Friday, October 19, 2012

Malala able to stand: UK hospital
Malala Yousafzai has stood up with help for the first time since she was shot in the head by the Taliban but remains seriously ill, doctors treating her at a British hospital said Friday.
Malala is unable to talk due to the breathing tube inserted into her windpipe but she can communicate by writing, said Dave Rosser, the medical director at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, central England. The teenager escaped certain death by a matter of centimetres (inches), with the bullet grazing the edge of her brain, he said. The hospital released a first picture of Malala, in her hospital bed, clutching a teddy bear. "Malala is still showing some signs of infection... in the bullet track which is our key source of concern," Rosser told reporters outside the hospital. "It's clear that she is not out of the woods yet. "Having said that, she is doing very well. In fact, she was standing with some help for the first time this morning when I went in to see her." Rosser explained that Malala's airway became swollen after the bullet passed through it, so doctors inserted a tracheotomy tube to protect it. The tube means she cannot speak but there is no reason to believe she would be unable to talk once it is removed, which may happen in the coming days. She has movement in her arms and legs and is "communicating very freely -- she is writing," Rosser said. "Malala is keen that I thank people for their support," he added, after thousands of people left messages for her on the hospital's website. With the schoolgirl's permission, the hospital gave a full breakdown of her injuries, condition and the slow path to her possible recovery. Rosser explained how the bullet passed through the face of the girl, who the hospital now say is 15 although she has previously been described as 14. "The bullet grazed the edge of her brain. Certainly if you're talking a couple of inches more central, then it's almost certainly an unsurvivable injury," he said. Shot at point blank range, the bullet hit her left brow, but instead of penetrating her skull it travelled beneath the skin down the left side of her head. The shock wave shattered the thinnest bone of her skull and fragments were driven into her brain. The bullet damaged soft tissues at the base of her jaw and in her neck, which the bullet travelled through before lodging in the tissues above her left shoulder blade. The bullet was removed in Pakistan soon after the shooting, but specialists have found her left jawbone is injured at its joint, while a bone behind the ear and the base of her skull have been fractured. Her brain is still swollen, meaning doctors have not been able to do a full brain injury evaluation. Malala regained consciousness on Tuesday. She is aware of her surroundings but gets tired very easily. "She seems to have understood why she is no longer in Pakistan and what has happened to her," Rosser said. It was clearly "very difficult" for her to suddenly wake up in a foreign country, he added. It will take weeks to months for Malala to defeat the infection and recover her strength enough to face surgery. "Then her skull will need reconstructing either by reinserting the piece of bone that was removed initially or with a titanium plate," Rosser said. "Her jaw joint may need further work down the line but that remains to be assessed in a couple of weeks' time." In a separate statement, the hospital stressed that she is "still very ill". "This is a fluid situation and she sustained a very, very grave injury," it said. Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, who in his new role as a UN special envoy for global education will visit Pakistan to meet President Asif Ali Zardari next month, said he was "delighted". "I have been able to get a message through to her family that the whole world is with Malala as she fights for her health and wishes Malala the best of progress," Brown said.

ملاله د ودرېدو جوګه شوه او خپل حال په لیکلو وايي

د سوات ۱۵ کلنه ملاله يوسفزۍ چې د اکتوبر په نهمه نيټه د وسلوالو طالبانو په ډزو کې سخته ژوبل شوې ده او دا وخت يې د برمنګم کوین الزبت روغتون کې درملنه روانه ده، ډاکټران وايي چې د ملالې بې هوشه ختمه شوې او اوس د بل په مرسته د ودريدو قابله شوېده.
د کیون الیزبېت روغتون برمنګم مشر ډاکتر ډېو روسر په برمنګم کې له خبرایلانو سره د ملالې د روغتیا په باب تازه مالومات شریک کړل. نوموړي وویل چې: (( ملاله لا هم تکلیفه نه ده رواتلې. خو دا درته ویلای شم چې هغه په رغېدو ده. نن چې زه د هغې لیدو ته ورغلم نو په رښتیا هم دا په لومړي ځل د بل په مرسته په پښو ولاړشوله. دا سمې خبرې کولای او لیک کولای شي.)) ډاکټر روسر د ملالې په باب زیاته کړه چې ملاله راسره په لیکلو خپله خبره راته کوي او ډېر ژر به د خبرو کولو جوګه شي: ((د هغې مو د سا نلۍ کې ټیوب لګولی دی ځکه چې د ګولۍ له لګېدو څخه د هغې د ساه غاړه پړسېدلې ده . او له دې وجې خبرې نه شي کولای. او کله چې د ساه اخیستو ټیوب ترې وباسو نو موږ ته هیڅ داسې وجه نه ښکاري چې دا به ګواکې خبرې ونه کړای شي. او دا کار په راتلونکو څو ورځو کوو.)) د ملالې یوسفزۍ لپاره دکوین الیزبېت روغتون برمنګم پر خپل وېبسایټ د هغې لپاره د بسپنې(عطییه) راټولو اشتهار هم خپور کړی چې که څوک غواړي ملالې ته بسپنه ورکړي نو پر د دې لاندیني ویبسایټ یې ورکولای شي. ددې تر څنګ پر دغه باندیني ویبسایټ په سلګونه خلکو د ملالې لپاره د خواخوږۍ پیغامونه وراستولي دي. یوې انجل کیت لیکلي ملالې ستا ننګ او مېړانه ستایو او ستا وجود مو دې ته هڅوي چې د زغم، زدکړې او مینه لاره ونیسو. اسماعیل ورته لیکلي، چې ملالې ته د پاکستان او افغانستان د پښتنو ویاړ یې. حمنا علي ورته لیکلي، چې ته د سوات او پاکستان ټولو جینکو ته یو نمونه او مثال یې. امارا انور لیکلي، چې ملالې ته د پاکستان یو مثبته څهره یې او نړۍ ته زموږ د ملک ښه بڼه ورښيې. اعجاز له هنده ورته لیکلي، چې ملالې ته د ټولو ښځو لپاره یو مثالي شخصیت یې. نوید جعفري ورته لیکلي، چې نړۍ ستا غوندې بې ساري شخصیتونو ته ضرورت لري. امین جواد ورته لیکلي، پاڅېږه ملالې نړۍ درته ضرورت لري. فرنکایز بیدوس ورته لیکي زه د فرانس یوه زړه ښځه یم خو په دې ویاړم چې په نړۍ کې ستا غوندې خلک ژوند کوي. او ملالې خپله لاره پرې نه ږدې. کانډا ساره ورته لیکلي چې ملالې ته د خپل ملک د انجونو د تعلیم لپاره زړور ږغ یې، لوی څښتن دې ژر جوړه کړه. وسله والو طالبانو ۱۵ کلنه ملاله د سوات په مینګوره کې د روانې اکتوبر میاشتې په نهمه نېټه وویشتله. ملالې د جینکو لپاره د تعلیم غوښتنه کوله چې به ۲۰۰۹م کال کې ورباندې طالبانو بندیز لګولی وو. له دې سره د هغې دوه نورې ملګرې هم په هاغه برید کې ژوبل شوي وي چې د پېښور او پنډۍ په پوځي رغتون کې له درملنې وروسته یې ډاکټرانو برتانییا ته د لېږدولو فیصله وکړه. د برتانییا پخوانی وزیر اعظم ګورډن براون هم په هافنګټن پوسټ ویب پاڼه کې لیکلي وو چې په لومړي ځل په جهان کې د ماشومانو نجونو نړیواله ورځ لمانځل کیږي، او په دغه ورځ د ګلابي رنګ انتخاب کولو سره ملاله یوسفزۍ ته دا ښودل وو، چې ټوله نړۍ له تا سره ده. براون لیکي اوس چې کله هغه په روغتون کې د خپل ژوند لپاره جنګ کوي، او له دې نه ده خبره چې د ټول جهان د ۳۵ ملیونه ماشومانو جینکو لپاره هغه یوه لارښوده جوړه شوې، چې څنګه به د خپل تعلیم په لار کې د مشکلاتو مقابله کوې. او دوی به د ۲۰۱۵م کال پورې دا خبره یقینې کوي، چې د نړۍ هره جینۍ سکول ته ولاړه شي. ګورډن براون لیکي، هغې د ماشومانو جینکو د تعلیم لپاره ډیرې هڅې کړې ، او باید هر څوک یي د خپلې لور شان وګڼي. پر ملاله یوسفزۍ د برید پر ضد د نړۍ په لروبر کې په راډیوګانو، ټیلي ویزنو، ورځپاڼو پر ټولنیزه ویبسایټونو خبرې کېږي بلکې له ملګروملتونو، امنېسټي انټرنېشنل، د بشري حقونو نړیوالې ډلې راواخلې د پاکستان، افغانستان او امریکا په ګډون ګڼو ولسمشرانو یې پر هغې د شوي برید غندنې کړې او له ملالې سره د پیوستون په موخه د پاکستان په ګڼو برخو کې لاریونونو او مظاهرې وشوې او وړمه ورځ د فرانسې په پېرس کې د یونیسکو په لوی مرکز کې د دغه نړیوالې ادارې غړیو د ملالې لپاره د یوې شېبې چوپیتا ونیوله. او هغه یې یوه ننګیاله ماشومه وبلله.

