Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pakistan's 14 judges received two plots each

Three existing and twelve retired judges of the Supreme Court received two residential plots each worth millions of rupees in expensive sectors of the federal capital, said a report presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday. 56 bureaucrats including Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani , Secretary General to Presidency Salman Farooqui and former interior secretary Syed Kamal Shah also grabbed two plots each in the federal capital. A report by the Ministry of Housing presented before the committee contained the details of allotment of two plots each to the Supreme Court Judges and bureaucrats. Acting Chief Election Commissioner Justice Shakirullah Jan and former Chief Justice, Abdul Hameed Dogar were also among the beneficiaries. According to this report these plots were allotted as desired by the former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz during the tenure of former President Pervez Musharraf. Justicew Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tasadduqe Jilani, Justice Nasirul Mulk are included among the existing judges, while Justice Khalilur Rahman Ramday, former chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, Justice Javed Batar, Justice Saeed Ashhad, Justice Sardar Raza, Justice Nawaz Abbasi, Justice Faquir Khokhar, Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Falak Sher, Justice Jamshed Ali, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Zahid Hussain are included among the beneficiaries. Besides, former law secretary Justice (Retired) Mansoor Ahmad also received two residential plots. These plots are located in Islamabad’s prized residential sectors D-12, G-14, and G-13. Appearing before the PAC meeting presided over by its Chairman Nadeem Afzal Auditor General Akhtar Buland Rana explained his absence from previous meetings saying he was not in the country. Member committee Noor Alam lost his temper and exchanged hot words over chairman committee defending the cabinet secretary and AG. The Bureaucrats includes, Ismail Qureshi, Jalil Abbass Jilani, Sajid Chattah, Ijaz Rahim, Aslam sanjrani, Ahmed Waqar, Syed Kamal Shah, Abdullah Yousuf, Abdur Rauf Chaudhry. The committee also summoned secretary housing on July 5 and directed to present the list of army general who were awarded plots during 2008-2010

US to release $1.1b military aid to Pakistan: US official

dunya tv
Pakistan and the US announced earlier that the border would be open once again to NATO convoys. The United States will release about $1.1 billion to Pakistan s military as part of a deal that will see Islamabad lift a blockade on NATO supply convoys into Afghanistan, a US official said Tuesday. The money, from a US "coalition support fund" designed to reimburse Pakistan for the cost of counter-insurgency operations, had been withheld due to tensions between the two countries and Islamabad s closure of the supply routes. The coalition support fund is often the subject of wrangling between US and Pakistani officials, with Islamabad s claims often rejected and smaller sums approved by Washington for reimbursement. The $1.1 billion that will be freed up under the border deal does not include large sums that Pakistan says it is owed, said the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "This is the amount that has been approved and already gone through the process," the US official told AFP.

PML-N stubborn, negative and they haven’t learnt their lesson

Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa said on Monday that in the coming elections, the Punjab government would see its strength, adding that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) only believed in the politics of stubbornness. Addressing a delegation of journalists from the Sargodha Press Club at the Governor’s House, he said that the PML-N had not learnt a single lesson from the past and it was still engaging in negative politics. “Not a single megawatt (MW) was added to the national grid from 1996 to 2008. Electricity demand increased but production remained the same during the period. We have added 3,000 MW to the national grid from 2008-2011 and load shedding will ease in the coming months,” he added. Speaking about the doctors’ confrontation with the government, he said that if legitimate demands of doctors were not accepted, it would cause brain drain which would not be good for the country. He said, “If the Punjab government promises any segment of society and then forgets it, it will naturally lead to protests.” He added that he had written a letter to the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, asking him to accept legitimate demands being made by doctors.

Shahbaz responsible for worst-ever administrative crisis

Shahbaz Sharif alone is responsible for the worst-ever administrative and financial crises in the history of Punjab, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) senior central leader and Deputy Prime Minister Pervaiz Elahi said on Monday. Talking to the media after attending a reception hosted in his honour by Chaudhry Zaheeruddin Khan, Elahi said that inviting army doctors to hospitals showed that the Shahbaz government had failed to deliver. He said that due to the stubborn attitude of the Punjab government, patients were dying for lack of treatment and the doctors were put behind the bars. He said the Punjab rulers had allocated Rs 19 billion for power generation in the new budget but not a single penny had been spent to produce electricity. He reiterated that under the formula presented by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, energy crisis could be resolved within days, with provinces making their contributions. Elahi said that the PML-Q had stressed upon the president and the prime minister to resolve the energy crisis and the Balochistan issue ahead of the elections, and they were taking necessary steps in this regard. He said that mega projects of public welfare started by the PML-Q government, including the Lahore Rail Service, were shut down in political revenge by Shahbaz Sharif. He said that most part of the Ring Road was completed during his tenure, adding that the bridges they were claiming to complete in record period of time were collapsing in record time. He said that the Punjab government had admitted that it had a surplus amount of Rs 1.5 billion when the regained power, but the province was now under a heavy debt of Rs 430 billion. He said that all sectors, including health and education, were in a miserable condition. He said the doctors were on roads and hospitals deserted, while schools were without basic facilities. He said that the PML-N neither had a vision nor the capability and potential, as during its first tenure, the current rulers had called in the army to run WAPDA and schools, and now for hospitals. He maintained that the biggest failure of a provincial government was to call the army for help in civilian matters. He said that law and order in the province had deteriorated to such an extent that the army was being sought for security of jails. He said that owing to lack of positive thinking and attitude for solving problems, the situation had worsened to the extent that no action was taken until a body was lying outside the office of the CM. He said that due to the wrong policies of the Shahbaz Sharif, no foreign investor was ready to invest in the province and even the investors who had been bringing in billions of dollars during the PML-Q’s tenure had gone back. Pervaiz Elahi maintained that the PML-Q leadership was fully aware and conscious of national problems and was striving actively for their solution at the earliest.

