Sunday, July 22, 2012
America’s gun laws have come under renewed scrutiny, with Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York, challenging the presidential candidates to show some “leadership” on the issue.Mr Bloomberg, a long-time advocate of gun law reform, said: “Soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president tell us what they are going to do about it." As New York deployed additional police around its cinemas to prevent copycat shootings, Mr Bloomberg said it was time for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to “look in the mirror” and follow their convictions. “There are so many murders with guns every day,” he said. “It’s just got to stop.” Suspending their political campaigns for a day yesterday, both Mr Obama and Mr Romney confined themselves to “soothing words”, avoiding any mention of how they might tackle the scourge of gun crime in America. “Such violence, such evil is senseless. It’s beyond reason,” Mr Obama told a subdued crowd in Fort Myers, Florida, before returning early to Washington.Mr Romney, the Republican candidate, said he was “deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence” but he also stayed well clear of the politics of gun control. The Brady Campaign, which lobbies for stricter gun laws, said the Aurora shootings were “yet another tragic reminder that we have a national problem of easy availability of guns in this country”. Both Mr Obama and Mr Romney have at different times supported tougher gun laws, but with key swing states such as Florida and Virginia having very strong gun lobbies, analysts say that raising the issue risks antagonising the powerful National Rifle Association, which spends millions lobbying against gun controls. No permits, licensing or individual registration is required in Colorado to purchase and carry firearms, but dealers must keep records of purchasers. The Aurora shooting took place less than 20 miles from Columbine High School, the scene of a shooting in 1999 in which 13 people were killed.
BY MASOOD KHAN:DAWN.COMPAKISTANI TV channels are showing ‘Boom, Boom Afridi’, asking his viewers in Urdu and Pushto whether they would select crutches or a bat for their children. In fact, this message is for hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis and Afghan refugees living in tribal areas and elsewhere who are reluctant or have refused to permit vaccination of their children against polio virus. It is being estimated that over 250,000 children in tribal areas alone will not receive polio vaccination this year. The Taliban are on the offensive war footing to convince a large number of tribal Pashtuns that polio vaccine is being administrated on the behest of the West and it is to sterilise their children. To counter this false propaganda, the UN has nominated Shahid Afridi, himself a Pashtun from Khyber tribal agency, as Polio Champion for this cricket-crazy nation. How far Afridi will be able to convince his people, only time will tell. However, things appear to be more difficult this year as some of the tribal commanders, who generally don’t take a fight with the Pakistan Army such as Mullah Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur, have also banned the vaccination in areas under their control. They have conditioned the polio vaccination with the stoppage of drone attacks. Wish someone may tell these Taliban commanders that in the absence of vaccination, there is no need for drone attacks. They are intentionally risking the lives of thousands of their innocent children, then why do they need another enemy? Unfortunately we are entrapped in an anti-West fever, will not gain anything positive for our children. No one shall be surprised with the sharp increase in polio cases in Pakistan . One fears that this virus, if not controlled at this stage, may spill over to other countries. Pakistan , Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three unfortunate countries where polio vaccination campaigns have been hampered by self-appointed religious reformers (in case of Pakistan and Afghanistan , it is the Taliban and in Nigeria, it is Boko Haram who have stopped the vaccination). It is a failure on the part of government, the media, civil society and religious scholars who are way behind in this fight against ignorance and darkness. It is so unfortunate.
