Monday, November 12, 2012

U.S: Petitions to secede are filed for 23 states since election
It’s traditional for Americans to threaten to move to France or Canada when their candidate loses, but this year some disappointed voters are implementing a different plan. In the wake of the Nov. 6 election, petitions seeking to secede from the union have been filed on behalf of 23 states on the White House website, Most of the petitions contain the same wording and ask to withdraw “peacefully” from the United States in order to form independent governments. Critics describe the effort as a bit of an overreaction. “Anyone who wants their state to secede from the union is someone whose brain has already seceded from their body,” said John Andrews, director of the conservative Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University. Still, the White House may have to take the requests seriously. According to the website, any petition receiving 25,000 online “signatures” on the “We the People” page within 30 days of posting will receive a review by the appropriate executive department and a response from a White House staffer. As of Monday, the Texas petition had already exceeded the 25,000-signature threshold, and the Louisiana petition was fast approaching the cutoff with more than 18,000 signatures. Most of the petitions were posted online Nov. 10, which means they have until Dec. 10 to qualify for a response. It’s impossible to tell from the website who is behind the drive, given that those signing the petition only use their first names, last-name initials, and city and state of residence. The website does show that most petitions include the John Hancocks of signers from other states. Steve Eichler, CEO of, said his organization isn’t involved with the petition drive, but added that he wouldn’t be surprised if tea party advocates were at the root of it. “We have not put out anything seceding from the United States, but the feedback we’re getting shows that people believe that their elected state leaders are more in tune with their needs than those of the federal government,” said Mr. Eichler. He added that support for secession has cropped up in comments on the organization’s blogs. “People are feeling disenfranchised, they’re feeling a loss of voice, and they just don’t know what else to do,” he said. Many of the petitions make their argument by quoting extensively from the Declaration of Independence, although some also add that the federal government has grown too large. “The U.S. continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government’s neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending,” says the Texas petition, which had more than 34,000 signatures as of Monday evening. The Oregon petition argues that the federal government is guilty of an “abuse of power” by forcing “unconstitutional laws over [its] own citizens.” Seth Masket, political science professor at the University of Denver, said the petitions may be a good way to blow off steam, but that they carry no legal weight. “It’s hard to see this as anything other than sour grapes,” said Mr. Masket in an email. “These petitions have no legal power and no president would ever agree to them. It’s a way to register dissent with the way the majority of the country voted last week, but it’s little beyond that.” Then again, said Mr. Eichler, the petitions could be the start of something big, such as the first call for a constitutional convention.“I’m glad people can vent their frustrations, but what if it’s more than that?” he said. “What can we do to stop this encroachment into states’ rights? What are the tools? Well, there aren’t too many of them, but one of them is a constitutional convention.” Petitions have been filed on behalf of the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Obama seeks support for fiscal cliff negotiations

David Petraeus, Paula Broadwell Affair

Shia mourners, rally participants clash near Karachi Super Highway

The Express Tribune
Shia mourners clashed with participants of the Labaik Ya Rasool Allah rally on Shahrah-e-Pakistan near Super Highway in Karachi on Monday. The rally was entering Karachi from Hyderabad through the highway and reached Ancholi where Shia mourners were carrying the coffin of Mukhtar Ahmed – killed in targeted killing on Sunday – to a graveyard. The groups exchanged fire with each other, leaving three people injured. An angry mob destroyed a camp at Water Pump chowrangi, near Ancholi, set up to welcome the rally participants. Two funeral buses were also set on fire after the incident. Police and Rangers arrived at the spot after the incident to take control. Continual violence in the city has claimed five more lives on Monday, while police have managed to arrest eight suspects and a heavy amount of arms and ammunition. A doctor working at the Lyari hospital, identified as Dr Nisar, was shot dead in Lee Market. Earlier during the day, a firing incident in the Memon Goth area of Malir left two people injured, who later succumbed to their injuries. Unidentified men opened fire on and killed 40-year-old Maulana Muhammad Haroon near Taqwa Mosque in the Sultanabad area of Manghopir. Haroon was the imam of the mosque. Meanwhile, a young man’s body was recovered from the Iqbal Market vicinity of Orangi Town. The hands and feet had been tied and police said the deceased was tortured before being killed. The body could not be identified. In Jamshed Town, police conducted a targeted operation and arrested eight suspects, while a heavy amount of ammunition was recovered from the Patel Para and Baloch Para areas of the city. Violence in the city has taken 10 lives within the last 24 hours and around 100 in the last week. Earlier, Inspector General (IG) Sindh Fayyaz Leghari had reportedly issued show cause notices to Deputy Inspector General(s) of three zones of Karachi due to their failure to maintain peace in their areas.

