Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chinese FM urges Japan to ‘correct’ errors over Diaoyu

During a "candid and in-depth" exchange of views over the Diaoyu Islands, the Chinese foreign ministry asked Japan to abandon any illusions it holds, and face up to the ramifications caused by its mistakes, which should be corrected with credible steps. China will not tolerate any unilateral action taken by Japan that infringes on China's territorial sovereignty, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun was quoted as saying Tuesday by the Xinhua News Agency when meeting his Japanese counterpart Chikao Kawai in Beijing. Zhang urged the Japanese side to recommit itself to the consensus and understanding reached between the two countries' leaders, so that bilateral relations could be put back on track toward a sound and stable footing. The two sides agreed to maintain consultative discussions over the Diaoyu Islands, according to a statement. Liu Jiangyong, an expert on Japanese studies with Tsinghua University, said Tuesday that Zhang's remarks indicated fractured bilateral relations would not be eased unless Japan abandoned its decision to "nationalize" the islands. "China's assertion on the Diaoyu Islands is of great strategic significance," said Liu. According to Japanese media, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba had planned to seek talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on the sidelines of the UN Assembly to ease the mounting tensions. Besides diplomatic consultations, the Chinese government also stepped up countermeasures against Japan Tuesday by releasing a white paper on the Diaoyu Islands in Chinese, English and Japanese. The white paper, entitled "Diaoyu Dao, an Inherent Territory of China," was released Tuesday by China's State Council Information Office, asserting China's resolve in safeguarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Liu said the white paper, as the most comprehensive and authoritative document issued on the Diaoyu Islands so far, had provided important access to the historical facts for people in China, Japan and other countries and regions. "Japan's official documents show that from the time of the fact-finding missions to Diaoyu Dao in 1885 to the occupation of the islands in 1895, Japan consistently acted in secrecy without making its moves public. This further proves that Japan's claim of sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao does not have legal effect under international law," the white paper reads. Despite the Japanese government's efforts to cool the tensions, it has filed an objection at the United Nations over China's application to amend maritime maps, NHK World reported Monday. China's envoy to the UN Li Baodong filed a copy of the Chinese government's Diaoyu Islands baseline announcement to the UN on September 13, according to Xinhua. Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama declined China's invitation Tuesday to visit Beijing on the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between the two countries, according to Kyodo News. More signs of the impact on China-Japan relations have started to surface in the economic sector. Flights to Japan in September and October have either been canceled or reduced by Chinese airlines, including Air China, China Hainan Airlines and China Southern, Xinhua reported. China Eastern Airlines and Juneyao Airlines have postponed their plans to open new routes to Japan. According to Kyodo News, Japan's largest airline, All Nippon Airways, announced that about 37,000 seats of flights between China and Japan had been canceled between September and November by last Friday, including 10,000 from Japan to China, and 27,000 in the opposite direction. Japan Airlines said about 15,500 seats had been canceled as of Monday. Toyota Motor Corp announced Tuesday it would reduce its production of automobiles bound for the Chinese market due to plunging sales in the wake of anti-Japan protests in China, Kyodo News reported. According to Taiwan media, about 100 fishing boats from Taiwan that had sailed to the waters of the Diaoyu Islands to demonstrate sovereignty claims Monday decided to finish their protests at 9 am and return to Yilan (or Ilan) at noon on Wednesday. The boats pressed forward to an area about three nautical miles from the islands while evading water cannons from the Japanese vessels, according to the report. Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou reiterated his support Tuesday for the fishermen's protests, calling on Japan to respect Taiwan fishermen's rights in their traditional fishing areas, local media said. Ma also said he hoped the US would stay neutral in sovereignty issues relating to the Diaoyu Islands.

Madrid demo, 22 arrested, 32 injured

Spanish police have fired rubber bullets to break up a demonstration near the parliament in central Madrid and have arrested 22 protesters. Late on Tuesday, the police fired rubber bullets and used batons to disperse thousands of demonstrators who had massed at the Plaza de Neptuno square near the lower house of parliament to protest against the austerity measures adopted to address the financial crisis. The police said 22 people had been arrested and at least 32 injured, including four officers. Television images showed police brutally beating protesters and dragging them away. Some demonstrators were bloodied as they were hauled off. The demonstration, dubbed "Occupy Congress" by the organizers, drew an estimated 6,000 people from all walks of life tired of nine straight months of harsh economic austerity measures introduced by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government. "My annual salary has dropped by 8,000 euros and if it falls much further I won't be able to make ends meet," said Luis Rodriguez, a firefighter who joined the demonstration. The Spanish economy, the fourth-largest in the 17-nation eurozone, is suffering from the aftershocks of a real estate bust that has devastated not just banks but families as well. Battered by the global financial downturn, the Spanish economy collapsed into recession in the second half of 2008, taking with it millions of jobs. Unemployment is approaching 25 percent. The worsening eurozone debt crisis has increased Spain's financing costs and the country is seeking a European Union bailout similar to the one Greece received. On June 9, eurozone finance ministers agreed to lend 100 billion euros to Spain to save its teetering banks, which means more debt will be added to Madrid's already massive debt burden. Economists say Spain has entered into a second recession. The country has imposed unpopular austerity measures and economic reforms in an effort to persuade its lenders that it is serious about decreasing its overblown deficit to 6.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2012 and 4.5 percent in 2013.

