Friday, August 24, 2012

Pakistani Christian boy tortured, mutilated, burnt
With the hysteria over the arrest of a Christian girl with Down’s syndrome on a charge of blasphemy yet to blow over, the brutally tortured body of an 11-year-old Christian boy has been found in Pakistan’s Punjab province. The body of Samuel Yaqoob, was discovered with his lips and nose cut off, his stomach removed and his legs mutilated. According to police the body was later burned and could hardly be recognized. Relatives identified the corpse from a distinctive mark on the boy’s forehead. Yaqoob, a resident of the Christian Colony of Faisalabad, had been missing since August 20, last seen on his way to a local market. His mutilated remains were found on Eid-Ul-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan. Detectives are investigating whether accusations of blasphemy had previously been filed against the minor. Yaquub was believed to be an orphan, but The Telegraph reports that his mother was quoted in the local press denying any allegations were made. "We neither received any phone call for ransom nor were we told that Samuel had committed blasphemy," she said. When a Christian group is suspected of transgressing the blasphemy laws, the consequences can be brutal, reports the World Public Forum NGO. The death of the 11-year-old comes a week after a young Christian girl with Down’s syndrome was charged with blasphemy after reportedly burning pages of a Koran. Rifta Masih was beaten by local Muslims after they witnessed her allegedly torching pages of the sacred book when cooking. Several hundred Christians have fled their homes following the incident in fear of violence after local mosques reported the alleged incident over loudspeakers, and hundreds of Muslims taken to the streets. In Pakistan, those accused of blasphemy are subject to instant imprisonment and most are denied bail to prevent mob violence. As a rule, the accused are placed in solitary confinement for their own protection against harassment from inmates or guards. Those that have been acquitted from the charges, often leave the country, one of the strictest enforcers of Sharia law in the world, reports the Washington Post. In Pakistan, slandering Islam or its holy book is punishable by death. There have been no executions for blasphemy, though Asia Bibi, a mother of five and a Christian, was sentenced to death two years ago. Bibi has not been executed as of yet, and may be pardoned of her death sentence. Christian minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Pakistani government politician Salmaan Taseer were both assassinated for opposing the blasphemy laws in connection with Bibi’s case. Last month, a man accused of desecrating a Koran was dragged from a police station by a mob and beaten to death. According to Human Rights Watch researcher Ali Dyan Hasan, "The [country’s blasphemy] law creates this legal infrastructure which is then used in various informal ways to intimidate, coerce, harass and persecute."

Pakistani Shiites are 'victims of regional politics'
Pakistani development experts and activists say the massacre of Shiite Muslims in Gilgit-Baltistan and other northern parts of Pakistan is linked to ongoing development programs in the area and regional politics. Last week, several gunmen, who were in the guise of Pakistani security officials, stopped a passenger bus travelling from Rawalpindi to the northwestern Gilgit region and dragged the travelers off the bus. The gunmen asked the passengers to show their identity cards, after which they brutally killed 22 of them at point blank range, making sure that they belonged to the minority Shiite community. The Taliban, a Sunni-Wahabi militant organization, claimed responsibility of the attack. It was the third such incident in six months. Pakistani experts say that although Shiite Muslims are also murdered in other parts of Pakistan, the Shiites living in the northwestern Gilgit-Baltistan region, a predominantly Shiite area, face a systematic onslaught by the Taliban. Some experts go to an extent of calling it "sectarian cleansing" of the Shiites.In a similar incident on February 28, gunmen in military fatigues shot dead 18 Shiite Muslims in the northern Kohistan district while they were travelling from Rawalpindi to Gilgit. On April 3, a Sunni mob pulled nine Shiites out of buses and murdered them in the town of Chilas, about 60 miles south of Gilgit. Pakistani human rights groups accuse the country's security agencies of backing Sunni militants and failing to protect the minority groups of the country. "The killings are doubtless the work of those who want to destroy Pakistan, but a failure to nab and punish the killers is also contributing to the same end ... the Taliban (are) nobody's friends and those who created this monster have taken Pakistan down the road to annihilation," said Pakistan's non-governmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in a statement, directly holding the Taliban and state agencies responsible for the massacre. Control over Gilgit-Baltistan Gilgit-Baltistan used to be a popular tourist destination but now not many people travel to these areas because of the unrest. Gilgit-Baltistan lies about 10 kilometers off the Karakoram Highway, which connects it to the Pakistani capital Islamabad in the south and to the Chinese cities of Tashkurgan, Upal and Kashgar in the northern Xinjiang province. To the west of Gilgit-Baltistan lies Afghanistan and on its southwest is Pakistani Administered Kashmir.Pakistani experts say the sectarian violence in Gilgit-Baltistan, which was given the status of an administrative province by President Zardari in 2009, is also linked to regional politics and to ongoing and future development projects in the area. Maqsood Ahmad Jan, a development expert in Islamabad, told DW that the violence in Gilgit-Baltistan region increased considerably after the Pakistan People's Party's government elevated the status of the once-reclusive and semi-governed region. "Currently, I am working with the Plan International organization and we are working to implement some projects in Gilgit, but the continued violence has impeded the pace of our projects. Other development organizations working in this area also complain about the same," Jan said. Many development experts are of the view that militant Sunni groups are not in favor of a prosperous and autonomous Shiite-dominated Gilgit-Baltistan region so close to Afghanistan, China and Kashmir. Defense experts say that peace in Gilgit-Baltistan would also be a setback for hard-line Kashmiri militant groups, which claim that Gilgit-Baltistan is part of Kashmir. Gilgit-Baltistan Shiites have always opposed any move to annex their region with Pakistan Administered Kashmir because they fear it would turn them into a minority. The Taliban, say experts, see the majority Shiite Gilgit-Baltistan as a threat to their Wahabi political agenda and their influence in the Pakistani Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which borders Afghanistan.Geo-politics The Taliban want to control the Shia Gilgit region But there are others who say that the Shiite massacre in Gilgit-Baltistan was actually a war of interests between regional players. "It is somehow linked to the 'war on terror' and US policies in the region, especially its policy towards Iran," Sartaj Khan, an editor in Karachi, told DW. "I think the US and Pakistani agencies, with the backing of Saudi Arabia, are arming militant Sunni groups to suppress the Shiites in the region to kill any possible support for Iran." Khan added that the Pakistani agencies had given a "free hand" to militant organizations like the Sipah-e-Sahaba, a Sunni organization believed to be responsible for various attacks on Pakistani Shiites in the past, to operate in Gilgit-Baltistan. Karachi-based Shiite activist Syed Ali Mujtaba Zaidi also blamed US policies in the region for the instability in Pakistan's northern areas and the conflict between the Shiites and Sunnis. "The US intends to demoralize us, make us feel hopeless and helpless, so that it can continue to play its politics in the region. Its main motive is to counter China and Iran." Zaidi told DW, adding that he believed extremists Sunni groups like the Taliban were working for the US' interests in the region. On his part, Hameed Satti, a development consultant in Islamabad, told DW that Pakistanis had a habit of blaming foreign countries for their problems, and that it was not surprising for him that the massacre of the Shiites, which he believed was a result of state policies, was blamed on the US.

