Saturday, July 21, 2012
THE ASSOCIATED PRESSIf diplomatic achievements were measured by the number of countries visited, Hillary Rodham Clinton
http://www.voanews.com20-percent spike in maize and wheat
President Barack Obama addresses the Colorado shooting during a campaign visit Friday to the Harborside Event Center in Fort Myers. Video by Kinfay Moroti/news-press.com
PressTVSaudi-backed Bahraini forces have clashed with anti-regime demonstrators in the north of the country and injured at least one protester, Press TV reports. The clashes broke out on Friday after Bahraini security forces fired tear gas and birdshot to disperse protesters who were holding a demonstration against the government’s plan to ban all political marches. Demonstrations were held in the villages of Diraz, Bilad al-Qadeem, and Musalla. In Diraz, the protesters called for the ouster of the Al Khalifa royal family. At least one protester was injured by birdshot fired by regime forces in Musalla. Since mid-February 2011, thousands of anti-government protesters have been staging regular demonstrations in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded the country to assist the Bahraini government in its crackdown on the peaceful protesters. According to local sources, scores of people have been killed and hundreds arrested in the crackdown. Physicians for Human Rights says doctors and nurses have been detained, tortured, or disappeared because they have "evidence of atrocities committed by the authorities, security forces, and riot police" in the crackdown on anti-government protesters.
The Express TribuneWhile speculation on early elections is rife, President Asif Ali Zardari
The Express TribuneA ban may be imposed on Pakistanis travelling abroad if polio is not eradicated by 2013, Senate’s standing committee on inter-provincial coordination revealed on Friday. During a meeting of the committee chaired by Senator Farah Aqil, Senator Dr Kareem Khwaja said that, “Keeping in view the perils of polio and the impediments faced by Pakistan to eradicate the disease, the international community is seriously thinking of imposing a lifelong ban on Pakistani travellers if polio was not eliminated by 2013.” Khwaja further revealed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also indicated that if polio inflictions were not curbed by 2013, a travel ban could be placed on Pakistanis. Commuting citizens may have to sport a ‘No Objection Certificate’ along with a polio vaccination certificate to transcend Pakistani borders. When contacted by The Express Tribune to comment on this development, a WHO spokesperson revealed that there was a proposal in the pipeline to make a polio vaccination certificate issued by the WHO necessary for Pakistanis. However, the spokesperson added that as of yet the proposal had not been processed. Devolution The standing committee made a detailed review of the devolution process, particularly regarding issues of the health department. Awami National Party (ANP)’s Zahid Khan said that the devolution of powers to the provinces, which was initiated under the 18th Amendment stands the risk of being derailed. Khan, joined by other ANP and MQM members of the committee, said that issues pertaining to health and medicines were getting complicated. He cited an example of the Drug Regulatory Agency, which was initially approved by the special parliamentary committee but was later modified by then health secretary Nargis Sethi without bringing the modification to the committee’s information. Another issue which was taken up at the meeting was the launch of some vertical programmes including nationwide ones on malaria, tuberculosis, AIDs and hepatitis. The authorities concerned explained that this step was taken after a request by donor and international partners to place a federal mechanism that ensured the continuity of presently approved grant funds in the future.
EDITORIAL:Daily TimesA trilateral meeting of the leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UK in Kabul has reiterated the need for an Afghan-led solution to the conflict, with Pakistan playing a crucial role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf extended his cooperation to iron out the differences amongst warring factions for ultimate peace in Afghanistan, something that the US has been working on with little success so far. Underscoring the need to combat militant forces working to destroy both Afghanistan and Pakistan, British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that Pakistan and Afghanistan face a common enemy, which calls for a united front between all stakeholders opposed to terrorism. Lately, Pakistan has been experiencing cross-border attacks from Afghan territory that have killed a number of its soldiers. The responsibility for these attacks has been claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has been largely driven out of Pakistan in the 2009 military operation and has since gathered strength and support by aligning with its mentors, the Afghan Haqqani network. There are fears that once the US and NATO withdraw from the region, the Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqani network, may make a bid to regain power in Kabul. Though the US and NATO have attempted to allay these fears by ruling out a return of the Afghan Taliban to power, given the discordant history of Afghanistan, ruling out this scenario or a protracted civil war is not possible. After four decades of continuous warfare, and with neither side in a position to win a complete victory, the only way forward is a negotiated political solution. Pakistan too has lost thousands of its soldiers and civilians in a war that spilled over and has by now the whole country in its grip, an unintended consequence of our interventions in Afghanistan stretching back over four decades. Coming back to the conciliatory tone adopted by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, can the Pakistani leadership, civilian and military, measure up to the expectations of our allies across the border? Does the political leadership have the will and clout to persuade the military establishment for a shift from a proxy war strategy to a negotiated peaceful solution to Afghanistan? Or will the prime minister, like his predecessor, be found wanting despite his sweet words in Kabul? Pakistan has been long held responsible for not wanting peace in Afghanistan and supporting a reimposition of Taliban rule in Kabul by force. Time and again there have been allegations of Pakistan’s involvement in shoring up the Haqqani network to carry out high profile attacks in Afghanistan. Even the cessation of intelligence sharing with Pakistan on drone attacks can be traced back to the alleged tipping off of targets before the drones arrived. This proxy war strategy is bound to produce even greater blowback for Pakistan than the recent series of attacks on Pakistan’s security forces and key installations from across the border. This is the common enemy that Cameron referred to, signifying an understanding of the internal nexus between the so-called ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban. In this background, a political solution implies the Afghan Taliban being persuaded to trade the language of weapons for the weapon of language, a development that may lead to the reconciled Afghan Taliban being able to lean on their Pakistani counterparts to desist from their violent ways. Needless to say, unless Afghanistan settles down and Pakistan benefits from such a peace dividend, both countries and the whole region will suffer in terms of development and progress.