Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Democratic leaders including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Obama economic advisor Austan Goolsbee tell Robert Wolf that the economy has made significant progress since President Obama took office. In a Google+ Hangout, the two and other party officials also talk healthcare and women’s issues with the Reuters TV Impact Players host.
YAHOO.COMFormer Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland offered up one of the most blistering critiques of the night against Mitt Romney's bid for the presidency, accusing him of lacking "economic patriotism" for investing his money overseas and being an "outsourcing pioneer" while he was head of Bain Capital. "Mitt Romney, he lives by a different code," Strickland said in his speech at the Democratic National Convention. "To him, American workers are just numbers on a spreadsheet. To him, all profits are created equal, whether made on our shores or off." Strickland slammed Romney for opposing the bailout of the auto industry in Detroit, insisting that if Romney had gotten his way "devastation" would have "cascaded" across the nation. "Mitt Romney never saw the point of building something when he could profit from tearing it down. If Mitt was Santa Claus, he'd fire the reindeer and outsource the elves," the Democratic governor said. But Strickland saved his toughest critique for Romney's overseas investments, telling Democrats the Republican nominee "has so little economic patriotism that even his money needs a passport." Citing Scripture, Strickland said "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." "Any man who aspires to be our president should keep both his treasure and his heart in the United States of America," Strickland said. He called the upcoming election "a true choice." "Barack Obama is betting on the American worker. Mitt Romney is betting on a Bermuda shell corporation," Strickland said. "Barack Obama saved the American auto industry. Mitt Romney saved on his taxes. Barack Obama is an economic patriot. Mitt Romney is an outsourcing pioneer."
http://news.yahoo.comFirst Lady Michelle Obama never once mentioned Mitt Romney's name. But in her speech before the Democratic National Convention speech Monday night, she offered a dramatic contrast between her husband, Barack Obama, and his Republican opponent, insisting he understands the struggles of average Americans because he's lived through those tough times, too. "Barack knows the American Dream because he's lived it, and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we're from, or what we look like, or who we love," Michelle Obama said. "He believes that when you've worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed." It was a speech meant to bolster her husband's legislative accomplishments — and it did, as the first lady touted the president's push for health care reform, the auto industry bailout and efforts to keep down student loan interest rates. But not unlike Ann Romney's speech on behalf of her husband at last week's Republican National Convention, Michelle Obama also sought to humanize the president, and to remind voters of the working class background she and her husband came from. With tears in her eyes, she spoke of her father, a pump operator at a Chicago water plant, and how her husband was raised by a single mother and by his grandparents. "We learned about dignity and decency -- that how hard you work matters more than how much you make, that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself. We learned about honesty and integrity; that the truth matters; that you don't take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules, and success doesn't count unless you earn it fair and square," she said. "We learned about gratitude and humility; that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean, and we were taught to value everyone's contribution and treat everyone with respect." Those are the values they are trying to pass on to their own children — and values that inform her husband's job as president, she said. "After so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are -- it reveals who you are," said Michelle Obama. "As president, you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people. But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as president, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are." Her husband, she said, "is thinking about folks like my dad and his grandmother" and is "thinking about the pride that comes from a hard day's work." It was a line meant to push back against Romney's claims that Obama doesn't understand how to create jobs because he's never worked in the private sector. But it also offered a subtle contrast between her husband and Romney, who came from a well-off background. She spoke of the student loan debts they incurred as a young married couple: "We were so young, so in love, and so in debt," she said. And she spoke of her husband's skills as a father — which she insisted have been unchanged even despite the pressures of the presidency. "People ask me whether being in the White House has changed my husband, I can honestly say that when it comes to his character, and his convictions, and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago," she said, her eyes wet with tears. Pushing back against GOP charges that her husband is driven by politics, Obama insisted there is no "us and them" for the president, that "he doesn't care whether you're a Democrat, a Republican or none of the above." She told voters her husband never lets himself "get distracted by the chatter and the noise." He just keeps "getting up and moving forward," she said. "He reminds me that we are playing a long game here, and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once," she said. "Many of us stand here tonight because of their sacrifice, and longing, and steadfast love because time and again, they swallowed their fears and doubts and did what was hard." That has been the story of the American dream, the first lady said. "That is what has made my story, and Barack's story, and so many other American stories possible."
