YAHOO NEWSThe Democratic Party is aiming to include support for gay marriage in its party platform this year for the first time in its history, a Democratic source said on Monday. The platform drafting committee unanimously approved language on Sunday endorsing same-sex marriage among the policy positions that will be presented to the convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, where President Barack Obama will formally accept the party's nomination in early September to run for re-election. The approval was first reported in The Washington Blade, which said the language also rejected the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, a law passed by the U.S. Congress in 1996 that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman and denies federal benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples. The Obama administration said last year it would no longer support DOMA. Obama's Republican opponent, Republican Mitt Romney, is a gay-marriage opponent who supports the statute and promises to defend "traditional marriage" if he is elected on November 6. In May, Obama became the first U.S. president to say he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. The largest U.S. civil rights group, the NAACP, has also endorsed gay marriage, saying the fight for gay rights is a civil rights issue. Six U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage, but 30 have banned it. The 15-member Democratic Party platform drafting committee met in Minneapolis during the weekend. A draft will be considered in Detroit on August 10, and it will then go to convention delegates for final approval. Religious conservatives, an important component of the Republican Party base, staunchly oppose gay marriage, but polls show support for the issue rising, especially among younger Americans.
Monday, July 30, 2012
http://statesman.com.pk"Globally more than 350000 women die every year from preventable complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Pakistan ranks third in the world with estimated number of maternal deaths after India and Nigeria. The Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) mostly caused by Post-Partum hemorrhage (PPH) in Pakistan is 276 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. The Post-Partum Hemorrhage means severe bleeding after birth that takes the precious life of many women around the world." It was the crux of a media briefing by health experts. According to Pakistan Demographic Household Survey (PDHS) 380 women in Fata while 275 mothers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa settled districts have lost their lives during the year 2007-08. Mercy Corps, an international organisation working on the project 'Saving mothers in communities' has launched its campaign Maternal and Neonatal Health Community Advocacy Dialogue Forum in Peshawar district. Programme Manager for Mercy Corps Shouaib while briefing the media persons held at a hotel here said that every hour three women die due to maternal causes because 80% deliveries take place in homes in rural communities while 70% deliveries are conducted by unskilled birth attendants. He said that the Post-Partum period is one of the most vulnerable for mothers, yet neither health programmes nor mother-families have recognized this. He added that concerned community efforts were needed to overcome the problem and save mothers from quite preventable complications. He said that most of these deaths occur among women who are outside of the skilled care at labour/delivery or in the immediate Post-Partum care maintaining that different interventions needed to reduce Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) by providing skilled birth attendants and Community Midwives (CMWs) and comprehensive family planning. The programme manager also stressed the need for the careful use of Misoprostol, a drug that has been associated with significant decrease in the rate of acute PPH in home deliveries. The World Health Organization WHO recommends that Misoprostol can be used by trained birth attendants, the expert explained. He said that the provincial DoHs did not have a policy on the use of the Misoprostol for the prevention of PPH; also there is lack of awareness of at the district and community level and the participation of poor and marginalized populations, especially women in decision making policy formulation was not being practised at the moment. The programme manager said that Mercy Corps Pakistan and its implementing partners would work together to reduce MMR caused by PPH by addressing policies and practices in the provinces of Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu &Kasmir , Fata. "The project is being implemented in the districts of Quetta, Gwadar, Kech in Balochistan, Bagh and Bhimber in AJK Lower Dir and Peshawar in KP and Khyber of Fata," he said. The Khwendo Kor will be the implementing partner in Fata and KP, the purpose of the community advocacy dialogue forum (CADF) is to engage key stake holders to muster up their support for overcoming the issue. Dr Saeedur Rehman, project coordinator expressed the hope that Khwendo Kor would work together with other stakeholders to carry out the project and meet the target of reducing the number of MMR in KP and Fata to minimum by April 2013. "I hope that the project will achieve the target set by Mercy Corps of bringing it down to a minimum level. Hopefully we shall have to bring it down to 120 within the stipulated time," he conduced. Dr Abdur Rashid Khattak, Executive District Officer Health (EDOH) district Peshawar and Wilayat Shah, Chief Drugs Inspector Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also attended the briefing in addition to other stakeholders.
