Saturday, April 21, 2012
Al JazeeraAs India fires an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting China, we ask if an arms race is brewing. India has fired a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The Agni-V missile has a range of 5,000km - which would give India the capability to hit most major cities in China, Iran and south-east Asia. The weapon, which has been in the works for over 20 years and cost the Indian government more than $500m, is among India's most sophisticated. But the launch has attracted none of the criticism from the West that North Korea faced when it tried to send up a similar rocket last week.China is now criticising the West's silence, saying it is ignoring India's disregard for nuclear treaties. India wants to join the elite group of countries that openly have long-range weapons that can carry nuclear warheads. That club includes the US, Britain, France, Russia and, of course, China. India began by testing the Agni-II, which had a range of 2,000km, more than a decade ago. It has since tested other missiles that can travel much further. In comparison, China's vast military arsenal includes the Dongfeng 5A with an estimated range of 13,000km. China also has 66 land-based intercontinental missile launchers, while India has none. India says the Agni-V is the answer to China's missiles deployed in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Rahul Bedi from Jane's Defence Weekly told Al Jazeera's Prerna Suri: "India is developing the missile as a dissuasive deterrent against China because all its nuclear programmes, as well as missile programmes, are focused on China. In fact, when India carried out its 1998 nuclear tests, it declared that it was doing so in response to what the Chinese were doing as far as their nuclear weapons were concerned." But India's nuclear programme has come a long way since 1998, when it last tested a nuclear device. Sanctions that were previously slapped against it were withdrawn when India and the US signed a Civilian Nuclear Agreement in 2008. And these latest tests are not expected to attract any new sanctions, partly because of this tacit support. But in a country where more than half of the people live on less than a dollar-and-a-half a day, many are questioning the high costs. In 2011, India spent more than $46bn buying weapons. That compares to a little over $11.5bn spent on education and $6bn on health. So, does this open the door to a new arms race with China? And is that really in the interests of either country? Joining Inside Story to discuss this are: Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University; Richard Hu, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong; and Martin McCauley, an international affairs analyst from the University of London.
tolonewsAfghanistan's House of Representatives finally approved the budget for the current fiscal year on Saturday after having rejected it twice in the past month. This year's budget for 1381 was approved after the Ministry of Finance made changes to the allocated amounts for the President and Kabul Bank, Afghan Minister of Finance Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal said. Speaking at the House of Representatives, Zakhilwal said $1 million was deducted from the President's allocated budget and $15 million was deducted from Kabul Bank's allocation. The previous draft rejected by Parliament had allocated $80 million to Kabul Bank. Previously, Afghan parliamentarians had called the budget unbalanced and criticised it for over-allocating to the President and Kabul Bank.Some MPs had said that giving $80 million to Kabul Bank would be a national treason if approved. After the budget was rejected for a second time, the Finance Deputy Minister Mustafa Mastoor said that MPs had rejected it because they wanted an increase in their own budget.In reaction to his comments the MPs called for him to be sacked or they would never approve the budget. Zakhilwal said he did consider the matter. "I discussed the issue with Afghan President, he said that Mustafa Mastoor is an educated person and should remain in his position," he said.
DAILY TIMESAnother two Shia Hazaras were gunned down on Saturday on Brewery Road in Quetta in a spate of sectarian killing. The Frontier Corps (FC) claimed to have arrested three suspects allegedly involved in the killing. The officials also claimed to have seized arms from them. According to police, two people, Baban Ali and Hussain Ali, were riding a motorcycle on Brewery Road when an unidentified man opened fire on them. Baban died on the spot while Hussain Ali was shifted to the Combined Military Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The deceased were the residents of Hazara Town. “A man on foot opened fire on the men riding a motorcycle,” police official Amir Dasti said while quoting witness accounts. He said it was a case of sectarian killing and investigation was underway. Strong contingents of police and security forces reached the spot and shifted the body to the Bolan Medical Complex. “The victims were shot in head and chest,” hospital sources said. Dozens of Shias staged a protest demonstration on Brewery Road. They burnt tyres and blocked the road. The charged protesters shouted slogans against the government and law enforcement agencies for their failure to protect the Hazara community. Meanwhile, the Frontier Corps spokesman said the killers had been apprehended after officials deployed on Brewery Road chased the criminals. “The attackers after targeting two people tried to escape from the scene. Security forces chased the killers with the help of local people,” he said in a press release. Those arrested were identified as Guharam Soori Khan and Mian Khan Mengal. Later, another suspect was arrested on the information gathered from the accused during interrogation. The arrested suspects were handed over to Brewery Police for further interrogation, the FC official said, adding that the people present on the spot had also identified the target killers. In the last one week, as many as 29 Shias have been gunned down in Quetta.
