Saturday, May 12, 2012

Why Nawaz wants to oust elected govt

Sindh CM Qaim Ali Shah advises Nawaz to be patient and wait till December. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has said that Pakistani people voted for the PPP government and President Zardari. Addressing a public gathering at Obaro he said it was understandable why Nawaz Sharif was so desperate to oust an elected government. Criticizing the PML-N chief, Qaim said Nawaz Sharif did not know the ABC of politics and was only creating chaos in the country. He advised Nawaz Sharif to wait till December. He said the PPP was well aware of the conspiracies against its government and it would not let the sacrifice of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto for democracy go in waste. Qaim said Nawaz Sharif was a coward and ran away to Jeddah during Musharraf’s regime. He said PML-N did nothing for Sindh during its tenures in government.

NATO: Pakistan may be unwelcome at Afghan War summit
When President Barack Obama welcomes NATO leaders to Chicago in ten days for a high-stakes summit on the war in Afghanistan, there could be a big gap in the alliance's talks on strategy — a hole the size and shape of Pakistan. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen strongly suggested at his monthly press conference on Friday that Pakistan would not be welcome at the May 20-21 gathering unless it reopens key supply routes into Afghanistan. "We have actually invited a number of countries from the region -- neighbors of Afghanistan, Central Asian countries, Russia -- because they provide important transit arrangements to the benefit of our operation," he said. "But, as you also know, our transit routes through Pakistan are currently blocked so we have to continue our dialogue with Pakistan with a view to finding a solution to that because that's really a matter of concern," Rasmussen said. The secretary general also echoed past statements from leaders like President Barack Obama that no Afghanistan war strategy can ultimately be successful without Pakistan's help. "If we are to ensure long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan, we also need a positive engagement of Pakistan," he said. White House officials declined to comment on the record about Rasmussen's comments. But an administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Yahoo News that "The U.S. and NATO want to see these lines opened up, and it would be preferable to have Pakistan participating in Chicago.""But we'll have to see what progress Pakistan can make in the coming days to determine whether they might ultimately be issued an invitation," the official said. Rasmussen's comments came two weeks after the Pentagon released an Afghanistan war progress report that highlighted "both long-term and acute challenges" of the conflict, and warned that the Taliban and their al-Qaida allies "still operate with impunity from sanctuaries in Pakistan." "The insurgency's safe haven in Pakistan, as well as the limited capacity of the Afghan government, remain the biggest risks to the process of turning security gains into a durable and sustainable Afghanistan," according to the report. The summit in Chicago aims to fine-turn the alliance's strategy in Afghanistan, which calls for shifting the burdens of securing the strife-torn country to local forces and withdrawing NATO's combat troops by the end of 2014. Obama paid an unannounced visit to Afghanistan May 1 and signed an agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai that could have some American troops stay there until 2024 to train local forces and carry out counter-terrorism strikes. "In Chicago, the international community will express support for this plan and for Afghanistan's future," Obama said in a televised speech from Bagram Air Base. "And I have made it clear to its neighbor -- Pakistan -- that it can and should be an equal partner in this process in a way that respects Pakistan's sovereignty, interests and democratic institutions." Obama met with Pakistan President ?Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani March 27 on the sidelines of a summit in Seoul and acknowledged "strains" in relations between Washington and Islamabad.Pakistan closed routes used to supply NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, after a NATO air strike into Pakistani territory in November killed 24 Pakistani troops. Islamabad wants a formal apology from the United States and has pushed for an end to drone strikes on its soil. "It is in the interest of Pakistan for a stable, peaceful, prosperous, independent, sovereign Afghanistan," Gilani said as he met with Obama. "We want stability in Afghanistan." "If there is a stability in Afghanistan it's a stability in Pakistan, and peace for Afghanistan and Pakistan," the prime minister said. "We want to work together with you to have all the peace, prosperity and progress of the whole world." Speaking to reporters after those talks, Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, Ben Rhodes, hinted at the same conditions for Pakistan's presence in Chicago."The President and Prime Minister also agreed that as cooperation on our shared interest increases, the United States would welcome the potential participation of Pakistan in the ISAF summit in Chicago in May," he said.