President Obama at the U.N.

The anti-American violence in the Muslim world demanded a firm push back from President Obama, who finally delivered it on Tuesday in the last United Nations General Assembly speech of his term. Since the protests, attacks and flag burnings erupted two weeks ago over an anti-Islam video made in California, administration officials have condemned its crude depiction of the Prophet Muhammad and explained that the government had nothing to do with it. Mr. Obama made a similar point at the United Nations. But he also gave a full-throated defense of the First Amendment right that, in this country, protects even hateful writings, films and speech. “We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can quickly become a tool to silence critics and oppress minorities,” Mr. Obama said. He added that “the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech — the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.” Mr. Obama was right to deliver that message, however foreign it is in much of the Muslim world. The assembled leaders applauded when Mr. Obama said he accepts that, as president, people will call him “awful things every day” and that he will defend their right to do it. But a number of Islamic leaders have recently revived a push for an international ban on blasphemy, which would move in exactly the wrong direction. Mr. Obama’s more pragmatic challenges to Arab Spring countries trying to build new democratic societies may have more impact. He said all leaders must speak against violence and extremism out of obligation to United Nations norms as well as self-interest. “Burning an American flag does nothing to provide a child an education,” he said, and popular outrage can be turned as easily against Muslim leaders, ethnic groups and tribes as America. Mr. Obama also bluntly warned that the politics of anger could damage international cooperation. The United States intends to stay engaged with the struggling Muslim democracies, even after the killing of the ambassador to Libya and three other Americans on Sept. 11. But efforts to deepen trade, economic and other ties “depend on a spirit of mutual interest and mutual respect,” he said. Six weeks before the election, the speech to an audience of world leaders in the United Nations General Assembly hall was as much a domestic political appeal as anything else. President Obama used the commanding venue of the General Assembly to offer a reasonable defense against Mitt Romney’s incoherent critique of his response to the revolutions in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen and to Iran’s nuclear program. There were two fairly big omissions in Mr. Obama’s visit to the General Assembly. He spoke only briefly on areas that need more debate in this campaign — the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Syrian civil war, Afghanistan and Iraq. And while it’s reasonable for Mr. Obama to be in campaign mode, just like Mr. Romney, he is the president. He could have used some of his time in New York to meet privately with world leaders, as presidents usually do. It’s not like he doesn’t have a lot to talk to them about.

Bill Clinton: I don't trust Ahmadinejad

As demonstrators make their views known outside the Iranian president's hotel in New York, former U.S. President Bill Clinton tells CNN he doesn't trust his claims on weapons

په ماشومانو د پوليو او دنورو واکسينونوتطبيق زموږ د ټولو مسووليت دى .

د واکسين دتطبيق په ورځوکې که چيرې ضروري کار هم لرئ، د خپلو ماشومانو د ژوندانه او سلامتيا په خاطر هغوى دواکسين دتطبيق کارکوونکو ته بوځئ او دپوليو واکسين پرې تطبيق کړئ . دغه ټکې دافغانستان داسلامي جمهوريت جمهور رييس حامدکرزي تيره شپه دخپلې پنځلس ورځني راډيويي وينا په ترڅ کې بيان کړ اوزياته يې کړه: په همدې اوونۍ کې دماشومانو دګوزڼ يا دپوليو د واکسيناسيون دمنې دکمپاين لومړۍ دوره پيل شوه او دغه کمپاين ما په خپله دڅو ماشومانو په خوله کې د واکسين دڅانګو په څڅولو سره پيل کړ . جمهور رييس وويل: تر پنځه کلني پورې په ماشومانو کې دماشومتوب ددورې ناروغى موجودې وي، که چيرې واکسين نه شي په دغو ناروغيو اخته کيږي خو له نيکه مرغه دغه ټولې ناروغي واکسين لري اوموږ د واکسين دتطبيق له لارې کولى شو له دغو ناروغيو څخه وژغورو . حامدکرزي څرګنده کړه: دماشومتوب د دورې ډيره خطرناکه ناروغى دماشومانو دګوزڼ يا فلج ناروغى ده، که چيرې ميندې ، پلرونه يا مشران تر پنځه کلني پورې په خپلو ماشومانو د پوليو واکسين تطبيق نه کړي، هغوى دګوزڼ په ناروغى اخته کيږي چې عواقب يې خطرناک دى. پوليو ماشومان معيوبوي او ماشومان د ژوندانه ترپايه پورې له دغه معيوبيت څخه ځوريږي . جمهور رييس دعالمانو، دجوماتونوله امامانو، سپين ږيرو، قومي مشرانو اودهيواد دټولو سيمو له ښوونکو څخه وغوښتل چې دپوليو واکسين په تطبيق کې دې له روغتيايي کارکوونکو او رضاکارانو سره چې په همدې مقصد د دوى سيمو او کليو ته ورځي، مرسته وکړي اوکورني دې دې ته وهڅوي چې په خپلو ماشومانو دپوليو واکسين تطبيق کړي . حامدکرزي له طالبانو څخه هم وغوښتل چې دواکسين دتطبيق مخه ونه نيسي، دلته زه طالبانو ته خطاب کوم او هغوى ته وايم چې په کليو اوبانډو کې دې دواکسين دتطبيق خنډ نه شي، ځکه دهر راز واکسين په تطبيق کې خنډ دهيواد دبچيانو ژوند له جدي خطر سره مخامخ کوي . په ماشومانو دپوليو او دنورو واکسينونو تطبيق زموږ د ټولو مسووليت دي . جمهور رييس دخپلې دغې راډيويي وينا په پاى کې په دې ترڅ کې له ټولو کورنيو څخه يې وغوښتل چې هيڅکله په ماشومانو دپوليو واکسين تطبيق هير نه کړئ؛ وويل: که چيرې له هلوځلو سره سره موبيا هم ونه کړاى شول په ټاکلې ورځ په خپلو ماشومانو دپوليو واکسين تطبيق کړئ په دې صورت کې له ډيل پرته په سملاسي ډول خپل ماشوم ډير نږدې کلنيک ته بوځئ او واکسين څاڅکې پرې تطبيق کړئ .

