Friday, March 30, 2012
Creating awareness amongst the masses about
EDITORIAL:DAILY TIMES Once again a sectarian attack has killed Shia Hazaras in Quetta. A van carrying members of the Hazara community was riddled with automatic arms fire in the Balochistan capital, killing five people, including a woman, and wounding six others. Riots broke out in the city after the incident, leading to more deaths and destruction. One policeman was killed and two protestors are reported to have been killed in an exchange of fire between protestors and the police while vehicles and buildings were torched. The Hazara Democratic Party and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party separately called for a shutterdown strike on Friday, a call that was supported by the ANP, JWP, BNP and Anjuman Tajiran Balochistan. The Tahafuz-e-Azadaran Council and the Balochistan Shia Conference have also come out with their response. While the former announced three days of mourning, the latter proposed the formation of a grand jirga comprising the PPP’s alienated Lashkari Raisani and other leaders to stop the systematic killings of the Hazara community. One report says the Taliban’s Jundullah faction has claimed responsibility for the dastardly attack. As if all this was not bad enough, on the very same day two UN workers were killed and one wounded in an ambush on their car near Mastung. Although no one has accepted responsibility, it may be recalled that Mastung was the site of one of the most gruesome Shia massacres when people were taken off a bus and shot in cold blood. Whether the latter attack has a sectarian colour or not is not known at this time, but there is little doubt that the killings of Hazara Shias in Balochistan is beginning to take on a sinister pattern. One reason why this may be so is that the Hazara community is known as one of the most peaceful, law abiding and hard working communities in the province. Perhaps the sectarian terrorists see them as ‘easy pickings’. The latest victims of this dance macabre have been added to the thousands of victims of sectarian killings since Ziaul Haq’s unleashing of Sunni extremist groups in the 1980s. What is surprising in the whole episode is that after the pattern of sectarian attacks against the Hazara community cane to the surface in recent months, why have the law enforcement authorities fallen asleep instead of taking extraordinary measures to protect the vulnerable community? One explanation for this lapse may be sought in the fact that the law enforcement agencies have their hands full in combating the Baloch nationalist insurgency, which by now has spread to virtually the whole province. While the military authorities and the hated FC seem to be concentrating on trying to eliminate all active nationalists, whether moderate or militant, through their ‘kill and dump’ policy, the disturbed conditions in Balochistan have left space for sectarian terrorists and even criminal gangs to freely indulge in kidnappings for ransom and other crimes without let or hindrance. In the context of the newfound interest by some US Congressmen in Balochistan’s plight, it is advisable that the civilian leadership in the province and the Centre wake up to their responsibilities, take control of the province’s affairs, stop Balochistan turning increasingly into a killing field, and open a channel of talks with the estranged Baloch nationalist leadership and all other stakeholders to bring peace back to the province through political means. If they fail the people of Balochistan in continuing to show their helplessness in the province’s affairs at the hands of the military, history may one day record how Balochistan was steadily driven out of the federation. If such a cataclysmic development were to actually transpire, what would be left of Pakistan?
French police arrested at least 17 people early Friday morning over suspected links to militant Islamist circles in several cities across the country, including Nantes, Le Mans, Toulouse, and the suburbs of Paris.
Support for the war in Afghanistan has fallen to an all-time low with the majority of Americans saying the U.S. should withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan before the 2014 deadline set by the Obama administration, according to CNN's latest poll. The CNN/ORC International survey released Friday indicated only 25% of Americans favored the war in the Asian country. A majority of Republicans voiced opposition to it, for the first time since the war began in 2001. Just 37% of the general public said things are going well for the U.S. in Afghanistan, while only 34% said America is winning the war. The approval likely contributed to the 55% of those surveyed who said the U.S. should remove all of its troops from the country before 2014.
Taking suo moto notice of poor performance of the government-run schools and colleges in the province, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Thursday directed the provincial chief secretary and other officials to present complete record of the teachers and lecturers who had enrolled their own children in private educational institutions. A two-member bench of Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth took the notice in a writ petition by Salma Naila, a teacher at the Municipal Inter-College for Women, seeking her promotion from BPS-16 to BPS-17. The bench issued notices to the chief secretary and secretaries for Higher Education Department, Schools and Literacy Department and Secondary and Elementary Education Department and directed them to produce complete record of those teachers and lecturers within two months who were teaching in government educational institutions but had enrolled their own children in private institutions. During hearing of the case, the chief justice observed: “How the education system will improve when government teachers were enrolling their own children in private schools and colleges?” “Though the government was spending billions of rupees on the government schools and colleges, there was no improvement in the government’s educational system. The teachers are not taking interest in educating students as their own children are getting education in private schools,” the chief justice observed, adding that the court would link their promotion and upgrading to performance and enrolment of their children in government schools. He said the annual performance of the government schools and colleges was not improving even by one step. Salma Naila had claimed in the petition that she was appointed as teacher in BPS-16 in the Municipal Inter-college for Women on November 6, 1996 and wasn’t promoted to BPS-17 after 16 years while 19 other junior teachers were upgraded to BPS-17.
Let Us Build Pakistan In the absence of any substantial evidence of performance, yet enjoying ‘high ratings’ due to their alliance with the media, the PML-N government in Punjab has in the last few months on an ambitious plan of winning over youngsters in the province by distributing laptop computers. While such a gesture should be appreciated in times when a treasury is running a surplus budget or there are no development gaps in the province, the laptop distribution as a means to gain public approval. The PML-N, especially Shahbaz Sharif, has used the laptop distribution ceremonies as a platform to spread hate against the PPP especially the President. While we have written posts recently about the derogatory terms being used by Shahbaz Sharif, we find the silence of our media, especially the anchors, to be ironic. While the spend air time endlessly to discuss the ‘maujooda siyasi halaat’, wherein ‘krupshion’ and ‘bad gavernunce’ is the major theme, they absolve the PML-N government completely and turn a blind eye towards the laptop distribution scheme. We have some questions which we hope someone in the PML-N would respond to, else we pray that either the CJP or the media anchors will do programs on them: How many laptops are planned to be purchased and distributed? What is the amount of funds allocated for the purchase? What make these laptops are? From which distributor these have been purchased or are planned to be purchased? Were PPRA rules, which our mindless Transparency International loves to cite, followed in the process? Have the distributors given any discount as we would consider the program to be a major purchase? How much is being spent on the distribution ceremonies and who is footing the bill for that? Under what arrangement is Mian Nawaz Sharif distributing the laptops? How has Punjab Government financed the purchase? Does it have the funds from its resources or are these the NFC funds which are being used? While one cannot expect a clear answer, we do hope that media will spend some print space and air time on these nine questions.