Monday, October 1, 2012

Obama vs. Romney: Debate Countdown

Japan must not misuse international law

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda talked about the role of the "rule of law" in peaceful settlement of disputes in the general debate of the 67th U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 26, in an attempt to find excuse for Japan's provocation of disputes over territorial land and sea with the international law. Obviously, Noda referred to the Diaoyu Islands issue, though he did not say it directly. Instead of making introspections on the Diaoyu Islands issue, the Japanese government still tries to make full use of the United Nations as a platform to "justify" its violation of norms of international law, infringement upon China's sovereignty and challenging the postwar international order. The move is self-deceiving and absurd. After ignoring historical facts and violating norms of international law, the Noda administration proposes to solve the Diaoyu Islands issue through the international law hypocritically. After the Second World War, the Diaoyu Islands and the affiliated islets have returned to China according to the international law. Japan's current stance on the Diaoyu Islands issue is a blatant denial of victory of the World War against fascism and serious challenge of the postwar international order and such international legal documents as Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Proclamation, which will be strongly condemned by the international community.The escalation of the Diaoyu Islands issue is inseparable from the tolerance of right-wing forces by Noda administration. It uses domestic right-wing forces to "nationalize" the Diaoyu Islands, an inherent part of China's territory, which seriously violates China's sovereignty and disregard the international law and postwar international order. The United Nations is the most authoritative and universally-recognized inter-governmental international organization. The international law and Charter of the United Nations are important foundations for dealing with state-to-state relations and peaceful settlement of international disputes, as well as are widely accepted and observed by the international community. It is really absurd and ridiculous that the Japanese government, which does not respect the international law in bilateral relations, seeks to use the international law to justify its illegal action. The Diaoyu Islands and its affiliated islets are an inherent part of China's territory and China has indisputable sovereignty. If Japanese government attempts to solve the dispute through the international law, it must face up to the history, obey international legal principals and suspend all the moves of violating sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries.

China must advance reform, stick to opening-up, says premier

China must steadfastly advance institutional reforms in economic, political, cultural, social and other fields and stick to the opening-up policy, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Saturday. Addressing a reception marking the 63rd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, Wen said "there is still a long way to go" before China become a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious. President Hu Jintao, senior leaders Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang, Zhou Yongkang and more than 1,200 Chinese and foreign personages were present at the reception. "We must promote socialist democracy and rule of law, uphold social equity and justice, improve the educational and moral standards of our people and achieve freedom and all-round development of the people," said the premier. "While recognizing achievements, we must always keep a cool head," he said, noting that China has witnessed tremendous changes since its founding and especially since the launch of reform and opening up, as well as this year has witnessed new progress in China's reform, opening-up and modernization endeavors. The country is in an important period of strategic opportunities for development, Wen said, stressing that the power of reform and opening-up as well as the persevering spirit of the Chinese nation will lead China to a brighter future. As to the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the premier said that it will be an important meeting "for us to build on past achievements and open up new prospects for future development." He stressed that "we will unswervingly follow the basic line of the Party and stay committed to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics." Wen also reiterated the government's policies on Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, vowing to maintain long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao and to promote peaceful development across the Taiwan Strait. On foreign affairs, the premier said that China will pursue an independent foreign policy of peace and firmly safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

VIDEO: Reports of romance with Bilawal all rubbish, says Hina's husband

Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar's husband industrialist Feroz Gulzar has described as "rubbish" a Bangladeshi tabloid's report that Hina was involved in a romantic relationship with PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto. Feroz Gulzar, speaking to The News, a daily newspaper from Islamabad, said this appeared to be part of a campaign to malign his spouse and create disharmony in their matrimonial life. Hina's husband said, there was no premise for such a trash and for the reason, he could not offer any comment on the so-called social media gossip. An industrialist by profession, Feroz Gulzar is fond of horses and riding.

