Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pakistanis resort to selling kidneys amid rising poverty, unemployment

Poverty and unemployment have pushed many Pakistanis to take desperate measures – health researches have pointed out that many Pakistanis are selling their organs to earn some cash. According to the World Health Organization (WH0), about 10,000 illegally purchased organ transplants take place each year globally. Kidneys made up 75 percent of the organ trade and the biggest organ trafficking rackets were operating in China, India and Pakistan. In Pakistan, most of the illicit transplantation cases have been reported from the Punjab province. Pakistan’s National Human Organs Transplantation Authority says that most illegal kidney transplant facilities are in the Punjab. Researchers say there are more sellers of human organs in Pakistan than buyers. Many people from the Middle East and other countries go to Pakistan to buy kidneys and other human organs. The Pakistani government passed a transplantation law in 2010 to control illegal human organ transplantation in the country, but health experts say illegal transplantations and organ trafficking are on the rise. Pakistani health experts and civil society activists say the law is ineffective and the government has completely failed to enforce it. Organized racketeering Independent estimates put more than forty percent Pakistanis below the poverty line Dr. Tipu Sultan, a health expert and civil society activist in Karachi, told DW that poverty was one of the main reasons behind the illegal trade in Pakistan, adding, however, that “it is not the only factor.” “There is a very strong racket of influential people from the medical sector as well as the government health departments who make money by selling human organs such as kidneys. Now we have reports that even liver is being transplanted and sold.” Sultan said he knew of villages in the Punjab where most people had illegally sold one of their kidneys. He said that the poor people in these villages were mostly illiterate and in need of money. Dr. Farhat Muazzam of the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) said that there was a big demand of illegal kidneys in Middle Eastern countries. Poor Pakistanis, she said, were fulfilling this demand. Law enforcement Pakistani health activists are campaigning for the proper implementation of the 2010 legislature restricting transplantation. In July, the Pakistani Supreme Court ordered all provincial governments to enforce the law and arrest those responsible. Activists say the government has not paid heed to the court’s orders. “Laws alone won’t solve the problem,” said Sultan. “The government and civil society also need to raise awareness about this issue. Then the issue is linked with the economic problems of the country. This needs to be tackled,” he added.

Afghan refugees directed to leave KP

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Home Ministry has directed illegal Afghan refugees to leave the province immediately, while the refugees with registration cards have been given till December 31. According to a statement issued by the provincial home ministry, strict action will be taken against Afghan refugees and citizens of other countries residing illegally in the province if they do not leave immediately. The statement adds that no refugee including those registered will be allowed to live in Pakistan beyond December 31.

Can Australia have its cake and eat it?

Australia has been hovering on the edge of the Asia-Pacific region for a long time. It had always considered itself to be a Western country on account of its traditional culture, political system and values, but now some subversive questions came into being in the political, academic and public opinion circles of Australia: Does Australia need to reconsider itself to be an Asian country, a part of Asia or a Western country locating in Asia? The current Asia maintains a stable political security and is a region with the most dynamic economy and most potential to growth in the world. An indisputable fact is that Australia increasingly depends on Asia in its economy and exports large amounts of mineral resources, educational resources, the manufactured goods and retail goods to such Asian countries as China, India and Indonesia, thus earning profitable return. The men of insight appealed that the Asian century is no longer a distant future, but a fact taking shape. Therefore, Australia should catch the express train of the economic growth in Asia and make significant policy adjustments. Otherwise, it will miss the historic opportunity. It may be the best status for Australia to depend on Asia in economy and the United States in security. However, Can it eat the cake and have it? Does it need to make a choice between Asia and the United States?China and Australia will celebrate their 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations at the end of this year. In the past 40 years, the trade volume between the two states increased by more than 1,000 times and the exchanges and cooperation in various fields had a comprehensive development. The stable Chinese market is the important driving force to Australia's economic growth, making it a good performance in dealing with the global financial crisis. China is Australia's largest trading partner, accounting for one-fourth of its external trade, and it also is the largest cooperative partner of Australia in terms of trade, education and other aspects. The key of the rapid development of their relations lies in the mutual respect for their own development path and core interests, seeking common ground while reserving differences. China's peaceful development is an indispensable part of the Asian century. The arrival of the Asian century will provide a new historical opportunity for the development of China-Australia relations. As what an Australian friend had said, to Australia, the history belongs to the past and the geographic location belongs to the future.

Zardari discusses bilateral ties with Tajik president Rahmon

President Asif Ali Zardari and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon on Thursday discussed bilateral ties, cooperation in trade and energy sectors and vowed to make the forthcoming quadrilateral summit in Islamabad a success. President Zardari and President Rahmon, besides discussing the bilateral ties spanning over a decade, agreed to further strengthen and make the relationship more meaningful. They also discussed regional situation and the way forward to address the issues of common concern. President Zardari, who has already extended an invitation to the presidents of Russia, Afghanistan and Tajikistan to participate in the 4th Quadrilateral Summit in Islamabad on September 26-27, hoped that the meeting would help the participating countries chart out a joint future course of action for regional peace. President Zardari said that being the immediate neighbours, both Pakistan and Tajikistan have vital stakes with the regional peace and stability. He reiterated Pakistan’s stance of fully supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned transition plan. President Rahmon said that his country shared the desire of Pakistan for lasting peace in the region and would work closely with the regional countries to achieve this goal. The two leaders, who have met frequently in the past, reviewed the progress made on earlier decisions and stressed expeditious implementation for the mutual benefit of the peoples of two countries. Pakistan and Tajikistan have already signed about 20 agreements for cooperation in energy, communications, investments and industry, air transport, banking and financial, agricultural and food industry, transport and constructions of roads, science and technology. President Zardari while noting the increase in bilateral trade with Tajikistan said that Pakistan’s economic relations with Tajikistan were on an upward trajectory. However, he pointed out that there was still a rich potential to increase them manifolds. The President said that the two sides needed to work harder on the removal of impediments and invest more on building air, road and rail links, besides easing the problems faced by the businessmen of the two countries. Pakistan has been urging Afghanistan to facilitate the opening of a road linkage through the Wakhan corridor as it provides a shorter route to Tajikistan. The leaders also discussed the CASA-1000 (Central Asia-South Asia) project, under which Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan would supply 1000 MW electricity to Pakistan through Afghanistan, becoming the first energy project connecting Central Asia and South Asia. Afghanistan too will get 300 MW power from the project. The Tajik President said that the centuries old historical and cultural links between the people of Pakistan and Tajikistan provided a strong basis for further enhancing their economic relations, tourism and people-to-people contacts. The meeting was also attended by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