Occupy movement gathers in Chicago warehouse to protest NATO

Members of Occupy Chicago and people from across the country gathered in an aging warehouse just outside Chinatown today to discuss their opposition to next weekend's NATO summit and finish planning for the mass protests they will stage during the meetings of world leaders. Today's gathering is the first day of a two-day "People's Summit" organized by Occupy Chicago and billed as an alternative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's May 20-21 summit at McCormick Place. The event began with several speakers addressing about 200 people in a loft-style room on the 7th floor of the warehouse on the west bank of the Chicago River at West Cermak Road, which has served as Occupy Chicago's headquarters for months. Many of the speakers said members of Occupy and other protesters should take credit for President Barack Obama's decision in March to move the G-8 summit -- which had also been scheduled for next weekend in Chicago -- to the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland. The White House said the G-8 financial meeting was moved because leaders wanted a more informal setting. They also spoke out against military and economic policies backed by the U.S. and other western powers that they say hurt the working class and developing countries. Kevin Rambo Jr., 19, said he traveled to Chicago from San Diego a few weeks ago to participate in May Day and NATO protests and "to be a part of sending the message that the global war machine has to end." Rambo said he's been alternating between sleeping in a sleeping bag as part of a protest outside a city mental health clinic in Woodlawn that is slated to close and staying with relatives who live in the area. "There's a revitalized activist community because of the Occupy movement, for the most part," he said, wearing an Occupy San Diego shirt in one of the warehouse's hallways. "Because of the growing number of people who are getting involved, I couldn't really not protest against NATO." Although the room where various people spoke this morning was mostly full, it was clear that the event's organizers expected more people to attend. Other rooms streaming a live video feed of the speeches and filled with hundreds of chairs for overflow crowds were either empty or had only a handful of spectators. The primary room was decorated with art and props from the Occupy movement, including life-size paintings of Obama and Mayor Rahm Emanuel wearing dark suits and holding handguns. After the morning's speeches, attendees scattered throughout the massive brick building to attend workshops and seminars on various topics, from education to the criminal justice system. Ashley Smith, who flew to Chicago this week from Burlington, Vt., said the NATO summit has brought together people from a wide variety of related causes. "All the demands that we're making - for social justice, economic equality, against the wars and occupations - they're all linked by opposition to a system that's out of control," Smith said.

First lady Michelle Obama : Country should learn from VT

American Way: Why Barack Obama's support for gay marriage is a huge political gamble by the president
By:John Avlon
Barack Obama's surprise announcement that he supports gay marriage resonated through the American political landscape last week, writes John Avlon. It was a "profile in courage" moment from the American president, but one loaded with political risk. Consider the fact that just the previous day the citizens of North Carolina voted to ban same-sex marriage and all forms of civil unions by a 20-point margin, enshrining unequal treatment in their state constitution. This has not been an unusual result when it has been put to the voters — more than 30 states have taken the same step, while in the half a dozen states where marriage equality is legal it has been achieved via state legislatures or judicial decision. In other words, gay marriage might be morally right, especially in the eyes of the progressive base, but it is a proven loser at the ballot box. And the Obama campaign has bet big on winning North Carolina in November, deciding to hold the Democratic convention there in August. The president won the state by a razor-thin 14,000 vote margin in 2008. It is an evangelical state in transition, containing both the Bible Belt and the research triangle of Duke University and the University of North Carolina, and given its resounding rejection of gay marriage, it just became an even more difficult prize for the Obama campaign to claim. The same might be true for the crucial battleground states of Virginia, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In fact, of the 12 key states that will decide the winner of the 2012 election, 10 have rejected gay marriage in statewide elections. The president’s self-described "evolution" on this controversial issue does parallel an evolution that has been occurring nationally. Support for gay marriage has risen from 27 per cent in the mid-90s to just over 50 per cent today. The gay civil rights movement has accelerated in the wake of the Aids epidemic and with the rise of popular openly gay celebrities such as the comedian Ellen DeGeneres. There has been a sea change in public opinion since the 1960s, but the nation remains deeply divided, and opponents tend to be more motivated than supporters when it comes to time to vote. And while 60 per cent of Americans say that the issue of gay marriage will not affect their vote this year, according to a new Gallup poll, nearly a quarter of independent voters say the president’s position makes them less likely to vote for his re-election, while only 11 per cent say it will encourage them to back him. This does not suggest the policy will be a political success. The president even risks alienating a core element of his base — African-American churchgoers, who overwhelmingly oppose gay marriage on religious grounds. The Obama campaign hopes that an outpouring of support and cash from liberals will compensate for the political risks. The activist class on the professional Left has long criticised the president for being too centrist in his approach to Congress — now it has solid evidence of his leadership on a controversial issue. In the days since the president’s decision, his campaign has continued to enjoy a fundraising bonanza, including a record-setting $15 million (£9.3  million) fundraiser at his friend George Clooney’s house in Hollywood. However, the Romney camp can sense the edge this unprecedented policy position creates for it in swing states. Elements of the evangelical community, which has been slow to warm to Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, might now be more inclined to rush to his defence. There will be associated Super PACs – supposedly independent campaign groups – to spread the message that Obama is dead-set on redefining the American family. It is a policy position his opponents can use as proof for the fantasy that he is a radical president. But Team Romney also finds itself in a double-bind — because it does do not want to talk about social issues at this stage of the campaign. The Obama campaign has gone from calling Romney a flip-flopper on social issues to taking his own words from the primary that he is a "severe conservative". His camp would like to spend the campaign talking about the economy — the issue it believes can help its candidate win over centrist swing voters. Every day spent talking about social issues only compounds that negative "severe conservative" image. President Obama’s best hope is that this moment of political courage is rewarded with revived respect for his leadership. Because moral leadership from the bully pulpit matters – it can help change hearts and minds. Liberal enthusiasm may be blind to the serious political risks this move might create. If the president loses the Southern and Midwestern swing states he won last time — possibly losing the White House in the process — this decision will be an important reason why. But it recalls a moment recounted in the new volume of Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson, The Passage of Power. After the assassination of John F Kennedy, the new president was warned by advisers not to pursue a civil rights agenda, arguing that it might be morally right but politically unwise in advance of the 1964 election. "Well, what the hell is the presidency for?" Johnson replied. He won in a landslide. John Avlon is senior columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast

90% Pakistani Christian favour Refugee Status from UN after rising violence.

