Thursday, February 2, 2012

Strike in parts of Balochistan against killing of Mir Domki's family

A partial strike was observed in different parts of Balochistan on Thursday against the killing of wife and daughter of MPA from Balochistan Mir Bakhtiar Khan Domki and their driver by unknown armed men in Karachi on Monday night.

Balochistan nationalist parties including National Party, BRP and Balochistan National Party had given the strike call in protest against the killing of tribal women in Gizri area of Karachi.

Responding the strike call trade centers in areas including Khuzdar, Hub, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Sibi, Lehri, Bakhtiarabad Domki, Bhag and Bolan remained closed with thin traffic plying on the road.

The social and political circles flayed the attack terming it coward act to further deteriorate situation in Balochistan.

They called upon Sindh government to immediately arrest the culprits involved in this heinous crime.

Heavy contingent of police and other law enforcement agencies personnel were deployed in these areas to avoid eventuality.

Will appear before SC again on Feb 13: PM Gilani


Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said that he respected the Supreme Court’s decision and would appear in court on Feb 13.

He said this while addressing the parliament on Thursday.

“I have appeared before the court earlier, and I would respect its decision and appear before it again,” said Gilani.

But the prime minister in his statement said he would “refrain from making comments” on the judiciary, adding that he firmly believed that “every body should follow the constitution”.

“All institutions need to work in their constitutional domains; they are all answerable to the parliament,” he said.

Earlier during the court hearing on Thursday, a seven-member bench of the SC had summoned the prime minister to appear on Feb 13 to be indicted with contempt over his refusal to pursue corruption cases against the president.

Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk told the court that there were grounds to proceed against Gilani over the government’s refusal to follow a court order to re-open corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The government argued that Zardari had immunity from prosecution while head of state.

“We are satisfied that prima facie there is a case for further proceeding into the matter. Adjourned for February 13, for framing charges. Prime minister is required to remain present in the court,” Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk said in English.

Review appeal

Gilani’s lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan said it was possible to appeal.

“There is a possibility for an appeal in this matter. It is up to the court whether to suspend this order or not. This will be decided after getting a copy of the order,” Ahsan added.

Legal experts told AFP that Gilani could avoid being charged by appealing against Thursday’s order, apologising or promising to write to the Swiss.

“On February 13, the charges will be read out to him. He will have to admit or deny. If he admits and apologises, the court can dispose of the case,”former Supreme Court judge Tariq Mahmood told AFP.

“The court does not unnecessarily punish people in contempt cases. It wants its dignity and decorum maintained. It all depends on how the judges proceed.”

The premier was previously summoned to appear in court on January 19.

Egypt film star sentenced for 'defaming Islam'

A Cairo court has sentenced the Arab world's most famous actor, Adel Imam, to three months in jail for "defaming Islam" in several roles on stage and screen, the Egyptian comic said on Thursday.

Imam, a UN goodwill ambassador who has been described as the Arab world's Charlie Chaplin, was sentenced to hard labour in absentia, he told AFP after being sued by Asran Mansur, a lawyer with Islamist ties.

"I will appeal the ruling," Imam said.

"Some people seeking fame filed a suit against me over works I have done which they consider insulting to Islam, and this is of course not true," he said.

The 71-year-old celebrity has a long history of legal tangles with Islamists who regard the actor's work as blasphemous.

In the latest case, the actor said the works criticised are the 1994 movie "Al-Irhabi" (The Terrorist), in which he portrays an Islamic fundamentalist and the play "Al-Zaeem" (The Leader), a comedy in which Imam pokes fun at the region's autocratic leaders.

"All the works in which I have starred went through the censors. Had they been found to be defamatory, the censors would have banned them," Imam said.

Imam has acted in more than 100 films and 10 plays that are highly appreciated by the Arab public for their irreverence towards both the powerful and the religious.

In a 1998 TV debate, called "Star on a Hot Tin Roof", Imam squared off with three Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement whose members now hold a strong majority in Egypt's parliament.

Since 2000, Imam has served as a goodwill ambassador for the UN refugee agency, alongside likes of film star Angelina Jolie and Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani.

"In the course of his rich career, he has mixed humour with sadness to portray ordinary people who are victims of injustice and poverty," the agency says in a biography of imam on its website.

"For all these reasons, Imam became a symbol for people promoting tolerance and human rights in the Arab world," it said.

Biggest Holders of US Government Debt

As the U.S. government spends an unprecedented amount of money to fix the economy, there is an equally great need to raise the cash to pay for it. This is accomplished through borrowing, whereby Uncle Sam sells Treasury securities of varying maturity.