ICC Women’s T20: Pakistan snatch one-run victory against India
Pakistan Women’s team on Monday defeated India by a run in low scoring thrilling game of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Women’s World T20 played here at Galle International Stadium. In reply to Pakistan’s 98 runs, India were managed to score 97 runs for the lost of eight wickets in 20 overs. Team India needed 3 runs on the last ball of the game but N Niranjana was run out while running for the third run. Nida Dar played key role in the winning by taking three wickets for just 12 run in her four overs while Bismah Maroof took two wickets. Earlier, Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first. They managed to score only 98 runs for the lost of nine wickets. Skipper Sana Mir and middle order batswomen Nain Abidi showed some resistance against Indian bowling attack. Sana Mir was the top scorer with 26 runs and Nain Abidi made 25. India’s Rasanara Parwin, Jhulan Goswami and Anuja Patil took 2 wickets each. Pakistan will take on South Africa in a play-off match on October 3.

Afghan suicide bomber kills civilians and ISAF soldiers

(dpa, Reuters, AFP)
A suicide bomber on a motorcycle has killed more than a dozen people near a market in Afghanistan's eastern city of Khost, including three NATO soldiers and their translator. More than 60 other people were wounded. The office of Khost's governor said the dead also included four Afghan policemen, including the commander of a rapid reaction unit. It said the blast occurred in Khost's Adalat Square. Taliban insurgents in an online message claimed responsibility for Monday's blast. NATO's US-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed the deaths of its three soldiers and the translator but has not yet disclosed their nationalities. The personnel were on foot patrol when attacked. NATO has more than 100,000 troops, including a German deployment, in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban insurgency. A NATO pull-out is scheduled by the end of 2014 with newly trained Afghan forces due to take over security.The Khost bombing follows a firefight on Saturday in the eastern province of Wardak where three Afghan soldiers, a US serviceman and a civilian contractor were killed. The incident was initially described as an "insider attack" but NATO's Lieutenant General Adrian Bradshaw later said it could "possibly have involved insurgent fire." The Afghan defense ministry said it had sent a delegation to investigate. At least 51 foreign soldiers have been killed so far this year in "insider" attacks by Afghan soldiers, up from 35 in all of 2011.

Punjab CM’s rapid bus project leaves citizens thirsting for water

Residents of Ichhra, Samanabad, Rehmanpura and Shama have been facing serious problems related to water supply owing mainly to the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) project that is underway on Ferozepur Road. Residents complained that water supply remains disconnected most of the time. In Ichhra, the situation is worse where supply has not been restored since the month of Ramadan. “There are no men in my house and I have to go fetch water from my neighborhood mosque myself,” said Haneefa, a 56-year-old widow, adding that the government should have made a better plan. Other residents and traders from Ichhra voiced similar complaints. They said that even though they had filed many complaints regarding the issue, not a single government official or the area’s public representatives had visited the area. “We have been running from pillar to post to get our water woes registered with the authorities concerned but all our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. The WASA officials blame the bus project for frequent suspension of water and say they are helpless because it is the chief minister’s own project,” said Sheikh Ahmed, a resident of Shahdin Scheme area of Ichhra. Sajid Malik, a resident of Rehmanpura, added to the list of complaints when he told Pakistan Today that his area often received water that was contaminated with sewage water. He said that they had approached MPA Hafiz Mian Nauman regarding the issue whose only effort was providing a single water tank for the area but even that tank was providing polluted water. Another resident of Rehmanpura, Khalid Raza, told Pakistan Today that the water pipes supplying water to his area were connected to the main pipe from the opposite end. As a result when water was full in all other pipes, it flowed back towards the pipe supplying to his area. “If the other pipes are not full, we don’t get water,” he said, adding that it meant his area got water only from 10pm to midnight during 24 hours. He added that polluted water was causing serious diseases like cholera. Raza also criticized the role of MPA Mian Nauman. “There has been zero effort on Mian Nauman’s part to do something about this serious situation. Only if our MPA lived in his constituency he would know the misery of living without water,” he said. An engineer from the Al Barka Construction Company that was given the contract for the BRTS told Pakistan Today on the condition of anonymity that it was the responsibility of WASA officials to provide them a map of the underground water pipes. “We carried out drilling according to our plan, how were we supposed to know the exact location of the water pipes?” he said. “The authorities want the BRTS completed on time and that is the main focus right now. These side issues can wait for later,” said a WASA engineer, adding that the officials had been barred from talking to the press. “The Punjab government did not make a backup plan for such crisis situation and since BRTS was being flashed all over the media, nobody is ready to take care of these side issues,” he said. “It is a trade off. Elections are near and the government has to finish this project to increase its vote bank.” WASA Ichhra Sub-Division sources said that the SDO had even registered a formal complaint with the Ichhra Police Station against the project contractors for damaging WASA pipelines but no action has been taken so far. They said that the WASA officials were trying their best to mitigate the suffering of the residents but frequent damaging of the WASA water pipelines was worsening the situation. Pakistan Today made repeated attempts to contact MPA Mian Nauman but each time his secretary refused to put the call through to him.