By Nazir S Bhatti
I recieved an e-Mail from one of my friend on Facebok to whom I have never met nor knew in person. He wrote it in Roman-Urdu lanuage which I am copying as it is: "Dear Brother, Aj kal ki jo situation ha pakistan mein Christians ki wo sab achhi tarah jantay hein. I humbly requested you to please try to take step on this way> I know its not easy , But nothing is impossible: * You all Christian NGO's and Religious Leaders , Ap sab mil ke Christian countries ko request karein k wo ham sab ko pakistan se nikal le jaein. for e.g Italy, Denmark, Austrailia, New ZeaLand, Canada and so many other coutries can accommodate us. as you people are trying to get a separate province in punjab, I think instead of this moving from there is an easy and permanant solution. so please think on this. May Christ bless to all of Us" If, I will translate this e-mail, it simply says that all Christian leaders and Civil Society shall raise issue of situation of Pakistani Christian on International Forums and urge Western Countries to give refuge to Christians that they may have peacful life. I have posted this e-mail because it is one of hundrdres which I recieve every week from my Christian readers of Pakistan Christian Post who want to flee for freedom from slavery in Islamic Republic of Pakistan which are from activists of different groups but it is from a common Christian who can not even write in English but using social media to express his burden in life. Pakistan Christian Congress PCC in a petition urged Mr. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of United Nation to award Refugee Status to Pakistani Christians after rising violence against Christians after UN Security Council Resolution to action in Afghanistan after 9/11 attack in USA, from terrorists based in Afghanistan. PCC in its petition to UN for refugee status outlined that 20 million Pakistani Christians are facing constitutional genocide in Islamic Republic of Pakistan after implementation of Sharia law and other Islamic law which protect Islamic elements on enforced conversion of Christian women, killing of Christian on pretext to blasphemy law, attacks on worship places of Christians and to ransack Christian properties. PCC also raised issue of Christian representation in democratic institutions which is blocked by government by imposing Joint Electorate in which Muslim political parties are empowered to Select Christians in Parliament instead of Election, to end voice of Christians in Assemblies of Pakistan. Pakistan Christian Congress PCC viewed that Refugee Status for Christian is solution to issues of Pakistani Christian that they may migrate to democratic counties in Europe and North America after atrocities against them in Pakistan but a section of Pakistani Church based orgnizations opposed PCC petition in United Nation. A Cathoic Priest who heads National Commission for Justice and Peace in Pakistan, issued a press release to International Christian media alleging Pakistan Christian Congress PCC and its Chief Dr. Nazir S Bhatti to conspiring against solidarity of Pakistan with filing petition in UN for Refugee Status for Pakistani Christians. The NCJP stated that Pakistani Christians not support PCC call for Separate Christian Province on division of Punjab nor petition of Refugee Status in UNO. The Pakistani Adminstration have turned North Western Areas in a new province named Gilgit-Baltistan province and is heading to devide Punjab in Hazara province and Seraki provinces, then why not Separate Christian province? When PCC demands Separate Christian province, it does not mean that a Separate homeland for Christians and division of Pakistan but a province where Muslims shall have right to stay as they are with their proerties and Christians to stay with their properties in other provinces of Pakistan. The 20 million Pakistani Christians are living below poverty line comparing to Muslim dominated society facing hates on their religion after implementation of Islamic Sharia law in Pakistan and legislation turning them to be third class citizen in a land which was goverened by their ansecstors for centuries. The Muslim agreesors migrated to Indian sub-continent from Middle East and Central Asia in 7th centurary while Christians belonged to this land as son of soil. It is ironic that now Muslim immigrants are master in Pakistan and Christian sons of soil are living like slaves in their own land. The Christian leaders in sub-continet of India favoured formation of Pakistan in Round Table Conferences in 1930-32 in London during British Raj and voted for Punjab to fall in lot of Pakistan with presentation before Boundary Commission but Muslims have scratched Christian role in Pakistan Movement. There have been frequent incident of violnce against Christians in Pakistan where Muslim culprits are protected and never brought to justice. Islamists in Pakistan can gunn down Christian in broad day light in court compunds, they abduct Christian women and convert them with force to Islam to marry them, they gang rape Christian women but not arrested, they torture and kill Christian house-maids who refuse to convert to Islam, they destroy hundreds of homes but never convicted, they burn alive Christians but Islamic courts set them free, they are free to spread hate against christians but no legislation to creat harmonious society and use of religion Islam to oppress millions of Christian citizens. We affirm that some Churches in Pakistan have properties worth Billions of dollars in shape of Christian Missionary Schools, Colleges and Hospitals which are being run as bussiness concerns and benifiting Muslims only and establishment of Pakistan uses its clergy to speak against issues of common Christian on international forums but we assure them that demand of Separate Christian province or Refugee Status for Pakistani Christian will not harm their multi-million bussiness.

