Saturday, August 4, 2012
farsnews.comThe Bahraini and Saudi people are due to stage concurrent rallies in different parts of Bahrain and the Eastern Saudi Qatif region on Sunday to show their outrage at their tyrannical rulers and call for the freedom of political prisoners. The Sunday protests are due to be held under the title of "The Nation Will never Compromise" in the Saudi Qatif region and 50 regions across Bahrain. The organizers of the rallies have announced that the main goal behind the demonstrations is supporting and announcing solidarity with the Bahraini and Saudi dissident leaders who are experiencing harsh pressures and tortures in prison. Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty's over-40-year rule. Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar - were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 13, 2011, to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors. So far, more than 69 people have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and thousands of others have been injured. Also, since February 2011, Saudi protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in Eastern Provinces, mainly in the Qatif region and the town of Awamiyah, calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination. However, the demonstrations have turned into protests against the Al Saud regime, especially since November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others. The Saudi interior ministry issued a statement on March 5, 2011, prohibiting "all forms of demonstrations, marches or protests, and calls for them, because that contradicts the principles of the Islamic Sharia, the values and traditions of Saudi society, and results in disturbing public order and harming public and private interests." In June, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ordered the country's security forces to go on a state of high alert due to what he called a "turbulent situation" in the region. According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime "routinely represses expression critical of the government".
The Baloch Hal
By Muhammad Akbar NotezaiThe Pak-Iran trade gate, Zero-Point, is Pakistan’s only single official legal border crossing into Iran. It is 600 kilometers from the provincial capital, Quetta, situated in Taftan, a town in district Chaghi District. Besides, the Zero-Point trade gate, Iran built a 10-feet high concrete thick wall reinforced with steel rods along its own shared border with the Balochistan province which is stretching from Taftan to Mand in Turbat district. According to Iranian authorities, the fence is built to prevent illegal border crossings, drug trafficking, terror attacks and unlawful transportation into Iran . It is true that largely opium, hashish, heroin and morphine etc. is all smuggled into Iran but, on the other hand, Iranian fuel is also abundantly smuggled into Pakistan. Across the border the Baloch people are densely populated. After the construction of the fence, Iran has divided the Baloch people economically, politically, culturally and socially. That is why the Balochs in Pakistan and Iran are fully cut off from each other although they have a fundamental right to interact and mingle with each other. Kachkol Ali Baloch, the former leader of the opposition in Balochistan Assembly, raised voice against the construction of the said fence, saying that Balochs on both sides of the border were not taken into confidence while constructing the wall. It was, he rightly argued, made against the will of the Baloch people. He had also tabled a resolution in the provincial assembly but no one in the federal government paid head to his legislative move. Since 2003, the Iranian authorities have shut down the Zero-Point on at least four different occasions. Iran justifies its moves by citing terror attacks, bomb explosions and suicide attacks in its Balochistan province. Jundullah, a Sunni militant group led by Abdul Malik Regi, was allegedly responsible for these attacks who, according to Iranian authorities, had sanctuaries in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. Therefore, they kept closing the Zero-Point gate each time for six to seven months, depriving the local traders and populations of their livelihood. Incredibly, Zero-Point remained closed after the execution of Abdul Malik Regi in Iran. Traders are in utter confusion regarding the closure of Zero-Point. Ali Raza Rind, a senior local journalist of district Chaghi, said, “Iranian authorities unilaterally decide whether to open or close the border. Neither they consult Pakistan nor do they negotiate with the local Baloch tribal chiefs while making such important decisions about the Zero-Point. Sadly, local traders are in trouble from both sides because the Frontier Corps (F.C.) personnel also compel the traders to bribe them. Consequently, the problems of local traders and people are compounding instead of decreaseing. While in the past goods from Iran were imported in large quantities, the supply has recently declined. The Iranians have enforced very stringent regulations on the border although goods are still being exported in a large quantity in Iran from the Pakistani side of the border. It is beyond understanding why Pakistani authorities are silent on this key issue and playing the role of a silent spectator? They should pay immediate attention to this serious issue. As this writer spoke to an old trader at Taftan border, he said angrily, “We have been enduring harsh and strict treatment from both sides of the border authorities. Sometimes, they physically assault us without any reason. The Zero-Point gets closed due to violence inside Iran but we frequently have to bear the brunt of it over here. There is no one to seriously address this issue. ” The residents of Taftan, on their part, are deprived of basic necessities of life. They are so poor that they often send their children to work on the border. Mega projects like Saindak and Reko Diq, are situated a few kilometers from Taftan but these projects barely offer any benefits to the people of Balochistan. Labors in Taftan are compelled to work all the day under the sun in return of low very wages. The labors face same hardships as the local traders and the other citizens do in Taftan border area. It is the government’s responsibility to resolve the problems of traders and local people on priority basis so that they continue earning a livelihood without much stress.