SC decision exposed Nawaz Sharif, others
Federal Minister for Political Affairs Senator Moula Bux Chandio has said that the decision of the Supreme Court on Asghar Khan’s petition has exposed the politicians including Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and now the PML (N) Chief should apologise the nation for his undemocratic act. Speaking as chief guest at six days long training programme of SAFMA and later talking to media persons here at the Press Club on Saturday, he said that the decision of the Supreme Court has proved that formation of the IJI in 1990 was aimed at depriving Pakistan People’s Party of serving the masses who always gave heavy mandate to it. The PML (N) leaders were not realizing the fact at first, however after media pressure, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has accepted the decision, but whenever the present PPP government start action in respect of the decision of the Supreme Court, baseless propaganda will be started against the government, the minister said and added that the Supreme Court has authorized the FIA to carry out investigation against those who receiving money in 1990. The decision of the Supreme Court has proved the claim of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto what she said that the elections results were stolen. Senator Moula Bux Chandio alleged that NRO was promulgated because of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif who signed an agreement and escaped from the country. The scenario of the country could be different if Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had faced the situation by staying in the country, the minister. Federal Minister for Political Affairs Maula Bux Chandio said on Saturday that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) always protected women rights during its tenure and the same would continue in future. Talking to APP, he said that it is simply unimaginable for any country to grow without vibrant and equal participation of women in its economic, social and political life. To a question, he said without attending to 49 percent of Pakistan’s potential, the dream of self-sufficiency will remain only a dream. He said in line with the vision of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, the present PPP government has made strides in the realm of women’s social, political and economic empowerment. He said in order to provide the working women with an enabling environment, a separate law against harassment at workplace has been passed, 10 percent quota has also been fixed for women in all federal jobs. Chandio reviews Muharram security plan: Federal Minister for Political Affairs Senator Moula Bux Chandio has directed the officers of divisional and district administration of Hyderabad to ensure comprehensive contingency plan to ensure law and order and to pre-empt any untoward incident during Muharram-ul-Harram. Presiding over a meeting with the officials of the divisional and district administration here on Saturday, he maintained that protection of the life of law abiding people is the top priority of the government and no negligence in this regard will be tolerated. He emphasized the need for preparation of effective security plan. The security should be beefed up during Muharram so that the people could carry out their religious activities without any fear, he added. The minister also underlined the need of establishing first aid camps along the route of mourning procession so that the mourners could get first aid without delay and at the nearest.

Is one in eight Australians really poor?

