Thursday, September 20, 2012
http://www.nbcnews.com/The U.S. has bought $70,000 worth of air time on seven Pakistani television channels to air an ad showing President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denouncing the anti-Islamic video that has sparked violent protests in the Middle East and North Africa.In the 30-second ad that began running Thursday, Obama says, "Since our founding the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate religious beliefs of others."
U.S. citizens should avoid travel to Pakistan, the State Department said on Thursday in a fresh warning that follows numerous protests, demonstrations and rallies in Pakistan that U.S. officials said are likely to continue. The department advised Americans to put off any non-essential travel to the country and "strongly urged" those who are already there to avoid protests and large gatherings. "The presence of al-Qaida, Taliban elements, and indigenous militant sectarian groups poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan," the State Department said in a statement.
Indiatimes.comIt is "no surprise" that Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has sought spiritual advice on political matters, said a leading daily which pointed out that neighbouring India too "evolves into one huge crystal ball" during election time. An editorial in the Dawn on Thursday said that "spiritual advice sought by our prime minister on matters presumably political should come as no surprise". "Not only is Raja Pervez Ashraf following in the footsteps of his predecessors and political contemporaries, the example of world leaders like Ronald Reagan, whose wife is known to have regularly consulted an astrologer on her husband's public activities, is also before him," it said. The daily added: "Indian politicians too are deeply influenced by the pronouncements of these gurus, and come election time, the whole country evolves into one huge crystal ball." It noted that in Pakistan leaders from Benazir Bhutto to "lesser political mortals like Imran Khan are reported to have consulted pirs and spiritual gurus on their life choices and strategies...." "Black goats, astrologers, numerologists, holy men have all figured in the lives of our leaders. "But at the end, we are left with that niggling thought: How would Pakistan have fared without the occult intervening every now and then in our national life," it wondered. Admitting that the realities of politics are harsh in Pakistan, it said: "The Machiavellian games of rivals, the ever-hovering shadow of an external player, etc don't make matters easy for the wavering politicians". "However, that uncertainty might be quelled if political leaders were to place their faith in the institutions of democracy as firmly as they do in their spiritual gurus." It went on to say that over the years, "it is institutions such as parliament and judiciary all over the world that have weathered the storm of wars, rivalries, dissent and external threats to emerge more powerful than any soothsayer". "In Pakistan, these institutions are still at a nascent stage, but believing in them would not only strengthen the pillars of state, they would also impart some measure of confidence to an insecure public," the daily added.
RADIO PAKISTAN REPOTArmy called in for security of Diplomatic Enclave in Islamabad The step has taken after demonstrators protesting against anti Islam film tried to force their way into the diplomatic enclave in the federal capital Army has been called in for the security of the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad. The step was taken after demonstrators protesting against anti Islam film tried to force their way into the diplomatic enclave in the federal capital and clashed with police. Police used teargas and batons to try to keep demonstrators away from restricted enclave that houses government offices and embassies. The government lined up containers to cordon off the enclave. Police say most of the demonstrators are students who are trying to make their way to the American embassy‚ but police were holding them back. Protesters also set on fire police check posts near a five star hotel in Islamabad. Protest against the blasphemous film continues across the country. Students of Dow University of Engineering held a rally in Karachi against the film maker. Violent protesters in Quetta‚ set on fire a cinema house. Rallies were also taken out in Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa and FATA. Various religious‚ political‚ trade and students organisations held protest demonstrations in front of Press club and US consulate in Peshawar. PPPP organised a public rally which started from Hashtnagri and culminated at Qissa Khawani Bazaar. Addressing the rally‚ speakers strongly condemned the blasphemous movie and demanded to the government to evolve a joint strategy with other Muslim countries to raise the issue at the United Nations.