US sanctions key members of Pakistan-based LeT

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on prominent members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group blamed for orchestrating a 2008 attack in Mumbai that killed 166 people, including six Americans. Sajjid Mir, who allegedly helped plan and direct the attack, along with seven other prominent members of the Pakistan-based group were added to the US Treasury's list of people hit with asset freezes. Mir allegedly worked with David Headley, an American who pled guilty to scouting in Mumbai for the group and admitted he helped plan the attack, the US Treasury said. Lashkar-e-Taiba, an anti-Indian militant group with historical ties to Pakistan's top spy agencies, was designated by the United States in 2001 as a foreign terrorist organization. The group also has links to the Taliban, the Haqqani Taliban network and al Qaeda, the US government said. Others named by the US Treasury include Abdullah Mujahid, a Lashkar-e-Taiba member since 1988 and most recently in charge of the group's training activities in Punjab province and Hafiz Khalid Walid, who has run the group's political bureau since mid-2008, the department said in a statement.

Obama talks beer, money, and war in online chat session

President Barack Obama tested his typing skills on Wednesday in an online chat with young people that covered the White House beer recipe, money in politics, and the war in Afghanistan. Obama has been courting students' votes on a two-day tour of colleges in the battleground states of Iowa, Colorado and Virginia, and his campaign is eager to have him appeal to young people in venues like "reddit," where he held the Internet chat session. A picture of the president sitting at a laptop and typing away during a campaign stop in Virginia was provided on the website as proof that it was indeed Obama taking people's questions. During the chat, Obama said the country might need to consider amending the Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in the 2010 "Citizens United" case that allowed outside groups known as Super PACs to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. "Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn't revisit it)," he wrote. "Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight on the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change." He also talked about the difficulty of sending soldiers to war and the importance his administration placed on space exploration -- an issue that matters especially to voters in the swing state of Florida. Asked about a White House-brewed beer that has gained attention in recent weeks, Obama promised the recipe would be released. "It will be out soon!" he typed. "I can tell from first hand experience, it is tasty." He also predicted what he would do at the end of the November 6 election, taking care to single out, again, the youth vote he is hoping will help propel him to victory over Republican nominee Mitt Romney. "Win or lose, I'll be thanking everybody who is working so hard - especially all the volunteers in field offices all across the country, and the amazing young people in our campaign offices," he said. Asked about keeping balance in his life, Obama noted he was lucky not to have a commute and could make it home every night he was in town for an evening meal with his family. "Speaking of balance, though, I need to get going so I'm back in DC in time for dinner," he wrote at the end of the chat. "But I want to thank everybody at reddit for participating - this is an example of how technology and the internet can empower the sorts of conversations that strengthen our democracy over the long run."

Manmohan Singh meets Pak President Zardari

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari today began a key meeting in Tehran, amid clear indications that terrorism will be the prime focus of the Indian side. The meeting took place on the sidelines of the 16th NAM summit and is the second meeting between the two leaders this year. The meeting comes a day after the Indian Supreme Court upheld Ajmal Kasab's death sentence in the Mumbai terror attack case, strengthening India's case for action against others involved in the 26/11 strike.Dr Singh had last met Mr Zardari in New Delhi in April this year when the Pakistani President made a private visit to India to pray at the Sufi shrine in Ajmer. Indian officials have said that terror will be high on the agenda and India's continuing concerns over lack of action against those in Pakistan believed to have been actively involved in 2008 Mumbai attack will be flagged by Dr Singh.

Afghanistan: Hatreds that never change
THE ultimate betrayal of the Diggers in Afghanistan is that they are being killed by the brothers-in-arms supposedly fighting alongside them to bring peace and democracy to a devastated country.Afghan troops, who have now murdered seven Australians sent to help them achieve democracy, cannot be trusted to always point their weapons at the enemy, for they are too often the enemy. The shock is not only that they are in the uniform of the Afghan National Army, trained by Australians and allied troops, but that the Afghan Government is quick to deny they are Taliban insurgents who have infiltrated the Afghan defence forces; but rather rogue soldiers. If so, the threat to Australian troops is even more insidious. Whom do you trust? The Taliban cause, although religious fanaticism, can at least be understood. They want to turn the country back several hundred years to the autocratic and unrelenting rule that sees women and children slaughtered because, in a massacre in recent days, they were playing music in a village. Women count for little and boys are more often forcefully recruited by the Taliban and girls used as a human currency. But when Afghan soldiers turn on their allies, the question goes deeper. The answer must be that many Afghans have no wish for foreign soldiers to help them achieve democracy. This is a country that has survived all attempts to help it to find a better way. Soviet forces learnt that when they withdrew after 10 years of trying to impose their own harsh will on Afghanistan. The truth is that after 11 years, Australians together with troops from the United States, Britain and the NATO nations, must be confused, not over what they are fighting for - that is clear enough - but whether many Afghans are really on the same side. Many are, but just as many realise that when the allies leave, they will be left to face the Taliban. It is the grimmest of prospects, but eventually all wars end and not necessarily with a clear victory. Australia has lost 38 soldiers in Afghanistan since 2002, with another 240 wounded in action, including 27 this year. Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who insists the Australian intervention in Afghanistan is working, admits that Australians will today be justified in asking why we are still there. So, what is success in Afghanistan? The answer, bought in blood, is that it will never be a democracy as we know it. Afghanistan has for centuries been a tribal and religious killing ground and, disturbingly, having fought there for so long, the phased withdrawal of Australian and American troops from next year may see a slide back to barbarism. This newspaper has supported our troops in Afghanistan for as long as they have been there, and will continue to do so. They pursued Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida terrorists and effectively drove them out of the country. Bin Laden is dead, but when our soldiers are betrayed by those they are so courageously trying to help, there may be little more that can be done. Afghan forces must prove themselves able to protect their own country. They cannot rely on the unending support of other nations, whose troops they are killing in increasing numbers. This is a reality Afghanistan must face, just as Australia must face the reality that democracy cannot be imposed. That is the antithesis of what a democracy stands for. If Afghanistan wants democracy, its forces must show a desire for it that seems to be fading.