India’s soft spot economy, not military

BY: Ding Gang
Fifty years have passed since the Sino-Indian Border War of 1962. Many young Chinese only have a vague idea of that war, but the Indians haven't forgotten. The Times of India recently published a series of articles on the 1962 conflict. One of the articles, "50 years on, China is an opportunity as well as a challenge," published on October 10, criticized Indians who "never looked at ourselves critically on that war. And, perhaps, left gaps in future strategic thought." According to the article, India remains mired in the unspoken thought that "the war stopped when China carried out a unilateral cease-fire," and the greatest challenge of India is how it "learns to live with China." Such thoughts are still haunting Indians after five decades. Some Indians still worry that sometime in the future, China, with increasing military power, may retake the land that it recovered but later gave to India five decades ago. As the article points out, "As a society, India doesn't invest in Chinese thought, language or culture and continue to train our attentions to Pakistan or the US. You would be hard-pressed to find Chinese scholars in India." As a result, some Indians do not believe China will sincerely sit down at the negotiation table and engage in peaceful talks with India so as to completely solve the problems of boundary demarcation. More importantly, India cannot understand where China's strength lies today, and thus fails to find a way through which it can really deal with China's influence or seek joint development. In the past 50 years, China has witnessed great changes in its military power. The PLA's arms and equipment are apparently better than those of the Indian army, and China has increased its spending on border defense. But China's military growth is essentially simultaneous with its economic development. The Sino-Indian gap actually lies in the economy. China's power stems from its reform and opening-up. Today China has become the second largest economy in the world. What deserves more attention from India is the spillover effect of the Chinese economy, rather than the comparison of military power between the two countries. Due to the insistently deepening cooperation between China and ASEAN, this region has a bright economic future ahead. Compared with military growth, the influence of economic development takes place in a much more indirect and implicit way. However, the latter probably has greater influence, as promoting economic growth is key to winning public support. East of India, changes are taking place. As soon as the vigor of Myanmar, which has embarked on the path of reform, is activated, the economic fever brought by prosperous development throughout East Asia will spread all the way to India's border. The Stillwell Road through Southeast Asia, once used to transport supplies to the Chinese from the Allies from 1942 to 1945, will have a greater effect than it did in World War II. As more and more ordinary Indians, especially those living in bordering regions of northeastern India, feel the benefits of rapid economic growth in China and East Asia, how will they look at New Delhi? This is probably the question that India needs to give the most consideration. Fundamentally, artillery and rockets are used to keep the public happy, which China has long recognized. In the 21st century, it is social development and better civil livelihood that best help collect public support. India has greater military strength in its northeastern regions than before. However, the Assam state remains in chaos, and a recent flood left 1.7 million people homeless. Development has remained stagnant in this region for years. The poor economy will only worsen ethnic conflict. India's soft spot is economic, not military. India has no better choice than to quickly boost its economic growth and improve people's lives in its northeastern regions. India's military strength may help defend its border with China. But China's influence, no matter how indirect it looks at the moment, cannot be avoided. Instead, it's pressing on India right now. The author is a senior editor with the People's Daily. He's now stationed in Bangkok.

