Associated PressSoutheast Asian leaders on Sunday adopted a human rights declaration despite last-minute calls for a postponement by critics, including Washington, who said the pact contains loopholes that could allow atrocities to continue. The 10 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, an unwieldy bloc of liberal democracies and authoritarian states, signed a document adopting the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, where the heads of state were holding an annual summit. The nonbinding declaration calls for an end to torture, arbitrary arrests and other rights violations that have been longtime concerns in Southeast Asia, which rights activists once derisively described as being ruled by a "club of dictators." ASEAN diplomats have called the declaration a milestone in the region despite its imperfections, saying it will help cement democratic reforms in countries such as Myanmar, which until recently has been widely condemned for its human rights record. Philippine diplomat Rosario Manalo said it is significant that the region's less democratic governments have embraced the declaration. Founded in 1967 as an anti-communist bloc in the Cold War era, ASEAN has taken feeble steps to address human rights concerns in the vast region of 600 million people, adopting a charter in 2007 where it committed to uphold international law and human rights but retained a bedrock principle of not interfering in each other's internal affairs — a loophole that critics say helps member states commit abuses without consequence. In 2009, the group unveiled a commission that was tasked to promote human rights but deprived of power to investigate violations or go after abusers. ASEAN leaders committed to promote and protect human rights, along with "democracy, rule of law and good governance" in a joint statement they signed to launch the declaration. But provisions in the declaration say rights could be limited for reasons of security, public order and morality. It adds that the "realization of human rights must be considered in the regional and national context bearing in mind different political, economic, legal, social, cultural, historical and religious backgrounds." Rights groups say that such conditions could be used to justify violations. "ASEAN has finally stumbled across the finish line with a flawed declaration that falls short of international standards," said Phil Robertson of the New York-based Human Rights Watch. Washington has also expressed concerns, along with ASEAN members Indonesia and the Philippines, which threatened to withhold support until the regional bloc agreed to add a paragraph where it pledged to enforce the declaration with a level of commitment accorded to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, diplomats said. The ASEAN decides by consensus, meaning that if just one country disapproved, the declaration's launching would have been scuttled. That could have been embarrassing for the regional grouping still struggling to repair the damage to its image after its last ministerial meeting in July collapsed due to infighting over the handling of South China Sea territorial disputes. Myanmar's top diplomat, Wunna Maung Lwin, told The Associated Press that his country welcomes the declaration and will abide by it. "It's a very significant step that has been taken by the ASEAN," he said. ___
Sunday, November 18, 2012
President Asif Ali Zardari will address the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s session on Monday.
Radio PakistanRenowned Pushto poet and research scholar Dr. Muhammad Azam Azam was laid to rest at his ancestral graveyard at Rajarr Renowned Pushto poet and research scholar Dr. Muhammad Azam Azam was laid to rest at his ancestral graveyard at Rajarr in district Charsadda on Saturday.
Dr. Muhammad Azam Azam
http://www.afghanwiki.comSoft-spoken Prof Dr Mohammad Azam Azam, the author of no less than 11 books, is a man with an unassuming personality. He has been rendering meritorious services to Pashto language and literature for the last 45 years. Dr Azam is a distinguished writer known for his individual and unique style, and for having introduced and contributed to modern literary trends both in substance and style in Pashto prose as well as poetry. He enjoys mass popularity and unprecedented fame among common folk, literary and cultural circles for his landmark achievements. Radio Pakistan Peshawar and PTV’s Peshawar Centre have aired more than 500 songs and ghazals by Dr Azam that have gained tremendous popularity due to their lucidity and mass appeal. He is also considered to be a trend setter in Pashto drama, on both radio and television.Birth December 21, 1940 Place of birth: District Charsadda, village Rajar, Khybar Pakhtunkhwa Education: PhD in Pashto literature Career Appointed as lecturer of Pashto at Islamia College, Peshawar in 1963 and also served as chairman Pashto Department University of Peshawar and Dean of Faculty of Oriental Languages. He retired on December 20, 2000 and took charge of the Academy of Letters Pakistan, Islamabad, as regional director Peshawar chapter in August, 2006. Important Books Pashto Afsana Tahqeeq Auo Tanqeed Pashto Adab Ke