Pakistan opens Afghan supply line after US apology

The Obama administration said Tuesday that Pakistan was reopening its supply lines into Afghanistan, after the U.S. belatedly issued an apology for the November killing of 24 Pakistani troops in a NATO airstrike. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed her condolences for the deaths in a telephone conversation with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. The incident badly damaged already strained relations between the two countries and forced the U.S. and its allies to send supplies via costlier northern routes into Afghanistan. "We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military," Clinton said in a statement, recounting her discussion with Khar. "I offered our sincere condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who lost their lives. Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives." It is the first time any U.S. official has formally apologized for the deaths, a step hotly debated within the Obama administration and one demanded by Pakistan while its supply routes remained closed for seven months. It came as key Pakistani civilian and military leaders were meeting Tuesday evening in Islamabad to discuss whether to reopen NATO supply routes. Clinton said a decision had been reached. "I am pleased that Foreign Minister Khar has informed me that the ground supply lines into Afghanistan are opening," Clinton said. She said Pakistan won't charge any transit fee, the subject of an earlier negotiation, and that the reopening would help the U.S. draw down its war in Afghanistan "at a much lower cost." "This is a tangible demonstration of Pakistan's support for a secure, peaceful, and prosperous Afghanistan and our shared objectives in the region," she said, calling the agreement "critically important to the men and women who are fighting terrorism and extremism in Afghanistan." Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also welcomed Pakistan's decision. "As I have made clear, we remain committed to improving our partnership with Pakistan and to working closely together as our two nations confront common security challenges in the region," he said.

Clinton sends regrets to Pakistan; supply lines re-opened

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
announced that supply lines from Pakistan to Afghanistan have been re-opened, after a U.S. apology to Pakistan for a November NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani troops. "I once again reiterated our deepest regrets for the tragic incident in Salala last November," Clinton said in a statement on talks with Pakistan's foreign minister. "I offered our sincere condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who lost their lives." Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar also "informed me that the ground supply lines ... into Afghanistan are opening," Clinton said. "Pakistan will continue not to charge any transit fee in the larger interest of peace and security in Afghanistan and the region," she said. "This is a tangible demonstration of Pakistan's s support for a secure, peaceful, and prosperous Afghanistan and our shared objectives in the region." Clinton's full statement: This morning, I spoke by telephone with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. I once again reiterated our deepest regrets for the tragic incident in Salala last November. I offered our sincere condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who lost their lives. Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives. We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again. As I told the former Prime Minister of Pakistan days after the Salala incident, America respects Pakistan's sovereignty and is committed to working together in pursuit of shared objectives on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect. In today's phone call, Foreign Minister Khar and I talked about the importance of taking coordinated action against terrorists who threaten Pakistan, the United States, and the region; of supporting Afghanistan's security, stability, and efforts towards reconciliation; and of continuing to work together to advance the many other shared interests we have, from increasing trade and investment to strengthening our people-to-people ties. Our countries should have a relationship that is enduring, strategic, and carefully defined, and that enhances the security and prosperity of both our nations and the region. The Foreign Minister and I were reminded that our troops -- Pakistani and American -- are in a fight against a common enemy. We are both sorry for losses suffered by both our countries in this fight against terrorists. We have enhanced our counter-terrorism cooperation against terrorists that threaten Pakistan and the United States, with the goal of defeating Al-Qaida in the region. In addition, I am pleased that Foreign Minister Khar has informed me that the ground supply lines (GLOC) into Afghanistan are opening. Pakistan will continue not to charge any transit fee in the larger interest of peace and security in Afghanistan and the region. This is a tangible demonstration of Pakistan's support for a secure, peaceful, and prosperous Afghanistan and our shared objectives in the region. This will also help the United States and ISAF conduct the planned drawdown at a much lower cost. This is critically important to the men and women who are fighting terrorism and extremism in Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Khar has informed me that, consistent with current practice, no lethal equipment will transit the GLOC into Afghanistan except for equipping the ANSF. In concluding the call, I reiterated our deep appreciation to the Government and the people of Pakistan for their many sacrifices and their critical contribution to the ongoing fight against terrorism and extremism

PPP to observe July 5 as Black Day

Pakistan People Party will observe Black Day across the country on July 5. Under the auspices of PPP seminars will be held to mark July 5 as Black Day. The party would organize seminars and special programs would be aired on electronic media in connection with the day. On 5th July, 1977 former military dictator Zia ul Haq toppled the government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and stayed to the rule for 11 years despite promising to hold within 90 days. The day would be observed to remember the valuable services of PPP leaders and its workers in the face of tormenting policies of a military dictator.

What’s Pashto for the pill?

