Wednesday, October 17, 2012

PUNJAB:Policemen sent to jail because their father is not SHABAZ SHARIF

Asian Human Rights Commission calls for action against CM, daughter and son-in-law for torture of bakery employee The employee, who was thrown outside the bakery after torture, received serious injuries including one that has affected his ability to pass urine CM’s daughter is famous as the ‘lady gangster’, has also beaten up Ayesha Ahad, Hamza Shahbaz’s former wife Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) on Tuesday called on the public to take action against Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his daughter Rabia Imran over a video of alleged torture of a bakery worker that was leaked online several days ago. On October 7 at around noon, Mrs Rabia Imran, the ‘lady gangster’ and the daughter of the chief minister of Punjab, visited the Sweet Tooth Bakery in T Block Market, Defence and asked for a cake. The shop was closed and a helper boy was inside cleaning it. Rabia’s driver and guard kept knocking at the door and were finally able to convince the helper to let them in. The boy named Irfan told Rabia that he could not help her since he was just a sweeper and he did not have the permission to sell cakes. Waving her phone and her finger at him, Rabia got angry and told him that she knew ‘how to deal with’ people like him. She also told him that she was the daughter of Shahbaz Sharif, the incumbent chief minister of the province, and she could do anything. Some employees of the shop reached the scene and asked her to visit after 3pm when the bakery opened. Rabia became angrier and asked her guard and her driver to ‘take care of them’. The men who accompanied her came in and abused Irfan, also threatening to kill him for ‘talking too much’. At around 6:30pm, two private guards, members of the police ‘Elite Force’ and Rabia’s husband, Imran, came to the bakery. It must be mentioned here that the Elite Force’s job is to conduct police encounters, not to escort VVIPs. The video clip then shows Imran slapping Irfan and a police guard pushing the bakery owner to a side. The private guards and the police force members also kick the boy around before finally kidnapping him and taking him to an undisclosed location. Irfan was then thrown outside the bakery in serious condition. His body showed signs of severe torture and the internal injuries that he received because of the kicks have reportedly affected his ability to pass urine. It must be remembered Rabia Imran was also involved in beating up Ayesha Ahad, the former wife of her brother, Hamza Shahbaz. So far, no case has been filed against her or against her husband for abusing Irfan. After the issue was raised by the social media and by Pakistan Today, cases were registered against the private guards and the members of Elite Force. The CM, in his Facebook status, said that he had taken action as soon as he was informed of the incident and since he was abroad, he did not know what had transpired. The CM’s daughter and his son-in-law, however, still roam free amongst our midst. Sources have claimed that the electronic media was “deliberately trying to push the issue under the rug” because of the ‘untiring’ efforts of the CM Secretariat and Public Relations director general. There are also reports of crime programmes from famous TV stations suppressing interviews with Irfan and the bakery owner after receiving the cue from the CM. Pakistan Today could not reach the bakery owner, Irfan, Defence SHO and others despite repeated attempts. Officials of the CM Secretariat said the CM had ‘taken action’ and avoided answering questions about the demands being made for the arrest of the CM’s daughter and her husband. In a statement on their website, AHRC appealed to the public to take action against the chief minister by writing the letters to authorities calling on them to arrest and prosecute the daughter and son-in-law of the CM. The AHRC also urged the authorities to take strong action against the policemen involved in the case and also prosecute the station head officer of the Defence police station for not performing his duty according to law and refusing to file a case against the perpetrators. The AHRC also added that it is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the question of torture calling for his intervention into this matter.

US freezes assets of three Pakistanis

The US Treasury said on Wednesday it had frozen the assets of three Pakistan-based individuals suspected of backing the Taleban and other militant organizations in Pakistan and Afghanistan, including one man linked to a failed attack in New York. Treasury said it froze all US assets and prohibited any US individuals from doing business with Maulawi Adam Khan Achekzai, Aamir Ali Chaudhry and Qari Ayyub Bashir. Adam and Chaudhry were involved in the production of bombs for the Taleban and the Tehrik-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistan Taleban, Treasury said in a statement. Bashir coordinated financial support for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it said. “As these designations demonstrate, we will continue to work to dismantle the terrorist support networks operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, paying special attention to those involved in the manufacture of IEDs (improvised explosive devices),” said David Cohen, US undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. Treasury said Chaudhry was an electronics and explosives expert with the TTP who was also suspected of providing advice on what type of fertilizer to use in the failed May 2010 attempt to explode a bomb in New York’s Time Square. Adam was a key figure for the Taliban, responsible for the production of improvised explosives and suicide vests, who had trained around 150 other bomb makers to support the Islamic group’s attacks, it said. Bashir, whom Treasury named as head of finance for the IMU, was suspected of marshalling funds from sources in Turkey and Europe to finance IMU attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as recruiting fighters at his school in Pakistan.