Baloch families losing hope in Pakistan

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, while speaking about the situation in Balochistan, said that Baloch families are losing hope in Pakistan. “We have to stop living in denial’ and cannot let the province bleed like this; we have to take historic measures to address the underlying causes of the challenges in Balochistan,” The News quoted Bilawal, as saying. “Where Musharraf treated the people of Balochistan as enemies of the state’ we see them as an integral part of the state of Pakistan. Unlike the military dictator’ we have not been afraid to stand up against the superpower and shut down the supply routes in protest and permanently shut down the Shamsi Air Base to the Americans,” he added. Bilawal also said that during the tenure of the PPP government’ the economy has withstood the global economic catastrophe’ natural disasters and the menace of terrorism, despite many challenges.


More than 0.8 million people are serious affected in rains and floods in three major districts of canal irrigated region of Naseerabad and Jhal Magsi where hundred people lost their lives during the past two weeks. The affected people claimed that they had received food and some eatables 15 days after the disaster lashed the region one again in two years. It is a serious charge as the Government was busy in change of guards posting Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner a few days before the relief operations started. The Pakistan Army extended its rescue operations from nearby Jacobabad and Rajanpur Districts to Naseerabad Division on Balochistan using several helicopters and about a dozen boats to take the marooned people to the safer places or higher ground. It is the second disaster that had lashed Naseerabad Division and Jhal Magsi in two years time. The Government failed to come to the expectations of the affected people during the 2010 rains and floods and the affected people are still shelter less and having no means of livelihood for the past two years. The level of disaster was much greater in 2010 than during the current year as more people were affected and destruction of property, livestock, household belongings and poultry was great. We thought that the Government and its agencies are better organized this time serving the people in a more efficient manner. But it was a complete disappointment that the Government is handling the task single handedly disallowing the NGOs to provide relief to the affected people presumably for political reasons. Some Government leaders thought that the Government earned a bad name and the NGOs were praised for their marginal work, both in relief and rehabilitation fields. There role was zero in rescue operations as they had no means and manpower to undertake massive rescue operation. Only Army can do the job and even the district administration is helpless in natural disaster. With the creation of National Disaster Management Authority, hopes were raised that the State will be better organized and equipped to deal with floods, rains, earthquakes, cyclones and even in manmade disaster. But it is a distant dream of some people that NDMA and PDMA will perform all the jobs relieving the Army and defence forces from jobs of rescue and relief operations in case of natural or manmade disasters. We have suggested in these columns in the recent past that the Government should establish several major disaster management centers in Sibi, Dera Murad Jamali, Khuzdar, Turbat, Kharan, Loralai and Awaran where all equipment should remain available and the police and Levies forces be trained in rescue and relief operation at the local level. There should be technical training for the personnel from Police, Levies and Balochistan Constabulary even at the District level to meet the future challenges.

