Saturday, August 4, 2012

Pakistan resumes Nato supply into Afghanistan

Pakistan on Saturday resumed Nato supplies, allowing 14 containers to cross into Afghanistan from its northwestern border at Torkham, officials said. Pakistan had temporarily stopped Nato supplies over security concerns on July 24 after gunmen attacked a convoy of Nato trucks, killing a driver, in the town of Jamrud on the outskirts of the main northwestern city Peshawar. “The Nato supplies have been resumed from today and we sent 14 containers” for international troops in Afghanistan,” a local administration official told AFP on condition of anonymity because he is unauthorised to speak to media. A local intelligence official also confirmed resumption of supplies and the departure of 14 Nato containers to Afghanistan. A senior local customs official, Ubaidullah Khan, however, put the figure of containers, which left for Afghanistan, at seven, adding that they carried food stuff and clothes.

What Afghan girls risk by going to school

Terrorists will stop at nothing to keep Afghan girls from receiving an education. "People are crazy," said Razia Jan, founder of a girls' school outside Kabul. "The day we opened the school, (on) the other side of town, they threw hand grenades in a girls' school, and 100 girls were killed. "Every day, you hear that somebody's thrown acid at a girl's face ... or they poison their water." There were at least 185 documented attacks on schools and hospitals in Afghanistan last year, according to the United Nations. The majority were attributed to armed groups opposed to girls' education. "It is heartbreaking to see the way these terrorists treat ... women," said Jan, 68. "In their eyes, a women is an object that they can control. They are scared that when these girls get an education, they will become aware of their rights as women and as a human being." Despite the threat of violence, Jan continues to open the doors of her Zabuli Education Center, a two-story, 14-room building where 354 area girls are receiving a free education. "Most of the (local) men and women are illiterate," Jan said. "Most of our students are the first generation of girls to get educated." Seven small villages make up Deh'Subz, where the school is located. Though Deh'Subz is not Taliban-controlled, Jan has still found it difficult to change the deep-rooted stigma against women's education.On the evening before the school opened in 2008, four men paid her a visit. "They said, 'This is your last chance ... to change this school into a boys' school, because the backbone of Afghanistan is our boys,' " Jan recalled. "I just turned around and I told them, 'Excuse me. The women are the eyesight of Afghanistan, and unfortunately you all are blind. And I really want to give you some sight.' " Jan has not seen the men since. "You can't be afraid of people," she said. "You have to be able to say 'no.' Maybe because I'm old, the men are kind of scared of me, and they don't argue with me." The Zabuli Education Center teaches kindergarten through eighth grade. Without her school, Jan says, many of the students would not be able to receive an education. "When we opened the school in 2008 and I had these students coming to register, 90% of them could not write their name. And they were 12- and 14-year-old girls," Jan said. "Now, they all can read and write." Jan's school teaches math, science, religion and three languages: English, Farsi and Pashto. It recently added a computer lab with Internet access. "They can touch the world just sitting in this house," Jan said. "The knowledge is something that nobody can steal from them." To shield the students from attacks, Jan has built a new stone wall to surround the school. She also employs staff and guards who serve as human guinea pigs of sorts. "The principal and the guard, they test the water every day," Jan said. "They will drink from the well. If it's OK, they'll wait. ... Then they'll fill (the) coolers and bring it to the classroom." Jan says she is so scared of poisoning that school staff members accompany children to the bathroom and make sure the children don't drink water from the faucet. Additionally, the day guard arrives early each morning to check for any gas or poison that might be leaked inside the classrooms. The guard opens doors and windows and checks the air quality before any children are allowed to enter. "People are so much against girls getting educated," Jan said. "So we have to do these precautions." Born in Afghanistan in the 1940s, Jan traveled to the United States in 1970 to attend college. Much of her family was killed or fled Afghanistan during the Russian invasion. She stayed in the U.S., raised a son and opened a small tailoring business. She became an American citizen in 1990. Jan was always involved in various philanthropic efforts and community organizations in Duxbury, Massachusetts. She worked for many years to forge connections between Afghans and Americans. Then the events of September 11 shook her to the core. "I was really affected personally by what happened to the innocent in the U.S.," she said. "It's something that you cannot imagine for a human being to do to other human beings." Almost overnight, Jan turned her small store into a workshop and launched an exhaustive campaign to help victims, first responders, U.S. soldiers and Afghan children. Jan and community volunteers sent 400 homemade blankets to rescue workers at ground zero and assembled and shipped nearly 200 care packages for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. When she heard that U.S. soldiers needed shoes to distribute to Afghan children, Jan and her volunteers sent them more than 30,000 boxes of shoes. Still, in the back of her mind was a bigger dream. On a visit to her homeland in 2002, she noticed that women and girls were struggling from years of Taliban control. "I saw that the girls had been the most oppressed," she said. "The Taliban regime was very brutal, brutal in the way that the woman had no place in their book. The woman had no right. No say in anything." Jan said that while her life in America was fulfilling and rich, her dream was "to do something for Afghanistan and to educate the girls." So in 2004, she began searching for land on which to build a school. In 2005, she began fundraising through her Massachusetts-based nonprofit, Razia's Ray of Hope. Then, on a visit to Afghanistan, Jan was able to negotiate with the Ministry of Education to secure the land where the Zabuli Education Center now stands. "After five years now, (the men) are shoulder to shoulder with me, which is such a great thing," Jan said. "It's unbelievable how much they are proud of the girls." The school is entirely free. Jan says it costs $300 to teach each girl for an entire year. Those fees are covered by donations to her nonprofit.Although she isn't there every day of the week, Jan spends as much time at the school as possible. She meets with her students' fathers and grandfathers two or three times a year to address any issues and make sure she still has their buy-in. She also deals with community elders and locals to ensure that the school has local support. Jan, who takes no money for her work with the school, believes the education her students receive will benefit not only future generations of Afghan women but the country as a whole. "My school is very small. It's nothing big. But for this to start here, I think it's like a fire. And I think it will grow," she said. "I hope that one day these girls ... will come back and teach, because I'm not going to be there all my life. I want to make this school something that will last 100 years from now."