Pakistani officials confirm death of key militant

Associated Press
Pakistani intelligence officials confirmed Thursday that a U.S. drone strike last week near the Afghan border killed the son of the founder of the powerful Haqqani militant network, a major blow to one of the most feared groups fighting American troops in Afghanistan. Badruddin Haqqani, who has been described as the organization's day-to-day operations commander, was killed on Aug. 24 in one of three strikes that hit militant hideouts in the Shawal Valley in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area, said two senior intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. The presence of the mostly Afghan Haqqani network in North Waziristan has been a major source of friction between Pakistan and the U.S. The Obama administration has repeatedly demanded Pakistan prevent the group from using its territory to launch attacks in Afghanistan, but Islamabad has refused — a stance many analysts believe is driven by the country's strong historical ties to the Haqqani network's founder, Jalaluddin Haqqani. The Pakistani intelligence officials didn't specify which strike on Aug. 24 killed Badruddin, but said he was leaving a hideout when the U.S. missiles hit. The confirmation of his death came from their sources within the Taliban, which is allied with the Haqqani network, and agents on the ground, they said. But neither the officials nor their sources have actually seen Badruddin's body. Pakistani intelligence officials previously said they were 90 percent sure Badruddin was killed in a drone strike in a different part of North Waziristan on Aug. 21. It's unclear what caused the discrepancy. Afghanistan's intelligence agency said several days ago that its operatives had confirmed Badruddin's death, but did not provide any details. A senior Taliban commander has also confirmed the militant's death. A Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan, Zabiullah Mujahid, has however rejected reports of Badruddin's death, calling them "propaganda of the enemy." The U.S. does not often comment publicly on the covert CIA drone program in Pakistan and has not said whether Badruddin was killed. The areas where the American drone strikes generally occur are extremely remote and dangerous, making it difficult for reporters or others to verify a particular person's death. Badruddin is considered a vital part of the Haqqani structure. He is believed to be the network's day-to-day operations commander, according to a report by the Institute for the Study of War. The U.S. State Department has designated Badruddin, along with his father and brothers — Nasiruddin and Sirajuddin — as terrorists. The State Department said in May 2011 that Badruddin sits on the Miram Shah Shura, a group that controls all Haqqani network activities and coordinates attacks in southeastern Afghanistan. Badruddin is also believed to have been responsible for the 2008 kidnapping of New York Times reporter David Rohde, the department said. After their father effectively retired in 2005, Badruddin and his brother Sirajuddin expanded the network into kidnapping and extortion, both highly profitable for the organization, according to a recent report by the West Point, N.Y.-based Combating Terrorism Center. Afghan intelligence authorities have released intercepts of Badruddin orchestrating an attack against the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in 2011, the CTC said. The U.S. has long viewed the Haqqani network as one of the biggest threats to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan as well as the country's long term stability. The group has shown little interest in negotiating with the Washington, and has pulled off some of the highest-profile and most complex attacks in Afghanistan, although not necessarily the most deadly. The Pakistani military has refused to target the Haqqani network, saying its troops are stretched too thin fighting militants at war with the state in other parts of the tribal region. But many analysts believe the military views the group as an important potential ally in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw. Pakistan worked closely with Badruddin's father, Jalaluddin, during the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Also Thursday, gunmen shot to death a Shiite Muslim judge along with his bodyguard and driver in Quetta, the capital of southwestern Baluchistan province, said senior police official Wazir Khan Nasir. The police suspect it was a sectarian killing, he said. Extremist Sunni Muslims have been killing Shiites with increasing frequency in Baluchistan and other parts of Pakistan. ___

Pakistani girl in blasphemy case: Activists demand release

Pakistani court adjourned on Thursday a bail hearing for a Christian girl accused of defaming Islam, prompting human rights activists to make fresh calls for her release in a case that has drawn renewed criticism of the country's anti-blasphemy laws. Religious and secular groups worldwide have protested over the arrest this month of Rimsha Masih, accused by Muslim neighbors of burning Islamic religious texts. "This will go on and on and this little minor girl will rot in jail," said human rights activist Tahira Abdullah outside an Islamabad court. "We want her out of jail. We want her under protection." Under the blasphemy law, anyone who speaks ill of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad commits a crime and faces the death penalty, but activists say vague terminology has led to its misuse. Human rights groups say the law dangerously discriminates against the Muslim country's tiny minority groups. Convictions are common, although the death sentence has never been carried out. Most convictions are thrown out on appeal, but mobs have killed many people accused of blasphemy. There have been conflicting reports about Masih's age and her mental state. Some media have said she is 11 and suffers from Down's Syndrome. A hospital said in a report she was about 14 but had the mental capacities of someone below that age and was uneducated. Rao Abdur Raheem, a lawyer representing the accuser in the case, said the medical report was conducted without a court order, prompting the bail hearing to be postponed until September 1. "She could get 110 percent punishment," he told Reuters. Masih's arrest triggered an exodus of several hundred Christians from her poor village on the edge of the capital, Islamabad, after mosques reported over their loudspeakers what the girl was alleged to have done. VIOLENT REACTIONS Christians, who make up four percent of Pakistan's population of 180 million, have been especially concerned about the blasphemy law, saying it offers them no protection. Convictions hinge on witness testimony and are often linked to vendettas, they complain. In 2009, 40 houses and a church were set ablaze by a mob of 1,000 Muslims in the town of Gojra, in Punjab province. At least seven Christians were burned to death. The attacks were triggered by reports of the desecration of the Koran. Two Christian brothers accused of writing a blasphemous letter against the Prophet Mohammad were gunned down outside a court in the eastern city of Faisalabad in July of 2010. "We are just praying for her and we hope that she will be released soon," said Christian activist Xavier William. In January of 2011, Punjab province Governor Salman Taseer was assassinated by his own bodyguard because the governor had called for the reform of the anti-blasphemy law. He made a prison visit to Asia Bibi - a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in a case stemming from a village dispute - and had worked for the reform of the law. Lawyers who once protested in support of democracy showered bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri with rose petals. Two months after Taseer's murder, Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, was murdered by the Taliban for demanding changes to the blasphemy law. Lawyer Raheem said he did not want to see Masih's case turned into another one focusing on changing the law, and he warned that to do so could again incite a violent reaction. "There are many Mumtaz Qadris in this country and we will support them," the lawyer said, referring to Governor Taseer's killer.

