Whether it is a mention at the top and bottom of the State of the Union address or a highlight in a campaign speech, the president frequently references to the mission as evidence of the his leadership and foreign policy strength.

Vice President Joe Biden jumped on the Obama leadership bandwagon Friday when he revealed that he cautioned the president against signing off on the raid on Osama bin Laden's hideaway. Despite his reservations, Biden said the President made the gutsy decision all alone.

Speaking to a meeting of congressional Democrats in Maryland, Biden shared a few new details about the tense decision making process preceding the president giving the go ahead for the daring Pakistan raid by Special Operations forces.

Biden said that for a four-to-six week period in early 2011 only six people knew that bin Laden might be hiding in the military town of Abbotobad, Pakistan. When enough information finally surfaced, the president convened his national security staff on April 28th.

“The president, he went around the table, with all the senior people, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and he said I have to make a decision, what is your opinion. He started with the National Security Advisor, the Secretary of State, and he ended with me. Every single person in that room hedged their bet, except [then CIA director] Leon Panetta. Leon said go," said Biden.

Biden told the president "my suggestion is don't go," saying there were more details that had to be checked to truly ascertain if bin Laden was indeed in the compound.

"You end up having to make decisions based on the moon, will there be enough light. And we had to make a decision,” said Biden.

According to the Vice President Obama left that meeting and said he would make the decision.

"The next morning he came down to the diplomatic entrance, getting in a helicopter I believe to go to Michigan, I'm not positive for that. He turned to Tom Donilon and said "go," Biden related.

In fact, Obama was leaving for Alabama that morning, not Michigan. CNN previously reported that Obama gave the order at 820aET. Obama boarded the helicopter at 830aET, according to the White House schedule that day.

Obama’s Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan told reporters last May how the inner circle "debated across the board," so the President could ensure "at the end that he had the views of all the principals."

"He goes around the room and he wants to hear people’s views. And so you have a circumstantial intelligence case. And so people will see that either there is insufficient circumstantial evidence to go forward with something like this, which involves a unilateral operation in another country to go after somebody you believe is Osama bin Laden - and there were differences of views that were discussed. That’s what the President wanted to know," said Brennan.

The Vice President isn’t the only who had second thoughts about pulling the trigger. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has also admitted he had reservations about the raid.

PTI criticises PML-N claims to provide security to Mansoor

Pakistan Tehrik-Insaf (PTI) Lahore President Mahmood-ur-Rashid on Friday criticised the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) leaders for claiming to provide security to Mansoor Ijaz but could not capture the American consulate’s vehicle that had crushed Abad-ur-Rahman last year.
The PTI Lahore president was addressing a press conference, when the former PML-N member provincial assembly (MPA) Peter Gill announced his decision to join the PTI.
Mahmood-ur-Rashid said that it was a tragedy that the PML-N leaders were claiming to provide security to Mansoor Ijaz, while the family members of Abad-ur-Rehman were begging for justice.