Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2012 Hempstead Presidential Debate Highlights

Obama, Romney bicker in presidential debate rematch

Obama: "What Governor Romney said just isn't true"


Obama strong, and so is Romney in second debate

President Barack Obama fought back and Republican challenger Mitt Romney mostly stood his ground.
A forceful Obama defended his record and challenged Romney on shifting positions in the 90-minute debate, arguing his Republican rival's policies would favor the wealthy if elected. Romney repeatedly attacked Obama's record, saying millions of unemployed people and sluggish economic recovery showed the president's policies had failed. Obama was more animated and engaging than his understated and widely panned performance in their first debate nearly two weeks ago.He and Romney, who also aggressively made his points, walked the floor at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, holding microphones, raising their voices and repeatedly challenging each other's points. "Governor Romney says he's got a five-point plan. Governor Romney doesn't have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules," Obama said about his opponent's approach for boosting the economy. Romney shot back that Obama was "great as a speaker, but his policies don't work." "That's what this election is all about," Romney said, saying he would prioritize middle class growth. "It's about how we can get the middle class of this country a bright and prosperous future."However, Romney failed to provide further specifics of his tax policy, even when one audience member asked about unspecified deductions and loopholes the candidate says he will eliminate. On a sensitive foreign policy topic, the candidates clashed at the front of the stage over the September 11 terrorist attack in Libya that killed four Americans, with Romney suggesting the Obama administration played politics by failing to immediately acknowledge what happened. Obama shot back that the suggestion anyone in his administration would play politics on such an issue was "offensive." When Obama said he called it a terrorist attack shortly afterward, Romney challenged him, and Obama responded "check the transcript."Moderator Candy Crowley, the CNN chief political correspondent, cut in to say both men were right -- Obama called it a terrorist attack when he said he did, but the administration took longer to fully explain what occurred. Unlike the first presidential debate, the format was town hall-style, with audience members asking the questions. Crowley was the first woman to serve as moderator of a presidential debate in 20 years. The first question came from a 20-year-old college student, worried about whether he'd be able to support himself after graduation. "More debt and less jobs. I'm going to change that. I know what it takes to create good jobs again," Romney said, addressing the first-time voter. "When you come out in 2014 -- I presume I'm going to be president -- I'm going to make sure you get a job."Obama needed a strong debate to try to blunt Romney's rise in the polls since their first showdown in Denver, when analysts and polls indicated the GOP challenger won a clear victory. The most recent CNN "poll of polls" -- an aggregate of the latest major surveys -- showed Romney with a slight edge nationally at 48%-47%. In the battleground states considered up-for-grabs, polls show Romney has narrowed Obama's lead or caught the president just three weeks before the election. The Obama campaign conceded he had a bad night in the first debate and promised a more aggressive approach in New York. A third and final debate focusing on foreign policy will take place October 22 in Florida. Polls show voters consider the economy to be the most important election issue.Unemployment fell below 8% in September for the first time since the month Obama took office in 2009. However, millions remain out of work and U.S. economic growth is anemic. Romney and his campaign have sought to frame the election as a referendum on Obama's presidency, citing joblessness, slow recovery from the recession and chronic federal deficits and debt as reasons to deny a second term. For their part, Obama and Democrats have tried to make the election about competing visions for the future. They argue Republican proposals to repeal major legislation, such as health care and Wall Street reforms, while cutting government and expanding tax cuts without identifying additional revenue sources would stall a sluggish but steady recovery.

