Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Veena Malik gets 71,000 entries on ‘Swayamvar’


The Pakistani controversial queen, Veena Malik, is gearing up for ‘Swayamvar’ Season 4 – Veena Ka Vivaah and the actress has already set a record of sorts by garnering the maximum number of entries on the reality show, which comes on Imagine TV.

Previously India’s very own item girl, Rakhi Sawant, was also brought on the show but she could only attract 30,000 males whereas the likes Rahul Mahajan and Ratan Rajput gathered 43,000 and 54,000 entries respectively. However, Veena, who rose to fame during her stint in the Bigg Boss Season 4, has shocked everyone including the show makers by collecting 71,240 entries.

The Pakistani beauty believes the main reason behind so many entries is that people like Pakistani girls because of their tradition and culture.

Veena Malik is one of the most controversial actresses in the country, as she has always locked headlines for wrong reasons. Perhaps this is a reason why she is especially excited to see the Indian applications.

Veena said, “I am overwhelmed by the response, but was thrilled that the maximum number of entries were from India.”

“I knew that guys serious about getting married would send in their profiles, but over 71,000 is a number beyond my expectations. And though I was expecting entries from the UK, US, India and Pakistan, I found it surprising to see a large number of entries from Poland,” Veena said.

“I think Pakistani and Indian girls are famous for their beauty, family values and tradition, which is why even guys from Poland are interested,” she added.

Veena Malik will get Rs. 3 crore for being on the show and she will receive another 1.5 crore, if she gets married and when asked the actress revealed that she is seriously looking forward to the candidates.

She remarked, “I want to grow old with my husband. I want a soul mate.”

Veena will also be seen on the big screen in India on May, 2012 in Hemant Madhukar’s much-anticipated upcoming 3D horror film ‘Mumbai 125 Km’. She is participating in three more movies as well, ‘Zindagi 50-50’, ‘All U Need… LOVE’ and ‘Mr. Money’.

Asma warns agencies to mend ways


Former Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president and renowned human rights activist Asma Jahangir on Tuesday warned that if the armed forces and its secret agencies failed to mend their ways, then nobody could avoid breaking away of Balochistan. Discussing the Balochistan issue, she said that if missing persons were involved in terrorist activities, they should be presented in courts. She expressed concerns over the missing persons’ cases saying that after the Musharraf regime, such cases had decreased but the situation was still worse in the province.

Afghan, Pakistani Among U.S. 'Women Of Courage' Award Winners

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

The U.S. State Department has included an Afghan provincial council member and a Pakistani rights activist among the honorees for 2012 International Women Of Courage Awards.

Maryam Durani, described as "a leader and a role model for women throughout Afghanistan" and a member of Kandahar’s Provincial Council, directs a nonprofit women's cultural organization and owns and manages a local radio station focusing on women's issues.

Pakistan's Shad Begum founded the Union of Women’s Welfare, which provides political training, microcredit, education, and health services to women in the ultraconservative district of Dir, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

Begum has been elected to local posts and continues to work despite calls for suicide attacks against her by extremists.

Other recipients of this year's award include women from Burma, Libya, and Saudi Arabia.

Two rockets fired at a house in Peshawar

The Express Tribune

Security in and around Peshawar continues to have cracks after a house was damaged by two rocket.

Locals told The Express Tribune that two rockets had struck a house of Hashim Ali in Mohalla Cheena, Hazarkhwani village, within the jurisdiction of Yakatot Police Station.

“The rockets exploded after hitting the building, creating widespread panic in the area but luckily there was no loss of life and the damage to the building is also very nominal,” eye witnesses added.

Police said that they were investigating the attack, however, they believed that this was a case of personal enmity rather than a terrorist attack.

Pakistani Hindus seek safety in India


Preetam Das is a good doctor with a hospital job and a thriving private clinic, yet all he thinks about is leaving Pakistan, terrified about a rise in killings and kidnappings targeting Hindus.

A successful professional, he lives in mega city Karachi with his wife and two children, but comes from Kashmore, a district in the north of Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh.

His family has lived there for centuries and in 1947 when the sub-continent split between India, a majority Hindu state, and Pakistan, a homeland for Muslims, Das’ grandparents chose to stay with the Muslims.

They fervently believed the promise of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah that religious minorities would be protected. Sixty years later, their grandson says life in Kashmore has become unbearable.

“The situation is getting worse every day,” he says.

Two of his uncles have been kidnapped and affluent Hindus are at particular risk from abduction gangs looking for ransom, he says.