U.S. ELECTIONS: President Gaga by The Hillywood Show®

Obama, Romney trade punchlines instead of punches

President Obama and GOP rival Mitt Romney take a break from their tough election battle to throw some lighthearted jabs at each other - and themselves - at the annual Alfred E. Smith Dinner in New York City

Obama accuses Republican rival of suffering "Romnesia"

President Barack Obama turned his opponent's name into an ailment on Friday, accusing rival Mitt Romney of suffering from "Romnesia" for emphasizing moderate positions rather than the conservative ones he put forward in the Republican primary race. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has closed a gap in opinion polls with the Democratic incumbent after giving a strong performance in the first presidential debate on October 3, during which he sounded a moderate note on healthcare reform and the need for government regulation - highlights of Obama's platform. After a lackluster appearance in that debate, the president has given fiery retorts since then, both in the second debate on October 16 - which many observers said Obama won - and on the campaign trail. Obama told a crowd of some 9,000 in the battleground state of Virginia that Romney was backtracking on his conservative-leaning promises. "He's forgetting what his own positions are, and he's betting that you will, too. I mean, he's changing up so much and backtracking and sidestepping, we've gotta ... name this condition that he's going through," Obama said. "I think it's called Romnesia," he said to hoots and applause from the crowd. Obama took the riff on amnesia to great length, describing "symptoms" that coincided with Romney's positions on abortion and taxes for the wealthy. "If you say you'll protect a woman's right to choose, but you stand up at a primary debate and said that you'd be delighted to sign a law outlawing ... that right to choose in all cases - man, you've definitely got Romnesia," he said. "If you say earlier in the year you're going to give tax cuts for the top 1 percent, and then in a debate you say, 'I don't know anything about giving tax cuts to rich folks,' you need to get a thermometer, take your temperature, because you've probably got Romnesia." Romney's campaign shot back that Obama, who has focused a lot of attention on women voters since the debate, had promoted policies that hurt women particularly. "Women haven't forgotten how we've suffered over the last four years in the Obama economy with higher taxes, higher unemployment, and record levels of poverty," said Virginia lawmaker Barbara Comstock in a statement sent by the campaign. "President Obama has failed to put forward a second-term agenda - and when you don't have a plan to run on, you stoop to scare tactics," she said. Obama has lost his large lead in polls in several swing states since the first debate, but a Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist poll out on Friday shows the Democrat ahead in Iowa by eight points and Wisconsin by six points. Reuters/Ipsos polling data shows Obama ahead among likely women voters nationally by 48.5 percent to 42.1 percent, down from a lead of almost 12 percentage points in the week to September 23.

Billionaire Bahraini Prince Tossed Off Flight After Drunken Rant In Cockpit
An Arab prince was marched off a passenger jet at Heathrow by police officers armed with Taser guns after he drunkenly stormed the cockpit to complain about the poor service. Mubarak Hamad, 29, a Bahraini billionaire prince who lives in London, has been charged with being drunk on an aircraft and is due to appear in court later this month. Shortly after boarding the British Airways Boeing 777 to Doha in Qatar via Bahrain, it is understood that the prince began shouting and complaining about the service. Members of the crew were allegedly forced to call the police after he made his way into the cockpit and refused to go back to his seat. Mr Hamad was then dragged off the plane by officers armed with stun guns and taken to a police station where his DNA, mugshot and fingerprints were taken. He was bailed out, but was told he was being formally charged when he answered his bail on Wednesday. He is due to appear before magistrates in London later this month. Mr Hamad, who is believed to be a close relation of Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, lives in Eaton Square, Belgravia. Past and present residents of the square include Sir Sean Connery, Sir Roger Moore and José Mourinho, the former Chelsea football manager. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Mubarak Hamad, 29, of Eaton Square, Belgravia, was charged on October 17 with being drunk on an aircraft and has been bailed to appear at Uxbridge magistrates’ court.” Human rights campaigners have in the past criticized King Hamad, whose regime has been accused of violently repressing pro-democracy activists. This is not the first time that members of the Middle East’s elite have found themselves on the wrong side of the law in Britain. Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud, a Saudi prince, was jailed for life in 2010 for beating and strangling his servant at a five-star hotel in London. When arrested, he at first wrongly believed he had diplomatic immunity. The son of the billionaire Emir of Ajman, part of the United Arab Emirates, had his £200,000 Ferrari FF seized by police and displayed outside Scotland Yard because it was uninsured. Sheikh Rashid Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi boasted later that officers handed back the keys as soon as they discovered who he was, writing on Facebook: “Arab money talks.” Read more:

Hundreds of Saudi female activists stage protest rallies in Riyadh, Awamiyah

Hundreds of female activists have taken to the streets in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province to protest against the violation of women’s rights in the kingdom. The protesters staged a gathering on Tuesday in the town of Awamiyah to protest the harassment of female students while leaving school, the Al Jazeera Magazine reported. Also in Riyadh, people held a rally and blocked a main road in the city in protest against the arrest of Haila al-Qaseer. Qaseer, 37, was charged over her alleged contribution to terrorist organizations, instigating armed resistance against security personnel, acquiring arms, and branding the government as infidel. She has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The latest demonstrations against the Saudi regime came in the face of the monarchy's heavy-handed handling of critics and its zero tolerance for protest gatherings. On October11, the Saudi Interior Ministry issued a statement threatening to deal “firmly” with those participating in any demonstrations in support of political prisoners, who the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association says number to about 30,000. Since February 2011, protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Saudi Arabia, mainly in Qatif and Awamiyah in the Eastern Province, to call for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, as well as an end to widespread discrimination against Shias.

Those rigging 1990 elections would be brought to book: Ashraf

PM Raja Pervez Ashraf has termed the SC verdict in Asghar Khan case as significant. Addressing a news conference at the PM House on Friday‚ Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said on the basis of investigations‚ action would be taken as per law and the Constitution. FIA would carry out fair and transparent investigations and those found responsible would not be spared, the PM said. He said findings of the investigations would be made public and every penny of the nation would be recovered. He said both who doled out money and the beneficiaries should apologize from the nation but the law would take its own course. He said all those who planned and executed the conspiracy stand exposed and are accountable to the people. The PM said the verdict of the apex court is significant and will have far reaching implications. He said in 1990 those hundred percent sure of their success in elections were defeated but the history has revealed the truth after twenty-two years. He said at that time Shaheed Benazir Bhutto had remarked that they have stolen the elections and they have run a mock. He said instead of listening to her genuine grievance‚ the then Establishment tried to declare her a security risk. The PM said it was unfortunate that elections were stolen in a fraudulent manner which amounted to dacoity on mandate of the people. He said it was ironic that some people deprived people of their mandate while sitting in drawing rooms. He said the tactics used to defeat some candidates and ensure victory of some others amounted to murder of democracy and today stand of the PPP has been vindicated by the Supreme Court judgment. Raja Pervez Ashraf said as the PPP has always been a victim of fraud in polls‚ it is determined to hold free‚ fair and transparent elections. He said every effort has been made in this regard and appointment of an independent‚ credible and neutral Chief Election Commissioner is proof of that. Replying to a question he said that no political cell was working in the Presidency.