PPP Punjab restructured, Watto appointed president

Asif Ali Zardari has appointed Manzoor Watto as the president PPP Punjab. Watto will replace the current president Imtiaz Warriach. Meanwhile, Tanvir Ashraf Kaiara has been appointed Gen Secretary of the party. Co-chairman of PPP Asif Ali Zardari has issued a notification in this regard. In may be recalled that Dunya news had reported about possible restructuring of PPP Punjab two days ago. Asif Ali Zardari was not satisfied with the performance of the current leadership. According to sources the decision has been taken in wake of upcoming elections and falling popularity of PPP in Punjab.

Karzai writes letter to Asfandyar Wali condemning attack on Malala

The Express Tribune
In a letter written to Awami National Party’s (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali, condemning the attack on 14-year-old child activist Malala Yousufzai, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that it was also an attack on Afghan girls, Express News reported Wednesday. In the letter, Karzai stated that Afghanistan feels the grief the incident has brought to Pakistan. He said that the voices against the attack should not be silenced. The Afghan president said that the attack on Malala and her class fellows was a horrible conspiracy of the enemies of humanity and Islam and that it was meant to stop girls from educating themselves. Furthermore, Karzai said that measures should be taken in order to stop such terror acts.

In Swat, a girls' school gripped by fear

Under a portrait of Sir Isaac Newton, the ninth-grade girls clasped their chemistry texts, smoothed their white head scarves and movingly voiced support for the cause of their classmate, Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head by the Taliban last week because she advocated a girl's right to attend school. "In our hearts is the thirst for education," one 14-year-old told reporters brought to her classroom by the Pakistani military's public relations wing on Monday. "We want to show the world that we are not worried." It was a brave but ultimately false front. "We are worried for our lives," the same girl confided later, out of earshot of the army minder. She pleaded that her name and photograph not be used because she feared retribution by the Taliban. The powerful army, which immediately took over Yousafzai's care after she was shot in the head in Mingora, the Swat Valley's largest town, says the attack last Tuesday was an aberration, not an indication of resurgent militancy. In the main that seems true: Verdant, mountainous Swat, once a haven for foreign tourists, is peaceful except for rare violence, its residents say. But Yousafzai's shooting spoke to a larger truth: The threat of Pakistani Taliban attacks pervades the entire nation, especially the northwestern frontier and the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. The instability persists despite massive military operations three years ago to quash the extremist group and the continued presence of troops in all seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas. That nagging threat seemed reinforced when the military assigned a heavily armed squad from its Rapid Reaction Force, including a mounted machine gunner, to protect a small convoy of international journalists for a six-hour trip to Mingora from Islamabad. "There is a security alert in this area," a military official said. "That is why some precautions were taken." Soldiers were posted at every stop along the route, including the Khushal Girls High School and College that Yousafzai attended; the final, boisterous regional match of the "Peace Cricket Tournament"; and the police station where the open-backed, canopied van that carried the schoolgirls still bore splashes of blood on its white benches. Even so, parents here refuse to bow to terror: While 14 girls out of 31 in Yousafzai's class did not come to school the day after the assassination attempt, on Monday only six were absent. The attack grievously wounded Yousafzai — who was flown to England on Monday for specialized treatment — and left two classmates with lesser injuries. Yousafzai's prognosis appears to be improving, but she faces long-term rehabilitation. In the face of worldwide revulsion, the Pakistani Taliban has issued several statements attempting to justify her shooting. The latest is a six-page disquisition emailed to journalists Monday night that twists Islamic history and scripture to reach the same murderous conclusion that has been denounced by Muslim leaders worldwide: "Malala was using her tongue and pen against Islam and Muslims," the Taliban said, "so she was punished for her crime by the blessing of the Almighty Allah." In the religiously conservative, ethnically Pashtun Swat Valley, residents initially embraced the imposition of Islamic law, viewing the secular government and courts as unresponsive and corrupt. But their support faded during a reign of Taliban terror from 2007 to 2009. The militants shuttered girls' schools and blew them up. They flogged and executed people and left their bodies to rot in the town square for supposed noncompliance with the Taliban interpretation of sharia law. The army routed the extremists led by Maulana Fazlullah, known as Mullah Radio for his sermons broadcast on pirated FM signals, and they relocated