For investors, government bills, notes and bonds are considered safe because they have a guaranteed rate of return, based on faith in future U.S. tax revenues. The government has been partially funding operations via Treasury securities for decades.

This borrowing adds to the national debt, which has recently surpassed $15 trillion and is rising every second. The amount of debt is quickly approaching the federal debt ceiling, a legal limit to borrowing that currently stands at $16.4 trillion.

Much of that debt is held by private sector, but about 40 percent is held by public entities, including parts of the government. Here's who owns the most. Foreign countries listed include private and public investors, according to monthly U.S. Treasury data.

1. Federal Reserve and Intragovernmental Holdings

U.S. debt holdings: $6.328 trillion

That’s right, the biggest single holder of U.S. government debt is the Federal Reserve system. The Fed's system of banks and other U.S. intragovernmental holdings accounted for a stunning $6.328 trillion in U.S. Treasury debt in Spetember 2011 (the most recent number available). The amount is an all-time high as the Federal Reserve continues to expand its balance sheet, partially to purchase U.S. government debt securities.

About a decade ago, the total government holdings were "only" $2.5 trillion.

2. China
U.S. debt holdings: $1.132 trillion

The largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities, China currently has $1.132 trillion in American debt, although it is down from all time highs of $1.173 trillion in July 2011. For more on China and currency, see CNBC Explains.

3. Other Investors/Savings Bonds

U.S. debt holdings $1.107 trillion

With the most recent numbers from June 2011, this extremely diverse group includes individuals, government-sponsored enterprises, brokers and dealers, bank personal trusts, estates, savings bonds, corporate and noncorporate businesses for a total of $1.107 trillion.

Although the level of debt held in U.S. savings bonds has remained basically constant since 2000, the broad category of "other" investors has nearly quadrupled since reaching a four-year low in December 2007.
4. Japan
U.S. debt holdings: $1.038 trillion

One of the U.S.'s largest trade partners, Japan is also one of the U.S.'s largest debt holders, currently owning $1.038 trillion in Treasury securities.

5. Pension Funds

U.S. debt holdings: $842.2 billion

Pension funds control large amounts of money, reserved for personal retirements, and thus are obligated to make relatively safe investments. This group, which includes private and local government pension funds, holds $842.2 billion in U.S. debt. The private pension fund category also includes U.S. Treasury securities held by the Federal Employees Retirement System Thrift Savings Plan G Fund.

6. Mutual Funds
U.S. debt holdings: $653.5 billion

According to the Federal Reserve, mutual funds hold the sixth-largest amount of U.S. debt compared to any other group, although mutual fund holdings have diminished by more than $105 billion since December 2008. Including money market funds, mutual funds and closed-end funds, this group of investments managed about $653.5 billion in U.S. Treasury securities as of June 2011, which are the most recent numbers available.

7. State and Local Governments

U.S. debt holdings: $484.4 billion

U.S. state and local governments have nearly a half-trillion dollars invested in American debt, according to the Federal Reserve. The level of investment has remained stable since 2006, moving within the range of $484 billion and $576 billion. The current debt holdings, however, represent the lowest aggregate level for state and local governments since December 2005, when they stood at $481.4 billion.
8. The United Kingdom
U.S. debt holdings: $429.4 billion

The U.K. currently holds $429.4 billion in U.S. debt, but the country's investment has fluctuated dramatically during the past two years. Now at its all-time high (and rapidly increasing), British holdings were as low as $55 billion in June 2008.

9. Depository Institutions

U.S. debt holdings: $284.5 billion

As of June 2011 (the most recent numbers available), the Federal Reserve Board of Governors lists depository institutions as holding about $284.5 billion in U.S. debt.

This group includes commercial banks, savings banks and credit unions. In 2011, its holdings more than tripled from the 2008 low of $105 billion. Between June and September 2011, holdings for depository institutions fell by nearly $44 billion.

10. Insurance Companies
U.S. debt holdings: $250.1 billion

According to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, insurance companies hold $250.1 billion in Treasury securities. This group includes property-casualty and life insurance firms.

Bahrain stage anti-regime rally to mourn latest victims

Bahrainis have taken to the streets to mourn the deaths of two people killed by Saudi-backed regime forces during attacks on protesters on Wednesday, Press TV reports.
People from all walks of life were heading on Thursday afternoon to the funeral site in the town of Ma'ameer about 15 kilometers (9.5 miles) south of the capital, Manama.Earlier on Thursday, activists and opposition groups confirmed the deaths of two people during a crackdown on an anti-regime protest the day before.
On Wednesday, an elderly Bahraini man died after the Saudi-backed regime forces attacked his home in Ma'ameer with tear gas.
The other victim was an elderly woman who also died after inhaling toxic tear gas in a similar attack by regime forces in the capital's Naim neighborhood.
The two were part of a mass protest calling for the downfall of the ruling Al Khalifa family.
Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds more arrested or fired from their jobs since the beginning of the popular uprising in Bahrain in February 2011.