Afghanistan feels pressure in hunt for Swat Taliban chief

More than a week since Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai
was shot by suspected Taliban gunmen on her way to school, the pressure to bring those behind the attempted murder to justice is not just on Pakistan but also on neighbouring Afghanistan. The Pakistani government says Mullah Fazlullah - leader of the Taliban group which has claimed responsibility for the shooting - is hiding in the mountainous Afghan border regions - and has called for him to be handed over. Pakistan has been shelling Afghan border villages for months, in response to what it says are cross-border raids by Fazlullah's men, including an attack in which 17 Pakistani police were beheaded.
Usually, it is the other way round - with Kabul accusing Pakistan of giving sanctuary to Taliban who carry out assaults inside Afghanistan.
Military offensive
But there are suspicions that any action against Fazlullah - the leader of the Swat faction of the Pakistani Taliban - could become entangled in the bitter relationship between the two neighbours.There are even reports Afghanistan is using him as a bargaining tool against Pakistan. Officially, the Afghan government rejects Pakistani claims that the man also known as Mullah Radio is still on its soil - three years since he fled a Pakistani military offensive that forced him out of Swat, Malala Yousufzai's home. But in private, there is no such denial. An Afghan security source who asked not to be named said that there were "reports that Fazlullah was in Kamdesh or Chapa Dara" - two districts in the border provinces of Nuristan and Kunar. But the source rejected claims the Afghan intelligence service, the NDS, is backing the Pakistani Taliban leader - who is also known as the FM Mullah for the sometimes lyrical broadcasts he used to make when he was in control of Swat valley. When asked however if any action against him was likely, the security source answered: "Fazlullah does not attack any Afghan security forces." If he is hiding in the mountains of Kunar and Nuristan, they make a perfect hiding place. Stretching along the ill-defined Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier, they have long been a haven for militants, who move between isolated mountain hamlets and caves that were first used by Mujahideen fighters battling Soviet troops in the 1980s. Extremism 'as a tool'
Despite years of US and Afghan military offensives - and just two years before Nato forces are due to pull out from Afghanistan - the two provinces remain largely outside government control. The Americans lost dozens of troops in battles with insurgents as they tried to pacify the region, before closing down their bases there two years ago. There are also reports of Fazlullah being in Nuristan's Kamdesh district, where one US post was nearly over-run by insurgents in 2009. At a press conference with the NATO secretary general, President Hamid Karzai was asked about Pakistani claims that Mullah Fazlullah was still in Afghanistan. But he did not directly answer, saying instead that he hoped the shooting of the schoolgirl would convince Islamabad that using extremism as "a tool against others" was not in its interest. One of the president's advisers, who asked not to be named, took a different line saying the Afghan government "does not have the power to use Fazlullah as a tool." But he said it was up to the Americans to take action against him. "They have the technology." American special forces still make forays into the lawless north-eastern border region, and are believed to have been involved in a strike in Kunar in August which killed Mullah Dadullah, another Pakistani Taliban leader. Asked if any action was planned against Fazlullah, the US military in Afghanistan declined to comment.

Malala Yousafzai status updates,13:50, Friday 19 October 2012 – additional update

The injury
Malala was shot at point blank range Bullet hit left brow - instead of penetrating skull it travelled underneath the skin, the whole length of side of head and into neck Shock wave shattered thinnest bone of skull and fragments were driven into the brain Soft tissues at base of jaw/neck damaged Bullet carried on through, across top of shoulder and landed above the left shoulder blade The surgery to remove the bullet was successful and she was moved to the intensive care unit She was then reviewed and she was transferred by the military army to specialised military facilities in Rawalpindi She stabilised and improved Transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) on Monday 15 October due to their expertise in gunshot and blast injuries Care at QEHB
Malala was not conscious on arrival; she was in a medically-induced coma Her sedation was reduced by the clinical team in a controlled manner and she regained consciousness on Tuesday afternoon She had some movement then and that has since strengthened At University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) she was re-evaluated fully and a number of further injuries were identified: Injured left jawbone at its joint Fracture of bone behind ear Fracture of base of the skull What is her condition now?
She is not on a ventilator; she has had a trachiostomy and is breathing through the tube in her neck Can’t talk because of tube in throat but can communicate through writing Understandably gets tired very easily Aware of surroundings Impact of brain injury, not been able to do full evaluation because brain is still swollen She has movement of her arms and legs She has stood with assistance from nurses She is currently fighting an infection Next steps in care Needs time to recover and recuperate She is still very ill We need to get her strong enough to do reconstructive surgery The skull bone will need to be replaced either with her own bone or with a titanium plate Surgery weeks to months down the line This is a fluid situation and she sustained a very, very grave injury. She’s not out of the woods yet, but we are hopeful she will make a good recovery 08:10, Friday 19 October 2012 Malala Yousufzai’s condition this morning is “comfortable and stable”. The 15-year-old, who sustained her injuries 10 days ago, is being treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham with a team from both the Queen Elizabeth and Birmingham Children’s hospitals looking after her.

A real 'taboo for Pakistani society'