U.S. jury finds Samsung infringed Apple's patent

A U.S. federal court jury on Friday said it has found Samsung infringed six of Apple's patents and ordered it to pay more than 1 billion U.S. dollars in damages to Apple. The verdict was read in a U.S. district court in San Jose, in northern California, after three days of jury deliberation. The nine-member jury found that Samsung products violated Apple 's patents related to screen bounceback and zooming, saying that the Korean company also infringed the design and graphical interface of Apple's iPhone. But the jury found that Samsung did not infringe Apple's design patent of the iPad tablet computer, according to U.S. media reports. The jury also ruled that Apple didn't infringe any Samsung patents. The verdict is seen as a big win for Apple in a closed-watched patent lawsuit billed by some U.S media as "the patent trial of the century." The jury trial started on July 30 after Apple claimed that Samsung copied its iPhone and iPad, seeking more than 2.5 billion dollars in damages. Samsung denied the charge, and made counterclaims that Apple violated its own patents.

Amateur video captures NY shooting scene

'Honor' crime: A kiss can mean death

A woman who escaped being forced into marriage as a girl campaigns against arranged marriages and "honor" crimes. She explains how a kiss can lead to murder.

PPP to consult allies on PM’s appearance

The Core Committee of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Friday decided to consult the heads of coalition parties of the government on the appearance of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf before the Supreme Court on August 27. The meeting was jointly presided over by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. According to sources, the meeting decided that the final decision on this issue could only be taken after the consultation with coalition partners. The sources said Law Minister Farooq H Naek gave a detailed briefing on legal aspects of the Supreme Court’s directive to the prime minister to appear before the court on Monday. “There was an opinion in the meeting that as per constitution the prime minister is not bound to appear in court on his official conduct. The majority of ministers present in the meeting were agreed with the legal team of the government,” they added. The sources said the meeting of the coalition partners would be summoned today (Saturday) or on Sunday. Meanwhile, a press release issued by the PID says President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf presided over a meeting of ministers and senior leaders of the PPP here at the presidency. Briefing about the meeting, Presidential Spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar said the meeting discussed current political situation in the country. “The law and order situation in the country, floods and energy situation were also discussed,” he added. The spokesman said Prime Minister Raja and Ahmed Mukhtar briefed the meeting on the energy situation and the progress on various measures being taken to overcome the power shortage in the country. Interior Minister Rehman Malik briefed the meeting about the law and order situation in the country and various measures that were taken to ensure security during Eid. Rana Mohammad Farooq Saeed Khan, minister for climatic change, briefed about the floods situation in the country. Babar said the meeting also reviewed reports about the grievances of the Hindus and the incidents of discrimination against the minorities. He said the meeting resolved that minorities would not be allowed to be discriminated against and they would be provided full protection of law. The spokesman said the president, while expressing deep concern and sorrow over the recent loss of lives and property in the northern and other parts of the country, called for gearing up floods preparations and also called for closely monitoring of the situation. He said in view of predictions of heavy rains and floods, there was an urgent need for greater coordination between federal and provincial authorities to avert any unpleasant situation. He advised the federal government to provide all possible support to the provincial governments to take precautionary measures and to provide relief to those people who have been affected by the rains.

