Saturday, February 11, 2012

Whitney Houston dead at 48

Legendary pop singer Whitney Houston was found dead Saturday at a Beverly Hills, California, hotel, officials said. She was 48.

The entertainer, whose incredible talent was discovered at an early age, was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. (6:55 p.m. ET) at the Beverly Hilton hotel despite resuscitation efforts, a police spokesman said.

Beverly Hills Police Lt. Mark Rosen said there were "no obvious signs of criminal intent" and that the cause of her death is being investigated.

Houston's bodyguard found her body, said Courtney Barnes, publicist for hip-hop artist Ray J, who was dating the pop diva.

According to her official website, Houston sold more than 170 million albums, singles and videos. But she also struggled with addiction problems over the years.

Houston, whose hits included "The Greatest Love of All," died on the eve of the 54th annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. She had performed as late as Thursday night at a pre-Grammy event in the area. A pre-Grammy party was scheduled Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton.

Shahbaz Sharif's Laptop Scheme and Nargis 'Mujra'

Guess what was on educational CDs given in Multan under Youth Laptop Scheme?
Dances of stage actress Nagris!

This shocking mix-up has left many a recipient reeling in disgust as no one could expect such delinquency in an educational scheme.
Some 5,443 students of Bahauddin Zakriya University were given free laptops by the Punjab government. However, the CDs which were meant to have educational software instead had the stage actress’ dances.
The students said that CM Shahbaz Sharif should direct the officials concerned to check the CDs being given under the scheme.

The Lahore Bar Association (LBA) has banned Shezan drinks

The Express Tribune

The Lahore Bar Association (LBA) has banned Shezan drinks from subordinate court complexes and vowed tough action against those found buying or selling Qadiani-owned products on court premises.

The decision was reached on Thursday at the LBA’s bar room in the LDA plaza following a motion by Advocate Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, president of Khatme Nabuwat Lawyers Forum (KNLF).

LBA president Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali told The Express Tribune said that more than 100 lawyers unanimously voted for the ban on Shezan drinks for being the product of Ahmadis. The house also vowed to ban other products at a later stage.

Zulfiqar said that the association had launched a campaign to ensure a complete ban on Shezan drinks in subordinate court canteens etc. He said that he had constituted a team to enforce this decision. He added that strict action would be taken against canteen owners found selling Shezan drinks in subordinate courts.

KNLF President Advocate Choudhary said the LBA president had directed LBA Vice President Rana Javed Bashir Khan to coordinate enforcement of the ban in sessions courts, district courts, banking court, special court, Aiwan-i-Adl, in Model Town and Cantonment courts.

Several canteen owners, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the decision would hurt Ahmadi lawyers. They said it was far from clear how such initiatives will promote the welfare of the lawyers’ community.

Speaking with The Express Tribune Advocate Asma Jahangir said the resolution was condemnable. She said that it was also against the law. All lawyers are equal members in the LBA irrespective of their religion, she added.

She said if some lawyers did not like the product they could stop using it but not enforce bans.

Some Ahmadi lawyers, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the decision was condemnable and would hurt Ahmadi lawyers. They said that they had participated in LBA elections and even supported LBA leaders irrespective of religious differences.

They said the decision had disappointed them. They added that they would speak with the LBA executives and request that they take back the decision.

Michelle Obama: Helpings of Energy and Cheer for the Trail

At a time when President Obama and his opponents are blamed for shrinking from painful remedies for a sluggish nation, Michelle Obama

is back on the road as a tireless, cheerful dispenser of them.

“You’ve got a lot of energy because you’re all eating your vegetables and exercising,” the first lady proclaimed to a crowd of 14,000 screaming children in Des Moines on Thursday.

“Thank you for eating your vegetables,” she told airmen at a mess hall in Little Rock, Ark., as several stared guiltily into half-eaten plates of broccoli. “We need you strong.”

And sitting down with parents for dinner at an Olive Garden restaurant in Fort Worth, she exclaimed, “I hope you’re hungry; I’m starving,” and then passed around a salad bowl.

Serving up leafy greens is easier, of course, than slicing $1 trillion out of the federal budget. But Mrs. Obama has managed to make her “eat your peas” message painless and even occasionally joyful, hamming it up through a three-day, four-state tour to mark the second anniversary of her childhood anti-obesity campaign, “Let’s Move!” The trip is a timely reminder of why the Obama campaign views her as such a potent weapon.

“This is a bit of a twofer,” Mrs. Obama said of the tour in an interview with reporters here on Friday. “It’s an issue that I care about, but it’s an issue that’s important to the country. And because it’s an issue that’s important to the country, it helps my husband.”

Mrs. Obama had just finished judging a “Top Chef” competition to pick the best school lunch. She and her co-judges — the celebrity chef Tom Colicchio and the Obamas’ personal cook and food policy adviser, Sam Kass — declared it a tie among the three entries. The first lady told the children at the taping that when it comes to healthy school lunches, “everybody wins.”