Here is a list of pro-women legislation enacted by the present PPP Government which is implementing the vision of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed under the leadership of President and Co-Chairman Asif Zardari. 1. The National Commission on the Status of Women, 2012 2. The Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amendment) Act, 2011 3. The Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010 4. The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Act 2011 5. Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill 2009 6. The National Commission of Human Rights Act, 2012 7. ‘The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010 The above list was compiled by Mr. Munawar Ali Rind. We congratulate Pakistani women as well as our elected representatives on this legislations. However, mere legislation to protect women rights is not enough. The government and its various institutions must also ensure effective implementation of these pro-women laws. The above list is in addition to several other government policies which have directly or indirectly helped women, e.g., Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), Benazir Women Support Programme (BWSP) (by the Sindh Government), Waseela-e-Haq Scheme, Benazir Basti Scheme, Land Allotment to the Farmers (an area of 56,186 acres land has been distributed among the 6,100 women allottees under PPP government’s programme of distribution of free of cost land to the farmers.) Here is an overview by UN Women (a United National entity for gender equality and empowerment of women) on progress on pro-women legislation in Pakistan. Pro-women laws take hold in Pakistan Women in Pakistan have faced formidable challenges in their efforts to achieve gender equality and address gender-based violence in their country, with particular problems posed by elements among customary norms and practices. Yet throughout the past few years, breakthroughs in pro-women legislation have shown that both the efforts of Pakistan’s government, and the advocacy of groups working toward women’s empowerment in the country, are taking effect. On International Women’s Day, 8 March, the President of Pakistan signed the National Commission on the Status of Women Bill 2012 into law, which has afforded the Commission new financial and administrative autonomy, and therefore better scope to investigate women’s rights violations. A year earlier the Prevention of Anti Women Practices Bill became part of national law, explicitly recognizing practices from acid violence and forced marriage to so-called ‘honour killings’ as criminal acts, and affording protection and legal action for victims. Women are also now better protected from sexual harassment in the workplace and from domestic violence, since Acts on these issues were passed in 2010 and 2011 respectively. And to be sure that the laws on sexual harrassment are built structurally into the system, a code of conduct is being monitored by a watch committee formed by the National Commission on the Status of Women in 2010, which is made up of representatives from the government, civil society and UN Women. The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention (Amendment) Bill was passed in the Senate on December 2011, and for the first time gives guidance on how the State should punish offenders and support victims of this violent gender-based crime.
http://www.rt.comRadical Islamists with “British accents” are among the coalition forces looking to topple Bashar Assad, says Jeroen Oerlemans, a photographer who was held hostage in Syria for a week. The UK Foreign Office has launched an investigation. Oerlemans, a famous Dutch photo journalist, and John Cantlie, another photographer from the UK, were captured by a group of between 30 and 100 anti-Assad fighters when crossing the Syrian border from Turkey last week. They were then blindfolded. "One of the black jihadists freaked out and shouted: 'These are journalists and now they will see we are preparing an international jihad in this place.'" Oerlemans told NRC Handelsblatt newspaper. He said that none of the fighters was Syrian. "They all claimed they came from countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh and Chechnya and they said there was some vague 'emir' at the head of the group." About 40 per cent of the militants spoke English. In fact, several apparently talked with recognizable regional British accents, from Birmingham and London. The two photographers suspected that a ransom would be demanded for their release and tried to escape. Oerlemans was shot twice in the leg during the failed attempt and Cantlie, who has so far not spoken to any media, was wounded in the arm. The pair’s ordeal ended when the Free Syrian Army, the main anti-Assad force, demanded that their nominal allies hand them over. "They took us with them like a bunch of gangsters," Oerlemans said, "Shooting in the air as we rode out of there.” The Free Syrian Army released the men and the two are now resting in Turkey. They expect to travel home in the coming days. If it is confirmed, Oerleman’s story will add to reports that Syria has become a magnet for radical Islamists, who are there either as mercenaries or because of ideology. "As soon as Assad has fallen, these fighters want to introduce Islamic law, Sharia, in Syria," said Oerlemans.