In late January, Amnesty International called on Bahraini authorities to “investigate and account for the reports of more than a dozen deaths following tear gas use.”
Amnesty also called on the US government to “suspend transfers of tear gas and other riot control equipment to the Bahraini authorities.”
Bahraini protesters have vowed to continue their anti-regime protests despite the violent crackdown by security forces.

Anger flares in Egypt after 79 die in soccer riot

Egyptians began three days of mourning Thursday for the 79 people who perished at a violent soccer riot, as the nation's fledgling parliament erupted in anger over the national tragedy.

The speaker of the parliament ordered an end to a live broadcast of Thursday's parliament session, so heated was the debate. But the order was retracted after angry lawmakers made their objections known.

A deputy of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party demanded the resignation of the interior minister, holding him responsible for the loss of lives. Another deputy accused security guards of allowing fans to bring weapons into the stadium in Port Said.

A committee will investigate the circumstances that caused the deadly riot Wednesday at the match pitting Cairo's Al-Ahly team against Al-Masry of Port Said.It remained unclear whether the riots were ignited by intense sporting rivalry or political strife. Egyptians just marked the one-year anniversary of their revolution that toppled the longtime dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak.

In Cairo's Tahrir Square, somber protesters, many dressed in popular Al-Ahly club attire, decried Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces even though Field Marshall Mohamed Tantawi had tried to allay their fears.

"This period, I assure you, will be peaceful. Egypt will be stable again," Tantawi said in a statement released to Egyptian media. "The military council is executing a road map to transfer the authority to an elected civilian entity. ... Whoever has any plot against Egypt will not succeed."

Prime Minster Kamal Ganzouri suspended Port Said's security chief and the head of police investigation. The two men will face a probe. Ganzouri also accepted the resignation of the Port Said governor.

When the referee blew the final whistle, the score was Al-Masry 3, Al-Ahly 1. Thousands of Al-Masry fans stormed the pitch despite their home team's hard-fought victory.

Rival fans attacked one another with rocks and chairs. Many of those who died fell from bleachers inside the stadium, said Ahmed Saeed, an official from the Port Said governor's office. Others suffocated.

"The police did nothing to stop it," Al-Ahly supporter Amr Khamis told CNN at the train station in Cairo after returning from the match. His head was bandaged after an Al-Masry fan beat him with a stick, he said.Authorities contributed to escalating the violence, said Mamdouh Eid, executive manager of the Al-Ahly fans committee.

"The police stood there watching, and the ambulances arrived late. I carried several dead fans in my arms," he said.

The violence is one of the world's worst sporting disasters and prompted officials to suspend indefinitely Egypt's football premier league.An interior ministry official said, however, that the fans stoked tensions during the entire match.

"There were organized groups in the crowds that purposely provoked the police all through the match and escalated the violence and stormed onto the field after the final whistle," said Gen. Marwan Mustapha of Egypt's interior ministry. "Our policemen tried to contain them, but not engage."

At least 47 people were arrested after the clashes, he said.

Gen. Ismail Osman, a member of Egypt's military council, told Mehwar TV Thursday that the military and police were not responsible for what happened.

LAHORE: Death toll reaches 128 ,PIC drug reaction

The death toll due to medicines reaction in Punjab Institute of Cardiology has reached 128.
At least 128 people have died by Wednesday while over 400 others are being treated in various hospitals of Lahore following the consumption of substandard heart drugs on the prescription of Punjab Institute of Cardiology.
Five people died at Services Hospital today. The deceased include 55-year-old Syed Abbas of Shadbagh and 74-year old Syed Zafar of Sodiwal.
According to hospital management, the treatment has been started in the light of guideline issued by the health department however; the results of this guideline have still to be matured.
Currently, 3500 patients affected by the reaction of these medicines are under treatment while 35 of them are reportedly in critical condition. They have been kept in ICU and CCU.

Tense Bahrain under spotlight again over uprisings

The academic who investigated abuses during Bahrain's crackdown on pro-democracy protests last year returns this week to a Gulf Arab country still racked by violence, to assess how far the government has followed through on reforms he recommended.Cherif Bassiouni, an Egyptian-American professor at DePaul University in Chicago, surprised many with his withering assessment of abuses committed under martial law imposed after protests inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Riot police still fight daily with young, mainly Shi'ite, protesters, who complain they continue to be marginalised by Bahrain's Sunni rulers. Clashes are becoming more violent in the run-up to the February 14 anniversary of the start of the protests.