THIS is a story from Afghanistan which is not all about fighting, bombs or the Taliban. It also contains a modicum of good news. It is about demography and fertility. Afghanistan has traditionally been seen as a demographic outlier. Its fertility rate was 6.6 in 2005-10, according to the United Nations. That was the second highest rate in the world, exceeded only by Niger (the fertility rate is the number of children a woman can expect to have during her lifetime). It put Afghanistan into the same category as the poorest countries of Africa. In contrast, fertility rates among its South Asian neighbours ranged from 4 (Pakistan) to below 3 (Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka). Afghanistan’s exceptional fertility rate was the clearest sign that the country was trapped in a unique and dysfunctional course of development, characterised by war, the Taliban and the under-education of women. But the figure was always something of a guess. The last census had been in 1979, the year of the Soviet invasion. An entire generation had grown up since then, much of it in conditions of pervasive violence and uncertainty. It was hard to know how fertility had changed over such a long period. Now, along comes the Afghanistan Mortality Survey, based on interviews conducted with nearly 48,000 Afghan women aged 12 to 49 in 2010 (and reported by Elizabeth Leahy Madsen of the Wilson Centre, a Washington think-tank). This is the first time in 30 years that the world has got a first-hand picture of what is happening in most of the country. The picture the survey paints is surprising and not entirely depressing. It says Afghanistan’s fertility rate is 5.1, one and a half points less than the UN estimate (and similar ones by the US Census Bureau). That might not like sound much. But 1.5 points is a lot in demography. It takes Afghanistan from off the scale to the merely high. Its new fertility rate lies between Senegal and Iraq. High, but no longer exceptional. The survey is imperfect, as you might expect. About 13% of the population could not be reached because it was too dangerous, so the provinces of Kandahar, Helmand and Zabul had to be excluded. But it does include most of the things you need to know to understand what is happening to the health of a population, including mortality, fertility. family planning and maternal health. For the most part, these other indicators suggest that the population’s health and well-being are improving slightly. The median age of marriage is rising, though it is still only 18. The use of contraception is low (only a fifth of married women use a modern method), but in rural areas it is increasing rapidly and it is about four points higher than the average in African. The big exception is female education: the survey found that 76% of women had never been to school, an unusually high proportion. The fall in fertility does not mean the rise in the population is going to come to an end any time soon. Because of years of high birth rates, Afghanistan remains a very young country, with half the population under 15. Even if fertility continues to fall steadily, says Ms Madsen, the number of children will grow by 5m over the next 15 years, or over 30%. Households are large, averaging eight people, so extended families or more than one family typically live together. So why has fertility fallen? The survey itself credits urbanisation and greater access to family planning. Carl Haub, a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, another Washington think-tank, points out that the government introduced a basic package of health care—including family planning—in 2003, spreading it throughout the country. It sometimes seems as if the Afghan government and its Western supporters have done practically nothing in the past ten years except cling on by the skin of their teeth. But that is not quite right.

POLIO: Afridi to front Pakistan polio fight

Dashing cricketer Shahid Afridi is to front efforts to eradicate polio from Pakistan, going head-to-head with militants who have banned vaccinations in an Al-Qaeda-linked stronghold on the Afghan border. The charismatic former Pakistan captain was born in Khyber district, which is part of the militant-infested tribal belt, and campaigners hope his Pashto credentials can persuade parents to inoculate their children. "It is a noble cause and I am happy to be part of smashing polio from Pakistan which has crippled many children," Afridi told AFP. He said the main target was remote areas of Pakistan, such as the Al-Qaeda and Taliban infested tribal belt on the Afghan border. "I am from that area and speak their language, so I will try to go door-to-door to remove any negative concept about the campaign and I hope this will help us raise healthy future generations," added Afridi. The campaign is being run by Pakistan and UNICEF. Aseefa, the younger daughter of President Asif Ali Zardari and assassinated ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto, is also an ambassador for the cause. "It's my duty to help mankind as the Almighty has given me stature, so I am ready to do any social work which helps human beings," said Afridi. Local Taliban and Pakistani warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur, whose loyalists are fighting the Americans in Afghanistan, have banned anti-polio vaccinations in the tribal region of Waziristan to protest against US drone attacks. They say the drone strikes kill civilians and have condemned the immunisation campaign as a cover for espionage. Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi was jailed for 33 years in May after helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden through a fake hepatitis vaccination programme. Pakistan is one of just three countries where polio remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria. The highly infectious disease affects mainly the under-fives and can cause paralysis in a matter of hours. Some cases can be fatal.

Afghans ditch opium for spice

Pakistan Cabinet to decide on NATO supply lines

A Pakistani official said key Cabinet members are expected to meet Tuesday to decide on reopening the NATO supply lines and said "hopes were high" that a deal would be reached. Pakistan closed the supply lines late last year after a deadly American airstrike killed 24 Pakistani border guards. Reopening the lines would go a long way toward improving relations between the often-wary allies. The official did not provide details on what the deal would include. The two countries have differed over how much the U.S. should pay in transport fees, and Pakistani demands for an apology over the border deaths. He spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.

This US summer is 'what global warming looks like'

