Saturday, December 29, 2012


President Zardari likely to visit India on Jan 3

President Asif Ali Zardrai is expected to visit India to witness Pakistan-India match as part of cricket diplomacy to improve bilateral relations between both the neighbours on Jan 3, Indian media reports said. According to reports, the president would see the Jan 3 match in Kolkata along with his Indian counterpart Parnab Mukherjee while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was also likely to witness the match with the Pakistani president.

INDIA: Gang-rape victim’s body flown to India, cremated

Amid outpouring of anger and grief in the country, the body of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim was flown to New Delhi from Singapore early on Sunday morning and cremated within hours. The mortal remains were flown to the capital in a special aircraft of Air India and after landing at IGI airport, the plane was taken to its technical area where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi were present to receive the body. Both Mr. Singh and Ms. Gandhi spoke to the family members and consoled them. The body was then taken to Mahavir Enclave residence where the girl lived and religious rituals were performed before taking it to the crematorium at Dwarka Sector 24 amid heavy deployment of Delhi Police and RAF personnel. The cremation took place under a dense cover of fog. Minister of State for Home Affairs R.P.N. Singh, West Delhi M.P. Mahabal Mishra, Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta were also present at the cremation. Media was not allowed in the crematorium. A special aircraft of Air India carrying the mortal remains of the victim, who died in Mount Elizebeth hospital on Saturday morning, landed at IGI airport here at around 3.30 a.m.. The girl, a physiotherapy student, was gang-raped and brutally assaulted allegedly by six men in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16th night. She died yesterday morning. While undergoing treatment at Safdarjung hospital, she was shifted to the Singapore hospital for further treatment. The aircraft AIC-380A took off from Singapore at around 12:30 a.m. local time (10:00 p.m. IST Saturday), Indian High Commission officials said. On the chartered plane, sent by the Indian government, were her family members who have been in Singapore since the girl was brought to the hospital here in an extremely critical condition. The victim, who underwent three surgeries, had damaged internal organs in the assault. She also suffered a cardiac arrest and brain injury. Police have slapped murder charges, which has death penalty in rarest of rare cases, against the six accused and will file the chargesheet against them on January three. Investigators said they will seek the harshest punishment for the culprits.

U.S: '' Giving up guns ''

Israel: ''Shimon Peres Exclusive Interview''

Survey: Chinese Men are more 'hasty' in love

2012-2013 Survey Report on Marriage Attitudes of Chinese Young Men and Women was recently released. In the report, it shows that the number of the non-married population aged over 18 has reached 249 million. In marriage attitudes, men seem more "radical" than women. With the gradual opening of socialization, their "virgin complex” has somewhat weakened. More than 70 percent of unmarried men and women admitted that they had sexual experiences, and women’s independence has grown stronger.
Men seem more "hasty" in love.
The number of the non-married population aged over 18 has reached 249 million. In China, the male to female ratio in the population group that was born in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s was imbalanced. Of those who were born in the 1970s, the proportion of the non-married male and female is over 2-to-1. In choosing their future mates, men seem more "hasty" than women. Generally, men think that on the average, a duration of 11.4 months’ contact starting from their first date is long enough for them to get married; however, in women’s views, they think the duration should be 13.3 months. Data show that men in the 30-39 age group, about 11.96 million, are in the non-marital status, and they are more inclined to find women younger than themselves as their companions. The survey also revealed that more than 70 percent of the women in the 18-25 age group have the "uncle complex”, hoping to find male companions 10 years older than themselves. This result means that great pressure will continue to increase for the men born in the 1980s and 1990s in choosing their companions.
Over 70 percent of men and women have premarital sex
With the deepening degree of openness of society, Chinese men and women have adopted a more open attitude toward sex. According to the respondents in the survey, 84 percent of single men and 73 percent of single women have had sexual experience. Therefore, the "virgin complex” is no longer the main obstacle in their love. The survey report shows that in the sexual life, women are still more conservative than men. The report shows that up to 86 percent of men are willing to live together with his girlfriend before getting married, but only 36 percent of women are willing to do so. Speaking of marriage, men’s attitude is obvious more cautious than women. Most men hope that their future companion has only loved once or twice; 17 percent of men hope their future companion has no love experience. However, women are totally different for this matter. In their eyes, they consider those men who have much love experience tend to know better about women, so they prefer to accept those mature men with no less than three times love experience.
Women are more independent
The survey report shows that compared with the past, modern women’s awareness of independence is increasingly strengthened. 39 percent of women have explicitly expressed their reluctance to be housewives. As for the wage card of the spouse, 98 percent of women said they would not take the initiative to ask for his wage card, of which, 30 percent expressed that they would not take it even though he took the initiative to hand it in. When asked about their attitude toward house and car, women showed more concerned than men. 66 percent of men think that the possession of a house and a car is not a necessary condition of getting married. However, 52 percent of women think that the possession of a house is a necessary condition for getting married.