Rights activists say the climate is indicative of progressive Islamisation over the last 30 years that has fuelled an increasing lack of tolerance to religious minorities, too often considered second class citizens.

Das says the only thing keeping him in Pakistan is his mother.

“She has flatly refused to migrate, which hinders my plans. I can’t go without her,” he said.

Hindus make up 2.5 per cent of the 174 million people living in the nuclear-armed Muslim nation. Over 90 per cent live in Sindh, where they are generally wealthy and enterprising, making them easy prey for criminal gangs.

An official at the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi who declined to be named said: “Every month about eight to 10 Hindu families migrate from Pakistan. Most of them are well-off.”

He had no comment on whether the number was on the rise, but Hindu community groups in Pakistan say more people are leaving because of kidnappings, killings and even forced conversions of girls to Islam.

“Two of my brothers have migrated to India and an uncle to the UAE,” said Jay Ram, a farmer in Sindh’s northern district of Ghotki.

“It’s becoming too difficult to live here. Sindhis are the most tolerant community in the country vis-a-vis religious harmony, but deteriorating law and order is forcing them to move unwillingly,” he added.

Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council and a former lawmaker for Sindh province, said Hindus are picked on by kidnappers and that their daughters are subject to forced conversions to Islam.

“Every now and then we get reports of families migrating. It’s getting worse now. People are extremely harassed and are forced to leave their homeland but our rulers are shamelessly idle,” he told AFP.

Rights activists also say Hindus in Sindh are discriminated against.

“Recently 37 members of five Hindu families migrated to India from Thul town owing to discrimination while three Hindus, including a doctor, were murdered in Shikarpur district,” said Rubab Jafri, who heads Sindh’s Human Rights Forum.

“Lots of violent incidents are happening daily. Most go unreported, which shows vested interests are trying to force Hindus to leave Pakistan.”

According to the Pakistan Hindu Seva, a community welfare organisation, at least 10 families have migrated from Sindh every month since 2008, mostly to India, but in the last 10 months, 400 families have left.

Another survey last year by the local Scheduled Caste Rights Movement said more than 80 percent of Hindu families complained that Muslims discriminated against them by using different utensils when serving them at food stalls.

“Hindu migration is a brain-drain for Pakistan as most of them are doctors, engineers, agriculturists, businessmen and intellectuals,” Jafri said.

But the provincial authorities are reluctant to recognise a problem.

“I do admit that law and order in some districts of Sindh is quite bad, but it is bad for everyone and not just my community, the Hindus,” Mukesh Kumar Chawla, provincial minister for excise and taxation, told AFP.

“Hindus do not migrate in flocks as has been claimed and those who migrate are going abroad for a better fortune,” he said.

Muzaffargarh horror: Pakistani woman being disrobed and paraded in public


YET another story of a Pakistani woman being disrobed and paraded in public in retaliation for what was perceived as a slight to someone else’s honour is a reminder about two facts of life here. One, that women are used as pawns and victims in disputes that have nothing to do with them. And second, that political influence and police negligence, often related, enable attackers to carry out these acts of sexual abuse and violence. Tortured, robbed, stripped, paraded and kidnapped, the woman was victimised in order to seek revenge for the actions of her nephew, who carried out a free-will marriage with a girl from a clan not his own.

Some action has been taken in this case; over 20 of the dozens of attackers have been detained, the SHO of the relevant police station has been arrested for negligence and the woman was recovered yesterday. But the fact that the incident took place at all indicates that sections of Pakistani society still think they can get away with public acts of violence in the name of honour. Part of the problem, again not surprising, is that the girl’s family is reportedly an influential one with a political background, and one central figure involved in the kidnapping is apparently a former councillor who has not even been named in the FIR. And while the kidnapped woman has come home, the couple’s lives remain in danger wherever in the country they might hide despite the fact that their marriage was sanctioned in a court of law.

The incident is a reminder that while strides have been made in enacting legislation to protect women’s rights, it will still take years, if not decades, for that mentality to filter down and change actions on the ground. Pakistan now has laws against, among other things, sexual harassment, domestic violence, forced marriage and acid throwing, all of which seek to establish loud and clear that discrimination and violence against women are illegal even if they are sometimes sanctioned by tradition and social attitudes. But this episode makes clear that while laws can be changed, it will take much longer to change these attitudes.