In denial over Malala

If there is anything more chilling than a teenage girl being shot in the head for merely demanding that she and other girls should be allowed to attend school, it is the twisted mindset that has buried the targeted attack on Malala Yousafzai in conspiracy theories. The initial outrage across Pakistan at the targeted shooting of the 14-year-old by the Taliban has degenerated into a slanging contest between ‘us’ and ‘them’. The ‘us’ are those who, at their generous best, see her shooting as ‘collateral damage’ — an inevitable by-product of drone attacks and Pakistan’s partnership in the U.S.-led war on terror.
At their cynical worst, they see it as a western conspiracy to pressure Pakistan into conducting a military operation in North Waziristan. Some even claim the shooting was staged, and portray Malala and her father as western agents. On the other side are ‘them’, Pakistanis filled with revulsion that some of their fellow countrymen could target a child. But their hope that this would be a turning point has been belied; the ‘us’ are walking away with the narrative. The past few days have seen the reactivation of propagandists of the Pakistani establishment. Ironically, they did so at a time the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which claimed the shooting, began to feel the heat of public anger against it.
Once again, an opportunity to mould opinion against terrorism in Pakistan has come and gone. Clearly, it is not easy to abandon a studiously created narrative of a citadel of Islam that is built on the denial of geographical and historical moorings and an over-eagerness to align itself with the culturally alien Arab world. The Pakistan military has tried to sound committed to fighting terrorism, but it will take more than a few speeches by the Chief of Army Staff. Indeed, no one is convinced that the security establishment has turned its back on its strategic assets. Conveniently, the Army has declared it is for the political leadership to decide on a North Waziristan operation, knowing full well the limitations of these leaders, that too, in the months before a general election. There is no gainsaying that the civilian leadership should be more assertive, but it is also no secret that the current dispensation exchanged its right to frame security policy with the military for its survival. A year ago, an all-party meeting offered an olive branch to the Taliban as part of a ‘give-peace-a-chance’ strategy but in vain. The number of terror strikes has dropped but the clock continues to tick in the form of the quiet but steadily creeping radicalisation of society that provides terrorism its ideological space. It will take more than an operation in remote North Waziristan to deal with that.

N. Waziristan operation put on hold again?

Soon after the unconscious teenage activist, Malala Yousufzai, flew out of the country for treatment in the United Kingdom, all the hype about long anticipated North Waziristan operation surreptitiously began to dissipate. Expediencies, both on civilian and military side, emerged as the roadblock to any major operation for clearing North Waziristan — home to a variety of terrorist groups where the army had all through the decade of war on terror avoided going on one pretext or the other. But, strikingly the military looked to be passing the buck for the crunch time dithering to the civilian leadership. Talking to journalists on Monday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik conceded that no operation in the area was being planned. His response followed military’s statement over the weekend that a political decision was needed to launch the offensive for dislodging Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TPP) and its local affiliates from their headquarters in the tribal agency, where they moved in 2007 after being targeted by the army in South Waziristan and elsewhere in Fata. The army, while putting the ball in the civilian leadership’s court, had noted that its commanders had time and again reiterated their resolve to rid the country of the menace. No mention, however, was made to the longstanding stance of the army that it would enter North Waziristan at a time of its own choosing or whether the moment had arrived. Back to back statements by Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, after Malala shooting, on carrying on the fight against terrorism were taken as a pointer to a looming operation in Waziristan. What missed everyone’s sight while reading the army’s new found resoluteness was that beyond the rhetoric timed to match the national angst, nothing was said of the army’s assessment of the situation crossing the threshold. Erroneous as it may be, the obvious inference drawn from the arising situation is that the government ultimately balked at the proposal for going all out against virulent militant groups holed up in North Waziristan. Sceptics, however, say the military didn’t at any stage unequivocally indicated that North Waziristan operation was inevitable. Had it done so everyone would have fallen in line, they observed and pointed to previous military offensives in Swat, Bajaur and elsewhere. The government’s disclosure that it wasn’t contemplating North Waziristan operation coincided with a resolute fightback by the right wingers to regain the space lost due to sudden outpouring of sympathy for Malala after the TTP attacked her in Mingora last Tuesday. Military-backed groups like Difa-i-Pakistan Council, which had been hibernating since the impasse over Nato supply routes was resolved in July, suddenly sprung back into action to oppose the proposed military operation. Some analysts believe that the DPC’s return itself suggested that either there were differences within the army on the issue or the army through its tough statements only meant to mollify revulsion against Taliban. A military commander, who previously served in the region, insisted that it was only the political will that was lacking and there were no other operational obstacles. He pointed out that despite overwhelming grief and anger over the assassination bid on Malala, a national consensus could not be achieved. “It’s not only about the operation. There have to be large number of IDPs (internally displaced persons) and other implications for which there should be clear political backing.” Asked what was preventing the political parties from agreeing on the military operation, he said it were only the political expediencies. “You know we are into the election year and no political party wants to hurt its prospects.” He emphasised that once the political decision is in place other challenges could be addressed. The army, which for long avoided taking on militants in North Waziristan because of strategic compulsions, doesn’t want to be seen as obstructing the operation in view of the world’s anti-terror resolve. In addition to TTP, which is based in and around Mirali, and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, North Waziristan plays host to Haqqani Network, Al Qaeda and a number of other foreign fighters mostly from Arab and Central Asian countries.