The strategically located island state is a key ally for Washington in its stand-off with Shi'ite Iran.

Last November, in front of King Hamad and senior officials, Bassiouni detailed incidents of torture including sexual abuse, electric shocks and threats with dogs used to extract confessions and as punishment for protesting.

This time, Bassiouni and his team will assess whether Bahrain has reformed policing, reinstated sacked employees, and investigated torture claims and military trials in line with recommendations by his independent commission.

Bassiouni told DePaul students before he left that Bahrain was not moving fast enough to calm street protests.

"I think the public is going to come at the end and say 'you know what, you're holding all of these investigations behind closed doors - this is a whitewash' and I think they would be perfectly justified in saying so," he said.

Keen to demonstrate that it is acting on the report, the Bahrain government has chronicled the steps it has implemented on a dedicated website. (


Bassiouni told Reuters his mission - at King Hamad's invitation - would be finished by early March.

"I will be issuing a report on the status of implementation of the BICI (independent commission) recommendations at that point," he said.

He suggested to his DePaul students that disputes within the ruling Al Khalifa family were holding up political and economic reforms. "You have to choose between maintaining the unity of the family or the regime, or the unity of the country," he said.

The BICI report said that 35 people had died in the unrest up to June, when martial law was lifted, but activists say the ongoing violence has taken the total to over 60, including 14 since Bassiouni was last in the country in November. The government disputes the causes of death.

Sunni-ruled states nearby are uneasy that reforms giving Bahrain's lawmakers more powers would not only raise questions about a lack of democracy in their own countries, but may also empower the Shi'ite majority in Bahrain and other Gulf states.

That may embolden Iran, an issue of particular concern to the United States whose Fifth Fleet is based in Manama.

The Shia-dominated opposition want the power of the appointed upper chamber cut, a prime minister who has been in power for more than 40 years removed and an elected government. Opposition parties said they would meet Bassiouni on Friday.

One Western diplomat said the government needed time to implement reforms.

"There is a will at the top but the challenge is to ensure that the bureaucracy is as serious and to follow up with mechanisms," the diplomat said. "You have this gaping wound, especially among the Shia community, that has to be addressed."

Russia says will veto "unacceptable" Syria resolution

Russia said on Wednesday it would veto any U.N. resolution on Syria that it finds unacceptable, after demanding any measure rule out military intervention to halt the bloodshed touched off by protests against President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

The political violence in Syria has killed at least 5,000 people in the past 10 months and activists say Assad's forces have stepped up operations this week on opposition strongholds, from Damascus suburbs to the cities of Hama, Homs and the border provinces of Deraa and Idlib.

Arab and Western states urged the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday to act swiftly on a resolution backing an Arab League plan calling for Assad to hand powers to his deputy and defuse the 11-month-old uprising against his family's dynastic rule.

"If the text will be unacceptable for us we will vote against it, of course," Russian U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin told reporters in Moscow via a videolink from New York.

"If it is a text that we consider erroneous, that will lead to a worsening of the crisis, we will not allow it to be passed. That is unequivocal," he said.

His remarks came hours after Russia's envoy to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said there was no chance the Western-Arab draft text could be accepted unless it expressly rejected armed intervention.

Russia and China, both veto-wielding Security Council members, have resisted a Western push for a resolution condemning the Syrian government's crackdown on unrest.

U.N. Security Council ambassadors met in New York on Wednesday to discuss ways to overcome their disagreements on the wording of the European-Arab draft resolution that Morocco submitted to council members on Friday.

The closed-door negotiations ended without a final agreement and will resume on Thursday, Germany's U.N. mission said. The draft will be updated to reflect Wednesday's discussions, which the mission said were "rather constructive."

A council diplomat at the meeting told Reuters, however, that Churkin reiterated to council members that the expression of full support for the Arab League plan in the current draft was "unacceptable." He also made clear Moscow could not accept the expression of concern in the draft about arms sales to Syria unless there was a waver for weapons transfers to the Syrian government, the diplomat said.

"It's way too soon in my judgment to know whether ultimately there will be agreement," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told reporters, adding, "It's long past time for this council to take meaningful action."

Despite the Russian comments, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said a "window of hope" had opened. "We will work furiously in the next few days to try and get a resolution that will allow the Arab League to forge ahead in finding a solution," he told parliament in Paris.

