Tuesday, November 20, 2012

India asks Pakistan to defer interior minister Rehman Malik's visit

Internationalization of the landmark Indo-Pak visa agreement will be delayed as India has asked Pakistan to postpone interior minister Rehman Malik's proposed visit here on November 22-23. "The dates proposed by the Pakistani side are not suitable to us, so the visit of Rehman Malik stands postponed. Fresh set of dates will be discussed later," home minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters here. During Malik's proposed visit, the two sides had planned to operationalise the new liberalised Indo-Pak visa pact replacing a 38-year-old restrictive visa agreement and paving the way for time-bound visa approval and greater people-to-people contact and trade. Though New Delhi has cited the coming winter session of Parliament as the reason for its inability to host Malik this week as Shinde would be busy being the leader of Lok Sabha, Islamabad's failure to punish those involved in 26/11 appears to be the key reason. Sources said since the fourth anniversary of the Mumbai terror attack falls three days after the proposed visit of the Pakistani leader, home ministry officials seem to have advised against hosting Malik. Malik has been accused of failing to keep his promises on acting against perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack which claimed 166 lives. Trial against LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six other accused of 26/11 case at a Rawalpindi court has been very slow and New Delhi's request for voice samples of handlers of the terrorists is yet to be acceded by Islamabad and LeT founder Hafiz Saeed continues to roam freely in Pakistan, they said. "Under such a situation, it is not prudent to host the Pakistani interior minister on the eve of the fourth anniversary of 26/11 attack," the sources said. The message was conveyed to Pakistan through diplomatic channels. India has not yet suggested new dates for Rehman's visit.

Pakistani Military Chief Talks About Peace Process With Afghan Leader

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani military chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani have met in Kabul to discuss the Afghan peace process. The meeting followed last week's release of Afghan Taliban prisoners in Pakistan. A statement by the Afghan president's office says "their discussions were frank, cordial and in depth." In a sign of increasing cooperation between the two neighbors, Kayani assured Karzai of Islamabad's firm support for peace in Afghanistan. The two agreed to follow-up discussions and talked about "the necessary future steps" in the Afghan peace process. Kabul accuses Islamabad of sheltering Taliban leaders but is also reaching out to its eastern neighbor to push the insurgents towards the negotiation table before international forces leave Afghanistan in 2014.

Child labor promotes abuse in Afghanistan

Experts say the increase in sexual abuse against children in Afghanistan is due to a lax judicial system that fails to prosecute pedophiles. They also attribute it to a system that allows child labor.
Right on time for International Children's Day, the Afghan government has addressed the situation of six million Afghan children - around 15 million under the age of 15 - whose living conditions have been described as "critical." The children are forced into child labor and often fall victim to sexual abuse. There has been a lot of talk about the recent case of a three-year-old child in the northern province of Takhar being sexually abused or the 22-year-old man raping a five-year-old in the neighboring province Balkh around the same time. Child labor
Ustad Sharafuddin Azimi, a professor of psychology at the University of Kabul, says a huge number of abused children are also forced into child labor. They work under unprotected conditions with no one to stand up for them.In Afghanistan, it is not uncommon to see children as young as three years old selling goods on streets or working in brick factories. In many cases, children are the sole breadwinners of their families. Azimi urges the Ministry of Work and Social Affairs to become active and end child labor. In the western province of Herat, over 70 cases of sexual abuse against minors were reported this year alone. The estimated number of unreported cases is much higher. Azimi would also like to see the government do more to crack down on sex crime offenders. He says the death penalty should be used in such cases. "The fact that the laws are not consistently implemented has led to an increase in sexual abuse against children," he says. " We hear of new cases on a daily basis. But no one is ever brought to justice. No one is prosecuted - no one is hanged." The laxity of the law encourages offenders because they know they will not be punished, according to Azimi. Lax criminal prosecution Ministry spokesman Ali Eftekhari says the government is aware of the problem and aims to tackle it."We have to provide for these families access to education and vocational training," he says. "If they have a future financially, they will be able to offer their children a future as well." The Afghan organization "Taghir Karwan" (Campaign for Change), an outspoken critic of child abuse, also demands greater government action. The organization believes offenders must be prosecuted. "If someone violates a child or abuses one, the police are obliged to prosecute that person and not let that person go, no matter how much power or influence the offender has," says Mohammad Rahim Jami of the Campaign for Change. Not only the police, but the state prosecutor and the whole justice system must do its work 100 percent, he adds. A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai confirmed on November 20 that 10 hard criminals will be hanged - among them pedophiles who have sexually abused children.