Saudi-backed Bahraini security forces have arrested the daughter of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, the prominent jailed activist, who has been on a hunger strike for more than two months.
http://www.rferl.orgThe Pakistani government says the airline that owned the Boeing 737 that crashed on April 20 near Islamabad, killing all 127 aboard, bears responsibility for the accident. Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Bhoja Air "seems to be at fault as it had acquired a very old aircraft." He added that if an airline "doesn't have enough money, it doesn't mean you go and buy a 30-year-old or more aircraft as if it were a rickshaw and start an airline." Malik also said that Farooq Bhoja, the airline's owner, had been put on a list of people not permitted to leave Pakistan while investigation into the accident continues. The plane was flying from the southern city of Karachi to Islamabad when it went down in bad weather a few kilometers away from the Benazir Bhutto International Airport. Investigators are still trying to find the cause of the disaster.
Sarkozy manque de perdre sa montre à la Concorde by LeNouvelObservateur Who thought Ray Bans and chunky watches were a thing of the past with Nicolas Sarkozy, chastened by disapproval for his love of glitz early on in the presidency?
http://tribune.com.pkContinuing its efforts to curb polio resurgence, the Peshawar High Court has said that it will hold a judicial inquiry if a new polio case surfaces in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa or Fata. “[We] will fix responsibility and [those responsible] will be taken to task, whether it is negligence on part of parents, government or the head of a polio team,” PHC Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan said on Saturday, speaking at the court premises during the inauguration ceremony of a national immunisation campaign that is to be launched on April 23. The chief justice also asked the government to direct security forces to either halt a military operation in tribal areas for two to three weeks or provide protection to polio teams so that children in those war-ravaged areas can be inoculated. According to an official of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation, the campaign has been delayed in South Waziristan owing to a military operation in the area. Justice Khan said that political agents of all agencies must utilise all resources to reach inaccessible areas. The chief justice also had words of advice on how the federal government can help counter the resurgence of polio in the country. “The Peoples’ Representation Act should be amended to make it mandatory for voters and candidates to produce polio vaccination certificates [for their family] at the time of election. Those who fail to do so should not be allowed to contest the election or vote.” He also proposed that the federal government should direct NADRA and the Passport Office to not entertain requests for a computerised national identity card or passport if a certificate is not provided. Earlier, the court had made it mandatory for litigants to provide the certificates when moving the court and ruled that those seeking Watan and Ration Cards under the federal government’s Benazir Income Support Programme must provide polio vaccination certificates to be eligible. The court has also ordered the Provincial Disaster Management Authority to set up 20 polio vaccination centres at the Jalozai camp, which houses over 170,000 people. He also suggested that at the time of admission, schools should ask parents to produce vaccination certificates.
http://rt.com/Russian is not “lost in translation”. On the contrary, it appears to be one of the most popular and translated languages in the world, with thanks in part to the rich heritage of the Father of the Bolshevik Revolution, Vladimir Lenin.
FRONTIER POSTEight year old Abdullah who was displaced due to the military operation in Khyber Agency and is now working at Jalozai Camp catering food on a push cart, say this job is the only source of income for him. Abdullah is also like other thousand of children who migrated from Khyber Agency to Jalozai Camp said to The Frontier Post that they were shifted from Khyber Agency to Jalozai camp in very difficult circumstances as every where the voice of bullets and mortar shell deafened their ears. Abdullah said that he was studying in class three at Jalozai Camp and after the school he came out with his push cart wheel to earn some money for his family. Taimur Afridi standing in a long row said to The Frontier post that he has come early in the morning but still has inot received the daily food items. He also complained that due to the migration of people belonging to different agencies of Fata where operation was still continuing people of these areas were searching for rented houses as the property dealers and owners of the houses increase the rent of their houses and take advantage of their problems. The 50-year old Rahim Jan Afridi said that the weather was getting there was no electricity facility in his camp because of that their children and family members could not not take proper rest. He said there also was fear of Dangu virus.