Pakistani minorities oppose International Jurist award for Pak Chief Justice
Mr. Lala Robin Daniel, Chairperson of National Minorities Alliance NMA have written a letter to Mr. Adish C Aggarwala who is President of International Council of Jurists to review selection of Chief Justice of Pakistan to receive International Award for Jurist 2012. The NMA have argued that Chief Justice Iftekhar Muhammad Chouhdary of Supreme Court of Pakistan not gave fair judgment in Hindu girl’s conversion case of Rinkle Kumari and others which was widely disagreed by Women Organizations, Civil Society Organizations and Religious Minorities Community Organization. Justice Chouhdary imposed his decision against the will and desire of Rinkal Kumari on 26 – 03- 2012. After the CJ passed orders to shift her to the shelter house, Rinkal started crying and screaming in the court, that she wanted to go to her mother. She also said that she will not go to the shelter house and would rather like to sleep in the court. It was heart rending to hear her say in the court that she doubted if she could get any justice in a system where majority is Muslim and wanted to make her Muslim forcible, which is why she thought they were helping each other, not her. Mr. Lala Robin Daniel said “The Supreme Court in Pakistan is more interested in taking up the politically motivated cases instated of providing relief to the poor people and failing again and again to deliver justice to the common people of Pakistan. The most important organ of the country “Judiciary” has collapsed in Pakistan with police, lawyers and judges turning into the survival force and shield for the feudal lords, extremist forces and oppressors” NMA have urged International Council of Jurists ICJ to review its decision of awarding Justice Ifthekhar Chouhdary with the International Award of Jurists 2012. The Honorable Adish C Aggarwala, President, International council of Jurists Subject: Request to review the selection of Chief Justice of Pakistan to receive International Award for Jurists 2012 As Mr. Iftekhar Muhmmad Chuhdary the Chief Justice of Pakistan has been announced to receive the prestigious international Award for Jurists 2012. I being the chairperson of National Minorities Alliance – Pakistan would like to request you to review the nomination of Mr. chuhdary on the following grounds: 1. The decision made by Mr. Chuhdary about the famous case of conversion of young Hindu girl Rinkal Kumari where widely disagreed by the Women Organizations, Civil Society Organizations and Religious Minorities Community Organization. Mr. Chuhdary imposed his decision against the will and desire of Rinkal Kumari on 26 – 03- 2012. After the CJ passed orders to shift her to the shelter house, Rinkal started crying and screaming in the court, that she wanted to go to her mother. She also said that she will not go to the shelter house and would rather like to sleep in the court. It was heart rending to hear her say in the court that she doubted if she could get any justice in a system where majority is Muslim and wanted to make her Muslim forcible, which is why she thought they were helping each other, not her. 2. This Award is in recognition of the tireless and fearless endevours made by the Hon’ble Chief Justice towards Administration of Justice in the country against all odds. To my understanding the concern of the administration of justice is the fair, just and impartial upholding of rights, and punishment of wrongs, according to the rule of law. In Islam administration of Justice is defined by Imam Ja'far ibn Muhammad al Sadiq (P) as "Avoid being a judge, for judgeship is a position which should be held only by a person who knows how to administer justice and whose judgments are impartial. ". (Wasail al-Shi’ah, vol. 18, p. 7). 3. The Supreme Court of Pakistan sentenced Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto ex-Prime Minstar of Pakistan in 1979 to death by hanging for a crime he did not commit. This judicial murder is seen as a flawed decision our courts have made. As result this decision has never been used as reference for the courts in Pakistan. If the judgment passed in the case of Rinkal Kumari is used as reference in Pakistan it is feared that in future the women of religious minorities will not be safe. 4. The Supreme Court in Pakistan is more interested in taking up the politically motivated cases instated of providing relief to the poor people and failing again and again to deliver justice to the common people of Pakistan. The most important organ of the country “Judiciary” has collapsed in Pakistan with police, lawyers and judges turning into the survival force and shield for the feudal lords, extremist forces and oppressors. In the light of above mentioned points we would kindly request ICJ to review its decision of awarding Mr. Ifthekhar Chuhdary with the International Award of Jurists 2012. Robin Daniel Chairman