The Express TribuneA French magazine added fuel to the fire on Wednesday by publishing sacrilegious cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as France stepped up security at its embassies and banned demonstrations on its own soil. The French government, which had urged the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, not to print the cartoons, said it was shutting embassies and schools in 20 countries as a precaution on Friday, fearing protests after Friday prayers. However, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said anyone offended by the cartoons could take the matter to the courts but made it clear there would be no action against the weekly. “We are in a country where freedom of expression is guaranteed, including the freedom to caricature,” he said. Leaders of the Muslim community in France – the largest in western Europe – said an appeal for calm would be read out in mosques across the country on Friday but also condemned the magazine for publishing ‘insulting’ images. The Vatican’s official daily Osservatore Romano said that the images could throw ‘fuel on the fire’. Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby called the caricatures outrageous but said those who were offended by them should “use peaceful means to express their firm rejection.” Similarly, Tunisia’s ruling religious party, Ennahda, condemned what it called an act of “aggression” against the Prophet (PBUH) but urged Muslims not to fall into a trap intended to “derail the Arab Spring and turn it into a conflict with the West”. Charlie Hebdo’s defence On the other hand, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticised the publication of the cartoons as a provocation. “We saw what happened last week in Libya and in other countries such as Afghanistan,” Fabius told a regular news conference. “We have to call on all to behave responsibly.” But Charlie Hebdo’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier rejected the criticism. “We have the impression that it’s officially allowed for Charlie Hebdo to attack the Catholic far-right but we cannot poke fun at fundamental Islamists,” he said. “It shows the climate. Everyone is driven by fear, and that is exactly what this small handful of extremists who do not represent anyone want: to make everyone afraid, to shut us all in a cave,” he told Reuters. YouTube extends film curb to Saudi Arabia Meanwhile, YouTube said on Wednesday it extended its restrictions on a video sparking unrest in the Islamic world to Saudi Arabia, saying it is among countries where the film is considered illegal. YouTube parent Google said in a statement that the “Innocence of Muslims” film would be restricted “in countries where it is considered illegal by local authorities; that is, to date, India, Indonesia. Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.” YouTube last week restricted access to the film in Egypt and Libya after unrest in those countries, and has been adding countries to the list. Some others, including Pakistan and Sudan, have blocked access themselves. Wednesday’s announcement came a day after Saudi Arabia threatened to block YouTube in the kingdom if Google did not respond to a request to deny access to the video.
statesman.comAdditional Chief Secretary (ACS) FATA Dr. Tashfeen Khan said FATA Secretariat was intending to develop energy policy for FATA which would be based on utilising alternate sources like solar penals and wind mills etc. He said this while approving scheme of installation of solar street lights in Khar, Bajaur Agency under TARUCCI project. ACS FATA also approved the scheme to revamp existing Government Technical Institutes in FATA. He emphasised the need for synchronising projects/schemes with master plans and strategies; which ought to be developed for every major and wide-ranging infrastructural initiative such as revamping of institutes. In addition to ACS FATA Dr. Tashfeen Khan, Deputy Secretary SAFRON Zahid Naeem Saddiqi, Chief Devolution & Area Development P&D Syed Farooq Ahmad, Secretary L&O FATA Secretariat Nasir Jamal, Secretary AI&C FATA Secretariat Munir Azam, Secretary FIFA Arshid Munir, Secretarity Social Sector Dr. Aftab Akbar Durrani, Secretary Production Farrukh Sair, Chief Economist Yousaf Rahim, DG Monitoring Sajjad Ahmad and Directors of the FATA directorates/departments were also present in the meeting. Development schemes amounting to Rs3085.997 million were approved with advice for few schemes to review the costs. Schemes fulfilling anti-polio initiatives of FATA Secretariat; previously pledged and committed to be materialised, were given a go-ahead. These approved schemes would ensure salary to 174 field officers (rationing anti-polio drops) and purchase of 100 solar refrigerators (for storing vaccines) in addition to other necessities. Consent was also granted to infrastructure schemes in South Waziristan Agency, valuing Rs.1022.3 million, constituting widening & improvement of subsections of Wana Shakai, Makeen Road, SWA FATA and construction of flood protection bund and new irrigation channels (600 meters). Similarly, schemes to widen & improve sub sections of Bannu-Miramshah, Ghulam Khan Road, NWA FATA, with the cost of Rs1255.4 million, was endorsed for implementation. On the occasion, Secretary FIFA Arshid Munir briefed ACS FATA about the natural resources available in FATA and the need for developing a legal and financial institutional framework for the people of FATA to utilise and benefit from these resources. A proposal for the establishment of Regional Investment Bank in FATA was approved by the ACS FATA.