Kerdarnigaaree Lashey Rahman Baba Da Ulas Shair Pukhtanee Romanoonah Da Aqidat Guloona Andazoonah In several of his memorable plays Dr Azam has portrayed a true picture of Pashtun culture and society. “Unless a playwright delves deep into the people’s problems, s/he fails to depict the real picture of society. To me a writer and poet is the spirit of the age s/he lives in. Pashto drama seems to be on decline because of lack of observation and artificial presentation”. At the inception of PTV’s Peshawar Centre in 1974, he wrote the first ever Pashto TV serial ‘Rukey laarey’ (The lost paths) which provided a firm foundation for PTV drama in the Frontier. His most popular play ‘Namoos’ — in both its Pashto and Urdu versions — won accolades for PTV. According to a prominent poet, researcher, linguist, critic and fiction writer Qalandar Momand, Dr Azam is at the top list of modern Pashto poets and playwrights. As for his poetry, Dr Azam claims to be inspired by the progressive writer’s movement. “I am impressed by Ajmal Khattak’s poems and by the ghazals of Amir Hamza Khan Shinwarai because both of them are voices of masses, one delineates the social life of Pashtuns while the other appeals to their spiritual and national identity. I had started composing poetry during my school days. At Islamia College Peshawar, I was on the editorial board of the literary journal Khyber. “I have a penchant for music and can play the sitar therefore there is a musical quality in my poetry, but I stress on its social and thematic aspect. The poet should always say something new and touching. Digesting the same old stuff robs one’s art of its originality. I did not publish my poetry in book form because I thought there is an intense need for prose but now I am planning to bring it out under the Rungoonah on the request of my fans. Young Pashtun poets have introduced new subjects and there is still need for more experiment. Poetry is a vehicle available to be exploited for people’s welfare. It is both a means of instruction and a delight. Pashto poetry has an immense future”, Dr Azam concludes hopefully. Along with his creative literary pursuits Dr Azam has also presented invaluable services in the field of research. He has published numerous treatises, research articles and critical essays. Among all of his research works, his celebrated investigative prose work Pashto Afsana: Tahqeeq Auo Tanqeed is the first ever book on the subject. The book has been included in the MA course for Pashto literature. His PhD thesis titled “The art of characterization in Pashto literature” is considered to be of high literary worth. “Some Afghan scholars affiliated with Pashto Tolana in Kabul did valuable research on Pashto language and literature before the Russian invasion but nowadays research on scientific lines in Afghanistan is a farfetched notion. Also, writers there have become divided into various ‘groups’ which I believe is a bad omen for promoting healthy literary trends. Ulasi Adabi Jirga is a popular literary organisation founded by Hamza Baba, Dost Mohammad Khan Kamil, Qalandar Momand and other poets, writers and researchers in the early half of the 20th century. They helped to introduce new literary trends in Pashto literature. Men of letters like Haji Sanobar Hussain Kakajee, Fazal Mahmood Makhfi, Abdul Akbar Khan Akbar, Ghani Khan, Ashraf Maftoon, Master Abdul Karim Mazloom and Mir Mehdi Shah Bacha, under the influence of Bacha Khan’s Khudai Khidmatgaar Movement, gave a social awareness and political consciousness to the masses through their inspiring writings”. Awards Adamjee Award (1963) Pakistan Writer’s Guild (1965) Pakistan Writer’s Guild (1978) PTV gold medal for drama (1989) Tamgha-e- Imtiaz (1990)
Ghazi SalahuddinIn many ways, Peshawar has a kinship with Karachi, even though they are the two most distant major cities in the country. Both are afflicted with violence and targeted killings. What is remarkable in this relationship is that Karachi has a larger population of Pakhtuns than Peshawar, a city of history unlike Karachi. So, when I was in Peshawar for three days during this week, I was looking, in a sense, for reflections of my own city in a somewhat alien environment. But my interactions, except for an entire afternoon when I walked the Peshawar streets, were restricted to students, teachers, writers, artists and social activists. If you wonder how such an ingenious congregation was available in a place that is surrounded by jihadi elements, let me tell you that I was there for Children’s Literature Festival, held in the environs of the great Islamia College. However, my encounters and observations were laced with some scary thoughts about the nature of conflict that is raging in the minds of our youngsters. I felt that the seeds of militancy and intolerance are scattered widely and have already sprouted into seemingly invincible biases in the thinking of many young students. If the powers that be do not readily confront this challenge, the entire edifice of what we perceive as national security is bound to crumble before long. Malala Yousafzai, come to think of it, has emerged as a great symbol that should help the authorities to promote the high