Two PML-N MPs face action over fake degrees

Dunya Tv

ECP declared fake degree of PML-N MPA . Case has been registered against another MP for fake degree.
Election Commission (EC) Tuesday declared BA degree held by PML-N member of Punjab Assembly from Bahawalpur, Zulfiqar Ali as fake and sent his case to sessions judge Bahawalpur for initiation of action against him.
EC heard the case under chief election commissioner Justice (Retd) Hamid Ali Mirza and declared the degree held by Zulfiqar Ali MPA as fake.
The EC while sending the case to session’s judge Bahawalpur recommended for prosecution of Zulfiqar Ali.
Separately, a sessions judge in Kasur has declared as fake the degree of another PML-N MP Rao Mazhar. Dunya News had broken the news about his degree being fake, and later in the day the court ordered the DCO Kasur to register a case against the MP. The ECP has also been written to in order to initiate further legal proceedings against Rao Mazhar.
Rao claimed having a degree from a US institution, but checks there found that his degree is fake.

Afghan army training faces challenges

Al Jazeera

Increased attacks on NATO allies by Afghan colleagues and worries of Taliban infiltration call plan into question.As fears of Taliban infiltration mount, there is increasing pressure to get 195,000 Afghan soldiers through NATO-led training before the end of the year.
But increased attacks by Afghan soldiers on NATO allies raise more questions about the eight-week training and the quality of recruits.
Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith reports from Kabul.

Peshawar civil society demands ban on Difa-e-Pakistan

Civil society in Peshawar took to the streets on Tuesday to protest against the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, demanding that a ban be imposed and the council be held responsible for the death of three million people.

“Hamid Gul and his partners are responsible for the massacre of three million people, in particular the Pashtuns,” said Idrees Kamal, convener of the Aman Tehreek – a conglomerate body of civil society. Kamal was speaking during a protest organised in the Hashtnagri area of Peshawar.

The Difa-e-Pakistan rally to be held in Peshawar on March 18 has caused a stir in the city.

“Previously the council gathered under the name of Difa-e-Afghanistan and Islam, killing thousands of innocent people. Now they have once against gathered to do so,” said speakers at the protest.

Protestors demanded that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry should intervene and impose a ban on the rally. They also said that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti should not allow the council to hold a rally in the city.

The protest had been organised despite security threats and was attended by people from all walks of life.


Difa-e-Pakistan Council is a coalition of over 40 religious and political parties that has been vocally demanding the government to keep Nato supply routes closed and withdraw its decision to grant India the status of most-favoured nation.

The first DPC rally was held in Lahore and was organised by Jamatud Dawa (JuD), whose leadership is in charge of coordination and communication between all members of the group. Rallies have also been organised in Karachi and Rawalpindi.

Calling for the Nato supply routes to stay closed, the DPC has several times, in their past rallies, threatened to besiege the parliament in case the government decides to reopen the routes.

Putin invited to visit Pakistan

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani telephoned Mr. Vladimir Putin, Russian President-elect and congratulated him on his election as the President of Russia for the third time, the Prime Minister’s office said Tuesday.
“Your election testifies the high level of trust and faith that the people of Russia repose in your leadership” said the Prime Minister.
Russian President-elect thanked the Prime Minister and highly appreciated the role of his leadership and his colleagues for consolidating relations between Pakistan and Russia, so important for the prosperity, peace and stability of the entire region, a statement from the PM office said.
Vladimir Putin said that the Russia would continue its endeavours to further consolidate the relations between the two countries.
The Russian leader accepted the invitation to visit Pakistan and said that the dater for the visit would be finalized with the mutual consultation of the two Foreign Ministries, the statement said PM asks ministries to provide solar electricity to villages

Pakistan: ‘Polio still exists for lack of political will’


Paediatric Association (PPA) believed that India eradicated the menace of polio through political will and accountability, while Pakistan has been facing the scourge due to lack of it.

Addressing a press conference here at a hotel on Monday, PPA central president Dr Ameer Muhammad Khan Jugezai, Punjab chapter president Dr Waqar Hussain, Prof Dr Tariq Iqbal Bhutta and Dean Children’s Hospital, Lahore, Prof Dr Tahir Masud and others lamented upon the negative propaganda by some circles regarding polio vaccine saying there is no harmful effects of polio vaccine and discolouring of vaccine can make it ineffective. However, there is no threat to the life of children. They stressed upon the media to play its active role for removing this negative impression from the minds of the people.

They said a total of 198 polio cases had been reported in 2011 throughout the country out of these, 196 cases were of type-I and two cases were of type-III; whereas, type-II had been completely eradicated from the world. Out of these 198 cases last year, as many as 72 cases related to district Quetta, Pisheen and Qila Abdullah of Balochistan, which proves that polio virus is present in these three Balochistan districts and four polio cases were reported in Punjab last year. They said this year a total of 12 cases have already been reported during the first two months of 2012 throughout the country out of which one case related to Punjab while only eight cases were reported during the corresponding period last year, which suggested that polio cases were rising this year. Out of the 12 cases this year in Pakistan, they said, four cases were reported in Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa, three in FATA, two each in Sindh and Balochistan and one case was reported from Jhang in Punjab.