Morphology of Karachi

by Tariq Mahmud
The recurring violence in Karachi has raised some basic questions about the state and society of Pakistan. Like any burgeoning port city, Karachi has some distinct characteristics - a fast growing population and demographic diversity. It is because of this diversity that the problem of lawlessness is perceived to be ethnic. Irrespective of their ethnic origin, Karachiites have a distinct common identity like the people of any other region of Pakistan. A third generation Pashtun, Punjabi or Baloch has more in common with the people of his neighbourhood in the city than with his relatives living in Mardan, Gujranwala, or Khuzdar. Shahid Khan Afridi, for example, in essence is a brand of Karachi, rather than a manifest of Darra Adam Khel. His diction, mannerism, tastes and nuances have been nurtured by this city. There is seamless coexistence at the street and societal level. Even when ethnic communities are associated with distinct professions, they complement each other. When a thoughtless strike call brings a Pashtun's coaster to a halt, it denies an 'Urdu speaking' wage earner access to his workplace.So where lies the problem? There are thousands of acres of state land in and around Karachi that is neither measured nor mapped in accordance with the finer details of the 'land settlement manual'. These tracts are along the prime alignments of National Highway, Super Highway, towards the Northern bypass, Kemari and Hub. Survey numbers are attached to un-surveyed land which has not been properly classified and yet it is set out for the dole. This land is not delineated in accordance with the standard procedures. In the colony districts of Punjab, usable state land is diligently measured and subjected to precise 'Killabandi' mapped and made part of the permanent revenue record. It is effectively protected, manned and monitored through a multi-tiered revenue machinery. Records maintained by the Directorate of Land Survey in Karachi and the field Tapedar are at times different. Powerful groups, with the collusion of state functionaries and political patronage, have stolen some of this land over the years. Beds of Malir and Lyari rivers are no exception. Vast available tracts of land were a boon when there was a need to set up large projects like the Pakistan Steel Mill and Port Qasim, but are a bane after the increase in population. I have been closely associated with the ambitious Lyari Expressway project, an important component of which was land acquisition and resettlement. A significant area required for the project included mosques, madrassas and shops. These were well guarded, but had no clear title of ownership. This problem of uncertainty of title in different parts of the city is compounded by the 'Paggari System' in which property changes hands based on who has street power. The history of the Italian Mafia was similar. The surrender of vast tracts of land by the church and in turn its poor management and poor protection resulted in the growing influence of the Sicilian Mafia in the later part of the 19th century. When the authorities failed to enforce law, criminals and armed gangs began to rule these streets and began to get involved in drug trafficking, extortion and serial killings. The phenomenon assumed a transnational character when it spilled over to New York and Chicago through the Italian diaspora. Karachi's conundrum is also in many ways a failure of governance over a long period of time. Various tiers of the state machinery have quite often had different objectives. Political leaders have failed to see the bigger picture because of short term political gains. The administration and law-enforcement agencies have acquired a culture of appeasement. The only way to resolve the problems is a return to proper governance. A depoliticized police will have to comb the narrow streets and enforce their writ. A detailed mapping and manning of land must be initiated. A permanent mechanism must be put in place to protect and retrieve state land from not just the land grabbers but also state organizations, autonomous bodies and housing societies. Above all, there is a need for soul searching by the major political stakeholders of the city. They must adopt an inclusive approach and understand that Karachi is larger than their expediencies. The writer is a public policy analyst and a former federal secretary

Zardari: Need to change mindset which attacked Malala

President Asif Ali Zardari
addressed the Pakistan Leaders of Tomorrow conference and said the people of the country were fighting a mindset. The president stated that Pakistan was fighting a war against those who had ruined the security of the country and would continue to do so until peace was restored. The president called upon the young leaders in attendance to challenge this mindset in order to look after themselves and future generations. President Zardari emphasised that it was critical to change the mindset which attacked Malala Yousafzai. The president stated that a non controversial leader was one who had not taken any decisions. “I am open to all criticism and am the one tolerating the most,” he said. Following his address, the president fielded questions from those in attendance. He answered questions pertaining to Dr Aafia, security and Pakistan’s condemnation of the anti-Islam film and the crisis in Gaza.