By Charlotte Pritchard
A recent study says that one in eight Australians are living in poverty. This seems quite high for a developed country, so what's behind it?
"In this study we used a relative poverty definition," says report author Bruce Bradbury from the University of New South Wales. "The basic idea of a relative poverty line is that you set a poverty line at some fraction of the middle living standard or the median income in that community. We have chosen 50% so people whose income, after adjusting for their family's size, is below half the middle income of the country in the same year are defined as being poor."
So in this case, poverty is measured by looking at incomes relative to the rest of Australian society as a whole. It's a country-specific measure. This is not unusual. In developed industrial countries it is very common to measure poverty relatively."Rich countries can afford to have higher standards," says Bruce Bradbury. "It is entirely appropriate that people thinking about policies in those rich countries think about the standards that those rich countries can afford." But some argue that this is not actually a measure of poverty but more an indication of inequality. Because this measure relates to how the average person in a country is doing, it shifts. For example, after the financial crash in Ireland in 2008, the number of people in poverty fell because the median - or middle - income of the whole society had decreased.Bradbury says that the relative poverty measure is closely related to inequality, but it's not quite the same."You can think of it as being quite close to a measure of inequality which only looked at the bottom half of the distribution," he says. "The level of incomes that people in the top of the distribution have has no influence… But it is a measure of how far away the bottom is from the middle." Australia is indeed a rich country but the people living in poverty there are by no means as poor as many people living a much less wealthy country - Ethiopia, for example. "If one is seeking to compare living standards of people in [developing] countries with those in the richer nations, one would not use the relative poverty line," says Bradbury. But how would you do it? "There is no single way to look at poverty either nationally or globally," says Bill Orme, from the UN Human Development Programme. "The consensus of the experts is that it is most useful to look at different range of assessments and a combination of factors." In order to make international comparisons, you need to measure poverty in absolute terms - and the most common measure of absolute poverty is living on, or on less than, $1.25 a day. Orme says this absolute poverty measure is the best for international comparisons, "because it's a constant across countries, it's useful because you can look at that measurement regardless of what country you're in". By this standard, according to the UN, there are 1.3 billion people worldwide living in poverty. "We can say with confidence that, whereas as recently as 1980 more than half of the world fell into that category, today it is less than 25%. And it's probably getting closer to 20% which is a huge amount of progress across countries," says Orme. But what if you're living on twice that amount, are you doing OK? Well, maybe not. And is it right to measure money rather than focus on how poor people live their lives? Some critics have suggested the way the World Bank calculates its figures obscures many of the issues that impact on the global poor, such as asset prices and land.All these measures rely on people's income, but in large parts of the world, people are outside of the traditional cash economy. Therefore, since 2010, the UN Human Development Report has used what it calls a multi-dimensional poverty measure. This looks at poverty not simply in terms of income but using other indicators such as: nutrition child mortality education access to drinking water and sanitation "There are a number of places in the world where people are above that $1.25 minimum," says Orme. "But still by these other measurements are objectively poor. For example in South Asia there are many more people who are in the multi-dimensional poor category than are in the income poor category."

Pakistani Army rejects probing former Generals: Report

The Pakistan Army's legal branch has concluded that there is no scope for the military to try former army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg and former ISI chief Lieutenant General Mohammad Asad Durrani for paying millions of rupees to politicians to rig the 1990 general election, a media report said on Monday. In a preliminary report presented to army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the legal branch concluded that the two retired generals could not be tried under the Army Act following the Supreme Court's order holding them responsible for the rigging of the polls. Mr Kayani has asked the Judge Advocate General's branch in the general headquarters to further study the case and to engage top lawyers to assess if the Army Act applies to the kind of acts that General Beg and Lieutenant General Durrani were involved in, The News quoted its sources as saying. Following top-level discussions between the civil and military leadership over the possibility of initiating criminal proceedings against General Beg and Lt Gen Durrani, the General Headquarters has started studying aspects of the Army Act to decide if the two generals would be tried by the military or the civilian government, the report said. However, the Pakistan People's Party-led government has not yet formally referred the matter to the army. The daily quoted its sources as saying that the civilian government might "find much in the prevailing statutes to deal with these cases without referring it to the army". Pakistan's Supreme Court held General Beg and Durrani responsible for rigging the 1990 polls in an order issued in response to a petition filed by former air force chief Asghar Khan.

Pakistani lawyers go from heroes to ‘gangsters’