http://www.dw.deAs Syrian crisis deepens, Turkey is confronted with the risk of a PKK-controlled Kurdish state in Turkey’s immediate neighborhood. Ankara’s fear is not a Greater Kurdistan, but a PKK controlled semi-state, analysts say.Ankara's support for a regime change in Syria has started to backfire, threatening Turkey's own national security, with Syrian Kurdish groups forming a de facto state in the north of Syria. Turkish media reported last week that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), with its alleged Syrian branch the Democratic Union Party (PYD), took control of several provinces on Turkey's border. Several reports published photos of Kurdish flags and posters of the PKK's jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan flying from buildings in northern Syria towns. "We will not allow the formation of a terrorist structuring near our border," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkish media on Sunday. "We reserve every right.... No matter if it is al-Qaeda or PKK we would consider it a matter of national security and take every measure," said Davutoglu. Alarm bells ringing The PKK's growing influence in Syria border has alarmed Turkey, prompting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to convene a security summit with senior government and security officials. Following the meeting, he accused the Syrian regime of allowing the PKK a free hand in the north of the country and warned that Ankara would not hesitate to strike. "Recent developments have come as an unpleasant surprise to Turkish officials," Deniz Zeyrek, foreign policy columnist of the liberal left daily newspaper Radikal, told DW. "When Syrian Kurdish groups distanced themselves from the Assad regime, Turkey welcomed this development. But Ankara did not expect these Kurdish groups would soon unite around the PKK-affiliated political groups," he said. Turkey has been fighting against the PKK since 1984, and the conflict has so far claimed some 45,000 lives. The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara and by much of the international community, enjoyed the support of Damascus during the 80's and 90's. Since early 2000, the PKK has been effectively using its bases in the mountainous region of northern Iraq. With its growing influence and strength in Syria's Kurdish populated regions, the PKK is now seen working toward an autonomous administration, or even an independent "Western Kurdistan" in Syrian territories.Autonomy in Turkey The recent developments have also sparked stronger demands by Turkish Kurds from Ankara and further increased tension in Turkey's southeast region. Diyarbakir Major Osman Baydemir, an influential Kurdish politician in Turkey, recently called for a new political and administrative status for Kurd. "The only way ahead is the creation of autonomous Kurdistan regions in Turkey, in Syria and in Iran, just as the one in Iraq," Baydemir said. "For sure there will soon be an autonomous Kurdistan in Syria," he stressed, suggesting the abolition of borders among these entities, the creation of a customs union, and a new political partnership with the regional countries, including Turkey. Syria is home to some 2 million Kurds. In Iraq, the Kurdish population is around 5 million and in Iran, 5.5 million. Turkey has the largest Kurdish population, estimated to be around 15 million. For years, Turkey's Kurds were deprived of their basic political and cultural rights. In the course of its EU membership process, particularly in the last decade, Turkey has expanded political and cultural rights for its Kurdish citizens. But Ankara strictly opposes demands for Kurdish autonomy. Turkish public opinion is highly suspicious of Kurdish movements in the region and see them as a threat to Turkey's territorial integrity. Deployment on the border As concerns grow in Turkey about a PKK-controlled Kurdish state in Syria, the Turkish military has stepped up its deployment on the border. Despite Turkey's moves, analysts do not foresee an immediate military cross-border operation which would further complicate the crisis. Ankara's first option is to use all diplomatic and political channels to isolate the PKK and the affiliated PYD group in Syria. According to some Turkish analysts, the growing concern of Turkish officials is not so much the prospect of a Greater Kurdistan, which they see as unlikely, but the PKK's increasing role and strength in Syria. "Turkish officials are saying that they will not remain silent about a Kurdish administration in Syria under the control of the PKK," columnist Zeyrek said. "But they say that Turkey will establish a dialogue with a possible new Kurdish entity in Syria, resembling the regional government in Iraq." For years Turkey has feared the creation of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq and has tried to prevent Kurdish groups there from forming an autonomous regional government. But soon after the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) was established and gained international acknowledgement after it democratically adopted the Iraqi constitution, the Turkish government changed its policy. Today, the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Massud Barzani, is an important political ally for Turkey, not only with his efforts to eliminate the threat by the PKK but also on the Syria crisis. 