Saturday, October 20, 2012

US envoy arrives in Islamabad for bilateral talks

The US Special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, Saturday arrived in Islamabad on a two-day visit for talks on variety of bilateral issues and peace process in Afghanistan, officials and diplomats said. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry says that the visit is part of the ongoing engagements between the two countries and that the two sides will discuss all issues of mutual interest as well as concern. The visit comes at a time when diplomatic efforts for solution of the longstanding Afghan problems are gaining momentum as the endgame approaches. Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States have also an exclusive group to explore ways to push for the reconciliation process in Afghanistan ahead of the 2014 withdrawal of foreign troops. His trip builds on recent engagements, including Secretary Clinton's meetings with Foreign Minister Khar in Washington and President Zardari in New York, as well as the recent US-Pakistan Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism Working Group convened in Washington, earlier this month. Before his arrival, Ambassador Grossman attended a meeting of the International Contact Group (ICG) for Afghanistan in Ankara on Friday, which agreed to further support Afghan progress on establishing the parameters of an inclusive and transparent election process, and noted continued strong international support for Afghan-led reconciliation. The ICG members reiterated the international community's commitment to support inclusive, open and transparent political and security transition in Afghanistan.

Punjab PPP demands arrest, disqualification of Sharifs

PPP Punjab seeks disqualification of Sharif Brothers and inclusion of their names in ECL. A meeting PPP Punjab parliamentary party was held Monday under the chairmanship of Opposition leader Raja Riaz. Raja told the newsmen after the meeting that meeting had passed three resolutions. 1- Election Commission of Pakistan should disqualify all the leadership of IJI, including Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif. 2- Former military generals and politicians involved in IJI case should be arrested and their names should be included in Exit Control List. 3- Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif should be suspended with immediate effect so that he may not influence the investigations. Raja Riaz said Sharif Brothers should tender an apology to the nation for their political corruption. He Sharif Brothers should be disqualified foe ten years for conspiring against the Constitution with the help of a military general.

Tens of thousands protest gov't austerity measures in London

Tens of thousands of people from across Britain gathered in central London on Saturday in protest of the government's austerity policy.
The protesters following a call from the Trade Union Congress (TUC), urged the Conservative-Liberal coalition government to come to realize that its austerity prescription for the recession-hit country have failed. They argued that spending cuts are hitting jobs, services and living standards, and called for a new approach which puts focus on growth and an economy that works. "We have a stark and united message for the government. Austerity isn't working," said TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber. "Ministers told us that if we only accepted the pain, recovery would come," Barber said, "Instead we have been mired in a double dip recession." British opposition Labor Party leader Ed Miliband is also due to speak at the rally in the Hyde Park. Similar protests were also held in other parts of Britain such as Belfast and Glasgow.

Lashkar-e-Taiba claims Indian Kashmir hotel attack: Report

The Times of India
Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) has claimed responsibility for an attack outside a popular hotel in Indian Kashmir that killed a bellboy, media reports said Saturday. The banned outfit said four of its attackers "lobbed grenades and opened fire" at an Indian army convoy as it passed through the highway where the Silver Star hotel is located, the Urdu language Kashmir Uzma newspaper said. "Four of our fidayeen (suicide attackers) attacked the army convoy in which one of the army vehicles was badly damaged," the daily quoted LeT spokesman Abdullah Gaznavi as saying over the telephone. The attackers "reached their hideouts safely", Gaznavi added. Heavily-armed gunmen stormed the Silver Star hotel on Friday after an abortive attempt to attack the army convoy, killing a bellboy and injuring two others, the Indian police said. Gaznavi, however, blamed "retaliatory firing" by the Indian armed forces for the death of the hotel staff member. The attack, the first in Srinagar since May, occurred on a day when several senior officials from the army, police, intelligence agencies and government met to review the security situation in the state. In the May attack, two motorcyclists fired on a group of army officers, injuring seven. The LeT has been blamed by India for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. It has denied any role in the attacks. Separatist violence that has wrecked the tourism industry in the Muslim-majority region has been at its lowest ebb since the insurgency began in 1989.

Who in Pakistan should have protected Malala?


The gun and the press in Pakistan

Al Jazeera
When teenager Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban, Pakistan's media was warned to curb its coverage of the story.
When news broke from Pakistan that a 14-year-old girl had been shot by members of the Taliban just for promoting female education on her blog, news organisations around the world jumped on the story. In Pakistan, however, they had to treat the subject with care. The Taliban warned local media to curb their reporting, or deal with the consequences. This is not just a story about one attack - it is a tale of how the journalistic environment in Pakistan has grown so dangerous. According to media watchdog groups, at least 20 journalists have been murdered since 2010 and not one of those cases has resulted in a conviction.