Malala most deserving of Nobel

By:Mahmood Elahi, Ottawa
To bring hope to opressed women, Malala should be awarded Nobel Peace Prize. By risking her life for the love of education, 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai has shown courage of conviction and she deserves the prize for her efforts.
The Taliban, who are opposed to any education for women, tried to assassinate her. Luckily, she survived. But the battle for women’s right to education is not over. To succeed, Malala will need the support of the world. By awarding the Nobel, the world will provide her with a tool to fight the cause of education and justice. Since Malala is still a minor, and a bit young to handle such a huge prize, the Nobel committee should use the prize money to create an endowment to support the spread of women’s education in Pakistan. In fact, other countries should be invited to contribute to the fund for building girls’ schools and colleges and grant scholarships to girls inside Pakistan.

British Islamists to Issue Fatwa Malala

A new British-based Islamist group
plans to meet in Islamabad to issue a religious decree against a Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban, accusing her of supporting "occupying" U.S. forces. The move against Malala Yousufzai, 15, is likely to provoke outrage. In the days following her shooting in October, she became an international icon and world leaders pledged to support her campaign for girls' education. "There will be a fatwa issued regarding Malala Yousufzai taking into account the full story of her injury including her public statements in support of the occupying U.S. army in the region and mocking of key symbols of Islam such as hijab and jihad," said Abu Baraa, a senior member of Shariah4Pakistan. The group, whose website features a blog below a photograph of Yousufzai in a hospital bed titled "Don't Believe The Crocodile Tears for Malala Yousufzai", is associated with some of Britain's most hardline Islamists. Anjem Choudary, a prominent radical cleric in Britain, said the fatwa could be issued on November 30 at Lal Masjid, one of Pakistan's most notorious mosques, where a 2007 army raid crushed a Taliban-style movement controlling the compound.

Bilawal Bhutto seeks political support to fight terrorism

Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
was addressing second 'Pakistan Leaders of Tomorrow' conference in Islamabad . He was addressing second 'Pakistan Leaders of Tomorrow' conference in Islamabad this afternoon. In a very inspiring speech‚ Chairman of the PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called upon all political parties to get united to fight terrorism for the sake of safe and secure future of the country. He pointed out that ANP has suffered from terrorism like PPP and despite our past differences with the MQM‚ we have been willing to put these difference aside and unite against this common enemy. He said we have to protect Jinnah's Pakistan from the threat of the Taliban. He said PML(N) has been part of our coalition before and it was partly because of the support from the party that we built the necessary consensus in the country that allowed us to end Taliban rule in Swat and raise the flag of pakistan there once again. Bilawal said he was certain Nawaz Sharif is genuinely an ally in supporting democracy in the country. He welcomed Imran Khans decision to finally take part in the next general election. He expressed the confidence that his inclusion will have a positive impact of politics of the country. Bilawal said he was even certain we can build consensus with the religious parties including Jamat-e-Islami. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari categorically stated that we are opposed to drone strikes. He pointed out that had these been carried out with the connivance of the Government then the then Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi‚ who is currently in PTI‚ should have resigned on the same issue. He said after the Osama raid‚ the PPP and the President of Pakistan were one of the few political parties to stand by our generals and our soldiers. Even Nawaz Sharif was calling for our military and intelligence leadership to be sacked. President Zardari was defending our military leadership and defending Pakistan. He said the President Zardari stood by the armed forces of Pakistan and lived up to his title of commander in chief. Now even the Americans accept that Pakistan did not know that Osama was in Abbottabad. Bilawal said it was the PPP Government that made the super power apologizes after the Salala incident.