That’s certainly not true in politics, which is why Mrs. Obama is shouldering an increasingly busy schedule of appearances at fund-raisers — often in out-of-the-way destinations like Burlington, Vt., or Aspen, Colo. — where she delivers a fervent stump speech about why Mr. Obama deserves to beat his challenger in November.

She also visited the campaign headquarters in Chicago, which electrified the staff “because it was so clear how invested she was in this,” said David Axelrod, a senior strategist.

With poll ratings that consistently surpass those of her husband, Mrs. Obama can be deployed before virtually any audience, according to the president’s campaign advisers. Some conservatives criticize the first lady for trying to make Americans eat “cardboard and tofu,” in the words of Rush Limbaugh. But her message has resonated with many other people, including those she met this week.

“We may look back and say, ‘She saved more lives than anybody else in the administration,’ ” Mr. Axelrod said. “It’s obviously something she feels passionately about, and not just because she is beating the bejesus out of everybody in push-ups.”

Not just push-ups: she crushed the late-night television host Jimmy Fallon in dodge ball and a potato-sack race during a fitness contest filmed in the East Room of the White House. She also talked Jay Leno, an avowed vegetable-phobe, into eating an apple dipped in honey.

At the rally in Iowa, Mrs. Obama expertly led the crowd in the “Interlude,” an aerobic-style dance from the University of Northern Iowa that has become a YouTube sensation. Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, tried manfully to keep in step.

All the goofing around is in furtherance of a serious goal, Mrs. Obama said, and her willingness to act silly is not just a stunt. People know when “you’re not as passionate about it or you’re just doing it for political reasons,” she said. “People smell that out so easily.”

Mrs. Obama’s image of a happy warrior is miles from the frustration she expressed, in response to a new biography by a New York Times reporter, Jodi Kantor, that she could be perceived as an “angry black woman.” In the interview Friday, Mrs. Obama acknowledged she has struggled at times with pessimism, watching her husband grapple with a faltering economy and the trials of Washington.

“When times get tough, we all get worried,” she said. “We are Eeyore,” she said, referring to the downcast donkey in the Winnie the Pooh stories, and then offering an imitation of him: “ ‘We’ll never make it; we’ll never get out of here; it is horrible; we’re losing; it’s over.’ ”

But Mrs. Obama jokingly referred to her husband as “Mr. Happy Guy, seeing the glass half full,” which she said sustained her confidence in the future.

On this trip, the first lady has most come to life when discussing the work-life stresses faced by ordinary families. At the Olive Garden, she carried on an earnest conversation with eight parents about how to improve the eating habits and fitness of their families.

The first lady drew on her own family, telling stories about her daughters, Malia and Sasha, that hinted at their rarefied existence but stuck a common chord with her guests.

Sasha, she said, came home from an after-school cooking class, marveling about tomatoes they had grown. “They were ‘hair-something,’ ” Sasha said, according to her mother. “And I was like, ‘You mean heirloom,’ ” Mrs. Obama replied, noting that heirlooms also grow in the White House garden. “She’s like, ‘No, but these were different.’ ”

The first lady listened as Cassandra Leach, a teacher, spoke about growing up with a morbidly obese mother, who could not participate in any outdoor activities with her. Mrs. Obama replied that she sympathized because her father, Fraser Robinson, suffered from multiple sclerosis, which had robbed him of the ability to play sports with his children.

While she talked, she picked at a plate of Venetian apricot chicken with broccoli, asparagus and tomatoes. Afterward, she noted approvingly that the dish contained fewer than 500 calories.

The president’s campaign advisers said that they were well aware that Mrs. Obama drew strict limits on how much she would do for the campaign because of family obligations. Her message, she said, is “This is the time I have to give to the campaign, and whatever you do with that time is up to you, but when it’s over, don’t even look at me.”

“I’m absolutely fired up,” she insisted, “but I always have to have balance, because I’m a mother. When I’m out there, I’m fired up, but when I’m not, I have to be Malia and Sasha’s mom, and that can’t be as a fired-up campaigner. They’re like, ‘Where were you?’ ”

Obama Budget Bets Other Concerns Will Trump the Deficit

President Obama will lay out a budget blueprint on Monday that amounts to an election-year bet that a plan for higher taxes on the rich and more spending on popular programs like infrastructure and manufacturing will trump concerns over the deficit.

The new budget proposal contrasts with the deficit-cutting promises that attended the budget rollout last year and the debates that followed. Figures released on Friday indicate that the White House foresees a slightly higher deficit in the current fiscal year than the $1.3 trillion deficit of the 2011 fiscal year, even after the budget battles that dominated Washington last year.

The deficit is projected to fall to $901 billion in the fiscal year that starts in October, the first time since 2008 that the red ink would be below the $1 trillion mark. But last year, the White House had projected the 2013 deficit dropping further, to $768 billion.

Under White House projections, the deficit would reach $575 billion in 2018, or 2.7 percent of the economy, before rising again to $704 billion in 2022, or 2.8 percent.