The young police inspector came to court to present evidence in a beating case. He left with his head and lip bloodied and his uniform torn — assaulted, he said, by a gang of black-suited assailants. The notorious lawyers of Lahore had struck again, police and witnesses said. It was chalked up as yet another episode of violence by lawyers that has become common here in this seat of justice in eastern Pakistan, where cases from throughout Punjab province are heard. In a nation where the rule of law is already fragile on many levels, police officials, judges, litigants and witnesses say they have become increasingly fearful of marauding lawyers in their trademark black pants, coats and ties. “If police officers don’t submit to their pressure, they abuse and beat them,” said Sadaqat Ullah, the 28-year-old police investigator who alleged that a group of lawyers pummeled him in late September because he refused to share a confidential hospital report with an attorney in the original assault case. “They behave like gangsters.” Lawyers at the site that day say that only harsh words were exchanged; the provincial bar council is investigating. But at least 15 episodes of “hooliganism” and “high-handedness,” as the media and victims describe them, by lawyers have been reported this year, undermining the heroic reputation they gained from their role in a constitutional standoff that began five years ago. In a country where militants rule large swaths of territory, corruption is endemic and people are “disappeared” by security agencies, the “black coats” emerged as defenders of the rule of law after then-President Pervez Musharraf suspended the constitution, arrested political foes and fired judges. The world beheld incongruous images of men in suits braving police lines and tear gas in the capital, Islamabad, to demand the reinstatement of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. Lahore was the epicenter of the 2007-09 “Black Revolution,” as it is known. In one raid on the High Court Bar Association, police arrested more than 800 lawyers involved in the movement for judicial independence. In the end, Musharraf lost power and Chaudhry went on to become a controversial one-man powerhouse who regularly calls to account top elected leaders and army generals for alleged abuses of power. But since those heady days, critics say, lawyers’ arrogance and aggressiveness have wiped out any goodwill they had generated. “Storm troopers,” Ayaz Amir, a politician and commentator, called them in a June column. “Time was when lawyers did most of their arguing with their tongues. Now they seem to do a better job with their fists.” “It’s true. We should mend our behavior,” Zulfiqar Ali, president of the Lahore Bar Association, said sheepishly in an interview. He attributed the violence to a lack of emphasis on ethics and courtroom conduct in law schools. He said the association, which has about 20,000 members, has initiated weekly lectures aimed at improving decorum and overall competence. “We should train them,” said Ali, who has practiced for 24 years. “They are our younger brothers and sisters.” Judges, in particular, say lawyers have become drunk on power, unafraid to curse judicial officers, drag them from their courtrooms and padlock the doors. “Judges are terrified against this mob,” said Ahmed Saeed, a judge who beaned a lawyer with a paperweight last year in his Lahore courtroom, infuriated by what he called the attorney’s abusive language. Saeed has since been reassigned. Another judge, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he no longer wanted to live in fear of the black coats in Lahore and welcomed reassignment to a district more than 150 miles away. Courthouse violence appears infrequent elsewhere, but in Lahore, on a single day in May, three courtroom brawls were reported in the media. They included the pummeling of police inspector Zohaib Awan, 32, who said he had come to court to testify in a property dispute involving a lawyer. “I think even the government and the higher-ups are afraid of lawyers,” Awan said. “No politician or bureaucracy or judiciary is able to stop this hooliganism.” Many lawyers in Pakistan scrabble and toil for cases but earn little: $150 a month is the average in Lahore, a metropolis of more than 10 million. (The average monthly income in Pakistan is variously estimated at $60 to $100.) Lawyers here gather in “offices” next to the courthouse that consist of an open-air warren of rickety chairs, battered desks and crumbling piles of manila- jacketed case files. In courtrooms, lawyers crowd insistently in front of the bench as opposed to sitting quietly at their places until the judge instructs them to appear. Throughout Pakistan, neither the police, nor the lawyers, nor the courts — particularly the lower courts — are held in high regard. Police officers are poorly paid and augment their income by demanding payoffs to investigate crimes. The justice system is an ineffectual morass in which cases often wind on interminably with delay after delay. People complain of judges having their hands out, too. But lawyers seem to be accorded a special measure of scorn: Many banks refuse to give them loans, and landlords won’t rent them property, fearful that the pettifoggers will find loopholes to worm out of making payments. (Journalists also are on the bankers’ blacklist because media companies are notorious for not paying their salaries for months.) Because nearly 4,000 police officers attend the court proceedings in Lahore every day, some clashes are to be expected, said Sheik Muhammad Aamer, a law librarian. “Frictions start at the police stations and lead to shouting matches, and in court those frictions continue,” he said. “There is fault on both sides.” Ahmed Nawaz, a deputy police superintendent in Lahore, said it was rare three or four years ago to arrest lawyers for violence against witnesses, police or judges. “Now they obstruct justice by all means,” he said. “It’s unfortunate. It was once a noble profession.” Loutish lawyers do face disciplinary proceedings: In July, the Punjab Bar Council stripped seven of them of their licenses. The offense: They ransacked the offices of the council, in a fracas that began over a lawyer who allegedly slapped a female colleague. Ali, the Lahore bar president, said lawyers — whatever their faults — continue to protect Pakistan’s nascent democracy. He accused the media of overemphasizing and sensationalizing incidents of violence involving lawyers. “We’ve had only one episode of an advocate throwing his shoes at the judge,” he noted with some pride. “His license was revoked.”

