Sunday, July 8, 2012

Elahi slams Punjab govt over poor law, order situation

Deputy PM Parvez Elahi said Shahbaz has no right to rule when crime is on rise in the province. Addressing a gathering in Gujrat on Sunday, Parvez Ilahi said that Shahbaz Sharif has no right to rule when hundreds of robberey incidents are occurring in every district of the province on daily basis. He claimed that during all tenures of Shahbaz Sharif not even a single project pertaining to the common masses interest had ever started. Adding he said the fate of the people could not be changed for better merely through talking. Parvez Elahi said that Punjab is suffering from worst administrative and economic crisis; efficiency of all the departments is deteriorating due to one-man show. He said that the doctors were protesting, people are dying in the hospitals, even medicines were not available but the Punjab Govt. was not serious resolving any issue due to its false ego. Parvez Elahi maintained that during our tenure scores of people’s welfare oriented works were done which were not even done in the past ever. He said the present Punjab Govt. believes in destruction rather than in education and it had capped our best IT projects and destroyed all of them and obstructions were being created in the completion of the Cardiology Institute in Wazirabad. The deputy PM claimed that the rulers who had launched Tandoors schemes thrown our schemes aimed at welfare of the massed in the tandoors.

Extreme heat persists in U.S. but relief arriving Monday

Another day of scorching temperatures blanketed the United States from Iowa to the East Coast on Saturday, but forecasters said some of the areas hit hardest by the prolonged heat wave would soon get relief. More than two dozen people have died, including a four-month old Indiana girl who police say was left in a car outside her home in Greenfield, about 25 miles east of Indianapolis, for an extended period of time when temperatures were above 100 Fahrenheit. The National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings for cities including Washington, where temperatures reached 103 Fahrenheit (39 Celsius) by 1 p.m., New York and Philadelphia, where temperatures hovered near or at triple digits. "It's hotter than hell," said John Ghio, a tourist from St. Louis after visiting the White House. "We're going to get a cold drink, catch the subway and go back to our hotel to cool down." Nearby, a family from China posed for photos in front of the U.S. Treasury. They were debating whether to go on to the Washington Monument or wait until the sun went down. "Too hot," said Xiao Duan, 30, of Beijing. "My father says it's like we're being burned by flames." A cold front from Canada was expected to move south and break the record-setting heat and drop temperatures to below average levels over much of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states by Monday, the weather service said. Severe weather, including thunderstorms and damaging winds, was likely to accompany the cooler temperatures, forecasters said. COOLER TEMPS ON THE WAY? Areas around Midwestern cities Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis will start to experience less-extreme heat this weekend, said Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist for But Sosnowski said Saturday would likely be the worst day of the heat for people in the East and the central Appalachians. "As the cooler air from the northwest begins to make its move, the air will get compressed in the region," he said on "When air is compressed, it heats up." The weather service's excessive heat warning stretched from Iowa to Pennsylvania, and from New York state down to southern Virginia, capping a week during which more than 3,500 daily temperature records fell across the country. The number of deaths attributed to the extreme heat and violent storms during the past week continued to rise. Three people died this week from heat-related illnesses in Ohio, where a late-June storm knocked out power to more than 600,000 people. Authorities discovered the bodies of two women, one in her late 60s and the other in her mid-80s, and a man in his 70s, in homes without electricity, said Dr. Jeff Lee, deputy coroner in Licking County, Ohio. "They were all found inside homes that were closed up and not ventilated," Lee said on Saturday. "The extra heat along with the cardiovascular and pulmonary problems (they suffered from) caused their deaths." Approximately 62,000 AEP Ohio customers remained without power on Saturday morning in that state, where the temperature was expected to pass the 100-degree mark. In West Virginia, where some people have been without power since violent storms hit a week ago, Appalachian Power said nearly 80,000 customers still had no electricity. MonPower reported about 42,000 outages in the state as of Saturday evening.

