Thursday, June 21, 2012

Five killed, 24 injured in Peshawar blast

At least five persons were killed and 24 others including seven children and 11 women were injured when a power bomb exploded in Hazar Khawani area of Peshawar on Thursday. Rescue sources said the pressure cooker bomb was planted in a handcart which was parked near Panj Pirano Ziarat. At the time of blast, a large numbers of male and female devotees were present near the graves of old Sufi saints. The blast resulted in killing of five persons and injuring 24 others. The powerful blast also damaged the boundary wall of the graveyard. The blast caused fear and panic among the residents as its sound was echoed in the surrounding localities. Soon after the blast Edhi ambulances and rescue 1122 squad rushed to the blast site and shifted the injured persons to Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar for emergency medical treatment. Some of the injured were stated to be in critical condition. Those who were killed were identified as Zahir Shah, Muzammil Shah and Kamil Shah and two others while those who were injured included Basit Haider, Tofail,Syed Shah Bahar Shah, Fatima, Azmat Shah, Farooq, Rani, Naila, Ajmal, Zeeshan, Kashif, Atiq, Haider Ali, Sombal Noman and Mukhtiar. Police and Bomb Disposal Squad rushed to the blast site and cordoned off the area. SSP Operations Tahir Ayub said that that main target of the blast was the gathering of people. According to Bomb Disposal Squad around 10 kilograms of explosives materials were used in the attack. They said that the bomb was placed in pressure cooker which blew up with a huge blast. It is worth mentioning here that earlier to this Rahman Baba mausoleum was targeted in the same graveyard when unknown persons planted explosives material.

Asif Ali Zardari targeted, Yousuf Raza Gilani exits: Who'll be the next to go?

The targeting of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari by elements of the country's establishment continues apace with the unseating of his prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, by the Pakistan Supreme Court last Tuesday. At a constitutional level, the judgement represents a direct face-off between the executive and parliament, on the one hand, and the judiciary, on the other hand. The initial issue, of whether or not the president enjoys immunity in office under Article 248 of the Constitution, snowballed into a confrontation over the powers of the Speaker to decide on Gilani's eligibility to continue in office despite his conviction for contempt of court on April 26, 2012. The fallout of the Supreme Court's judgement by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, himself recently beleaguered by questions of personal integrity, also has political implications, which will play out in coming days and months. Immediate issues of governance and constitutionalism stem from the order having ante-dated effect, thus invalidating all prime ministerial decisions since April 26. The wider context concerns the direction in which the Pakistan state is headed, the institutional and political face-offs involved and continued uncertainties in an innately unstable, even volatile, situation. Who gains? Who is vulnerable? And who is dispensable? NRO and the memo to the US Two narratives, involving the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) of October 5, 2007, and the memo to the Americans after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011, have intertwined to draw in the army, political parties (notably PPP) the executive and the judiciary. The NRO was promulgated by General Pervez Musharraf as president, to facilitate the return of Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan and its politics at a time when he was involved in a confrontation with Chief Justice Chaudhry. The Ordinance provided selective amnesty for cases instituted for offences between January 1, 1986, and October 12, 1999, i.e., during the civilian interregnum between years of military rule. The NRO represented a deal between the military establishment under Musharraf and its major civilian opposition. But even before Benazir Bhutto could capitalise on it, she was assassinated; fingers pointed in several directions, including the military establishment itself, known to be adept at playing a two-faced game as with the Americans after 9/11. Meanwhile, the changes that Pakistan had seen in increased civil society activism and the face-off between Musharraf and the judiciary led to the military-sponsored NRO becoming a football between the executive under both Musharraf and PPP, and the judiciary. The life of the NRO is indicative: Promulgated on October 5, 2007, by Musharraf Suspended by Chief Justice Chaudhry on October 12, 2007 Revived by Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar on February 27, 2008 Struck down by Chief Justice Chaudhry on December 16, 2009 Subsequent developments led to the Pakistan Supreme Court ordering the prime minister to write to the Swiss authorities to reopen cases against Zardari, Gilani's refusal to do so, his conviction for contempt on April 26, 2012, the Speaker's ruling in Gilani's favour, PILs against the ruling by opposition parties and Gilani's eventual dismissal.