Latest Medical Report On Malala

Shot Pakistani girl responding well to treatment
A teenage Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting girls' education has responded well to treatment and impressed doctors with her strength, the British hospital where she was being treated said Tuesday. Experts are optimistic that 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai, who was airlifted Monday to Britain to receive specialized medical care, has a good chance of recovery because unlike adults, the brains of teenagers are still growing and can adapt to trauma better. "Her response to treatment so far indicated that she could make a good recovery from her injuries," the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in central England's Birmingham said in a statement. Despite the early optimism, the full extent of Malala's brain injuries has not been made public and outside experts cautioned it is extremely unlikely that a full recovery of all her brain's functions can be made. Instead, they could only hope that the bullet took a "lucky path" — going through a more "silent," or less active — part of the brain. "You don't have a bullet go through your brain and have a full recovery," said Dr. Jonathan Fellus, chief scientific officer at the New Jersey-based International Brain Research Foundation. Malala was returning home from school in Pakistan last week when she was targeted by the Taliban for promoting girls' education and criticizing the militant group's behavior when they took over the scenic Swat Valley where she lived. Two of her classmates were also wounded in the attack and are receiving treatment in Pakistan. She arrived Monday in Britain, where she can be protected from follow-up attacks threatened by the militants. The Taliban have threatened to target Malala again because she promotes "Western thinking." There was some concern for the teenager's safety Tuesday when police stopped and questioned two people who tried to visit Malala, but hospital officials and police stressed there was no threat to the girl's safety. The two people, who claimed to be Malala's relatives, were turned away. "We think it's probably people being over-curious," hospital spokesman Dr. Dave Rosser said. Pakistani doctors at a military hospital earlier removed a bullet from Malala's body that entered her head and headed toward her spine. The military has said she was able to move her legs and hands several days ago when her sedatives were reduced. They have not said whether she suffered any brain damage or other permanent damage. On Monday, the military said damaged bones in Malala's skull will need to be repaired or replaced, and she will need "intensive neuro rehabilitation." The decision to send the girl abroad was taken in consultation with her family, and the Pakistani government will pay for her treatment. Doctors say Malala has an advantage because teens are generally healthier and their bodies have a stronger ability to react to the disruption that the injury causes. "It helps to be young and resilient to weather that storm," Fellus, at the International Brain Research Foundation, said. "Because her brain is continuing to develop at that age, she may have more flexibility in the brain." There's also a psychological aspect to why youngsters have a better shot at recovery. While injured adults often mourn the loss of what they had, teens don't know what they are missing. "They have an amazing capacity for hope," Fellus said. In Malala's case, her strong personality would also help her recover, he added. Still, experts cautioned that it is impossible to say how Malala will do without knowing the path of the bullet and what damages it caused, details that have not been released. "The brain is like real estate," said Dr. Anders Cohen, chief of neurosurgery at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York. "Location is everything. "Based on the information we have, it appears that Malala was shot from the front down diagonally, but we don't know what part of the brain the bullet went through, whether it crossed the midline and hit any vessels, or whether the bullet passed through the right or left side of the brain." The attack on the girls horrified people in Pakistan and across the world. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said Malala had become "a symbol of all that is good in us." "The work she did is far higher before God than that which is being done by terrorists in the name of religion," he said at the Economic Cooperation Organization Summit in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. "We will continue her bright work." Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik has announced a $1 million bounty for Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan, saying he was the one who announced that the Taliban carried out the attack on Malala.