ideals of education, particularly of girls, and of social advancement in a society held back by primitive and obscurantist ideas. Because Malala comes from the same region and culture, it was natural for her face to represent the very spirit of the festival. And she did figure in some of the festival’s activities. However, the lunatic fringe in this respect was also exposed as a few students angrily – or threateningly – expressed their views against Malala. It is all right, even necessary, to hold one’s opinions and express them in a rational manner. That is what education is all about. The problem is that the Taliban worldview, starkly at odds with our times, is being poured into the receptive minds of some groups of children and what we have in the name of education is not being able to deal with this deadly distortion. It is in this depressing setting that we have the shining light that Malala has personified. The rulers were gifted with a rare opportunity to build popular support for a decisive operation against terrorism and religious extremism when the Taliban hit Malala and the entire nation was suddenly pushed into a state of shock and disbelief. Alas, this Malala moment was not seized in spite of the liberal and democratic ideals that the rulers profess. After that initial display of indecision and weakness on the part of the wielders of power, it became easier for the religious lobby to put a spin on the Malala incident and confuse the entire issue. She was portrayed, in defiance of common sense, as a spy of the west and, unbelievably, the Taliban have continued to assert that she deserved to die. All this should only enhance the meaning and the power of Malala as a symbol. Hence, if Malala is under attack, Pakistan is under attack. This is a message that has not yet been received by our security establishment. Is it because this establishment is distracted by power games that have domestic, as well as global implications? Be that as it may, I am recounting here some impressions that I gathered at the Children’s Literary Festival held in Peshawar on Wednesday and Thursday. Sponsored by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) and the Oxford University Press (OUP), in collaboration with Foundation Open Society Institute, Bacha Khan Trust Education Foundation and Islamia College University, the festival was a grand affair and must have been an occasion for great joy for thousands of school students who attended its varied and colourful activities. That such an event could take place in the present security environment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is in itself an achievement and it represents the silver lining that the civil society activists have provided in the realm of education and awareness. Writers, educators, artists and commentators were brought together from all parts of the country and the pace, on both days, was quite hectic. Incidentally, the first such festival was held in Lahore last year. It was followed by a similar show in Quetta two months ago. Understandably, security concerns did become an impediment in Quetta and Peshawar. My own participation was restricted to just four sessions, surely not as popular as stage shows and the fair on the lawns. My main interest was in talking to parents and teachers on ‘promoting the culture of reading’. I was impressed by the high-level of discourse in a session on ‘critical thinking’ that I moderated. Throughout, I was aware of a depressingly poor intellectual environment in educational institutions and the onslaught of militant and orthodox ideologies. At the same time, I was astonished and inspired by some examples of how these ideologies are being challenged. The inaugural session projected this conflict in an unexpected manner. One school presented a tableau on a martial theme. This obviously was not in sync with the spirit of the festival. But it was refreshing to see the two provincial ministers who were the chief guests to speak forcefully and eloquently against that tableau and what it sought to convey. In fact, what both the ministers – Qazi Asad of the Ministry of Higher Education and Wajid Ali Khan of the Ministry of Environment and Forests – were candid and courageous in their defence of liberal and progressive policies. I was also impressed by a number of other speakers and there was sufficient evidence to show that rational and progressive thinking may be gaining strength in small and isolated sections of our society. One problem, in this respect, is that our national policies are not supportive of the emancipation of the Pakistani mind. This will bring me back to the great tragedy of how the ruling coalition appears to be more interested in its own survival than in the survival of a truly democratic and egalitarian polity in which ordinary people are protected from ignorance and injustice. I have said that I spent an entire afternoon walking the streets of Peshawar. I was able to converse with a number of individuals and it was heartbreaking to find many of them ill-informed and totally biased about the national crisis. I have no idea how anyone, including the political leaders and the media, can communicate with these people.