International Pashto Language . د پښتو ژبی نړیواله ورځ

۲۰۱۲ میلادی کال د جون میاشتی یوویشتمه چی د۱۳۹۱ شمسی کال د چنګاښ د میاشتی اولې نیټې سره دمون خوري د پښتو نړیواله ورځ ټاکل شوی چی دا ورځ به د نړی په مختلفو سیمو کی لمامځل کیږي. ژبه چی د یو قوم هویت څرګندوي، هر قوم ته ډیر ګرانه وي. ځکه چی د قوم ژوند د خپلی ژبي سره تړلی یي، که د قوم ژبه وی ؛ قوم هم ژوندې وي، خو چه ژبه ترې هېره شوه نو قومیت هم ترې ولاړ. د پښتو ژبې نړیوالی ورځ په مناسبت د افغان یون اداره د افغانستان حکومت باندی غږ کوی تر څو د پښتو ژبی ته د افغانستان په تعلیمی، اداری، قانونی سیستم، کلتوری او بلاخره رسنیو کی د افغانستان رسمی ژبی په څیر مساویانه ونډه ورکړي او په خپلو ورځنیزو چارو کی یی وکاروی. د افغان یون اداره نه یواځی دا د دولت مکلیفیت ګني بلکه د مسلکی ادارو، جوړښتونو، تعلیمی ادارو او مسلکی اشخاصو څخه هیله کوی تر څو د پښتو ژبی په وده او عام کولو کی خپل رغنده رول ولوبوی. راخی چی پښتو د خپل ورځنیزو خبرو، لیکلو او کارونو کی وکاروو

Pakistan: Looming judicial tyranny

Yousaf Raza Gilani is gone. The incumbent PPP is discussing his replacement. Whoever succeeds Gilani still runs the risk of being subjected to the same pressures from the judiciary as Gilani faced, and which eventually ended in his ignominious departure, not at the hands of the people or their elected representatives, which is the norm in all parliamentary democracies, but at the hands of an activist judiciary that has opened itself up in the process to grave criticism. For the benefit of our readers, let us retrace some of the steps and developments that led to this denouement. The National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) was essentially a political deal between Musharraf and the PPP led at that time by the late Benazir Bhutto. It gave relief to over 8,000 people affected by charges of corruption and other misdemeanours, of whom only about 80 were politicians. While the Supreme Court (SC) struck it down on the strict constitutional/legal criterion of being discriminatory, and ordered all closed cases of the beneficiaries to be reopened, its subsequent focus seemed to be on just one of those beneficiaries: President Asif Ali Zardari. Gilani took his stand on the basis of Article 248 of the constitution, which lays down that the president enjoys immunity so long as he is in office. This is a principle that is the bedrock of every constitution known to man. Take the example of French former president Sarkozy. After losing the presidential election, his immunity extended one month after leaving office, according to the French constitution. As soon as that grace period expired, Sarkozy is being hauled over the coals in various cases, including the murky Agosta submarine affair that involves a Pakistan angle. The SC saw fit in its wisdom to ignore all this constitutional edifice despite the argument being presented that President Zardari could be acted against in the Cotecna case after he leaves office. Instead, the SC suggested that if ‘someone’ claimed immunity, he must apply for it to the court (while Article 248 leaves no or little room for ambiguity). The government appeared reluctant to subject itself to an ‘interpretation’ of Article 248 that could open new cans of worms for it, hence its reluctance to pursue the immunity matter in all the proceedings. The SC ordered the chief executive, then Prime Minister Gilani, to reopen the Swiss case despite presidential immunity and the reluctance of the Swiss judicial authorities themselves to reopen the case in the absence of fresh substantive evidence, those being their judicial rules. The insistence despite all these facts by the SC indicated to some circles that some extraneous factor may have crept into these judicial proceedings. Be that as it may, the first casualty of this jurisprudence is a unanimously elected prime minister at the hands of the judiciary. And there is no telling whether he will be the last. It may be noticed in passing that the reluctance of Gilani to file an appeal against his contempt conviction suggests a lack of confidence in the impartiality of the court. This is a serious development with implications for the future. The separation of powers enshrined in the constitution is a reflection of the best practice and constitutional structure from world experience. The framers of the US constitution were clear that individuals or groups could not be relied upon to exercise restraint on the basis of good intentions, therefore checks and balances and the separation of powers was necessary. Every institution therefore is enjoined by this schema to remain within its boundaries and not encroach on other institutions’ turf. Unfortunately, the restored superior judiciary’s activism, unrestrained in some instances by the time honoured principle of judicial restraint, is deleterious for the respect and dignity of the judiciary itself since it opens up the judiciary to debate and controversy. The SC’s overruling the Speaker of the National Assembly can be considered a weakening of the principle that parliament is supreme. In fact, the essence of the verdict against the Speaker’s finding is to declare, at least in the sphere of the issues raised by the case, that parliament’s supremacy is subject to the will, not of the people, but of the judiciary. This is a dangerous chink in the wall of separation of powers construct. Since there is no higher judicial forum than the SC, its verdicts acquire permanence (we may recall the shelf life of the doctrine of necessity to illustrate the point). The US Supreme Court declared: “We are not final because we are infallible. We are infallible because we are final.” Hidden in that message is the thought that if the judiciary does not judiciously impose restraint on itself, the direction in which things may head would alarmingly resemble judicial tyranny.