The attack on a 14-year-old girl
in Pakistan has prompted society to take a firm stand against extremism, political scientist Andrea Fleschenberg tells DW.
DW: Ms. Fleschenberg, at the beginning of last week, the 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban. The incident sparked uproar in the international media. How was it discussed in the Pakistani media?
Andrea Fleschenberg: This incident is tied to a number of issues and conflicts within Pakistani society and politics. In order to understand the frenzy it has caused among the public, one cannot see it as an isolated event. Of course, the Pakistani public is talking about an attack on a girl who has been fighting for an equality standing for girls' education in her region for years and through that campaigning became a public figure. But there are other issues - this incident is being mixed up with a public debate about US drone attacks. The question of how Pakistan is dealing with the war on extremism in society is also being raised. And, in 2014, international troops are due to withdrawal from Afghanistan. What implications will that have? How will we get control over the threat posed by the Taliban after that? And then there's Malala - a template to discuss all that one more time. So it's not only about the assault on her, but it's also about the question: what kind of conflict are we talking about here? Is it a war lead by an international coalition? Or is it a conflict which should be dealt with more within society?
Is this societal conflict of which the Pakistani media are speaking also being brought up in politics? A number of Pakistani politicians have, after all, condemned the attack.
To some extent. Many politicians have criticized the fact that Malala was attacked, but only few have concretely condemned the Taliban for the attack. That has a lot to do with the power - or perceived power - the Taliban has. Many are afraid of jeopardizing their personal security by condemning the Taliban, who have also threatened the national and also international media after the attack.
People in Pakistan have been concerned with the political debate over drone attacks which you just mentioned and also the withdrawal of the ISAF from Afghanistan for some time now. Why has the Malala incident caused people to focus so strongly on these issues just now?
In Pakistan, we have seen a number of cases of violence against women - whether from society, politics or because of terrorism. These cases have always attracted a great amount of public attention. And it is quite easy for the media to then connect such topics with other important ones. On the other hand, the attack on a 14-year-old girl who is on her way to school with friends is also a real taboo - it is an attack on a child advocate of the rights guaranteed to her by the constitution - the right to an education. And then, in the Pakistani media, we have a number of people, be it scientists, politicians, journalists or bureaucrats, who are enraged over the incident.
How are ordinary people reacting?
It seems as though the section of the public which is furious about the attack because it was an attack on general values - and also the people who are afraid their daughters could very well be next - are less organized than, say, the people who so vehemently demonstrated against the Muhammad video weeks ago. There are much fewer people publicly demonstrating against the attack on Malala Yousafzai. Another thing we are seeing is that there is a part of society that criticizes women for becoming public figures through fighting for causes, or becoming victims of violence.
Considering the attention the media is giving the incident, do you think anything will fundamentally change with regards to the Taliban or women's rights? Or will all the commotion eventually die down?
That is the important question here and that is what is also being discussed - whether or not this is really a turning point. Was the attack on Malala such a shock for the nation that Pakistanis are now asking how they want to deal with the immense political challenge that the Taliban pose. A new president will be elected in 2013 and there are a number of different strategies: to either voice condemnation head on, to negotiate with them, or to order further military operations against them. What happened to Malala has really brought all that up. What is also important is the new debate about education that the incident triggered. Pakistani society has a problem - not only because the illiteracy rates among women and girls is very low in international comparison. It needs education to be able to handle economic and societal problems. But it is still very much up in the air whether or not anything will change. Dr. Andrea Fleschenberg is a political scientist with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) at the Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan.

‘A step forward for international cricket in Pakistan’

International cricket of a sort returns to Pakistan this weekend for the first time since the Sri Lanka team were attacked in 2009, but a resumption of tours by overseas sides remains a distant prospect. An International World XI captained by Sri Lankan legend Sanath Jayasuriya and featuring several former South African and West Indian Test players will take on a Pakistan All Stars side led by Shahid Afridi in two Twenty 20s in Karachi on Saturday and Sunday. It is the first time top foreign cricket players are in Pakistan since a deadly attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009, which prompted overseas sides to stop touring the cricket-mad but troubled country. After a three-and-a-half year drought, enthusiasm for this weekend’s games is high, with fans snapping up tickets and players talking up the short tour, a personal initiative of the sports minister of Sindh province Mohammad Ali Shah. “I took it as a challenge,” Shah, himself a club-level cricketer, told AFP. “I don’t claim it will instantly revive international cricket in Pakistan but I am sure that these matches will change views on our country.” The Lahore attack, which left eight Pakistanis dead and seven of the Sri Lankan contingent injured, turned the Pakistan team into cricket nomads, forced to play “home” series at neutral venues in England, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates. While security in much of Pakistan has improved since 2009, bombings and shootings are a near-daily occurrence as the country battles homegrown Taliban, and the chance of any high-profile tours looks very distant. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) almost convinced Bangladesh to tour in April this year, only to have their hopes dashed by the Dhaka High Court, which blocked the tour on security grounds. Ehsan Mani, the former president of the International Cricket Council (ICC), the sport’s governing body, hailed this weekend’s matches as a step on the way to normalising Pakistan’s position. “This is a commendable effort,” Mani told AFP. “The visiting team has some well known players and I am sure when they return they will tell people about Pakistan and it could prove a small step in a long process.” But the PCB has done its best to keep this weekend’s matches at arm’s length, terming them “unofficial” and insisting it bears no responsibility for security, fearful that any breach would set back the rehabilitation process. Indeed, since the Bangladesh humiliation the PCB has been very reluctant to say anything about its efforts to persuade overseas sides to visit, leading many to wonder if they are making any efforts at all in this direction. Mani criticised the PCB for its apparent lack of a clear strategy. “I don’t think they have gone about reviving cricket in a normal way,” he said. “It seems they are making efforts on an ad-hoc basis and not getting involved in these matches in a big way. It is disappointing.” PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf said luring international teams back to Pakistan was not easy, but insisted the board was taking measures to restore confidence. “We have planned to build a huge stadium (in Islamabad) along with a hotel within the premises that will allow surveillance with heavy security and teams will be carried from the airport to the stadium with the help of helicopters,” he said. Jayasuriya, 43, the big-hitting opening batsman who helped Sri Lanka to their historic World Cup win in 1996, was optimistic as he arrived in Karachi on Thursday. “I am happy to be part of these matches,” Jayasuriya told reporters. “It depends on country to country (whether they tour Pakistan) but in my opinion Pakistan is a safe country.” West Indian double World Cup-winning batsman Alvin Kallicharran, who is coaching the international side, was similarly bullish. “I think they (other countries) will have to have a look,” he said. “With the success of these matches there will go a good message. “Pakistan is a part of world cricket and we are here to show that Pakistan is a place to play cricket.” It is encouraging that players such as Jayasuriya, and South Africa’s Andre Nel and Nantie Hayward, are willing to come, and a successful weekend will undoubtedly send out a positive message about the country as a cricket destination. But the top names on the International World XI team sheet are all players at least five years past their peak. Bringing a high-profile team such as England or Australia, would be a very different prospect. While minnows such as Bangladesh balk at visiting, it is hard to see how bigger name teams will be persuaded. Whatever the long-term chances, for now Pakistan’s tens of millions of cricket nuts are just delighted to have a couple of games on their doorstep. “It will surely be fun,” said Usman Siddiqui, looking for tickets. “At least we have some cricket on our grounds, which have been completely unused. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, we will have big teams some day.”