Cold War over, but vigilance still necessary

The Cold War era is long over, but the cold war mentality hasn't disappeared. Scholars in both China and the US often accuse the other country of having a cold war mentality. Others think the concept is outdated. The US and Soviet camps confronted each other militarily, ideologically, and economically during the Cold War. With the end of the conflict, the political foundations for the confrontation disappeared. But the competition between countries didn't end with it. While Cold War memories still linger, there are real worries that a new cold war may break out between China and the US. Many countries feel the urge to strengthen their efforts to secure national interests in a changing global strategic grid. Mistrust is expanding among major powers and in many regions. As the world's largest power, the US has the greediest pursuit of security. It often guards against other countries in an aggressive way, including adopting policies of containment. This is the real reason that post-Cold War global politics haven't settled down strategically. The history of the Cold War may not be repeated between China and the US. But tensions or confrontation may not be completely avoided between Beijing and Washington. There is a theory that if China and the US see each other as enemies, they may become so. This kind of thinking adds to China's strategic dilemma. China has to stay alert. This is the bottom line of securing its safety. This should also be the bottom line as Chinese society judges and assesses the world security situation. It will only jeopardize itself if it unilaterally abandons this principle. Have the US and the West gone too far in guarding against China and formed a kind of military and political containment of China? There are clear signs that suggest so. The actions may not be a result of deep deliberation, but rather natural reaction to China's rise. And such a reaction is shared by both the officials and the public in the West, complementing each other. A few people among the Chinese elites are advocating universal interests. These idealistic slogans, ignorant of world realities, can only delude the Chinese public. China's guarding against the West is defensive, to protect its rights of peaceful development. This is a minimum level of vigilance. If the West cannot even accept this and intensifies containment against China, the consequences have to be shared by both sides, or the entire world. Mistrust between countries remains stubborn. China has to stick to realistic thinking and restrained behavior.

Mitt Romney's 'birther' remark is grubby and ugly
BY:Peter Foster
Who would be an adviser to Mitt Romney? Expend a decade of blood, sweat and tears to win him the Republican party presidential nomination only for him to self-destruct on the eve of the biggest moment in his political life.
That’s what happened in Michigan today when Mr Romney appeared to appeared to join the nutty fringe of his party by questioning whether Barack Obama was really born in the USA. “Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital, I was born in Harper Hospital. No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate,” he said, addressing a rally in his home state, “they know that this is the place where both of us were born and raised.” The subtext is grubby and nasty. Just as it was when Joe Biden said last week (to a partly African-American audience) that Romney and Ryan want to “put y’all back in chains”. That was a hideous (and I’d guess calculated) remark, but it comes from a gaffe-prone Veep, not the top the ticket. This weekend was supposed to be all about the run-up to Romney’s accepting the nomination in Tampa, but guess what everyone’s going to be talking about. I can only imagine what senior advisers like Eric Fehrnstrom and Stuart Stevens are doing at this moment. They must be sitting in darkened rooms repeatedly slamming their heads into a desk and screaming: “Why? Why? Why? Why?”

New pashto song 2012 by Suliman Khan

Zulfiqar Khosa resigned from PML-N

Senior leader and Senator of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) has resigned from the party membership and his seat upon the case against his son Dost Muhammad Khosa in Sapna murder’s allegations, reported Aaj News. According to the sources, Zulfiqar Khosa showed some reservations to the party leadership upon several issues including his son’s case (Actress Sapna Murder case). The senior PML-N leader has kept a mum for a couple of years over the tug of war, courtesy grouping within the party, dealing a serious blow to the Khosas’ political ambitions. It all started with the controversy attached to former Punjab CM Sardar Dost Mohammad Khosa’s episode with CM Shahbaz Sharif. This was followed by Dost relinquishing the charge of the Local Government ministry. The sources said that the Khosa was annoyed with Punjab administration for taking action against his son Dost Muhammad Khosa, a leader of PML-N, in Sapna murder case. The former CM Punjab, Dost Muhammad, had resigned from his cabinet post after the Lahore High Court (LHC) charged him in the case pertaining to the kidnapping and murder of actress Sapna. Some sources added that, After leaving his party Khosa might join PPP rather then PTI.