EDITORIAL:DAILY TIMES.'' Dishonouring women ''Maryam bibi refused to submit to her landlord’s sexual advances and was stoned to death in the wee hours of July 18 on the orders of a Panchayat (elders council) in Kacha Koh near Khanewal. This is not the first time that a woman has had to pay with her life for defending her honour. Disgracing women in public on the orders of a Panchayat is a routine thing in our villages. The famous case of Mukhtaran Mai is still relevant when the villagers, to compensate for the crime allegedly committed by Mai’s brother, blatantly dishonoured and raped her. Taking suo motu notice of Maryam’s killing, the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has reprimanded the Inspector General (IG) Punjab Habib-ur-Rehman for not arresting the culprits so far. He has warned that if the culprits were not arrested, the IG would have to quit by July 23. The CJP has refused to accept the report by the police on the incident for being prepared with mala fide intentions. The court chastised the Chief Minister (CM) Punjab for his ignorance of the case and questioned his competence as the CM. The CJP took stern notice of the increasingly deteriorating law and order situation in Punjab. There are multiple sides to this case and all point to the general decadence of social norms in our country. One, it shows the situation of human rights in Pakistan, where people are killed dime a dozen and nobody is bothered. Two, it tells about the general absence of women’s rights in villages and small towns, where women are openly harassed by the rich and powerful and nobody is concerned. Three, it illustrates the role of landlords in power politics, who get away with crimes and no one dares put a hand on them. Four, it shows how inept and unreliable our police has become without any sign of improvement. Finally, it indicates the lack of interest of the provincial government in restoring law and order in its domain. However, this is not the case in Punjab alone; the entire Pakistan is bleeding to death owing to crimes. The suo motu notice taken by the CJP could have been avoided had the Punjab government taken serious timely actions against the culprits and provided justice to the aggrieved family. This is the point that the court is trying to establish. The late response time of the concerned people and their indifference to the situation is costing the country its harmony, dignity and value. Governments are in dire need of overhauling their administrative skills even in the absence of checks and balances and accountability.
EDITORIAL:As the endgame of war in Afghanistan heats up the strategic interests of the concerned stakeholders become increasingly less opaque, and the trilateral summit in Kabul on Thursday suggests these may not be anymore matching, if not clashing. Of course, the usual bonhomie that should abound interlocution at such a high level as it was with prime ministers of Pakistan and Britain being guests of President Karzai was quite visible. And it was duly reflected in the joint statement issued after their trilateral meeting. But what Prime Minister Cameron said ahead of the meeting and how desperate is the Afghan president to meet Taliban leadership undercuts the very spirit of that bonhomie. Of course, for Raja Pervez Ashraf the visit to Kabul being his maiden venture into international diplomacy it was not without water-marking achievement. Were the three of them there at the same time by accident or something else, there is not much in evidence to provide the right answer. That the summit couldn't be more than what such a chance encounter could be is understandable. With bridegrooms, the United States and the Taliban leadership, missing from the scene the get-together could be anything but a genuine wedding ceremony - but not that their absence was not being missed, albeit variously. President Karzai has once again dangled the carrot of 'participation' to the Taliban. He knows full well that they will not bite the bait, but he is insistent in his tone, perhaps being more aware of the fact than his foreign allies that the so-called ragtag Taliban militia cannot be defeated in the battlefield. In his latest invitation he has offered Mulla Omar to be part of future government in Kabul. But the echo that has come consistently from the Taliban is that unless foreign troops leave Afghanistan there could be no negotiations with government in Kabul. But, if the foreign military presence is being vacated from Afghanistan till recently the reports were yes all combat operations would end by the end of 2014. But of late there appears to be revised thinking in the Nato capitals on the time and mode of troop drawdown, a rather frank depiction was presented by David Cameron at his media encounter in Kabul. 'We are not going away from Afghanistan anytime soon,' he said as if challenging the Taliban's famous observation that 'while the coalition has the watches we have the time'. Britain that has lost some 422 soldiers in the arid deserts of Afghanistan over the last decade wants to stay on, but for what. Has this human sacrifice helped Britain, or any other foreign government in proving to their publics that their decision to jump in war in Afghanistan was correct? All recent public opinion surveys in these countries show that their participation has lost public support and their boys and girls should be brought back home. Afghanistan belongs to the Afghan; let them manage their own affairs. The only role cut for international community, including Britain, in general and neighbours in particular, is to help in making transition from a state of war to general peace in Afghanistan. If the Kabul administration can help discourage the renegade Pakistani Taliban sheltering in their country from misusing its hospitality by launching raids in Chitral and Upper Dir it would improve mutual trust and confidence. No doubt Raja's interaction with President Karzai would help smooth some edges that irritate Islamabad, but there does exist a real possibility of extending the Pak-Afghan co-operative format with the expected visit of the Salahuddin Rabbani-led Afghan High Peace Council next month. The geography, history and the alternating incidence of war and peace tend to place these two neighbours in the cast of a special relationship that should be used by the international community to help restore normality in Afghanistan - than to promote confrontation by planting unwanted proxies.
The Express TribuneGeneral John Allen,