'Dead-end street' Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will visit Erbil on Wednesday and meet Barzani, where he is expected to ask the Iraqi Kurdish leader to use his influence on Syrian Kurds and persuade them not to cooperate with the PKK. According to Cengiz Candar, a senior foreign policy analyst, Turkey's efforts are like "a journey in a dead-end street." "Turkey is trying to solve its own Kurdish problem, as well the Syrian Kurdish problem, with the help of Massud Barzani. This is mission impossible," Candar wrote in his column in Turkey's Hurriyet daily. "The Turkish state is deceiving itself and public opinion." According to Candar, Kurds will have a "new status" with the formation of a new state in the post-Assad era and there are suggestions that Barzani will come to an implicit agreement with the PKK in order to maintain his influence in the region. "This process of change in Syria is inevitable," Candar said. "And if the Turkish government wants to turn this change into an advantage for itself, it should first take genuine steps to solving its own Kurdish problem."
Didn’t expect this but then, it seems to be the first time it’s come up in Saudi Arabia… Saudi Gazette/Okaz report that a Saudi woman has repudiated Islam, converted to Christianity, and then fled the country (although she may have converted after leaving the country). I cannot recall any earlier, similar cases. Nor was I at all expecting Saudi media to cover the story. Not at all surprising, though, is that the woman’s family is claiming that she was forced to convert and was spirited out of the country by miscreants. Who are now under arrest in the Kingdom. Somewhat surprisingly, the accused – a Saudi and a Lebanese – were granted bail. It will be interesting to see how this case plays out, both for the woman and in Saudi media, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see the story disappear, either.A Saudi girl who recently embraced Christianity and fled the country for refuge in Lebanon, told the host of a religious program on an Arabic TV channel that she was tired of performing prayers and fasting during Ramadan. The girl, who said her name was Maryam, said praying and fasting did not bring her any benefits. She also criticized the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Hai’a) and claimed that she was raised to hate Judaism and Christianity but fell in love with the religions after she found peace in Christianity. She said she became a Christian after she had a dream one night. In it, she climbed to the skies and heard God telling her that Jesus is His son. She said that she had been living in the Kingdom since she was 17. … Maryam’s father filed a complaint against her two former co-workers, a Saudi and a Lebanese, accusing them of helping his daughter illegally flee the Kingdom and embrace Christianity. The Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (BIP) in Al-Khobar accused the men of forcing the girl to convert and arrested them. However, both men were later released on bail while their case has been referred to a court in Al-Khobar. … The Saudi Embassy in Beirut is coordinating with the concerned authorities in the country to convince the girl to return to the Kingdom. It is expected that the Al-Khobar District Court will look into the case, the first of its kind in the Kingdom, soon.
Syrian security forces have cleared the Salahuddin and Hamdaniya neighborhoods in the northwestern city of Aleppo of foreign-sponsored armed gangs. The Syrian army said on Monday that most of the city is now under its control. Meanwhile, fighting continues in the southern district of Sokari and the central neighborhood of Bab al-Hadid. Clashes have continued between Syrian troops and armed rebels in Aleppo over the past few days. The Syrian army began a major operation on Saturday from the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo to clear the city of armed groups. On Sunday, the security forces killed a large number of terrorists attempting to enter the country from neighboring Turkey. Many people, including large numbers of security forces, have been killed in the turmoil in Syria that began in March 2011. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said on July 29, “We believe that all the anti-Syrian forces have gathered in Aleppo to fight the government… and they will definitely be defeated.” Muallem made the remarks in a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Tehran. Over the past few days, Syrian troops have reportedly inflicted heavy losses on the rebels in the southwestern city of Dara’a, about 114 kilometers (70 miles) south of the capital, Damascus. The anti-Syria Western regimes have been calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, but Russia and China remain strongly opposed to the Western drive to oust Assad. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on July 28, “Our Western partners… together with some of Syria’s neighbors are essentially encouraging, supporting and directing an armed struggle against [the Syrian government].”