More action needed on Pak sanctuaries

The top US commander in Afghanistan has said that the situation in Afghanistan is better than it was, but more needed to be done about the sanctuaries in Pakistan. In an interview with CBS Television on Sunday, General John Allen
maintained that the sanctuaries are a policy issue between the US and Pakistani governments to work out. “I’m not going to be able to wage war in Pakistan,” the general added. Responding to a question, Gen Allen said he is ‘mad as hell’ about insider attacks in Afghanistan following a firefight between NATO troops and their Afghan allies that killed five people in the latest incident. ISAF commander General John Allen told CBS that insider attacks were unacceptable. “I’m mad as hell about them, to be honest with you,” he said. “We’re willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign, but we’re not willing to be murdered for it.” Gen Allen said that just as homemade bombs had become the signature weapon of the Iraq war, he believed that in Afghanistan, “the signature attack that we’re beginning to see is going to be the insider attack”. At least 51 coalition troops have been killed in such assaults this year - about 15 per cent of all NATO deaths - and the top ISAF general has described them as ‘the signature attack’ of the Afghan war. The scale of the insider assaults is unprecedented in modern warfare, and has seriously undermined trust between NATO coalition forces and their Afghan allies in the joint effort against Taliban insurgents. Asked if he could explain the increase in such treacherous attacks, the general replied “Well, I’m mad as hell about them, to be honest with you. We’re going to go after this. It reverberates everywhere across the United States.” The murder will continue, predicted Allen. “The enemy recognises this as a vulnerability,” he said. The Taliban claim to be behind the attacks. One of its commanders told CBS “These are Taliban attacks. This is part of our new military strategy; we have people in the Afghan police and the army.” “There are many groups that have Al-Qaeda members. We can’t do this without them,” the Taliban commander said. Besides teaching them to make IEDs, he said they are weapons experts. “When our weapons break, they are the ones who repair them.” Talking to the CBS, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that he is saddened by these attacks and takes responsibility to correct them. But he was disappointed with the fact that Pakistan is still a sanctuary for foreign fighters 11 years after 9/11. He further said Arabs and Chechens are present on the Afghan battlefield, still able to kill US and Afghan soldiers. “Name them Al-Qaeda, name them Haqqani, name them Taliban. They’re still there,” he added. “I know that a lot of innocent people die every day. The question is what have we done wrong that they are still able to hurt and damage people?... That is the question that I have engaged with the United States almost daily.” Gen Allen said the situation in Afghanistan is better than it was, but more needs to be done about the sanctuaries in Pakistan. “The relationship that we have between ISAF forces and the Pakistani military has improved dramatically.”

Drone strike kills three militants in Miranshah
A drone strike targeting a vehicle killed at least three militants in a restive Miranshah tribal region near the Afghan border on Monday, security officials said. The strike took place in the Khaider Khel area of Mir Ali district, 30 kilometres (18 miles) east of Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan tribal region. "Drones fired four missiles on a militant vehicle, killing three rebels," a security official told AFP. He said that several drones were flying in the area at the time of the attack. Another security official confirmed the attack and casualties and said the identities of the militants killed in the strike was not immediately clear.