PTI convener Rana Tanvir joins PML-N

Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) convener Rana Muhammad Tanvir has announced to join Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) receiving a warm welcome from Nawaz group. Rana Muhammad Tanvir, who was the candidate for the PP-155 constituency, expressed annoyance over the behavior of senior leadership. He said that he had enrolled 37,000 youths in PP-155 to the PTI but the party had not repaid his hard work. He lashed out at Imran Khan, saying the PTI chief had no control over his party. On the other side, the PML-N happily accepted him into the party fold in a proper induction ceremony.

Veena Malik's new name logo

Bollywood Drama queen Veena Malik gets her new name logo which is more of stylist, glittering and shinning. Hollywood fashion icon Lady Gaga and Rihanna chosen Illuminiti and Freemasons for their identity and now B-Town eye candy Veena Malik following their path to create her new identity. Its fashionist star, glamour's than before and more passionate. VM reflect passion of her movement. Veena Malik said, "I personally believe change is a good thing and it brings new hope and challenges in your life".

Afghan radicals smell blood as U.S. withdraws
The recent string of “green-on-blue” (Afghan on U.S./Coalition troops) attacks in Afghanistan are cause for real worry: Not only might the Coalition’s vital mission to provide security training to the Afghan police and army be in trouble, but the country’s entire future might be in question, too. Without the high-quality training the Afghan security forces desperately will need after Coalition forces leave in 2014 (or sooner), it’s possible Afghanistan will once again fall to the likes of the Taliban. And that’s exactly what the Taliban, the Haqqani network, al-Qaida and maybe others want.What better way to achieve that goal than to cowardly go after the brave men and women who have the capacity to give the people of Afghanistan a chance for a secure future, free from an Islamist extremist stranglehold? We’ve lost nearly 10 brave Americans to attacks by “friendlies” in just the past two weeks. There have been some 30 attacks on Coalition forces this year, causing nearly 40 fatalities. That’s a treble increase in “insider” attacks over last year. The trend line clearly isn’t good and the effects are widespread. First, these attacks have a chilling effect on our troops’ morale. They also put pressure on Coalition allies to bring their troops home from Afghanistan as soon as possible. Keep in mind too that the fact that America is in all-out campaign mode hasn’t been lost on the insurgents, who hope to hasten a U.S. retreat by going after public opinion here. These attacks also undermine the trust that is critical between military trainer and student. How can trainers give the best training possible when they have to be concerned that the student might turn a weapon on them? Equally troubling is the trust that is in jeopardy in the field where U.S. and Afghan soldiers are patrolling together. Our brave troops are now more worried about Afghans putting a knife in their backs than Afghans watching their backs. This anxiety will only compound on the glide path to a full U.S. withdrawal by 2014. Finally, not only do these attacks hinder the training of government security forces, they also undermine confidence in Kabul, which might encourage Afghans to shift their allegiance to the insurgents. The Taliban, the Haqqanis and al-Qaida will continue to look for willing recruits to do their dirty work, developing “penetrations” of the Afghan army and police force to turn on their mentors and trainers. They may corrupt or coerce Afghans into becoming attackers, too. The green-on-blue attacks highlight the growing challenges that face our work in Afghanistan. Now would be an ideal time for presidential leadership on Afghanistan to ensure the success of our mission there — especially preventing the return of the Taliban to power and the revival of al-Qaida. Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.

PM not answerable to any court for exercise of powers, official functions: Attorney General
Attorney General for Pakistan Irfan Qadir Friday said that under Article 248 (1) of the Constitution, the Prime Minister was not answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and official functioning of his office. The Attorney General said this while talking to mediamen in his office in the Supreme Court. Responding to a question about the appearance of the Prime Minister before the Apex Court on the forthcoming hearing of the National Reconciliation Order (NRO) implementation case fixed for August 27, the Attorney General said, "I don't know about and this will be the decision of the Prime Minister purely". To another question that "If the Prime Minister does not appear before the court on August 27, then what are you expecting from the court, he said, "This question has no sense as these are hypothetical questions and I don't comment on such questions relying on ifs and buts." It may be mentioned here that a five-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa will hear the NRO implementation case on August 27 and the Prime Minister had already been issued notice by the bench to appear before the court in person on the said date. Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan, Justice Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Muhammad Athar Saeed are members of the bench. It is pertinent to mention here that "The Article 248 says, "Protection to President, Governor, Minister, etc. (1) The President, a Governor, the Prime Minister, a Federal Minister, a Minister of State, the Chief Minister and a Provincial Minister shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions:"