Pakistan SC says former Army chief, DG ISI, president involved in rigging 1990 elections

The Express Tribune
Announcing the short order of a 16-year-old case, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said the then Army chief, president and DG ISI were involved in rigging the elections of 1990 and ordered for an inquiry by the FIA against all those involved, Express News reported on Friday. The court said that corrupt practices took place in the 1990 elections and the Asghar Khan petition was now admissible for regular hearing as it is a crucial matter of national importance. The short order stated that a political cell was formed in the President House in 1990 and former DG ISI Assad Durrani, Army Chief Aslam Beg and president Ghulam Ishaq Khan were involved in the rigging of the elections. The court said that the elections were influenced monetarily. Ordering the FIA to initiate a transparent inquiry against those involved according to criminal law, the short order said that the FIA and Army can assist the civilian government but cannot interfere in it. The court also ordered for immediate termination of any poltical or election cell operational within the Presidency at the moment. The Mehrangate scandal emerged after the Supreme Court began the hearing of air marshal Asghar Khan’s petition in which he stated that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) rigged the 1990 elections by handing out money to several politicians. During the hearing of the case, harsh words were exchanged between Attorney General Irfan Qadir and the three-member bench of the court. Qadir said that the Supreme Court cannot regulate the presidential office but that was what seemed to be happening here. Expressing displeasure over Justice Jawwad S Khawaja’s statement earlier that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had not done anything in four years, the attorney general said that the court should not blame the government for this. Instead, he said, the court should tell the people why the case has been pending for 16 years. Further criticising the court, Qadir said that the judiciary had even given permission for military intervention, to which Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry remarked that he should present arguments according to his duty. Ministry of Defence representatives were also present in the court. They told the bench that letters had been written to the Military Intelligence (MI) and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) with regards to the Rs80 million that were allegedly kept away. The Supreme Court then reserved its judgement on the case and said that the short order would be announced at 12:30pm. Earlier, former head of the MI Sindh chapter Brigadier Hamid Saeed submitted his statement claiming that the 1990 operation was initiated by the army and supervised by the MI for “national interest”.

After attack on Malala, Taliban threaten journalists who cover it

The Pakistani Taliban sought to silence the teenage education activist Malala Yousufzai by shooting her in the head. They're also trying to stifle the widespread criticism of the attack in the news media by threatening journalists in Pakistan. The militant group's menacing statements have intensified fears among reporters in a country that is already one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. The attack on Malala, 14, in the northwestern district of Swat last week has left her battling to recover from her injuries in a hospital in Britain and generated a wave of shock and anger in Pakistan and around the world.The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the act, but they didn't appear to have anticipated the level of revulsion and condemnation that it would provoke. Thousands of people joined in rallies across Pakistan in support of the wounded teen, and calls grew for a strong response from the government.As coverage of the shooting -- and the appalled reaction to it -- swept across the Pakistani and international news media, the Taliban began issuing lengthy statements trying to justify the targeting of Malala, who had defied them by insisting on the right of girls to go to school. They also complained that "this filthy, godless media has taken huge advantage of this situation, and journalists have started passing judgment on us," raising the prospect of killing those journalists.Reporters in northwestern Pakistan, the region where the Taliban are active, say they have been alerted by authorities of an increased risk to their security and some of them have received warnings that they are being specifically targeted. "Things after Malala have become more tense, as the Taliban is very angry with the way the attack was reported," said a veteran journalist in Peshawar, the main city in the restive northwestern region near the border with Afghanistan. "We are scared, but what can we do? We have to work." The journalist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals, noted that factions of the Taliban had killed and abducted other journalists in the past because they were unhappy with their coverage. Tanvir Ahmed Tahir, the executive director of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society, a trade body of publishers, said the organization had requested extra security from the government to protect its members' operations and staff in light of the Taliban statements. The militants' threats against journalists for covering an attack for which they had unabashedly claimed responsibility may seem contradictory. But it goes to the heart of the Taliban's approach, according to Mustafa Qadri, Pakistan researcher for the human rights group Amnesty International. Attack on Pakistani schoolgirl galvanises anti-Taliban feeling "The underlying thing to understand is the Taliban only have one modus operandi: violence," said Qadri, who is based in Britain but travels to Pakistan regularly. "They use it to intimidate people and coerce them into doing what they want." He said that some of the local journalists he had spoken to in northwestern Pakistan -- including in Mingora, the main town in the Swat Valley where Malala's family lives -- were "very shaken" by the Taliban threats and had asked him to pray for them."These people have families and children," he said. "Part of their job is going out into the field -- they don't have luxury of leaving the country" like foreign journalists.
Despite the risks, the Malala story is still "actively being taken up by the press" and journalists are "doing their duty," Tahir of the newspaper society said. That role is all the more significant in a part of the world caught amid various geopolitical riptides. The volatile area southwest of Peshawar, along the porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, is a base for extremist groups, the focus of the controversial U.S. drone strike program and the scene of clashes between Pakistani security forces and militants. Malala: A global symbol but still just a kid
Much of it has become a no-go area for reporters, especially those from Western news organizations, but some local journalists still venture into risky areas. "If we don't have these people doing this job, we won't know what's happening," said Qadri. "When conflicts are fought away from the media lens, that increases the scope for abuses."
The dangers that journalists already face in Pakistan are well documented. More journalists were killed there than in any other country in both 2010 and 2011, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a group based in New York that promotes press freedom around the world. "Many of those who died in targeted killings had first been warned to be silent," the group said in a blog post on its website. Threats can come not just from militants, but also from government agencies, the CPJ said. "It's really tough being a journalist in Pakistan, especially on the front line where they are under constant pressure from the Taliban, the state and even political parties," said Qadri, who worked as a reporter in the country for four years. "It's a very politicized environment."