The Frontier PostHad he had to compound his folly? In itself, Mian Nawaz Sharif's foolish call for unilateral withdrawal by Pakistan from the Siachen glacier was a stunning absurdity. It had left the nation utterly aghast and bewildered, and may have embarrassed even the few sensible people in his own party. But was that not enough of it that he had also to mix up his folly with an astounding naivety? He says if Pakistan pulls out from the glacier, India too would follow suit. Really? If indeed it is that simple, why didn't he pull out the troops from there during his two stints of the prime ministership and lay to the grave for good this imbroglio that has cost so many precious lives and so much treasure to us, though no lesser to India? And by his own same logic, couldn't he unilaterally withdraw troops from Azad Kashmir as well that would have led up to the occupied Kashmir's vacation by India, which if nothing else would have at least saved the Kashmiris from the continuing brutalisation by a trigger-happy Indian military, which has inflicted untold atrocities on them to quell their indigenous uprising for freedom? He says even the army chief has endorsed his views on the issue. But General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has spoken very sensibly. He has not talked of any unilateral pullout. He has spoken of the glacier's demilitarisation through negotiations, which in any case are on since long futilely, primarily for the obduracy of the Indian military establishment. Nonetheless, no lesser is despicable the perfidy with which the Indian officialdom and our own palmed-off galaxy of commentariat and chattering classes have received the general's statement and are playing it out to their own end. Both are feigning as if this is some sort of a unique statement, representing some kind of a change in the stance of the Pakistan military, whereas our military establishment has throughout been on board for a negotiated settlement of the issue. Yet the thrust of their discourse is more than obvious: it is to hold the Pakistan military responsible for the continuing tiff over the demilitarisation of the glacier. But the spoiler in reality is none else but the Indian military establishment which wants the settlement to be wholly on its own terms and conditions. Almost a dozen rounds of talks have gone through over the issue. But a settlement remains elusive for the Indian military's adamancy alone. It doesn't want to vacate certain top peaks and air force facilities in any settlement, and wants its 1984 aggression on the glacier to be represented in bold ink on the map too. But why is Nawaz so resolved to get on this deeply-wronged harried nation's nerves with his one stupidity after the other in endless succession, with no contrition or remorse? When a true leader commits a folly, he shows the great grit to confess his mistake and say sorry for it. A lesser leader lets his folly pass, keeps his mouth shut, hoping it would pass away undamagingly and vowing in his heart never ever again to commit such blunder. But then Nawaz is no leader in the real sense. He is the product of a conspiracy of circumstances that has catapulted him to where he is, not befittingly. Still, he can afford some sense of shame. He must not drag on his initial sin to the nation, by compounding his stupidity by piling folly upon folly. He cannot imagine with his foolish call how potent a handle has he put in the hands of the Indians to beat Pakistan with over the Siachen issue. The poor Pakistani negotiators will feel its hurt to their great grief when they meet their Indian interlocutors to talk the Siachen imbroglio's settlement. Let there be no doubt about it, such a cruel cut has Nawaz imparted to this wretched nation with his unpardonable stupidity. It is not an ostentatious bravado he should now put on display to wash off the embarrassment of talking an utter nonsense. It is the repentance that he must show to clean the slur on his face for being so sinful to the nation's cause.
AL ARABIYA NEWSAfghan security forces have detained five insurgents in Kabul, with 10,000 kilograms (22,046 lbs) of explosives they intended to use in a massive attack on crowded areas in the capital, an Afghan intelligence spokesman said on Saturday. “If this amount of explosives had been used, it could have caused large-scale bloodshed,” National Directorate of Security spokesman Shafiqullah Tahiri told a news conference. The explosives were found stuffed into 400 bags and hidden under piles of potatoes in the back of a truck on the city outskirts. “Three Pakistani terrorists and two of their Afghan collaborators who placed the explosives under bags of potatoes in truck were caught,” said Tahiri. The men, he said, had received training from members of the Pakistani Taliban, who have strong links with the Afghan Taliban. Afghan officials have long accused Pakistan of using insurgent groups like the Afghan Taliban as proxies in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s government denies supporting or giving sanctuary to insurgents on its territory. Insurgents this week launched a coordinated assault on four provinces, targeting diplomatic and government areas of Kabul with rockets and gunfire in what they said was retaliation for abuses of Afghans by U.S. soldiers. The attacks showed the insurgency's resilience nearly 11 years since the Afghan Taliban were toppled. The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks and said it planned similar assaults in coming months.