Those who attacked Kamra were not American, they are from among us

By Raza Rumi
Two days after Pakistan’s powerful army chief made some startling observations in his address to the Pakistan Military Academy, the militants attacked a key strategic installation — the Kamra airbase. That the attack took place on the revered night of 27th of Ramazan is not without symbolism. For the brand of ‘Islam’ practised by the militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) violence precedes other imperatives of faith. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani took a bold public position in his address by saying: “Any person who believes his opinion to be the final verdict, is an extremist…. A human claim to be the final word in judging right from wrong, is tantamount to a claim to divine attributes”. The lethal by-products of our strategic ‘games’ — the TTP — are not amenable to such a worldview. In Kamra, they battled the military for more than five hours. The foreign media highlighted the nebulous connection between the airbase and the country’s nuclear assets; but both the Pakistani and American authorities later affirmed that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was safe. Much has been said about the impending operation by the Pakistani military in North Waziristan. The attack on Kamra has been construed as a reaction to the military’s resolve to clean up North Waziristan ostensibly under mounting US pressure. But there is a need to pause and re-read what General Kayani told his colleagues on Independence Day: “The war against extremism and terrorism is not only the army’s war, but that of the whole nation. We as a nation must stand united against this threat. The army’s success is dependent on the will and support of the people”. While an admission by Pakistan’s most powerful official of the ‘threat’ is welcome on the day when we celebrate our nationhood and Islamic republic status, perhaps it might be coming a bit late in the day. For the past decade — and this is a long-term period — our domestic policy discourse has been the opposite. While hundreds of army soldiers have been killed by militants and thousands of civilians killed in terror attacks across the country, we continue to say that this is not our war. Public opinion constructed by the vernacular press, the religious lobbies and even the political parties has been critical of the overstated threat that General Kayani has clearly articulated. Pakistan’s strategy of ‘measured’ support to the US and Nato involvement in Afghanistan and drumming up of anti-Americanism has been counterproductive. A more creative approach could have been to oppose US excesses but not deny the home-grown militant outfits and arrest their direct and indirect patronage. A recent (local) poll, notwithstanding its methodological limitations, says that 49 per cent of Pakistanis consider America an enemy while 26 per cent think India is the enemy. Slowly, the tables have turned since we constructed our faux identity as ‘not Indian’. This healthy view of the subcontinent by Pakistanis comes as a refreshing development but creates a bigger dilemma. The global construction of US as an enemy of Muslims by al Qaeda is gaining traction especially in the urban middle classes, the youth (which are the biggest segment of our population). Where would this lead us? By no means we should continue our policy to be US’s chief lackey in the region or be dependent on the civil-military handouts, but is drumming up hysteria against a global power a wise approach in our own interest? Such has been the level of indoctrination that many Pakistanis are unwilling to accept that Muslims can kill Muslims or that we have internal enemies. The first reaction of otherwise sensible people to a terror attack is that Blackwater and other US contractors have hired the assassins killing Pakistanis. The material evidence on the other hand negates this impression. But no one wishes to hear ‘facts’ as they challenge the ideological fortress of denial that we have built around us. The perennial fear of India has been replaced by the US machinations to destroy us by taking our nukes out. The attackers of GHQ, PNS Mehran and Kamra were not American, Indian or Israeli agents but jihadists ostensibly working in league with radical elements within the state. Perhaps the most dangerous kind of militancy concerns the growth and consolidation of the anti-Shia extremist groups, which reportedly are in league with the TTP. A few hours after the Kamra incident, two separate incidents of killings of Shias took place. One attack happened in Naran where at least 20 Shia passengers were dragged out of buses and killed on the spot. In Quetta, on the same day, three Hazara Shias were also killed. These are not stand-alone attacks. In recent years, hundreds of Shias have been killed and the murderers remain at large, too powerful to be nabbed by the executive or the judiciary. The chilling video circulated after the Naran incident showed terrorists chanting “Shia Kafir,” as if this were a horrific bloodletting ritual. This is nothing but genocide unfolding before us. The latest Pew poll indicates that nearly half the Sunni population thinks that Shias are not Muslim. The accuracy of this poll is debatable, but even if the numbers were lower, the Wahabisation project initiated by General Ziaul Haq is now becoming an existential danger. And this radicalisation has not been imposed by anyone, despite the Saudi influence, but a cynical and disastrous choice by Pakistan’s military junta in the 1980s and later. Political parties will need another decade of hard core reform consensus to fix the education system and other drivers of extremist ideology. Is it the case that Pakistan’s strategic assets of yore are no longer under the control of the state? Or General Kayani’s policy statement is still a top-level diplomatic pronouncement not filtering down to the ranks of intelligence agencies, which have disastrously nurtured the jihadi groups and turned them into our mortal liabilities? The civilian governments — federal and provincial — appear to be clueless and devoid of the political will to counter these trends. Pakistan’s political elites will have to work together to reverse the state patronage to extremists and their networks. If we have to resist US ‘hegemony’ or the Indian influence in the region, it will not be done through oiling the jihad industry, sloganeering, media twists, and Friday rallies. For Pakistan’s sovereignty, substantial strides have to be made. By reforming our taxation structure, creating jobs, undertaking a massive education reform and building trade ties with the regional powers we could perhaps move towards becoming a strong ‘nation’. Before everything, we need to reset the narrative and explore what ails us. In the absence of such reflection and policy debate, Pakistan’s future remains murky and uncertain.