Brahimi arrives in Damascus to push ceasefire

UN and Arab League envoy meets Syrian officials to ask for a brief halt to hostilities over Eid al-Adha holiday.

Malala Yousafzai status updates ,11:30, Saturday 20 October 2012

Malala's condition remains unchanged since yesterday's detailed briefing on her progress. She is stable, comfortable and responding well today. Dr Dave Rosser has explained that Malala will now need a significant period of rest and recuperation before she has reconstructive surgery. 11:00, Saturday 20 October 2012
Consent was obtained yesterday to take and release photographs of Malala. She would like to thank all the well-wishers for their messages of support and the doctors and nurses who are treating her. In his briefing yesterday Dr Dave Rosser, Medical Director at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, explained that Malala would now need a significant period of rest and recuperation before she has reconstructive surgery.

Lauding Obama, Clinton cites 'impatient' Americans

Former President Bill Clinton
said Friday that President Barack Obama is facing a tough re-election race because ‘‘impatient’’ Americans haven’t fully recognized an economy on the mend. Campaigning for Obama in Green Bay, Wis., Clinton urged voters to stay the course as more signs of a recovery sink in. Clinton said voters should judge Obama on the past three years, in which private sector job growth has made up for lost ground. ‘‘This shouldn’t be a race,’’ Clinton said. ‘‘The only reason it is, is because Americans are impatient on things not made before yesterday and they don’t understand why the economy is not totally hunky-dory again.’’ The former president said Obama’s difficulty in his race with Republican challenger Mitt Romney is that ‘‘people don’t feel it yet’’ even as the unemployment rate ticks down and the manufacturing sector perks up. Clinton said Obama deserves credit for stabilizing a situation that saw the country hemorrhage jobs well into his first year. ‘‘Gov. Romney acts like from the minute the president took his hand off the Bible he was responsible for every lost job,’’ Clinton said. Everywhere he goes, Romney argues that the tepid recovery is grounds for a change. The shape of the economy consistently tops lists of voter concerns. A local police official said 2,200 turned out to hear Clinton at a college fieldhouse. Clinton won Wisconsin in both of his presidential campaigns. Republicans think they can flip the state, which hasn’t gone to them since 1984. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan is on Romney’s ticket and has campaigned heavily in the state in the past few months.

Obama heads to Camp David to prepare for crucial final debate

Barack Obama
is scheduled to fly to the Camp David presidential retreat near Washington later for three days of seclusion to prepare for the third and final debate with Mitt Romney on Monday as polls suggest the race remains too close to call. Obama and Romney swapped jokes at a charity event in New York on Thursday night but there will be few jokes on Monday at the debate in Boca Raton, Florida, an encounter devoted to foreign affairs. The president had enjoyed high approval ratings in foreign affairs until recently, mainly as a result of the killing on his watch of Osama bin Laden. But the Republicans see the president as vulnerable over the assault on the US consulate in Benghazi that left the US ambassador and three other Americans dead. Obama's 2008 Republican presidential opponent John McCain took the president to task yesterday/Friday, over his choice of words during an interview on Jon Stewart's Daily Show on Thursday night in which he oddly referred to the deaths as "not optimal". "The optimal line, of course, is very regrettable and makes me a little sad," McCain told Fox. Obama used the description in response to a question from Stewart, who was the first to use the word "optimal". Stewart said: "I would say, and even you would admit, it was not the optimal response." Obama replied: "Here is what I will say: when four Americans get killed, it's not optimal." Romney fumbled a question about Libya in their second debate on Tuesday in New York, but will get a chance on Monday to redeem himself. The Republicans are questioning why the Obama administration has offered conflicting accounts of what happened at the consulate, by first blaming it on a demonstration by people allegedly upset over a US-made anti-Muslim film and later on al-Qaida affiliates. McCain said it had been obvious to him soon afterwards that it was more than just a demonstration. "You really don't have to be a CIA analyst or a station chief to know an attack with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, and which lasted for eight hours, is not a spontaneous demonstration," he said, adding that the responses of the administration amounted either to a cover-up or gross incompetence. Another layer of intrigue was added to the story yesterday when the Associated Press reported that the CIA station chief in Libya told Washington within 24 hours of the attack that there was evidence it was carried out by militants. However, it was unclear who, if anyone, saw the cable outside the CIA at that point and how high up in the agency the information went. Both Obama and Romney spent Friday campaigning before heading for their respective debate preparation camps, with Romney basing himself in Boca Raton. Obama went to George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, the second time in a fortnight he has spoken on campus in the crucial swing state, where students and the youth vote as the key to his winning. He ridiculed Romney for what he claimed were repeated policy switches, saying the Republican candidate had forgotten his previous positions – a condition he labelled 'Romnesia'. As well as Libya, Obama and Romney are set to argue over Iran, Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Obama administration officials have hinted that Obama, in his second term, with no election to be fought, would be braver in tackling the Israeli-Palestinian issue, which, like Tony Blair, he views as a source of friction in the Middle East and elsewhere in the Muslim world. On Iran and Syria, Romney and Obama are not particularly far apart in terms of policy, despite Romney sounding more bellicose than Obama on both issues. New polls taken after Tuesday's debate, which both conservatives and Democrats gave to Obama on points, showed Obama ahead in Iowa, which has long been a swing state, and Wisconsin, which had been listed as an Obama hold but had recently been moved to a toss-up. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll put Obama on 51% and Romney on 45% in Wisconsin and 51% to 43% in Iowa. Most polls suggest the two are in a dead heat nationally. Gallup, in contrast with most of the rest, has Romney with a big lead nationally, on 52% to 45%. But Public Policy Polling has Obama on 48% to Romney's 47% and Rasmussen has the two tied at 48%.