Russia says the West exploited fuzzy wording in a March 2011 U.N. Security Council resolution on Libya to turn a mandate to protect civilians in the North African country's uprising into a push to remove the government, backed by NATO air strikes, that led to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

Russia has also expressed concern that the draft's threat of further measures against Syria could lead to sanctions, which it opposes.


Western envoys in New York said the main sticking point was likely to be not military intervention, on which they said a diplomatic fix was possible, but the resolution's support for the Arab League plan demanding that Assad give up power. That is seen by Moscow as tantamount to regime change.

The envoys said their biggest challenge would be to reword the draft so that it still endorses the plan but in a way that is weaker than the current version.

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters: "Every member of the council has to make a decision: Whose side are you on? Are you on the side of the Syrian people? ... Or are you on the side of a brutal, dictatorial regime?"

An activist group said Syrian troops killed eight people in the central city of Homs and that 15 government soldiers were killed in a clash with a defector unit. Syria's state news agency, SANA, said a general, Rajeh Mahmoud, was killed along with three soldiers on the outskirts of Damascus on Wednesday.

Syrian insurgents said Assad's forces extended a military sweep overnight to counter a rebel threat that had reached the gates of the capital, sending armor into eastern and northern suburbs that Assad's forces took over this week. An activist group said at least 25 people had been killed in that sweep.

In Wadi Barada on the edge of the capital, four people were killed in a tank bombardment on Wednesday to flush out rebel Free Syrian Army units operating near the capital, activists said. A rebel spokesman put the death toll at 15.

SANA said troops killed 11 members of an "armed terrorist group" outside the southern city of Deraa, and that government forces discovered bomb factories and field hospitals in a raid on armed cells in Irbin and Sabqa, Damascus suburbs where insurgents had appeared recently.

It was not possible to verify the reports as Syria restricts access for independent media.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the policy of isolation and trying to remove the government risked igniting a "much bigger drama" in the Middle East.

"The people who are obsessed with removing regimes in the region, they should be really thinking about the broader picture," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"And I'm afraid that if this vigor to change regimes persists, we are going to witness a very bad situation much, much, much broader than just Syria, Libya, Egypt or any other single country."

Shahbaz Sharif's 18 portfolios case


The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday sought reply from the Punjab chief secretary on a petition challenging holding of 18 portfolios by the chief minister.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial directed the chief secretary to file the reply with in three weeks. The petition, filed by Noshab A Khan advocate, made the Punjab chief minister, the principal secretary to the CM and the chief secretary party in the case.

He stated that chief minister was holding portfolios of 18 ministries, including the health ministry, in violation of the Punjab Government Rules of Business 1974. He contended that the chief minister, as head of the cabinet, could not perform the work of ministers because he had only responsibility of coordination of the all the policy matters and chairing meetings of the cabinet minister.

The petitioner held the chief minister responsible for failure of the health ministry in coping with menace of specious drugs reaction in which more than 100 patients had expired. He said the government had failed even to control dengue epidemic, requesting the court to order the CM to quit the charge of the ministries and give away portfolios to ministers as defined by the law.

Secy summoned: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday sought personal appearance of Punjab Secretary Transport Muhammad Yousaf on a contempt petition. Justice Muhammad Khalid Mehmood Khan issued the orders on a contempt petition filed by Riffat Nazir who pleaded that her husband was employee of department but after his death, the administration was not releasing his pension and other emoluments of last eight years despite orders of the LHC and the services tribunal.

She requested the court to initiate contempt proceedings against respondents, including the secretary transport. After hearing initial arguments, the judge ordered the secretary transport to appear before the court on February 06.

Inquiry report: Report of the inquiry commission formed to fix responsibility for the deaths during the 37 days long doctors strike will be presented in the court of the Lahore High Court Chief Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed by the Punjab government on Thursday (today).

According to a press release on Wednesday, journalist Manzoor Qadir, through his lawyer Gul Zaman, had filed a writ petition, praying to the court that the Punjab government was neither making the report public and nor was it taking action on the report while it was trying to cover up things. They had prayed to the court to get the findings of the report of the judicial commission implemented.

sales tax: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday disposed of a plea, challenging recovery of sales tax from restaurants. The court ordered Inland Revenue Department and the chief commissioner RTO to decide the matter within one month.

Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan was hearing the petition filed by a local restaurant owner, Muhammad Ishaq, impleading the federal law secretary, federal board of revenue and others. The petitioner submitted that he was running a restaurant and it was registered with Inland Revenue Department, Lahore.

He contended that the restaurant business fell within scope and domain of service whereas federal legislative list and constitution did not grant authority for any levy, charge or payment of sales tax on rendering services.