Pakistan blasphemy suspect 'denied meeting with lawyer'

A lawyer for a young Pakistani Christian girl arrested on blasphemy charges in a poor suburb of Islamabad claimed Thursday he had been refused a meeting with her. Police arrested the girl, Rimsha, who reportedly has Down's Syndrome, in a low-income neighbourhood of the capital last Thursday after she was accused of burning papers containing verses from the Koran, and remanded her for 14 days. Rimsha, aged between 11 and 16, is being held in a jail in Islamabad's twin city Rawalpindi, and her case has prompted concern from Western governments and fury from rights campaigners. "The lawyers are facing difficulties to see the accused girl. The jail authorities have told them to get permission from the top authorities," Shamaun Alfred Gill, a spokesman for All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), told AFP. Her legal team said they had approached the higher authorities in Punjab province but could not get a go ahead for the meeting. "I myself contacted the inspector general (of prisons) by phone and he told me that he will call me back, but I am still waiting to speak to him," Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, one of Rimsha's lawyers, told AFP. "He is not receiving my calls now. Legally, they can't stop a lawyer seeing his client in the jail but the authorities are refusing us a meeting." But Farooq Nazir, the inspector-general of Punjab prisons, told AFP there was no restriction on Rimsha meeting her lawyer or immediate family and insisted she was being cared for. Rimsha is being held in the same jail as Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard who last year gunned down Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who had declared Pakistan's strict anti-blasphemy legislation "a black law". Chaudhry said that they have also filed an application with a court in Islamabad to set up a medical panel to determine Rimsha's age. "We want the court to constitute a commission to judge the age of Rimsha, because, the church records show she is 11 years old only. While her age mentioned in the police report is 16," he said.

