Sunday, October 21, 2012

Doctors in Balochistan Continue Strike Against Colleagues’ Killings

The Baloch Hal
The strike in the government hospitals of Balochistan continued on Thursday to protest against the incidents of killing and abduction of the doctors.
The strike is being observed on the call of Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Balochistan chapter. Due to strike, the outdoor patient departments (OPDs) and operation theatres remained closed, causing immense difficulties to the patients. On Monday, Dr Dawood Aziz was gunned down by armed men in Khuzdar area when he was going to hospital from his house. Dr Hameed was murdered in Mastung. Recently, Doctor Saeed Ahmed Khan, an eye-specialist was abducted from Saryab Road area. As per details, amid deteriorating situation in the province, at least 27 doctors were killed and 16 doctors were abducted during past three years. The Supreme Court took notice of the violent incidents in the province and also hearing a case pertaining to Balochistan’s law and order situation. The protesting doctors have vowed to shut emergency wards if provincial government failed to provide security to the doctors within 10 days. The PMA has said that work in the emergency wards would also be suspended if the government failed to fulfill the doctors’ demands. On the other hand, thousands of the patients across the province suffered due to the strike.

Malala makes it !!!

Despite the best attempts of the assailant who shot her at point-blank range as she rode a bus home from school in Mingora, 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai has made it back into this world after struggling for days against the grip of death. As she had done before, she has shown she is a fighter – determined never to give up no matter what the odds. She had proven this during her efforts to promote education for girls, criticising the Taliban who had blown up countless schools in Swat alone. Her courageous stand against these men of violence is what brought bullets Malala’s way. To the relief of many in the country, and possibly the disappointment of the militants who had no scruples in targeting a child – defying all laws of humanity and religion – Malala has woken up from her medically-induced coma at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. She found herself very far away from the surroundings she was struck down in, immediately asking doctors, by writing out her question, what country she was in. Malala is as yet unable to speak because of a tube in her trachea. The chief medical concern was the bullet in her skull, but doctors in the UK say she was able to stand briefly with help, and is showing signs of recovery – though further surgery will be required. The case of Malala raises questions that go far beyond the issue of medical care. While she is extremely fortunate to have survived the attack, we need to ask questions about the mindset of many among ourselves. Conspiracy theories have abounded since Malala was shot, with the rumour doing the rounds that this young girl who spoke for the people of Swat is an American agent and is now being used by the US to suit its own purposes. It is shocking how many people appear willing to believe it. We need to ask ourselves why this is happening. Have we lost all ability to face the truth and accept that the Taliban are capable of extraordinary evil – something they have proven time and again? Today, Malala has woken up in a hospital far from home. She is safe for now, but will it ever be possible for her to return home to Mingora? This is a tough question to answer, given that militancy lives on – for now.