Obama condemns violence tied to anti-Muslim film

Associated Press
President Barack Obama is condemning an anti-Muslim film and the violence in the Middle East that has followed its release, saying there is "no speech that justifies mindless violence." Obama says in a speech Tuesday before the U.N. General Assembly that "there are no words that excuse the killing of innocent" and "no video that justifies an attack on an embassy." Obama says the video "is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well." The president was speaking in the aftermath of violent protests in the Middle East and North Africa connected to the release of an anti-Muslim video produced in the United States. Four Americans were killed in Libya, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, along with more than 50 others in the violence.

Afghans want peace, but they are caught between forces they can't control

Britain and the US must establish a credible exit strategy or more innocent people will die in pointless acts of violence
On a visit to Afghanistan earlier this month, I spent an afternoon at Skateistan, a project in Kabul that offers some of the poorest children in the world a chance to be children. They come to Skateistan to play, skate and learn. What struck me about these kids was their display of both childish playfulness and a kind of maturity you can only get with years of experience. Fourteen-year-old Khorshid embodied both of these qualities. When I met her – just a few days before she was killed by a suicide bomber – she approached me with a smile and asked if I could skate. When I said no, she immediately offered to show me how. As I tentatively got on the skateboard, propped up by Khorshid and Madina, her friend and fellow skater, she told me not to be scared. This is the reality of people living in Afghanistan. Ordinary people tread the line between life and death every day. When they go out for work, or to buy groceries or to pick up their children from school there is a chance they will die on the way there or on the way back. Eleven years after international troops entered Afghanistan to "liberate" Afghans from the tyranny of the Taliban, Afghans still live in a state of war. There are some things that have changed in the past decade. Returning to Afghanistan after 20 years living abroad, I was glad to see that Kabul, almost completely destroyed by two decades of war, is now rebuilt. The roads are paved and all around you see evidence of industry. Mobile phone companies are advertising their services on giant billboards on the side of the roads and posh supermarkets have sprung up all over Kabul to cater for its expat and foreign populations. There is a bustling rhythm of life in Kabul. But all around there is also sinister evidence of violence. Security checkpoints sit every few hundred metres on streets. You can always hear the roar of military helicopters and planes and for me perhaps the most poignant sign of insecurity was that few women were out on the streets. They don't feel safe and you can't blame them. Suicide attacks, unheard of before 2001, have become a regular occurrence in Kabul. Attacks seem to be completely random and often it is just civilians who perish. Despite this terrible fear and violence that people experience on a daily basis, there is an even greater worry that preoccupies Afghans now. Many believe that the departure of Isaf troops will prompt another bloody civil war. No one is certain of his or her fate after 2014. Talking to Kabulis about the exit of international troops reminded me more of doomsday prophecies you might read about in cult literature than anything else. Even the children at Skateistan were talking about it. When I interviewed Madina, Khorshid's friend, about her life and her future, she talked about her hope for a peaceful Afghanistan where she could go to school and pursue skateboarding. What became clear to me from my interactions there and with other ordinary Afghans is that there is no ideology or group that Afghans feel so strongly about as to warrant them to fight. In fact, many feel that there isn't a single party that represents them or caters for their everyday needs. There is a profound sense of fatigue that comes from being in the middle of powerful forces that they can't control. After three decades of war the Afghan people I spoke to want peace. For this to happen, it is imperative that 2014 does not bring another gory conflict to Afghanistan. But it seems the British government is in danger of limiting its exit strategy to a public relations campaign. If there is going to be peace and stability in Afghanistan, the British and the US administrations must work to create a clear and robust framework for exiting Afghanistan. This must include a viable strategy for negotiating with the Taliban and clear terms for power sharing after the troops leave. Afghanistan needs a credible plan for how to continue reconstruction and the building of its economy; and it must include a plan B: what would happen if parties didn't keep to their end of the bargain. If Afghanistan is left without a realistic plan for peace, it will further jeopardise an already unstable region, threaten our own security and more children like Khorshid will die in brutal and pointless acts of violence.