Chinese top leaders call for innovation in science, technology

China's top leaders have called for the country to become more innovative in science and technology, and for these systems to be reformed in a bid to build scientific power. While attending the national conference on science and technology innovation held Friday and Saturday, President Hu Jintao stressed a strategy of invigorating the country with science and technology, as well as human resources. Hu also urged China to enhance its capacity for innovation in these fields, and to integrate science and technology with social and economic development. "We must focus on promoting innovation in science and technology if we want to push forward reform and opening up policy, the modernization of socialism, and achieve the overall target for building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way, improve the people's living standard, as well as achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," said Hu at the conference. Hu added that although China has established a relatively complete academic system with abundant talented people, it is still not strong in self-innovation capacity, and the science and technology system can not meet the demands of the economic and social development, as well as the international competition. Hu urged the country to grasp the opportunity of scientific and technologic revolution, and deepen the systemic reform so as to greatly improve the country's capacity in innovation in a short time. According to Hu, the targets for the development of science and technology in 2020 include building a national innovation system that conforms with the socialist market economy, significantly enhanced capacity in original innovation, improved environment for innovation. The president proposed six suggestions for accelerating the construction of a country of innovation, including promoting innovation-driven development, improving self-innovation capacity and system for the cultivation of talented people, deepening reform of scientific and technologic system, optimizing environment for innovation, and expand international cooperation. Hu also urged authorities at all levels to expand investment in science and technology so that spending in research and development of the whole society will account for more than 2.5 percent of GDP in 2020. Premier Wen Jiabao said at the conference that the most important work of the reform of science and technology system is to address the integration of science and technology with economy, as well as strengthen enterprises' capacity in innovation, which are of strategic importance to the long-term development of the country. For this purpose, Wen urged the government to support enterprises to build high-level research and development centers, integrate manufacturing with studies and research, build a sharing system for scientific and technologic resources, and create a fair and open market environment for enterprises. Wen also called for coordination of related policies and regulations to promote innovation. Other leaders including Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang also attended the conference.

Clinton looks for better US-Pakistani cooperation

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed hope Sunday that Pakistan's recent reopening of NATO supply lines into Afghanistan might lead to a broader rapprochement in U.S.-Pakistani relations after a difficult period for the reluctant allies.
After attending a 70-nation Afghan aid conference in Tokyo, Clinton met privately with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to discuss reviving the U.S.-Pakistani relationship, which has suffered a series of debilitating crises over the last year-and-a-half but is still seen as critical for the stability of South Asia. It was their first meeting since Clinton's apology last week for the November killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers by NATO, a move that led to the end of Pakistan's seven-month blockade of the supply routes. "We are both encouraged that we've been able to put the recent difficulties behind us so we can focus on the many challenges ahead of us," Clinton told reporters. "We want to use the positive momentum generated by our recent agreement to take tangible steps on our many shared, core interests." The most important of these, Clinton said, was fighting the militant groups who've used Pakistan as a rear base to attack American troops and jeopardize the future of Afghanistan. She and Khar "focused on the necessity of defeating the terror networks that threat the stability of both Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as the interests of the United States," Clinton said. Last week's accord helped repair ties that have been torn over everything from a CIA contractor who killed two Pakistanis to the unilateral U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound. The November incident was the deadliest among the allies in the decade-long fight against al-Qaida and other extremist groups along the Afghan-Pakistani frontier. Pakistan's reaction in closing the border cost the U.S. at least $700 million, as it rerouted supplies across more expensive northern routes. The final bill may have been significantly greater. Clinton, who joined the Pakistani minister and Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul for a three-way meeting later Sunday, said her discussions with Khar covered stalled Afghan reconciliation efforts. The U.S. is counting on Pakistan to help convince the Taliban and other groups fighting the Afghan government to halt violence and enter into a political dialogue. They spoke as well about enhancing U.S.-Pakistani economic ties to make it a relationship defined more by trade than aid. Still, Clinton acknowledged the lingering difficulties hindering U.S.-Pakistani cooperation, without getting into details. Washington has been perpetually bothered by its perception of Islamabad's half-hearted commitment to snuffing out the support given by its intelligence services to the Taliban and the Haqqani network— assistance that Washington sees as a threat to the Afghan war effort. Meanwhile, Pakistan's government has to contend with rampant anti-American sentiment and the unpopularity of U.S. drone strikes against militant targets within its borders. Clinton called it a "challenging but essential relationship." "I have no reason to believe that it will not continue to raise hard questions for us both," she said. "But it is something that is in the interests of the United States as well as the interests of Pakistan."