SC adjourns Zulfikar Ali Bhutto reference hearing indefinitely

Supreme Court (SC), resuming the hearing of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto presidential reference after a span of nearly a year, adjourned indefinitely the hearing owing to absence of Aitzaz Ahsan, the counsel of prosecution. According to a private TV channel, a nine-strong larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry heard the case. The court was told that Ahsan in currently in Karachi to attend the funeral prayers of former federal minister Iqbal Haider. The court maintained that it received a letter from President Asif Ali Zardari to the effect of Ahsan being appointed a counsel in the ZAB reference; however, he himself should appear before the court and pledge consent to be a counsel. Barrister Gohar told the court that Aitzaz also will give his consent to be a counsel in written form. The court adjourned the hearing for an indefinite period over the absence of Aitzaz Ahsan. The CJ earlier constituted a nine-member bench to resume the proceedings of the presidential reference after over 10 months. It should be mentioned here that President Zardari, in April 2011, appealed to the apex court, through a presidential reference under Article 186 of the Constitution, seeking the court’s opinion on revisiting Bhutto’s murder trial, as well as seeking a revision of the death sentence awarded to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the former prime minister and Pakistan Peoples’ Party founder. The court cut short the hearing in January this year, after it suspended the practicing licence of Senator Babar Awan, the government’s former counsel in the case over his criticism of the court’s order in the memo case, allegedly in a contemptuous manner. President Zardari has now appointed Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan as his new counsel in this case. The court had also appointed 10 amicus curiae on April 21. Some prominent lawyers, including SM Zafar and Aitzaz, were also among the 10 names, while some later disassociated themselves from the list.

Memo case: SC summons interior secretary today

A nine-judge larger bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry resumed the hearing into memogate case on Monday. The bench ordered the interior secretary to appear in person today. During the course of proceedings, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry remarked that Husain Haqqani should have kept his promise as he was not granted exemption from appearing before the court. Replying to this, Husain Haqqani’s lawyer Asma Jahangir apprised the bench that the matter of Hussain Haqqani’s exemption from hearing is subjudiced. Asma further said that Mansoor Ejaz was allowed to record his statements through video conference while his client wasn’t provided with this facility. On which, the chief justice said that her client, himself promised to appear within 4 days if court ordered. Asma Jahangir said his client was facing security threats on which the chief justice replied that the government will provide full proof security to Hussain Haqqani. The chief justice questioned the attorney general if he could provide full proof security to Haqqani. The attorney general Irfan Qadir replied that he cannot gurranttee security in his current position. It is pertinent to mention that the memo controversy emerged when US based businessman Mansoor Ijaz wrote an article in the ‘Financial Times’ revealing about the memo written to Admiral Mike Mullen on behalf of the Pakistani government in order to seek help from the Obama administration in the wake of the Osama bin Laden raid to avert a military takeover of the civilian government in Pakistan. Several petitions were filed in the Supreme Court, pleading to investigate the matter. Consequently, a larger bench comprising nine judges and headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was formed by the SC to hear the petitions. A judicial commission was also formed to probe the matter that declared the memo a reality and hold then US ambassador Husain Haqqani responsible to draft the memo. His counsel in the case, Asma Jahangir has also filed the petition against the report.

Pakistani icons

After late Arfa Karim, the Pakistani computer prodigy, Malala Yousafzai has become the second icon to appear on the world stage restoring the good name of the motherland. Their contribution to their respective fields has been second to none. Malala stood against tyranny and terrorism steadfastly. In recognition of her sacrifice and demonstration of courage, all members of the United Nations are celebrating Nov 10 as Global Day of Action for Malala Yousafzai. The Secretary General of the world body, Ban Ki-moon in a video message said that Malala is a metaphor for every girl’s right to education. He urged the people across the world to join forces to put education first for girls and boys throughout the globe. The Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General, Gordon Brown, who is in Pakistan currently, has handed a petition to President Asif Ali Zardari bearing more than a million signatures calling for a Nobel peace prize for Malala.Arfa and Malala have helped Pakistan improve its image across the world by simply making their unique contribution. In essence, it has roused the people from their deep slumber of bigotry and intolerance. Pakistan should step forward to do whatever can be done for promoting education.