If you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, scientists suggest taking a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks. Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho. These are the kinds of extremes climate scientists have predicted will come with climate change, although it's far too early to say that is the cause. Nor will they say global warming is the reason 3,215 daily high temperature records were set in the month of June. Scientifically linking individual weather events to climate change takes intensive study, complicated mathematics, computer models and lots of time. Sometimes it isn't caused by global warming. Weather is always variable; freak things happen. And this weather has been local. Europe, Asia and Africa aren't having similar disasters now, although they've had their own extreme events in recent years. But since at least 1988, climate scientists have warned that climate change would bring, in general, increased heat waves, more droughts, more sudden downpours, more widespread wildfires and worsening storms. In the United States, those extremes are happening here and now. So far this year, more than 2.1 million acres have burned in wildfires, more than 113 million people in the U.S. were in areas under extreme heat advisories last Friday, two-thirds of the country is experiencing drought, and earlier in June, deluges flooded Minnesota and Florida. "This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level," said Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona. "The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about." Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in fire-charred Colorado, said these are the very record-breaking conditions he has said would happen, but many people wouldn't listen. So it's I told-you-so time, he said. As recently as March, a special report an extreme events and disasters by the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of "unprecedented extreme weather and climate events." Its lead author, Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution and Stanford University, said Monday, "It's really dramatic how many of the patterns that we've talked about as the expression of the extremes are hitting the U.S. right now." "What we're seeing really is a window into what global warming really looks like," said Princeton University geosciences and international affairs professor Michael Oppenheimer. "It looks like heat. It looks like fires. It looks like this kind of environmental disasters." Oppenheimer said that on Thursday. That was before the East Coast was hit with triple-digit temperatures and before a derecho — an unusually strong, long-lived and large straight-line wind storm — blew through Chicago to Washington. The storm and its aftermath killed more than 20 people and left millions without electricity. Experts say it had energy readings five times that of normal thunderstorms. Fueled by the record high heat, this was one of the most powerful of this type of storm in the region in recent history, said research meteorologist Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storm Laboratory in Norman, Okla. Scientists expect "non-tornadic wind events" like this one and other thunderstorms to increase with climate change because of the heat and instability, he said. Such patterns haven't happened only in the past week or two. The spring and winter in the U.S. were the warmest on record and among the least snowy, setting the stage for the weather extremes to come, scientists say. Since Jan. 1, the United States has set more than 40,000 hot temperature records, but fewer than 6,000 cold temperature records, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Through most of last century, the U.S. used to set cold and hot records evenly, but in the first decade of this century America set two hot records for every cold one, said Jerry Meehl, a climate extreme expert at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. This year the ratio is about 7 hot to 1 cold. Some computer models say that ratio will hit 20-to-1 by midcentury, Meehl said. "In the future you would expect larger, longer more intense heat waves and we've seen that in the last few summers," NOAA Climate Monitoring chief Derek Arndt said. The 100-degree heat, drought, early snowpack melt and beetles waking from hibernation early to strip trees all combined to set the stage for the current unusual spread of wildfires in the West, said University of Montana ecosystems professor Steven Running, an expert on wildfires. While at least 15 climate scientists told The Associated Press that this long hot U.S. summer is consistent with what is to be expected in global warming, history is full of such extremes, said John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He's a global warming skeptic who says, "The guilty party in my view is Mother Nature." But the vast majority of mainstream climate scientists, such as Meehl, disagree: "This is what global warming is like, and we'll see more of this as we go into the future."

Afghan media freedom under serious threat

Hard-won media freedoms in Afghanistan are under serious threat from a draft law that is seen as a concession to Muslim conservatives ahead of Nato’s exit in 2014, a rights group warned Tuesday. Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Afghan government to withdraw the bill, which has been circulated for comment before going to parliament, saying that it would limit free speech restored after the 2001 US-led invasion brought down the Taliban. “Press freedom has been one of Afghanistan’s most important success stories since 2001,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW. “The Afghan government should be acting to solidify media gains, not seeking to placate forces hostile to free expression,” he said. HRW said provisions in the bill, which would replace a 2009 media law, undermine free expression and increase government control. For example, broadcasting of foreign programming would be restricted and sanctions would be created for a new, long list of media violations. The government would even be allowed to control the use of certain words, it said. “Afghan journalists have bravely held the government accountable in key areas such as corruption and human rights. President Hamid Karzai should openly oppose any legislation that curbs media freedom,” Adams said. But the information and culture ministry, which drew up the draft, said “good opinions” would be taken into consideration before the bill was finalised. “We will gather all the opinions, study them and definitely use the good opinions when we revise the draft,” ministry advisor Delawar Nazirzoi told AFP. Activists have accused the government of limiting freedoms as Nato combat troops prepare to end their involvement in Afghanistan in 2014. Women in particular have been fearful that their rights could be under threat if the government cuts a peace deal with the Taliban, who banned girls from going to school and women from having jobs during their repressive 1996-2001 regime. Last month, HRW also criticised the Afghan government for suspending a political party after it demanded the prosecution of war crimes suspects now in key positions of power.