EDITORIAL:Daily TimesThe UAE has announced that visitors from South Asian countries that export labour to the country will from now on require a university degree to get a tourist visa. The UAE has imposed this restriction in order to fight an illegal influx of people who arrive on tourist visas and then stay on to seek employment. Categories of blue-collar workers from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines affected by the new rule include electricians, pipe fitters, masons, farmers, drivers, tailors and cleaners. These categories comprise the core of labour immigration into the Gulf state. A UAE official explained that the measure would reduce the risk that individuals engaged in organised crime or the trafficking of persons could gain entry to the country. Tourist visas are usually arranged through hotels, airlines or travel agents. Tourism has grown rapidly in the UAE, especially the shopping paradise called Dubai, where the number of tourists increased to 9.3 million in 2011, up 10 percent on the previous year, despite the economic woes that the Gulf states suffered along with much of the rest of the world as a result of the global economic recession. Tourism aside, the UAE hosts millions of foreign workers, mostly from South Asian countries. Western expatriates on the other hand have dwindled in the aftermath of the recession. Nevertheless, the expatriate population dominates the UAE, comprising 8.2 million or 88.53 percent of the total population in 2010. When the UAE first emerged onto the world stage in the 1970s, the building boom drew in millions of construction and ancillary trades workers. Service providers followed in their wake. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto initiated the policy of loosening the procedure for obtaining a passport and finding employment in the booming Gulf. While the UAE benefitted from this influx of workers, Pakistan soon found itself short on skilled tradesmen. The expatriate workers’ remittances bolstered Pakistan’s balance of payments and brought relative prosperity to millions of families back home. Of course those good times are long gone, but even the residual opportunities in the Gulf are a tempting prize for Pakistani and South Asian workers. The availability of work visas naturally decreased as the economic boom slowed and then went into decline, if not crisis. The UAE’s latest announcement indicates a growing problem of those seeking employment gaining entry on tourist visas and then staying on illegally to search for jobs. With the latest restrictions, the apprehension is that just as happened with so many elected representatives when Musharraf’s regime imposed the condition of a graduate degree to run for elections, and which gave rise to a veritable industry churning out fake degrees, this roadblock to entry to the UAE may be circumvented by some unscrupulous elements through fake degrees. If the UAE’s checks reveal any such occurrence, it will sully the name of Pakistan and bring further ignominy on our heads.
EDITORIAL: FRONTIER POSTAlthough the decision Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf announced before the Supreme Court on Tuesday is belated, the commitment given to the country’s apex court that the government will write the letter to Swiss authorities is a welcome move. This letter would revoke the previous letter in which the government had rescinded its claim on money in some Swiss bank accounts. The common belief is that the letter can cause the authorities in that country to re-open the money laundering case against President Asif Ali Zardari. It appears to be the best course, the government could take to avoid a host of complexities, including a conflict between state institutions. As Raja assured the SC that his government would withdraw the letter which the former attorney-general Malik Mohammad Qayyum had written to Switzerland judicial authorities in 2007 about the fall-out of the National Reconciliation Order (NRO) that gave blanket immunity to the commission of offences by some 8,000 persons, including President Zardrari, other politicians, bureaucrats and well-to-do individuals, it means that Swiss courts can now take up the case involving the president. As a consequence of the assurance, the SC adjourned the case of show-cause notice issued against the prime minister on contempt of court charges till Sept 25th with the concession that prime minister is exempted from personal appearance. The PM nominated Law Minister Farooq.H.Naek to appear on his behalf in the court and submit the draft of the much talked about letter. Whether the draft meets the approval of the Court is yet to be seen, but the government has succeeded in buying time that it wanted. The stalemate between the government and court was jamming the activities of other institutions in the country. Some call the government move a tactical retreat and some say the Raja government has taken a U-turn from its earlier stance. Both the notions seem well-founded but the former seems more plausible. However, the government delayed the decision to write the letter by several months and as a result the former Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Galani stood disqualified and had to go home. He not only lost the office of the country’s chief executive but also faces a bleak political future after his disqualification for 5 years. Most probably the government gave an afterthought to its earlier stance with next parliamentary elections in sight. It did not want to enter the electioneering process with the stigma of being a party of contemnors; the opposition would have had an opportunity to exploit the situation. The government also appears mindful of the fact that the SC case may linger on for months and the caretaker administration, that seems would be put in place, at the most, by the end of this year, might not stick to the PPP government’s stance of not writing to Swiss authorities. Nevertheless, the government’s allies in the coalition may receive the new development as a sorry affair only because they were not taken on board. But the Awami National Party may be angrier with the government than the other allies, including the PML-Q and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which have so far remained unclear in their mind, as to what the government’s response to the SC insistence should be like. Even otherwise, prima facie on the political horizon, most of the coalition allies may not for sure carry on with the Pakistan People’s Party when the next general elections are held. No doubt, Tuesday’s development is a step forward and the government must be thinking in terms of utilizing the time it has bought to concentrate on problems facing the nation and try to solve these so that it can face the voters with a cleaner slate. For example, the government has to give its attention to the worsening economic situation by minimizing the impact of power load-shedding and reforming the tax structure to rope in all who have the ability to pay taxes. Above all, this is a rare opportunity. Our first democratically elected government is just a stone throw away from handing over the reigns of the government to another democratically elected administration. This is the tradition which we have to set, and have been unable to, since the creation of this country. In fact the PPP government must be eying this opportunity which can be a momentous distinction any political party could achieve in the present circumstances.