Malala day

As the world observed Saturday (November 10) as the Malala Day, the UNESCO\'s Education for All Global Monitoring Report has ranked Pakistan among 10 rock bottom countries, the world over, in girls\' education. According to this alarming report, 62 per cent of girls in Pakistan, between the ages of seven and 15, have never seen the inside of a school. This situation my defuse the impact of the struggle of Malala Yousufzai, the 15-year old girl from Swat who almost lost her life in standing opposition to the Taliban ideology against women\'s education. The Taliban, in the process of promoting their concept of how Pakistan should be, particularly targeted women\'s schools and their professional and vocation training centers across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas. By marking Nov 10 as Malala Day, the United Nations took a positive step to win a global solidarity for the girl who stood up against monsters when the forces of despondency want Pakistani society never to reach a progressive and enlightened mannerism. The UN decision has let the world, especially Pakistan, know that Malala\'s efforts have not been in vain and that her spirit and cause should be championed by the world at large. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is also the UN ambassador for global education and was in Pakistan on the Malala Day, presented to Pakistan\'s government a petition signed by one million people to show their support for Malala Yousafzai. Simultaneously, rights campaigners in the UK are pushing to have Malala nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and so far about, 100,000 people have signed the petition and the momentum is only picking up. Therefore, this is not just support; it is across-the-board solidarity for Malala who has become a universal symbol of resistance against Taliban ideology. Mr Gordon Brown also informed the Pakistani government that a Malala Foundation has been set up to honour the young girl and to campaign for the 32 million girls around the world who are deprived of education and whom Malala wanted to do get educated before she was cruelly shot in the head after the Pakistani Taliban showed the whole world just how brutal they could be by shooting a teen aged girl for the crime of wanting to obtain education. Malala\'s clarion call has also shaken the world at large as President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan said while commencing a four-day of visit of Indian on Saturday that his country would hunt for Taliban for the attack. In addition to all these heart-warming accolades the world rejoiced to celebrate this young warrior but schoolgirls in Malala\'s hometown of Mingora were unable to pay tribute in public because of fears of the Taliban retaliation. This fear confined Malala\'s class fellows toonly hold a candlelight vigil and prayed for her safety. The two young girls, Kainaat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan, who were injured during the attempted murder of Malala Yousafzai still look over their shoulder in fear as they do not feel safe. They may be haunted by the memory of the shooting but they have not backed down from wanting an education and risking their lives to get it. No matter where in the world, Malala has been honoured and prayed for on November 10 by everyone who has a heart. If there is one thing sure to make the militants see red, it must be the fact that they have made a hero out of their innocent target. The fact that Malala is now in the spotlight must be used to further the cause of girls education. All provincial governments must wake up from their slumber and actually see how young girls are being denied their fundamental right to education. It is paramount that these governments join hands with all those nations that support Malala\'s cause by concentrating on the education of this country\'s youth. Seizing upon a World Bank assistance, President Zaradari announced the other day that a cash stipend will be provided to three million families to ensure their children are educated. One hopes to see this fervour remain after the Malala affair tones down. The Taliban are counting on us forgetting this young angel soon but Pakistan must not let the spirit died down. Let Taliban be defeated on this front.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa schools shut as teachers unavailable