The highlights of the plan for the 2013 fiscal year may not be those bottom-line figures but the spending inside.

A senior administration official on Friday evening framed the budget as the third act in a three-act play, which started with the fiery populism of Mr. Obama’s December speech in Osawatomie, Kan., continued with his State of the Union address and ends with a politically freighted budget rollout on Monday at a community college in the electoral battleground of Northern Virginia. Budget unveilings are usually handled in Washington by White House staff and cabinet members, with a brief message from the president.

The budget document distributed on Friday on Capitol Hill was permeated by the language of Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address and his call “to construct an economy that is built to last.” But the words and the policies hark back to the first year of Mr. Obama’s presidency and his call for a “New Foundation.”

In essence, Mr. Obama will campaign on a vow to stay the course.

“We must transform our economy from one focused on speculating, spending and borrowing to one constructed on the solid foundation of educating, innovating, and building,” the document states.

As Democrats promote the revival of manufacturing, the president will call for an additional $2.2 billion for advanced manufacturing research and development, a 19 percent leap over the current year. In all, Mr. Obama will seek a 5 percent increase in nonmilitary research spending.

For more immediate job programs, the White House will urge $350 billion in short-term job spending, as well as a six-year transportation and infrastructure program that would cost $476 billion. He will ask for $60 billion to refurbish at least 35,000 schools and help state and local governments hire and retain teachers, firefighters and police officers.

Tens of billions of dollars have already been spent on such efforts through the stimulus program passed in 2009, and Republicans in Congress — intent on calling the first effort a failure — are not about to embark on a new round.

But the latest budget document can be seen as more a platform for the president’s re-election campaign than a legislative proposal for budget debates that will begin next week. The budget will call for a 10-year, $61 billion “financial crisis responsibility fee” to hit the largest financial companies and a tax overhaul referred to as “everyone pays their fair share.”

Congressional leaders of both parties have vowed to pursue an overhaul of the tax code to make it simpler and fairer. But Mr. Obama’s version includes proposals that have been partisan flashpoints. His version pushes for the elimination of “unfair tax breaks for millionaires.” The current alternative minimum tax — which hits some middle-class families — would be scrapped in favor the president’s “Buffett rule,” named after the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett and devised to ensure that households earning more than $1 million a year pay no less than 30 percent of their income in taxes.

The budget document calls for a simpler tax code with lower rates, but the president also wants a tax overhaul to cut the deficit by $1.5 trillion through 2022 and allow President George W. Bush’s tax cuts to expire for families earning more than $250,000 a year.

New spending and targeted tax increases seem far more gaudy than the $638 billion in spending cuts the White House is claiming over 10 years from health programs like Medicare and Medicaid, agriculture subsidies, federal worker retirement funds and other programs.

In all, the White House is boasting of more than $4 trillion in “balanced deficit reduction” in the package over 10 years, a figure that includes $1 trillion in spending cuts agreed to last year after a series of confrontations with Congressional Republicans.

But the document’s numbers will show Mr. Obama has failed to meet his pledge to cut the deficit in half by the end of his term, and for Republicans, that will be the bottom line.

“President Obama pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of his term,” said Stephen Miller, spokesman for the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee. “Their optimistic projection is that next year’s deficit will be almost a trillion dollars — after four straight trillion-dollar deficits. So the White House is bragging about a broken promise?”

But deficit reduction may be beside the point. Mr. Obama appears to be laying out a campaign document that pits jobs programs paid for with tax increases on the rich against the deep spending cuts that will be the heart of the Republican Party’s economic program, rebuilding versus austerity.

House Republican leaders have already promised to follow the president’s plan with a budget document of their own that is largely based on last year’s blueprint drafted by Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and the chairman of the House Budget Committee.

The new Ryan plan may temper his proposal to replace guaranteed, government-paid Medicare with vouchers that would be used to purchase private health insurance plans. Instead, Mr. Ryan is likely to propose a new version that offers traditional Medicare as an alternative to vouchers, mirroring the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s plan as well as the one Mr. Ryan drafted with Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon.

As Republicans drive toward deeper spending cuts without tax increases, the president’s budget plan appears to have been drafted to maximize the contrast between the two parties, and to raise the stakes of the November election.

Judges’ restoration through executive order challenged

A petition has been filled in the IHC, challenging restoration of judges through an executive order.
A writ petition has been filed in the Islamabad High Court, challenging the restoration of judges including Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry through an executive order.
The restoration has been challenged under Article 199.

PIC spurious drugs issue: YDA demands CM Shahbaz resignation

YDA has announced to hold protest from Monday against the removal of PIC management.Addressing a press conference in Lahore, representatives of Young Doctors’ Association (YDA) announced that protest would be staged outside Punjab Institute of Cardiology on Monday and in front of all hospital of Lahore on Tuesday, while OPDs of all hospitals will be closed on Wednesday.
The young doctors demanded that the legislative assemblies should make laws according to which the politicians and bureaucrats get medical treatment only in government hospitals and they should also be provided only those medicines purchased at government level.
The YDA has also demanded resignation from the Punjab chief minister and his appearance before the inquiry commission.