Asif gave Punjab govt to Sharifs in charity

PUNJAB Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa has said the ‘unconstitutional’ Punjab government can be overthrown at once if he exercises his powers. “We believe in the continuity of democratic process and want to continue reconciliatory process of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto otherwise the fact is that I can reject all Chief Minister’s summaries on the grounds of his unconstitutional and unlawful status,” he said while answering the questions of journalists after the convocation of King Edward Medical University (KEMU) on Saturday. The Governor said that Shahbaz Sharif was unconstitutional Chief Minister and did not have a seat of Bhakhar nor of Rawalpindi while the entire system was in a state of limbo. “President Asif Ali Zardari has given Punjab’s government to Mian Brothers in charity,” he claimed. He also castigated the Chief Minister Punjab undemocratic deportment, and said a person who was holding the top government office of the province was getting involved in the processions of agitation. He said the CM was hatching a conspiracy against the democracy under the umbrella of protests whereas CM had not implemented the decisions of the energy conference. He believed that Sharif Brothers would be convicted if the Supreme Court took up the Mehran Scandal case. “They will not only be punished but will also be disappeared from the political horizon of the country forever,” he added. Replying to a question about the opening of the NATO supply, the Governor said that civil and military leadership would collectively decide this issue according to the aspirations and wishes of the people of the country. “Our top most priority is the dignity and independence of the country and its countrymen,” he added. Governor/Chancellor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa appreciated the faculty of King Edward Medical University for successfully running the postgraduate programmes of PhD, M.Phil, MD, MS and various diplomas and producing high quality and able postgraduate doctors to provide specialist coverage to the people of Pakistan. He called upon the doctors to join hands in serving the humanity in general and poor masses of the country in particular. He was addressing the faculty and graduating students at the convocation of King Edward Medical University at the Library Hall on Saturday. Prof Bashir Ahamd, former Principal of KEMC, was the guest of honour, while KEMU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Asad Aslam Khan, faculty, postgraduates/graduates along with their parents were present. The Governor praised the KEMU’s strategy of self-reliance through various measures such as Donor Wall, opening of KEMU Diagnostic Lab, plan to admit students from Iran in different postgraduate courses at KEMU and establishment of Training Centre in Afghanistan in Ophthalmology by College of Ophthalmology, and Allied Vision Sciences would not only generate funds but would also create goodwill amongst the neighbouring countries. “This will also attract students from other countries of the region to Pakistan,” he said, adding that KEMU administration and faculty must be having many other ideas for adopting measures which reduced the financial burden on the poor patients. He said the university had allocated Rs 30 million this year, which he deemed not sufficient and must be increased enormously. He said the university was offering postgraduate programmes in 31 disciplines of PhD, 14 of M.Phil, 23 of MD/MS and MDS and 21 diplomas, adding that the huge number of postgraduates getting training was marvellous and unmatched with any other university/institution in the county. He also congratulated the graduating students and medal-winners and advised them to come up to the expectations of poor, needy and deserving patients by offering their skills and expertise. Earlier, presenting the university’ progress report, the KEMU Vice Chancellor Prof. Asad Aslam Khan said that KEMU had put in place a structured training programme for MS/MD/MPhil/PhD and Diplomas, developed examination calendar and all exams were held in time and results were announced within a month of the last viva.

Pakistan: Verdict lacuna to be exposed after appeal

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Aitzaz Ahsan, who is defending Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in the contempt of court case, has said that there was a “legal lacuna” in the judgment given by the court which would be mentioned after filing of appeal. Talking to reporters at the Parliament House on Friday, Aitzaz said the National Assembly speaker would decide on the issue of the PM’s disqualification. Aitzaz also strongly objected to the use of poetry by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa in his additional note and lamented that he should not have done it. He said Khosa should not have added poetry in the judgment, especially of his own. He said that it was being misinterpreted in several ways such as “pity the nation which has judges like this, pity the nation where judges do this, do that”, adding that only Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was the outcome of the lawyers’ movement but other judges had vulnerabilities. Referring to Justice Khosa’s note, Aitzaz said, “It says, ‘pity the nation which treats a convict as a hero’, but our nation considers a lot of convicts, if not all, as heroes.” Justice Khosa, in his additional note along with the main 77-page detailed verdict of the Supreme Court, had quoted For Whom the Bell Tolls by John Donne and Pity the Nation by Khalil Gibran.