They said due to ongoing war against terrorism in Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa and some areas of FATA, religious extremism and peculiar situation of Balochistan, polio vaccine drops cannot be administered to thousands of children. They said that some families were forced to migrate and take refuge in other provinces due to terrorism as a result of which polio could not be eliminated completely in Pakistan.

Dr Ameer Muhammad Jugezai said that some religious extremists do not allow administering polio drops to children in the areas under their influence, which was a matter of grave concern; therefore, Ulema were urged to come forward and play their role in this regard. He said that the children could be saved from the disability of the entire life by administering polio vaccine drops.

He said that all concerned were making sincere efforts for making the polio campaigns a success. However, people can play their active role in elimination of this disease by administering polio vaccine to their children at all costs. He said that elimination of polio was the joint responsibility of the government and the masses.

Measures against dengue: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government prepares three-year programme

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has prepared a three-year programme for prevention and controlling the threat of dengue epidemics in the province.

The programme will cost Rs 335 million.

This was announced in a high-level meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary KP, Ghulam Dastagir Akhtar at Civil Secretariat.

Secretary Health, Secretary Information, Secretary Higher Education, Secretary Primary and Secondary Education, Secretary Public Health Engineering, Secretary Local Bodies, Secretary Environment, Commissioners, Hazara, Malakand, Director General (Health), representatives of WHO, UNICEF and other departments concerned also attended the meeting.

The meeting after discussing the three-year dengue virus prevention programme decided to constitute a provincial level implementation committee under the chairmanship of Director General (Health) and Executive District Officers (Health).

Addressing the meeting, the Chief Secretary directed the health authorities for immediate implementation of the programme and launching of a comprehensive campaign to create awareness among the masses through media.

He directed the authorities of Public Health for initiating measures for abolition of water leakages from pipes and water tanks.

The chief secretary also directed the department of local bodies for giving especial responsibilities to TMAs and secretary union councils for controlling dengue virus and creating awareness among people.

The meeting decided the initiation of a comprehensive awareness campaign through media and distribution of charts and pamphlets among the students of educational institutions.

The department of information was assigned the task for the preparation of a documentary on dengue virus and preventive measures to broadcast it on different television channels.

The chief secretary directed the authorities concerned for taking steps to ensure the availability of tested and good quality medicines for the affected people of dengue virus.

But what about people of FATA?