to eastern Afghanistan. The Pakistani military estimates that Fazlullah has 1,000 men under arms. They and other militants regularly attack Pakistani security posts along the Afghan border, capturing soldiers and beheading them, but the army says the insurgents have been beaten back and are contained in a relatively small area. Out of frustration, extremists resort to "sneak attacks" like the one on Yousafzai, a senior military officer told journalists in a briefing. "It is a one-off incident. There is no question and no room for a resurgence." Residents generally agree. "I think terrorism will never come back in Swat as in past years," said Ahmed Shah, a member of the Swat peace jirga, a council of elders. "But we worry that the target killings will continue in the future." Riaz Ahmed said he also considers Swat to be much safer now — even though his daughter Kainat was wounded when the pistol-wielding assailant fired inside the van full of students, about 16 of them, after classes let out. "We are determined that we will send her back to school — and to the same school," Ahmed said in the small courtyard outside his home in Mingora's winding alleys. Kainat Riaz was inside, propped up in bed under a fuzzy blanket as she recovers from injuries to her thumb and arm. She looked overwhelmed by the knot of reporters and TV cameramen jostling and pushing in with their lenses. Was Kainat afraid of returning to school? "I was scared at first, but not anymore," the 16-year-old answered. A few moments later, she said in a quiet voice, "I can't sleep out of fear." In early 2009, Yousafzai published a pseudonymous chronicle of life under the Taliban on a BBC blog. She later won prizes and international acclaim for fearlessly speaking out for girls' education in defiance of Taliban threats. Photos of her meetings with Pakistani and foreign dignitaries line the walls at the private Khushal school, run by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai. Many of Malala Yousafzai's peers, like her, are well versed in English. They come from families of educators and military officers. On Monday, chemistry rules were on the lesson plan until the journalists barged in. "The oxidation number of all elements in the free-state is zero," said the text on the instructor's podium. Like 14-year-old girls everywhere, the students are prone to chattering, giggling and wearing chipped nail polish. But they sense no limits, looking toward careers in medicine, science and the military. And Yousafzai? "She just wanted the pen to be in her hand," principal Mariam Khalique said. "She wanted to study. She wanted other girls to study." Khalique, 28, said the school refused to close despite repeated demands by the Taliban. It finally ended classes the day before the army launched its Swat offensive. Khalique nominated Yousafzai for an international children's peace prize for which the teen became a finalist. Despite the growing attention on Yousafzai, the school did not add security staff. "Ziauddin would say it's in the hands of God," the principal said, referring to the girl's father, who founded the school. "I believe that, too." She was home tending to her toddler son when the frantic call came in around noon that her star pupil and two classmates had been shot. Within hours Khalique was on a military helicopter with Yousafzai; she also comforted her in the ICU. At first, authorities said that a bullet had just grazed the girl. "It was to console us," Khalique said. But then she learned the bullet had crashed through Yousafzai's skull and into her neck and come to rest near her spinal cord. "She kept touching her forehead and her shoulder," Khalique recalled. "Her throat was swollen so she couldn't talk. "I knew she was feeling pain. She was pressing on my fingers, hard, because she could not scream." Soon tears came to Khalique's brown eyes, the only part of her face not veiled in white. "I can't come out of this trauma," she said. "I knew her as a baby." She spoke of her own preschool daughter. "I think Hana will also be like Malala," Khalique said. Later, amid the media scrum in the hallway, the principal introduced her child, who looked about 3 or 4. Hana warily extended her tiny hand to a stranger. Khalique paused to take a call. Hana backed up against her mother's long, shielding pink dress, searching for a place to feel safe.

Chinese leader to visit Pakistan amid preparations for leadership change at home
Chinese president Hu Jintao sent senior leader, Li Changchun, to Islamabad and Dhaka for "official goodwill visits" starting Wednesday. The move is surprising since the Communist Party's leadership change is due on November 8. Li is among leaders who will vacate his seat in the party's political standing committee, which effectively rules the country. Seven of the nine members in this committee will be replaced during the leadership shuffle. There was no coherent explanation for the sudden move to send Li to Islamabad. Observers said China is keenly watching the groundswell of public opinion against the Taliban after the attack on the 14-year-old activist, Malala Yousufzai. Chinese foreign ministry said Li will discuss bilateraland regional issues with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. He will also inaugurate an additional channel of China Radio International in Urdu.