‘Foreign military presence in Syria raises ghost of Libya’

Russian lawmakers declared their unanimous support for Moscow's official position on Syria, which one Duma member says may have been infiltrated by foreign military.Chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee Alexei Pushkov spoke out following reports that a “foreign special task force” has been dispatched to Syria in an effort to provide assistance to the political opposition."According to the latest reports that are now being verified, a foreign special task force has been deployed in Syria,” Pushkov told reporters on Friday. “If these reports are proved to be true, the scenario will be absolutely the same as it was in Libya.”According to Pushkov, "they [the alleged foreign task force on the ground in Syria] are supporting the opposition and supplying them with arms; they propose an unbalanced resolution that places rigid conditions on Syria's ruling regime, while giving in to the demands of the opposition."Meanwhile, the four factions of the State Duma unanimously declared their support for Russia’s official position in Syria.The statement, proposed by the International Affairs Committee, says the State Duma "deems it extremely important for the UN, specifically the Security Council, not to side with any party in the conflict."The State Duma deputies support Russia’s official position…to facilitate the settlement of the conflict inside Syria," the statement reads. “Such an unbalanced approach…would undermine the chances for an equitable and constructive dialogue."The statement went on to criticize the “ultimatums issued to only one side of the conflict,” while, at the same time, calling for “regime change” as a mandatory precondition for settling the unrest.The Russian deputies say they condemn military intervention in the affairs of foreign countries and the imposition of solutions from outside.Russia will not support a single document that implies or allows such intervention without the UN Security Council's direct approval," the lawmakers said.Pushkov warned against using unsubstantiated “humanitarian reasons” for justifying military intervention in foreign countries, and turning the United Nations and the Security Council “into an ally for one side of a civil conflict."
These activities are advanced by the help of western media, Pushkov believes, which promote a particular set of 'facts' that are usually impossible to prove. He called for a bigger presence of Russian media in the international arena in order to create greater transparency in news coverage.

"This is a serious matter for our information policy," the deputy said.

Russia has expressed alarm over the increasing tendency of foreign powers – notably NATO countries – to resolve internal conflicts in foreign countries through military force. The latest such intervention happened in Libya, which recently experienced a full-blown civil war.

Following the passage of a UN resolution on Libya that called for the protection of innocent civilians, NATO countries launched a massive aerial offensive that inflicted heavy casualties. Russia and other countries say NATO “overstepped its mandate” by apparently taking the side of the militant opposition.

The NATO mission attracted further condemnation when video footage showed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi being taken alive by the National Liberation Army in Sirte, moments before being summarily executed by his captors.

Second protester shot dead in Saudi Arabia

Al Jazeera

Second death in as many days comes amid ongoing anti-government protest by Shias in country's oil-rich Eastern Province.

Saudi security forces shot one person dead and injured three others during what the country's state news agency described as "clashes" in the oil-producing Eastern Province.

Activists and witnesses said Friday's casualties came when security forces opened fire on an anti-government demonstration in the Qatif district.

"While security men were following up on an illegal gathering in the town of Awwamiya in Qatif on Friday they were attacked by gunfire," a police statement on the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said on Friday.

"They dealt with the situation by firing back, which resulted with the death of one."

The SPA also said a protester was killed and three others were wounded in clashes on Thursday.

Activists and witnesses said that security forces opened fire when a Shia procession marking the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad - a celebration forbidden in ultra-conservative Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia - turned into a demonstration for reform and the release of detainees.

"Munir al-Medani, 21, was wounded by a live bullet to his chest," one activist told the AFP news agency, requesting anonymity. "He was taken to hospital where he later died of his wounds."

Medani's death raises to six the number of protesters killed since demonstrations erupted in the Eastern Province last March against the Saudi-led military intervention to help crush Shia-led pro-democracy protests in neighbouring Bahrain.

Most of Saudi Arabia's estimated two million Shias live in the province, where the vast majority of the kingdom's huge oil reserves lie. They complain of marginalisation in the Sunni-dominated country.

Activists say that Saudi authorities have arrested nearly 500 people since the protests started.

Many have been released but dozens remain in custody, among them human rights activist Fadel al-Munasif and writer Nazir al-Majid.

Malaysia: Don’t Send Saudi Back

The Malaysian authorities should not send a Saudi citizen back to Saudi Arabia to face almost certain conviction and a death sentence on charges of apostasy, Human Rights Watch said today.

Hamza Kashgari fled Saudi Arabia to Malaysia on February 7, 2012, after a storm of outrage erupted over a fictitious conversation between him and the Prophet Muhammad that Kashgari published on his Twitter account. On February 8, an official Saudi religious body declared him to be an apostate for his writings. The body sets out authoritative Islamic law interpretations and although the clerics called for his trial, they also predetermined its outcome.