PPIAn international forecast for research output has shown that Pakistan will be among top 30 countries of the world. Scimago, an independent research organization and an international evaluation and ranking platform, has projected in its recent publication how the world will perform in research by 2018 based on their past performance. The top 50 countries are included in the forecast, says a press release received from HEC on Thursday. China, as expected, becomes the number one country in the world by 2018 in terms of research output, however three countries which stand out and show the most drastic increase in numbers and rankings are Iran, Malaysia and Pakistan. Iran moves ahead from number 19 to number 4, Malaysia from 30 to 13, and Pakistan from 43 to 27. The expected output of research in Pakistan moving up 16 notches, which is the second highest increase worldwide, is primarily due to the innovative higher education policies and reforms taking place in Pakistan under the Higher Education Commission (HEC). During the last few years, in addition to quality reforms, there has been a strong resurgence of research and innovation. In particular, there is a significant growth in the number of PhDs awarded out of Pakistani universities. The numbers speak for themselves. In the first 55 years since Pakistan’s independence, a total of 3281 PhDs were awarded at Pakistani universities. However, since the establishment of the HEC in 2002, over 4000 PhDs have been awarded to-date, which is more than what was awarded in the previous 55 years. There is a renewed focus on engineering and technology, agriculture, biological sciences, business education and social sciences, which are relevant subjects important for the socio-economic development of Pakistan. There is a zero tolerance policy on plagiarism, where every research paper, thesis and dissertation must be scrutinised by anti-plagiarism software before submission. All thesis and dissertation must be evaluated by at least two foreign referees in academically advanced countries in the relevant area of research. Despite having very limited funds, HEC supports many research initiatives through different types of grants, including split PhDs, post-doctoral fellowships, foreign faculty programmes, hosting conferences and to present papers anywhere in the world, to name only a few.
daily timesThe recent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) tirade against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan is a renewed attempt to settle the score for damaging the former’s image in its stronghold – the central Punjab. Although, the veracity of allegations levelled by PML-N hawks Khawaja Asif and Nisar Ali Khan is yet to be confirmed, the party has declared the PTI its archrival, at least for the next general elections. In the central Punjab, as many as 100 National Assembly seats (including reserved seats for minorities and women) and over 200 Punjab Assembly seats are at stake. The PML-N which had been accused of playing Punjab card since early 90s in national politics had in fact reduced to the central Punjab. The party bitterly failed in the southern Punjab and managed to hold power riots under the patronage of the Punjab government in Faisalabad, Lahore, Gujranwala and Rawalpindi, the most populous urban centres with millions of people involved in cottage industry and which were the ultimate source of electoral strength for the party since 90s. The worries of the party multiplied when the PTI managed to stage a successful rally in Lahore in October last year while the PML-N could gather only couple of thousand people in its ‘Go Zaradri, Go’ rally in Gowalmandi – the constituency of PML-N President Nawaz Sharif. The Lahore show, which was culmination of PTI mass-contact campaign during those days in districts surrounding provincial metropolis put the last nail in the coffin of PML-N. The Lahore show shook the PML-N badly, particularly after seeing a dull response to its organised rally at Bhaati Gate, yet the hawks in the party appeared to have seen no reasons and instead of addressing skyrocketing prices, black marketing, profiteering and hoarding. Its policy to blame the PPP-led federal government for all ills proved futile. The PTI, on the other hand, kept the PML-N its prime target, seeking appeal for its slogans against the Sharifs and other leaders of the PML-N working in urban centers of the province. A PML-N leadership visibly irked over the PTI’s making it the ultimate choice of political targeting got annoyed with it yet failed to get out of Imran Khan’s target list. The PML-N tried in the recent past to come to terms with the PTI as it contacted the party for consultation over the nomination of the new chief election commissioner and promised to take it on board at the time of the formation of the caretaker government. But the PTI continued chasing the PML-N like a shadow and brought the latter to a point of unprecedented mud slinging which is likely to blacken its face too because it had many skeletons in its cupboard too. On condition of anonymity, a senior PML-N leader from Rawalpindi believed that the party’s politics of using the shoulders of judiciary to further its politics seemed to have lost the steam the day when the Supreme Court on the call of PTI chief decided to hear the Mehran Gate scandal. He said the PML-N had realised that banking heavily on the judiciary had not just weakened the PPP, but also harmed the party’s political interest too. The PML-N leader said the party had almost shun the politics of using the judiciary for political gains against the advice of hawks in the party. According to him, doves in the PML-N argued that sailing with the PPP for democratic transition would be the only choice left since the PTI had gained much political ground against it than any other political party in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Another PML-N leader from Lahore conceded that the power riots in urban centres were based on exploitation of general sentiments of the masses and was not the handiwork of party’s organisations. He said that the hawkish policy of the party had been ruining its hard- earned image of saviour of democratic system in the country. With general elections around the corner, the party needed to address the problems that fall in its domain rather than accusing the PPP of all the evils, he added.