Balochistan : Stop Terrorism Not The Bus Service

Editorial:The Baloch Hal
The decision of District Administration in Quetta to shut down bus service for Shia pilgrims going to Iran is outrageous. Such a decision curtails people’s right to religious freedom and it also emboldens extremist Sunni groups. The government justifies this decision referring to recent attacks in Quetta and its outskirts on Shia Muslims (most of whom belonged to Hazara ethnic community). The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni militant group, has claimed responsibility for all attacks on Balochistan’s Shia Muslims. Since many of the pilgrims travel via Pakistan-Iran border town of Taftan on bus, the extremist groups find it very easy ambush the passenger buses in the outskirts of Quetta. Except for suicide bombings, no other form of attack on the Shia, Hazara community has proved as deadly as attacks on the buses. Besides the attack on a university bus on June 18, the dead toll in every other assault has exceeded double-digit figure. Regular protests and meeting by Shia, Hazara leaders with senior government officials in Balochistan have not helped in ending the killing of innocent citizens. There has also been uproar at the international level, mainly from human rights organizations, against the senseless killings. Yet, the situation has not received ample attention from foreign governments and the United Nations to force Pakistan to act swiftly to protect people who do not share the religious and political views of the majority in Pakistan. The State should take ownership for guarding every citizen’s freedom to religious and political views. Prior to suspending bus services, the government has to provide accountability for the June 29 statement issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (H.R.C.P), the country’s most respected human rights watchdog, which blamed elements inside the security institutions for the killing of the Shia, Hazaras. While the H.R.C.P. admits not possessing enough evidence to substantiate its allegations, we still see some weight and truth in this statement. The Shai, Hazara community has repeatedly blamed the security establishment for patronizing and protecting the Sunni extremists. If elements inside the security agencies are responsible for attacks on the Shias then there is no way mere suspension of bus service to Iran can stop this gruesome cycle of sectarian killings. If the State can successfully and safely transport hundreds of thousands of Sunni pilgrims to Saudi Arabai every year then there is no excuse for failing to provide similar protection to a few hundred Shias travelling to Iran via Balochistan. The government of Balochistan had previously decided to offer security escort to the buses that carry Shia pilgrims to Iran. The terrorists still struck despite official protection. Security failures are highly deplorable but that does not rationalize complete suspension of the existing security arrangement. The government must overhaul the current security mechanism besides probing the suspected elements inside the police who are blamed for collusion with terrorists. At this point, the government’s top-most priority should be to give the Shias and Hazaras a sense of protection and participation. They should not be left in isolation. The suspension of the bus service or stopping them from going for pilgrimage will make them feel maltreated and excluded from everyday experiences. To restrict the Shias, Hazaras inside their homes and towns is what the Sunni militant groups desire. We urge the government of Balochistan to immediately withdraw the suspension of the bus service and tighten security arrangements required to protect the Shias, Hazara in Balochistan.

Pakistan: Militants openly using cell-phones in jails

The Express Tribune
An intelligence agency’s report reveals that high-profile terror suspects are flouting laws and using mobile phones in their prison cells to contact their accomplices in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and settled regions. The report was forwarded by the Punjab police chief to the concerned officials. The letter states that militants detained in Adiala, Haripur and Kot Lakhpat prisons are using cell phones to coordinate with their accomplices. This coordination includes planning and fundraising for terrorist activities. Two militants identified to be doing this while in prison are Qari Waqas in Kot Lakhpat prison and Shamsul Islam in Haripur jail. A separate intelligence report reveals that India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), in collaboration with Afghan spy agency, planned attacks on Chinese diplomats and other foreigners across Pakistan. The focus however, according to the report, is on Chinese diplomats based in Islamabad. Al Qaeda militants, meanwhile, are planning kidnapping /assassinations of diplomats in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) embassy and consulates across Pakistan in ‘the near future’ and attack their missions with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Yet another intelligence report states that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) members based in Miramshah, North Waziristan, planned attacks against law enforcement agencies – specifically, on police patrols near hotels and petrol pumps. In addition, the TTP is planning attacks on two Army Public Schools located in Rawalpindi. Terrorists are also planning to target Wah Cantonment installations, and for this purpose, a suicide bomber identified as Obaidullah is being trained near Latamber in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, according to sources. The suspect has visited Wah several times for reconnaissance of the target. Another report revealed that a terrorist with the alias Zarar, operating in Waziristan region, has planned terrorist attacks in Swat and Murree. These intelligence reports have been forwarded to the National Crisis Management Cell of the interior ministry, provincial home departments, provincial police chiefs and provincial heads of other law enforcement agencies.