VOICE OF AMERICAPakistan’s southern port city of Karachi is the country’s economic engine and home to some 20 million people. It is also the country’s most violent city, where gangs aligned with local political parties settle scores with shoot-outs. The violence is taking a toll on the country's commercial hub. Political killings, honor killings, kidnappings and gang warfare are not uncommon in this city. Violence taking a toll According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, more than 1,450 people including children were killed in Karachi in the first six months of this year. That’s an average of about 6 people a day. Karachi produces more than 50 percent of Pakistan’s revenue. Businessmen like Naeem Ahmed, a member of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce, say the daily violence is impacting the country’s economy. “If Karachi is not working well, it does not just mean that Karachi is not working, it means Pakistan is not working,” he explained. Police say they don’t have the manpower to secure such a large city, where there is high unemployment and poverty-driven crime. Beyond law enforcement Businessmen say political parties also are also using violence to gain economic power. Police chief Ahmed Farooqi says political violence is beyond law enforcement's ability to control. “Police can stop them for a little while, [stop] this violence to happen, but for larger stability, and a larger improvement in the law and order situation, the political forces must come into play,” he said. There is also a lot of wealth in Karachi. And people want protection. Despite strict licensing procedures, gun sales are up. And not only among men, says shop manager Mahmoud Salim. “Besides hunting and paper target shooting at the range, people also buy guns for personal protection, and that also includes women, even young women," he added. "They come and they want to have a license, they want to have a weapon for their personal security.” Businessmen say the only solution will come from political parties joining forces, and tackling the problems, rather than being a part of them.
VOA.COMU.S. first lady Michelle Obama is set to make the case for her husband's re-election Tuesday as Democrats open their national convention to nominate President Barack Obama for a second White House term. Obama is the headline speaker on the opening night of the three-day Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Party officials say she will present a behind-the-scenes look at the Obamas' life in the White House. In addition, she plans to recount how the president's early background, and his relatives' employment setbacks, helped shape his governing policies as president. Obama told a campaign rally at a college in Norfolk, Virginia, that his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, "did not offer a single new idea" at last week's Republican National Convention about restoring the U.S. economy. The president recounted his version of the Republican gathering. "First of all, everything's bad. And it's Obama's fault. And Governor Romney knows the secret to creating jobs and growing the economy. The only problem was, he kept it secret. There was a lot of talk about hard truths and bold choices. But they never bothered to tell you what they were," he said. Former president Bill Clinton will formally place Obama's name up for nomination on Wednesday night. Obama will accept his nomination Thursday night during a nationally-televised speech held at the city's 74,000-seat outdoor football stadium, as will his running mate, Vice President Joe Biden. A rising Hispanic figure in the Democratic party, Julian Castro, the mayor of the southwestern city of San Antonio, Texas, is giving the convention's keynote address. The party staged a pre-convention festival Monday in downtown Charlotte that featured Grammy-nominated R&B singer Janelle Monae and Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges. The November 6 presidential election pits Obama against Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Recent voter surveys show the two are virtually tied.