Hillary Clinton launches tirade against 'whining' women
Despite a lifetime advocating women's rights, the US Secretary of State showed little patience with other mothers who struggle to juggle the dual roles demanded by modern life. 'I can't stand whining," she told Marie Claire magazine. "I can't stand the kind of paralysis that some people fall into because they're not happy with the choices they've made.
"You live in a time when there are endless choices ... Money certainly helps, and having that kind of financial privilege goes a long way. But you don't even have to have money for it. But you have to work on yourself ... Do something!" Her words were interpreted in some quarters as a dig at Ann Marie Slaughter, who left her post as director of policy planning under Mrs Clinton at the State Department last year for a job at Princeton University, saying that she needed to spend more time with her two teenage sons. Mrs Clinton's office however accused Marie Claire of creating a misleading impression, pointing out that her comments about whining followed a question about the habitual griping of Holden Caulfield, the boy who is the character in Catcher in the Rye.On Twitter, Ms Slaughter, 54, responded: "Hillary Clinton, for whom I have the greatest admiration and loyalty, was not talking about me when she mentioned whining." The former First Lady, who raised a teenager in the White House in the 1990s, was however not exactly laudatory about Ms Slaughter when asked a direct question about her former colleague, who wrote a widely circulated essay about her decision to quit in Atlantic magazine. Mrs Clinton conceded that "it's important for our workplaces ... to be more flexible and creative in enabling women to continue to do high-stress jobs while caring for not only children, but [also] ageing parents". But, she added, Ms Slaughter's problems were hers alone. "Some women are not comfortable working at the pace and intensity you have to work at in these jobs," she said. "Other women don't break a sweat. They have four or five, six kids. They're highly organised, they have very supportive networks.'" In response, Slaughter tweeted: "[T]hat is certainly not true of me! Pace and intensity are no problem; it's about flexibility." Mrs Clinton's remarks are likely to raise eyebrows in Washington, where the demands made on those working in key government jobs are notorious. It is not only women who have left high-powered positions to be closer to their families. Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama's first chief of staff, decided not to move his wife and children from Chicago. After 18 months he left the White House, albeit partly because of the chance run for mayor of his home city. Raising a child in the White House has its particular pressures, but comes with the major benefit of working from home. Barack Obama, the current occupant, has remarked on how "living above the office" enables him to enjoy time with his two young daughters. Mrs Clinton's daughter Chelsea was 12 when the family entered the White House in late 1992 after Bill won the first of two four-year terms. In the early days of her marriage Mrs Clinton took a decision that would dismay some feminists, sacrificing her prospects of a glittering Washington legal career to follow her politically-ambitious husband to his home state Arkansas.

How could Japan steal Diaoyu Islands with propaganda campaign ?

Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba has recently visited France, Britain and Germany to lobby on the Diaoyu Islands issue, seeking international "understanding." It is reported that Japan is geared up to print pamphlets on the Diaoyu Islands in 10 languages and distribute them all over the world to launch a propaganda campaign, in attempt to contain China and seize the Diaoyu Islands with the help of other countries. Japan's so-called "evidences" are no more than broken pieces of unconfirmed documents. That Japan refuses to admit there is controversy about the sovereignty of Diaoyu Islands is to blatantly question the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation, challenge the international order after World War II and deny the victory of the World War against Fascism.   Facts are facts. People around the world will not be deceived by Japan's attempt to distort the truth and launch propaganda campaign. Recently, the mainstream media outlets in Britain, France and Germany believe Japan should deeply introspect in three aspects: Firstly, "nationalization" of the Diaoyu Islands indicates the rise of rightists and extreme nationalism in Japan. Secondly, out of domestic politics, the Noda administration enflames “nationalization” of the Diaoyu Islands. Last but not least, Japan fails to self-examine its history of aggression, which leads to deterioration of current situations. European politicians had better take public opinions on the Diaoyu Islands issue into consideration before making their decisions. Japan's rash moves aggravate the strategic instability in East Asia, which neither promotes global economic recovery nor serves Europe's interests. The Diaoyu Islands and the affiliated islets have been an integral part of Chinese territory since ancient times. Japan's propaganda campaign on the islands spat with China is doomed to fail. No matter what tricks Japan may play in international community, the fact that the Chinese territory is illegally stolen and occupied by Japan cannot be changed.

Karzai warns on foreign troops immunity
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has warned there could be problems ahead over the crucial issue of immunity from prosecution for any American or Nato soldiers deployed in the country after 2014. The US-led Nato force of more than 100,000 troops is due to end combat operations against Taliban insurgents at the end of that year, but thousands of soldiers are expected to remain in Afghanistan to train and assist Afghan forces. The immunity issue, if Karzai’s warning is meant seriously and is not simply a tactical move, could be a deal breaker. In Iraq, Washington pulled out all its troops, leaving no residual force, after failing to get Baghdad to grant its soldiers protection from prosecution in local courts. In Afghanistan, the question is likely to come down to that needs the other most. The US wants a hand in preventing the country once more becoming a haven for Al Qaeda, and Kabul needs US help in the fight against the Taliban. Karzai said in a statement that he had told visiting Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen during talks in Kabul Thursday that the Afghan people might “not permit their government to grant immunity”. This would happen “if the war and insecurities continue in Afghanistan, Afghan borders are not protected, and the immunity for foreign forces comes on top of these issues”, he said. Karzai knows he has a bargaining chip in this negotiation, and his statement could be seen as a bid for even more cash and support from the United States and Nato countries after 2014 than has already been pledged.

Afghanistan: Imran Khan Has No Right To Issue Fatwa
Afghan Ulema or religious scholars and prayers leaders in their sermons on Friday congregations said that since Pakistani cricket-turn politician has no knowledge about Islam he has no right to issue Fatwa, saying the former cricketer had issued the Fatwa for Jihad against Afghans with the support of Pakistani intelligence agency ISI. The Ulema pointed out that Afghanistan as a sovereign state is a Mujahid nation which defeated the former Soviet Union by Jehid and paved the way for the independence of central Asian countries. The Ulema or religious leaders have also unanimously termed Imran Khan’s Fatwa as satanic, enmity and strongly condemned it.

Malala shooting shows challenge to girls education

A teenage activist recently shot and critically wounded by the Taliban risked her life to attend school, but the threat from the militant group is just one of many obstacles Pakistani girls face in getting an education. Others include rampant poverty, harassment and the government's failure to make education spending a priority. Both sexes have suffered from the lack of funding, but girls, who have somewhat lower rates of literacy and school attendance, are in a particularly perilous position. The Oct. 9 attack on 15-year-old Malala Yousufzai, who is hospitalized in Britain, showed that the barriers to girls' education are highest in Pakistan's northwest, where the Taliban are strongest. The militants have blown up hundreds of schools and kidnapped and shot education activists like Malala. The need for education is stark: — Only 40 percent of Pakistani girls 15 or younger are literate, according to the United Nations. — Roughly 50 percent of girls are enrolled in school, according to a report by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child. — Only one in five students is female in the semiautonomous tribal region along the Afghan border, the Taliban's main sanctuary in the country, according to the U.N. The Taliban and their allies are opposed to education that isn't rooted in their hardline interpretation of Islam and object to women working outside the home or traveling without a male escort. Militants destroyed or damaged at least 943 schools in the tribal region and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province from 2009 to 2011, according to Pakistani government figures. Some were targeted because they were used by the military, but many of the attacks were motivated by the Taliban's opposition to girls' education and schooling that doesn't follow their strict interpretation of Islam. "The Taliban have scared people," said Hamid Ullah Khan, a teacher from Lower Dir in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. "This is also one of the main reasons that women are not studying at schools in good number." The government has worked with the international community to rebuild some of the schools targeted by the Taliban. But the attacks dealt a blow to an education system that was already in shambles across the country, in part because of the low level of government spending. The education crisis is apparent in the schools' infrastructure. Only 39 percent of schools have electricity, and only 62 percent have bathrooms, according to the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child. Many Pakistani families are struggling to make ends meet, and if they have money for books, school uniforms or private school tuition, they often prefer to spend it on education for one of their male children. Bismillah Jan, a teacher from Mir Ali town in the North Waziristan tribal area, said most parents were happy to send their daughters to school, but many had large families and simply couldn't afford to send everyone. Many families in conservative areas of the northwest and elsewhere in the country worry about sending their daughters to school because they might be harassed on the way or when they arrive. Many also oppose their daughters having male teachers. The lack of bathrooms, especially separate facilities for girls, deters many parents who don't want their daughters to have to relieve themselves in a field. Groups that have had success in educating girls say they have focused on those parental concerns. The Karachi-based Citizens' Foundation is a non-profit institution that has built 838 private schools across Pakistan, including more than 100 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southwest Baluchistan province, both conservative areas of the country with generally low female enrollment. About 50 percent of their students are women, according to statistics on their website. A former vice president for the organization, Ahson Rabbani, said the organization builds schools close to the community so students don't have to travel far to get there and constructs separate toilets for girls, boys and teachers. The schools are surrounded by a wall with a guard out front, and all the teachers are women from the same community as the students. Girls who get an education are more likely to send their own daughters to school when they grow up and have children, said Ghulam Zakia, principal at a government girls' school in the city of Rawalpindi, near the capital, Islamabad. When Zakia became principal 33 years ago, she had to actively lobby parents to send their daughters to the school, which has focused on building ties with the local community and hiring good female teachers. Now the school is so popular that even parents of some boys push to send their children there, forgoing the nearby government boys' school.