Angelina Jolie: We All Are Malala

On Wednesday morning, as we readied the kids for school amidst a few of the usual complaints about not wanting to go, I saw a headline on the cover of The New York Times: Taliban Gun Down a Girl Who Spoke Up for Rights. The Taliban claimed that 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai “ignored their warnings, and she left them no choice.” They approached her school bus, asking for her by name, and shot her in the head for promoting girls’ education.After reading the article, I felt compelled to share Malala’s story with my children. It was difficult for them to comprehend a world where men would try to kill a child whose only “crime” was the desire that she and others like her be allowed to go to school. Malala’s story stayed with them throughout the day, and that night they were full of questions. We learned about Malala together, watching her interviews and reading her diaries. Malala was just 11 years old when she began blogging for the BBC. She wrote of life under the Taliban, of trading in her school uniform for colorless plain clothes, of hiding books under her shawl, and eventually having to stop going to school entirely. Our 8-year-old suggested that the world build a statue for Malala, and fittingly create a reading nook near it. Our 6-year-old asked the practical question of whether Malala had any pets, and if so, who would take care of them? She also asked about Malala’s parents and if they were crying. We decided that they were, but not only for their daughter, also for children around the world denied this basic human right. Like Malala, her parents are icons of bravery and strength. Malala’s father, also a long time champion for girls’ education, is a school principal, teacher, and poet.The following morning, the news showed pictures of children across Pakistan holding up Malala’s picture at vigils and demonstrations, and praying in schools. My son worried that girls were going to be shot for standing up for Malala. I told him that they were aware of the danger, but publicly supporting her reflects how much Malala means to them. Malala’s courage reminded all Pakistanis how important an education is. Her bravery inspired their own. Still trying to understand, my children asked, “Why did those men think they needed to kill Malala?” I answered, “because an education is a powerful thing.” The shots fired on Malala struck the heart of the nation, and as the Taliban refuse to back down, so too do the people of Pakistan. This violent and hateful act seems to have accomplished the opposite of its intent, as Pakistanis rally to embrace Malala’s principles and reject the tyranny of fear. A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban said “let this be a lesson.” Yes. Let this be a lesson—that an education is a basic human right, a right that Pakistan’s daughters will not be denied.As girls across Pakistan stand up to say “I am Malala,” they do not stand alone. Mothers and teachers around the world are telling their children and students about Malala, and encouraging them to be a part of her movement for girls’ education. Across Pakistan, a national movement has emerged to rebuild the schools and recommit to educate all children, including girls. This terrible event marks the beginning of a necessary revolution in girls’ education. Malala is proof that it only takes the voice of one brave person to inspire countless men, women, and children. In classrooms and at kitchen tables around the world, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters are praying for Malala’s swift recovery and committing themselves to carry her torch. As the Nobel Committee meets to determine the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, I imagine brave Malala will be given serious consideration.

Clinton hopes Malala attackers will be brought to justice

Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday said Pakistan's young children had every right to go to school and hoped the militants who attacked a teenaged activist -- for promoting girls' education -- will be brought to justice. Malala Yousufzai, 14, the Pakistani peace activist who spoke for the need for girls' education was shot in the head by Taliban militants in Swat Valley. She was first attended to by Pakistani military doctors and was transferred to the UK for prolonged medical care. "I think that the people of Pakistan are saying what needs to be said so eloquently now that children, boys and girls, deserve to go to school; they deserve to have the chance to make the best of their God-given potential, to make a contribution to their society," Clinton told the NBC news. "Any country that doesn't stand up against extremism in order to protect its children has to really take a hard look, and I think that's what's happening in Pakistan," she said. "I certainly hope so because there are so many thousands of young girls who deserve to go to school, who deserve to have an education, and those who are committing these terrible acts of violence need to be brought to justice," Clinton said.

Refugees in limbo after years of Pakistan fighting

Associated Press
This sprawling complex of tents housing tens of thousands of Pakistanis is home for Miza Khan and his family. The tents provide little relief from the scorching summers and the frigid winters. It's been that way for three years now. Like the other refugees, the Khans fled fighting between Pakistani troops and militant groups including the Taliban and al-Qaida in the mountainous areas near the border with Afghanistan. "I came here thinking it would be a few months, but three years have gone by," Khan said while sitting by the side of a dirt road running through the Jalozai refugee camp. "If there were peace today, I would go back." But there is no peace. Although Pakistan has been reluctant to root out militants who carry out attacks against U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan, it has shown much less hesitation in going after insurgents who aim instead to topple the government in Islamabad.
It is a battle that has come at great cost to Pakistan, something not always recognized by critics who say the country is not doing enough in the war on terror. Some 30,000 people have been killed by the bloody insurgency in the country's northwest, which includes the seven tribal regions and the nearby Swat Valley. Roughly 5 million people have had to flee their homes because of Taliban militants and Pakistani operations against them in both the tribal regions and the Swat Valley. Those who have returned often find destroyed homes, a lack of jobs and a militarized landscape marked by checkpoints, curfews and the threat of renewed Taliban attacks. About 1 million still cannot go back, and still more are fleeing as operations against the militants continue. About 90 percent of the displaced people rent houses or live with relatives, making it challenging for the government or aid agencies to get them often urgently needed supplies. It's unknown how many have found jobs. Roughly 65,000 refugees from the tribal regions are currently living at Jalozai, a Pakistani government camp about 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of Peshawar and run with the help of international aid agencies. It's one of three camps in the country for Pakistanis displaced by the fighting. Many residents complain that the food rations are not enough, especially when they have large families. Taj Ghul, from the Khyber tribal region, said he and his extended family have been supplementing their rations with food he's able to purchase only by selling the family's vehicles. "That's all gone in the stomach. There's nothing left," he said. Still, hardly anyone regrets leaving their home. Azrath Khan, 60, said he fled the embattled Khyber town of Bara about a year ago. "Even before the government started its operation (in Khyber) the main problem with the Taliban was that they were kidnapping whoever was a little wealthy — and for the poor, the Taliban were pushing them to get along with them," Khan said. Others spoke of how the Taliban tried to enforce their own brand of religious justice, often forcing men to grow beards and beheading or hanging opponents. But refugees also were critical of the Pakistani military, saying soldiers had little regard for civilians caught in the crossfire. If the militants fire one mortar shell, the army fires 50 shells in response, said Miza Khan. A Pakistani military official who has served in the tribal areas said this was an exaggeration and that the military is disciplined in its use of firepower. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters on the issue. Returning home can also be fraught with difficulty. People usually get six months of food from the World Food Program and compensation from the government if their houses or property were destroyed in the fighting. But many complain that the compensation is delayed. Many report that schools and hospitals have been destroyed or that the doctors or teachers have not returned. The civilian government's presence has never been especially strong in the tribal regions, one of the country's least developed areas. Zahid Mahsud said when he returned about a year ago to his home in South Waziristan he saw that the military had built markets and was renovating damaged schools. But he's still waiting for compensation for his destroyed house. Others complained about the military's presence. Abdul Sattar, who returned with his five children to his South Waziristan home last month after three years as a refugee, said soldiers remain everywhere. "We are facing great difficulties because of army checkpoints and their checking procedures. Sometimes we cover a distance of an hour in almost four hours," he said. "Peace is in the area, but this peace is like you are in jail."