http://news.yahoo.comAs the Democratic National Convention opens on the heels of some of President Barack Obama's surrogates fumbling when asked if the country is better off than it was four years ago, Obama campaign aides took the question head-on Tuesday morning. "The country is better off," the president's deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter declared. Joined by fellow Obama campaign architects Ben LaBolt and Jim Messina, Cutter sat down with Yahoo News' Olivier Knox and ABC News' Diane Sawyer and Jake Tapper for a live "Newsmakers" broadcast. Summing up their point, Obama's aides reinforced the "bumper sticker" line credited to Vice President Joe Biden: "Osama bin Laden is dead, GM is alive." "We broke the back of al Qaida," Cutter said. "The auto industry was on the verge of bankruptcy…and now they're creating hundreds of thousands of jobs." Cutter also hit back at a Mitt Romney campaign aide's contention during last week's "Newsmakers" at the Republican National Convention that "we're not going let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers." "We do care about fact checks. We do care about the honesty of our ads," she said. At the RNC last week, Romney's wife, Ann, took the stage tasked with humanizing her husband, and the role is no different for Obama's wife, Michelle, who speaks tonight. "I think that what the first lady can do better than anybody else is give a lens into the values that drive the president," Cutter said. And, like their Romney counterparts, the Obama advisers were mum on yet another convention-speaker mystery: who will introduce the president on Thursday night at the Bank of America Stadium--a venue with nearly 74,000 seats that Team Obama said again on Tuesday they will be able to fill up amid questions about enthusiasm and weather. Looking toward November, Obama's aides agreed that it's going to be a tight race that they're careful to characterize as a "choice" for voters. "We're confident in the choice, and we're confident when people understand that choice that we're going to win this election," Messina said. "Confident," Cutter said. "Ditto," LaBolt agreed.
WASHINGTON POSTMichelle Obama comes to the 2012 Democratic National Convention with a delicate task: helping her husband’s campaign reach out to women, who are a vital part of his coalition, without veering too far into an increasingly polarized battle over women’s issues. The first lady, who is scheduled to speak Tuesday night, has been circumspect about what liberals call the Republican “war on women.” She did not participate in the Obama campaign’s “Romney/Ryan: Wrong for Women” tour last week, which condemned the Republican ticket’s positions on abortion. When she appeared on David Letterman’s show Wednesday as a bit of counterprogramming to the GOP convention, she responded to a question about Rep. Todd Akin (R) — the Senate candidate in Missouri who said that women who are raped are unlikely to get pregnant — by allowing that “dumb guys” say “dumb things.” But that was it.As she prepares for the convention, Obama is one of the most popular political figures in the country, viewed favorably by nearly seven in 10 Americans. That means she can sell her husband, who is considerably less popular, rather than having to sell herself, as she did four years ago, when she was the less liked of the two. But she must be careful to advocate for him without appearing too partisan. The 2008 convention “was very much about introducing her and in many ways the president to the country through an unfiltered lens,” said Stephanie Cutter, deputy manager of the Obama campaign. “This convention is more about just reminding people about the values and vision that drive the president every day and some of the decisions that have been made over the last four years that have moved us forward.” But refreshing the public’s memory of the man behind the presidency is a more challenging task than the one Obama faced last time, when she acknowledged Barack Obama’s “funny name” while vouching for his values. In her convention speech Tuesday night, advisers said, she will try to speak to her husband’s disaffected supporters, giving them, as she says on the campaign trail, “the chance to see up close and personal what being president looks like . . . the problems with no easy solutions, the judgment calls where the stakes are so high and there is no margin for error.” She will have to find new anecdotes that give insight into the president’s character to reach those people — particularly women, said Jennifer Lawless, director of American University’s Women and Politics Institute. “The fact that she is pretty honest about him and calls attention to some of his flaws and makes him seem like a real person is appealing,” Lawless said. At the same time, she will be tasked with bringing attention to Barack Obama the family man, trotting out onstage with perfectly styled first daughters Sasha, 11, and Malia, 14. In the campaign speech the first lady gives as she rallies supporters across