'Toxic' cough syrup: Death toll reaches 40 in Punjab

The Express Tribune
Five more people died in Gujranwala after drinking the ‘poisonous’ cough syrup, raising the death toll to 40, Express News reported on Saturday. According to sources in the Civil Hospital, Gujranwala, more than eight patients are in critical condition. In November, 17 people died after consuming cough syrup Tyno in Lahore, after which pharmacy stores holding stock of this medicine were sealed and some people were arrested. All the recent victims reportedly consumed a cough syrup being sold under the name ‘Dextromethorphan’. The substance dextromethorphan has been identified as an active ingredient in Tyno cough syrup. The Gujranwala City District team, along with the police, had conducted raids in medical stores throughout the city. Around 8, 765 syrup bottles had been confiscated from 96 medical stores out of a total of 224 which had been raided in the area.

PTI leader criticises Punjab govt

Strongly denouncing the rat-biting incident in Holy Family Hospital and killing of more than a dozen people in Lahore after consuming a toxic cough syrup, central leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Pirzada Rahat Quddusi has demanded of the Punjab government to resign instead of hiding its incompetence. He said both the incidents had made exposed the performance of provincial government. He said the incident happened the other day in Holy Family Hospital has exposed the hollow claims of the Punjab government regarding million of rupees utilisation for the betterment of poor patients. While recounting an incident occurred in recent past where dozens of patients were killed owing to use of substandard medicines meant for heart patients, he said, not even a single person was brought to justice in that case. He said despite killing of hundreds of poor patients, the Punjab government was still reluctant to take action against the responsible one.