NAB won't probe Arsalan Iftikhar case, decides SC

A special bench of the Supreme Court announced verdict in Dr Arsalan Iftikhar case. Supreme Court on Thursday halted a probe by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the Chief Justice s son, who was accused of receiving over Rs342 million from a real estate tycoon to influence cases, and ordered formation of a separate commission to investigate the matter. A two-judge bench headed by Justice Jawwad Khawaja directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to stop its investigation into the allegations against Dr Arsalan Iftikhar. The bench ordered formation of a commission headed by ex- Intelligence Bureau chief Shoaib Suddle to carry out a probe into the allegations. The court gave its ruling in response to a petition filed by Arsalan Iftikhar, who claimed the NAB was not conducting a free and fair investigation. The court said Suddle will have the status of a judicial officer and can use the government machinery for his probe. Suddle will also have the power to call witnesses and take the help of law enforcement agencies. The bench directed the NAB to hand over all its records of the case to Suddle. The commission was directed to submit a report on the issue in 30 days. In June, the apex court had directed the Attorney General to decide who would probe the allegations levelled against Arsalan Iftikhar by real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain. The Attorney General had subsequently asked the NAB to conduct a probe into the matter. During the hearing of the case, real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain s counsel Zahid Bukhari had argued that no proof was produced that showed NAB Chairman Fasih Bukhari was biased in the case of Arsalan Iftikhar. He said the investigation could not be transferred to any other body merely on the basis of allegations. In a statement submitted to the Supreme Court, the tycoon said his relatives extended favours and made cash payments totalling Rs 342.5 million to the Chief Justice s son. The tycoon further alleged that he was being blackmailed by Arsalan Iftikhar. The cash payments and expenses on hotels and luxury flats during visits to London and Monte Carlo by Arsalan Iftikhar came to a total of Rs 342.5 million, he said in a statement.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa: Militancy 101: Course on terrorism issue to be launched

At a time when insecurity and terrorist attacks are occurring frequently, taking the region to the fore of national and international media, a research organisation has taken a much-needed initiative to educate the people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) on terrorism. South Asian Centre for International and Regional Studies (SACIRS) will start a three-month certificate course on terrorism studies in Peshawar from the first week of October this year, SACIRS Director Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi stated. “Research is the main tool in accelerating the evolution of civilised societies and SACIRS can play an effective role in strengthening and enlightening the general public,” said Soherwordi. “Such research institutions are the need of the hour, especially in K-P because of its geo-strategic importance.” The SACIRS director said the module consists of three parts: in the first part the students will learn about the theories and core issues of terrorism; the second part will include the terrorist modus operandi (approaches and methods of terrorism); and the third will be about the policies of US and Pakistan to counter terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said the course will be delivered in two sessions: the first will involve two-month scheduled classes and the second will include a thesis. The course will be conducted twice a year and the study material will be provided at its beginning. Soherwordi added that experts from UK, US and University of Peshawar each will deliver lectures, while the fees for the full course will be Rs5,000 for students and Rs8,000 for professionals. When asked why the institute introduced the course in K-P, he explained that Peshawar and its neighbouring areas were worst hit by the violence, thus the need aroused to alert people of the provincial capital about problems they are facing on an everyday basis. “Increasing public awareness was the primary reason to launch this course,” he added. Soharwardi said the course is valuable for security forces, students, policy makers and those individuals and organisations that have a remit to protect the people. He added that the course will provide participants with an understanding of the phenomenon of terrorism in the 21st century and the causes and ideologies of today’s terrorist networks. Talking about SACIRS, Soharwardi said it is an independent, nonpartisan, research institution planning on raising knowledge regarding militancy. The institute’s set of goals include identifying policy problems, conducting and publishing unbiased research to counter regional and global terrorism, preventing and resolving violent international conflicts through peaceful means, promoting post-conflict stability, training local people for developmental projects and peace building, imparting leadership training to legislators, and devising political strategies for settlement of regional and international issues.

Pakistan: Blasphemy bail hearing delayed

A bail hearing for a young Christain girl accused of blasphemy is delayed.

Clinton to hoist US flag in Asia, to China's unease

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sets off Thursday on a sweeping Asia tour from a rising China to tiny island states as her outspoken role on the region's hotspots raises hackles in Beijing. In the midst of a US presidential campaign, the former candidate is expected to steer clear of politics at home and portray Washington as an anchor of stability in a region where China has increasingly butted heads with neighbors. Clinton will head first to the Cook Islands, an archipelago of just 11,000 people, to become the first US secretary of state to take part in an annual summit of South Pacific islands -- where China's clout is growing. Clinton will go Tuesday to China, where aides said she will meet President Hu Jintao and other top officials and take up the full gamut of issues between the world's two largest economies, including heated maritime disputes. In unusually robust statements, the United States has recently accused China of escalating tensions and warned against "divide and conquer" tactics after Beijing set up a remote garrison in the South China Sea. The Philippines, Vietnam and other nations claim islands in the South China Sea -- the passageway for half of the world's commercial cargo -- and have accused Beijing of a campaign of intimidation. China's state-run Xinhua news agency accused Clinton of trying to "contain China's increasing influence" and said that the core of US strategy "is to defend its dominance and hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region." Xinhua had harsher words for Mitt Romney, who is challenging President Barack Obama in November 6 elections, saying that the Republican's tough talk on issues from Taiwan to exchange rates could end up "poisoning" the tone in US-China relations. During Clinton's last visit to the region in July, foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations failed at a meeting in Beijing-friendly Cambodia to forge a common way forward that would let them seek a code of conduct to govern disputes in the South China Sea. A senior US official said that Clinton wanted all sides "to abstain from provocative steps" and that she would confer with Indonesia and Brunei on the future of diplomacy for a long-mooted code of conduct. "She's certainly going to ask in ASEAN about the aftermath of what transpired in July," the official said on condition of anonymity. Ernie Bower of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that Clinton's visit -- her third to Asia since May -- was part of an effort to "institutionalize" US presence on the continent, particularly the Pacific. "One of the enormous motivations behind it is to manage China well, but I don't think it's all about China," said Bower, the director of the think tank's Southeast Asia program. "There are also a lot of intrinsic benefits for the United States through good relationships, security ties and economic ties" in Asia, he said. Clinton, who will end her trip at an Asia Pacific summit in the Russian port city of Vladivostok off the Pacific Ocean, will also be confronted by rising friction over territorial disputes between Japan and both fellow US ally South Korea and China. "I have to say that the recent spate of tensions between Japan and Korea has caused concerns in the United States and elsewhere and we are again urging restraint, calm and statesmanship," the US official said. The official said that the United States hoped that individual citizens and business leaders could work to create a "21st-century" relationship between Japan and South Korea, whose ties are marred by wartime memories. The flareup, including a visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak to islands disputed with Japan, has set back US hopes that its two allies would work together in the face of a rising China and uncertainties over nuclear-armed North Korea. Clinton, who is already the most-traveled secretary of state in US history, will chalk up several new feats on her trip. Besides being the first to take part in the Pacific Islands Forum, Clinton will become the first secretary of state to visit East Timor, which is still developing after it painfully won independence from Indonesia in 2002. And with her trip to Brunei, Clinton becomes the first top US diplomat to visit all 10 nations in ASEAN.