“Saudi clerics have already made up their up mind that Kashgari is an apostate who must face punishment,” said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Malaysian government should not be complicit in sealing Kashgari’s fate by sending him back.”

Kashgari was on his way to another country when security officials arrested him at Kuala Lumpur airport on February 9, his lawyer, Muhammad Afiq Muhammad Noor, told Human Rights Watch. A friend of Kashgari said he is being held at the Travel Control section in the Bukit Amin neighborhood.

The lawyer said that the police inspector general and the Home Affairs Ministry acknowledged receiving his documents seeking access to his client, but that they had not yet granted permission. The home affairs minister, Hishamuddin Hussein, on February 10, acknowledged that the authorities were holding Kashgari. The friend also said that officials for the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, have sought access to Kashgari but so far without success.

Malaysia does not have criminal apostasy laws and Kashgari has not violated Malaysian law, the lawyer said. He questioned the legality of Kashgari’s detention and any attempt to extradite him to Saudi Arabia. Malaysia and Saudi Arabia do not have an extradition treaty, Malaysian lawyers said, but it appears that Kashgari is being held based on a request from Saudi Arabia, which issued an arrest warrant for him.

Saudi Arabia does not have written criminal laws. Apostasy is not a clearly defined criminal offense, but it is one of about six so-called crimes against God (hadd, plural hudud) for which the Quran sets out specified punishments, including the death penalty. Saudi Arabia has sentenced and executed people for this offense.

In a separate case, on February 7, the government released Hadi Al Mutif, a member of the Ismaili religious minority in Najran, a southern province bordering Yemen, after he expressed remorse to chief mufti Abd al-‘Aziz Al al-Shaikh over alleged insults to the Prophet Muhammad.

Al Mutif was arrested in late 1993 and sentenced to death for apostasy in 1996 after a patently unfair trial and remained under the death sentence until his release. Al Mutif told Human Rights Watch in 2006 that secret police beat him and deprived him of sleep during interrogation and that at trial, a witness physically assaulted him.

“If Kashgari is not presumed innocent, he can hardly expect a fair trial if returned to Saudi Arabia,” Wilcke said. “Malaysia should save him from any travesties of justice and allow him to seek safety in a country of his choice.”

US launches world’s largest 2013 fulbright programme for Pakistanis

The United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) on Friday announced the world's largest Fulbright Programme in Pakistan for the year 2013.

The US government's flagship scholarship programme awards deserving Pakistani students full scholarships covering tuition, textbooks, airfare, a stipend, and health insurance to complete their Master's or Ph.D. degrees in a field of their choice in universities across the United States.

Kicking off the 2013 Fulbright season, Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador Richard Hoagland stated, "We are proud that Pakistan has the largest Fulbright programme in the world, and also one of the oldest. Our agreement initiating the programme was signed on September 23, 1950 - and the first Pakistanis and Americans traveled each way in the same year. It was one of the very first agreements of its kind and has since been extended to 155 countries around the world."

USEFP Executive Director Ms. Rita Akhtar echoed Ambassador Hoagland's sentiments and encouraged students from all over Pakistan to take advantage of the Fulbright Programme in 2013, according to a press release issued by the US Embassy here on Friday.

In addition to the approximately 200 who will depart in the fall of 2012, 369 students currently study in the United States on Fulbright awards.

This is one example of the U.S. government's long-term commitment to the education of Pakistanis and to increasing mutual understanding between both countries.

Since USEFP's inception more than 61 years ago, nearly 4,000 Pakistanis and more than 800 Americans have participated in USEFP-administered exchange programmes.

The Fulbright Programme is just one of many U.S.-government funded educational, professional, and cultural exchange programmes that build people to people ties among Americans and Pakistanis.

Women, minorities, people with disabilities, and students from FATA, Balochistan, and all of Pakistan's provinces are strongly encouraged to apply. All disciplines are eligible, with the exception of the field of clinical medicine.

Applicants studying energy, water, and agricultural disciplines are strongly encouraged to apply. More information about this programme, as well as standardised testing and free educational advising services can be found on the USEFP website at - APP

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa eyes untapped water share


Construction of Chashma Right Bank Canal (Gravity-cum-Lift-1) will let Khyber Pakhtunkhwa benefit from the unused part of its 8.78 million acres feet share in the waters of Indus river system.

That part totalling 1.187maf water is currently used by Punjab for irrigation purposes, according to the relevant officials in Peshawar.

Officials said the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) had declared in the April 4, 2005 meeting that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could use 1.187maf water required for operating CRBC-Lift-1.

They said water diversion to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from the Indus river system would reduce water supplies to Punjab.

“Punjab has been using our share of water for which it should compensate us,” Senator Haji Adeel, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa`s member in the National Finance Commission, told Dawn.

According to an irrigation development planner, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa`s water share under the 1991 inter-provincial accord is 8.78maf but it is unable to use it a hundred per cent due to insufficient irrigation infrastructure.