Zardari: 'If you are not controversial, you haven't done anything substantial'

The Express Tribune
If you are not controversial, then you have not done anything substantial, said President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday. The president was addressing a youth conference held in the federal capital. Speaking about the burden of being a leader, the president said good leadership is a result of personal sacrifice. “This is the path my wife and I followed,” he said. He also said that leader is not one who thinks he is a leader, but one who is considered so by others. Speaking about the role of youth in nation building, the president said that as the people of Pakistan, we are fighting a negative state of mind and the youth of this country is a challenge to that mindset. Commending each and every Pakistani for being patriotic, Zardari said the country is faced with life threatening challenges. Ushering the conference to a Q&A session, Zardari told his young audience that he, as the president of Pakistan, wants to be questioned by the future leaders as he is always open to criticism. Responding to a question regarding repatriation of Aafia Siddiqui, the president said the government has asked the lawyer to continue arguing the case. “We don’t have any prisoners exchange treaty with the US and we cannot do anything in that regard but ask her lawyer to stick to her case,” he explained. On a question about people committing suicide because of poverty, Zardari said his government introduced the Benazir Income Support Program through which deserving Pakistanis get a monthly stipend.

Pakistan, British army chiefs arrive in Kabul

Pakistan army chief, Gen. Pervez Kiyani, and his British counterpart Sir David Richard arrived in Kabul on Tuesday for talks with Afghan defence officials. A government official, who did not want to be named, confided to Pajhwok Afghan News the two sides would confer on the current security situation in Afghanistan and other issues of common interest. Earlier in the day, Ministry of Defence spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi told reporters the Pakistan British army chiefs were due in Kabul. However, he stopped short of giving the date or agenda.

President Zardari takes notice of PIA emergency landings

Radi Pakistan
President Asif Ali Zardari has taken strong notice of recent reports about various emergency landings by PIA flights. He has directed the Chairman PIA and Civil Aviation Authority to conduct a thorough inquiry into these incidents and submit a comprehensive report within three days. He has also directed the concerned authorities to ensure that no such incident takes place in future. Spokesperson of the President Farhatullah Babar said that besides calling for a detailed report‚ the President has also called for a meeting to get a comprehensive briefing on the issue.

Malala chosen for bravery award

Malala Yousafzai, who became the face of Pakistan's struggle against the Taliban, has been awarded for her bravery and commitment to education for girls in adverse conditions in Swat. The award was given out by World Peace and Prosperity Foundation Chairman Prince Ali Khan, at the Cholmondeley Room of the House of Lords on Monday night. Malala is being treated at a British hospital after she was shot in the head by Taliban militants. The award was received on her behalf by Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan to the UK, S Zulfiqar Gardezi. "It is Malala or her family who should have received the award. In their absence, I will pass it on to her," he said. Malala was flown to the UK on Oct 15 and admitted at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham where she is recovering. Other recipients of award included a Bishop of London, a distinguished British Muslim Psychiatrist, a distinguished Turkish academic and MP, and eight year old Josh Altman, European Chess Bronze medalist. Prince Ali Khan, Founder Chairman of the World Peace and Prosperity Foundation said the Foundation was aimed at recognising outstanding work in various walks of life and to promote world peace and prosperity.

Blasphemy: IHC dismisses FIR against Rimsha Masih

The Islamabad High Court (IHC), while hearing the blasphemy case against 14-year-old Christian girl Rimsha Masih on Tuesday, ordered to dismiss the FIR against her, Geo News reported. While announcing the verdict, Chief Justice IHC Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman remarked that it is a highly sensitive matter and one must be extremely careful while leveling such charges against any one. Fake allegations should not be leveled against any Muslim or non-Muslim Chief Justice IHC, in the 15-page judgement, said no one has seen Rimsha burning any pages. The verdict also included references from the holy Quran. The IHC had reserved its verdict last week on an application seeking dismissal of the Rimsha Masih case. Rimsha Masih was arrested on August 16 from a suburban area of Islamabad after she was accused of burning papers from the holy Quran, and later charged of blasphemy. Later after the investigations, it was found that the cleric Khalid Jadoon Chishti had concocted the case against her, who was then arrested. After Rimsha was released on bail on September 8, she and her family were shifted to an undisclosed location for security reasons.