Tuesday, September 18, 2012
The United States has imposed travel restrictions for its employees throughout Pakistan following angry protest demonstrations against the anti-Islam film, the U.S. embassy said Tuesday. The restrictions have been introduced as anti-U.S. demonstrations continued across Pakistan on Tuesday and more are planned in the coming days. One person was killed and dozens others were injured in a protest outside the U.S. consulate in Karachi on Sunday. The demonstrators had crossed police barriers and reached the consulate, removed American flag and also stoned the building. Activists of religious and political parties clashed with the police near the U.S. consulate in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Tuesday. The police fired in the air, used tear gas shells and resorted to baton charge to disperse the demonstrators. They also burnt a U.S. flag. At least one protester was injured. "This security message informs U.S. citizens living in Pakistan that the U.S. government has instituted travel restrictions for its employees throughout the country," the U.S. embassy said in a statement posted on its website. The alert says that the U.S. government employees can now undertake essential travel only, including within the cities of the capital Islamabad and three provincial capitals -- Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar, due to possible demonstrations moving along major routes. The U.S. has consulates in the three cities. "We remind U.S. citizens that demonstrations and protests in Pakistan are often spontaneous and can occur with little advance notice". The message urged U.S. citizens to avoid all protests and demonstrations and maintain a low profile. The U.S. citizens have also been asked to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate by monitoring their websites for updates on the security situation in Pakistan.
Bahraini forces have stormed the houses of two opposition leaders, Shula and Bazzaz, as the Saudi-backed Al Khalifa regime continues its heavy-handed handling of critics. Scores of people have been killed and hundreds more injured in the regime crackdown on a popular revolt that started in February 2011. Many others, including opposition leaders and human rights activists, have been also given long jail terms as part of the crackdown. A report published by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry in November said regime forces "resorted to the use of unnecessary and excessive force, terror-inspiring behavior and unnecessary damage to property," during popular protests in the country.
DUNYA TVThe US has closed its embassy and consulates in Pakistan to general public for indefinite period. Amid anti-film protests US Tuesday halted public dealing in all its diplomatic missions in Pakistan. According to statement issued by US embassy in Islamabad, all diplomatic missions in the country would be closed for public as security concerns. Meanwhile, US diplomatic personnel were shifted to unclosed location from Karachi consulate as angry protesters advancing to the diplomatic building in red zone of the largest and port city of Pakistan. Clashes between police and mob continued as protesters trying to reach consulate building. Police using tear gas, firing in air and water guns to stop people. Following the violent protests across Pakistan against anti-Islam film, the security has been tightened by the authorities in Peshawar. Fearing the security risk and creating traffic problems, the authorities have blocked a road towards the US consulate as the protests are continued in the city against the release of anti-Islam film. The heavy contingent of police have been placed out on entry and exit points of the consulate while the police are also alert in other parts of the city. US consulate in Lahore was also vacated by US officials who have been shifted to other safe places, local media reports said. Authorities have blocked all roadsgoing towards US diplomatic building in Lahore.
President Obama's spokesman responded to the Mitt Romney video today by saying that Obama is president of all the people. "When you're president of the United States, you are president of all the people -- not just the people who voted for you," said White House spokesman Jay Carney. Meanwhile, Obama's Twitter feed said: "We can't afford a president who says 'my job is not to worry about' 47% of the American people." Carney said he hasn't asked Obama if he has seen the video. As reported in our On Politics blog, the newly disclosed videotape of a Romney fundraiser shows the GOP candidate saying that President Obama automatically gets 47% of the vote because of people who are "dependent on the government" and "pay no income tax." The tape has roiled the presidential race with only seven weeks to go. During the White House press briefing, Carney said that Obama did not worry about whether workers or executives voted for him when he sough the auto bailout; the same outlook applied to the health care bill, Carney said. "He's fighting for every American," Carney said. As for Romney's comment that too many Americans see themselves as victims, Carney said: "The president certainly doesn't think that men and women on Social Security are irresponsible or victims; that students aren't responsible or victims ... He certainly doesn't think that middle class families are paying too little in taxes." Romney has stood by his comments, telling reporters last night in California that "the president believes in what I've described as a government-centered society, where government plays a larger and larger role, provides for more and more of the needs of the individuals. "I happen to believe instead in a free enterprise, free individual society where people pursuing their dreams are able to employ one another, build enterprises, build the strongest economy in the world," Romney said. Obama himself may get asked about the comments later today when he appears with talk show host David Letterman. The president's campaign manager, Jim Messina, issued a statement on the Romney tape: "It's shocking that a candidate for President of the United States would go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy donors that half the American people view themselves as â??victims,' entitled to handouts, and are unwilling to take â??personal responsibility' for their lives. It's hard to serve as president for all Americans when you've disdainfully written off half the nation."