“Our actual average annual water use stands at around 6.5maf, leaving the remaining quantity unutilised,” he said, adding that the untapped water flowed to Punjab to help it meet its irrigation needs.

Senator Adeel said an exercise carried out by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government led it into knowing that the Punjab government had been the sole beneficiary due to his province`s insufficient irrigation infrastructure.

He said as calculated by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, the Punjab government raised Rs42 billion on account of water charges.

Around two maf water of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa`s annual share, according to Irsa calculations, remain unused because, said the irrigation official, the province did not have sufficient canal network to be able to utilise the allocated quantity of water.

An official, however, said the province won`t be able to use its water share a hundred per cent even after construction of CRBC Lift-1.

“Some 1.103maf of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa`s water share will still remain unused even after the completion of the Chashma Right Bank Canal (Lift-1) project,” he said.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti on Monday last said his government would execute the Lift-1 project on cost sharing basis, seeking loans from international lending institutions in addition to the federal government`s financial assistance.

Officials said the project would bring 286,000 cultivable barren acres under irrigation in Dera Ismail Khan, making use of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa`s unspent water to the benefit of thousands of farm families in an area where a sense of economic deprivation is deep rooted due to non-availability of irrigation water. Dawn

Israrullah Gandapur, a DI Khan MPA, told that the provincial bureaucracy had told the government that the province might lose a part of its water share if the water accord was renegotiated in an event of the likely creation of a new province.

He said the provincial government had been told that it might get the province`s share curtailed on the pretext that it had not improved its irrigation network since 1991, failing to make use of its untapped water against its share.

Senator Adeel, however, said: “Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has asked the centre to give it some money so it could build a small dam at Munda or at another place on the Indus River. Water for operating the CRBC Lift-1 scheme will be pumped into it from the existing CRBC by powerful electric powered pumps.”

Murder of Rabbani: two held in Quetta

Two Afghan officials say Pakistan has arrested two people in connection with last year's assassination of a former Afghan president who was trying to broker peace with the Taliban.The officials told The Associated Press in Kabul the two were recently detained in Quetta.There was no word in Pakistan on the arrests.
The Quetta police chief and the spokesman for Frontier Corps said they had not heard of the alleged arrests.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the case.
Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan soured after Afghan officials blamed Burhanuddin Rabbani's death on insurgents based in Pakistan.

Pakistan-Russia relations

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and her Russian counterpart Sergei Victorovich Lavrov

agreed to promote bilateral relations in diverse fields including trade, energy, and people-to-people contacts.

The suddenness of Khar's departure for Moscow has led many to argue that the visit has a one-point agenda namely to generate the balance of the finances required for the construction of the 7.5 billion dollar Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline stretching for 2,775 kilometres supplying gas to fuel-starved Pakistan from the South Pars field.

It is fairly evident that neither Pakistan nor Iran has the required finances to undertake this project.

Pakistan is currently grappling with a budget deficit that is expected to surpass what was inherited by the PPP-led government in 2008 and which compelled the country to go on the International Monetary Fund programme.

With reforms stalled on all fronts, it is unlikely that any bilateral or multilateral assistance will be forthcoming to Pakistan for budgetary support leave alone for a project that has consistently been opposed by the United States, a critical member of all multilateral boards of directors as well as having considerable influence over Western donors.

Iran is facing sanctions from the US and Europe and in this context, it is relevant to note that Europe was second in terms of foreign investment in Iran with 10.9 billion dollars of investment compared to the cumulative total of 11.6 billion dollars from UAE, Singapore, Indonesia and Oman.

In short Iran is expected to lose the entire amount of investment funds from Europe and with Italy and some other European countries expected to stop oil imports from Iran in the aftermath of the sanctions, it is likely that Iran's foreign exchange reserves would shrink.

Thus it is critical for both Iran and Pakistan to seek financing for the IP pipeline from external sources on an emergent basis: Pakistan to meet its massive energy shortfall and Iran to generate foreign exchange to balance what it would lose as a consequence of the sanctions.

At one time several Western companies had expressed an interest in the project and these companies include BHP Billiton, headquartered in Australia, Petronas of Malaysia, Total SA of France, Royal Dutch Shell and BG Group plc from the UK.

Sanctions against Iran would preclude their participation in the project.

Gazprom of Russia had also expressed an interest in the IP gas pipeline project and may well emerge as a major viable contender.

However, Pakistan has requested China, the other country opposed to United Nations-sponsored sanctions against Iran, to provide financing for the project.

Federal Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Sheikh gave approval to the appointment of an Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) led-consortium as financial advisor for the IP project.

The consensus is that the Pakistani Foreign Minister was dispatched to Russia to seek the balance of the finances required for the commencement of the project.

Bilateral trade was also discussed during Khar's recent visit to Russia.

At present Russia does not even feature as a country of note in terms of our exports or imports.

The countries that formerly constituted a Soviet bloc of nations and referred to as Council for Mutual Economic Assistance accounted for 1.4 percent of our total exports in 2010-11 and 1 percent of our imports.