“I haven’t seen a single child go to this educational institution for the last four years,” says a resident of the Ghari Mosam Khan pointing to the government girls’ primary school on the outskirts of the provincial capital. According to Hameed Khan, who runs a shop near the school, he remembers well that a couple of years ago, girls used to go through the lush green fields every morning to reach the primary school. However, the school located some three kilometres from Peshawar on the bank of the Bara River has been closed for four years. And the closure came after the lone teacher of the school was transferred. Since there was no teacher, the students stopped coming to the school. Some took admission in another primary school located at a distance of around one kilometre, while the rest abandoned education after their parents told them to stay home. The school wore a deserted look when this correspondent visited it of late. The doors of its two classrooms were taken away by the people, while electricity and other facilities, too, were missing. While the international community has been pushing the Pakistani government for encouraging girls to get education since little female education activist Malala Yousafzai of Swat was shot by the Taliban, closure of schools due to unavailability of teachers and pathetic conditions at the functional ones point to another serious educational issue in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Ironically, the elementary and secondary education department has no data of schools closed due to unavailability of teachers and other reasons. It is enough to show the department’s indifference to the issue. The number of closed schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as shown in the ‘Education Management Information System’ report issued in the last four years are not more than 450 though E&SE Minister Sardar Hussain Babak has time and again claimed that more than 900 schools in the province have been reopened in two years. In 2010, the education department introduced rationalisation policy for transferring teachers from schools in city areas to those closed due to unavailability of teachers. According to officials, schools in city areas are overstaffed as teachers wants to stay there to get additional allowance not given to those appointed to rural area educational institutions. They also said thousands of schools in the province, mostly primary ones, lacked basic facilities causing high dropout rate. According to officials, the overall dropout rate calculated for preparatory-5th class in government primary schools over six years is 45 per cent (39 per cent among boys and 53 per cent among girls). Likewise, the dropout rate calculated for class six-10 over five years is 45 per cent (46 per cent among boys and 43 per cent among girls). They said around 10,518 schools had been without electric supply, 5,482 without boundary walls, 7,432 without drinking water and 4,458 without toilets. Officials said currently, 3.73 million children were out of schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to inaccessibility to schools, missing facilities inside schools and poverty. And of them, 1.809 million are aged between five and 10 years and 1.924 million between 11 and 15 years. In this light, it is stated that the government could increase access of children, especially girls, to education in the province by setting up more schools, providing basic facilities to the existing ones and observe merit while transferring teachers.

The killing fields of Karachi

Daily Times
The fears that the approach of Muharram may trigger sectarian killings have come true with a vengeance in Karachi, and peripherally in Quetta so far. In Karachi on Saturday, 20 people were killed, including six students of a Deobandi madrassa. These killings came after the authorities had imposed a ban on pillion riding, which does not seem to have deterred all kinds of gunmen on motorcycles from going about their deadly business. As though Saturday’s Karachi toll were not enough, Sunday saw a clash between two groups in Sohrab Goth, which soon reduced the area to a battlefield, with police and rangers attempting to restore calm at the time of writing these lines. While the killings in Karachi can be traced to a range of reasons and perpetrators, including tit-for-tat sectarian killings, targeted political assassinations and plain criminal gangs fighting each other, the Hazara community in Quetta continues to be targeted with impunity almost every other day. In neither city can the efforts of the law enforcing agencies be seen to be having much effect. The troubles in Karachi are of course of longer standing, but Quetta has now joined the killing fields of Karachi as a slaughterhouse frequented by sectarian killers. The Saturday events ironically took place when the prime minister and key members of the federal cabinet were in the Sindh capital, an occasion where the expectation of enhanced security and control was viciously shredded by the fanatics. Terrorism, sectarian conflict, crime and violence have become a way of life in the country, particularly in the big cities. The writ of the state is thereby exposed in all its weakness and ineffectuality. Arguably, these are the fruits of past (and continuing) flirtation with jihadi extremism for foreign policy goals, a venture that has not only affected Pakistan by the blowback from terrorist groups that have fallen out with the state and are challenging it to come to power and impose their narrow brand of religion, but also given space and deadly effectiveness to sectarian groups aligned with the Wahabi/Salafi school of thought. Crime, and violent crime in particular, is owed to the precarious state of the economy, with unemployment and inflation soaring and weapons being easily and relatively cheaply available. If the pattern of sectarian murders in Karachi are any guide, the motorcycle riding killers have graduated from the spread of the Kalashnikov culture in our past because of our interference in Afghanistan to now the automatic pistol, or TT culture. This is the weapon of choice for these latter day assassins because it is easily concealable and deadly at close range. In contrast, the police and law enforcing agencies are fighting violent groups and crime with one hand tied behind their backs because the killers and criminals enjoy the political protection and patronage of the parties in power in the province. Even if an accused is presented before the courts, the inadequacies of our prosecution regime, legal lacunae that fail to address the crisis emanating from terrorists and fanatics running loose, witnesses and judges’ intimidation, all combine to make the chances of conviction slim. The courts blame the police’s inefficient prosecution, the police blame the politicians, the latter blame each other, and so on, the bloody merry-go-round continues. Hopes that better sense would eventually prevail and the coalition partners in the Sindh government would come together in their own interests to tackle these problems and arrive at a modus vivendi to return the city of lights to its former glory have all been belied. If the Supreme Court (controversially, it must be admitted) has declared that the provincial government in Balochistan has lost its right to rule since it is unable to protect the lives of citizens, some may be tempted to draw a parallel with the situation in Karachi in particular and Sindh in general, which is now witnessing the conflict spilling over to the interior and cities within it such as Hyderabad. It is not enough for the government/s to keep reminding us that elections are around the corner. In and of themselves, the elections will not change the situation a jot. Only the authorities, armed with the requisite political will, can make a difference. Having said that, optimism withers.