the country, she talks about the “brilliant” women sitting on the Supreme Court because of her husband, about his administration’s support for equal pay for women in the workplace, and about how “Barack Obama believes women should be able to make our own choices about our health care.” At a moment when women’s reproductive health has unexpectedly become one of the highest-profile issues of the campaign, and when women’s votes are expected to be critical to deciding the tight race, Michelle Obama will have to step gingerly, discussing the issue without seeming overly partisan. The tougher talk about abortion rights has come from the president, who said recently that “we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health-care decisions on behalf of women.”Michelle Obama’s appeal to voters has been shaped more by television interviews, magazine covers and her best-selling gardening book, “American Grown.” During the 2008 campaign, her favorability ratings took a hit when she said that “for the first time” in her adult life, she was proud of her country. Conservatives repeatedly brought up the statement and called her unpatriotic. But since moving into the White House and adopting her role as mom in chief, her popularity has soared. “The good news is her likability factor is high, so she doesn’t have to sell herself as a likable, good person. She can sell the idea of ‘why you need to reelect my husband,’ ” said Elizabeth Mehren, a professor of journalism at Boston University who has written extensively about first ladies. “This is her moment to step forward and talk about the fundamental concerns that working women have with the economy.” Obama has not directly tackled such concerns. Instead, she recently acted as “guest editor” of iVillage, a Web site that caters to women. In an extensive interview there, the first lady kicked off her shoes and curled her bare feet up on the couch in her East Wing office. She gave tips for healthy eating, discussed the ways she talks to her daughters about body image and talked about how her husband quit smoking. “His ability to ultimately kick the habit was because of the girls, because they’re at the age now where you can’t hide,” Obama told iVillage. “I think that he didn’t want to look his girls in the eye and tell them that they shouldn’t do something that he was still doing.” Michelle Obama is less well-liked by Republicans. Only 38 percent of them give her a favorable rating, and conservative commentators have accused her of advocating a “nanny state” in her push for healthier school lunches. But the approach has made Obama a public figure in her own right, with “a popularity that transcends partisanship to a certain degree,” said Carl Sferrazza Anthony, a historian who studies first ladies and presidential families. “What she brings to her [convention] speech is not just her role as the wife of the candidate, the partisan, the spokesman, but also almost a certain rational objectivity [and] this larger-than-life charismatic public personality,” Anthony said. “She has a real credibility, and she comes to that podium with those factors intact. Whether the campaign will seek to maximize that, we’ll have to see.” Obama’s appeal seems aimed squarely at women — mothers in particular — who will be key decision-makers in this election. The Romney campaign acknowledged the importance of moms last week as well, with Ann Romney using her remarks at the Republican National Convention to talk about love and give a shout-out to “the moms of this nation — single, married, widowed — who really hold this country together.” On Wednesday, while Republicans were making their case in Tampa, the first lady used part of her time on Letterman’s show to talk about parenting. The interview kicked off with Obama and Letterman chatting about summer sleep-away camp and healthier school-lunch standards. Pizza “is going to be served on a whole-wheat crust” with strips of green peppers or carrots on the side, she said. She stuck to the approach that Obama campaign aides have called “relentlessly positive.” In response to Letterman’s question about whether the close race is stressing out her husband, she said: “Barack is so — the levelheadedness that you see is real. He doesn’t bring that energy home.” Camille Johnston, the first lady’s former communications director, said the convention speech will show Obama’s fun-loving personality while making the case for her husband’s administration. “The speech that she will give will be something that she has crafted in her own voice and with her own attention to detail and with her own style,” Johnston said. “She prepares diligently for important moments.” On Letterman’s show, the first lady said her convention speech will be serious, adding that she will not be cracking any jokes. “I’m still taking it in,” she said of her prepared remarks. “So over the next couple of days, I’ll just get the words and understand. . . . “You know, it’s feeling what I’m saying,” Obama said, closing her eyes, “not just learning the words.”