Pakistan: In twist, Muslims accused of blasphemy

Associated Press
Pakistan's blasphemy laws may be used to punish Muslims suspected of ransacking a Hindu temple, an intriguing twist for a country where harsh laws governing religious insults are primarily used against supposed offenses to Islam, not minority faiths. The blasphemy laws, sections of which carry the death penalty or life imprisonment, have drawn renewed international scrutiny this year after a young Christian girl in Islamabad was alleged to have desecrated the Muslim holy book, the Quran. A Muslim cleric now stands accused of fabricating evidence against the girl, who has been freed on bail and whose mental capacity has been questioned. Police officer Mohammad Hanif said Sunday the anti-Hindu attack took place Sept. 21. The government had declared that day a national holiday — a "Day of Love for the Prophet" — and called for peaceful demonstrations against an anti-Islam film made in the U.S. that has sparked protests throughout the Muslim world. Those rallies took a violent turn in Pakistan, and more than 20 people were killed. Hanif said dozens of Muslims led by a cleric converged on the outskirts of Karachi in a Hindu neighborhood commonly known as Hindu Goth. The protesters attacked the Sri Krishna Ram temple, broke religious statues, tore up a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture, and beat up the temple's caretaker, Sindha Maharaj. "The attackers broke the statues of (Hindu deities) Radha, Hanuman, Parwati and Krishna, and took away the decorative gold ornaments," Maharaj said. "They also stormed my home and snatched the gold jewelry of my family, my daughters." Maharaj and other Hindu leaders turned to the police, who registered a case against the cleric and eight other Muslims. But none of the suspects had been found as of Sunday, police said. Officials said the case against the attackers was registered under Section 295-A of the blasphemy laws, which covers the "outraging of religious feelings." That section of the law can apply to any religion and carries a fine or up to 10 years imprisonment. The Asian subcontinent's British rulers originally framed blasphemy laws partly to prevent violence between Muslims and Hindus. Muslim-majority Pakistan was carved out of India in 1947, and under the military rule of Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, a fervent Islamist, the statutes covering blasphemy were toughened in the 1980s. Area police chief Jaffer Baloch said authorities were simply considering the Hindus' complaint under the relevant section of the law. Islam's Prophet Muhammad "teaches us to respect others' religions so that ours shall also be respected," he said. "Like us, Hindus have their own faith and religion and they do have sentiments for their Bhagavad and gods." Human rights activists say Pakistan's blasphemy laws are too broad and vague, and are often used by people who are trying to settle scores with rivals or target religious minorities, who make up 5 percent of Pakistan's 180 million people. Although many Muslims are accused of insulting Muhammad or other acts deemed blasphemous, minorities are disproportionately represented among the defendants, rights groups say. Hindus and Christians are among prominent minorities who fear the blasphemy laws. Also frequently blamed for blasphemy are Ahmadis, who consider themselves Muslims but are reviled as heretics by mainstream Muslims. Pakistan is not known to have actually executed anyone for blasphemy, and while courts often set the accused free on technical grounds or other reasons, many extremists have killed people who were let go by judges. Even speaking out against the blasphemy laws can put people in danger. Two prominent politicians, including the sole Christian member of the federal Cabinet, were assassinated in 2011 for urging reform of the law. The politicians, Punjab province Gov. Salmaan Taseer and Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, had spoken out in defense of Asia Bibi, a Christian sentenced to death in 2010 for allegedly insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Bibi, whose case prompted international criticism, is believed to be the first woman condemned to die under the statute and remains in prison. The laws retain broad support in Pakistan, where Islamic conservatism is on the rise alongside extremism and Muslims are highly sensitive about their faith. Taseer's killer, for instance, was hailed as a hero in many quarters. Thousands of people rallied to support him, and lawyers showered him with rose petals. Many human rights activists, partly out of their own security concerns, have tempered their demands: years ago, they used to call for the blasphemy laws' repeal, but now they say the laws should be reformed to prevent misuse. Even leaders of minority religious groups have often said they support the law but simply do not want to see it abused. Although there's no sign that the weak civilian government plans to amend the law, the case of the Christian girl has brought some hope that sentiments about it may change. Even some Islamist clerics sympathized with the girl, whose age has been said to be 14 or younger and who may be developmentally disabled. Witness claims that a Muslim cleric stashed pages of a Quran in the girl's bag to make it seem as if she burned them have added to the sympathy for her. The cleric is accused of planting the evidence to push Christians out of the neighborhood and is now being investigated for blasphemy himself. He denies any wrongdoing.