Taliban’s ‘polio war’ puts 241,000 children at risk

by:Zofeen Ebrahim
If the Government of Pakistan fails to persuade the Taliban to take back their threat, and the United States refuses to stop its drone war in what is one of the most troubled spots in the world, lives of an estimated 241,000 children under the age of five, in two of the seven agencies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) will be at stake. Last month, militants in North Waziristan, led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, announced a ban of anti-polio campaign until the US put a stop to the drone war. “On the one hand they are killing innocent women, children and old people in drone attacks and on the other, they are spending millions on vaccination campaign,” said a leaflet distributed in the region’s main town of Miramshah. Following the ban in North Waziristan, similar pamphlets were distributed by a militant faction in the adjoining South Waziristan a week later, warning health workers to stop their campaigns or face the consequences. “Polio and other foreign-funded vaccination drives in Wana sub-division would not be allowed until US drone operations in the agency are stopped,” stated the pamphlet issued by Taliban commander Mullah Nazir. This is the third time the Taliban have banned polio vaccinations in areas under their control. Since the Nato conference in Chicago this May, and when Pakistan decided not to re-open its supply route to Afghanistan, drone strikes have intensified and the brunt of attacks has been felt in both the North and South Waziristan agencies. If the Taliban mean business there could be “an increase in polio cases, and even disability and death among the children of these areas” according to Dr Janbaz Afridi, deputy director of the Expanded Programme for Immunization (EPI) for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “For us, even one child left out is one too many,” says Mazhar Nisar, the Health Education Advisor at the Prime Minister’s Polio Monitoring Cell, referring to the children missed from being administered the oral polio vaccine (OPV) caused by the ban. These announcements by Taliban are indeed a blow to eradication of polio in Pakistan. Despite two decades of mass vaccination drives, Pakistan has failed to control the crippling paediatric disease. Today, being among the last three countries (others being Afghanistan and Nigeria) where polio is endemic, it is under excessive international pressure to eradicate it as the presence of the virus means a major set-back to global plans. The last decade saw Pakistan taking massive strides to reduce the polio incidence. In 2005, the number of cases went down to just 28, but since then there have been signs of the OPV drive losing momentum. Since 1988, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative – spearheaded by WHO, Rotary International, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and Unicef – has achieved a 99 per cent reduction in polio incidence worldwide. This was possible through the mass administration of OPV simultaneously to all children below the age of five, to induce ‘herd immunity’ in entire regions and replace the wild polio virus with a cultured, attenuated strain. Since early this year, there have been 22 confirmed polio cases, compared to 52 in the same period last year. Of these, 11 have been reported from Fata, with nine alone from Khyber agency. Political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi views the Taliban policy of linking the entry of health workers to stopping drone attacks as show of “confidence and control of the area”. “That they can implement anything if they become determined and the Pakistani authorities are left with no option but to negotiate with them shows the Taliban disregard for the future of children and this fits in well with their policy of destroying schools. The desire to establish their control and create their domain of authority by whatever means is the objective. They represent an authority alternate to Pakistani authority,” Askari told Dawn.com. Afridi of the EPI agrees. He says the fear of “torture and kidnapping” from the militant groups is quite palpable and spread across the adjoining agencies as well as parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. “There is every effort to assuage these fears and the field teams will be provided complete security by the police, with support from the provincial administration.” So far, he said, there have been no cases of health workers pulling out of the immunisation work due to the threats issued by the local militants. Meanwhile, Nisar, is quite hopeful that the situation will be resolved. “The federal government is aware of the situation and the government of KPK, the political agents, members of the peace committee and tribal elders are intervening to find a solution,” he told Dawn.com, adding: “After all, they are putting their kids at risk too.” “I think it’s a step in the right direction,” says Afridi. Mariam Bibi, who heads Khwendo Kor – a KP-based non-government organisation working for women of the area, too concedes persuasion the only way out. “Nobody wants to endanger the lives of their children, but this message needs to be emphasised.” However, she warns it should not be limited to getting the militants to agree on administration of the polio vaccine. “Today it is polio, tomorrow the militants will come up with another issue to arm-twist the government; a more holistic approach is needed where the confidence of the local people has to be won. “You give them water and I swear half your problem will be resolved,” Bibi said. She said there were “layers upon layers” of problems that needed to be addressed. “Give them a complete healthcare package, not just polio drops; when you promise education, ensure and negotiate that it is not just for boys but be firm that girls will have to be educated as well.” According to Bibi, the government needed to strategise and build its capacity. “And they need more women in the field.” The latest announcement by the militants has once again revived the case of Dr Shakil Afridi, a local doctor convicted by a tribal court to 33 years in prison for assisting American spy agence CIA in finding the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden through a fake hepatitis campaign. Bibi said after Dr Afridi was found to be spying, there is a growing suspicion among the locals that there could be several others among the health workers spying for the US This suspicion is compounded by the statement made by Bahadur who alluded to the “strong possibility of spying” on mujahideen for the US during the polio vaccination campaign. “In the garb of these vaccination campaigns, the US and its allies are running their spying networks in Fata…” the leaflets distributed in South Waziristan says. With anti-American sentiment at an all time low, this has further hampered the vaccination driver. However, Mazhar is quite convinced the Pakhtun people “would never use children” as a ploy. Moreover, the health workers were all local people and “well aware of the situation on the ground” in these security compromised areas. “Taliban use such tactics like burning girls schools to gain world’s attention,” agreed Ibrash Pasha, working for Khwendo Kor in Dir. Therefore, there are never any fixed dates set for holding vaccination drives and “opportunistic campaigns” take place whenever the situation becomes favourable. For now, the only other step taken by the polio cell is to immunise anyone entering or leaving these tribal agencies and the province. “Vaccinators are present at all entry and exit points,” said Mazhar. The author is a freelance journalist.

