Thursday, August 30, 2012
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.
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/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.
Associated PressPakistani 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. ___
ReutersPakistani 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.
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.
A bail hearing for a young Christain girl accused of blasphemy is delayed.
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.
Radio PakistanPresident Asif Ali Zardari
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.
By: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.
http://www.brecorder.comSyria 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.
http://www.brecorder.comA 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.
The Express TribuneAfter 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.