This figure is unlikely to be increased anytime soon especially given that India continues to enjoy very close ties with Russia and provides complementary goods to ours.

Discussions on enhancing people-to-people contact must be supported as that would form the basis of any future bilateral economic relations, especially with respect to enhancing private business contacts.

To conclude if Gazprom does become a party to an international consortium that would include Chinese, Iranian as well as Sui Northern and Southern Gas Pipeline companies for the construction of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project and it would certainly establish economically fruitful relations between Russia and Pakistan.

Pakistan Supreme Court throws out PM’s appeal

Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan failed to convince the Supreme Court with his argument in favour of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the eight-member larger bench of the court dismissed on Friday his appeal against the summoning of the premier in a contempt case.

Now the prime minister will have to appear in the court on Monday for framing of contempt charge against him for not pursuing corruption cases abroad.

“The seven-judge bench order (of summoning the prime minister for framing of contempt charge) has been passed in accordance with the provisions of Section 17(3) of the Contempt of the Court Ordinance, 2003, by following the settled principles of criminal justice, therefore, no interference is called for, consequently the intra-court appeal (ICA) is dismissed,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, heading the bench, announced after hearing the prime minister’s counsel for two days.

“Sorry, Aitzaz,” were the last words of the chief justice as the bench rose. And Aitzaz did look disappointed.

“Our appeal has been dismissed by the Supreme Court and the prime minister will have to appear before the court on Feb 13,” he told reporters waiting outside.

Before rejecting the appeal, the court gave Barrister Ahsan another chance to persuade the prime minister to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases ‘in deference to its order and in the interest of the nation’. “How long will we keep going around in circles,” the chief justice observed.

“The prime minister feels hurt by the kind of observations made without being heard in an earlier order in which he was depicted as not honest,” the barrister said.

“I was expecting that you would give us good news against the backdrop of Thursday’s observations of the court,” Justice Saqib Nisar said.

“Nobody likes to see unrest in the country,” the chief justice said. “Bring the country out of uncertainty,” the court observed, adding that sometimes the nation had to suffer through a momentary folly for generations to come.

Barrister Ahsan simply responded that he did not have any mandate to assure the bench and concluded his arguments by saying the prime minister had no intention of disobeying any order of the court.

“The last part of your statement is very heartening. Kindly tell him to enforce the judgment,” Justice Nisar quipped.

“Is that a directive?” asked Barrister Ahsan. “Please, please no direction,” Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja said.

Political and legal minds immediately started dissecting and interpreting the court’s pronouncement.

This case has two facets, one legal and the other political, Advocate Chaudhry Faisal Hussain said while talking to Dawn.

“When the court will ask the prime minister if he pleads guilty for not complying with its directives, the PPP will gain politically. The party’s leadership may use these proceedings to its advantage by gearing up the workers for the general elections. The leadership is willing to lose its prime minister on this issue,” he said.

Whosoever would be the next prime minister, he too would seek time to get acquainted with the situation and by then the Senate elections would be over and the party leadership would have lost interest to cling to the government,” he added.

Senator S.M. Zafar said Mr Gilani would be the first prime minister in the country against whom contempt charges would be framed.

“Contempt cases are always different from ordinary cases and are usually wrapped up after summary proceedings,” he said, adding that he thought the court would give another opportunity to the prime minister to write the letter or face conviction.

“There was no need to file such an appeal because the case was weak,” Advocate Ahmad Raza Qasuri said. He said even if the president pardoned the prime minister in case of punishment, he could not wash away the conviction.

DNA of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA people

A recent study conducted on “Pushtun Ethnogenesis” revealed that the deoxyribonucleic acids (DNAs) of people from Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province are similar to the inhabitants of Central and South Asia and Eastern Europe.Addressing a seminar on “Pushtun Ethnogenesis” Professor Muhammad Naeem of Peshawar University said that different studies conducted in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and FATA and Florida state of America have concluded that the DNAs of people of North and South Afghanistan are similar to people of South West Russian states.He said that a recent Ethnogenesis study conducted by South Korea in KP and FATA divulged that the DNAs of masses of these areas are also similar to Western European and Asian people. He further informed that the DNA of Kandhar (Afghanistan) people have a match with people of Peshawar.DNA deoxyribonucleic acid is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms. Nearly every cell in a person’s body has the same DNA.