Alarming levels of drug-resistant TB found worldwide

Scientists have found an alarming number of cases of the lung disease tuberculosis in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America that are resistant to up to four powerful antibiotic drugs. In a large international study published in the Lancet medical journal on Thursday, researchers found rates of both multi drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) were higher than previously thought and were threatening global efforts to curb the spread of the disease. "Most international recommendations for TB control have been developed for MDR-TB prevalence of up to around 5 percent. Yet now we face prevalence up to 10 times higher in some places, where almost half of the patients ... are transmitting MDR strains," Sven Hoffner of the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control, said in a commentary on the study. TB is already a worldwide pandemic that infected 8.8 million people and killed 1.4 million in 2010. Drug-resistant TB is more difficult and costly than normal TB to treat, and is more often fatal. MDR-TB is resistant to at least two first-line drugs — isoniazid and rifampicin - while XDR-TB is resistant to those two drugs as well as a powerful antibiotic type called a fluoroquinolone and a second-line injectable antibiotic. Treating even normal TB is a long process, with patients needing to take a cocktail of powerful antibiotics for six months. Many patients fail to complete their treatment correctly, a factor which has fuelled a rise in the drug-resistant forms. Researchers who studied rates of the disease in Estonia, Latvia, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, South Korea and Thailand found almost 44 percent of cases of MDR TB were also resistant to at least one second-line drug. Tom Evans, chief scientific officer at Aeras, a non-profit group working to develop new TB vaccines, told Reuters treatment options for XDR-TB patients were "limited, expensive and toxic". Treatments for drug-resistant TB can cost 200 times more than those for normal TB, he said in an emailed statement. They can also cause severe side effects like deafness and psychosis, and can take two years to complete, he added. In the United States, MDR-TB treatment can cost $250,000 or more per patient, and in many poorer countries costs can be catastrophic to health systems and patients' families. "Without a robust pipeline of new drugs to stay one step ahead, it will be nearly impossible to treat our way out of this epidemic," Evans said. SPREADS THROUGH AIR Tracy Dalton from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who led the Lancet study, said that so far, XDR-TB has been reported in 77 countries worldwide. "As more individuals are diagnosed with, and treated for, drug-resistant TB, more resistance to second-line drugs is expected to emerge," she said. The spread of these drug-resistant strains was "particularly worrisome" in areas with poor healthcare resources and limited access to effective drugs, she added. TB is a bacterial infection that destroys patients' lung tissue, making them cough and sneeze and spread germs through the air. Experts say anyone with active TB can easily infect another 10 to 15 people a year. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts more than 2 million people will contract MDR TB by 2015. A report by non-governmental organizations in March said a $1.7 billion shortfall in funds to fight TB over the next five years meant 3.4 million patients would go untreated and gains made against the disease will be reversed. In their research, Dalton and colleagues found rates of resistance varied widely between countries. Overall, resistance to any second-line drug was detected in nearly 44 percent of patients, ranging from 33 percent in Thailand to 62 percent in Latvia. In about a fifth of cases, they found resistance to at least one second-line injectable drug. This ranged from 2 percent in the Philippines to 47 percent in Latvia. XDR-TB was found in 6.7 percent of patients overall. Rates in South Korea, at 15.2 percent, and Russia at 11.3 percent, were more than twice the WHO's global estimate of 5.4 percent at that time.

'NAM seeks global peace, friendship'

NAM Summit signals thaw in Iran-Egypt relations

All eyes are on Iran as the Non-Aligned Summit is currently underway. Front and center, an historical visit by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Iran is also taking the opportunity to initiate a peace proposal on the Syrian crisis. Iran is putting its best face forward making the most of the international spotlight as it shines on the country this week. While Western powers attempt to increasingly isolate Iran over a controversial nuclear program, the country is playing host to the Non-Aligned Summit-a gathering of 120 nations- second only to the United Nations General Assembly. Among the visiting dignitaries, the first by an Egyptian leader in more than 30 years, the visit is seen by some analysts as a thawing of otherwise frosty relations between Cairo and Tehran. Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, Poli. Sci. Prof., UAE University, said, "We should not minimize this visit. This is a four hour visit by President Morsi of Egypt to Iran, but this four-hour meeting or visit is going to change 30 years of Egypt’s foreign policy towards Tehran." A chance also for Egypt to show a new post-Hosini Mubarak era-different to that of the ousted leader. Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla also said, "Egypt is a very important regional power and it has stayed out of regional politics for so long. Now Egypt is trying to take its right position in the region. Second, more important than that, I think Egypt is signaling it’s becoming independent of America. It’s becoming independent of foreign powers and it’s setting up its own agenda." An agenda that includes setting up a contact group comprising Iran, Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to seek an end to the conflict in Syria, a proposal with its share of skeptics. Riad Kahwaji, CEO, Inst. For Near East & Gulf Mil. Analysis, said, "It’s all PR moves just to say we’re regional players, we have a role over here. The situation in Syria is too big for just a number of regional countries to attempt to solve it. This is something at the scale of the UN Security Council to be able to resolve." Despite the skepticism, Iran is still trying its best to assert itself on the world stage as a dominant regional power, and this time around by spearheading a peace initiative-be a part of the solution and not the problem.