Afghanistan: a cultural no man's land?

The recent attack on an actress in Afghanistan raises the question: will the country once again become one in which music and film are taboo after international forces leave the country in 2014? It is already dark as
Sonia sets out for home. She thinks of the relaxing evening she had at Kabul's art festival that took place mid October, as the young actress walks to her car. And then something horrible happens: a man throws powder in her face as he runs past her. Sonia is blinded; she screams in pain as she covers her eyes.The unknown culprit's motive is obvious: to punish Sonia Sarwari for her so-called "un-Islamic" work as an actress on the big screen and in television. Women who manage to become public figures are villanized and condemned by many Mullahs; they are labeled as dishonorable. The 19-year-old Sonia goes to the doctor, who finds her eye is "luckily" only slightly injured. The doctor bandages up her eye; she wears dark glasses to hide it. As bad as the attack was, Sonia told DW that it hadn't really been that much of a surprise. "I receive threats over the telephone on a daily basis. The people who threaten me say they are going to shoot me or kill me some other way. But this attack here really got to me." Death threats The attack on Sonia was not unprecedented. Not long ago, an 18-year-old actress was attacked. Benafsha died as a result of multiple stab wounds in a mosque in Kabul at the end of August. She had been out with colleagues when she was attacked by a group of men. Her colleagues continue to receive death threats. They have decided to keep a low profile. One of Benafsha's close friends and colleagues, Sahar Parniyan, told DW she had gone to the police chief of Kabul for help, and explained to him that she could not go home for fear of her life. "But he didn't do anything. He said he wasn't responsible. If the police isn't even willing to help protect us, then what am I still doing in this country?" Up to the 1990s, Afghanistan had quite a lively cultural cinema and music scene. Poetry and literature were part of every-day life - even for those who couldn't read or write. But today cinemas are seen as meeting points for drug addicts - they don't attract crowds. Writers censor their own writing and there are no publishing houses. The poet Kawa Gibran was of the opinion that the decades-long war had led to the decay of the country's cultural scene. He feared the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan in 2014 might mean the worst yet for artists. "As of now, it seems it will be bad for us. The international community has lost the war. The Taliban are getting stronger. You can see that by the current distribution of power in government. People are interpreting the consitution however they please." Artists disappointed in government The Taliban completely banned music and television. After they were driven out, Afghanistan experienced a cultural rebirth. Films were produced and new songs were played on the radio. But now that the extremists are slowly gaining power again, new restrictions have returned to the country.Many artists and intellectuals have already left the country. Others, such as the well-known musician Ustad Gulzaman, will have to follow. Despite the billions of dollars that had been thrown at Afghanistan in the past few years, Gulzaman said, the intellectual and artistic elite had not received any support at all. "I love my country and my art. But this government does not care about us. I will have no other choice than to leave so that I can feed my children." Sonia Sarwari, on the other hand, is not ready to give up just yet. "I am an Afghan woman and I will confront my enemies head-on ... They will not keep me from acting. I will continue to do what I do."