Obama's Birthday Party With a Price Tag

By JODI KANTOR President Obama is turning 51 on Saturday, with just three months until Election Day. So he will celebrate in true political fashion: spending “downtime,” as an e-mail invitation put it, at a party at his Chicago home with a bunch of strangers who made campaign donations to be there. That party, on Aug. 12, will mark another milestone in the transformation of the president and his wife, who once tried to limit the role of politics in their lives and now seem to be increasingly giving themselves over to it. Even some longtime Obama fund-raisers expressed surprise over the party’s site: the Obamas have limited their schmoozing hours in Washington, sequester themselves while on vacation and seldom invite many outsiders into the White House living quarters. Until now, they have kept their Chicago home mostly sacrosanct, allowing only limited photographs of the interior. The party raises questions about how far the Obamas will go in mortgaging their personal appeal for political gain in the months ahead. In poll after poll, voters give Mr. Obama higher marks as a person — a trustworthy leader, a committed father — than as a steward of the economy. Aside from their house, how much of themselves are the Obamas willing to offer up? Consider the shift in Mr. Obama’s birthday celebrations since he arrived in office in 2009. That year, with re-election still distant, Michelle Obama gave him an entirely private surprise party at Camp David, Md., with a few old friends. His 2010 party was splashier, a basketball tournament that made news because of the professional and college stars who played. A year later, he celebrated his 50th birthday with a fund-raising gala at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom, where Jennifer Hudson sang “Happy Birthday.” To scrape up extra dollars, the Obama campaign sold commemorative birthday merchandise, including party hats. Even the private party he gave at the White House mixed old friends with allies who might assist in his re-election fight, like Tom Hanks and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Every year, some Obama supporters have gathered all over the country to “celebrate” his birthday — that is, to share his message and sign up converts. But in the coming days, they will hold no fewer than 1,000 birthday-themed events, from North Carolina (knocking on 51 doors) to California (calling 51 voters). Birthday fund-raisers are a familiar tactic that may have reached an apotheosis in 1962, when Marilyn Monroe sang to President John F. Kennedy at a Madison Square Garden rally attended by 15,000 people and broadcast on television. In 1996, President Bill Clinton filled Radio City Music Hall for a 50th-birthday fund-raiser that brought in $10 million. But the one at the Obamas’ home will have a specific 2012 spin, reflecting the illusion of intimacy on which campaigns now thrive. In recent years, win-a-visit-with-Barack (or Mitt or Ann or Joe, or Sarah Jessica Parker or Marc Anthony) sweepstakes have become a signal fund-raising tactic for both sides. A recent Obama event at George Clooney’s home demonstrates why: The campaign collected $15 million, according to organizers. Less than half of that came from the Hollywood types who paid $40,000 a ticket; the rest came from a sea of supporters who made small donations and entered an online contest to win seats. The formula has proved so lucrative that Mitt Romney’s campaign advertised the chance to be introduced to Mr. Romney and his vice-presidential nominee: a contest to meet a political partner who does not yet exist. Aside from harvesting new e-mail addresses, the contests allow the campaigns to “drive their small-dollar contributions off their big-donor contributions,” said Anthony Corrado, a campaign finance expert at Colby College. Months after winning the Clooney contest, Karen Blutcher, 45, a communications manager for a utility company in St. Augustine, Fla., still sounded thunderstruck that she had met the president and mingled with stars. “The entire event was a lifelong memory,” she said in an interview. A warning to this month’s lucky winner: The celebration at the Obama home will be considerably less cozy than the e-mailed invitations suggest. The event is not a social gathering; it is one of four fund-raisers that Mr. Obama will race through that day in Chicago. Despite a gracious invitation that the first lady e-mailed to supporters, she is not planning to attend, a campaign official said. Donors may dream of tinkling the keys on the family piano or leafing through private photos, but much of the action will take place in the backyard. The finalists will be chosen at random, but the contest winners will be selected as reality show contestants are, to make sure their stories fit. (Ms. Blutcher comes from a hotly contested state and supports Mr. Obama’s health care overhaul because she has a son with special needs.) Even the promise of being allowed in the Obamas’ house is a bit of a mirage: the first family rarely spends nights there anymore, and many Chicago friends predict they will never move back in. Also — and the campaign does not play up this bit of fine print — charging money to enter contests is illegal. So the legions of contestants who reached into their own pockets may not know it, but they could have entered free.