Attacks on Afghan Troops by Colleagues Are Rising, Allies Say

Even as attacks by Afghan security forces on NATO troops have become an increasing source of tension, new NATO data shows another sign of vulnerability for the training mission: even greater numbers of the Afghan police and military forces have killed each other this year. So far, Afghan soldiers or police officers have killed 53 of their comrades and wounded at least 22 others in 35 separate attacks this year, according to NATO data provided to The New York Times by officials in Kabul. By comparison, at least 40 NATO service members were reported killed by Afghan security forces or others working with them. Both figures fall under what officials call insider attacks, and both numbers have climbed sharply over the past two years, Western officials say. But while officials say that a vast majority of attacks on Western forces are born out of outrage or personal disputes, the Afghan-on-Afghan numbers are said in larger part to reflect a greater vulnerability to infiltration by the Taliban. Further, there are concerns about cultural clashes within the rapidly expanding Afghan forces themselves, Afghan and NATO officials say, raising questions about their ability to weather the country’s deep factional differences after the NATO troop withdrawal in 2014. “Three decades of war can play a pivotal role in the internal causes,” said Maj. Bashir Ishaqzia, commander of the Afghan National Police recruitment center in Nangarhar Province. He said one of the biggest challenges for the army and police forces was a lasting “culture of intolerance among Afghans, as well as old family, tribal, ethnic, factional, lingual and personal disputes.” Afghan and American officials said Thursday that some explanations for the rising number of Afghan-on-Afghan attacks were intuitive: there are about three times as many Afghan security force members as there are NATO and American troops, and only a portion of the Afghan forces regularly work side by side with Western troops. So insider attacks figure as a lower percentage of killings within the Afghan forces, or so-called green-on-green attacks, than they do in Afghan-on-Western violence, known as green-on-blue attacks. Still, officials noted a growing concern about the issue. In a news conference on Thursday addressing Afghan attacks on Western forces, Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of American and NATO troops, confirmed that Afghan-on-Afghan attacks were seen as an intensifying problem. “Indeed, the Afghan casualties are higher than ours in this regard,” he said, speaking to Pentagon reporters by satellite from Kabul. In the briefing, General Allen provided a new perspective on the insider killings of NATO troops. Previously, military officials had said that Taliban infiltration or impersonation of Afghan security members could be blamed for only about 10 percent of such attacks. In addition, the general noted that, roughly, 15 percent of attacks might be caused by Taliban coercion of soldiers or police officers, either directly or through family members. Taliban influence and outright infiltration is thought to play an even larger role in Afghan-on-Afghan violence, Afghan officials said. One reason Afghan forces are more at risk of infiltration is that they typically live in compounds without anything near the protection found at bases with American troops, said Gen. Aminullah Amar Khail, former commander of the border police in eastern Afghanistan. “The enemy would prefer to focus full attention on targeting American and coalition forces,” General Khail said. “But normally they do not have easy access to foreign soldiers.” He said green-on-blue episodes tend to happen only at training centers and joint Afghan-NATO bases and outposts, while green-on-green attacks “have happened everywhere.” “Infiltrators have easy access to the Afghan police and soldiers,” he said. He said one point of vulnerability is that Afghan forces sleep together well away from American troops and their upgraded security, making it easier for an impostor to kill Afghans as they doze. That was the apparent plan in Oruzgan Province this spring when an Afghan policeman on late-night guard duty at a checkpoint allowed Taliban fighters to enter and kill nine other officers in their beds. The Afghan Interior Ministry said evidence indicated the guard was a Taliban infiltrator. Afghan and American officials have expressed increased urgency about improving the vetting of new army and police recruits — a critical issue as those forces rapidly expand and work alongside Western trainers. Still, General Allen noted that the international coalition remained committed to the strategy of working directly with the Afghans as trainers as those forces assume greater responsibility for security. “At this particular moment, I don’t believe that we need to contemplate reducing our contact with the Afghans,” he said. “The closer the relationship with them — indeed the more we can foster a relationship of brotherhood — the more secure we are.” Still, the vulnerabilities brought by a huge number of new recruits are particularly acute for the Afghan forces themselves — particularly within the Afghan Local Police program, in which irregular local militias are armed and trained by American Special Operations forces. One brutal case involving police-on-police violence occurred in the eastern province of Paktika in March. In that attack, a member of the Afghan Local Police crushed sleeping pills in his colleagues’s food at a command post, Afghan officials say. While they slept, he shot nine of them to death and escaped in a pickup truck with most of their weapons. As with most public reports of insider killings, the Taliban claimed that the killer had been working on their behalf after infiltrating the Local Police. But Afghan officials said it was unclear whether that was the case or whether the motive was greed or a personal vendetta. Afghan military officials pointed out that it would be almost impossible for an infiltrator to carry out the same kind of poisoning plot against NATO forces, where food preparation is centralized. Many Afghan security members, on the other hand, prepare their own food, offering an attacker an inviting opportunity. On Wednesday, President Hamid Karzai’s office asserted that many of the infiltration cases were engineered by foreign spies, with the strong implication that Pakistan or Iran could be involved. But NATO officials said they had not been given evidence of that; in his news conference on Thursday, General Allen said, “I’m looking forward to Afghanistan providing us with the intelligence that permits them to come to that conclusion.” Another factor in insider killings is more direct, officials say: young armed men can lose control when they are brought together under pressure, and often with significant background or cultural differences. “The gun culture that exists here after decades of war, and the sense of honor among young Afghan men, occasionally mixes with deadly results,” said Col. Thomas Collins, a NATO military spokesman in Kabul. Some of the green-on-green episodes he said he had reviewed “came down to two young men in an argument, men with guns that took it to the next level.” Major Ishaqzia, the police recruiting commander in Nangarhar, said, “Sometimes verbal disputes or disagreement over the ways of doing things among policemen, or taunting and mocking types of behaviors, lead to fighting and the use of firearms.”

Monsoon rain floods houses in Peshawar

The Express Tribune
Monsoon rain early Thursday morning left a trail of devastation as clogged drains could not seep out rainwater in many areas of the city. The deteriorating sanitation system exposed how ineffective the municipal administration was in their ability to cope with the torrential downpours. After a scorching heat wave and consistently dry weather for three months, Peshawar received 59 millimetres (more than two inches) of rainfall. Assistant Meteorologist Malik Iftikhar said that the rainwater had been accumulating since late Wednesday night. Residents in the city had suffered throughout the month of Ramazan under hot and humid temperatures. Although belated, the monsoon weather brought some respite from the heat, but people faced another problem with waterlogged gutters and chocked drains. This contradicted earlier claims of city authorities of having tackled the problem. The situation has been worsened because the garbage-cleaning staff of Town-I has been on strike since August 16 following non-payment of salaries. When contacted, Town-I Municipal Inspector Adnan Khan said that he had not been given salaries for disbursement yet. The worst affected areas where rainwater flooded houses were Nishtarabad, Gulbhar, Sheikhabad, outer Ganj and Zargarabad. Many locals spent the night removing carpets, curtains, furniture and electronic appliances from the lower floors of their houses. Those affected say that they warned local municipal officials before Eid to remove silt and garbage from banks of drains but no one took notice. “We told the civic body to clean up the piles of garbage that had been left for weeks,” Ghulam Mustafa, a resident of Gulbhar, told The Express Tribune. “Now we are suffering because of their inefficiency,” he said. Despite receiving instructions from the District Coordination Officer (DCO), many government employees were missing from their duties as rain poured down on Thursday morning. The situation is likely to aggravate because according to a met office forecast, another wave of rainfall is expected on August 28, which could further worsen the cleanliness issue in the congested city.