Punjab govt failed to maintain law & order

Chaudhry Pervez Elahi said criticised Punjab govt over violent protests on Friday. Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhary Pervez Elahi lashed out at Punjab government saying that the provincial government has completely failed to maintain law and order situation. He was addressing a ceremony in connection with 31tst death anniversary of Chaudhary Zahoor Elahi in Gujrat on Tuesday. During his addresss, Pervez Elahi said that federal government always got success with the support of the people and in the coming elections the masses will also support it. Elahi said that the government is committed to fulfill the people s expectations and a number of steps have been taken for the uplift of common man.

33pc Pakistanis living below poverty line: Study

According to conservative estimates, 33 percent of Pakistanis are living below poverty line. This was the finding of report "Clustered Deprivation: District Profile of Poverty in Pakistan" launched by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday. The study conducted by SDPI fills the backlog created by failure of governments to provide poverty estimates for the last 5 years which has created a huge policy vacuum in Pakistan. Even provinces, in post 18th amendment scenario, failed to provide poverty data, analysis and strategies and initiatives in this critical dimension. Speaking at the launch, expert called upon federal and provincial governments to immediately release poverty statistics and revisit policies to address acute poverty in Pakistan. The event also featured a distinguished lecture on "Rediscovering our Common Wealth" by Emeritus Professor, University of Bath, UK. Briefing participants on poverty estimates identified in study, Arif Naveed, Senior Research Associate, SDPI said, according to conservative estimate, 33 percent of household are living below the poverty line in Pakistan with numbers amounting to 58.7 million people. "Balochistan is the poorest of all provinces with 52 percent population living below poverty line, followed by Sindh with 33 percent, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 32 percent and Punjab with 19 percent", the report reveals. Refereeing to 46 percent rural poverty compared with 18 percent urab poverty, the author said, report identifies stark inequalities over the incidence of poverty across regions, between provinces and within each province. The author said that instead of traditional consumption based assessment, the report employs, Multidimensional Poverty Index which is the most comprehensive technique to measure poverty and uses education, health, assets and living conditions as indicators. This gives a theoretically rich data spread across the regions and districts in Pakistan, he added. Highlighting education and health as major drivers, the report calls for greater investments on human development and equitable distribution of public resources across the regions. Arif Naveed urged upon government to adopt multidimensional framework to assess human welfare and revisit rural development strategies in view of higher rates of poverty in rural area. Chairing the session, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI said, poverty should not remain merely a number game for government but requires deliberate measures and paradigm shift to invest on human development. Referring to absolute poverty in conflict ridden Balochistan and Fata, he said, "when poverty and food security take an identity be its ethnic, religious or provincial, it leads to disintegration and destruction of social fabric of society". He cited statistics from this latest SDPI report using multidimensional poverty index and SDPI's Food Security Report 2009 and said, Both of these reports confirmed that out of 20 most poor districts in Pakistan, majority are from Balochistan. Dr. Geof Wood, Emeritus Professor, University of Bath, UK gave a special philosophical lecture on "Rediscovering our Common Wealth" at the occasion. The lecture discussed the issue of sustainability and reflected upon the question that, why should humans care about others not just in the present but in the future as well? He argued that sustainability and long term wellbeing is an equality issue. He said, human's personal sense of wellbeing is reliant upon those around us. Likewise, in the future, the wellbeing of our descendants will depend upon the wellbeing of their contemporaries. Dr Wood speculated on the possibility that mankind may run out of technological responses to solving climate change and other related problems such as food security. This he said, calls for an urgent global social contract for sustainable behaviour. This means precautionary principle in our behavior and sacrifice present consumption for the sake of future, he added. Geof Wood concluded that in the present context of global capitalist crisis, the world may be ready for more regulation to modify present excesses.


