Sunday, December 9, 2012
Major opposition bloc says President Morsi's decision to rescind controversial decree "falls short of expectations".A major Egyptian opposition group has said that President Mohamed Morsi's decision only to rescind a decree that gave him sweeping powers and not scrap a referendum on a controversial draft constitution has "fallen short of expectations" required to defuse tensions in the country. In an announcement on Sunday, the National Salvation Front, the main umbrella group for opposition parties, said it rejected the planned December 15 referendum, and warned that it would lead to "more division and sedition." "We do not recognise the draft constitution because it does not represent the Egyptian people," said Sameh Ashour, who spoke on behalf of the coalition.The opposition is planning large rallies on Tuesday to protest the decree. Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood are also organising their own rallies on Tuesday in Cairo, Alexandria and Assiut. Late on Saturday Morsi annulled the November 22 decree that also made all his decisions immune to judicial review, but insisted that the vote will go ahead as planned. The opposition has repeatedly said that the constitution, drafted by a Muslim Brotherhood-led constituent assembly, disregards the rights of women and ignores personal freedoms. "I cannot imagine that after all this they want to pass a constitution that does not represent all Egyptians," Ahmed Said, another member of the National Salvation Front coalition and the head of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, told Reuters news agency. He said the Front would meet later on Sunday to make a formal response to Morsi's decision to scrap the decree. Selim al-Awa, an official who attended Saturday's meeting between Morsi and politicians from smaller opposition groups, said that, legally, Morsi was unable to change the date of the referendum on the draft charter. He said that if the draft was voted down in the December 15 referendum, Morsi would call for an election within three months to pick a new constituent assembly. The main opposition groups had boycotted the talks, which lasted over 10 hours, and called on their supporters to step up protests. Sameh Ashour, from the opposition National Salvation Front, was among those calling on Egyptians to protest on Tuesday to refuse the constitution. "The National Salvation Front announces its total rejection of the referendum and will not legitimise this referendum which will definitely lead to more strife," he said. "The Front invites Egypt's great people to protest peacefully in various liberation squares in the capital this coming Tuesday to show dissatisfaction at the president's disregard of the people's demands and in refusal of the constitution that infringes on rights and freedoms." Annulment 'meaningless' Khaled Dawood, spokesperson for the National Salvation Front, said annulling the decree was "relatively meaningless". "The key issue of securing the process of adopting of the constitution is done," he told Al Jazeera.Asked whether the opposition's goal was to unseat Morsi, Dawood said: "This is definitely not in our agenda at all. Our agenda is basically limited to having a new draft constitution that everybody is satisfied about before going to a referendum. "We respect he was elected with 51.7 per cent of the vote, but 48 per cent did not vote for him. "That means that he has to compromise, he has to build consensus." On Sunday, a day after Morsi appeared to bow to political and public pressure, a wall is being built around his presidential palace. The barricade blocks any attempt by anti-government protesters from reaching the palace gates. Egypt has been hit by angry protests in the past two weeks to push Morsi to reverse his expanded powers and suspend the constitutional vote. The crisis has been the country's worst since Morsi took office in June.
http://www.examiner.comSecret documents “leaked to the media” disclosed on Sunday that Saudi Arabia has been sending death convicts to Syria to join the armed campaign against President Bashar a-Assad's government, according to a FARS news agency report.
“According to the document, the Saudi Interior Ministry has conceded to pardon these people who have been sentenced to death on charges of drug trafficking, murder and rape after they accepted to go under military trainings and be sent to Syria." Credits: FARS news agency“According to the document, the Saudi Interior Ministry has conceded to pardon these people who have been sentenced to death on charges of drug trafficking, murder and rape after they accepted to go under military trainings and be sent to Syria to help terrorist groups and the FSA in the war on President Assad. Families of the convicts do not have the right to leave Saudi Arabia, but they receive monthly salaries from the Al Saud regime. The regime has taken the families hostage to make sure that the criminals remain loyal to their missions and plots in Syria. Pardoning inmates in return for terrorist operations in Syria is not confined to Saudi Arabia, and Qatar and some other Persian Gulf states have followed suit” (source: Saudi Arabia Sending Death Convicts to Syria to Help Rebels http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9107125672 ) . The report indicated that so far thousands of criminals have been loosed on Syria to help wage a foreign sponsored terrorist war against the regime. We contacted the U.S. State Department which, not surprisingly refused comment on this story.