I am ashamed that I am a man: Shah Rukh

The nation stands in a complete state of shock as the braveheart Delhi gang rape victim succumbed to her injuries at the Mt. Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore early Saturday morning. The girl was airlifted to Singapore for treatment a couple of days back but her conditioned only worsened since then. With the passing away of the braveheart girl, celebrities from the showbiz industry, who had been voicing their concerns about an inept system that fails to protest women in the country, have vented out their angst on Twitter. Legendary actor Amitabh Bachchhan wrote, “Her body has passed away, but her soul shall forever stir our hearts !!! Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar wrote, “Enough is enough. Nirbhay damini ki mrityu nahi hui hai,humare desh ki insaaniyat ki mrityu hui hai ,ye waqt hai ki humari sarkar ab to geheri neend se jaage aur in pashutulya balatkaario n ko jald se jald, kadi se kadi saza de,sirf aasu bahana aur bolna ab band karein. Shah Rukh Khan tweeted, “(1) We couldn t save u but wot a big voice u have, u brave little girl.That voice is telling us that rape is not an aberration, not a mistake. (2) Rape embodies sexuality as our culture & society has defined it. i am so sorry that i am a part of this society and culture. (3) I am so sorry that I am a man. A very angry Anushka Sharma tweeted her heart heart. She wrote, “A land where the victim dies and the perpetrators live. Mark this day as the day we were let down by our country and country men , I am ashamed and so so angry and broken that I live in a country where human life has such little value , actually NO. Former beauty queen, actor and social activist Gul Panag wrote, “Woke up to news I have been dreading. May our Hero rest in peace, and may God give her family strength. #delhigangrape.Wonder how many lives will be lost before we as a society fix ourselves?? And before our State takes corrective measures?” Eminent writer and lyricist Javed Akhtar said, “We,the mute spectators of violence towards women at home and at public places Are we also not responsible for what is happening(sic).” Music director Vishal Dadlani, who has been categorically slamming the improper functioning of the socio-political system wrote, “She`s gone. RIP. Don`t let her struggle be in vain. If the protests turn violent, all the momentum/credibility built up so far will be lost. She fought till her last breath. We must stay strong and peaceful in an effort to take her battle to it`s conclusion. STRONG RAPE LAWS,NOW! Actress Sonam Kapoor said, “ Please don`t let her tragic death be in vain. RIP (sic).” Veteran actor, social activist Anupam Kher wrote, “This is Death of Human Dignity, Death of Being an Indian, Death of Innocence and This is also Death of A System. India is Heart Broken. RIP.” Arjun Rampal wrote, “Amanat, has died and has left this country to hang its head down in shame. I sincerely do hope there will be redemption for her soul.” Bipasha Basu wrote, “Disheartened and disturbed!Rip the braveheart girl!(sic).” Music director Ehsaan Noraani feel short of words while expressing his grief. All he wrote was, “At a loss of words sadness overcomes me. Singer-actress Sophie Chuadry wrote, “SPEAK!What r u waiting for?It s already at ur doorstep!Women/Girls/Kids must feel safe in their own country,in their own homes! Filmmaker Karan Johar wrote, “RIP to a brave girl who fought in a weak and paralysed country. Singer Papon wrote, "Shameful end to the year!!! How is the system beyond the reach of the ones who voted for it? Then why vote? Why democracy? What a morning!(sic)." Choreographer turned director Farah Khan wrote, "Every revolution has 2 happen inside 1st! Pls let s start by teaching r sons 2 respect women..(sic)." Actor Vinay Pathak wrote, “I didnt know hv been away... What a dismal thing to happen... RIP (sic).” Filmmaker Anubhav Sinha fumed at the unfortunate death of the 23 year old student and wrote, “All MEN, Let us hang our heads in SHAME and apologize to those who feel threatened in the world they give birth to. #SORRYLADIES(sic).” Actor Manoj Bajapayee wrote, “With her death this country died many deaths!may she rest in peace !very depressing moment for the entire country(sic).” Boman Irani seemed stirred by the girl’s death. He wrote, “They say the prophecy was incorrect. The world did not end! I m beginning to wonder!!!(sic).” Mandira Bedi was furious while expressing her take on the issue and wrote, “These uncouth beasts who commit these acts r thumbing their noses at us. "Protest all u want. Nothing can touch us." There s simply no fear(sic).” Ranvir Shorey wrote, India needs a good cry right now. India needs immediate action. Unfortunately we don t have a leadership that understands this. #RIP(sic).” Producer Pritish Nandy wrote, “India finally wakes up to its destiny. A single tragedy gives us the courage to reclaim our nation... (sic).” Sonakshi Sinha write, “The girl isn t dead. Instead she s moved to a better place where no rapes happen. Too bad that place doesn t exist in apna Bharat mahaan(sic).” Akshay Kumar seemed to me might peeved with the news. He said, “Our fighter lost the battle of life. Her only fault, she ventured out of the house at night, walking the streets of the national capital expecting to be safe. The day a woman can walk freely on the roads at night is when India will be truly independent. RIP democracy!(sic).” Vivek Oberoi wrote, “A young girl s life maliciously cut short, her hopes n dreams never to be realized. This must be society s wake up call to fight for justice! Prayers for the family who have endured so much grief. RIP How many girls have to die before we see change? She deserves justice, the girl in Punjab who took her life deserves justice. The girls who are victim to the horrendous crime of rape everyday deserve justice. Safety & respect for a woman is not her privilege, it s her right.” Producer Ritesh Sidhwani wrote, “A day of prayers and hope for this to never happen. Strength and Courage to the brave girls family (sic).” Ace filmmaker Shekhar Kapur wrote, “Her greatest betrayal is that we will forget. Political systems greatest hope is we will forget.R only redemption is if we do not forget(sic).” Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt wrote, “Woman your silence will not protect you. Speak or be silenced forever. Rage!(sic).” Actor, producer and director Arbaaz Khan wrote, “Braveheart girl RIP :( May god rest her soul in peace. My heartfelt condolenses to her family...(sic).” Filmmaker Ken Ghosh wrote, “India died a little more........Corrupt politicians and bureaucrats please stop the raping of the country before india completely dies(sic).” Actor Shahid Kapoor wrote, “The innocent dies while the guilty still live ..... Shameful day sad day .... Reality staring us in our faces .... We need CHANGE(sic).” Irrfan Khan looked devastated while expressing his thoughts. He wrote, "Nirbhay suffered n GONE.left a deep gash in our heart, left so much for introspection.may her loss creates a safe society for women(sic)." Filmmaker Punit Malhotra wrote, “Heartbroken!!! But congratulations to all our politicians. Wife turned my life into celebration: Akshay Kumar