Pakistan: Protect Students, Teachers, Schools From Attack

.........Malala Yousafzai is One of Many School-age Victims..........
The Pakistani government must take immediate steps to protect students, teachers, schools, and rights defenders at risk of attack, Human Rights Watch said today. Armed groups including the Taliban, al Qaeda, and their affiliates should cease attacks that target children, educational personnel, and schools. Human Rights Watch has collected reports of 96 school attacks in Pakistan this year alone. Most of these attacks took place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) bordering Afghanistan. Fourteen attacks were reported from Mohmand Agency in the tribal areas. Dozens of attacks were reported from various districts of KP. Thirteen schools were attacked in Swabi district, 12 in Charsadda district, and 11 in Mardan district. Schools have also been attacked in Balochistan and Sindh provinces.The United Nations reported 152 incidents of partial or complete destruction of school facilities in FATA and KP in 2011. “Parts of Pakistan are among the most dangerous places in the world to go to school today,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s time Pakistani authorities understand that expressions of outrage alone are inadequate and such attacks will only end if they hold abusers accountable.” Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old student and outspoken advocate for children’s right to education, was shot in the head and neck on October 9, 2012, leaving her in critical condition. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack garnered condemnation from across the political spectrum in Pakistan. Just three days later, at least three Shia university students – both male and female – were critically hurt when extremists threw acid at their faces while they were on their way home to Parachinar, in FATA, after taking exams in Kohat, KP. According to a local nongovernmental organization, this was the first such “acid throwing case” in FATA. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan also claimed responsibility for this attack. “The unity of global condemnation and the speed of response in the wake of Malala’s shooting were phenomenal, but we need to see the same kind of reaction every time a student or school is attacked,” Hasan said. “The schools that have remained for years as piles of rubble across Pakistan’s north-west bring into question the government’s level of commitment to seeing children return to school in safety.” Human Rights Watch said that nongovernmental organization workers in FATA and KP have been targeted, including for their work on education. · In July, Farida Afridi, a women’s rights activist was murdered apparently for her work on girls’ education and women’s empowerment in Khyber Agency, FATA. · In May, a local Islamist politician issued an edict [fatwa] decrying girls’ education as un-Islamic, arguing that education persuaded girls to join nongovernmental organizations, and threatened to have women nongovernmental organization workers in Kohistan, KP, forcibly married. · In December 2011, militants gunned down and killed Zarteef Afridi, a decades-long teacher who started a school and was committed to promoting children’s and women’s rights in Khyber Agency, while he was on his way to school. Pakistan’s federal government should cooperate with provincial authorities to create an advance rapid response system whenever there are attacks on schools, so that these facilities are quickly repaired or rebuilt and destroyed educational material is replaced so that children can return to school as soon as possible. During reconstruction, students should be provided education through alternative means and, where appropriate, given psychosocial support. The Pakistan army should also refrain from turning schools into targets by using them as bases, said Human Rights Watch. A 2009 documentary about Malala Yousafzai indicates, for example, that her school had been used as a military base by the army. “This is more than just the case of the shooting of one brave girl, but a crisis for the entire Pakistani education system,” Hasan said. “It is time Pakistani authorities understood that those who seek to harm students and teachers wish to rob Pakistan of its future.”

Shia lawyer killed in northeast Lahore

A senior Shia lawyer has been killed in an attack by unknown gunmen in Pakistan’s northeastern city of Lahore, Press TV reports. Shakir Ali Rizvi was gunned down on Friday while he was on his way to Lahore’s High Court. Lawyers in Lahore have announced they would boycott courts on Friday in protest against the recent killings of Shia lawyers. On October 12, another Shia Lawyer, Mirza Waqar Hussain, was targeted in the southern port city of Karachi and later died of his gunshot wounds. Over the past months, pro-Taliban militants have killed hundreds of Shia Muslims in various parts of Pakistan. The country’s Shia leaders have called on the government to form a judicial commission to investigate the bloodshed. The killing of Shias has caused an international outrage, with rights groups and regional countries expressing concern over the ongoing deadly violence. Human Rights Watch issued a statement in September asking the Pakistani government to “urgently act” to protect the Shia Muslims in Pakistan.

UNESCO pays tribute to Malala Yousafzai

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today praised the bravery of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani 14-year-old girl
who was injured during an assassination attempt on 9 October. According to a statement on UNESCO's website, the Director-General was speaking at a tribute for the schoolgirl organized by UNESCO’s Executive Board, on the final day of its 190th session. “Malala was targeted because she stood up for every young girl’s basic human right to receive an education,” the Director-General said. “This is an attack against all young girls, against the right to learn, the right to live life to the full; and it is unacceptable.” “Faced with such extreme cowardice and brutality, UNESCO’s Member States should draw inspiration from the courage of Malala who in recent years defended publicly the right of all girls to go to school. Seen that a 14-year old can stand up to the Taleban, what should we—we who have political power and the will to act—do? Malala’s courage impels us to join the struggle against barbarism,” added Ms Bokova, who welcomed the Pakistani Government’s mobilization to protect schools and search for those behind the attempt on Malala’s life. “We are all Malala and her courage must inspire our struggle to ensure the fundamental right of every human being to receive an education,” she concluded. On 9 October, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head as she travelled home from school in a bus in Swat, in north-eastern Pakistan. According to media reports, the Taleban have claimed responsibility for the attack during which two other schoolgirls were injured. Malala Yousafzai was transferred to a British hospital on 15 October for prolonged medical treatment. Malala Yousafzai attracted public attention in 2009 when she published a blog telling of her life in Swat, in an area under Taleban control. She then became an activist campaigning for the rights of children and girls. The day following the attack, on 10 October, the Director-General issued a press release denouncing the attempted murder. She wished to express her support for the Pakistani schoolgirl, who became a symbol of the struggle in favour of the right to education

Washington to help Pak army fight threat of IEDs

The Express Tribune
In a bid to counter improvised explosive devices (IED) blasts, the US Department of Defence’s Joint Improvised Explosives Devices Defeat Organisation (JIEDDO) Director Lt Gen Michael Barbero announced that the US has agreed to develop a framework of cooperation with the Pakistani military.
Speaking at an event at the Atlantic Council, Gen Barbero said that after Afghanistan, Pakistan has witnessed the most IED blasts. The director added that in the past two years there has been a substantial increase in IED blasts, with 16,000 just taking place in 2011, whereas June 2012 has seen a record surge compared to previous years. He said, however, that casualties from IEDs have decreased. The related graph explains the number of IED blasts in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Interestingly, there is a marginal difference between the number of blasts and the death toll in Pakistan. On the other hand, the gap between the death toll and the number of blasts in Afghanistan is substantially large. When commenting on Pakistan, Gen Barbero said that the US is prepared to provide training and equipment to Pakistan to help counter IEDs, adding that some equipment has already been transferred to the country.
The JIEDDO director, who met Interior Minister Rehman Malik in Washington last month, said that Pakistan has developed a national strategy to counter IEDs, but it needs resources for effective implementation of the plan. “This (IEDs) is a mutual threat,” said Gen Barbero. “We must cooperate to go after both, the money and networks in Pakistan that threaten the Pakistani military and Nato.” He added that there is a dire need for the US and Pakistan to move beyond mere discussion and to co-operate over the issue. Chemical composition “[Up to] 84% of IEDs in Afghanistan are homemade,” the JIEDDO Director pointed out, adding that more than 59% are ammonium nitrate-based. Gen Barbero said that the US has also seen potassium chlorate, used in manufacturing matches, being used by the Haqqani network in Regional Command East in Afghanistan for IEDs, a material that comes from Pakistan. He informed that the US is also talking to the fertilizer industry on the issue of IEDs. In response to a question, he said that even though Pakistan had taken steps like changing bags and adding numbers to them, it didn’t bring a change in the amount of fertiliser entering Afghanistan.