Pakistan: Political Generals guilty, finally

The Supreme Court in a landmark judgment on Friday said it has been established that an election cell was set up to stop the PPP from winning the 1990 elections and directed the government to take action against all the civil and military characters involved in the rigging. Only a day before, Brigadier Muhammad Amir Military Secretary to President Asif Ali Zardari, who is also co-chairman of the PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party), had informed the court that no record was found regarding the presence of a political cell at the President House since 1990. The short verdict in Asghar Khan case, which has been lingering on for the last 16 years, is unprecedented in country’s history as it ordered legal proceedings against General (r) Aslam Beg, a former chief of the powerful Army, and General (r) Asad Durrani, a former head of ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence). A three-member bench – headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and including Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain – delivered the judgement in the case wherein Air Marshal (r) Asghar Khan had alleged that the ISI created the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) by dishing out Rs140 million to certain politicians to prevent Benazir Bhutto’s PPP from winning the 1990 general elections. The 7-page short order, authored by the chief justice himself, also said that any election cell or political cell in the presidency or ISI, or MI, or within their formations shall be abolished immediately and any letter or notification to the extent of creating any such cell or department (by any name whatsoever) shall stand cancelled forthwith. The order said that former president, the late Ghulam Ishaq Khan, ex-COAS General (r) Aslam Beg and ex-DG ISI General (r) Asad Durrani acted in violation of the constitution by facilitating a group of politicians and political parties to ensure their success against the rival candidates in the general election of 1990, for which they secured funds from Mr Younas Habib. The acts of Gen Beg and Gen Durrani have brought a bad name to Pakistan, its Armed Forces as well as the secret agencies, and it demeaned them in the eyes of the nation, the court said. It directed the federal government to take necessary steps against them under the constitution and law, though they have retired from the service. “Proceedings shall also be launched against them for affecting the recovery of sums received by them with profit thereon by initiating civil proceedings, according to law.” The court also said that legal proceedings shall be initiated against the politicians, who allegedly have received donations to spend on election campaigns in the general election of 1990, therefore, transparent investigation on the criminal side shall be initiated by the FIA against all of them and if sufficient evidence is collected, they shall be sent up to face the trial, according to law. Younas Habib should also be dealt with in accordance with law. The judgement said that Younas A Habib, the then Chief Executive of Habib Bank Ltd, on the direction and behest of Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Aslam Beg and Asad Durrani, arranged Rs140 million, belonging to public exchequer, out of which Rs60 millions were distributed among politicians, whose incomplete details have been furnished by Asad Durrani; however, without a thorough probe no adverse order can be passed against them in these proceedings. An amount of Rs80 million, as stated, has been deposited in Account No. 313 titled Survey and Construction Group Karachi, maintained by MI; therefore, this amount with profit shall be transferred to Habib Bank Ltd, if the liability of HBL has not been adjusted so far; otherwise, the same may be deposited in the treasury account of Government of Pakistan, the verdict said. The court said the citizens of Pakistan as a matter of right are free to elect their representatives in an election process being conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with the law. The President of Pakistan, Chief of Army Staff, ISI DG or their subordinates certainly are not supposed to create an election cell or to support a political party or group of political parties, because if they do so, the citizens would fail to elect their representatives in an honest, fair and free process of election, and their actions would negate the constitutional mandate on the subject. The order said that the armed forces of Pakistan, under the directions of federal government, defend the country against external aggression or threat of war and, subject to law, are to act in aid of civilian power when called upon to do so under article 245 of the constitution. Therefore, any extra-constitutional act, calls for action in accordance with the constitution and the law against the officers/officials of the armed forces without any discrimination. The armed forces have always sacrificed their lives for the country to defend any external or internal aggression for which they, as institutions, are deeply respected by the nation. The armed forces, in discharge of their functions, seek intelligence and support from ISI, MI, etc., and on account of security threats to the country on its frontiers or to control internal situations in aid of civil power when called upon to do so. However, ISI, MI or any other agency like IB has no role to play in the political affairs of the country such as formation or destabilisation of government, or interference in the holding of honest, free and fair elections by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The involvement of the officers/members of secret agencies i.e. ISI, MI, IB, etc. in unlawful activities, individually or collectively calls for strict action as it is in violation of oath of their offices, and if involved, they are liable to be dealt with under the constitution and the law. The court noted that the president, in a parliamentary system of government, being head of the state represents the unity of the republic under article 41 of the constitution. And as per the oath of his office in all circumstances, he (the president) will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. Thus, holder of office of President of Pakistan, violates the constitution, if he fails to treat all manner of people equally and without favouring any set, according to law, and as such, creates and provides an occasion which may lead to an action against him under the constitution and the law. The general election held in the year 1990 was subjected to corruption and corrupt practices as in view of the overwhelming material produced by the parties during hearing it has been established that an “Election Cell” had been created in the Presidency, which was functioning to provide financial assistance to the favoured candidates, or a group of political parties to achieve desired result by polluting election process and to deprive the people of Pakistan from being represented by their chosen representatives. Asghar Khan, the petitioner, called it a great judgment and his counsel Salman Akram Raja remarked that the short order had covered all the aspects, which were raised during the proceedings. He said that it was for the first time in the country’s history that a ruling had come against retired military officials. On the occasion, Salman Raja said that it would be impossible for the government to not act on the court’s verdict.