Don't do politics on load shedding issue, Kaira tells ShahbazThe minister said that windstorm damaged main lines of 500 KV and 220 KVs in Muzaffargarh. Talking to media in Muzzaffargarh on Monday, Minister for Information and Broadcasting asked the Punjab Chief Minister to avoid doing politics on the issue of load shedding. He said under the 18th amendment‚ the provinces are empowered to generate electricity on their own. To a question‚ Kaira said the government has started short‚ medium and long term measures to overcome the electricity crisis. He also said that no power plant running on fuel is closed due to the shortage of oil, adding that supply of oil to the plants have been increased to twenty five thousand metric tonne from twelve thousand metric tonne to operate the power plants in maximum capacity. The Information Minister said windstorm damaged main lines of 500 KV and 220 KVs in Muzaffargarh‚ causing loss of 1800 megawatt. He said two lines have been restored which have added 1100 megawatt of electricity to the national grid. By this evening‚ 350 power plant of Lal Peer will also be restored. Besides two power plants of Chasma have also resumed production due to which power generation capacity has improved and stabilized.
The Baloch Hal
By Malik Siraj AkbarIn a chapter focusing on the Pakistani youth in the newly published book The Future of Pakistan, Moeed W. Yusuf, the South Asia Advisor at the Washington-based United States Institute for Peace (USIP), says 79 per cent of the youth in Pakistan “feels proud to be a Pakistani”. The response of the youth from Pakistan’s largest province of Balochistan, nonetheless, stands strikingly different from the rest of the country. “The figures from Balochistan [about being proud to be a Pakistani] were the bleakest,” he concluded, after analysing three recent major youth surveys. According to Mr Yusuf, the findings of these surveys conducted by the British Council, Centre for Civic Education and Herald magazine do not collectively bode well for the Pakistani federation in the coming years. “Baloch youth stand out as most distraught with the federation. Except for a minority, they are least enthusiastic about being part of Pakistan and are least proud to be Pakistanis,” he wrote. “They are the keenest to leave Pakistan and they oppose the military and state institutions more staunchly than youth in other provinces.” Parveen Naz, a social activist in Quetta, says the Baloch generally see a “very bleak” future for themselves in Pakistan. While no access to quality education or employment opportunities is one thing, she says, the “kill and dump” policies have further poisoned the minds of a new generation of the Baloch. “The security apparatus in the country has made life miserable for the Baloch. They cannot enter in any walk of life, nor can they undertake entrepreneurial initiatives because the federal government has waged a war against the Baloch. The youth is punished whether it is politically involved or totally indifferent. Islamabad sees no difference and treats all the Baloch with the same stick.” According to Abdullah Jan, a youth development expert based in Quetta, there is a “huge cultural and political difference” between the Baloch youth and their compatriots in the rest of Pakistan. The Baloch youth does not see any opportunity in the state institutions. They are disappointed and ever disparate against the state policies. According to him, a “communication gap” between the Baloch youth and the state policymakers at the official level has remarkably widened the gulf. Since the inception of the current military operation, desperation, alienation and frustration among the Baloch youth has dramatically increased. While economic marginalisation, inadequate health and education opportunities and underrepresentation in the mainstream state institutions have remained some of the key factors for the disillusionment of the Baloch youth, the military operation in the province has generated new alarming trends. Mr Jan estimates that nearly 60 per cent of Baloch students have become “psychologically ill,” alluding to depression caused by increasing incidents of arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture and killing of hundreds of Baloch youths allegedly