PTI chief says Nawaz involved in $417 million corruption * Throws Nawaz challenge for a one-on-one debateThe blame game between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) continued on Friday with PTI chief Imran Khan claiming that PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif was involved in $417 million corruption and challenging him to answer his 11 questions on TV. The questions, which he put forward in a press conference, pertained to Nawaz and his family’s alleged corruption. He said the PML-N chief owed Pakistani nation satisfactory answers to the questions he had raised. He asked why Sharif had not filed a lawsuit against author Raymond Decker, who in his book had held him responsible for a corruption of $417 million. Questioning Sharif over “negligible” tax payments while having property worth billions of rupees in the United Kingdom and Raiwind, he accused the PML-N chief of defaulting on bank loans worth Rs 6 billion. “Sharif family borrowed this money and never returned it,” he claimed. How much national exchequer was spent on Raiwind's palatial infrastructure, he asked. “Where did Sharif get money to purchase apartments in Mayfair area of the Great Britain?” Khan asked, adding that the property was estimated at Rs 6 billion. “Where did you get funds to build your Raiwind empire, worth billions of rupees?” he continued. He also raised questions about the funds Nawaz had got to launch Jeddah Steel Mills in Saudi Arabia while in exile.
EDITORIAL: THE FRONTIER POSTOne thought that at least the Peshawar High Court’s order would drill a bit of humanity in the stony hearts of the FATA officialdom and soften them up somewhat for the woebegone internally displaced tribal families, living miserably in the Jalozai camp amid official neglect and indifference. The venerable court had directed that electric fans must be provided to the IDPs in the Jalozai and other camps to alleviate their suffering in this severe summer heat. But according to the media reports, the Jalozai residents still stay bereft of this amenity. Indeed, not even power line has been laid for running the fans. Why really is the FATA hierarchy so callous to these unfortunate IDPs? What sin is it that they have committed that this hierarchy is so vengefully out to punish them so heartlessly? Or, is it that this hierarchy thinks they are the children of a lesser god, who need the treatment of perishable worms, not of human beings? Why indeed has it discarded them so shabbily and so cruelly? Has nobody in the hierarchy any time at all for them? Is the KP governor too preoccupied with receiving and giving protocols to take out some time for them, who in reality are his sole charge in every manner? Not once has he visited them, even for form’s sake. He in fact is still to imbibe that his primary job is not to grace prize-giving ceremonies but to be with his people in adversity. And his subordinate bureaucrats seem believing that their job is only to ride sleek SUVs and pass time in their plush air-conditioned offices and comfortably-fitted homes, not to visit the distressed IDPs. Indeed, they mince no words in proclaiming impudently that these grief-stricken human beings are none of their responsibility, as they are living in camps located not in the tribal territory but in settled area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Of course, they could get away with such loathsome baloney when their chief, the KP governor, himself is so unmindful of these literally discarded IDPs. But has any of those dudes an idea of how with their inhuman behaviour they are losing on potential ambassadors of goodwill in droves? For an effective fight against militancy and insurgency, a sympathetic public on the side of the state security forces is unarguably an indispensable must. But when these inhumanly-treated IDPs return to their homes, will they not be carrying with them sentiments of bitterness, hostility and scorn against the state? And will this poison they not inject in the minds and hearts of their kith and kin at home? Verily, this could only be the worst thing to happen at this point in time when the military is still engaged in the pacification operations in various parts of the tribal areas. The military has certainly cleared many an area of the militants. But remnants of militancy still persist even in the cleared areas and remain to be tackled to pacify the still-troubled spot, as also to bring security, peace and normality to the region. This entails that a favorable tribal public must be solidly on the side of the state security forces to take on the militant rumps triumphantly. For this, the FATA hierarchy should have been in the forefront in consolidating the military gains by launching into massive rehabilitation and development works in the cleared areas to win the local populace’s hearts and minds and thereby marginalise and isolate the militants. But this inept and incompetent hierarchy has taken a backseat on this count on the obscene excuse that the military has itself sidelined it from the rehabilitation and reconstruction effort. But which military is it that has stopped this stupid hierarchy from looking the IDPs of tribal areas in Jalozai and other camps in KP? Some heads must roll. But who will set the ball rolling when the KP governor himself is so indifferent to these distressed IDPs? Whatever it is, the FATA hierarchy from top to bottom is not playing truants to the IDPs alone, they are in effect playing with the nation’s solidarity and integrity. By the way, where is the FATA secretariat spending the billions of rupees that it has got in the budget for the development of the tribal areas and the progress and wellbeing of its residents?