President Obama’s Top 10 Achievements
The Baloch Hal
BY:Yousaf Ajab BalochThe July 28, 2012 abduction of three Hindu traders of the same family in Kalat District has caused intense fear among the Hindu community in Balochistan. The kidnapping of Sunil Kumar 25, Ratan Kumar 23 and Ramish Kumar, 35,has not received much official or media attention as such incidents have unfortunately become the order of the day in the province. Hindus are considered as kidnapper’s ‘soft targets’. Refusal to pay ransom irks the kidnappers who immediately kill the abducted people and throw their dead bodies in order to teach the rest of the community a lesson about the consequences of noncompliance with their demands. The unpredictable situation has plunged the Hindus into a state of unrest and uncertainty. Those who are financially strong enough, they either flee to relatively safer places such as Balochistan’s Lasbela District or parts of Sindh or decide to permanently move to India.Many Hindus in Balochistan prefer Lasbela District because of its proximity with Karachi as it also promises better economic incentives once they start a new life. Hindus in Balochistan enormously contribute to Balochistan’s economy. The Hindus have historically owned major businesses in the districts of Kalat, JhalMagsi ,Jaffarabad, Naseerabad, Bolan, Sibi, Khuzdar, Dera Bugti, Mastung, Quetta and Lasbela. As the state of law and order began to deteriorate in 2006, the Hindu community has also begun to feel the heat of the military operation and increasing lawlessness. In its 2005 report “Conflict in Balochistan” the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (H.R.C.P) issued a list of 31 Hindus, including 19 children, 3 women and 11 men, who were killed by the security forces in an attack on the fort of Nawab Akbar Bugtion March 17, 2005, According to recent media reports, about the exodus of Hindusfrom Sindh and Balochistan,at least 100 families from Balochistan have migrated to India. Balochistan’s former Chief Secretary, Ahmed Bakhsh Lehri, had once told the media that most of the kidnappings took place in Kalat which is the home to a major Hindu temple dedicated to goddess Kali. The abducted Hindus are normally taken to neighboring Khuzdar district that borders Sindh and has limited presence of the police force. The Chief Secretary had said “common criminals”, not the Baloch separatists, were behind these kidnappings. A prominent Hindu religious leader,Maharaj Lakshmi Chand Garji, had been kidnapped, along with his four companions on December 21, 2010, near Surab. The Hindu community across Pakistan values his spiritual leadership. While the kidnappers released three people within hours, they detained Maharaj and Venud Kumar, the son of a well-known Quetta-based Hindu trader, for more than three months. The Maharaj, while recalling the kidnapping ordeal, said the kidnappers tied his hands with a rope and blindfolded them throughout this period.They were eventually released on 25 March 26, 2011. “Hindus are the natives of Balochistan but now they feel unprotected, “says Maharaj Lakshmi, who attributes such a change in local people’s behavior to “deviation from the Baloch culture and traditions.”. He says gone are the days when Balochistan’stribal society was regarded as a “safe haven” for religious minorities. The Hindus say they are left with “no option” but to flee the country once the government fails to provide them any kind of protection from the criminals. Maharaj Lakshmi says breakdown of law and order and an upsurge in cases of abduction for ransom has compelled 100 families to migrate to India while another 200 families have left various districts of Balochistan and settled in Hub, Balochistan’s industrial town bordering Sindh, and other parts of the country. “I don’t think these families, mainly those who are migrating to India, will be able to adjust themselves in the new environment,” fears the Maharaj. During the past four years, according to local Hindu community leaders, more than 50 traders, doctors, and professionals have been kidnapped for ransom. What further contributes to the community’s pessimism is the fact that local security institutions, such as the police, were not involved in even one case that successfully secured the release of a kidnapped Hindu. Every time, the community had to pay ransom to ensure the release of a kidnapped member. Zahoor Shahwani, the president of the Balochistan High Court Bar Association, says these abductions become an “alarming issue”. The government has failed to in its responsibilities and it has not taken any tangible measures for which it should be appreciated, he said. Mr. Shahwani, who is also a Council Member of the H.R.C.P., says, “We urge the government to make immediate efforts to protect thelife and property of the Hindus. So far, the authorities have not responded positively to our calls.” BurjLal, a notable of the community in Noshki District, said that they had lived in