EDITORIAL:Frontier Post

The prime minister says that the people of the Seraiki belt want a separate province and not an administrative unit as proposed by the PML (N) head-honcho Mian Nawaz Sharif and that he is committed to get them want they want. But why nobody talks of the long-standing aspiration of the people of the Federally-Administered tribal areas for a province? Not even the prime minister. Is it because their cherished desire doesn’t make for gainful politics, as apparently does the Seraiki-speaking people’s?
But had the people of FATA thrown their lot with Pakistan to be consigned into a Bantustan of some kind of an apartheid state? Had they become part of Pakistan to be a segregated enclave like a black-inhabited territory in the white-ruled South Africa or Namibia? Had indeed they opted for this country to be reduced into its second-class citizens? What really is it that they remain denied of their legitimate right to become a fully-fledged province for so long?
Over these days, there is such a deafening shrill about the denial of the Baloch people’s rights. But their rights stand usurped by their sardars and chieftains, though with the state looking on collusively. But the rights of the people of FATA stand usurped by none else but by the state itself. It is the state that has kept them tied down perpetually with the tyrannical stranglehold of imperious political agents and their minions. If the native blacks in apartheid South Africa and Namibia (then christened as South West Africa) lived in their segregated Bantustans under the suffocating hegemony of authoritative white satraps, the tribal people of FATA have been consigned to live under the tyranny of brown sahibs.
And the incumbent hierarchs of Islamabad may have given themselves to the cheerful belief that they had done a great favour to the wretched people of the tribal region with the tinkering here and there with the infamous Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), a living legacy of the British colonial rule. But that could only be a big joke with a people, craving for a treatment as citizens equal in every manner to their compatriots in the rest of the country. And they are really miffed if the erstwhile Northern Areas despite all the international complications could become an autonomous Gilgit-Baltistan with its own governor, own elected legislature and government and a multi-layered judiciary, why the provincial status is not being conferred on them when they are internationally-known as part and parcel of Pakistan?
Arguably, apart from political argumentations, there may be some sticking points about forming a Seraiki province. But FATA’s case for a province suffers from no such infirmity. It is a compact unit in every manner — geographically, demographically, ethnically, racially, linguistically, and administratively. And it is a richly-endowed land, with enormous untapped mineral resources, great agricultural potentials, tremendous industrial prospects, and, above all, hardworking people with a huge reservoir of talented youth. Had indeed the region been transformed into a province, it would have long been sucked fully into the national mainstream and saved of extremism that has come to blight it due to its decades-long uninterrupted seclusion.
The bane of the FATA people’s aspiration for a province has throughout been that at no point in time they have had their true spokesmen to articulate their hope and expectations. Those who make to the parliament as members of the National Assembly and Senate as their representatives are no real. They are fakes and charlatans. They ride to the parliament on the piles of their riches. They buy their memberships in the auction mart. And once in place, they set about recouping their capital investment in the venture and making more fortunes on it. It is not the people’s interests that they serve. It is their own personal interests that they serve.
This should be more than evident, at least now, to any objective watcher of the region from their abominable listlessness and a silent-spectator’s role in the campaign for subduing the still-raging militancy in parts of the tribal areas. They seem behaving as if militancy is not blighting their areas but the country’s some other part. Sporadically, and only sporadically, they are seen on some media channel either whining or sulking feigningly or trotting out obscene lame excuses for their passivity in dousing the flames of extremism and militancy. On the ground, where they should be seen active dynamically, they are more conspicuous for total absence than for even token presence. More horribly, some reportedly buy their own and their families’ safety by paying up the militants.
Still, the existing system suits both the so-called tribal parliamentarians and the Islamabad hierarchs. To the tribal parliamentarians, it affords all the opportunities for self-enrichment by political blackmailing of the Islamabad hierarchs. And to the Islamabad hierarchs, it affords all the opportunities to muster up the requisite parliamentary support at crucial junctures by throwing the crumbs of material allurements to the tribal parliamentarians. The treachery is nonetheless mutual and self-centred.
But if making of FATA a province was compelling previously, it is inviolable and indispensable presently — to keep the tribal people on the side of the Pakistani state staunchly and marginalise extremists and militants irreversibly. The prime minister should take time out from his Seraiki spell to know this in the nation’s greater interest.

Hepatitis control programme launched

The Express Tribune

To provide relief to patients suffering from deadly forms of viral hepatitis, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has launched a Prevention and Control of Hepatitis Programme at a cost of Rs920 million in the province.

According to official sources in the health department, the programme has selected 29 teaching and district headquarters hospitals across the province in consultation with the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis Initiative.

The selected hospitals have been equipped with requisite laboratory equipment, consumables, kits, reagents, drugs and vaccines to extend diagnosis facilities and treatment to deserving patients without any charges.

Sources said the K-P health director general has requested all commissioners, district coordination officers and provincial assembly members to ensure all eligible patients are properly attended and diagnosed free of charge.

They said the health department was committed to the social uplift of people and was utilising all available resources for the purpose.

Cracks in PTI?: Qureshi vexed at Imran over by-poll boycott

The Express Tribune

The ‘tsunami’ of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, it appears, is hurting his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) more than anybody else.

In what could be a blow for the party’s rising popularity, PTI’s newly appointed Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi has developed serious differences with Imran over his ‘unilateral decision’ to boycott last month’s by-elections.

Qureshi’s home constituency Multan, his only apparent political asset, was taken away by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son. The former foreign minister fears the future elections would now be an uphill task for him.

The premier’s son, Ali Musa Gilani, literally had a walkover in the by-polls for the National Assembly by beating a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate with a margin of over 50,000 votes in the constituency.

Sources close to both Imran and Qureshi told The Express Tribune on Monday that both leaders had exchanged harsh words over what Qureshi said was a ‘unilateral decision’ made without consulting other party members.

Some PTI leaders say Qureshi is angry at Imran for letting Gillani’s son win the seat without a contest. They say the relationship between him and the PTI chief were so tense that Qureshi was contemplating parting ways and contesting the upcoming general elections as an independent candidate.

A member of his family, wishing not to be named, said Qureshi sometimes regrets his decision of choosing the PTI over PML-N. PTI officials said the former minister, who had considerable experience of parliamentary and constituency politics, had been trying to convince Imran not to stay away from the polls.

“You need to be in the system to change it,” sources quoted Qureshi as telling Imran, who has been calling himself a harbinger of change.

However, they said Imran was adamant on his decision of boycotting the by-elections.