Pakistan conveys deep concern to Afghanistan over unprovoked border shelling

Radio Pakistan
Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani has conveyed deep concern of Pakistan to the Afghan Ambassador today over the unprovoked border shelling by the Afghan forces last evening killing four civilians. Condemning the attacks‚ the Foreign Secretary said such attacks would only vitiate the conducive environment that Pakistan is trying to create for promotion of peace and stability in the region. He also strongly urged the Afghan government to take appropriate measures to prevent recurrence of cross the border attacks in future. Military sources said the Afghan National Army troops carried out firing from post KK top and fired three 122 mm mortar rounds yesterday which hit a civilian vehicle. As a result four persons including two children were killed.

Peshawar police constantly losing officers

The Peshawar police have suffered the most in terms of losing senior officers in militant attacks during the last six years. This has made posting in the city the most dangerous job for policemen. Not a single police officer of the rank of deputy inspector general (DIG) has been killed in any part of the country except Peshawar where an officer of the rank of inspector general, two DIGs, three superintendents of police (SPs) and a number of DSPs and station house officers (SHOs) have been killed since the last quarter of 2006. A number of other officers sustained different kind of wounds in attacks in Peshawar during this period. The city has lost two SPs during the last less than one month. The number of SPs killed in the city during the last eight months remains three with two SPs killed in suicide bombings and another beheaded after an attack in Matani. The latest killing was that of SP Investigation Hilal Haider in a suicide attack in Qissa Khwani on Wednesday. Six other people were killed along with him when a suicide bomber hit his vehicle near the Khan Raziq Police Station. Earlier, SP Rural Khurshid Khan was beheaded by militants in an attack on a security post in Matani last month. Five other cops were also killed in the attack. The first SP killed during the current year was Kalam Khan. Serving as SP of the Peshawar Rural circle, Kalam Khan was killed in a suicide attack in Pishtakhara in March. Claiming responsibility for the killing of Hilal Haider, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said that the two SPs (Rural) in Peshawar, Kalam Khan and Khurshid Khan, were killed for leading operations against them. The commandant of the Frontier Constabulary, an officer equal to the rank of inspector general of police, Safwat Ghayur, is so far the senior-most cop killed in attacks during the last few years. He was killed in a suicide attack soon after he came out of his office in Peshawar Cantonment and stopped at a traffic signal in August 2010. Safwat Ghayur, one of the most decorated and committed policemen had led several operations in Peshawar, Nowshera, Charsadda and Darra Adamkhel while heading the FC and earlier the Peshawar Police as capital city police officer. Another capital city police officer, Malik Mohammad Saad, was killed along with a number of cops and other people in a suicide attack near the Qasim Ali Khan Masjid in Dhaki Dalgaran in January 2007. Safwat Ghayur and Malik Saad are regarded as two of the best officers Pakistan Police has ever had. Their absence is still being felt all over Pakistan, especially Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The first senior officer killed in Peshawar was DIG Bannu, Abid Ali, in November 2006. He was killed along with his driver by armed criminals when he was on way from Bannu to Peshawar. Among the junior officers killed in militant attacks during the last six years were DSP Khan Raziq, killed along with Malik Saad. Another DSP, Gulfat Hussain was killed in another suicide attack in a rally in Qissa Khwani in April 2010. DSP Saddar Abdul Rashid was killed along with other cops in a suicide attack in January 2011. Besides, a number of SHOs have also been killed in suicide attacks, roadside bombings, ambushes and encounters with militants and criminals since 2006.