Valérie Trierweiler: France's new first lady steps into the spotlight

Valérie Trierweiler,
the partner of France's newly-elected president François Hollande, has vowed to continue her career as a TV presenter and journalist. Meet the former storyteller who is about to step into the role of France's first lady.Valérie Trierweiler may not be a former international supermodel, but she has recently generated as many headlines as the woman she is about to replace, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. The soon-to-be new first lady of France has come under the scrutiny of the international press for her unmarried status, marking the first time an incoming French presidential couple are not legally man and wife. The 47-year-old Trierweiler has covered plenty of political campaigns as a journalist for the glossy weekly magazine Paris Match before becoming part of the story in 2005, when her friendship with François Hollande progressively “deepened”, as she put it in her own words.
Clandestine beginnings
Hollande was then living with fellow Socialist Ségolène Royal, his partner of 25 years and the mother of his four children. Royal’s defeat in the 2007 presidential election precipitated the dissolution of her relation with Hollande. The clandestine affair with Trierweiler turned into an official romance in 2010, a few months before Hollande launched his own bid for the French presidency. The sentimental situation seemed to be appeased in early 2012, when the former mistress and the deceived partner joined forces behind Hollande to propel the Socialist candidate into the Elysée palace. Credited for masterminding Hollande’s weight-loss programme, Trierweiler attended electoral rallies from the front row and continued as an unofficial advisor from her office at the Socialist campaign headquarters. Madame “Normal” While outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy made headlines with his whirlwind romance and wedding with a supermodel-turned-folksinger Bruni, the new presidential couple has vowed to keep a lower profile. Trierweiler has made clear that she would like to maintain her previous “working mom” lifestyle as much as possible. The twice-divorced mother of three has refused to give up her career, telling the French weekly Femme Actuelle that she didn't want the state to pay for the children she had before moving with François Hollande. Trierweiler’s independent-minded character is also visible in the way she dresses, according to women’s magazines. Contrary to France’s past first ladies, the journalist has never embraced the country’s notoriously extravagant fashions, preferring instead affordable brands matching her down-to-earth character. “For the moment, I dress in ready-to-wear. Lately it has been Georges Rech and Apostrophe, which are quality ready-to-wear brands that I have been wearing on television. I have never worn dresses by big-name fashion designers”, Trierweiler told British newspaper The Times. From ‘charming asset’ to Socialist Party bouncer As a woman known for speaking her mind, Trierweiler admitted that the prospect of being first lady was making her “a little uncomfortable”. The French public got a taste of Trierweiler’s boldness during the presidential campaign. When Paris Match put her on its cover abovethe headline “François Hollande’s charming asset” on March 8, International Women's Day, Trierweiler slammed her employer through her tweeter feed: “Bravo Paris Match for its sexism…my thoughts go out to all angry women”. More recently, Trierweiler didn’t hesitate to kick out a senior Socialist politician, Julien Dray, from a party at Hollande’s campaign headquarter. Dray has been blamed for endangering Hollande’s presidential bid by inviting senior Socialist officials to a birthday party where one-time potential candidate turned pariah Dominique Strauss-Kahn was present, only days before the crucial May 6 runoff. After years of reporting for a celebrity magazine, Trierweiler is keenly aware of the media pressure that will pile up on the new presidential couple. As she said after Hollande’s election and the publication of a special “souvenir” Paris Match issue, a political journalist stepping into the role of France’s new first lady feels like “the subject of one of my own stories”

99-percenters protest economic woes in Europe

Demonstrators from the Occupy Movement have taken to the streets in several countries across Europe to protest against economic conditions on the Global Day of Action.
Hundreds of people took to the streets of London on Saturday, calling for an end to "predatory capitalism." In Germany, activists from the Occupy Movement assembled in front of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange to symbolically slaughter the sculpture of the stock market bull. Spaniards also gathered in 80 cities and towns on Saturday to condemn economic injustice. The unemployment rate in Spain is as high as 25 percentage, marking the highest rate among the 17 countries using the euro. The Spanish government has enacted deep spending cuts to reduce the national debt, but people blame those measures for deepening financial troubles of the families. Occupy organizers say several rallies are also planned in cities including Moscow, New York and Athens. The rallies are inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests that began in the US last September. The 99-percenters are against corporate greed and demand social and economic justice. Occupy protesters have been repeating the slogan, "We are the 99 percent" to distinguish themselves from the one percent of Americans who are in possession of the nation's greatest wealth.

Occupy London protesters demonstrate

Occupy protesters demonstrate outside St. Paul's Cathedral and scuffle with police in the City of London.

Bahraini forces continue violent crackdown on protests

Bahraini regime forces have used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse anti-regime demonstrators in two villages near the capital, Manama.Police attacked protesters in the village of Bilad al-Qadim, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) west of the capital, and the village of Sahla, about 8.5 kilometers (5 miles) west of Manama, on Saturday.Reports say dozens of demonstrators were also injured during clashes in Bilad al-Qadim and Sahla. The protesters were calling for the release of prominent jailed human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who has been on hunger strike for more than three months as well as other political prisoners.Demonstrators on Saturday also demanded the downfall of the Al Khalifa regime.The latest attacks by Bahraini regime forces against peaceful protesters come a few days after Bahraini Interior Minister Sheikh Khalifa Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa claimed on May 9 that Manama will continue to implement reforms. “Bahrain has been able, thanks to its wise leadership, to overcome the crisis and present a bold leading model in tackling issues by taking effective steps that earned international appreciation and projected the kingdom’s real image,” Sheikh Rashid claimed during a meeting with Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Ankara. Bahrainis have been holding peaceful anti-regime demonstrations since February 2011.Demonstrators hold King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa responsible for the death of the protesters since the beginning of the popular uprising.