Balochistan for thousands of years but now his relatives had begun to leave Noshki and settle in other cities. “The Hindus do not feel safe when they go out to do a job nor are their children secure when they go out to get education. They are afraid of traveling inside Balochistan. Many of the Hindus are now selling off their properties and shops half the price and leaving Balochistan,” BurjLal informed. Rajeve,22, a Hindu from Kalat who recently migrated to India with his family, said that they did not make their decision willingly but were compelled to do so. He says his family did not want to leave Balochistan but regular cases of abduction and looting of shops belonging to the Hindus forced them to flee to India. “We find India a safe place for us,” he says, “We do not face serious hardships here and we can go wherever we want. We also plan to bring our other relatives to India as we consider ourselves very protected here.” According to Malik Siraj Akbar, the editor of online newspaper, TheBaloch Hal, kidnapping of the Hindus in Balochistan is not directly motivated on religious lines. The Hindus have traditionally enjoyed a good social status and owned businesses in the province which made them vulnerable to kidnapping. “Since the State failed to protect the Hindus elsewhere in Pakistan, criminals in Balochistan were also emboldened to take advantage of the vulnerability of the Hindus. “They are compelled to go to the local Jirgas and tribal chiefs for justice instead of having faith in the police and courts where they are often treated on religious lines and this treatment is even far worse than how the local tribal chiefs treat them.” Malik, who is currently a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington D.C. with rich reporting experience of human rights issues in Balochistan, says there is an overall breakdown of law and order in Balochistan. “When the State organs such as the Frontier Corps and intelligence agencies are blamed for not respecting human rights and the rule of law, then they also fail to set a positive precedence for the ordinary citizens to abide by the law. Criminals realize that state institutions do not have their priorities right and they are unlikely to move swiftly to protect the rights of religious minorities at a time when these institutions even have no respect for the rights of the majority (Muslim) population.” Senior Karachi-based journalist Veengas, says, the judiciary is independent now, even than thugs have been given free hand to kidnap and kill to the peaceful citizens, chiefly those who belong to the minority groups. “The support to the criminals is questionable. Hindus who are the real natives of Balochistan have become unprotected after the military operation against Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti,” she says. Saeed Yousaf Baloch, vice chairman of the Baloch Nation al Movement (B.N.M.) blames the “security establishment” for the crisis the Hindu community is facing today. The Establishment patronizes kidnappers and criminals to loot minorities to defame Baloch nationalist, he says, adding that the Hindus played a good role in economics of Balochistan. “Harming the Hindus amounts to harming Balochistan’s society and economy,” says the Baloch nationalist leader. Some tribal chiefs, anti-nationalist underground groups and even members of the provincial assembly are blamed for harassing the Hindus. There is an urgent need for collective efforts to end the state of insecurity among the Hindus in Balochistan and offer them a sense of protection so that they are not forced to leave their native land. Yousaf Ajab Baloch is a Staff Member at The Baloch Hal. To read more articles by him, please click here
BY: Ansar AbbasiRimsha case speaks volume of the failure and inefficiency of the Islamabad police but its latest turns and twists have made it a perfect study case that can help prevent misuse of the blasphemy law in the country. Though it is for the courts to judge the facts of the case, the latest evidence reported by the media against Imam Masjid Khalid Jadoon allegedly shows him stage-managing the whole episode to get the area vacated from Christian community. Here is a test for the police, prosecution and the courts to make Khalid Jadoon, if he is proven guilty, an example for others, which on the one hand would help deter people from registering fabricated cases of blasphemy against anyone and, on the other, pave the way to devise a foolproof procedure for registration of FIR under this law. However, because of the failure of the police or owing to the fraudulence of a person like Khalid Jadoon, there is no reason to support the west-led campaign to quash the blasphemy law. Certain NGOs and some voices in the media, it is expected, would try to fuel the Rimsha case to target the blasphemy law as per the western agenda. Reports are also making rounds in the capital that some NGOs are in contact with some western embassies to get Rimsha