K-Pakhtunkhwa faces controversy over buying 5,000 pistols for police

Political and diplomatic pressure is reportedly being applied on the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police to buy a Middle Eastern country-made Caracal pistol that was rejected by the police technical committee in place of the Austrian Glock already approved for purchase as it is not only trusted but also had the lowest bid in the tender. The KP Police chief Muhammad Akbar Hoti said he had no intention of changing the decision despite intense pressure from different quarters. “I am accepting no pressure. We have got the best deal as Glock pistols were offered to us at the lowest price in the international tender along with spare parts free of cost for 10 years. The pistol we are buying is better in quality and is also the cheapest,” he argued while talking to The News. The KP Police had placed an order with the firm, Messrs International, for the purchase of 5,000 Glock pistols and the consignment was to be delivered in December this year. The police force is also buying other weapons and bullets, but those purchases through separate tenders didn’t generate any controversy and are also scheduled for delivery in December. According to IG Police Akbar Hoti, the Glock pistol was offered to his force at $349 each (Rs31,000). The total deal stood at Rs 155 million. He said Additional Inspector General of Police (Headquarters) Khalid Masood headed the committee that evaluated the bids presented by seven firms, including those offering to supply the Italian pistol Beretta and the Caracal. He said it selected Glock due to its competitive price, lowest bid and better after sale terms. He said a technical committee of the police also evaluated the pistols and selected Glock. Apart from Khalid Masood, other police officers who remained members of the general and technical committees included Additional Inspector General Rehmat Khan Mehsud, AIG Finance Quresh Khan, ATO and Bomb Disposal Unit head Shafqat Malik, Elite Training School Principal Col (R) Waqar Burhan, Deputy Commandant Elite Force Mohammad Iqbal Khan, Deputy Commandant Frontier Reserve Police Gul Wali Mohmand and his predecessor Mohammad Riaz and DSP Operations Shahnawaz Khan. The Middle Eastern group subsequently complained about the procedure for the purchase of pistols for KP Police and alleged that favour was shown to the firm bidding to sell the “outdated” Glock pistol. Complaints were made to the president, prime minister, chief minister, Supreme Court, Peshawar High Court and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Transparency International’s Pakistan chapter also became involved in the issue. The NAB Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also probed the matter and reportedly didn’t find any irregularity in the award of the tender to Messrs International for the supply of Glock pistols. The ANP-led provincial government later constituted a committee led by the senior member Board of Revenue and having the deputy secretary Home and special secretary Finance as members to conduct inquiry into the issue. It may be mentioned that many political elites of Pakistan, particularly those in power presently at the centre and in the provinces including KP, have bought properties and are doing business in the Middle Eastern state. Surprisingly, the Pakistani ambassador in the country also recommended to the relevant people in Pakistan for purchasing the Glock pistol for the KP Police. It was strange that one of his arguments was that diplomatic relations with the country would be affected if this deal fell through even though the manufacturer of the Caracal pistol is a private rather than a state-owned firm. The relatively new Caracal pistol too is high quality and has been praised by internationally known arms experts. The manufacturers had hired the services of Wilhelm Bubits, an Austrian handgun designer who earlier worked at Glock and then another pistol manufacturer, Steyr, in Austria, as head of the Caracal design and development wing. However, the KP Police selected Glock as it was being offered at a lower price with better after sale services and was already in use of the provincial police force. There is growing concern that delay in making the Glock pistol purchases as required under the terms of the international tender and finalisation of its agreement with the KP Police could result in a legal battle and also cause the lapsing of the funds meant for buying the pistols. According to Additional Inspector General of Police Khalid Masood, it wasn’t possible to override the report of the police technical committee which included experts such as Shafqat Malik, head of the Bomb Disposal Unit, and Col (R) Waqar Burhan who is a retired officer of the Pakistan Army’s Special Services Group (SSG). He conceded that the international tender notice placed by the KP Police had specifically mentioned Glock pistol or its equivalent while inviting bids. However, he argued that never had the Glock pistol been offered for sale at such a low price of $349 a piece. “Sometimes, the manufacturers and the suppliers don’t want to lose a market and are willing to offer a competitive price. The same Glock pistol was bought at a higher price in the past,” he asserted. “Glock is priced at around Rs300,000 in the market. We would get it at Rs70,000 to Rs80,000 a piece (Rs 350 million to Rs 400 million) after paying 100 percent taxes. The KP Police would get the pistols on FOB basis as required under the law at the Karachi seaport and would pay the freight charges, taxes and duties,” Khalid Masood explained. Police sources said that the KP Police in 2007-2008 purchased 322 Glock pistols at the rate of Rs59,000 per piece. Another purchase was made in 2008-2009 when 750 Glock pistols were bought for Rs81,900 each. Another advertisement was placed in 2009-2010 for purchase of Glock pistols and the rate of Rs107,000 a piece was approved, but the process got delayed and the supply order could not be issued due to the closure of the financial year. The latest bid to buy the pistols was advertised in 2011-2012 and the process initiated but it has become mired in controversy due to efforts on the part of vested interest groups to block the purchase of the Glock pistols. Senior cops opined that one major reason for the opposition to the purchase of Glock pistol at a lower rate is the fear among those who purchased it at a higher price some years ago when it should have been priced low as the value of the US dollar was less at the time.