Sitara-e-Shujaat for Malala

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has announced that Sitara-e-Shujaat (medal of courage) will be awarded to 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban for speaking against them. Malik was in Swat on Tuesday where he visited Malala’s school and announced the award for her. He also visited the other two girls injured in the incident. He also promised them compensation. The minister, speaking at the school, said that Malala was a symbol of bravery. Malala received a bullet injury in her head and is currently being treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

Rs 100 million reward for capture of TTP spokesman Ehsanullah: Malik

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has announced Rs. 100 million reward for the capture of Tehreek-e-Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan. Ehsan is the spokesman for the TTP who claimed responsibility for the attack on Malala Yousafzai and two other girls from her school. Malik speaking to media after meeting Kianat one of the girls injured alongside Malala once again reiterated that there had been no decision regarding a military operation in North Waziristan. The Interior Minister said the attack on Malala Yousafzai had been planned in Afghanistan.

'Pakistanis love conspiracy theories'

Although most Pakistanis have condemned the Taliban's shooting of 14-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai, a small section of society believes the incident was part of a 'US-Israeli conspiracy' against Islam and Pakistan. "The CIA is behind the attack on Malala!" "Malala was a US agent!" "It is a conspiracy to defame the Taliban and Islam" - the social media websites Facebook and Twitter have been full of such posts and tweets this week. Most of the writers hail from a middle-class, educated background.
Many of Pakistan's liberal analysts have explained the phenomenon by saying that people love "conspiracy theories." They point out that in a country whose economy is in a shambles, where inflation and unemployment is higher than ever, which has a corrupt civilian government, where power shortages and suicide bombings are frequent, and which a lot of young people are desperate to leave in search of jobs and a better future, it is convenient for the people to blame the West for all their woes.Malala Yousafzai was shot by armed men last week along with three other girls in the restive northwestern Pakistani city of Swat. Taliban militants claimed responsibility for the attack and said in a statement that the 14-year-old had been attacked because she was "promoting secularism" in Swat. Yousafzai had campaigned for the right to education for girls and was a vocal critic of the Taliban. She won international acclaim writing about the atrocities committed by Islamists in Swat in a blog for the BBC Urdu service. Last year, she received a national peace award from the Pakistani government and was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize by the KidsRights Foundation. "This definitely is a tactic to divert our attentions from drone strikes," read one comment to the article "We are not Malala, we may be the Taliban," published in the Express Tribune, a liberal Pakistani newspaper. The commentator went on to say that "some people are just slaves to the media and have no ideology of their own." "The Pakistani army is preparing the ground to launch an attack on the Taliban in Waziristan," said another commentator. "Malala was shot by the CIA agents. Don't blame the Taliban." A Facebook post suggested that Malala was attacked so that Pakistanis would stop protesting against the anti-Islam movie, "The Innocence of Muslims." Some Internet users have posted photoshopped pictures of Malala and her father, who were shown with US government officials at a meeting. The pictures of the dead bodies of young girls, allegedly killed in US drone strikes, were posted with captions such as: "Do they not deserve our sympathy?" or "Are the victims of US drone strikes not humans?" In one Facebook post, US President Barack Obama is shown laughing with officials of his government. The caption reads: "Sir, they still believe that the Taliban attacked Malala!" Spreading confusion Mansoor Raza, a Karachi-based researcher, told DW that people who were sympathetic towards the Taliban and other religious groups were using "counter-tactics to spread confusion." "It is an organized effort to belittle Malala's shooting because most Pakistanis were unanimous in their condemnation against the Taliban." Raza added that many Muslims felt defeated in today's world and these posts reflected the mindset of those who could not face the challenges of modernity. "In my opinion, it is an attempt to shift responsibility to others," Hameed Satti, a psychologist in Islamabad told DW. "Instead of facing up to the bitter realities and dealing with them, we continue to blame others. It is our defense." "Pakistanis hate the US but at the same time they are in awe of it," a Pakistani student in Karachi told DW on condition of anonymity. "They think that the US has supernatural powers like god. They believe it can do anything it likes; can make people disappear, can create floods, send agents