Veteran actor Dilip Kumar`s 90th birthday tomorrow (Tuesday) will be celebrated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where he was born before he migrated to India, Zee News reports. The Cultural Heritage Council (CHC) of Khyber Pakhtukhwa will mark the occasion in Peshawar, an Indian peace activist said on Sunday. "The CHC has decided to celebrate the 90th birthday of the legendary actor for the first time ever," Jatin Desai told IANS. He said CHC had invited prominent personalities including film personalities, journalists, lawyers, peaceniks and commoners to celebrate the birthday of Dilip Kumar aka Muhammed Yusuf Khan. Ironically, Dilip Kumar will not celebrate his birthday in Mumbai as he is still grieving the death of several prominent personalities in the past few months. These include Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, former union minister NKP Salve, filmmaker Yash Chopra, Rajesh Khanna, Dara Singh and others. On his 89th birthday last year, he had a mega bash at his Pali Hill residence that attracted, among others, Yash Chopra and Rajesh Khanna. In July, a public effort was initiated to conserve Dilip Kumar`s ancestral home, now in a dilapidated condition in Peshawar. It was launched by civil society groups in Pakistan and Bangladesh and other organisations. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa administration recently planned to acquire the ancestral homes of Dilip Kumar and another Indian legend, Raj Kapoor and preserve them as national heritage monuments. Locals have urged the authorities to rename certain parts of Peshawar after Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor.Daily Times
Karachi: Pakistan’s largest city suffers murder wave, Taliban seen using chaos to strengthen position
http://www.rferl.orgAfghan President Hamid Karzai says he is willing to consider giving immunity to U.S. troops in a security agreement to be signed next year if his demand for "Afghanistan's sovereignty" is respected. The deal will outline the form of a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, as well as the number of troops and bases, after NATO forces withdraw in 2014. Karzai said his key demands were that the United States hand over all detainees in its custody and shut all its jails in the country, rescind control of Afghan airspace, and refrain from raids on Afghan villages. "Within those conditions, and once those conditions are fulfilled...Afghanistan is willing to consider immunity" for the troops, he said. The United States still has more than 65,000 soldiers in Afghanistan.
The Express TribuneThe sewage system of Peshawar is in dire need of restructuring and proper maintenance, but for the elected representatives the issue has remained on the back burner for the past decade. The 19th century Shahi Khata drainage system is still intact albeit in a debilitated state. It is now barely able to carry all the sewage water from the inner parts of the city, where the population has substantially increased. Moreover, the three different portions made for drainage purposes in Shahi Khata are barely functioning. And with accumulation of dirt in the pipelines with little or no maintenance, residents of the walled city complain that the system is not tending to the increasing drainage needs of Peshawar. Sewerage water from most parts of the city, including areas around the City Circular Road drain into Shahi Khata, which is unable to accommodate all the water, especially during rain. The Shahi Khata system runs through the Bala Mari, Asia Gate, Kakshal, Sher Shah Suri Bridge, Firdous Cinema Chowk areas before going through the Afghan Colony and finally draining the water into the Budhni stream. “In the past, governments have constructed faulty sewerage lines in various localities, due to which several areas are now left with permanently clogged pipelines,” said an elder from Eshrat Cinema Road, Ali Jahangir Khan. A major sewage line, laid in 1996 for those residing in the eastern part of the city, running through areas of Shaikabad, Gulbhar-I and Gulbhar-II, Asad Anwar Colony, Afrido Ghari, Akhunabad and Peshawar Fruit Marker is also obsolete. Another sewage line starts from the city area of tehsil Gorghatri and goes through Karim Pura, Hashtnagri, Shahi Bagh and some parts of Charsadda Road. This too, like the two others, drains into the Budhni stream. Residents of these areas face surmounting problems in the rainy season when the Budhni stream overflows, resulting in filthy water flowing onto the streets outside their homes. A resident of City Town area, Rahimullah Shah complains: “The whole area turns into a huge puddle, which serves as a breeding ground for insects and germs.” The number of workers responsible for cleaning sewage lines of the 25 city union councils is not more than 180, of which around 40 employees are consistently absent from duty. The leader of representative body of local government employees, the United Municipal Workers Union, Salahuddin Chava said most of the cleaning staff are constantly absent, but still get salaries. He accused them of working for elected representatives and other high-profile government officials instead of showing up for duty. Town Municipal Officer Javed Amjid also complained of faulty sewerage lines. He, however, blames the burgeoning growth of residential towns in the surrounding areas of Peshawar. “In the last ten years, dozens of small residential towns have been developed without any proper planning for their sewerage system.” “There is a need for systematic planning to deal with the sewerage issue and to fix faulty lines,” Amjid said, adding that the town municipal administration is doing its best with the meagre resources at its disposal.