Afghanistan: Chicago Conference Will Debate On Combat, Defense Capacities Of ANA
The authorities of the Afghan defense ministry says that the Chicago conference that will be held within a few days will discuss international support towards Afghanistan in the coming ten years after 2014. General Mohammad Zahir Azimi spokesperson of the Defense Ministry told a press conference that in the Chicagoi Conference discussions will take place on support and guarantee of the international community to Afghanistan (ANA) in the ten years after 2014 and equipment of the national army of Afghanistan will be specified. The real expectation of the Afghan Defense Ministry of the Chicago Conference is that after 2014 the national army of Afghanistan should be self-sufficient and have high capacities and high combat and defense capability to be able to defend national independence, national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. Azimi added that we expect the international community to focus its attention towards equipping of the Afghan air force, supplying of armored forces, support elements and be self-sufficient in defensive terms. He stressed that if the peace process and reintegration succeeds the training and financing centers of the insurgency outside Afghanistan should be fully eliminated. Under such condition after 2015 reduction will be brought about in the number of the armed forces. He stressed that it is expected that the third phase of security transition will be started till the holding of the Chicago conference. It should be noted that for the annual expenses of the security foundations of Afghanistan USD four thousand and one hundred billion have been anticipated and that USD 500 million will be provided by Afghanistan and the rest by the international community.

4 NATO troops die in Afghanistan; 4 police killed

Insurgent attacks killed three NATO troops in Afghanistan on Saturday while a fourth died of non-battle related injuries, the international coalition said. A roadside bomb in the northwest killed four Afghan policemen. All four members of the U.S.-led military coalition died in southern Afghanistan, where much of the fighting in the more than 10-year conflict has been concentrated, the alliance said in a statement. NATO provided no other details about the deaths, including the nationalities of the troops. The coalition normally waits for member nations to disclose those details. So far this month, 18 NATO service members have been killed in Afghanistan. In the northwestern province of Badghis, a roadside bomb struck a police vehicle traveling through Qadis district, killing four officers, said the provincial governor's spokesman, Sharafudin Majedi.

Punjab chief minister violating the constitution

Minister of State for Water and Power Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi said the Punjab chief minister was violating the constitution by instigating people to protest and leading rallies against the energy crisis. Addressing a gas supply ceremony at Canal View Town on Saturday, the minister said that by starting politics, the PML-N leadership was conspiring against the federation of Pakistan, adding that if they wanted to launch a long or short march they must quit national and provincial assemblies. He said the Supreme Court of Pakistan had not disqualified the prime minster of Pakistan from office but left the matter up to parliament and the Election Commission of Pakistan. The prime minister has a right to appeal against the court decision, he added. The PPP government has closed all backdoor channels to enter the corridors of power and the Sharif brothers should see and wait, he added.

Sweet delight: With the arrival of spring in Swat, sale of strawberries on the rise

The Express Tribune News Network
As tourist throng Swat with the arrival of spring, the markets can be seen filled with stalls decorated with fresh, ripe fruits with their sweet smell dominating the air.
“Come one, come all! The enemy of all ailments: red as blood, attractive as hearts and just for Rs100 a kilo. Fight off diabetes at this is limited-time price. Don’t miss this chance, buy while you can as stocks are selling fast!” were the loud slogans of Akbar Ali, a vendor selling strawberries in Mingora Bazaar. Ali has been in the fruit business for five years now and said strawberries earn him the most money. “It is sold for Rs300 per kilogram at the start of the season but as supply increases, the price drops down to Rs100. Usually we sell up to 100 kilograms and earn around Rs600 from daily sales.” According to Ali, most of the demand comes from patients as it is rich in nutrients and helps reduce blood pressure. Strawberry is cultivated on a large scale across the valley. Apart from the fruit’s production, farmers also make a good deal of money from its runner plants, which are sold for cultivation in other parts of the country. With favourable climatic conditions, around 80% of strawberry farms are currently being used for runner plantation. Saeedullah, who has been growing and selling runner plants in Koz Durushkhela for the past 15 years, said it is much more lucrative than growing strawberries. “We buy these plants from local farmers and sell them to dealers and farmers in Mardan, Charsadda, Lahore and even Sukkur,” he said, adding that an acre of agricultural land can accommodate 80,000 plants which are sold for Rs700,000 to Rs1 million. In 1992, the agriculture department formally started exploring ways to improve the crop’s yield and has since tested several areas for cultivation. The production, too, has increased manifold. According to Muhammad Ayaz Khan, a research officer at Swat Agriculture Research Centre, only 10 farmers were growing strawberries in Swat in 1997 but currently over 100 farmers are growing the fruit in the valley. Ayaz has been researching strawberry cultivation for 20 years and has conducting trials on mulching, spacing and production; he has concluded that the farmers should focus on runner production as Swat is the best-suited place for its cultivation in the entire country. The insurgency, he added, was a setback for strawberry cultivation as the research centre remained closed during the insurgency, resulting in several varieties of the fruit being lost during the period. Among the numerous varieties of strawberries in Swat, chandler is the most famous due to its unique characteristics. According to Ayaz, chandler can be cultivated alongside onions, which increases farmers’ income through double cropping. “With proper management and use of modern technology, the environment can be converted into an opportunity to increase the quantity and quality of production and export the exotic fruit to developed countries,” he added.