by security forces. “These kids see their peers, friends getting killed or disappeared every day. They see the bullet-riddled dead bodies of their class fellows on a regular basis. Depression and anxiety are a natural byproduct of such a situation,” he says. Mr Jan, who has worked with several non-governmental organisations for more than two decades, argues that the Baloch youth is deeply involved in politics and political discussions. Yet, the youth politics in Balochistan is different from the rest of the country because most of the Baloch have a Leftist approach and their political heroes are Che Guevera and Baloch guerillas, such as Dr Allah Nazar and Balach Marri who support an independent Balochistan. A lecturer of sociology at the University of Balochistan, who did not wish to be named, says it was not possible to discuss the economic marginalisation of the Baloch youth by keeping aside the country’s politics. For instance, he says, there is no proper mechanism in the Pakistan army and other security forces to hire and accommodate Baloch youths in the country’s security forces. “Most of the vacancies in Balochistan in the army, the Frontier Corps (FC) and the Coast Guards are filled by non-natives coming from other parts of the country. The Baloch youth sees no opportunity in the armed forces,” he says. According to him, some young Baloch had joined the Pakistan army but eventually quit their jobs and returned home. They complained about the use of abusive language by senior army officers about Baloch leaders like Nawab Akbar Bugti, Bramadagh Bugti and Hairbayar Marri. “The people the Baloch youth see as their heroes are generally depicted as the enemies of Pakistan by the army,” he said. “Religiosity is another issue that often compels Baloch youths to quit the military because the former are secular in nature. Some of them even do not pray five times a day or fast in the month of Ramzan which does not position them in the good books of their senior officers. Frankly, most Baloch are not anti-India either.” The youth in Balochistan complain about the scarcity of opportunities and avenues to present and promote their talent. Qaisar Roonjha, a young trainer who comes from a village in Lasbela District but offers services to highly reputable organisations such as the British Council as a Global Change maker, says the youth in Balochistan is full of talent but they face lack of encouragement. While the absence of official encouragement prevents some from taking initiatives, Mr Roonjha says he still knows many young people who are embracing the challenge to pursue their personal and professional dreams. “Instead of waiting for the right time, everyone should play their role towards a fairer society,” he suggests, referring to a quote by Mother Teresa: “Don’t wait for leaders; do it person to person.’’ In Quetta, when Eeman Sahal Baloch, a young talk show host, started Subh-e-Bolan, a Balochi language morning show on Pakistan Television (PTV-Bolan), to explore the hidden talent among the youth in Balochistan, she was amazed at the extraordinary wealth of talent. “Five months into the show, I had hosted around 1,000 talented boys and girls from across Balochistan. We found talented youth from remote towns of Panjgur, Turbat, Awaran, Gwadar, Mund, Hub, Quetta, Sibi, Mastung, Lasbela and other places,” she said. “They were all smart and talented people who offer much promise if empowered and trusted. The youth in these rural areas urgently need help and government attention for a better future.” These are indeed defining times for the youth in Balochistan. Youth development and empowerment do not seem to be a priority of the governments in Islamabad and Quetta. The provincial assembly in Balochistan rarely debates the issues of the youth. Thus, the Baloch youth is easily available to be exploited either by the government with job offers and scholarships or the nationalists to avenge the killings of their peers and seek an independent Balochistan. The government’s timely response, not with military operations but with respect and abundant opportunities for the Baloch, will decide who the young Baloch will support and join in near future. Islamabad must act swiftly because Balochistan does not seem to have much time left.