fly outside Pakistan along with her family as soon as she is released so that the anti-blasphemy law campaign is fuelled globally against Pakistan and Islamic laws. The facts of the case as reflected in the media so far confirm that the Islamabad police did not properly investigate the case before booking the eleven-year old Rimsha in the blashphemy case. It is said that police was under pressure to register the case despite its findings otherwise. Why was it done and under whose pressure? The Islamabad police needs to answer the question to help expose the real culprit behind this episode. Under the law such a case could only be registered following SP-level investigation but in this case seriously flawed investigation is apparently done with ulterior motives. Why did not the police discover before the registration of the FIR what is revealed now after media had highlighted the case? Just recently police have found three witnesses including the Moazan of the same mosque to expose the alleged dirty role of Khalid Jadoon but who would answer the basic question as to why in such a loose case an eleven-year girl was booked under extremely serious charges of blasphemy. Some heads must roll in the Islamabad police if the government is really interested to avoid resurfacing of such a flawed case. Religious scholars should also put their heads together to issue an edict for the person like Khalid Jadoon, who according to his Moazan had fabricated the evidence by adding a page of Quran that he had torn himself, in small plastic bag already containing burnt papers, to make it a perfect blasphemy case against the young girl. According to the Moazam, Khalid Jadoon was of the view that it would help get the area vacated from the Christian community.It is a shame that a person, who is an Imam masjid and should have been a model for others, has touched such lows of immorality and criminality. Such elements deserve to be given serious punishment for misusing an Islamic law to target the minority members of an Islamic society.
Bollywood superstar Kareena Kapoor and her fiance Saif Ali Khan talk to Dawn.com about playing a Bollywood, Pakistan and their marriage.
SECURITY operations in the Khyber Agency against the militants have led to the displacement of 68,274 families. It is a humanitarian crisis in Khyber Paktunkhwa. Among the displaced people, 50 per cent are children. Health and educational services are vital along with nutritional support, access to safe drinking water and sanitation for the displaced people. Access to basic amenities continues to be a biggest challenge for the displaced families residing in camps. Over 90 per cent are staying off camp with host communities. Movement from the conflict zone to safe areas is vital for children who are facing threats of being captured or killed by armed groups. It is also vital that psychological measures are taken to assist children to cope with the impact of the conflict and displacement. A proactive approach should be taken to address physical and mental issues and to alleviate children’s sufferings. Off the camp, IDPs are residing in rented homes or with host families in Nowshera and Peshawar. Mostly women and children with conservative culture are uncomfortable to live in camps and they are also unable to access relief services. There is an immediate need to increase relief efforts with provision of water, sanitation and hygiene, maternal and child health, nutrition, education protection since a large number of IDPs are residing off camps. Education for displaced children is foremost. Social mobilisation activities must be enhanced to identify out-of-school children and ensure their timely enrolment at schools. Psychosocial support is important for the well-being of distressed children. Child- friendly learning spaces for off-camp IDPs can provide a unique opportunity for learning while playing different games to lessen disabilities. Children can conceptualise their potentials while learning and playing and get rid of stress and trauma of displacement. Unicef and Save the Children are major humanitarian agencies working for children. But reports indicate the limited funding for emergency humanitarian needs of the IDPs in host communities. Keeping in view the prevailing security issues in Fata, the repatriation is not predictable in the near future. Even IDPs living with host communities say that they don’t expect to go home within the next 12 months. The funding gap will reduce the ability of humanitarian agencies to deliver lifesaving aid to the affected population, especially for the critical needs of IDPs’ children living in host communities for education, health and protection. The current state of services for IDPs shows limited arrangements due to funding scarcity. It is imperative to assist humanitarian agencies working for off-camp IDPs. The media must highlight the plight of victims of displacement to draw the attention of the authorities and donor agencies.