Students shying away from Peshawar varsity Fewer students in 1st shifts, some depts have no students in 2nd shifts

Frontier Post

The number of students in the University of Peshawar has dwindled because of the high increase in fees and other expenditure which have to be incurred by boys and girls when studying in this ancient institution. And while just a few years ago, evening shifts were started to cater to the growing number of students, some of these have no or very few students because of the self-finance system which is very costly for the students. While many in the past and even now want to get admission in this famous university, the issue of high charges hold them back. Another issue is the NTS test which students are now required to pass before they can gain admission here. The test according to students is not appropriate as students coming to get admission in Arts subjects have to answer Maths, computer and other science related subjects which most often then not these students are unable to pass. The same is the case with those wanting admission in Science subjects as they have to answer question related to art subjects. They also fail to secure impressing marks in this test. There seem no reason that the University authorities, who are themselves experts in education, should look for expertise in Science subjects instudents who want to study in Humanities and vice versa. Iin Anthropology department there were 50 students in evening shift two year ago but after self finance scheme and steeply raised fees; there is not one student in the evening shift in this department. Other departments with empty seats are social work at least 15 seats are empty in evening, Islamiyat Department has no student in evening shift, Archeology presently 17 student are in final class in morning shift against facilities for 50 students and 29 student in previous morning shift in the same subject against facilities for 50 students. While evening shift for this department has no student at all.Journalism and Mass Communication has 29 student in final (evening) against facilities for 54 student; 33 in pervious (evening shift) against 54 available seats. Many other other departments also have unoccupied seats. .This was not the case when there were no NTS and self-finance scheme The university normally charged Rs14,000 which was at least affordable for middle class students but now with self finance-fees increased up to 52,000 which is too expensive for middle class, a large number of student have been deprived of education. On this regarded teachers said that our high authorities are responsible for decreasing of the number of students in this university and student are getting admission in private universities because of low fees there. The said that if the fees are lowered and the NTS is either totally abolished or made rational, there were will be no dearth of students here. They also said that the university needs to raise its standard of education to attract students. Most student said that self-finance was a conspiracy against poor student. Due to this system poor students have given up hope of high education another An MBA student Ihtisham told this scribe that self-finance system provided an opportunity only for moneyed students and deprived talented poor students from education, adding that, it directly affected our literacy rate which is already very low. Many students said that the cost of education in Peshawar university is very high and is twice that of many private universities. Students of deferent departments strongly condemn self-finance scheme and demand that it should be abolished so that students of poor background can come here to learn and excel which was the case a few years ago.

LAHORE: PIC drug reaction takes one more life, toll reaches 142

Death toll has reached 142 due to reaction of spurious medicines at PIC.
The PIC spurious drugs continue to take lives and one more heart patient died at Mayo Hospital Lahore.
60-year-old Bashiran Bibi was shifted to Mayo Hospital four days ago and remained under treatment but she could not survive.Death toll has reached 142 while more than 150 patients are under treatment in different hospitals of Lahore

Egyptians hold anti-junta demos

Tens of thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets to protest against the military rulers who took power after former dictator Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February 2011.

On Friday, demonstrators in the capital Cairo, the coastal city of Alexandria, the northeastern seaport city of Suez, and many other towns called for the ruling junta to hand over power to civilian leaders.

“The people want the overthrow of the marshal,” activists chanted during the protest march towards the Defense Ministry in Cairo, referring to Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

Army units obstructed demonstrators marching to the Defense Ministry.

Demonstrators in Alexandria chanted slogans against the generals.

In Suez, protesters burned a US flag.

The demonstrations were staged a day before a strike called by activists to commemorate the first anniversary of Mubarak's downfall. The ruling council has deployed extra troops and tanks to guard state buildings and public property ahead of the strike.

On Thursday, the Muslim Brotherhood called on the junta to dismiss the military-appointed government for failing to deal with the worsening security and economic situation in the country.

Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan said the military council should provide an opportunity for the Muslim Brotherhood to put forward a nominee for prime minister who could form a new government.

The demand for dismissal of Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri and his cabinet came after deadly clashes in the northern city of Port Said between opposing football fans on February 1 that left 74 people dead. In the following days, 15 more people died in the ensuing mayhem.

Saudi Arabian protester, second in two days, reportedly shot dead by security forces

The Washington Post

For the second day in a row, a protester in Saudi Arabia has been shot dead by security forces during demonstrations, the Lede blog reports, citing activists.Protester Zohair al-Saad died of gunshot wounds after security forces opened fire in a tiny town north of Qatif, according to an activist Facebook page for videographers, Revolution East.

Video of the protester from that page shows Saad just before he died, as a group of men attempt to stop the bleeding.Three others were injured in the gunfire, Ahmed Hamad Al Rebh, 46, who maintains the Revolution East page, told the Lede.

On Thursday in Qatif, another man, identified as Muneer al-Meedani, was reportedly killed in clashes with the police. Three others were injured. Graphic video shows protesters trying to stop the bleeding from Meedani’s wounds, too.

A number of disturbing videos have emerged out of Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, including footage purporting to show the abuses happening inside Bremain prison, and protesters running for cover as gunfire sounds,Saudi police confirmed that a man was killed Thursday, but said security forces had been attacked by masked men and were simply returning fire, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.

Saudi blogger Ahmed Al-Omran didn’t buy this statement.While Saudi Arabia has managed to squelch protests over political rights from spreading in the country, largely by spending billions on welfare, there are indications those efforts may no longer be working.

On the Revolution East page, activists said protests were planned for Qatif Saturday.