Pakistan observes World Food Day amid worsening food shortage

Pakistan observed its 34th National Food Day on Tuesday as part of the World Food Day amid a worsening food shortage that affects a large portion of the country's population, particularly those in the rural areas. In his message on the World Food Day, President Asif Ali Zardari said that the right to food for the people of Pakistan is enshrined in the Constitution and that the government is duty- bound to honor this fundamental right. The theme of this year's National Food Day celebration was " Agricultural Cooperatives: Key to Feeding the World". Pakistan is an agricultural country with 20,430,000 arable land and its agriculture sector accounts for about 21.2 percent of the country's GDP. The sector employs about 43 percent of the labor force. About 67.5 percent of Pakistan's population live in the rural areas and are directly involved in agriculture. Despite all these facts, however, many Pakistanis suffer from malnutrition, scarcity of food, and hobbled by high price of food items. Even after 65 years of independence, the country has not achieved self-sufficiency in wheat, which is the basic food item of the people of Pakistan. According to the latest National Nutrition Survey prepared by Pakistan Medical Research Council in January 2012, during the last six years, people with food insecurity in Pakistan has increased by 12 million while the number of those with severe food insecurity (consuming less than 1,700 kcal per day) has risen by 9. 6 million to 45.3 million, or roughly 28 percent of the country's total population. Analysts said the government lacks proper strategy and planning to increase the per-hectare yield from the available arable land in the county. As a result, the country continues to import food items every year which are sold at high prices in the market, making it difficult for ordinary citizens to buy. According to Muhammad Ibrahim Mughal, chairperson of Pakistan Agriculture Forum, Pakistan imported food items during the year 2011-12 worth 9.5 billion U.S. dollars. These food items included dry milk, vegetables, fruits, edible oil and other basic commodities that could have been easily produced in the country through proper government planning and support. The main reason behind the low agricultural productivity in Pakistan is that the farmers are using old and outdated methods of agriculture. Low quality of seeds, limited use of fertilizers and lack of irrigation facilities are the other major factors behind the low agricultural productivity in the country. On top of this, there is the problem of over population in the country. With less food produced and plenty of mouths to feed, there is bound to be a food shortage. In early July this year, President Zardari himself admitted that the country's population has reached 200 million and the population is likely to grow in the coming years. According to figures released by Pakistan Agriculture Council, in year 2004-07 when Pakistan's population was around 154 million, the total available food for every individual per annum was 206 kg. From 2007-2009 when the population rose to 170 million, the food available per annum per person dropped to 194 kg. From 2010-12, it further dropped to 191 kg per annum per person when the population rose to 200 million. Land erosion caused by flooding in the country also contributed to the food problem. Every year floods inundate large areas of arable land and destroy millions of dollars worth of crops. For example, floods in 2010 have destroyed about 500,000 tons of wheat in Pakistan. In 2012, monsoon rains also destroyed thousands of tons of crops ready for harvest in the flood-affected areas. Due to population explosion, the urban areas of the country are also expanding and converting agricultural lands into residential areas and industrial estates, thus reducing the areas planted to agricultural crops. The influx of Afghan refugees in Pakistan has also aggravated the problem of food scarcity in the country. According to media reports, over 1.7 million Afghan refugees are now living in various areas of the country. They also consume food and exacerbate the already worsening food crisis. The report by Pakistan's Agriculture Council said that total production of food crops, which include wheat, rice, maize, and barley had also reduced by 3 million tons during the last four years. All these are clear signals that if population growth rate is not controlled, Pakistan might face a serious famine in year 2018. But Nazia Hamid, a senior researcher at Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi, said that the government can improve agricultural production in the country by employing state-of-the- art farming technologies, reducing costs of fertilizers and other inputs, and by promoting agricultural cooperatives. There are state-owned agricultural banks in the country which provide loans and machinery to farmers on easy installments can facilitate their work and thus contribute in solving the food scarcity. The government, through its Lady Health Workers program, has also stepped up its family planning program in order to curb population growth, especially in the rural areas.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa names Saidu Sharif Girls' College after Malala

Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ameer Haider Khan Hoti has announced naming Government Girls Degree College Saidu after Malala Yusufzai, the bravest daughter of the nation who undertaken efforts for education and peace. He was chairing a high level meeting regarding higher education at chief minister house on Monday. Those attended were included Provincial Minister for Higher Education Qazi Muhammad Asad, Additional Chief Secretary Atta Ullah Khan, Secretary Higher Education Farah Hamid, Secretaries Finance and C&W, Principal Secretary to chief minister and other higher ups. Matters pertaining to progress on newly approved colleges in different districts of the province and problems confronting in this connection remained under detailed discussion on the occasion. Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister lauded role of Malala Yusufzai in peace and education for girls. He approved naming GGDC Saidu after Malala Yusufzai. He directed for removal of problems in establishing of new colleges in order people of concerned areas should benefit of the facilities, priorities and goals regarding construction of colleges were sorted out on the occasion. Meanwhile an important meeting of vice chancellors of public sector universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was held in chief minister house on Monday. Besides, Provincial Minister for Higher Education Qazi Muhammad Asad, Chief Secretary Ghulam Dastageer, the meeting was also attended by Secretaries P&D, Higher Education, and Finance and Vice Chancellors of entire universities. The meeting reviewed the financial problems confronting the universities and presented certain recommendations in this regard. The chief minister assured full support for solution to problems confronting the universities and said that he will discuss the matters at higher level with federal government. He said that the provincial government has taken practical measures for promotion of higher education and that was why its budget has been boosted to Rs 5 billion. He said that youth of this province were studying in these universities that was why it is the responsibility of the government to resolve problems confronting the universities. Recommendations from a meeting of vice chancellors under chief secretary few days back were also endorsed. The chief minister directed for establishment of Task Force comprising representatives of both vice chancellors and provincial government that will look on arrangement of provincial government after the shift of responsibilities of higher education to the provincial government in 2014.

Presidential debate: polls show Obama as winner in round 2

US President Barack Obama on Wednesday scored a clear victory over Mitt Romney in the high-stake second presidential debate, putting up a combative performance as he slammed his Republican presidential rival on issues like outsourcing and Libya. As Obama faced-off Romney in Hofstra University in Hempstead, he was under intense pressure to improve upon his lacklustre performance at the first debate in Denver on October 3 when Romney had edged past him with a more aggressive and spirited performance. Obama did not repeat the mistakes he made in his first debate, aggressively hitting back at Romney on tax plans, outsourcing and his controversial remark that 47% of Americans did not pay income taxes. According to a CNN/ORC nationwide poll conducted right after the debate, 46% of voters declared Obama the winner while 39% said Romney fared better. A CBS News instant poll said Obama edged Romney for a win in the second presidential debate. About 37% of voters polled said the president won, 30% awarded the victory to Romney while 33% said Obama and Romney were tied. During the debate, 55% of voters said Obama gave direct answers, while 49% said the same about Romney. On who did a better job of handling the economy, 34% said the president would better handle the economy, with 65% saying Romney would. The CBS survey polled 525 voters who are undecided or who may still change their minds. An online poll by Google Consumer Surveys gave Obama a 48% lead over Romney's 31%. "I hope you saw exactly what's at stake in this election. This race is neck and neck. What happens in the next three weeks will determine which side wins," Obama told his supporters in an email soon after he left New York after participating in the debate. While there was no immediate comment from Romney, his vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan claimed that the Republican presidential candidate showed to the American people the clear choice they have on November 6.

Malala Yousufzai of 'impressive strength', say British docs

Young Pakistani girl activist Malala Yousafza who was flown to Britain for better care, is responding exceptionally well to the treatment, “impressing” doctors with her strength, the doctors in UK hospital said Wednesday. The 14-year old Malala has “good chances of recovery” because unlike adult brains, the teenagers’ brains are still growing and can adapt to trauma better, as per experts. "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. The statement by Dr David Rosser, the medical director of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham also said that the team of specialists from hospitals had been "impressed with her strength and resilience." Other experts said they were not sure if a complete recovery of Malala’s brain was feasible. "You don't have a bullet go through your brain and have a full recovery," said one Dr. Jonathan Fellus, chief scientific officer at International Brain Research Foundation. Malala, who was shot by Taliban in head in Swat valley in Pakistan, has been threatened of follow up attacks as she backs “Western thinking”. Malala has been a brave voice campaigning for girls education. Malala’s safety continues to be a concern with reports yesterday saying that two people tried to visit Malala. Police stopped and questioned two, 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. A message board has been set up on the Trust's website to allow well-wishers to leave their messages of support.