Pakistan’s Coming Defeat in Afghanistan

Why Pakistan must rethink its Afghanistan policies, or risk defeat
Irrespective of how the coming security transition in Afghanistan pans out, one country is on a surprising course to a major strategic defeat: Pakistan. Every foreseeable ending to the Afghan war today—continued conflict with the Taliban, restoration of Taliban control in the southern and eastern provinces, or a nationwide civil war—portends nothing but serious perils for Islamabad. But judging from Pakistan’s behavior, it appears as if this fact has eluded the generals in Rawalpindi.
Pakistan’s Enduring Aim
Ever since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan has had one simple strategic goal on its western frontier: ensuring that Afghanistan remains a stable but subordinate entity deferential to Pakistan’s sensitivities on all matters of national security. Such deference was sought for a host of reasons. Islamabad wanted a guarantee that Kabul would not reignite the dispute over the countries’ common border (the Durand Line) and would not seek to mobilize the region’s Pashtun populations in support of either absorption into Afghanistan or the creation of a new nation. The Pakistani leadership also aimed to ensure that Afghanistan would not enter into close geopolitical affiliations with other, more powerful countries, such as the United States or India, in order to increase Kabul’s autonomy from Islamabad. Amid the chaos that emerged after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pakistan settled on supporting the Afghan Taliban as its strategic instrument for securing Kabul’s compliance with its objectives. Although the Taliban were not always dependable surrogates on these matters, they appeared better than other Afghan rivals, and hence Islamabad—despite its denials—has stuck by them to this day. Whatever the intended benefits of this strategy, it has alienated both the broader Afghan populace and the government in Kabul, which now views Pakistan as a habitually hostile neighbor. It has also undermined the U.S.-led international stabilization effort in Afghanistan, as well as hopes for a peaceful security transition—not to mention infuriating Washington, which now views Pakistan as a perfidious partner. And it has provoked heightened regional rivalry involving Afghanistan’s neighbors, especially Iran, India, the Central Asian republics, and Russia, all of whom are determined to prevent a Pakistani-supported Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Worst of all, Islamabad’s strategy promises to fundamentally undermine Pakistani security. Every one of the three possible outcomes of the Afghan security transition leaves Pakistan in a terrible place.
Destined for Failure
The most likely consequence of the security transition is a protracted conflict between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban that continues long after coalition forces have ceased active combat operations. These relatively low, but still significant, levels of violence would tax Afghan national security forces, distract the central and provincial governments, threaten the security of the average Afghan, and generally retard Afghan stabilization and reconstruction. While such problems would be serious—though perhaps manageable for Kabul—they would by no means be favorable to Pakistan. A continuing insurgency in Afghanistan will further inflame passions in Pakistan’s own tribal areas and, given the links between the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, will intensify the threats to Pakistan’s own internal stability at a time when the country’s economic condition remains parlous and its relations with the West are precarious. Most problematically, this outcome would deepen the estrangement between Afghanistan and Pakistan, induce Kabul to be even less accommodating of Islamabad’s concerns, and push Afghanistan into a tighter embrace of Pakistan’s rivals. The more serious, though still middling, outcome of the security transition could be a de facto partition of Afghanistan arising from a steady increase in Taliban control that is limited to the Pashtun-majority areas in the southern and eastern provinces. Beyond undermining Kabul’s effort to preserve a unified Afghan state, this consequence would put at risk the international community’s contributions toward reconstruction in Afghanistan. If Islamabad is satisfied by such a result, it should think again. Although the Taliban’s reoccupation of its heartland might appear to produce a barrier region controlled by Islamabad’s proxies, its worst consequences would not be limited to the inevitable meltdown in Afghanistan-Pakistan relations. Rather, the chief concern is the chaos that would ensue from Kabul’s military efforts (almost certainly aided by Pakistan’s regional rivals) to regain control of these territories—a chaos that would inescapably bleed into Pakistan’s frontier regions. Even if Afghanistan were to eventually fail in these operations, the outcome would be deadly for Pakistan. Any Taliban control of southern and eastern Afghanistan would lay the geographic and demographic foundations for resuscitating the old Pashtun yearnings for a separate state, a “Pashtunistan” that would threaten the integrity of Pakistan. Given the current resentment of the Taliban leadership toward its Pakistani protectors, Rawalpindi should not be consoled by the prospect of a Pashtun buffer along Pakistan’s western borders. The last and most dangerous potential outcome of the security transition in Afghanistan would be the progressive Taliban takeover of the south and east en route to a larger attempt to control all of Afghanistan. This would be a replay of the tragic events Afghans faced between 1994 and 2001, and would plunge the country into a Hobbesian civil war. All Afghan minorities as well as Pakistan’s larger neighbors would be implicated in a cauldron intended to prevent Islamabad from securing its desired “strategic depth” at their expense. A cataclysmic conflict of this sort would be the worst kind of disaster for Pakistan. It would not just provoke major refugee flows that would further undermine Pakistan’s difficult economic condition. It would also integrate the violence and instability currently persisting along Pakistan’s western frontier into a vast hinterland that opens up even greater opportunities for violent blowback into Pakistan itself. The disorder that such a scenario portends would not only put paid to any Pakistani dreams of “strategic depth”—assuming this concept was sensible to begin with—but it would end up embroiling Pakistan in an open-ended proxy war with every one of its neighbors.
Time to Reconsider
None of the plausible outcomes of the security transition advances Pakistan’s goal of creating a stable Afghanistan that would be sensitive to Islamabad’s core security concerns. Without doubt, Pakistan deserves secure borders and peaceful frontiers. Yet its own strategies—supporting insurgency and terrorism against its neighbors—have undermined its objectives. If Pakistan’s continuing behavior is any indication, it does not yet appear to have grasped this fact. An unhappy ending to the security transition is practically guaranteed by Islamabad’s unwillingness to press the Afghan Taliban’s Quetta Shura to pursue reconciliation with Kabul and its reluctance to even call publicly upon the Taliban leadership to seek peace. On top of that is Pakistan’s continued reticence to clarify its preferred outcomes from the reconciliation process and its unproductive haggling over transit compensation for NATO shipments into Afghanistan. None of this convinces Afghanistan and the wider region that Pakistan means well. It may be true that Kabul will suffer most of all from Pakistan’s actions. But the generals in Rawalpindi ought to remember that their country too is facing strategic defeat if the international community fails in Afghanistan.