16th NAM summit opens in Tehran

The 16th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit opened in Tehran on Thursday under the theme of "Lasting Peace through Joint Global Governance." Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in an address to the opening ceremony that "The Islamic republic is not after nuclear weapons" and will never slacken off its right to the " peaceful" use of nuclear energy. Khamenei said that Iran's slogan is "Nuclear energy for all, nuclear weapons for none." He slammed at the western propaganda against the nuclear program of the Islamic republic and stated that "A few Western countries want to build a monopoly of nuclear fuel." Khamenei condemned the Israeli "occupation" of the Palestinian territory which should be ruled by the Palestinians the NAM should take practical steps in this regard. He also said the UN structure is "illogical," "unjust" and "non- democratic" and stated that "The world must not be controlled by a few dictatorial regimes." The Iranian leader pointed out that "disarmament is an urgent necessity" in today's world and the Islamic republic calls for a Middle East free from nuclear weapons.

Pakistanis view China as most friendly

Majority of Pakistanis termed China, as most friendly, whereas the USA as the biggest enemy even than India, when they were asked among the states listed on the Round Cards, which would you consider as Pakistan’s best friend and biggest enemy, reveals a Gilani Research Foundation Survey issued here on Wednesday. According to the Gilani Research Survey, from among key global and regional players, Pakistanis view China as the most friendly and USA as the most hostile. A nationally representative sample of men and women from across the four provinces was asked “Among the states listed on this Round Card, which would you consider, as Pakistan’s best friend? (Give one answer)” Responding to this, 67% believe China to be Pakistan’s best friend, 7% believe USA, 4% believe India, 2% believe Russia, 1% believe Afghanistan, whereas 14% believe Iran to be Pakistan’s best friend. In a followup question, the respondents were asked “Among the states listed on this Round Card, which would you consider, as Pakistan’s biggest enemy? (Give one answer)” Responding to this, 49% believe USA to be Pakistan’s biggest enemy, 24% believe India, 4% believe Russia, 4% believe Afghanistan, 1% believe Iran whereas 1% believe China to be Pakistan’s biggest enemy. The recent survey was carried out among a sample of 2685 men and women in rural and urban areas of all four provinces of the country, during July 27, 2012 – August 04, 2012. Error margin is estimated to be approximately ± 2-3 percent at 95% confidence level.

Epidemic of measles in North Waziristan Agency

The epidemic of measles in North Waziristan Agency claimed the lives of two minor girls in Danada Derpakhel area on Wednesday while dozens of infected children are being brought to the Miranshah Headquarters Hospital for treatment. Talking to INP, Agency Surgeon Dr Mohammad Sadiq said that dozens of measles infected children have been admitted to the Miranshah Headquarters Hospital for treatment, adding that measles vaccine is not available in the tribal region to control the infection. “Around 40 children are infected by measles in three weeks that are brought to the hospital for treatment and two minor girls fell prey to the infection in Danda Derpakhel area of the tribal region,” Dr Mohammad Sadiq said. He said that health department should initiate measures on war footing in the area to control the spread of measles in the tribal region where vaccines of measles are short. The agency surgeon said that not only from North Waziristan but children infected by measles are being brought from across the border to Miranshah for treatment, adding that scarcity of vaccines was creating problem in controlling the spread of epidemic.


There are reports that the Singapore Port Authority (SPA) and its junior partners the National Logistics Cell (NLC) and the AKD of Karachi had been allowed to quit the management and development accord for the Gwadar Port. The SPA officials blamed the Government for failure to transfer over 500 acres o prime land to the SPA for future development. The land is in possession of the Pakistan Navy and it failed to vacate the land, the SPA people claimed. On the other hand, the Pakistan Navy claimed that it is in possession of land since 1980—long ago the Gwadar Port planned. The Balochistan Government, according to reports offered 350 acres of state land to the SPA and rest of the land will be purchased from the open market and transfer to the SPA for developing the port. The Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping told a House Committee that the SPA had decided to quit paving the way for the Chinese to take over the Gwadar Port and develop it by spending 10 billion US dollars. It is doubtful that the Chinese will make such a huge investment on Gwadar Port in presence of the massive Western Naval armada under the leadership of the United States. The Western Armada had converted the whole Gulf of Oman and the Baloch coast as an American lake where hostile navies may not be permitted in near future. In presence of more than 60 warships, including several aircraft carriers o the USA, it will be odd for the Chinese to enter into an area where American interests are supreme and unchallengeable. Thus it is not possible that the Chinese will make any attempt to seek control of Gwadar deepwater port against the will of the Americans in the mega sensitive region of Gulf from where 44 per cent of world oil is passing through. The Federal Government and its policy makers should be blamed for the delay in developing the Gwadar Port in the region and it wasted a seven long years and undertook no development scheme to make port functional or make it economically viable. The Federal Government and the SPA had failed to invest a single penny on the port development. Even they failed to arrange fresh water and electricity for the Port. It shows lack of sincerity of the Ports and Shipping Ministry to develop Gwadar as the deep water port of the entire region. It is possible that the Federal Government had stopped any investment for development in Balochistan thus the Gwadar Port development was ignored deliberately keeping in view the hostile security climate in the Gulf region. It is possible that the SPA is also leaving the contract for the same security reasons. We have suggested in these columns that the Balochistan Government is the ideal Government institution that is capable of building and operating the Gwadar Port with the help of the international community. The Provincial Government is enjoying the goodwill of the world community and thus the Federal Government should hand over the Port, its operation, management and development to the Balochistan Government without any delay. If the Government is left at the mercy of the biased Federal bureaucracy and political leadership, Gwadar Port will not be development in a century. It is clear that the funds for construction of highways linking Gwadar Port with rest of Pakistan had been transferred and not a single penny spent on the projects for the past six years. To mention an example, the Government had allocated Rs 137 billion for highway project linked with Gwadar Port and at the end of the day; it was found that the Government had spent merely Rs seven billions. It is discriminatory meant to retard the economic development of Balochistan in a determined way.