He submitted that the respondent officers of revenue department illegally initiated proceedings against him for recovery of sales tax. He said that an officer of Inland Revenue Department had been deputed on his business premises.

The petitioner also pointed out that the Punjab government was also collecting illegally sales tax under Punjab Sales Tax Ordinance 2000 whereas services were exempted in the Ordinance.

Plea against Shahbaz Sharif over PIC deaths

The Lahore High Court on Wednesday directed a petitioner to extend his arguments on the maintainability of a petition seeking disqualification of and high treason proceedings against Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his son MNA Hamza Shahbaz for being responsible for the deaths of cardiac patients due to supply of spurious medicines.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial issued the order on a petition field by advocate Fakhar Razzaq through his counsel Sardar Khurram Latif Khosa.

As proceedings started on Wednesday, Justice Bandial asked the petitioner’s counsel to convince the court whether the instant petition was maintainable and adjourned hearing for three weeks. He pleaded that Shahbaz Sharif had not proved himself a trustworthy (Ameen) according to the Article 62 of the Constitution. It was the hard luck of the province that the chief minister had appointed himself as a minister for Health, despite the facts he had no adequate knowledge of the department. He submitted that Shahbaz Sharif was playing with the lives of the masses at large and it had resulted into the death of a huge number of people due to dengue and drugs reaction.

Khurram Khosa alleged that MNA Hamza Shahbaz was the supervisor of a pharmaceutical company that supplied a defective 75mg tablet – named Alfagirl (Clopidogirl) – to the PIC.

The petitioner requested the court to disqualify Shahbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz Sharif from being elected and restrain Shahbaz from holding the office of Punjab chief minister.

He also requested the LHC to declare all the respondents as guilty of the ‘clinical murderer’ of cardiac patients, some of whom had lost their lives while others were still at risk due to the use of low standard drugs. He contended the respondents should also be charged with the offence of high treason according to the Article 6 of the constitution by placing their names on the exit control list (ECL).

PHC moved against sale of ‘killer’ drugs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) on Wednesday petitioned the Peshawar High Court (PHC) against the use and open sale of the drugs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that had killed more than 120 patients in Lahore and other parts of Punjab.

PMA Provincial President Dr Hussain Ahmad Haroon filed the writ petition in the high court through his lawyer Mian Mohibullah Kakakhel. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, secretary health, chairman of the Health Regulatory Authority, drug inspector, director general health services, director health services Fata, and chief executives of Khyber Teaching Hospital, Lady Reading Hospital and Hayatabad Medical Complex were made respondents in the petition.

The petitioner submitted that the drug manufacturers and suppliers were the same and the drugs manufactured in Karachi or Lahore were being supplied to all the hospitals in the country. He claimed the drugs that killed hundreds of patients in Punjab were also a potential threat to the lives of cardiac patients with pulmonary infections and other cardiovascular diseases.

Dr Haroon said these drugs are also a potential threat to the lives of thousands of patients of hypertension, diabetes mellitus and diseases relating to the nervous system. The petitioner submitted that he and his co-doctors felt the drugs stored in the hospitals of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the suppliers of the drugs and pharmaceutical companies might be subjected to laboratory analysis by the PCSIR and Aga Khan Laboratories or may be sent abroad for sampling. He said the heads of hospitals in the province might be asked to immediately stop the supply and use of the lethal drugs. He argued that the secretary health in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was not a doctor and knew nothing about the drugs.

Two more fall prey to spurious drug

Two more patients died due to the spurious drug here on Thursday, taking the death toll due to Isotab drug reaction to 131.
According to the media reports, Syed Abbas, 55, of Shad Bagh Lahore and 74-year-old Syed Zafar of Sodiwal were the fresh victims of Isotab drug reaction. Both the victims were under treatment in Services Hospital Lahore.

Aitzaz says Appeal can be filed in contempt case

Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel for Prime Minister Youuf Raza Gilani said the government can file an intra-court appeal, our sources reported.

I will suggest to my client to file an appeal against this order, Aitzaz said.

"The court has decided to frame charges against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. He has been asked to be present in person on February 13 when he will be indicted," Aitzaz told reporters.

"There is a possibility for an appeal in this matter. It is up to the court whether to suspend this order or not. This will be decided after getting a copy of the order," Ahsan added.