The verdict

It is a tremendous ruling that the Supreme Court has handed down in the famous Asghar Khan case, a verdict indeed of the century. An epoch-making ruling it is in every manner and fully eventful it must become by carrying it to its logical conclusion in line with the roadmap the apex court has laid down in its order for its execution. No laxity is admissible on this count. Bonapartism and praetorian political adventurism have indeed been the bane of this nation ever since its inception. That should be put paid to now for good. A landmark in the attainment of that sublime objective would certainly be this monumental judgment of the apex court, when executed in letter and spirit, which it must be in any event and at every cost.The military or the agencies have no business whatsoever to meddle in politics. The constitution forbids them from it, and so does the law. But it is equally important that the politicians too should not become part of their political engineering works. Imagine for a moment would there have been an IJI, had no politicians fallen to the bait of the generals engaged in the cobbling up of this entity to influence the 1990 election against the PPP? Indisputably, it would have not been. The IJI came into being simply because some politicians were out there ready to board this gravy train. Nobody put guns to their heads and bullied them into this adventurist contrivance of the establishment. They hopped on to the IJI bandwagon willingly and volitionally. If indeed a politician is so weak-willed as to easily succumb to any coercive pressures, he verily is not fit to be a leader. He unarguably doesn't have the credentials of being a leader. And if he gets tempted or enticed by the allurements of pelf and power, he is bereft of even the probity and integrity that are the essentials of a true leader. But if our chaquered history is replete with Bonapartist and praetorial adventurisms, isn't it blemished with the ignoble falls of the politicians as well? How often have they joined hands with the incoming military rulers to give a civilian face to their repressive regimes? And how often have they celebrated joyously when their political adversaries' governments were sacked by the authoritative presidents? All that is on record, shamefully. Even now it is not uncommon to hear the taunts being hurled self-servingly to the garrisons as to why are they sitting idly by while the country "is going to the dogs". It isn't rare either that those abusing and vilifying the military in the sunshine of the day have felt no qualms in meeting the people in the garrisons in the thick darkness of night. So how will Bonapartism or praetorial adventurism come to an end if some malleable personages are always out there to sell their souls for the shine of lucre and office? So disgusting it really is that some of the eminences allegedly involved in the IJI project and took money were no paupers. Quite a lot of them were filthy rich. Indeed, so rich that they could easily buy half of a town with just a part of their fabulous riches. Yet they stooped so low that they even took nickels variously from their handlers to do their biddings.Anyway, now that the apex court has shown the light, it should not be allowed to be dimmed in any manner. The people at large must watch out, as the political echelons, civil society groups and chattering classes cannot be trusted. They already are deflecting the focus in their own lights. While the faulting two generals and their collusive banker must be proceeded against strictly as directed by the apex court, the FIA must prove true to the trust the honourable court has reposed in it by conducting an honest, transparent and credible investigation against the politicians who allegedly took money from the IJI founders. Indeed, those still alive from amongst them, if they still have some sense of shame, must abdicate from politics until they get their names cleared in the probe. An exemplary action and punishment to both the erring generals and politicians in the IJI saga alone could possibly shut the door on Bonapartism and praetorian political adventurism once and for all. If any of them goes scot-free, the door will certainly remain open partly.

President Zardari stabilized democratic system

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira has said that President Asif Ali Zardari has stabilized the democratic system by transferring power to the parliament. Talking to journalists in Lahore on Saturday‚ he said that the president is the emblem of the federation and part of the parliament. The Minister said that President Zardari has been elected democratically and politically but his role should be impartial. He said we have come to power through politics and our role should also be political. Qamar Zaman Kaira said that the Supreme Court verdict in Asghar Khan Case has unmasked the faces of many political parties and also supported the stand of the PPP. He said that conspiracies have been hatched against the PPP in every period and many political parities have deprived the masses of their mandate by acting as stooges of secret agencies. The said that the PPP-led government has taken many coordinated steps for boosting the economy accelerating tax recovery. He said the government has restored the national institutions and achieved considerable achievement in anti-terror combat. ============= Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira has said that Supreme Court's verdict in Asghar Khan case has validated and vindicated PPP's stance that general elections in 1990 were rigged. In an interview he said no institution or individual is above the law and investigation would be initiated irrespective of the political status or affiliation. To a question‚ he expressed the optimism that an independent Election Commission would ensure transparent and fair general elections in the country. The Minister reiterated that the PPP believed in the politics of reconciliation as the country cannot afford political confrontation. Talking to a delegation of Desk Editors Forum in Lahore on Saturday the Information Minister said that the government is taking measures for the welfare of the journalists. He said Pakistan Peoples Party has always supported the cause of the journalists.