OBAMA: Fostering strong U.S. economy starts with strong middle class

Fostering a strong U.S. economy started with building a strong U.S. middle class, and economic fairness was critical to the nation's recovery, U.S. President Barack Obama said here on Friday.
Speaking at the White House after the release of the latest job report, Obama stressed that the last thing the nation should do in the weak economic recovery is tax increase on middle class families. Flanked by middle-class Americans, Obama said "if we want to keep moving this country forward, these are the folks who are going to get us there." Obama said the nation continued to create jobs last month, evidence of the ongoing economic growth. "We've now created 4.5 million new jobs over the last 29 months, and 1.1 million new jobs so far this year," he noted. U.S. unemployment rose 0.1 percentage point from June to 8.3 percent in July, while the non-farm sector added 163,000 new jobs across the country last month, the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday. However, Obama stressed that there were still too many Americans looking for jobs, adding that "we've got more work to do on their behalf -- not only to reclaim all the jobs that were lost during the recession, but also to reclaim the kind of financial security that too many Americans have felt was slipping away from them for too long." "When families have the security of knowing that their taxes won't go up, they're more likely to spend, and more likely to grow the economy," said Obama, who has geared up his reelection bid. Obama criticized Republican lawmakers' efforts to extend Bush- era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans next year, noting that middle class families should not pay more taxes while the wealthiest Americans could pay less. "Instead of the middle class paying more, we should ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more, a modest amount, so that we can reduce our deficit and still make investments in things like education that help our economy grow," he added.

Teenage protester shot dead in Saudi Arabia's Qatif

An 18-year-old Saudi protester has died of his injuries, a day after he was shot in the chest by security forces in the eastern part of the country, Press TV reports. According to the Saudi interior ministry, Hussain Yousef al-Qallaf, who succumbed to his wounds on Saturday, was among a number of young protesters who clashed with regime forces in the Qatif region of the oil-rich Eastern Province on Friday. The ministry claimed that the protesters shot and killed a policeman and injured another as they were patrolling the area, but did not provide further details about the incident. Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province has been the hub of a growing anti-monarchy sentiment. In a demonstration on Friday, protesters demanded the release of teenage activist Muhammad al-Shakhouri and other political activists. Shakhouri was injured and arrested on July 27 and now is in a military hospital in the city of Dhahran. The Saudi authorities say Shakhouri had been among the 23 most wanted men in Qatif. He was protesting the detention of prominent cleric Sheikh Nemr al-Nemr when he was detained. Sheikh Nemr was injured and arrested by Saudi security forces of the Al Saud regime while driving from a farm to his house in Qatif on July 8. Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in the Kingdom's east, mainly in Qatif and Awamiyah. The demonstrators called for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.

Bahraini, Saudi People to Stage Concurrent Rallies on Sunday
The 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".