PTA bans official Ahmadi website: Report

The Express Tribune News
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has banned the official website of the Ahmaddiya community,, according to a report published in The Nation on Friday. A PTA official, speaking to The Nation, said that the site was blocked because, as per the Constitution, the Ahmadis are not allowed to propagate their religious views publicly. He added that the PTA has already blocked several sites with inappropriate content in the past. ProPakistani had earlier reported that the site was blocked after it was accused of publishing blasphemous content against the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The Nation’s sources add that the Muttahida Ulema Board had demanded that PTA block the website for blasphemous content. After media reports emerged of the site blockade, former MNA Farahnaz Ispahani tweeted saying that she had taken up the issue with concerned officials in Pakistan and is waiting for action. Former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani also tweeted that the blockade “reflects religious intolerance and violates constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.”

Pakistan's ‘unelected judge’

Pakistan Today
Time magazine, a foreign-based magazine, has targeted CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for being ‘a lazy-eyed abrasive, un-charismatic, and visibly uncomfortable for scripted speeches’. Expressing fears that taking suo motto notice and by keeping ‘his (CJP’s) unending pursuit of President Zardari, might endanger democracy, the media source terms CJP as "an unelected judge", who has shown no letup in his vendetta against an elected prime minister and President Zardari, even at the cost which the country would end up paying. This, despite the fact that Pakistan/democracy has nevertheless withstood countless ‘indispensable democratic (and non-democratic) heroes’ in past with aplomb. The media source does not even spare CJP’s accepted ancestral honesty amid a hornets’ nest infested with blatant corruption and blind power, terming it as the source of CJP’s ‘obdurate and unending Robin Hood attitude’.

Pakistan suffers a coup by other means
It was a coup by other means. In the past, Pakistan’s democratic hopes were often thwarted by generals taking power for themselves, or shunting governments aside by subtler means. Now it is the turn of another unelected and unaccountable institution to try the same. The government will not fall. There is an opportunity now for President Asif Ali Zardari to try and anoint a successor as he struggles to hold on to his already shaky ruling coalition. The verdict merely destabilises the government for now. But more importantly, the court was sending a message. The decision had little to do with the niceties of the law, and whether Yousaf Raza Gilani was following the court’s orders to write a letter to Swiss authorities, urging them to reopen corruption cases against his boss. It was principally about politics. In particular, it was a power play that reflected the Supreme Court’s view that it is better suited to represent the people of Pakistan than those they have chosen to elect themselves. The Supreme Court has rightfully earned much popularity for its defiance of former dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf, grilling intelligence agencies, and confronting corruption. But with the accumulation of greater clout, it has grown increasingly political, at times positioning itself as an alternative government. The court’s verdict is also being criticised in light of a recent controversy. Over recent days, a powerful property billionaire has alleged that he paid Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s son some £2m in the form of cash and pricey holidays. It is unclear whether the chief justice’s son was being suborned by the government-connected billionaire, or was extorting him. Either way, the scandal has tainted the judiciary. Questions abound about how much the chief justice knew, and for how long. The move also has political implications. The decision was taken on the petition of two opposition parties, and seems to tilt the political field against the government’s favour mere months before the next election. Political wrangling over the next few weeks could paralyse the country, to the neglect of pressing issues. Over recent weeks, simmering anger at constant power outages have boiled over into violent riots in the majority province of Punjab. The economy may require a second IMF bailout. And relations with the US linger at an all time low, with Nato supplies to Afghanistan still suspended. Whoever becomes Pakistan’s next prime minister may well wish they needn’t have assumed the burden.