PAKISTAN: A foreigner's perspective on FDI flows, prospects

It is very strange, rather pitiable, that foreign diplomats should tell us to do what we should be doing on our own. According to a news item in Business Recorder on 29th June, 2012, British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Adam Thomson, has advised the government to think about "misconception risk" attached to some of the decisions involving international companies taken by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which is not encouraging for foreign investment. Talking to a select group of media persons, he quotes the latest verdict related to Reko Diq case and remarks that "a strong commercial law in a country is very important for British companies, which are engaged in projects abroad. No doubt, a strong judicial system is not only upholding the Pakistan's interests but extremely important to foreign companies too." Explaining further, Thomson says that international companies often engaged in international arbitration if not satisfied with local decisions, which is not a good omen for Pakistan. "Verdict in international arbitration may have chilling effects on investment," he opines. The top British diplomat in Pakistan has also certain other grievances. According to him, corruption is a big problem in the country though business environment is comparatively better compared to other South Asian countries. The UK government has introduced very stringent anti-bribery act which governs British companies. Changes in reorganisation of ministries, and regulatory bodies following the introduction of 18th Constitutional Amendment have also created confusion for the UK companies doing business in Pakistan. Another problem is security perception which is hard to dispel though the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) signed in 1994 has been providing protection to companies in both countries. Although, the British High Commissioner has not listed all the obstacles to the free flow of foreign investment into Pakistan, yet we feel that his briefing to the media is a fair and objective comment on prevailing situation with regard to FDI flows which have declined from a reasonable level of about $5 billion a few years ago to less than dollar one billion per annum at present. Though a lot of factors including political uncertainty, acute energy shortages and very poor law and order situation, have been responsible for such a steep fall in FDI, yet the British High Commissioner seems to have highlighted only those constraints which are of primary concern to the UK companies. His observations on Reko Diq case are particularly important because the problem has come to the fore only recently and could have huge repercussions for foreign investment prospects in the country. Obviously, foreign companies would seek redressal of their grievances through international arbitration only if they are not satisfied with the decisions of the local courts, which speaks a lot about our judicial system. It is sad that the government and the courts are found to be oblivious of severe economic ramifications of such a negative development. A lot of ground has to be covered to ensure the neutrality and effectiveness of our legal system in order to gain the confidence of foreign investors so that they can be certain of impartial decisions if there is a dispute. It is also very important for the corrupt elements in Pakistan to realise that it is now very difficult for foreign companies to indulge in corruption and dish out other favours due to stringent laws in their countries. The confusion about reorganisation of ministries, regulatory bodies etc following the passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment is also a very valid point. In fact, such confusion might also be negatively impacting the investment decisions of Pakistani businessmen. We should be thankful to High Commissioner Thomson for his frank views on foreign investment and should try our best to remove these constraints at the earliest. Of course, a very close co-operation between the government and legal fraternity and removal of confusion by the concerned departments about the areas of their operations after the 18th Amendment are essential requirements to remove growing misperceptions about the government's inability or non-serious attitude arguably about these mundane matters. Adam Thomson may have overstepped his diminutive jurisdiction a bit but we feel that his advice warrants serious consideration because the issues highlighted by him are too important to be ignored for the economy of Pakistan. The focus of government's efforts in all cases should be to redress the genuine grievances of investors as soon as possible to facilitate higher level of investment.

Pakistan should think about Reko Diq carefully

The Express Tribune
British High Commissioner to Pakistan Adam Thomson has said that the verdict in international arbitration on the Reko Diq saga may have chilling affects on foreign investors. “Supreme Court of Pakistan’s verdict in certain cases whether it relates to Reko Diq or others is a sign of discouragement for foreign investors,” Adam Thomson said while talking to selected journalists on Wednesday night. Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) filed for international arbitration to protect its legal rights after Balochistan rejected its mining lease application. Tethyan Copper – a joint venture between Chilean copper producer Antofagasta and Canada’s Barrick Gold – owns the massive Reko Diq project in Balochistan with reserves estimated at 2.2 billion tons of gold and copper. “There is a risk of misconception from some of its decisions and Reqo Diq is the latest one,” He said that Pakistan should think carefully about it. Responding to questions about litigation between government of Pakistan and international companies, the British High Commissioner said that a strong judicial system will not only uphold Pakistan’s interest but was extremely important to foreign companies. He said that Pakistan and the United Kingdom signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) in 1994 providing protection to companies in both countries. Pakistan is attracting British companies after promulgation of this agreement, he added. He said that the 10% increase in trade compared to the previous year was not bad keeping in mind the global recession. “UK-based exploration company Premier Oil has been working in the oil and gas sector of Pakistan for the last 10 years,” he said adding that there are more such companies. He said that British companies are doing very well in Pakistan which reflected from their profits. “These companies also face challenges with regulatory bodies being the biggest challenge,” he said. Although, he said, Pakistan in South Asia is comparatively a good place to do business, corruption is also a problem as few companies find it difficult to work in certain sectors. UK has very stringent Anti-Bribery Act which governs UK companies in Pakistan so that they would stay clean. “Some changes in reorganisation in government, ministries, regulatory bodies after the 18th Constitutional Amendment are also challenging to those British companies considering to invest in Pakistan,” he said adding that perception of insecurity is very high among them. “When I’m in UK, I try hard to overcome such impressions,” he added. “India is second largest investor foreign manufacture holder in UK,” he said adding that all Pakistani companies should also see UK as a gateway to European Union. “We are the second largest investor in Pakistan and aim to become the largest,” he concluded.