Balochistan: a self-fulfilling prophecy

EDITORIAL: Daily Times

The Balochistan Assembly passed a resolution against the brutal murder of MPA Nawabzada Bakhtiar Khan Domki’s wife and daughter in Karachi. A complete shutter-down strike was observed all over Balochistan to condemn their murders. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for a retaliatory attack on four Frontier Corps (FC) checkposts near Margat coalmine area in which at least 15 FC personnel were killed and a dozen sustained injuries. This attack, according to the BLA spokesman, was in reaction to the murders of the Domki women. Karachi is no stranger to target killings and it seems that this horrible trend along with bhatta (extortion) activities have started again after a brief lull. But the murder of Balochistan Republican Party (BRP) chief Brahamdagh Bugti’s sister and niece in Karachi was unlike any other target killing. The claim by the Karachi police that this could be the result of a ‘tribal feud’ could not be further from the truth. It is highly unlikely that women and children would be targeted even in a feud between the Baloch tribes. This is completely against the culture of the Baloch. Reasonable suspicion thus arises that this was not the work of any Baloch tribe but our own intelligence agencies that are busy harassing and assaulting the Baloch.

The murder of Mr Domki’s wife, daughter and driver is political, and there are genuine reasons to speculate that it is related to Brahamdagh Bugti, who is one of the leaders of the Baloch resistance movement and has often been hounded by our military and its operatives. So far, they have not been successful in extraditing him from Switzerland, where he has obtained political asylum. Killing his sister and niece could be one way of sending him a chilling message. It also points to the military’s callous attitude towards all norms of humanity. Women, children and old people are not deliberately targeted in wars. What kind of a despicable regime is this that would kill women and children in cold blood just to make a point? The police are still clueless about the murderers but they must investigate properly and get to the bottom of this horrific incident. No words can do justice to the sense of outrage at this atrocious crime.

It seems that there is now a sinister plot to hunt the Baloch outside Balochistan too. In December 2011, Faisal Mengal — a Baloch activist — was killed in Karachi. The death of two Baloch females along with their driver in Karachi also points to this new ‘trend’. The military’s ‘kill and dump’ policy in Balochistan has wreaked havoc in the lives of the Baloch. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) recently pointed out that “...the [Pakistan] military and its spy agencies have supra-constitutional authority to deal with the Baloch people, who are struggling for their constitutional rights of self-rule in the province”. The policy of eliminating members of the Baloch resistance movement, moderate nationalists, intellectuals and youth has led to more hatred and more alienation in the province. Now this policy is seemingly being extended to women and children. Independence from Pakistan is now being demanded openly all over Balochistan. The death of two Baloch women will certainly stoke the fire even more. Nobody can blame the Baloch for this demand given the atrocities being committed against them every single day by our military. Even the veteran Baloch leadership has nothing to offer the disgruntled Baloch youth fighting in the mountains because of the criminal military operation. The military’s highhanded policies have hardly left any space for a political solution now. The federation is definitely in trouble.

Pakistan Court to Charge Prime Minister With Contempt

Pakistan’s highest court said on Thursday it would charge Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani with contempt of court for refusing to reopen a corruption case against his boss, President Asif Ali Zardari.

The Supreme Court said it would start the contempt trial on Feb. 13. If convicted, Mr. Gilani would face up to six months in jail and possible disqualification from public office.

The court order was a significant escalation of long-simmering tensions between the judiciary and the government and threatened to plunge the country into fresh political turmoil as its leaders debate the contours of a new strategic relationship with the United States.

Since 2009, the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, has insisted that the government should write a letter to Switzerland, reopening a longstanding corruption case against President Zardari.

The government stalled, employing a variety of legal maneuvers to dodge the legal order in court, while in public it argued that Mr. Zardari enjoys immunity from prosecution while in office.

But the court’s patience ran out last month, when it ordered Mr. Gilani to appear before the court under threat of contempt charges. Amid dramatic scenes Mr. Gilani turned appeared, flanked by supporters, and was represented by Aitzaz Ahsan, one of the country’s most famous lawyers.

But despite Mr. Ahsan’s arguments, the court made good on its threats on Thursday, when it initiated the contempt charges, in the process reviving a perilous clash of powerful institutions involving the government, military and judiciary.

It comes just days after another major judicial crisis facing the government, involving accusations of treason and popularly known as Memogate, started to recede from the front pages.

The central witness in that crisis, an American businessman of Pakistani origin named Mansoor Ijaz, failed to turn up in Pakistan to testify. On Monday, a panel of judges allowed Husain Haqqani, the former ambassador to Washington who faces the most grave charges, to leave the country.

Mr. Ijaz claimed in a newspaper article in October that he had sent a secret memo to the Obama administration in May on behalf of the Zardari government, seeking American help in warding off a possible coup after the Pakistani military was humiliated by the American commando operation in which Osama bin Laden was killed. Mr. Ijaz later said that Mr. Haqqani was behind the memo. Mr. Haqqani denied the accusation but was forced to step down.

