Wednesday, July 18, 2012

NAB court issues summons to Sharif brothers

The summon-notices were issued by Rawalpindi’s accountability court on Wednesday. An accountability court in Rawalpindi summoned the records from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) over three alleged corruption references against Sharif brothers. The three references include the alleged corruption cases of Hudaibia paper mills, Ittefaq Foundry and Raiwind farm. The court also issued summon-notices to PML-N leaders Shahbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif for July 28. The petition to open corruption references against the Sharif brothers was filed by the Chairman NAB Fasih Bukhari in the court of administrative judge Chaudhry Abdul Razzaq.

Bomb kills 12 Shiites in Pakistan
A minibus carrying Shiite Muslims hit a roadside bomb in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing 12 of them in the country's latest apparent sectarian attack. The incident took place shortly after the victims left Spai, a predominantly Shiite village in the Orakzai tribal area, said local government official Jamil Khan. They were headed for the nearby district of Kohat, he said. Pakistan is a majority Sunni Muslim state, and most Sunnis and Shiites live peacefully together. But the country has a long history of sectarian attacks by extremists on both sides. Attacks by Sunni militants on Shiites have been on the rise over the last year, especially in southwestern Baluchistan province. The Sunni-Shiite schism over the true heir to Islam's Prophet Muhammad dates back to the seventh century.

Pakistan: Politics and polio

HERE’S a suggestion for Pakistani politicians. For just a couple of days, forget the usual political rhetoric. Take a break from bashing each other or America, railing against a clash of institutions, or making predictions about political developments over the next few months. Instead, focus on a problem that is of real and immediate relevance to ordinary Pakistanis: the serious threats to the campaign for the eradication of polio. Tuesday’s shooting in Karachi of a UN doctor working on polio immunisation followed the refusal over the last couple of days of the Taliban and some tribal leaders to allow polio vaccinations in parts of Fata, where the problem is most acute. If the immunisation campaign that ends today is extended by a few days, and if all major political parties focus on the issue, with the JI, the JUI and the PTI joining hands with the PML-N and the ruling coalition, there is a decent chance that something will give. This will not do away with opposition to polio vaccination overnight. But it should give health workers, local officials and supportive clerics more ammunition to negotiate with those who are resisting, and it might encourage parents to take risks to get their children immunised. At the very least it will demonstrate that our politicians are concerned with more than just politics. The mistrust of polio immunisation should not be dismissed as being entirely ignorant or unjustified. Dr Shakeel Afridi and the CIA did no favours to the project when they used a fake vaccination programme to try to track down Osama bin Laden. Other elements of the US-Pakistan relationship, particularly drone attacks, are being positioned as reasons to block the state-run campaign. None of this is helped by long-held suspicions among some communities that polio vaccination is un-Islamic or designed to weaken Muslims. In this scenario, what is needed is high-profile messaging that can counter deeply ingrained perceptions. Given the threat to the lives of campaign workers, the problem is also one of the state’s failure to protect them and, in Fata, of it no longer having control of chunks of territory. But the containment of polio cannot wait for better policing or the restoration of the state’s writ in the tribal areas. In the immediate term, what could help is rhetoric that approves of vaccination and positions the issue as one that should not be held hostage to politics and American policies. But it will go unnoticed as long as it isn’t coming from the top of the food chain. At this point, it is worth giving persuasion from the highest levels a try.

US Congress approves Bill against Haqqani network

US has been considering formally designating Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization.
Congress is stepping up the pressure on the Obama administration to slap the terrorist label on the Haqqani network, a militant group responsible for plotting and launching attacks from Pakistan against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. By voice vote Tuesday, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved a bill that would require the secretary of state to report to Congress on whether the Haqqani network meets the criteria to be designated a foreign terrorist organization and if not, to explain why. The report is due within 30 days of the president signing the measure. The administration has sanctioned top individuals of the Haqqani network, but it is still reviewing whether to label the entire organization. That delay has frustrated members of Congress. Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, added an amendment to the bill stating that it was the sense of Congress that the Haqqani network meets the definition of a terrorist organization and they should be designated as one. "The Obama administration has been considering formally designating the Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization under U.S. law but has yet to act," said Republican Rep. Tim Griffin during a brief House debate. Last week, the State Department defended its effort. "We ve been very aggressive about sanctioning their top individuals, and we ve seen that as the most effective way to go about this. But the review is ongoing, and is actively ongoing," department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters. The measure now heads to the Senate, which approved a similar bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Richard Burr last December. The Haqqani network, largely operating in eastern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan, is affiliated with both the Taliban and al-Qaida. U.S. officials say it represents one of the biggest threats to Afghanistan stability because it is believed to use Pakistan as a rear base for attacks on American and coalition troops in Afghanistan. The House vote comes just weeks after the United States and Pakistan ended a rancorous seven-month standoff with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton apologizing to Pakistan for the killing of 24 Pakistani troops last fall and in return securing the reopening of critical NATO supply lines into Afghanistan. Throughout the uneasy relationship between the United States and Pakistan, American officials have pressed Islamabad to crack down on the extremist Haqqani network. The bill states that "nothing in this act may be construed to infringe upon the sovereignty of Pakistan to combat militant or terrorist groups operating inside its boundaries." In May, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence committees wrote to Clinton asking her to act immediately in labeling the Haqqani network a terrorist group. The four leaders said that based on meetings with U.S. and Afghan officials in Afghanistan, "it was clear that the Haqqani network continues to launch sensational and indiscriminate attacks against U.S. interests in Afghanistan and the group poses a continuing threat to innocent men, women and children in the region." The four noted that it had been six months since the State Department had undertaken its "final formal review" of the Haqqani network. "The Haqqanis have continued to attack U.S. troops and the U.S. embassy in Kabul during that period," the lawmakers said. The letter also noted that the Obama administration may have been reluctant to act while Marc Grossman, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was trying to negotiate a reconciliation agreement with the Taliban that may have included or affected the Haqqani network. Last year, the top U.S. military officer accused Pakistan s powerful intelligence agency of backing extremists in planning and executing the assault on the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan and a truck bomb attack that wounded 77 American soldiers. In his last congressional testimony before retirement, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, insisted that the Haqqani insurgent network "acts as a veritable arm" of Pakistan s Inter-Services Intelligence agency. The House also passed a bill that would strengthen economic and security ties between the United States and Israel. The bipartisan legislation, which was approved by voice vote, would reaffirm the U.S. commitment to Israel and American support for the Mideast ally s right to self-defense. The bill would extend current loan guarantees to Israel that expire later this year and authorizes the transfer of obsolete or surplus defense material from the United States to Israel. The bill reiterates U.S. support for a negotiated two-state solution to resolve the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.