Flood-ruined Balochs

Had it to be a provincial minister to remind the Balochistan MPAs and his cabinet colleagues that the rain flooding has ruined their Baloch compatriots in eastern Balochistan and that they have to do their part for their relief? In a passionate appeal, Minister Jan Ali Changezi asked them to chip in with a part of their funds. And quite a hefty sum it is, running into billions of rupees that these excellencies have divvied up between themselves on the pretext of development of their constituencies. And what was their response? Promptly they instead adopted a resolution calling upon the federal government to provide Rs. 15 billion for the succour and rehabilitation of the flood-devastated people. What a hypocrisy! And what an insensitivity! But why has the Baloch commoner become such a disposable nonentity in Balochistan? The flooding has left in utter ruins the districts of Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Dera Bugti, Jhal Magsi and Musakhel. And the worst hit are the rural folks, who have suffered casualties in scores. Their villages in dozens and homes in thousands have been wiped out. Their cattle in hundreds have been swept away. Hundreds of thousands of them are still stranded in flood waters. And the flooding has washed off neatly standing crops over a sprawling land of 700,000 acres. By every reckoning, this is a colossal catastrophic devastation. Yet it has touched no hearts among the province’s elites and has become no part of any six-points of the eminences impersonating as the Baloch leaders. Why indeed has the Baloch commoner become such an orphan that even his most painful woe goes wholly ignored and unmourned by those who pose themselves to be the voice of the Baloch people? The present provincial assembly is stocked up with a bevy of sardars, self-styled nationalists and holy clerical fathers, who all, barring a few, also make up the incumbent provincial ministry. Yet no cries of compassion or sympathy for these woe-begone flood-battered have oozed out of the assembly chambers or the government corridors. Only the military is seen engaged in rescue and relief works. The provincial administration seems to have taken upon itself the job of only blurting out the statistics of flood damages. It has left the flood-battered largely to fend for themselves. And if those in the provincial ministry and assembly are so neglectful of these distressed flood-devastated, those sitting outside posing to be the real champions of the Baloch people have just turned a blind eye to this great human tragedy. They are acting as if not a disastrous flooding is devastating the eastern Balochistan but just a water pipeline has burst out in some city part. They are wholly mum, mouthing not even a word of concern, leave alone compassion or sympathy, over the doleful plight of the flood-battered. They are deafeningly vocal over the missing persons phenomenon, but keeping their tongues tied over the unenviable predicament of the flood-ruined, which is no lesser, if not more, painful. Maybe, they see no profit in dwelling upon the catastrophe of the flood-battered. In any case, they could be excused. Their humanitarianism, after all, is, quite evidently, very selective and very motivated. They only cry over the missing Balochs. But cry not for the Balochs murdered by the insurgent groups in terrorist or vindictive strikes. They spare no tear at all even for the Baloch children and women killed or maimed in the insurgents’ landmine and IED blasts. Obviously, they think killing of the Baloch people by the insurgent groups is kosher and heroic. Or, maybe these groups have some soft niches among the elitist class passing itself as the real leadership of the Baloch people and their true voice. Be that as it may, why the people, say, in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are so inert in coming to the aid of their fellow Baloch compatriots in distress? Why no relief truck convoys of theirs are making a beeline to the flood-battered eastern Balochistan? Why no relief goods collection centres for the flood-ruined Balochs have come up in every nook and cranny of their two provinces? If the Baloch sardars, touting themselves up as the leaders of Baloch people, and if the self-styled Baloch nationalists, posing themselves to be the true voice of the Baloch people, are so apathetic to this huge humanitarian catastrophe, do they also have to be? And if the political elites, the civil society and the relief agencies of their provinces are wholly unconcerned about this Baloch catastrophe, do they also have to be? Their flood-hit Baloch compatriots are in a very pathetic condition. And they must move wholeheartedly to come to their rescue.