Karachi home to 71,000 registered Afghan refugees, says UNHCR

For the thousands of Afghan children living in refugee camps on the outskirts of Karachi, June 20, which is observed around the world as International Refugees Day, was no different from any other day. The hunger, homelessness and feeling of desperation that these children and their families had tried to leave behind in their war-torn homeland of Afghanistan have followed them to their new home. This was stated by Rashid Khan, a former official of the BEFAR (Basic Education for Afghan Refugees), an NGO working to improve and contribute towards better standards of living for displaced and underprivileged communities. “International Refugees Day is observed to honour the courage, strength and determination of the women, men and children who have been forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence,” Khan said. Though there are some 25,000 Afghan refugees living in the Afghan and Jadeed camps located near the Super Highway, there is not a single school, college, or hospital that the refugees can visit. For those living in these camps, the lack of basic facilities is compounded by a feeling of alienation and persecution. Sujjad Gul believes that the camp is the only secure place for his people. “If we go outside of this camp, we are assaulted. The local police are reluctant to interfere when we are attacked. I once went to the police after being attacked. I was still bleeding from the head, and all they had to say was that I should defend myself if I am attacked.” Gul believes that it is pointless to ‘fight the system’, as this will only make things worse and will probably result in him being thrown in prison. “I don’t think fighting back is worth being separated from my family,” he said. Two young Afghani refugees Fawad Khan and Dawood Shah said that we are selling homemade items to survive. Both the brothers said that each member of a family must work to earn some money for their family. When asked if they plan to attend school, Shan said that the street was their school now. Syed Bilal Agha, Senior Field Assistant at UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), told The News that the state of Pakistan has hosted countless Afghan refugees in the last 30 years. “In 2006, we issued registration cards to about 120,000 Afghan refugees. There were already hundreds of undocumented refugees in the country who did not have the financial means to settle anywhere. Many of the Afghan refugees have now left Pakistan voluntarily, but there are still some 71,000 registered Afghans in Karachi.” He stated that under a tripartite agreement between the UNHCR and the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Afghan refugees in Pakistan have a deadline of 31 December 2012 to voluntarily register for repatriation. Those who return to their homeland will be supported by the UNHCR.

Benazir Bhutto's 59th birthday today

Benazir Bhutto's 59th birthday is going to be celebrated Thursday (today) with full fervour. Party workers would give blood in order to pay tribute to their great leader. Benazir Bhutto was born on June 21, 1953: she was an embodiment of extraordinary personality. She was of 29 year old when she led the party after tragic death of her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. In the Muslim World, she was the first woman who came to power at the age of 35. The PPP leaders and workers are of the view that she was lady of character who not only tried her best to empower women but also sacrificed for uplift of democracy and people. The PPP Member National Assembly Mir Temur Talpur said that he passed three years along with her when she was studying in London. Minister for the Minorities Mohan Lal said that Benazir Bhutto continued her endeavours for rights of minorities throughout her life.