BY: Peter Hartcher Sydney Morning Herald political and international editor
Mehrabad is a sprawling village of haphazard dwellings and a diverse population not too far from the affluent sectors of the federal capital Islamabad. Most of the people living below poverty line in Islamabad's slums are Christians by faith. Many of them are garbage pickers or sweepers, or do other menial jobs. They are often humiliated and looked down upon. In August, a Christian girl from the village was accused of desecrating the Holy Quran by burning pages from the Noorani Qaida. "There is no way Rimsha could have done it deliberately, or someone else from among the local Christians could have asked her to do so," said a local police official. The 11-year-old girl suffering from Down's syndrome has been in Adiala Jail since August 17. Officials say she has been locked up to guarantee her safety, because emotionally charged fanatics are out to kill her. Mehrabad is a 10-minute drive from Kohsar Market, where late Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer was killed by his bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri in January 2011 after he had called for a fair trial of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy. It is also a 10-minute drive from the neighbourhood in which Minority Affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti was gunned down two months later. The two incidents shook the Christians of Islamabad.The village represents an urban-rural divide. For many who live there, electricity is a precious commodity. Others use wild bushes and garbage to make fire. The people of Mehrabad can be broadly divided into two categories - the natives and the settlers. The natives own land and are comparatively well off. The settlers are people who came to Islamabad for economic opportunity and cannot afford to live in the developed sectors of the federal capital. There are 11 legal and four illegal slums in Islamabad which accommodate a large number of Christians. Many Christian women work as maids in nearby houses, and men are mostly daily wagers. They say they can deal with economic disparity, but not with religious discrimination. In the preliminary investigation, police authorities have cleared Rimsha Masih. Officials believe the girl had no idea what she was burning to make fire. Given the economic and social conditions of the area's Christians, the officials say they would not dare do such a thing on purpose. After the accusation was made, scores of angry men led by a local cleric gathered outside Christian houses. Cleric Hafiz Khalid Chishti claims he saved the girl from being lynched by the crowd. But he believed the 11 year old girl was of sound mind and burned the pages of Noorani Qaida deliberately. He called her act 'a conspiracy' but failed to elaborate what objectives she or other Christians would achieve by infuriating thousands of Muslim natives. During a Friday sermon, the cleric had provoked the worshippers to "wake up and protect" the Holy Quran. Several hundred Christians have lived in Mehrabad for the last 10 years. Over that period, they developed some semblance of a peaceful coexistence with their Muslim neighbours. They were not stopped from converting one of the houses into a church, but the Muslims complained against the playing of music during the mass. While the Rimsha Masih case was discussed in the Vatican, in the power corridors of Washington, and the conference halls of the United Nations, the civil society of Islamabad remained more or less indifferent. Rights activist Dr Farzana Bari admits. "We are living in a state of terror. The civil society in Pakistan is getting weaker and weaker. To express opinion on such sensitive matters is rather difficult," she explained. The belief that it is justified to kill in the name of religion is spreading fast in the Pakistani society, she feared. She argues the controversial blasphemy law is misused, often to settle personal vendetta. "Even the trial is unfair. The judges are very careful and don't decide the blasphemy cases, consequently the victims languish in jails for years and years." The People's Party government has also not been able to take a tough stance against religious intolerance and persecution. Perhaps it is preoccupied with dealing with other challenges threatening its survival.President Asif Ali Zardari has taken personal interest in the Rimsha Masih case, but there are many others buried under files in police and court records. Days after the blasphemy allegation made headlines, another horrible incident took place in Faisalabad. The mutilated body of Samuel Yaqoob, a Christian boy, was found on Eid day. Reports said the boy's lips and nose had been cut off and his stomach was removed. The police are investigating whether the boy was accused of blasphemy. On July 3, an angry mob burned a man alive in Bahawalpur after he was accused of desecrating the Quran. Police failed to protect the suspect and some of them were beaten up. Later, they registered a case against 2,000 people. On 15 April, 80-year old Iqbal Butt was shot dead by a cleric in Sheikhupura on similar allegations. The cleric who killed Butt had earlier accused him of blasphemy. The court had acquitted Butt.