The whole nation was shocked when they learnt that the terrorists attacked the Kamra Base with a possible intention to destroy it and inflict maximum damage to its defence assets. However, the terrorist attack was blunted, stopped and confined to the same place disallowing the terrorists to move forward towards the Hangar. The response of the security forces was prompt and timely to contain the terrorists to the spot where they were ultimately gunned down by the security forces. A vital aircraft used for monitoring the sea-lane was said to be damaged in the rocket attack from a distance besides two security officials were also killed in the fight. All the nine terrorists, who intruded into the base by scaling the wall, had been gunned down, killed and eliminated. In any case, the damage to the aircraft was a big loss to the nation and a set back to the defence capability of the country to meet growing challenges in the Gulf region where the crisis is deepening with every passing day. Earlier in the terrorist attack on Mehran Base in Karachi left two such aircraft lost and destroyed. We hope that the Government will replace and compensate the losses with better and modern aircraft for monitoring the sea-lanes in the Gulf region where the crisis can take an ugly turn at any stage. The Taliban had claimed the responsibility of the attack on Kamra Base. The attack on Kamra is a slap on the face of the politicians who supported the Taliban and their terrorist activities. They even criticized the armed forces of Pakistan for carrying out action against the Taliban posing a serious threat to Pakistan and its security. Rather, they are considered a threat to the whole region and it is in the interest of peace, security and stability of the whole region that the military power of the Taliban is contained to the minimum level so that they should not pose any threat to any country of the region. All the pro-Taliban politicians had taken a back seat following the speech of the Army Chief, General Kayani, vowing to fight militancy in Pakistan. Those rightwing politicians had criticized the political leaders for bashing Taliban and they justified the terrorist attacks of the Taliban militants against the soft civilian targets. Thus there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ Taliban. They should be treated at par and the vested interests in the Government and outside the Government should stop supporting them.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa August 27 anti-polio drive to be launched

Following detection of polio positive cases in various districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, health authority plans to launch a special vaccination drive from August 27, in more than 152 Union Councils of four high risk districts in the province. The special campaign had been designed after the detection four positive cases of polio in different parts of the KP. During the three-day anti polio drive, more than 1.9 million children below age of five will be vaccinated. An official of health department told this scribe that the recently positive cases were detected in Peshawar, Charssada, Mardan, and Lakki Marwat districts. The official further informed that the civil administration had asked to take legal action against elders of families who refuse to administer polio drops to their children. Before initiation of three-day anti polio drive, all co-ordinated efforts had been placed by consulting health authority and civil administration at district level to carryout drive more effective and diligent way, aimed at to come down the soaring number of refusal polio cases in the province. "The health department is going for a special polio eradication drive from August 27," said Dr Janbaz Afridi, Deputy Director of the Provincial Expanded Polio Immunisation (EPI) Programme. He further informed the anti polio drive will be carried out more than 152 union councils (UCs) with a target of 1.9 million children below the age of five years. Dr Afridi further explained that the special campaign would be specifically targeted in 48 UCs of Peshawar, 18 from Charsadda, 33 from Lakki Marwat and 44 from Mardan to get vaccinate children below the age of five year. This year, more than 29 polio positive cases were so far detected in the country; out of which 21 were reported from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. As many as 21 cases, 13 were reported from various tribal agencies whereas the remaining eight were reported from different districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he explained. He added that about three cases each detected in Sindh and Punjab and two were reported from Balochistan. Both the health authority and civil administration are being faced enormous difficulties to carry out anti polio drive in most parts of conflict hit tribal region. It was reported that more than 200,000 children had been deprived from polio vaccination due to ban in North and South Waziristan agencies. Similarly, the inaccessibility is another biggest issue for polio eradication teams. Owing to prolonged curfew and conflict in lawless Tehsil Bara, Khyber Agency, campaign had suspended from September 2009, in the agency. A total of 13 cases were reported in FATA, 10 cases detected in Bara, Khyber Agency. According to official figure, more than 150,000 families from Bara are living as internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Peshawar and its adjoining areas due to endless military operations in the agency, whereas the internal migration has another bigger obstacle to get rid from the polio disease.

12 killed in US drone strike in North Waziristan

Drone missiles hit a compound in Tundar village on Friday. Pakistani intelligence officials say American drone-fired missiles have slammed into militant hideouts close to the Afghan border in North Waziristan, killing at least 12 suspected militants. The strikes Friday were the fourth in the span of a week and came a day after Pakistan summoned a US diplomat to protest over the attacks, calling them "unlawful". The officials said each of the three compounds was hit by two missiles. He said several drones were flying over the village at the time of the strike. Another security official confirmed the strike and casualties, adding that the identities of the dead were not immediately clear. Pakistan has repeatedly criticised American drone strikes in its territory, calling them counter-productive. Attacks by unmanned US aircraft are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, which says they violate its sovereignty and fan anti-US sentiment, but American officials are said to believe the attacks are too important to give up.