During his 20 minute stint (from 16:18 to 36:32) on the Rana Mubasher show (September 11, 2012) , Senator Faisal Raza Abidi (Pakistan Peoples Party) made some crucial observations regarding the current judiciary’s predisposition towards Takfiri terrorists. While Pakistan’s Taliban apologist media chose to ignore it, Senator Abidi highlighted the important developments of how the Supreme Court is bent upon freeing mass murdering terrorists like Malik Ishaq – leader of Pakistan’s primary Al Qaeda affiliate, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.The Supreme Court has a history of supporting the Islamofascist militant brigades of Lal Masjid. It has once again released the chief cleric of Lal Masjid inspite of the latter’s incitement to violence against the very State and Constitution of Pakistan. Pakistan’s civil society has been damningly silent in being critical of this PCO Judiciary. This is because they were instrumental in aligning themselves in a discredited movement to restore disgraced and compromised bureaucrats like Iftikhar Chaudhry and his crony judges. While Pakistan’s civil society is always ready to heap abuse and slander on the martyred leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party, they conveniently paper over their own substantial role in spreading religious extremism in Pakistan. During his brief time on the show, Senator Faisal Raza Abidi reiterated the corruption, bias and prejudice of Pakistan’s anti-democracy and pro-Taliban judiciary. He was even critical of his own party for their lack of courage in resisting judicial tyranny. As Pakistan’s PCO Judiciary gears up to dismiss another elected Prime Minister on an Un-Constitutional basis while going out of its way to thwart the efforts of the Law Enforcement authorities in nabbing Islamist terrorists, one should pay heed to Senator Abidi’s bold critique. We disagree with his unnecessary and insensitive remarks against Ahmadi muslims during one such segment. However, his exposure of this pro-Taliban judiciary and its various biases is the need of the hour.
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar
The Express TribunePolitical rivalry within Punjab has left scores of flood victims in the southern part of the province stranded for the last 48 hours as relief efforts in the region remained suspended on Sunday and Monday. Differences between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) top leadership and the party’s representatives from the area, the Khosa family, have hampered relief activities in the flood-stricken DG Khan region where hill torrents have devastated two districts and displaced tens of thousands of people. According to sources in the PML-N, a top dignitary of the province’s ruling party forbade the local administration from giving any truck of relief items to the Khosa family for distribution in the region – in fact directing that they be given to a rival family. Consequently, a bruising back-and-forth between the two influential sides began. According to well-placed sources, the Khosa family declared the top leaders of the party persona non grata in DG Khan — for flood relief activities or otherwise. Sources revealed that after hearing of this action, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif – the chief minister’s son – decided to cancel his visit to DG Khan which was scheduled for Monday. Resultantly, DG Khan District Coordination Officer (DCO) Iftikhar Saho and DG Khan Commissioner Tariq Mehmood halted the distribution of relief items to the Khosas starting Sunday. DCO feels the heat The local administration has allegedly stocked up on the distribution items at the Baloch Military Police (BMP) Lines in DG Khan. Official sources in DG Khan revealed that Punjab’s former chief minister Sardar Dost Muhammad Khan Khosa arrived at the BMP and demanded that DCO Saho hand over the trucks of relief items for distribution – but he was told that there was no authorisation in this regard. Using local political influence, Khosa forced the DCO to give him 10 trucks full of relief items from the Lines. Meanwhile, the DCO called Senator Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa who reached the area to contain the heated situation — but to no avail. DCO Saho and the commissioner then contacted the chief minister who directed them to stop the Khosa family from interfering in the affairs of the flood relief distribution and asked his son Hamza to visit the area.But after the Khosa family’s ‘threats’, Hamza cancelled his trip. New appointment On Monday, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif appointed independent MPA Sardar Amjad Farooq Khan Khosa – who is said to have his own clashes with the Khosa family – as the head of the distribution of flood items and directed the concerned staff to “tackle the Khosa family with iron hands”. When contacted, none of the concerned officials, including the DCO, commissioner, members of the Khosa family or MPA Amjad, were available to comment on this development. Punjab government’s spokesman Senator Pervez Rashid maintained his ignorance of the issue and PML-Ns’ Punjab General Secretary Raja Ashfaq Sarwar refused to comment on it either.