Pakistan behind Nepal, India in girls’ education

Released in the wake of an armed attack on teenage education activist Malala Yousufzai, the Education for All Global Monitoring Report shows that Pakistan’s progress in getting poor girls into schools is less than half that of India’s and Nepal’s and a quarter of Bangladesh’s.
The report released by Unesco here on Thursday reveals that though Pakistan has the second largest number of out-of-school girls in the world, yet it has reduced the amount it spends on education to less than 2.3 per cent of GNP. Only nine low- and lower-middle-income countries spend a smaller share on education. The barriers to education faced by Pakistani girls are stark in comparison with the rest of South Asia. These findings were issued by the World Inequalities Database of Education, a website of the EFA Global Monitoring Report team, showing how factors such as gender, poverty, location and ethnicity affect a child’s chances at education. A two-thirds of the out-of-school children in Pakistan are girls; only 16 countries have a worse rate. Pakistan has the second highest number of out-of-school children in the world – five million. The country’s progress in reducing the number of poor girls being denied a chance of education has been too slow. The percentage of poorest girls out of school has fallen from 78 per cent to 62 per cent, a much smaller drop than in India (from 66 per cent to 30 per cent), Nepal (52 per cent to 22 per cent) and Bangladesh (91 per cent to 44 per cent). EFA Global Monitoring Report Director Pauline Rose said that “since 1999 when governments around the world committed to getting all children into school, countries like Pakistan have managed to consistently fail to address” the issue. “We must put girls first if we’re to crack this challenge. Two-thirds of girls in the poorest areas in Pakistan are still not getting the chance of an education – a rate that is not appropriate for 21st century.” According to the report, although the number of Pakistani children denied education is surpassed only by Nigeria, the country has reduced spending on education from 2.6 per cent of GNP in 1999 to 2.3 per cent today. “The hope is that the tragic violence against Malala will bring shame on a country which has ignored the rights of its girls to an education for too long. Pakistan spends less on education than it spends to subsidise just three of its loss-making public sector enterprises – the national airline (and the) steel and electricity companies. Pakistan also spends less on education than it does on the military. Its priorities have to change,” the UN official said. The Global Monitoring Report 2012 shows over a third of young Pakistanis – 12 million – do not have the skills they need for work. This is the second highest number of unskilled young people in the world.

President Karzai’s timely remarks

EDITORIAL: Daily Times
Afghan President Hamid Karzai released a rather biting statement on Thursday aimed at making Pakistan realise that the monster of extremism can turn on anyone at any time. Quoting the tragic example of Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the head by the Taliban 10 days ago, President Karzai pinpointed that Pakistan’s strategy of using extremist militants to do its bidding was taking its toll. He urged his Pakistani “brothers and sisters” to learn the lesson that using extremism as a tool was bound to have ramifications for the country. He described extremism as a snake that would not hesitate to turn around and bite anyone who used it against others. This statement was issued during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Kabul. Whilst the words may be sharp, they carry a ring of truth and underlying urgency. President Karzai also took this opportunity to urge Pakistan to work together with Afghanistan to tackle the militant problem that has been devastating his country for decades and has started eating Pakistan from within over the last few years. Citing the example of Malala was very timely indeed. Maulana Fazlullah has been accused of being the mastermind of this attack. When the Pakistan Army launched its offensive in Swat in 2009, Fazlullah took refuge across the border in Afghanistan, given a safe haven by the Haqqani network. It is ironic that this is the same Haqqani group that Pakistan has given a safe haven to on Pakistani soil and allowed to operate in Afghanistan, at the risk of annoying its ally in the war on terror, the US. We supported the Haqqani group against NATO and the US forces in Afghanistan, allowing it to launch its offensives from the safety of Pakistan’s tribal regions. Now, it is the same network that is allowing the Pakistani Taliban to use Afghanistan as its base to launch terror attacks - like the one against Malala - inside Pakistan. This is the blowback of the proxy war project many predicted would come sooner or later. Now that it is here, Pakistan needs to revise its support for elements that are clearly supporting those who wish to tear this country apart. Fazlullah is a firebrand, known for his hatred for female education and extreme views against progress and equality. He is a barbarian who believes that children too are fair game in his bloodlust. Now that Malala is regaining her health, and with the world community behind her, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) continues its threats against her life. Any civilised approach towards dealing with these monsters is going to run up against a wall. It is time to fight fire with fire - a point that Karzai touched upon in Thursday’s press conference. It is time Pakistan changed its policy towards the militants and abandoned its delusion of ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan via these jihadi proxies. All these militants are on the same side, joining forces to pit country against country and neighbour against neighbour. It is time to do what is needed to end this menace once and for all, with Pakistan and Afghanistan joining forces to prevent these extremist militants from using the porous border to their advantage, hopping from one country to another, mocking the very idea of sovereignty. President Karzai is spot on. It is time to end this game before it consumes both neighbouring countries