EDITORIAL:Daily TimesThe government has shown, once again, its unwavering support for the elevation of women’s stature in society. The PPP has a good record of inclusion of women even on high-level posts. President Asif Ali Zardari the other day signed on the One Million Signatures campaign undertaken to create awareness about violence against women. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Zardari, expressing his acceptance and endorsement, stated that his party and government would take all necessary steps to put an end to discrimination against women. Already, legislation for the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010, Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2010, adoption of the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act 2011, Acid Control and Acid Crime Act and Criminal Law (Third Amendment) Act 2011 and the Prevention of Anti-women Practices Act have been passed, to the credit of the government. Albeit the bill against domestic violence is still hanging fire, its presentation marks the need to provide security to millions of women who become victims of everyday abuse in their homes. The stereotype of the woman as the victim and the man as the aggressor has not changed considerably for a vast majority of females, who owing to their family background, educational status, financial dependence and lack of options remain chained in a cul-de-sac for life. In large segments of society, in a pre-modern state, where patriarchy is alive and kicking, it is of utmost importance that women have the education, wherewithal and means to break free of an offensive and discriminatory system, with the full knowledge that the law is on their side and effective to provide justice to them. Despite the difficulties and challenges the government faces to pass all bills in favour of women’s rights and empowerment, the ongoing efforts must be appreciated. The need to have women as members of the superior courts is also being considered. The absence of female judges in the superior judiciary reflects the unspoken discrimination against women in a male-controlled domain. Commemorating the legacy of the former prime minister and co-chairperson of the PPP, the late Ms Benazir Bhutto, whose government was a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the promulgation of the Women in Distress and Detention Fund Act 2011 and establishment of 26 Benazir Bhutto Centres for Women are positive signs of the PPP’s stance to provide opportunities for women in terms of security and employment. While all these initiatives are of great significance, it is the duty of the lawmakers to ensure implementation of these laws favouring womenfolk. Without implementation in practice, these protections would remain mere words, and ultimately redundant.
Punjab CM on police culture
BY:SYED TASADUQPUNJAB Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has once again spoken about further improving the thana culture. May I ask the chief minister about how he will change the thana culture when the police force already stands politicised and has ceased to work as an independent institution that protects the people and their properties without any interference from the political government? When a posting or transfer of a police officer depends on the discretion of the chief minister, it is unlikely that a police officer will perform his duties according to the prescribed rules. When hundreds of policemen are for the personal security of the chief minister and other officials, expecting the police force to serve the citizens is a contradiction. Is the life of an ordinary citizen not as precious as that of a political leader who is a representative of the people? Why are politicians afraid of the people who elected them and entrusted them with the power of ruling them? In order to change the thana culture it is imperative to change the present system of police recruitment, training, responsibilities and service structure. The rules of the system date back to the colonial era, though the need of the day is an independent police institution where recruitment of officers is based on qualifications and merit. In my opinion, a police officer should be at least a graduate, and a policeman should have at least completed his high school. Police officers should study and be trained for a minimum of two years before being made in charge of a police station. Similarly, policemen should undergo at least one year’s training. The service structure should follow the model of the army. Only then can police performance change, followed by a change in the thana culture. The other important factor missing is the participation of the community in police working and performance evaluations. Those new residential colonies which have their own security arrangements must be made part of police functions such as protecting the property and maintaining law and order. Why are people afraid of seeking help from the police? Why does each police station have a price when SHOs are willing to pay for their transfers? Developing and encouraging community policing and revamping the whole police system are the need of the hour. Unfortunately, our political leaders are so busy in political scoring with each other that they do not have time to think and implement those policies which contribute to the welfare of the people and which can really make a difference in the performance of the government. Lastly, I suggest that the chief minister should also establish women police stations that are managed by women alone so that 50 per cent of the population is given its due importance and equal rights. SYED TASADUQ Lahore
http://www.rferl.orgThe International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) has denied a claim by Pakistan's military that ISAF is failing to help stop militants from crossing the Afghan-Pakistan border. Pakistan's military says it has notified the NATO-led force in Afghanistan 52 times about crossborder movement from Pakistan into Afghanistan by militants, without any response from the ISAF. In a statement, ISAF said that claim is "incorrect." The NATO-led force says it immediately dispatches troops to deal with crossborder militants whenever Pakistan's military requests assistance. The statement says ISAF has a mutual interest to coordinate action with Pakistan against crossborder attacks from North Waziristan by members of the Haqqani network. It says ISAF is "committed to working together with Pakistan" for security, stability and efforts toward reconciliation.