DAILY TIMESActress Veena Malik
PakistanIT is indeed a relief that the Sindh government has begun to cull thousands of infected sheep that were brought into the country from Australia. However, it is safe to assume that if it were not for the hue and cry raised by the media, the meat from these sheep may easily have ended up on our dinner plates. Health officials said the culling was necessary as the infections — the animals were infected with foot-and-mouth disease, among other ailments — could have spread to local livestock. The episode raises questions primarily regarding government oversight, or lack thereof, when it comes to the import and export of livestock. For instance, why were the sheep, imported by a private concern, allowed into the country when they had already been rejected by Bahrain? Also, the authorities must explain why the animals were released before being properly examined in quarantine and why they were kept with healthy animals. The stakeholders’ urge to cut corners and the government’s willingness to look the other way has cost Pakistan’s livestock, fisheries and agriculture sectors dearly. For example, the European Union has banned the import of Pakistani seafood since 2007 due to concerns about the lack of hygienic handling of the catch in local harbours. Fruit export has also suffered due to local exporters’ failure to meet international standards. All this amounts to shooting ourselves in the foot. While importing diseased animals, presumably for local consumption, is tantamount to playing with people’s lives, ignoring safety and hygiene standards for export products translates to shutting ourselves out of foreign markets. The government needs to ensure livestock raised in the country for export or animals brought in for local consumption are healthy not only in the interest of public health, but also to prevent Pakistani exports from being labelled as unfit for consumption.
At least 12 people are dead, including 9 foreigners, after a suicide bomber targets a vehicle near the airport in Kabul
http://www.bellinghamherald.comAn Afghan judicial panel ruled Monday that administrative detention violates Afghan law, potentially thwarting a U.S. plan to hand over Afghan detainees that American officials believe should continue to be held without a trial. President Hamid Karzai's office announced in a statement that a top-level judicial panel met earlier in the day and decided that the detention of Afghan citizens without a court trial "has not been foreseen in Afghan laws" and therefore could not be used.The U.S. government has long held Afghans captured in operations inside the country without trial, arguing that they are enemy combatants and therefore can be detained for as long as their release might pose a danger to the international coalition. Afghan laws have come into play only since the signing of a deal in March in which the U.S. agreed it would hand over all Afghan citizens to the Afghan government - acceding to a key Karzai demand to pave the way for a pact allowing for the long-term presence of U.S. forces in the country. But the United States has also argued that it cannot risk the release of some high-value detainees to the notoriously corrupt Afghan court system. Even though the deadline for the handover passed on Sept. 10, the Americans are still holding more than 600 Afghans in their custody. A U.S. official confirmed that the transfer of detainees had paused because of the dispute. The official was not authorized to give a public statement and so spoke on condition of anonymity. Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for Karzai, said the judicial ruling followed a vigorous effort by the Americans to persuade the Afghans to adopt administrative detention. He said the topic was discussed Sunday during a contentious meeting between Karzai and the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman. "This was the intention, that administrative detention would be respected by Afghans," Faizi said. After the meeting, Karzai issued a statement lashing out at the Americans. "The continued holding of Afghans in American custody runs in contradiction with the spirit of mutual friendship and the provisions of the bilateral strategic partnership agreement," the statement said. It accused the United States of violating the March pact by continuing to hold some prisoners. In an emailed response, the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan said they were still committed to abiding by the memorandum of understanding, or MOU. "Ambassador Grossman made clear in his discussion with the president that the United States fully respects Afghan sovereignty. There is no question of our commitment to fully implement the MOU in recognition of Afghan sovereignty and the need to protect the security of Afghan civilians, Afghan national security forces and coalition forces," the statement said. Faizi said now that the judicial panel has ruled, Karzai expects the remaining prisoners to be transferred to Afghan control "as soon as possible." "We should respect the agreements signed between the two countries," Faizi said. He declined to say what Karzai would do if the U.S. continued to refuse to hand over the detainees by a certain date. He did add, however, that Karzai was demanding that the U.S. government provide more details about specifically what it hoped to get out of the next pact up for negotiations - a U.S.-Afghan security agreement that is supposed to get into the finer details of how U.S. troops will operate in the country, what type of bases they will have and what legal authority they will answer to. A failure to come to such an agreement in Iraq prompted the swift withdrawal of U.S. forces from that country. "We need to know the specifics of the security agreement," Faizi said. "We would like to know what the American government wants from us." The New York-based Open Society Foundations said in a report issued earlier this month that the U.S. is worried that the Afghan government will either release dangerous detainees or forward their cases to the messy Afghan system. The Afghan government agreed to embrace an internment system when it first signed the accord in March, but top Afghan officials and legal experts then started to argue that it violated the Afghan constitution, according to the report. The U.S. began detention operations at Bagram Air Field in early 2002. For several years, prisoners were kept at a former Soviet aircraft machine plant converted into a lockup. In 2009, the U.S. opened a new detention facility next door. The number of detainees incarcerated at the prison, now called the Parwan Detention Facility, has swelled from about 1,100 in September 2010 to 3,110 in the spring of this year. More continued to be added after the memorandum was signed.
indiatimes.comIn a setback to President Zardari, Pakistan Prime Minister Pervez Ashraf has told the Supreme Court that the govt will open the graft cases against President Zadari. The Pak PM told SC that he has instructed authorities to revoke former AG's letter asking for closure of graft cases against the President in Switzerland. The Supreme Court has asked the govt to revoke the letter in two to three days. The Pakistan apex court has adjourned the case till September 25 and exempted the Prime Minister from personal appearance. At the last hearing on August 27, a five-judge bench accepted Ashraf's plea for more time to address the issue of reopening the cases against Zardari and gave him three weeks. Ashraf is the second premier to appear in the apex court to face a contempt charge for refusing to revive the cases against Zardari in Switzerland. His predecessor, Yousuf Raza Gilani, was convicted of contempt and disqualified in June. The Supreme Court has been pressuring the government to revive the cases against the president since December 2009, when it struck down a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf that benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others. The government has refused to act, saying the president enjoys immunity in Pakistan and abroad.