from space." He also pointed out that many of those posting hate material against the US on social media sites would do anything to get a US visa.Rights groups have condemned the attack on Malala There are also many people in Pakistan who have condemned the Malala shooting unequivocally. Members of civil society have organized several demonstrations in support of Malala and the education of girls. "Malala, you are like a light at the end of a dark tunnel," commented user Ankahi Baatein, in response to an article in Pakistan's English daily Dawn. "I pray that you come back more forcefully and keep raising your voice against illiteracy. May other Malalas join you in your struggle!" Pakistani writer and activist Zahida Hina told DW that the Taliban militants were "barbarians" who did not believe in humanity. "The 14-year-old Malala posed a threat to the Taliban in the sense that she was setting an example for other girls," she said. "The Taliban attacked her because they wanted to tell others that if they dared to stand against them, they would also meet the same fate." Hina also criticized the governing Pakistan People's Party for failing to protect citizens but said that the main culprit was the state, which she said believes that Islamist extremists are "strategic assets" for maintaining influence in Afghanistan. Malala is now in the UK where she was sent by the Pakistani authorities to receive further treatment and recuperate.

World Bank For Preservation of Rainwater in Balochistan

The World Bank has suggested to the Balochistan government to construct more dams to preserve rainwater in the wake of fast declining level of subsoil water. Official sources said on Wednesday that a delegation of the World Bank, headed by Mehwash Wasaq, called on Balochistan Senior Minister for Planning and Development Maulana Abdul Wasey and presented him suggestions for resolving the water crisis in Balochistan. The delegation emphasized the need for adopting scientific methods to preserve rainwater to meet requirement of drinking and irrigation water. The WB officials suggested that more dams should be constructed in the province to preserve rainwater besides adopting trickle irrigation system. The WB offered its all out collaboration in this regard.

ANP, MQM for deweaponising Karachi, country

The Upper House of the Parliament did not take up the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan Bill 2012, six Resolutions and six Motions under Rule 218 appearing on the orders of the day. The Senate met for an hour and three minutes while Chairman Senate Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari chaired the sitting. The deputy speaker and none of the parliamentary leaders attended the sitting. Six Resolutions appearing on the agenda were also not taken up by the House. The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan Bill, 2012 was deferred. Two Points of Order were raised which consumed six minutes of sitting time. Information on senators' attendance was unavailable to observers and the public. Earlier, MQM demanded deweaponisation of the whole country as merely deweaponising Karachi would not serve the purpose. Senator Tahir Hussain Mashhadi while taking part in the debate on a resolution moved by Senator Shahi Syed "to deweaponise Karachi", he said weapons are not being manufactured in Karachi. Terrorism should be exterminated from across the country as innocent daughters of the nation are targeted. Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah wanted modern liberal Pakistan, he said and alleged that all the relevant institutions have failed to perform their duties. Dr Farough Naseem of MQM said the influx of weapons in Karachi should be stopped. Saeed Ghani of Pakistan Peoples Party suggested the deweaponisation of cities should be initiated from Karachi. M Hamza alleged that police in Karachi has already been politicised. Three political parties including Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and MQM should help play their role in ensuring peace in the city, he added. Senator Hasil Bizanjo said Interior Minister Rehman Malik has called him but he cannot come to attend the proceedings as he is not feeling well. On this the members said the resolution regarding law and order situation in Karachi and deweaponisation should be discussed on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the House started discussion on a resolution moved by ANP leader Shahi Syed demanding of the government to deweaponize Karachi The Senate started discussion on a resolution moved by Shahi Syed to recommend the government to take effective steps to deweaponize Karachi in view of prevailing law and order situation in the city. Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi said that the incidents of killings are taking place throughout the country in different forms due to misuse of weapons. He recommended that the whole country should be deweaponized in order to stop killings and terrorist activities. He said that there should be a complete ban on the illegal arms and not on the legal weapons. He said the police machinery should be allowed to work independently and above the political affiliation to implement the law regarding the use of illegal arms.