The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Raja Pervez Ashraf, had paid a flying visit to the flood devastated areas of Balochistan in Naseerabad Division and made a personal assessment about the losses suffered by the people. According to some reports, more than 100 people lost their lives and over 0.7 million people affected by the flash floods and torrential rains. Most of the people ere rendered homeless and score of them lost their household belongings cattle, livestock and poultry. However, the losses in terms o livestock were small comparing to the floods of 2010 which devastated the entire area and people are yet to recover from the shock of floods of 2010. It was a great natural disaster Balochistan faced in decades. Balochistan is facing the ninth natural disaster during the current decade which included rains, floods, earthquakes, cyclones. With this background, the Prime Minister paid a flying visit to the flood affected areas of Naseerabad Division and made personal assessment about the damages besides the officials briefed him about the extent of devastation in the rains and floods. Thousands of houses were washed away, basic infrastructure destroyed, more than 0.7 people were forced to seek refuge to high grounds to save their lives. The agricultural land is devastated and standing cotton and paddy crops are under several feet of water which is not humanly possible to drain it out in weeks and months. Thus the losses suffered by the people and also the losses in economic terms are estimated to over Rs 20 billions. During the 2010 floods and torrential rains, the economic losses were estimated at Rs 100 billion and there was no matching grant and financial help from the Federal Government. Even the friendly countries were not allowed to provide help to the flood affected people of Naseerabad Division in 2010. This time, there is a changed attitude from the Government of Pakistan as the Prime Minister had announced a package of Rs 2.6 billions for rebuilding the basic infrastructure, repairing roads, bridges and plugging the breaches in the canal. For providing food and other necessities of life to the flood affected, the Prime Minister had allocated Rs 600 million as grant to feed the people. It is a generous help from the Federal Government for the first time as dozens of boats and six helicopters are still engaged in rescue operations taking the marooned people to safer places. The Prime Minister announced Rs four hundred thousands each as compensation to the family who lost a member in the floods. The Prime Minister also asked the NDMA to provide tens of thousands of tents to the flood affected so that they should get some shelter in this natural disaster. The Prime Minister had also issued instructions to the authorities to complete all the on-going development projects of Balochistan on priority basis. He specifically mentioned the construction o basic infrastructure and completion of the Kachhi Canal, the most prestigious irrigation project of Balochistan. Earlier, the Pakistan Army provided ration, flood to the affected people and established a field hospital providing treatment to the affected people at a large scale. In the meantime, the Provincial Government and the local administration made sustainable efforts to rescue and provide relief to the affected people. The Chief Minister Nawab Raisani had issued instructions to the MPAs and Ministers of the area to use their MPA fund for providing relief to the affected people. The Provincial Government had been using its meager resources in providing relief to the people in Naseerabad Division where flash floods and rains played havoc with the local economy. The Chief Secretary remained on his toes during the entire crisis regularly informing the Prime Minister about the level of devastation by floods and rains in Balochistan and sought urgent Federal help to mitigate the human sufferings.


Three people died reportedly after not getting appropriate food in Sohbatpur area of Jaffarabad district which was badly affected during recent torrential rains and floods while flood affectees strongly protested slow pace of relief activities by blocking Balochistan –Sindh Highway. According to sources, three people Sohail Ahmed, Noor and Gul in Panorsari in Subatpur had fallen weak after not getting adequate food and potable water for the past few days and died on Monday. “Deceased did not get medical treatment since a large number of people in Panorsnari, Goth Murad Ali Khosa, Mehopur and other areas are still trapped without food and water”, they sources said, adding that if relief activities were not accelerated more people would be affected of different diseases and starvation. Meanwhile, hundreds of flood affected people staged a demonstration in Dera Murad Jamali against slow pace of relief activities in flood hit Naseerabad and Jaffarabad districts. The protestors blocked Balochistan- Sind Highway by burning used tyres. Protestors were shouting slogans against local administration and provincial government. The police fired several shells of tear gas and fired gunshots in the air to disperse the protestors due to which some protestors, including a local journalist who which covering the demonstration sustained injuries. Balochistan- Sindh Highway remained closed for several hours causing immense difficulties for the motorists. Local leaders, strongly criticized police for firing tear gas on flood affectees who were protesting peacefully and demanded of IG Police Balochistan for action against them.

Balochistan’s Floods:Neglecting the distressed

If one is to learn how to neglect the distressed, he or she is only to watch the act of this nation’s political elite and the grandees of all other hues and stripes. It is for days that flash flooding has been playing havoc with Balochistan’s three districts of Neseerabad, Jaffarabad and Jhal Magsi. The flooding has left them in utter ruins and devastation. Yet the flood-battered of the area are still to surface any compellingly on the radars of the political elite and the self-styled champions of the Baloch people. Mercifully, the prime minister has taken time out to pay them a whistle-stop visit. He has also unfolded for them a special relief package worth Rs.2.6 billion, which though makes not even a mentionable patch on the colossal loss they have suffered from this disastrous flooding. And it isn’t any clear either what would come of this package, given the notoriety the ruling oligarchy led by chief minister Nawab Aslam Riasani in the province has earned for playing ducks and drakes with the public money with impunity for personal enrichment and gains. But at least the prime minister has visited the area, even if belatedly. The other political eminences posing to be the real voice of the people of Pakistan and their true representatives have just not bothered to do even that much, even for form’s sake. They have been addressing rallies, leading protests and demonstrations and what not in every nook and cranny of the country. It is only the flood-devastated areas and their deeply distressed residents that have evaded their interest rigidly. It is the army which is actively engaged in rescue and relief efforts. The provincial administration itself is more conspicuous for its absence than presence in the relief operations. And, quite appallingly, the destroyed area is still to figure on the itinerary of Riasani, that is, if at all he is still present in Quetta and is not on his fond junkets outside the seat of his office. Not even once have his flood-battered people seen of him, whereas it is he who should have been leading the operations personally to rescue them from their distress and provide them every possible relief vigorously. But what is most stunning of all is the muteness of the self-touted champions of the Baloch people. They claim to be the voice of the Baloch people. Yet that voice is totally silent on this Baloch catastrophe. They are so tirelessly voluble about the missing persons. But is this calamity that has befallen the Baloch people any lesser, if not more, horrendous? Scores of residents have just been swept away by the stormy waves, with their fates unknown. Hundreds of thousands of people are still stranded in the flood waters. A lot more have been rendered homeless, with all their belongings, including cattle, having been wiped out. And yet their tragic woe has touched no heart among the so-styled Baloch nationalists. Is it because those eminences see no politics to play in their grief or no brownie points to pick up from talking of their catastrophe? Or, is it that tribal affiliations have overwhelmed a colossal human tragedy? After all, while the grandees of this nationalist clan were making a beeline to the visiting UN rights team “to unburden their hearts”, why none has cared to even speak of the woe of the flood-battered, what to talk of visiting them and sharing their travails? This calamity of the Baloch people has indeed been a great exposer. It has exposed the elites across the spectrum for what they really are: a tribe of imposters, charlatans and opportunists, no friends of the people but mere sharks. Be it the political eminences or the nationalist grandees, they all are the co-travellers, ruthlessly poaching on the human beings to promote their trades. The flood-battered will somehow tide over their distress sooner or later. But the infamy that this tribe has earned by neglecting them will be hard to redeem for times to come, so heartlessly apathetic has it been to their colossal catastrophe.