Dunya TVPrime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf appeared in SC for the second time in NRO implementation case. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that he was willing to revoke the Attorney General s letter that had asked for the closure of graft cases against the President. PM Ashraf directed Law Minister Farooq H. Naek to withdraw the application forwarded to the Swiss authorities by then attorney general Malik Qayyum. The graft cases were shelved in 2007 after Malik Qayyum wrote letters to the Swiss authorities following the promulgation of the NRO. The Supreme Court, however, in December 2009, declared the ordinance unconstitutional and ordered the reopening of cases against the politicians. The cases that had been closed by Malik Qayyum`s letter can now be reopened by the Swiss authorities if they choose. Further, the prime minister while requesting the court to adjourn the case until end of September, informed that he needs more time to draft the letter. The court said that the powers of withdrawing the letter should be delegated to the Law Ministry by tomorrow and directed the government to write the letter to Swiss authorities by September 25. The apex court also exempted the prime minister from appearing in the next hearing. In April 2012, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani was thrown from the PM s chair by an order of the SC that found him guilty of contempt of court for failing to reopen the cases against Zardari. Ashraf too was charged with contempt of court after repeated failure to implement its order.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has directed the government of Sindh to hold inquiry into the import of large number of infected sheep at Port Qasim, Karachi and identify the persons responsible for this illegal act. The prime minister has desired that findings of the inquiry may be communicated for his consideration within seven days. Sindh government officials decided on Sunday to cull more than 21,000 imported Australian sheep and the process of killing the animals and burying them started late in the night in Razzakabad area amid tight security. The government took the decision after reports from a second laboratory also confirmed that the animals were diseased. The culling began in the presence of livestock and local government officials. "We have culled about 150 sheep so far. The step has been taken after the animals were found suffering from highly contagious diseases. Infections could spread in our environment if the animals were allowed to live," Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, representing the livestock department at the site near the private farm in Razzakabad where the animals had been kept, said. The animals, he said, were being buried in a 15-foot deep ditch after being slaughtered. Referring to the latest report submitted by the Tandojam Central Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, provincial Livestock and Fisheries Secretary Syed Abid Ali Shah said it showed that the sheep had got foot-and-mouth disease, besides having bacterial infection as had earlier been indicated in a lab report by the Sindh Poultry Vaccine Centre. "There is no option left but to cull all animals in public interest because two laboratory reports have confirmed that they are diseased. Preparations are under way for the culling that will begin soon," he said, adding that the remains would be buried deep at the same place. "That means these animals are a grave risk to public health because we don't have this virus in our environment right now, nor the lab facilities required to detect it. "The spread of new viruses is a major health hazard across the world which is why developed countries have stringent rules and regulations to protect their environment," he said.
http://statesman.com.pkA total of 262 people have been reported killed and 815 injured so far this year as torrential monsoon rains and flash floods wreak havoc throughout the country, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said Monday. Over 70,000 houses have also been reportedly damaged, with 51,027 partially and 19,465 completely damaged, said the official statistics which are updated until Sept 16. Approximately 3,883 villages, spreading over an area of over 1,345,531 acres, have been affected by the torrential rains. DawnNews reported that most casualties were reported in Sindh province, according to the data, with 106 people killed and 361 injured, and a total of approximately 273,000 people affected by the torrential rains. At least 58 people were killed and 272 injured in Punjab due to rain related accidents, with over 857,000 people affected in total in the province. Torrential rains and flooding killed 39 people and injured about 35 others in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with 104 houses damaged. Meanwhile, 25 people were killed in Balochistan. Kashmir region recorded 31 deaths, while 3 people were reported killed in Islamabad region. INP ADDS: Heavy rains in upper parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Lahore, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Monday badly affected normal life as roads and low lying areas were flooded with water. Heay shower lashed parts of KP including Peshawar, Mardan, Swat, Dir, Bajaur and Abbottabad. According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, many districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, upper Punjab and Balochistan will receive more rain during next 12-hour. The rain which started in Rawalpindi and Islamabad around 1:00am continued for more than four hours. Nullah Leh which passes through Rawalpindi was flooded and the water level was recorded at 11.8 feet. Islamabad received 115 mm of rain while Okara received maximum of 117 mm. The rain affected smooth flow of traffic in the big cities as roads were flooded with water. According to reports, hill torrents of Koh-e-Suleman played havoc in Sothern Punjab as all the streams and nullahs were flowing over their embankment. Reports say that rural areas of Rajanpur districts were under feets of water. There was a 100 feet wide breach in Kadra canal that flood hundreds of acres of land. Met office said that Chenab and Jhelum rivers could witness high flood during the next twenty four hours. In Balochistan Jafferabad has been worst affected by rain and flood. One report said that water level at Jafferabad bypass was between 12 to 15 feet inundating vast areas and with rains in southern Punjab the water level was rising.
The Spokesman said PM Raja Pervez Ashraf will appear before the Supreme Court in NRO implementation case on Tuesday He said coalition partners will accompany the Prime Minister to the Supreme Court as a mark of solidarity. The coalition partners reiterated their full support to the government.