Interpretations of ‘Sharif Courts’ not acceptable

Daily Times
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Friday said the Sharif brothers were making interpretations of the constitution on their own and “I will not accept their interpretation”. “We do not believe in two interpretations, one of the courts and the other of the Sharif Courts,” he added. Addressing a press conference at the inauguration ceremony of Consular Hall at the Pakistani High Commission, he said, “If all institutions work within the constitution then there will be no conflict.” He said he has been working within the parameters of the constitution. There was no case of corruption against him and he is performing his role to protect the constitution, he added. The PM said nobody in the world was giving acceptability to the views of the opposition. He said he held useful meetings with the British PM, ministers, business leaders and members of the Pakistani community. “I came to Britain on the invitation of British Prime Minister David Cameron.” To a question about Pak-US relations, he said the two countries were holding discussions on ways to take forward their relationship. He said Pakistan wanted to have relations with all countries on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit. The prime minister said the Parliamentary Committee on National Security had presented unanimous recommendations to parliament, which led to a resolution. “Now the talks between Pakistan and US are continuing for reopening of NATO supply routes and final decision will be taken in line with the decision of the parliamentary committee,” he added. Decision on NATO supply would be taken in the interest of the nation, he assured. He said Pakistan had unique ties with Britain and praised the statement of the British premier that enemies of Pakistan were enemies of his country. To a question about Zawahiri’s presence in Pakistan, Gilani said Pakistan had excellent cooperation with the US in terms of intelligence sharing. “If they have actionable and credible information, they must share it with us. ISI and CIA can act together,” he added. He said Pakistani courts were independent and if there is any concrete evidence against Hafiz Saeed, then it should be presented in the courts. Responding to the statement of the NATO secretary-general that Pakistan had not been invited to Chicago summit, he said he had asked Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and his government has not yet received any such formal decision from NATO. He said in the past, dictators staged coups by raising hue and cry on the issue of corruption. Gilani said, “The continuity of democracy will end corruption in Pakistan.” He said if two democratic governments completed their tenure, then future of democracy would be secure in Pakistan. The future of some opposition leaders is bleak but future of Pakistan is bright, he added. Separately, speaking at a businessmen reception, he urged the British investors to focus on Pakistan and not to be overly concerned about the “exaggerated perception” about security situation in Pakistan. Gilani said he was cognizant of the concerns about security situation in the region and said the perception was contrary to the situation on ground.

Peshawar: One killed, 17 injured in roadside blast

An explosion hit police vehicle in Gul Bahar area of Peshawar on Saturday.A roadside bomb targeting a vehicle carrying police has killed one of them in Gulbahar area of Peshawar."A remote-controlled bomb exploded as a police van carrying four prisoners passed by an abandoned tin of vegetable oil in Peshawar city on Saturday, killing one policeman and wounding 17 others," local police official Mohammed Asif said. A woman and four policemen were among those wounded. The official said the police officers were escorting a prison van, but no prisoner was hurt.Security officials have cordoned off the area and the injured have been shifted to Lady Reading Hospital.Initial investigation by the bomb disposal unit revealed that at least 3-5 kilograms of explosives were used in the blast. Yesterday, Deputy Superintendent of Police Faqeerabad, Banaras Khan survived a bomb attack near the Ring Road bridge in Peshawar, however, no casualties or injuries were reported.It was the third blast in the area during the last three days with the first injuring security personnel in Badbher area. No group has claimed responsibility of the attacks.

PML-N corruption proofs to be presented in PAC

Minister for Interior, Rehman Malik on Friday said that corruption evidences of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) will be presented before the courts and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in coming few days. In a statement, the minister said that due to poor governance in Punjab, the province is on top regarding crime rate and corruption cases. "Country's people have full right to know from the leaders of Punjab about their performance as it seems PML-N's few ministers are deliberately doing so to disqualify their leadership." He said that the CM Punjab talks about making the country according to the desires and ambition of Quaid-i-Azam of Unity, Faith and Discipline. "However, while ignoring the Quaid-i-Azam's wording of discipline, the leadership of PML-N stimulates people for agitations and protests against the federation." He added, PML-N leadership is also unaware of word unity as they besides promoting feelings of malignity in people against the federal government, they have also been supporting the banned organizations openly. Malik said they have only faith on money as they transferred such looted money from country's bank to abroad. He advised them to stop politics of defaming just for petty gains and play their due role in the development of the country.