President Zardari is representing Pakistan at NAM Summit

Radio Pakistan
President Asif Ali Zardari
in his address to the Summit is expected to share Pakistan's stance on key global issues including the evolving situation in Syria‚ Palestine‚ Afghanistan and other matters.President Asif Ali Zardari has arrived in Teheran to attend the two-day Non-Aligned Movement Summit beginning on Thursday.He was received at the Mehrabad Airport by the Iranian Interior Minister Mustafa Muhammad Najjar.The President in a brief meeting at the airport appreciated the Iranian leadership for successful hosting of the summit.He hoped the world leaders would be able to chart out a new course of action for the organization established in 1961. The President will hold several bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit. He is expected to meet with Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. He would also hold substantial talks with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader Seyyed Ali Khamenei and discuss a range of bilateral issues. President Asif Ali Zardari in his address to the Summit is expected to share Pakistan's stance on key global issues including the evolving situation in Syria‚ Palestine‚ Afghanistan and other matters.During the Summit the President would reiterate Pakistan's eight point action programme for revitalizing the Non Aligned Movement to effectively address the new and emerging global challenges in the areas of peace‚ security and development in the 21st Century. The President was accompanied by Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

Pakistani Christians to protest in front of UN Offices in NYC tomorrow

The Pakistani Christian Diaspora in USA will rally in front of United Nations Offices in New York City on August 30, 2012, from 12:00 Noon to 3:00 PM, according to press release issued by Pakistani Christian Association of USA (PCA). The protest is to condemn the arrest of 11 years old disabled Christian girl named Rimsha Masih, under Pakistan's notorious blasphemy law in capital city of Islamabad, on August 17, 2012. The Church leaders, laymen, members of other faiths and civil society will participate in demonstration to demand repeal of blasphemy law in Pakistan and to provide safety and security to Christians in Pakistan.

Shia genocide: what’s in a name?

Dr Mohammad Taqi
For all intents and purposes, the Shia of Pakistan constitute a social collectivity that has been under a systematic assault by non-state actors Is it Shia genocide or is it the genocide of the ethnic Hazaras of Quetta? What about the Gilgiti, Balti and Peshawari Shia then, or the Pashtun Shia of the Turi and Bangash tribes? Is it genocide at all? Why call it genocide when the state is allegedly not involved or supporting the perpetrators? And so continues the debate over the semantics of mass murder. As much as the killers are calm, cool, collected and calculated; the response is disjointed, if any at all, and the responders disparate and bickering. Last year, I had noted in these pages that human rights activists, for various reasons, balk at calling the wholesale killings of the Pakistani Shia as genocide. But it is not just the nomenclature. The fact is that the two major international human rights organizations, viz Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are constantly remiss in reporting in a timely manner the atrocities perpetrated against the Pakistani Shia. For example, the recent massacre of the Shia at Babusar Top was widely reported by the international media and condemned even by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, but not so much as a denunciation has been issued by these two outfits. I understand that it might not be a grand scheme to not record and report the systemic slaughter of the Shia underway in this country but it certainly is disconcerting to note such omissions. The two groups have a dismal record of reporting the four-year siege of the Shia of upper Kurram and their deaths in thousands. If the idea of highlighting an issue is to chronicle it in a ‘country report’ the following year, then clearly there is a level of dysfunction in these outfits that should raise a flag. I had also previously noted that a working definition provided by Professors John Thomson and Gail Quets serves as a useful template in Pakistan’s case. Thomson and Quets had stated: “Genocide is the extent of destruction of a social collectivity by whatever agents, with whatever intentions, by purposive actions, which fall outside the recognised conventions of legitimate warfare.” For all intents and purposes, the Shia of Pakistan constitute a social collectivity that has been under a systematic assault by non-state actors operating outside the norms of conventional and legitimate warfare, while the state has either stood idle or even worse, aided and abetted the perpetrators. The intensity of the atrocities has varied over roughly the last 27 years but the intent has clearly been to identify and, wherever possible, physically eliminate the Shia. This is not to say that the Shia are being thrown into gas chambers but let it be very clear too that for the systematic killings of a community to qualify as genocide, every single one of its members does not have to die. The man who coined the term genocide, Raphael Lemkin, had taken great pains to note, “Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is indented rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be disintegration of the political and social institutions of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.” Lemkin’s work dealt predominantly with the Jewish population but subsequent scholars expanded the target populations from a nation or ethnicity to include political or religious groups and even social classes. Article II of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide thus states: “Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious groups as such: a) Killing members of the group; b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Article III of the same Convention goes on to list the following acts as punishable: a) Genocide; b) conspiracy to commit genocide; c) direct and public incitement to commit genocide; d) attempt to commit genocide; e) complicity in genocide. The simple point is that to prevent and/or contain genocide, it has to be identified and named correctly. The viciousness of the atrocities against the Shia is incremental. From the inception of the first openly anti-Shia terrorist outfit in 1985 to a plethora of such gangs today, thousands of Shia have perished at their hands and scores have fled their locales and, when possible, the country. Those who live and stay behind, live in a state of constant fear. For the first time in the history of Pakistan many Shia, in areas where their numbers are smaller, have now been forced to conceal their religious identity or at the very least not announce it. In the event that their physical characteristics are a giveaway, as in the case of Quetta’s Hazara population, the ethnic dimension is an added risk that cannot be averted. Many Hazara thus face a double ethno-religious whammy in their already ghettoised environs. The chances, unfortunately, are that the situation for the Shia of Pakistan is going to get worse before there is even a possibility of any improvement. They would be well advised to coordinate with other vulnerable groups as similar forces persecute and eliminate them. But more importantly, the Shia community of Pakistan has to come up with an indigenous leadership and advocates. When media misrepresents or obfuscates information about mass murders, human rights activists and honest witnesses hold its feet to the fire. But when advocacy groups get cold feet or are derelict in reporting in an honest and timely manner, the victim communities must bring forth their own Raphael Lemkins. The debate over semantics perhaps cannot be resolved but at least an honest first draft of an unfortunate history can be preserved.

Pakistan's Blasphemy case

IT is a measure of the sensitivity of the matter that the voice of a lone Islamic cleric on the latest in the series of blasphemy cases is considered to be a big step forward. The case of a Christian girl accused of blasphemy has received wide publicity and the matter is before court. A hearing is fixed for today and the first points for the court to arbitrate on are: whether she can be allowed bail and whether the girl is a minor and entitled to trial under the law for juveniles. Around the legal proceedings, a much bigger argument continues to be carefully presented. This view is informed by the principles of tolerance and fairness — and to a great extent defined by the fear that is today associated with discussions involving religion. Rights activists have called for the girl’s protection and newspapers have written on it. Most have qualified their take before they press for something as basic as a fair probe, and before expressing their concern over the frequency of blasphemy cases. Her young age has been mentioned and a common reaction is based on reports that the girl may be suffering from Down’s Syndrome. Still others are asking if the girl accused of desecrating religious texts can actually read. The voice of the chairman, All Pakistan Ulema Council, is different from others since clerics and religious scholars here have seldom demanded fairness in matters involving blasphemy charges. Religious parties are cautious not to move beyond routine statements issued on special days when it comes to the minority’s complaints against the majority in Pakistan. By choosing to air his views on the current case, the APUC chairman appears to be trying to lift the debate to a level where it needs to be conducted. He seems to be trying to initiate a discussion among the knowledgeable, in the interest of fairness that is so central to religion and in the interest of law and legal interpretation that leaves little room for misuse and error. The APUC chief said that with some rational, unbiased handling, the case could well turn out to be a watershed in Pakistan’s history, and that accusers in such cases must also be open to accountability. These are valid points that need to be followed up on.