A tribute to Begum Nusrat Bhutto

A glorious tribute will be paid to Begum Nusrat Bhutto
on her 1st death anniversary being observed on 23rd October‚ 2012 (Tuesday) throughout the country The 1st death anniversary of Begum Nusrat Bhutto will be observed on 23rd October‚ 2012 (Tuesday) throughout the country Begum Nusrat Bhutto was born in 1929 in Esfahan‚ Iran.Before emigrating to Pakistan‚ Nusrat attended and was educated at the University of Isfahan where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Humanities in 1950. After returning to Pakistan in the late 1980s‚ she served two terms as a Member of Parliament to the National Assembly from the constituency of Larkana‚ Sindh. Begum Nusrat Bhutto rose to political prominence in the late 1970s and early 1980s‚ when she led protests and demonstrations against the military dictatorship.Begum Nusrat Bhutto also became a cabinet member. Begum Nusrat Bhutto‚ former first lady of Pakistan and the mother of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto‚ died at a Dubai hospital on October 23‚ 2011at age of 82.

Pakistan: Fiddling leaders

What kind of a democracy are we that even the people’s basic needs of education and health, which in recognised democracies are in the deepest sights of their political leaders, are not even in the remotest thoughts of ours’ even at these election times? Even as in the western democracies they have strong delivering health services and educational systems, health and education are invariably hot topics of the hustings. The power contenders lay out in concrete terms to the electorate what they have in their plans to further revamp the health and education sectors so as to convince them of their intended programmes’ benefits and woo them over to vote for them. In the 2008 US presidential race, candidate Barack Obama’s healthcare plan was in great dispute. He was feverishly selling it to the American people, telling them it promised them better healthcare facilities. His Republican opponents were denouncing it equally vehemently as a bad plan. And his healthcare plan, now in force after he had got it through the Congress in the teeth of the Republican’s stiff opposition, is once again in bitter contention in the current presidential race. And the Republicans are vowing to quash it if their man Mitt Romney makes to the White House and they secure a decisive voice in the midterm Congressional elections. In Britain, they have very vibrant health and education services. Yet the politicians there keep all the time fretting how to spruce them further. And almost every government brings in whatever it deems would improve the facilities for the British public’s larger benefit. In fact, more often than not the power contenders’ education and health plans make or mar their fortunes at the ballot box. And in all probability, the education reforms that the incumbent Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition has introduced will become the next election’s hot issue. The opposition Labour party contends that instead of doing good, these have hurt the education system. But here in the country both education and health are two orphans that draw a lot of lip service from the politicos across the spectrum but none embraces them affectionately or sincerely. They all only fiddle with them, meaning not what they say about their uplift in reality. The pathetic state in which both exist is no secret. It is an open reality, calling emphatically for doing all urgently to pull them out of the rot they have sunk in and are sinking in unchecked. When a disease like dengue fever breaks out, it snuffs out numerous lives in no time. The incidences like contaminated medication in a cardiology health facility push patients in droves to the jaws of fatality. And just a short visit to any government health facility is a lifelong searing experience in inadequate healthcare attendance and dirt and filth. And it is a mere wastage of breath to dwell on the sickening condition of education in the public sector, when no concern is even in evidence in any of the political echelons on this score. The state-run schooling in particular is just an insult to education. Dilapidated buildings or no buildings at all, rampant teacher absenteeism, near absence of science teachers and laboratories, moonlighting teachers, almost all political appointees, and ghost schools are its distinctive hallmarks. The system, indeed the entire government-run education, is screaming for cure. But its wailing has no takers at all out there in the political echelons across the divide. By their acts, the politicos, whether in or out of the government, have demonstrated inexorably that none has a heart in improving education or healthcare in the country. Vaguely, they all talk of increasing the share of health and education by this or that percentage of the GDP. But all that is unmistakably by way of sloganeering. When it comes to actualities, these two sectors are blithely starved of funds. The PPP government in fact inflicted its first economy cut on the Higher Education Commission by hefty billions and scrapped its predecessor’s plan for establishing nine science and technology universities, dismissing it peremptorily as impracticable. And as we are hearing the din of daanish schools, laptops and what not in Punjab, the state-run schooling there has been left to go to the dogs. Of education in Sindh and Balochistan, what we have heard is the closure of hundreds of schools, termed being of no use. And the public is in shrill in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa over state-run education’s ever-worsening condition in the province. But the sorriest part is that even in these election times neither education nor health is figuring at all in the demagoguery of the political elites across the spectrum. It is the accountability, dual nationality and if elections will be held or not that is hogging the politicos’ all discourse. But then we are no democracy but a plutocracy. And in that system, it is the elites, not the people, which matter.

Malala Yousafzai status updates

08:10, Friday 19 October 2012 Malala Yousufzai’s condition this morning is “comfortable and stable”. The 15-year-old, who sustained her injuries 10 days ago, is being treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham with a team from both the Queen Elizabeth and Birmingham Children’s hospitals looking after her.

Shahbaz Sharif:Videos do not lie

The video of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif's daughter, Rabia Imran, throwing her weight around inside a bakery in Lahore is making the rounds online these days. She demanded that the closed bakery be opened specially for her so that she be able to purchase the items she wanted. When that did not go her way, she showed how rude she could be by abusing the bakery shop worker — who was helpless because of the instructions of the management — and then, later on in the evening, the CCTV footage shows that her hired goons returned to the bakery and beat up the worker. This is a rotten example of how the elite has deluded itself into thinking it can do whatever it wants, by hook or by crook. The CM has arrested his son-in-law in answer to this footage because they were his guards. However, should the onus of responsibility not lie with the person who ordered the guards to do the nasty in the first place? That person is the CM's own daughter.
LATEST:Ali Imran granted bail by pro-Sharif family courts.

Pakistan: Girls school blown up in Nowshera

The school building was partially destroyed as a result of the explosion. Two explosions went off in a government-run primary school for girls in the Kalay Marhati area of District Nowshera, in the early hours of Friday. Fortunately, no one was present in the building when explosion took place. Later, the police personnel and bomb disposal squad reached the spot to gather evidence.