U.S. plans to halt Afghan combat role early

The United States appears to have taken Kabul by surprise by announcing plans to end its Afghan combat role earlier than expected, and coinciding with a secret report that the Taliban is confident it can grab back control of the ravaged country.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, speaking on Wednesday, said the United States would stop combat operations before the end of 2013 as it winds down its longest war.

"A decision to push this a year earlier throws out the whole transition plan. The transition has been planned against a timetable and this makes us rush all our preparations," a senior Afghan security official, who could not be named because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, told Reuters on Thursday.

"If the Americans withdraw from combat, it will certainly have an effect on our readiness and training, and on equipping the police force," the official said, adding that his government had not been informed of the change in plans.

The United States, which led the NATO invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, has previously said it would withdraw most combat troops by the end of 2014.

Panetta said the U.S. troops would shift next year to a supporting role, training and advising Afghan troops who would take charge of a country that has been at war for more than three decades.

A faster end to U.S. combat in Afghanistan could give President Barack Obama an election-year lift.

It may also demoralize Afghans who fear a return to the austere rule of the Taliban and hope that reconciliation between all parties would deliver a better alternative.

People like hotel waiter Yama, 19, expressed alarm at the prospect that U.S. troops will cease combat sooner.

"Everything Afghanistan has built during the past years would be destroyed, robbed and sold to neighboring countries," he said.

Many Afghans have long been suspicious of neighboring Pakistan's intentions, and would like to see it tame Afghan militant groups it is accused of supporting.

Ties between the countries have been strained in recent months, but Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Thursday after her trip to Kabul a day earlier that "a lot of ill will had faded."

She said Pakistan had played no substantial role in reconciliation efforts but would encourage insurgent groups like the Haqqani network and the Taliban to lay down their arms and pursue peace if asked by Afghanistan.

"We would be able to do whatever we have, whatever tools we have, we would want to exploit to be able to assist the Afghan people," she told a small group of reporters in a briefing on her trip to Kabul this week.

"We are willing to do whatever the Afghans expect or want us to do."


Pakistan has long been accused of using militant groups as proxies in Afghanistan to counter the influence of its rival India there, allegations it denies.

Despite her enthusiasm over ties with Kabul, Khar cautioned the nascent peace process is far from producing breakthroughs.

The United States believes Afghanistan cannot be pacified without strong cooperation with Pakistan.

But ties have been damaged by a series of events including the unilateral U.S. raid that killed Osama bid Laden on Pakistani soil in May last year, and a NATO cross-border raid that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.

Islamabad is currently reviewing ties with the United States and parliament is expected to soon make recommendations on a new direction for the relationship.

Panetta's announcement immediately drew criticism from Obama's most likely opponent in this year's race for the White House, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

"Why (in) the world do you go to the people that you're fighting with and tell them the day you're pulling out your troops? It makes absolutely no sense," Romney told a rally.

Panetta has also been criticized by some lawmakers for moving too swiftly to extract U.S. troops.

"Our goal is to complete all of that transition in 2013 and then hopefully by mid- to the latter part of 2013 we'll be able to make a transition from a combat role to a training, advise-and-assist role," Panetta told reporters on his plane to Brussels for a NATO defense ministers' meeting.

The announcement came as allies like France are themselves looking for a quick exit from Afghanistan. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, facing a tough re-election campaign of his own, announced he would pull out French troops by the end of next year.

He urged other members of the North Atlantic alliance to do the same, threatening to upend a well-settled strategy approved at a summit in Lisbon two years ago that calls for the transition to Afghan security leadership by the end of 2014.

The United States has been trying to draw the Taliban into reconciliation talks with the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai. But a key part of its strategy has been to increase military pressure on the Taliban to persuade it to join peace talks.


In a classified report obtained by British media, NATO said that the Taliban, backed by Pakistan, remained confident despite a decade of NATO efforts that it would retake control of Afghanistan.

"Taliban commanders, along with rank and file members, increasingly believe their control of Afghanistan is inevitable. Though the Taliban suffered severely in 2011, its strength, motivation, funding and tactical proficiency remains intact," according to an excerpt of the report, published by the Times of London and the BBC.

Panetta insisted that the new timetable was in line with a previous NATO strategy agreed in Lisbon.

"In the Lisbon discussions, it was always clear that there would come a point which we would make that transition and then be able to hopefully consolidate those gains in 2014," he said.

"So the bottom line is: No, this isn't a new strategy. It's basically implementing what Lisbon is all about."

He said his key message to the NATO allies as they meet on Thursday and Friday to prepare for a Chicago summit in May was that the coalition in Afghanistan needed to unite behind the goals agreed on in Lisbon.