Pakistan: Where are we heading?
Syria is in the midst of a civil war, and the entire world is immensely perturbed over civilian casualties. Although, there is no civil war in Pakistan, the law and order situation is profoundly precarious. Take a count of deaths and injuries the people suffer on a daily basis, our situation is not very different from whatever is obtaining in Syria. In Pakistan, only a dozen or so so-called Red Zones and a few dozen high-profile politicians and officials are safe and secure from the agents of death - thanks to the 24/7 security cordon available to them. For the rest of people the ambience is that of a state of nature where violence abounds and criminals stalk streets freely and confidently. Consider, just in the last 48 hours no less than a dozen and half of people were murdered; target-killers killed three in Quetta and six in Bolan; about three thousand tourists are shut up in Skardu because terrorists have turned the Gilgit-Baltistan province into a no-go area as the government so far has done next to nothing to rescue them - as if there is peace and harmony in tribal areas. What the people of Pakistan suffer in terms of mayhem and arson in a week may be much more than what entire Europe suffers in one full year. The sad coda is that there is no hope that the reign of terror will abate anytime soon - essentially because the government and the establishment are busy somewhere else. For them it's an election year in Pakistan and they cannot afford diversions from their single-purpose pursuit of state power. Judging by the hype created by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf's appearance in the Supreme Court on Monday it looks as if the people and the elite are living on two different planets. This indeed is apocalyptic. The state that fails to protect citizens against unlawful and illegal excesses forfeits its right to maintain its writ; it is a cardinal principle of jurisprudence and an invariable provision of every governance. But there is scant realisation of this inescapable responsibility on the part of the elite. No serious effort seems to have been made to closely focus on the lingering curse of violence that takes so many lives every day. All we have are words of sympathy, messages of condolences and fire-fighting - for tomorrow will be another day. Terrorism is being dealt with on a day-to-day basis, instead of any concerted action under a well-thought out programme and policy. If there is a foreign hand, as we have been hearing it every now and then, more vociferously and regularly now, why then we don't make it public. Whatever the dictate of diplomatic discretion, the foreign powers involved in destabilising Pakistan, directly or through proxies, must be exposed. At risk is not 'friendly relationships' but the survival of Pakistan. Sectarianism, the most ruthless serial killer of innocent people, has a pronounced foreign dimension. It should be taken up with its patrons and promoters in a frank, forceful manner to the exclusion of political and diplomatic niceties. On the domestic front, the problem lies at the door of law-enforcement agencies that have so far performed much below par. More importantly, the performance of our legislators in relation to anti-terrorism legislation-making is profoundly abysmal as the existing anti-terrorist laws are inadequate and outmoded. The problem also lies in the minds of our establishment and political forces who in many cases tend to nurture culture of violence by harbouring terrorists and criminals. And all of it has to be done on an urgent basis. Time is no more on our side.

Malnutrition in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA
A two-day workshop on finalisation of strategy to combat malnutrition in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA was opened here on Wednesday. Besides representatives of almost all government organisations particularly health, education, food and agriculture departments from FATA and KP, country representatives of over 20 multi donor organisations like; WHO, Unicef and WFO are participating. The Additional Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Ataullah Khan was the chief guest at the opening ceremony. In his opening remarks, the Additional Chief Secretary expressed the hope that the workshop will help develop deeper engagements and better understanding of stakeholders to reach an agreement on specific roles to link policies and strategy development for implementation of a provincial integrated nutrition strategy. The ACS said that it was very disturbing that 48 percent of children in KP are under-weight because of suffering malnutrition both by the mother and child for a long time. However, the province has shown remarkable improvement in the rate of under-weight children which has been reduced to 24 percent in 2011 from 35 percent in 2001 but reducing it further a still a challenge for both the people and the government. On this occasion, representatives from World Food Programme, World Health Organisation, Unicef, Director General of Health Services Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a number of experts of international repute delivered their papers on various aspects of malnutrition in the province and FATA, the experiences of different countries for combating it.

PML-N exposed

The Express Tribune
After two days of ruckus, matters came to a head yesterday in the Punjab Assembly. The opposition had a stranglehold of the House and there was no way business could have continued. The Speaker had a choice between a free-for-all brawl or to prorogue the session. He, sensibly, opted for the latter. The session was prorogued, but not before adopting a treasury-sponsored resolution, amidst the ruckus, that rejected the commission on new provinces. Law Minister Rana Sanaullah was heard uttering expletives in Punjabi for the women opposition members who had surrounded his chair. While the resolution was being presented, the PML-N members from northern Punjab served a notice to assembly secretariat for a resolution to carve out a province in the Potohar region. This assembly session, which might prove to the last, has exposed the scheming by the two major political parties. Though none won a knockout, PPP seemed to have won the day on points. They wanted to expose the PML-N’s lack of support for new provinces in the Punjab and they did. The treasury, like always, looked rudderless. By rejecting the commission out right and by introducing a resolution demanding a new province in north Punjab, the PML-N showed that they were no fans of a south Punjab province. The PPP also succeeded in showing that it stood for south Punjab. Another interesting thing: PML-N women members who came to the assembly on reserved seats have already started campaigning for the next term. Rumour has it that eight of them have succeeded in getting the nod from the PML-N leadership. Talking about women members, the incumbent assembly will be remembered for some over-zealous party activists. The women in the house fell in two distinct categories: ones that were over-enthusiastic and the others that slept through the entire tenure. While we all know the exploits of Samina Khawer, Seemal Kamran, Azma Bukhari, Sajida Mir and Samia Amjad there were also women who did not utter a word during the sessions. For the opposition, however, it is hard to imagine what they would have done without the support of their women comrades.