Bahrain: Arrest and Ill-treatment of Human Rights Defender Zainab Al-Khawaja

Human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja was yet again arrested last night when she was protesting alone in Al Qadam roundabout. Zainab decided to protest despite her entire leg being in a caste due to the leg injury she sustained not long ago when security forces shot her with tear gas canisters at a close range, resulting in the injury, refer to After the arrest last night, Zainab was verbally assaulted by a police officer, who right before making sectarian and gender related insults, was very kind due to a camera being present. Al-Khawaja left the room in protest, demanded to know his name and refused to cooperate until given so she can file a complaint. The head of the police station asked Zainab if she would go voluntarily or he will “do what’s necessary”. Al-Khawaja asked if he was threatening her. Female police asked the head of the police station what they should do in case she refuses to give a blood sample, he reportedly responded “stick the needle in her neck”. Alkhawaja was then handcuffed, dragged on the ground and down the stairs, after which she was placed inside a police vehicle. She was then moved to the Fort Prison Hospital where a blood sample was taken, and then moved to Isa Town Detention Center. Until arriving at the final destination Zainab was kept in handcuffs despite her serious leg injury. When Zainab called her family today she reportedly sounded exhausted and severe of pain. This is one of many times in which Zainab Al-Khawaja has been arrested for merely practicing her right to protest, refer to The BCHR and GCHR call on the Government of Bahrain to: 1. Immediately release Zainab Al-Khawaja and drop all charges against her, as it is believed that these measures have been taken against her solely due to her legitimate and peaceful work in the defense of human rights, and the exercise of freedom to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in accordance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; 2. Immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and activists including leading human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and GCHR/BCHR Director Nabeel Rajab. 3. Drop all charges against human rights defenders held on 'politically motivated' charges. 4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment. The GCHR and BCHR call your attention to the rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” in particular to Article 5 (b) which states that: “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (b)To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups;” Article 6 (c) “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

Pak-Iran Border and Baloch Traders’ Woes

The Baloch Hal
By Muhammad Akbar Notezai
The 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.

Pakistan to be among top 30 research conducting countries by 2018

An 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.

Central Punjab too slipping out of PML-N’s hands?

daily times
The 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-PML(N) ‘Test series’ continues

PTI chief says Nawaz involved in $417 million corruption * Throws Nawaz challenge for a one-on-one debate
The 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.

Pakistan: Discarded Jalozai IDPs

One 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?


Kidnapping of moneyed people, businessmen or professionals is nothing but the complete breakdown of law and order. Simply the Government had failed to protect life, honour and dignity of the citizens. It is the basic obligation of the Government and the State to protect its citizens against the enemies in case of foreign aggression and also from the criminals. The Government is unable to fulfill this constitutional obligation to this date and hundreds of people are being kidnapped for ransom money. Most of them well to do people, judges of the subordinate courts, lawyers, doctors, professionals and businessmen. The most vulnerable section of our society—the Hindu shopkeepers and small scale businessmen in the remote corners of the Province are the most favourite target of the criminals. For this, a powerful section of our society is also encouraging violence against this vulnerable section of our traditional society. This forced some to migrate to India, others to Sindh and major cities and human settlements of the country. In a planned manner, they are being harassed. The minority community had no complaints against the dominating Baloch society in the history spread over to centuries and now it had become a recent tradition and during the past few years the number of cases increased manifold. However, the most favourable targets are doctors and members of the minority community, mainly small and medium size businessmen of rural Balochistan and the criminals and their patrons among the influential people are encouraging their kidnapping. In a week’s time, two prominent doctors were waylaid, kidnapped and taken to unknown destinations presumably for ransom. Surgeon Bangulzai returned with no credible information that he had paid the ransom money to this captors or not. It is not known to us. Rather it will never come on the record if he had paid the ransom money for obvious reasons. Now Dr Ghulam Rasool Kakar was kidnapped. He was whisked away leaving behind his car presumably to destroy the footprints of the kidnappers in which direction they had gone. In case of Dr Bangulzai, doctors in Quetta and elsewhere observe complete strike and registered their strong protest against kidnapping by closing down OPDs and suspending treatment at wards, canceling routine operations in all the major hospitals of Quetta, Mastung, Naushki and Kalat. Now a similar situation had developed and the doctors announced complete boycott of the OPD suspending routine operations and emergency cases to register their protest. Ironically, the Government and the administration are unmoved and it seems that the rulers are unconcerned over the kidnapping for ransom cases targeting doctors. It is facts that over half a million people are directly affected if the doctors boycott the OPD in all the major hospitals. In other words, the whole of Balochistan is shaken up as half a million denied health care facility merely because the Government failed to trace and bust the gangs of criminals operating on some black spots, including Quetta. Kidnapping ICRC doctor was most surprising. The British national doctor was kidnapped probably making the ICRC the real target and not the doctor for ransom money, some observers thought. However, many doctors were killed; some other members of the NGOs had been slain merely because their relatives could not pay ransom money. The Government of Pakistan can arrange hefty some of money not once but twice for Somali pirate seeking release of some Pakistani captives on the insistence of MQM, an ally of the PPP Government. Pakistanis are first holding talks with the Somali pirates and paying ransom money to the criminals through MQM men and no Government in the world is holding talks with the Somali pirates. If they Government can arrange money for paying ransom to the Somali pirates, then it should do the same for the Pakistani criminals and pay them ransom money in return of release of all captives, if the Government is reluctant to take firm and decisive action against the kidnappers. At least, there will be no flight of capital from Pakistan by paying ransom money to Pakistani criminals supported by their influential and powerful patrons who desire to become billionaires over night.