Religious intolerance: Second church attacked in Karachi in 10 days

The Express Tribune
A second church was attacked in Karachi on Thursday within a space of 10 days as armed men barged into its premises during a blackout, vandalised it and fled with alms offerings. Since the beginning of the year, at least six churches in the city have been attacked, looted, fired upon or set ablaze. These churches are located in Christian slums surrounded by various ethnic communities. The latest church to fall victim to the growing intolerance was the Philadelphia Pentecostal Church of Pakistan, situated in a congested lane of Karachi’s Essa Nagri locality. On Thursday, armed men broke into the church during a power outage from a graveyard situated next to it, “The church was closed at that time. The men broke the windows, threw the Bibles on the floor and took away cash donations worth Rs40, 000,” said Rev Cornelius, the pastor of the church. This comes barely 10 days after the St Francis Church was attacked in the Old Haji Camp area by violent protesters demonstrating against electricity load-shedding. In a rare move, a blasphemy case under section 295-A was registered by the police against the mob. Past attack on churches in Essa Nagri Half of the targeted churches are situated in Essa Nagri – one of the largest Christian populated areas in the city. Bordered by ethnic groups and political activists, the locality, which is home to 30 churches, has witnessed a surge in criminal activities against minorities. A resident and a prominent leader of the Christian community, Michael Javed, said that the community had recently built five walls to separate their area from other communities. “But the police tore down one of the walls to make a gateway for people to go to their mosques. And the church got looted the very next day,” Javed said, adding that their community was being victimised because political parties wanted to take over the area to form their constituencies. The Seventh Day Adventist Church, also located in Essa Nagri was attacked in May when armed men barged into the area seeking an illegal electricity connection from a pole just before the evening mass was about to commence. A church member, Aftab Bhatti, tried to stop the men but resistance resulted in firing by the opponents at the church. “They desecrate churches on purpose knowing that it will hurt us most,” said Bhatti, who was shot in his leg. When the angered community went to the main road to protest against desecration of the church, they were treated with a shower of bullets by other community members, resulting in two more injuries. During the same month, another church in Essa Nagri, St Luke’s Church, situated opposite the house of minority parliamentarian Saleem Khokhar, was attacked. “Churches are being attacked to prevent people from practising their religion freely. We all are Pakistanis and our house of worship should be given protection and security,” Khokhar said, while adding that he too believed that political activists are creating a ruckus in Christian areas to pressure them to join their respective political parties. Earlier this year, a church was wrecked in Manghopir by a group of people praying in a mosque who were irked by schoolchildren singing hymns in the church. A representative of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Abdul Hai, said that the Taliban mindset is involved in attacking minorities and their houses of worship in the city. “They are the same people who are killing Ahmadis on one hand, and attacking churches to terrorise minorities,” he said. In most cases, minorities refuse to register FIRs fearing a reprisal, while the police try to play down the incident. Despite visiting the Essa Nagri’s Philadelphia Pentecostal Church of Pakistan, SHO Asif Munawar refused to comment on the matter, saying an investigation would be carried out when a case was registered.

Pakistan:Prime Minister happy over Malala recovery reports

Radio Pakistan
Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham has released the first photograph of Malala Yusufzai
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has shown pleasure over reports that Malala Yusufzai has shown signs of recovery and regained consciousness. A spokesman of the Prime Minister House said in Islamabad that the Prime Minster expressed the hope that Malala would recover speedily and resume normal activity. He appealed to the people to continue praying for her full recovery. Meanwhile‚ the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham has released the first photograph of Malala Yusufzai. She appears in the photograph with her eyes open and alert as she lay in a hospital bed. Hospital Medical Director Dr Dave Rosser said Malala has agreed to the release of medical information and photos‚ and she wants to thank people throughout the world for their support in difficult days. Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari has described Malala's progress as wondrous. She tweeted that Malala is able to stand which is a miracle.

Malala Yousafzai is trying to communicate, write