Zardari: Pak paid biggest price for conflict in Afghanistan

Hindustan Times
Pointing that Pakistan has paid the biggest price for conflict in Afghanistan, President Asif Ali Zardari told US secretary of state Hillary Clinton that peace and stability in his country were tied to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Zardari met US secretary of state Hillary Clinton in New York on Monday on the sidelines of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly.According to a news release issued by Pakistan's mission to the UN, Zardari and Clinton had an in-depth conversation on the way forward in bilateral relations. The two discussed the situation in Afghanistan and how Pakistan and the US could cooperate in helping bring peace and stability in the war-torn country. "No country has paid a higher price for the conflict in Afghanistan than Pakistan," the release quoted Zardari as saying. He said Pakistan was prepared to do everything in its power to help an Afghan owned and Afghan led reconciliation process, the release said. He conveyed to Clinton that peace and stability in Pakistan were tied to peace and stability in Afghanistan. Clinton reiterated the desire of US government to continue working with Pakistan for further strengthening bilateral relations and for peace, stability and socio-economic development of the region. Zardari, who will address the 193-member General Assembly on Tuesday, was accompanied by foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Pakistan's Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman. The two leaders also reviewed recent developments in bilateral ties including the opening of the Ground Lines of Communications, high level contacts between the two sides and signing of MOU on the upgradation of the Peshawar Torkham road. "We should build on the positive momentum," the Pakistani President told Clinton. The supply routes into Afghanistan were reopened by Pakistan after Clinton had in July offered her "deepest regrets" for the deadly cross border attack by NATO last November that had killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan had closed the crucial supply routes following the attack and had demanded the Washington apologise for the NATO attack. The air raid had brought ties between the two countries to new lows after relations soured following the US raid in Pakistan's Abbottabad town in May that had killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

India: A bigger role in Afghanistan on the horizon?

Triangular meet between US, Afghanistan and India in New York this week signals that Washington may look to New Delhi to replace Islamabad in the stabilization effort.
Beijing, New Delhi and Islamabad are wrangling for position in Afghanistan following the US drawdown, the always-interesting C. Raja Mohan writes in the Indian Express. The upshot: A first-ever triangular meeting between leaders from the US, India and Afghanistan this week sends yet another signal the US may look to replace Islamabad with New Delhi in its stabilization plans. "China’s rising profile in Kabul and the prospects for Indo-US cooperation in Afghanistan are rooted in two important structural changes in our neighbourhood," Mohan writes. "One is the declining American military footprint in Afghanistan and the end to the US’s combat role there by 2014. The other is the growing international disappointment with Pakistan’s negative role in Afghanistan." The US pullout means that India and China will have to take responsibility for their own security, and it looks like the action is heating up. "India became the first country to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan a year ago," Mohan notes. "Beijing is the second non-Western power to develop such a partnership with Kabul. During his brief stay in Kabul, Zhou signed a variety of agreements with Afghanistan, including one to 'train, fund and equip' the Afghan security forces." That Beijing is dealing directly with the regime in Kabul, which Mohan calls "despised by [the Pakistani military powers in] Rawalpindi," signals that it's not just the US that's losing faith in Pakistan. "China is no longer willing to put all its bets on the Pakistan army and its proxies, the Taliban and the Haqqani network," Mohan concludes. Meanwhile, "much like China, the US can no longer rely on Pakistan as the sole regional partner in securing and stabilising Afghanistan. Washington is coming to terms with the fact that the contradiction between its interests in Afghanistan and those of the Pakistan army might be irreconcilable," he concludes. Interestingly, Iran may be a partial beneficiary, as India's engagement with Afghanistan also includes "developing transport corridors [through Iran] into landlocked Afghanistan, which today is totally reliant on Pakistan for access to the sea."