LAHORE: YDA strike: Two children among 17 die

Young doctors' strike causing immense problem for the patients, 2 infants died at Services Hospital. At least seventeen people have lost their lives due to lack of timely treatment at different public hospitals across Punjab. On the other hand, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) is observing black day in protest against doctors’ arrest. However, OPDs of several hospitals including Mayo Hospital, Services Hospital, Ganga Ram Hospital, PIC, Jinnah Hospital and General Hospital, began functioning. At least 150 army doctors along with other senior doctors have started working at OPDs of the province’s hospitals but limited number of doctors could not provide relief to a mass of patients.


Overwhelming majority of the football fans in Lyari celebrated the victory of Spain in the Euro Cup Final defeating Italy by four goals on Monday night. Tens of thousands of people watched the match on wide screen specially installed in every nook and corner of Lyari and its adjoining Baloch localities. It showed the interest of people in world football as the game is discriminated in Pakistan merely because sons of the elite and ruling classes are not playing football. Lyari wore a festive look after the victory of Spain as thousands of fans on motorcycles roamed around the localities carrying the flag of Spain, the most favourite team of the local residents. The festivities were witnessed in areas where people had seen gun battles between the police and the local residents displayed at the Pakistani news channels horrifying the people the world over by painting the image of local residents as ‘savage people’ fighting back the state police force disallowing them to enter the localities and insults families, including women and children, old and sick. Interestingly, the local administration also installed a huge screen at the main Chakiwara intersection where the Deputy Commissioner, Karachi South, was present along with some of his subordinates to enjoy the festivities of Lyari with interesting comments on every exciting movement of the game. It was welcomed by the local residents. It was the real image of Lyari and righting little Brazil of Pakistan where tens of thousands of watched the football final and armed Rangers and policemen too joined watching the game with the football fans. After witnessing the level of interest of the people, the Government of Pakistan should wake up and take up of the task to patronize Football, at least in Lyari, on the pattern of cricket and hockey. We hope that President of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, will personally take notice of this development of soft image of Lyari by asking all the major State Corporations to patronize Football in Lyari and provide good jobs to players so that they should bring a good name for Pakistan. All those banks, financial institutions and state corporations that had stopped patronizing football should be asked to revive this patronage without delay. Lyari is not a locality of gang war people, they have nothing to do with criminal activities; they are outstanding football players and fans, world fame boxers and cyclists, to say the least.

PUNJAB'S DOCS STRIKE:Total irrationality

The ham-handed administrative action that the Punjab government has taken against the striking young doctors may potentially create more complications and could have better been eschewed, though. But the doctors too have been decidedly on a wrong path. After receiving a hefty raise in their emoluments and other concessions for better service conditions a short while ago, they should have focused on their job of serving the sick humanity. Sadly, instead they went for sacrificing the sublime ethics of their noble profession for individual greed and collective avarice. Sickeningly, the bonanza whetted their appetite for minting money, not for serving the humankind. No matter how magnanimously one views their demands, each comes across as deeply flawed. Their very demand for recruitment of medical officers directly in grade 18 is wholly fraught. It indeed smacks of demanding a privileged position for the medical graduates that is absolutely unjustifiable by every canon known to the public services the world over. No lesser years of rigorous education and training the engineering graduates go through. But in the government job, their first entry is, at best, in grade 17. Even the postgraduates selected for the superior services go through a tough drill of written tests, interviews and years-long training in services academies. And the first posting they see is in grade 17. So what is that impels the young doctors to demand the entry of medical officers at a higher grade? It stands no logic. And it makes no sense. And the same goes for their other two demands. Indeed, the huge outlay involved in fixing stipends of post graduate trainees equal to medical officers' pay and enhancement of health professional allowance equal to basic pay would neatly siphon off the provincial public treasury. Not that the provincial hierarchs have been very meticulous with the handling of the public finances. They have been not. They have blown away like smoke stupendous public monies on cheap pork barrel like sasti roti folly and laptop contrivance. But two wrongs do not make one right. Bluntly, with their weeks-long strike the young doctors have simply played with the health and lives of the ailing public. And they have done it callously. The bulk of patients that the public health facilities these doctors have been working on draw are poor and destitute people. They have no money to procure expensive private treatment. For this strike, some have even died for lack of medical aid. And a lot more have seen deterioration in their health and ailments. It was really unbearably painful to see them in an extremely pathetic predicament the young doctors' strike had driven them into. And it indeed is stunning, to say the least, that even their doleful plight did not soften up hearts of the striking doctors. Having said that, the conduct of Punjab chief minister in the whole imbroglio cannot be condoned either. After the striking doctors wanted to talk directly with him, he should have condescended to take time out of his tenting farce and meet them. Being the province's chief executive, he could have talked credibly and authoritatively with them, convinced them of the difficulties involved in meeting their demands and persuaded them into calling off their strike. But he matched his own intransigence with their intransigence irrationally. Governance, he didn't realise, is not haughtiness and arrogance, but humaneness and humblessness. It is not irrationality or intransigence either. It is understanding and sagacity. Anyway, the emergency measures that the Punjab government has taken to keep the state health facilities operational will, at best, provide only transient relief. No permanent cure they could be. A long-lasting solution has to be found. The fire that the doctors have touched off with their strike may be doused for the time being. But reignite it would in time definitely, given the human greed what it is. Talking has to be done with the striking doctors to lay to rest for all times to come the demands that they have voiced. For that, a climate conducive to purposeful and meaningful dialogue has to be created. Accordingly, the provincial government must eschew extreme administrative punitive measures against the striking doctors. On their part, the doctors must see the irrationality of their demands and scale down to embrace a civilised method of dialogue to find a mutually-acceptable way out. Strike by the government at the doctors and strike of the health facilities by the doctors must anyway be off.