Khar calls for strengthening intra-regional economic cooperation

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has stressed for strengthening intra-regional economic cooperation in important areas of trade and commerce‚ infrastructure connectivity and energy among the ECO countries. She was speaking at the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting ahead of the ECO Summit in Baku. The Summit provides a platform to discuss ways to promote trade and investment opportunities among the member countries. The common objective of the member countries is to establish a single market for goods and services on the pattern of European Union. She said this was essential to come up to the hopes and aspirations of the people of the region. She said ECO Trade and Transit Transport Framework Agreement should be translated into effective vehicles for regional economic integration. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar also met Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan‚ Iran‚ Turkey and Azerbaijan on the sidelines of the meeting and exchanged views on recent developments in the region. Matters relating to Economic Cooperation Organization also came under discussion.

Contradictory narratives on the Taliban

Addressing gatherings of his supporters in Karachi and elsewhere, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain assured the Pakistan army his party’s full support for a military operation against the Taliban. The announcement carried a reminder to the army that if it keeps musing over the options to wipe out the scourge of terrorism, the people of Pakistan would reach out to other forces to get rid of the terrorists. The gatherings were held to express solidarity with Malala Yousufzai. Altaf Hussain asked the people to take a clear stand on the Taliban and other Islamic extremist groups. Addressing the political parties, Altaf urged them to get united to save the country from terrorism. He questioned why the attack on Malala is being linked to drones or Laal Masjid. On the other hand, in a simultaneous rally by the Jamiat-e-Ulema-i-Islam (JUI) head Maulana Fazlur Rehman in Sukkur, the narrative against terrorism and the attack on Malala Yousufzai differed sharply from that of Altaf’s. He painted Malala’s attack as a ruse to gain support for a military operation in North Waziristan, which the Maulana said would not be allowed under any circumstances and surely not because the US or its western allies want it. Referring to people dying in drone attacks and in other incidents due to the poor law and order situation, the Maulana asked for condemnation of these in a similar manner as accorded to the attack on Malala. Coming down hard on Altaf Hussain, the chief of the JUI said that the MQM had no business asking for or compiling information on seminaries. Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s viewpoint hardly comes as a surprise. After all, it is his party that is considered the mother of the Taliban. How then could he fail to come to the aid and succour of his ‘offspring’, currently the target of across the board condemnation and criticism for the attempt to assassinate Malala. Ignoring the facts of the ground situation in North Waziristan, the hub of terrorism, fed by students from the womb of the seminaries spread across the country, Maulana’s attempted diversion of focus to the red herring of drone attacks or other violence failed to convince. He also failed to explain how an operation in North Waziristan would prove detrimental to the security of the country, when that is already imperilled by the terrorists. What the Maulana and all those who speak vociferously against drones, like for instance Imran Khan, fail to understand is that drone attacks are a response to terrorism and not the original cause of the terrorism that has us in its grip. Linking those who die in drone attacks with Malala’s incident will not dilute the intensity of the national consensus that is now building on flushing out the terrorists hiding in North Waziristan. By now, the truth of some seminaries producing death squads and suicide bombers is hardly a secret. Jihadi ideology can no longer, if it ever could, be used to justify the brutality of the Taliban. Either such seminaries producing actual or potential terrorists should be shut down or, if possible, reformed to impart productive knowledge. Since the attack on Malala has proved beyond any shadow of doubt that the Taliban are prepared to go to any lengths in enforcing their misconceived and bigoted notions of what the faith enjoins, perhaps the time has come to build a broad resistance against their benighted activities so as not only to nip this evil in the bud, but ensure this menace is buried once and for all.