Obama To Ask For Civilian Afghan Aid Through 2017

The Obama administration will ask Congress to sustain U.S. assistance for Afghanistan near the average amount it has been over the last decade through 2017 as part of the international effort to stabilize the country even as most international forces pull out over the next two years. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the pledge Sunday as some 70 countries gathered in Tokyo to announce a four-year civilian assistance plan. Altogether they are promising to give $16 billion to Afghanistan through 2015. The U.S. funds will help Afghanistan build its economy and make necessary reforms, Clinton said. "We have to make the security gains and the transition irreversible," Clinton told officials, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai. She said Afghan security "cannot only be measured by the absence of war." "It has to be measured by whether people have jobs and economic opportunity; whether they believe the government is meeting their needs." Clinton said Afghanistan has made substantial progress over the last decade, but needs effective collaboration between its government, private sector, neighbors and international donors "so that this decade of transformation can produce results." Annual U.S. civilian assistance since 2001 has ranged from $1 billion to this year's high of $2.3 billion. Clinton said the aid request to Congress through 2017 would be to maintain funding at or near the average level, without specifying further.

Not investing in Afghanistan could negate sacrifices

The blood and treasure sacrifices of the past could be wasted without investment in Afghanistan's civil society when foreign combat forces leave, a world donors' conference in Tokyo was told on Sunday. UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who is among key global figures gathering in the Japanese capital for talks on a "Transformation Decade", said progress in security and broad-based development had been made, but remained "fragile". "Failure to invest in governance, justice, human rights, employment and social development could negate investment and sacrifices that have been made over the last 10 years," he told the meeting. Sunday's conference is aimed at plugging the gap between what Kabul gets from its barely-functioning economy and what it needs to develop into a stable country. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is in Tokyo along with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, has called for $4 billion a year in civilian aid. On Saturday Japan announced donors will stump up more than $16 billion in civilian aid for four years to 2015. "We are at a critical moment in Afghanistan's history in transition from reliance on the aid that has enabled the country's institutions to take roots to a normalised relationship of a sovereign, functioning Afghanistan with its people and with its international partners," Ban said. In his opening remarks to the conference, Karzai acknowledged security remained a major problem, but said his country had come a long way. "In these past 10 years, with help from the international community, we have made remarkable progress toward healing of the scars of conflicts and destruction," he said. "And we are laying down a new path for people to realise their aspiration of a peaceful and prosperous and democratic country." Kabul covers only a third of the $6 billion it spends each year, not counting security costs, and has for a long time been heavily dependent on aid. Those inside and outside the country fear that once the US and its allies no longer have to worry about their soldiers dying in Afghanistan after the 2014 pullout, the country could be left to drift into the hands of drug lords and extremists. Figures from more than 80 nations and international organisations gathering in the Japanese capital are expected to adopt the "Tokyo Declaration", pledging support and cash for Kabul. As part of the so-called "Transformation Decade" from 2015, participants will issue a framework document stressing the principle of "mutual accountability", offering aid on the condition that Kabul clamps down on endemic corruption. According to the World Bank, spending on defence and development by foreign donors accounted for more than 95 percent of GDP in 2010-11. In May an Afghanistan security conference in Chicago involving the countries of the Nato-led coalition adopted a plan to provide $4.1 billion in annual security aid in coming years. The focus in Tokyo will be on development. In an interview with the Asahi Shimbun newspaper published Friday, conference co-chairman Gemba said he was hoping it would result in pledges worth at least $3.0 billion a year. But he warned the money would come with strings. "(Kabul) must improve its governance capacity, including eradicating corruption," he said, adding a mechanism to review progress in these areas every two years had to be developed. On a brief visit to Kabul, Clinton on Saturday said the United States had designated Afghanistan a major non-Nato ally, giving it special privileges. "We see this as a powerful symbol of our commitment to Afghanistan's future," she said at a news conference after talks in Kabul with Karzai. Ministers from Britain, France, Germany and Australia, as well as India, Pakistan and Iran, were among those in Tokyo on Sunday, alongside envoys from countries including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, China and South Korea.