The Supreme Court’s decision of dissolving the judicial commission, headed by Dr Shoaib Suddle, that partially investigated a Rs342 million business deal between Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, son of Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chuaudhry, and real-estate magnate Malik Riaz Husain, after it had only submitted an interim report, comes as a big surprise particularly when the SC took the plea that this is an issue between two individuals and they can take it up at any forum. The decision gives rise to a valid question as to how and why the country’s apex court had admitted for hearing the case at the filing stage when the two litigant parties have, of late, in one voice, contended that the SC should dispose the matter of. The commission has been dissolved at a time when it had only submitted an interim report and approached authorities in London to secure additional evidence. It seems pertinent to mention here that Malik Riaz did not appear before the Suddle Commission and moved the SC in an attempt to get its proceedings stayed; the court rejected this plea. The Chief Justice of Pakistan himself, on June 5, took a notice of the alleged business deal between his son and Malik Riaz. On June 14 the court ordered the attorney general of Pakistan to take strict action against the main characters of the case – Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, Malik Riaz and his son-in-law Salman Ahmed. In its order the court had noted, “Nonetheless, attempts by individuals to obstruct the course of justice are indeed a matter of serious and grave concern and imperil the reputation of the justice system at large. This is why such exchange of bribes with the attempt, even a failed one, to influence the course of justice, has been declared illegal and punishable under various laws. If proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction, the parties involved are liable to be punished.” The attorney-general referred the matter to NAB for a probe, but Dr Arsalan raised questions over the impartiality of NAB’s Joint Investigation Team and filed a review petition against it which was accepted by the SC. On August 30, the court formed the judicial commission comprising former police officer Dr Shoiab Suddle to probe the alleged business deal which was aimed at influencing the judicial process. The Suddle Commission, in the preliminary report, said the CJP’s son has admitted that he had availed two of the three foreign visits alleged by Malik Riaz and also confessed that he had received ‘favours’from Malik Riaz, his friend or his son-in-law. But it does not answer why he had accepted these and the businessman’s claim is that he had ‘favoured’Arsalan in order to get court cases settled in his favour. The commission also alleged Malik Riaz of a ‘plan’ to defame the chief justice and bring the highest court of the country into disrepute and also accused him of shady business deals, including the Bhria Town project. Yet, the report is silent about how Arsalan Iftikhar became a millionaire in no time and entered into telecom contracts worth Rs900 million. The commission has also implicated Dr Arsalan Iftikhar and Malik Riaz in massive tax evasion of Rs 51.3 million and 119.4 billion, respectively, and recommended imposition of a penalty for concealment of assets in wealth statements filed with income tax returns. However, the matter boils down to the amount of money paid to Arsalan. Malik Riaz says he paid Rs342 million but provide the evidence of paying Rs5.58 million and the son of CJP also accepts this. It is certainly not the issue of how much was paid; it is the matter that Arsalan received the amount, no matter how big or small it may be. This is a fit case of illegal transaction and an offence cognizable by police. Arsalan must not only stand trial for this but also for the fact that he has maligned the name of the top most judge of the country in this scandalous affair. It is also not understandable why the commission itself not suggested the criminal proceedings against the two although this was part of the terms of reference. It is not an ordinary matter but involves the country’s chief justice and superior judiciary. It is, therefore, absolutely critical that highest standards of integrity of the judiciary are not compromised under any circumstances.