Zardai: Malala's shooting an attack on all Pakistani girls

The Express Tribune
President Asif Ali Zardari said Tuesday that the shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai by the Taliban was an attack on all girls in the country and on civilisation itself. “The Taliban attack on the 14-year-old girl, who from the age of 11 was involved in the struggle for education for girls, is an attack on all girls in Pakistan, an attack on education, and on all civilised people,” Zardari said at an economic summit in the Azerbaijani capital Baku. Malala was attacked on her school bus in the former Taliban stronghold of the Swat valley a week ago as a punishment for campaigning for the right to an education and free expression. In some of his most poignant remarks on the incident to date, Zardari vowed not to let her shooting stop the nation’s drive to educate girls. “The work that she led was higher before God than what terrorists do in the name of religion. We will continue her shining cause,” he said. The shooting has been denounced worldwide and by Pakistan, which has said it will do everything possible to ensure Malala recovers and will meet all the costs of her treatment. She was flown to Britain for treatment on Monday where doctors said she had “a chance of making a good recovery”. The murder attempt has sickened Pakistan, where Malala came to prominence with a blog for the BBC highlighting atrocities under the Taliban, who terrorised the Swat valley from 2007 until an army offensive in 2009.

Pakistan: No compassion or mercy

Had it to be the United Nations to feel the pain of the flood-devastated of Sindh and Balochistan and cry out their grief? Not the political eminences swaggering so grandiosely on the national landscape, posing to be the people’s leaders and the masses’ voice? Not the civil society moguls, posturing to be the nation’s conscience-keepers? Not even the media, with the grand pretences of being the spokesman of the distressed and the aggrieved? In an appeal, the world body has drawn the international community’s attention to the woeful plight of the people battered by the freak rain flooding that has left behind in its trail large-scale death and destruction in Sindh and Balochistan. And it has asked for immediate donations to the tune of $29 million for food, shelter and health services for the flood-battered. Some five million people, it says, have been affected. And in certain areas the stranded in floodwaters are still being rescued. Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed. And hundreds of thousands of the flood-ruined are living in makeshift camps or just under the tarpaulins by the roadsides. The UN appeal underlines that vast swathes of croplands have been washed away. And as huge acreage is still under up to 2.5 metres of floodwaters, prospects of sowing the Rabi crop are next to nil. Worse, as the floodwaters are yet so deep despite the passage of one month since the rains and submerging a huge swathe of land, no immediate end to the suffering of the flood-stricken is in sight. Still worse, the standing floodwaters could potentially end up in contamination of water sources, diseases outbreaks, infrastructure damages and livelihood losses in the affected areas. And yet this distressful gloomy picture has not registered at all in any of the quarters of the political elites, civil society glitterati and the echelons of the media grandees. It has bypassed them all as some kind of a nonevent not worth their exalted notice. No relief convoys are moving on to the devastated areas even amid the photo-ops both the political elites and the civil society grandees are so fond of. No relief supplies collection camps have been pitched anywhere in the land for the succour of these unfortunate flood-ruined. The philanthropy in effect seems having gone wholly parched dry at the national level for these woebegone. So much so, the 29-million-dollar UN donations appeal includes, ironically enough, $6.5 million for “milling, fortifying, transporting and distributing wheat donated by the governments of Sindh and Balochistan”. Why? Couldn’t the two governments do all this and bear all this expenditure on their own to save the lives of the people whose weal and welfare is primarily their own first and foremost responsibility? Or, have they gone broke after throwing a lot of money on the pork barrel in these election times to spruce up their wobbling electoral prospects? Or, has human compassion departed them all completely? Why indeed no tears are being shed anywhere even over the heartrendingly tragic demise of some 400 people swept away by the stormy floodwaters? Is their death lesser grievous than the deaths of the drone victims or those slain in terrorist strikes? The political nobility and the civil society gentry could be excused, though. They cry where they see the benefit in crying and keep mum where they see no such benefit. But why for the media too have these 400 unfortunate people become just cold statistics, no human beings? Why none of them has gone beyond the statistics and not explored how many mothers has this tragedy left widowed and how many children orphaned and how many parents with lost children? The insensitivity and apathy of the politicos in the instant case can, of course, be understood. As the victims belong to the voiceless, practically disenfranchised peasantry, they need not shed a crocodile tear on their doleful plight. After all, this peasantry is a captive electorate in the serfdom of fat-bellied land barons who predominantly make up the nation’s political elite. Since this enslaved peasantry’s vote is assured, why should they bother about its woes? And why should the civil society too? The peasantry has never been the favourite of this glitterati that cries only over the pains of its masters, not on its woes. But if the political nobility and the civil society gentry have no compassion or mercy for the peasantry, has also the media too? If they are mere charlatans and chicaners, has it also to be. Even now, can’t it spare a few moments to speak out the grief of the flood-battered of Sindh and Balochistan? It can, if it wants. But that is a big question mark.