Insurgent attacks in Afghanistan declining

Associated Press
The international military coalition in Afghanistan says insurgent attacks have decreased 9 percent in August, compared with the same month last year — a trend that continues a decline after a spike in attacks in May and June. NATO says the shortened poppy harvest in the spring meant that the usual summer fighting season started earlier. The alliance's figures show that insurgent attacks then started decreasing in July and that the trend continued through August. Regionally, attacks decreased in the east and south, but increased in the west and north. Overall, NATO's figures show insurgent attacks are down 5 percent for the year so far, compared with the same period of 2011.

US drone strike kills 5 in North Waziristan

A US drone hit killed at least five people on Monday in Mir Ali area of North Waziristan. According to the security officials, at least five persons were killed when a US drone fired two missiles targeting a compound in Mir Ali area of North Waziristan. “The compound was located in Khaderkhail village, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of Miramshah, which is the headquarters of the North Waziristan tribal district,” the official added.

Hardliners dictated Pakistan protests agenda: analysts

The government’s handling of protests against an anti-Islam film was a risky attempt to cash in on religious sentiment, analysts say, and could fan the flames of extremism in the troubled nation. As anger raged across the Muslim world at the US-made “Innocence of Muslims”, the coalition government led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) declared Friday a public holiday and encouraged people to protest peacefully. But what was officially a “day of love for the prophet” ended in bloodshed and looting, with 21 people killed and more than 200 injured as angry demonstrators clashed with police, smashing up shops, cinemas and fast food outlets in major cities. Compounding the problems for the government, on Saturday Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour offered $100,000 of his own money to anyone who killed the film-maker, urging the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to join the hunt to accomplish what he called the “noble deed”. More than 50 people have died around the world in violence linked to the low-budget movie, which mocks Islam, since the first demonstrations erupted on September 11. But if the government’s intention in calling a public holiday was to take the sting out of the demonstrations on its own doorstep, the policy failed. There had been dozens of rallies against the film, some of which had led to clashes, but nothing on the scale of Friday’s violence. While the number of protesters was relatively small — around 45,000 out of a population of 180 million — many carried the banners of extremist groups, and as often happens in Pakistan, their voices drowned out the forces of moderation. Pakistan is locked in a struggle against militant Islamism on its own soil but its “war on terror” alliance with Washington is unpopular and the government is keen to avoid accusations from opposition parties and hardliners that it is too cozy with Western powers. Political analyst Najam Sethi said the day of protest was a calculated move that backfired. “It was a gamble. They hoped and thought that the demonstrations would be peaceful,” he told AFP. “And even when they saw this could turn violent, they did not do anything, or much, because they’re afraid, as they are already accused of being soft on the West.” Author and analyst Hasan Askari said the events showed the elected government had allowed a small but vocal minority from the religious right to dictate the agenda. “As usual the government played on the wicket of religious elements and lost to them,” he told AFP. “By declaring Friday as a holiday it did not keep the initiative with it. The initiative went in the hands of the religious elements.” Pakistan’s government on Sunday distanced itself from Bilour’s bounty offer but political analyst Rasul Bakhsh Rais said it was further evidence of politicians’ willingness to try to capitalise on religious sentiment. “The statement shows the so-called secular and moderate politicians are using Islam for domestic politics,” Rais said of the reward offer. Bilour’s Awami National Party (ANP) is under pressure from hardline religious groups in the deeply conservative northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where it holds power and where anti-Western feeling runs deep. The bounty was in part an attempt to outflank the religious right, Askari said — to show that the nominally secular ANP can be as hardline as anyone. But efforts by mainstream parties to win support from religious conservatives — to ride the tiger of extremism — are both unlikely to succeed and fraught with risk, warned Rais. “It is typical of the mindset of the leaders to play to the gallery,” he said. “It will encourage religious fanaticism and in the long term it may harm peace and stability at home. Such elements need to be condemned.” Askari said that while Bilour’s offer of a bounty was embarrassing to the government internationally, particularly with President Asif Ali Zardari due to address the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, it was also indicative of a stratum of opinion within the coalition.

Peshawar colleges close doors on IDP students

Students from the tribal areas, who have been displaced by the ongoing military operation, have no place to go for higher education. Despite having submitted all required documents, IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) students from Khyber, Bajaur and Mohmand agencies, who passed their Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) schools, have not been accepted at colleges in Peshawar. “I was discouraged by the discrimination of education bodies in the provincial capital and will not apply for college admission again,” said Sajid Afridi, an IDP from Khyber agency. Muhammad Idrees, a student from Bajaur who scored 758 out of 1,050 marks in the SSC exam, was rejected by Government College Peshawar (GCP) and Islamia College. While another student from Peshawar, who had a lower score than Idrees, was accepted by the same colleges. Idrees said his application was rejected because he didn’t have a Peshawar domicile. Government colleges have 18 reserved seats for tribal students in pre-medical and pre-engineering. In other departments there is a merit system, but Peshawar-based students are given preference. Afridi, who lives at the Jalozai Camp, said his living conditions were very difficult. We have been further deprived of our right to pursue education, he added. “Even after visiting the government college 10 times and talking to administration officials, they said I was not a local and there were no reserved seats for IDP,” he said. College authorities told Afridi to study in his area, but the government college in Bara is closed since the law and order situation deteriorated. Most IDP students are now opting to work as labourers at the camp, Afridi said. Muhammad Khalid, an IDP student from Khyber Agency, attained the top position in Bara despite living in a camp without electricity and other basic needs. Despite all the hard work and effort, he has been being rejected by almost every college in Peshawar. “They rejected my documents saying that there is no place for students from tribal areas,” Khaild said. The IRC is UNICEF’s partner in providing educational facilities to IDP children in camps, said IRC’s field officer, Sadaf Ali, while talking to The Express Tribune. “We run 19 schools at the Jalozai camp, 10 are for boys and nine for girls,” she said, adding that books, bags and stationery are also provided. The matter is being discussed with the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and UNICEF, but nothing has been resolved as yet. The PDMA chief coordinator for IDPs, Faiz Muhammad, said that he has discussed the issue with higher education authorities, which say that the quota for students from tribal areas is full. Considering this, there is no room to adjust IDPs, he said. He added, however, that higher education authorities have promised to increase the quota. “There are two seats per department for students from the tribal areas, which adds to 90 seats in total,” said University of Peshawar PRO Akhar Amin.