The Denver Post
Visitors in Karachi, Pakistan, look at a model of the country's unmanned drones at an exhibition of its defense aircraft Thursday. Meanwhile, Pakistan is secretly racing to develop armed drones. (Shakil Adil, The Associated Press)Pakistan, frustrated with U.S. refusals to provide it with armed drones, is secretly racing to develop its own aircraft — but struggling in its initial tests with a lack of precision munitions and advanced targeting technology. China, one of Islamabad's closest allies and Washington's biggest rivals, has offered to help by selling Pakistan armed drones it developed. But industry experts say there is still uncertainty about the capabilities of the Chinese aircraft. The development of unmanned combat aircraft is especially sensitive in Pakistan because of the widespread unpopularity of the hundreds of U.S. drone strikes against Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in the country's rugged tribal region bordering Afghanistan. The Pakistani government denounces the CIA strikes as a violation of the country's sovereignty, although senior civilian and military leaders are known to have supported at least some of the attacks in the past. Pakistani officials also call the strikes unproductive, saying they kill many civilians and fuel anger that helps militants recruit additional fighters — allegations denied by the U.S. Pakistan has demanded that the U.S. provide it with armed drones, claiming it could more effectively carry out attacks against militants. Washington has refused because of the sensitive nature of the technology and doubts that Pakistan would reliably target U.S. enemies. The U.S. has held talks with Pakistan about providing unarmed surveillance drones, but Islamabad already has these aircraft in operation, and the discussions have gone nowhere. Inaugurating a defense exhibition in Karachi last week, Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf indicated Islamabad would look for help from Beijing in response to U.S. intransigence. "Pakistan can also benefit from China in defense collaboration, offsetting the undeclared technological apartheid," Ashraf said. Pakistan has also been working to develop armed drones on its own, said Pakistani military officials and civilians involved in the domestic drone industry, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the work. Pakistan first began weapons tests seven to eight months ago with the Falco, an Italian drone used by the Pakistani air force for surveillance that has been modified to carry rockets, said a civilian with knowledge of the secret program. Pakistan lacks laser-guided missiles like the Hellfire used on U.S. Predator and Reaper drones and the advanced targeting system that goes with it, so the military has been using unguided rockets that are much less accurate.
By:Dave ShermanAmerica’s manned military presence in Afghanistan is winding down, at the direction of President Barack Obama, and troops are coming home. They still remain in danger, though, from both our nation’s enemies and some of the very troops we are trying to train, as defenders of their homeland. One way to protect our troops is by using unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. At fewer than 30 feet in length, drones were primarily developed as reconnaissance vehicles. They can soar over unsafe territory for the best type of intelligence-gathering missions: those that would give our troops a better chance of success. Published information said that drones can travel up to 400 miles, scout a site for 14 hours and return to their base. In recent years, armed drones have been employed, by virtue of their stealth and speed, to take out leading al-Qaeda figures. Unfortunately, civilian deaths have occurred, as well. Unarmed drones have positive uses along the U.S. border with Mexico, as well. According to The Washington Post, the U.S. Office of Customs and Border Protection is planning on having as many as 24 Predator drones, that can be deployed within three hours, anywhere in the country. Detractors rose up, earlier this month, when an unarmed U.S. drone was fired upon, by Iranian fighters. American officials stated that the craft was flying over international waters at the time and was not damaged, in the engagement. The objection to the use of drones by the U.S. military apparently stems from a fear that these weapons can be used away from the spotlight more commonly afforded to troops on the ground. A secret mission to spy on and possibly kill anyone we suspect of terrorist activity – or who would plot attacks on our troops – may stay secret forever. This is a reality that may accompany wartime strategy, for decades to come. An opinion column recently written by Rosa Brooks, a former senior adviser at the U.S. State Department, blasted the secrecy surrounding the use of drone missions. “This amounts, in practice, to a claim that the executive branch has the unreviewable power to kill anyone, anywhere, at any time, based on secret criteria and secret information, discussed in a secret process, by largely anonymous individuals,” she wrote. “‘Trust us’ is a pretty shaky foundation for the rule of law.” Perhaps Brooks would like her own chair in the Situation Room. Only a handful of individuals knew about the mission that would result in the death of Osama bin Laden. Secrecy was paramount to its success. Does the average American really need to know if, and when, drones flew over his compound to set the stage for the mission? I think not. We would all like to think we can trust our military. As the commander in chief, the president is ultimately in control. There is one other advantage to having drones handle high-risk missions in hostile territory. If they are lost in combat, they don’t leave grieving families behind.