The young generation of every country in the world is considered a great asset as it plays a key part in the process of the country’s development. Positive role of youngsters always keeps the nation upfront at the international level because through their contribution, the nation can move on and on in the right direction of prosperity. Pakistan’s growth depends heavily on the thinking of youngsters and the country will remain on safe grounds if our youth loves our country perpetually and works hard to make it an eminent nation on this planet. Along with the youth’s potential to change the fate of this country we also need an educated, futurist and potential young leadership. The primary role of young people is to get a good standard education today, to become quality citizens of tomorrow. They need to learn skills to serve the nation and boost the economy of the country. They also need to know how to perceive, understand, think and analyse multiple issues facing their country and actively participate in its political affairs. They need to study its history, to be proud of its past, to make sense of its present, to chart the course of its future. In the recent past the social media has vastly influenced our youth and we are witnessing their interest in political affairs of the country in both the domestic and international domain but it is not sufficient because politics is a practical service of the nation that cannot be accomplished alone through using social media, a few tweets and comments on facebook while sitting in well facilitated cafes. Our youth needs to come forward and take over the driving seat in order to take the country towards right directions. Young people can also help to build a nation by becoming actively involved in social causes along with participation in politics so that they can work for peace, human rights, and environmental issues and for the cause of minorities. Pakistan is presently facing terrorism and extremism for which we do not need a leadership that is either silent on terrorism or has sympathies with terrorist organizations for the sake of a few votes. This way we cannot rescue Pakistan from the quagmire of terrorism and extremism. It is welcoming to see youngsters like Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Co-Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party, Moonis Elahi from Pakistan Muslim League, Hamza Shahbaz and Maryam Nawaz from PMLN on the political front. It was the vision of President Asif Ali Zardari who, after martyrdom of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto chose one of our youth in order to appreciate and evaluate the role of our youth in the political affairs of our country. If we look deeply into our past, we see a young MA Jinnah, ZA Bhutto then Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto who were all highly energetic and active participants in the political affairs of Pakistan. No doubt it was all because of these few personalities that Pakistan’s name has shone globally. However, it is quite crucial and important to choose visionary leadership today for a better Pakistan tomorrow. These political scions indeed boast a political background but it does not mean that they were capable or had the vision to run this country on better lines, for vision alone is inadequate to run a country in the absence of an ideology. At this stage, when Pakistan is at the cross roads facing mammoth challenges on political, economical and security fronts, it would be quite sagacious to narrow the lens of our choice. It is very unfortunate that only PPP is inheritor of secular norms and principles that nudge this country on the way of prosperity and progress. Z.A Bhutto Shaheed, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed and then President Asif Ali Zardari practiced these norms of secularity and tolerance. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari indeed cannot deviate from the set ideology and principles of his forefathers. Unlike other youngsters that proved much introvert under the narrow minded policies of their parties, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari seems quite extrovert with a better vision, perception and ideas about global changes. Where there is an issue of human rights violation, brutality of the inhumane Taliban, exploitation of minorities, we see only Bilawal Bhutto Zardari single-handedly condemning it and asking his party workers to stand like a solid rock wall against terrorists and extremists. Bilawal has always vehemently condemned human rights violation and boldly spoken against atrocities committed by Taliban, something that is quite amongst the present political stalwarts. Engulfed by huge problems, we cannot afford that our future leaders be of limited ideology that fuels only domestic politics and gimmicks to remain in power. In order to integrate ourselves with the modern, developed world we need leaders of international standards like Z.A Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. Following the life and policies of his mother and grandpa, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari can fulfil the vacuum, created after the martyrdom of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed. Although Bilawal is not practically into politics, the statements and speeches delivered by the younger Zardari, brings on the nostalgia of the past period of PPP rule by his mother. We have seen that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is following the footsteps of his grandfather and his mother who sacrificed their lives for Pakistan and its people. Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s entire life is marked with struggle for the empowerment of the poor oppressed people, empowerment of women and for the rights of minorities. PPP is the only secular party of Pakistan that always fought for the rights of minorities and gave them maximum protection. Considering PPP as merely a political party is totally wrong. PPP is an ideology, a vision and a thought. Indeed, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed were the founders of the very basis of this party, but after them deeming that the party’s existence is over, is absurd. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has the potential, courage, vision and ideology that can keep Pakistan afloat on both the domestic and international fronts. Moreover the workers of PPP, from the earthly paradise Parachinar and mountainous Gilgit-Baltistan to the seashore of Karachi, love and trust the leadership of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari just as they had loved ZA Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto after that. Presidential Adviser Farahnaz Ispahani rightly says, “The politics of principle is still alive and I believe that the PPP chairman is delivering and will continue to deliver into the future. Give him a chance.”
Associated PressPakistani intelligence officials say a U.S. drone strike has killed three suspected militants near the Afghan border. The two officials say four missiles struck a residential compound Sunday morning near Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region. The identity of the suspected militants was not known. North Waziristan has been a frequent target of U.S. missile strikes. The tribal region is home to a mix of insurgents from Pakistan, Afghanistan and al-Qaida-linked foreign militant groups. Pakistan publically protests the drone strikes, although officials say Islamabad has secretly supported the program. The intelligence officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.