109 advisers ‘running’ Punjab govt

Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial was told on Monday that 109 political assistants, advisers, special assistants and coordinators were working in Punjab. The chief justice had ordered the provincial government to tell the court that under which law and rules these assistants and others were appointed by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. The chief justice had also sought explanation from the government that under what law these assistants could interfere in the administrative affairs of the government. As court resumed hearing on Monday, Punjab additional advocate general submitted a list mentioning the appointment of 109 assistants for the government and the chief minister. He added that most of these assistants were working without salary for the government. Petitioner lawyer Rana Mehtab, however, reiterated that only five political assistants could be appointed according to the law, but the chief minister had appointed 109 which had become burden on provincial kitty. He said the court had already declared such appointments as illegal and unlawful. He said these assistants were using government offices and vehicles causing financial loss to the national exchequer. He requested the court to decide the matter at the earliest because the petition was of important nature and pending for the seven months. The petitioner had submitted that the government in a bid accommodate its blue eyed workers had appointed them as assistants against hefty amounts and benefits. Due to financial crunch, it had become hard to run the provincial matters and the government had further burdened the exchequer to accommodate its political workers. He prayed the court to declare illegal the all appointments of unnecessary assistants and sought direction for the government not to make such appointments in future. The court would resume hearing on November 15.

Internet in Pakistan is 'not free'

The Express Tribune News
Government restrictions on the Internet in Pakistan have risen over the past year with some use of violence against bloggers and turn to censorship and arrest to squelch calls for reform, a new report from a US advocacy group has found. Pakistan, Bahrain and Ethiopia saw the biggest rollbacks in Internet freedom since January 2011 and were among the 20 countries out of 47 assessed by Freedom House that declined in their rankings. The report, which gave Pakistan a internet freedom score of 63, and the status of not free, notes that the country bans virtual private networks, shuts down information communication technology nationwide and has a record of arresting bloggers and users for political writing and their deaths in captivity. In contrast Tunisia, Libya and Burma, all countries that have seen dramatic political opening or regime changes, improved over previous years along with 14 other countries, the US group, which advocates democracy and open societies, said. The report was released the day that Vietnam handed out stiff jail terms to three high-profile bloggers for their bold criticism of government handling of land rights issues and corruption. Estonia topped the list of countries for freedom of the Internet with the United States in second place, according to the Freedom House report. The rankings were based on obstacles to Internet access, limits on content and violations of user rights. Estonia has a highly developed online culture that includes online voting and access to electronic medical records and some of the lightest content restrictions in the world, the report found. The United States has fallen behind in Internet speed and cost and broadband availability. Methods for controlling free speech on digital media also have grown more sophisticated and diverse the past year. Governments have passed new restrictive laws in 19 states. In Iran, censors have improved software for filtering content and hacked digital certificates. In 14 countries the governments have followed China’s lead in hiring armies of commentators to manipulate online discussions, the authors said. “As authoritarian rulers see that blocked websites and high-profile arrests draw local and international condemnation, they are turning to murkier – but no less dangerous – methods for controlling online conversations,” said Sanja Kelly, project director for Freedom on the Net. Other findings include: * Physical attacks against government critics are intensifying: In 19 of the 47 countries assessed, a blogger or user of information technologies was tortured, disappeared, beaten, or brutally assaulted for their online posts. In five countries, an activist or citizen journalist was killed after posting information that exposed human rights abuses * Bloggers and ordinary users increasingly face arrest for political speech on the web: In 26 of the 47 countries, including several democratic states, at least one blogger or Internet user was arrested for content posted online or sent via text message. * Surveillance has increased with few checks on abuse in 12 of the 47 countries examined * Citizen pushback has increased and had an impact in 23 countries. Advocacy campaigns, mass demonstrations, website blackouts and constitutional court decisions have resulted in censorship plans being shelved, harmful legislation being overturned and jailed activists being released. The report covered the period from January 2011 to May 2012 and is its third on Internet freedom, based on information from researchers mostly based in the 47 countries.