Delhi gang-rape: No turning back now

The 23-year-old student whose struggle against sexual assault, rape and death shone a harsh light deep into the ugly, rotting interior of our society is no more. But like Byron’s young woman “too soon returned to earth,” her extinguished life-star shines fiercely as it shoots along the sky, and it is up to us – as a people, as women, and as men — to fix the fractures and fissures it illuminates in the process. The government and political class would like to have speedy closure by ensuring the “maximum punishment” for the men who grievously assaulted the woman inside a bus as it sped along one of Delhi’s busiest roads. Punished they must be. But even if the six are hanged, and even if our legislators, in a fit of conveniently misplaced concern, prescribe the death penalty for rape, the pathology we are dealing with will not be so easily remedied. If anything, the past week has shown how so many of the framers and implementers of the law in India are themselves complicit in the very culture of patriarchy that produces, sanctions and makes excuses for violence against women. Their complicity lies not just in the foul statements we have heard but in the silences and compromises of senior politicians and officials who have presided over the multiple organ failure of the Indian state, a failure which denies security and justice to women across the country. Laws to deal with rape and sexual assault exist but not the police, judiciary and leaders to work them. It is this leaderless vacuum that ordinary citizens must step into in order to affirm the rights of women. The right to be born and fed, and to study; the right to work and live with dignity, the right to dress and travel and love as they please. Of course, those who rule are not ready to accept such an affirmation. That is why a police blockade of Rajpath — the road whose very name symbolises rulership — was imposed within hours of the young woman’s death. There are specific steps — administrative, pedagogic, cultural — that must be taken to prevent sexual assault and rape. But there is a wider question: Would the Indian political system and class have been so indifferent to the problem of sexual violence if half or even one-third of all legislators were women? The Congress and the Opposition should forget about playing to the gallery. If they are serious about the rights of women, they should quickly pass the Women’s Reservation Bill. Let the presence of at least 181 female MPs in the next Lok Sabha — and the political mobilisation of women this will slowly catalyse — be Parliament’s way of honouring the death of the Unknown Citizen.

Body of India rape victim arrives home in New Delhi
The body of a woman whose gang rape provoked protests and rare national debate about violence against women in India arrived back in New Delhi in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The unidentified 23-year-old medical student died from her injuries on Saturday, prompting promises of action from a government that has struggled to respond to public outrage. She had suffered brain injuries and massive internal damage in the attack on December 16, and died in hospital in Singapore where she had been taken for treatment. She and a male friend had been returning home from the cinema, media reports say, when six men on a bus beat them with metal rods and repeatedly raped the woman. The friend survived. Six suspects were charged with murder after her death. A Reuters correspondent saw family members who had been with her in Singapore take her body back to their Delhi home in an ambulance with a police escort. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's convoy was at the airport when the plane landed and left soon afterwards, the witness said.
The outcry over the attack caught the government off-guard. It took a week for Singh to make a statement, infuriating many protesters. Issues such as rape, dowry-related deaths and female infanticide rarely enter mainstream political discourse in India. Analysts say the death of the woman dubbed "Amanat", an Urdu word meaning "treasure", by some Indian media could change that, although it is too early to say whether the protesters calling for government action to better safeguard women can sustain their momentum through to national elections due in 2014. PROTESTS Protesters have staged peaceful demonstrations in the capital New Delhi and in cities across India in the last few days to keep the pressure on Singh's government to get tougher on crimes against women. Last weekend protesters fought pitched battles with police. Authorities, worried about the reaction to the news of her death on Saturday, deployed thousands of policemen, closed 10 metro stations and banned vehicles from some main roads in central New Delhi. Most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists, who say that successive governments have done little to ensure the safety of women. Commentators and sociologists say the rape has tapped into a deep well of frustration many Indians feel over what they see as weak governance and poor leadership on social issues. New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India's major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. Government data show the number of reported rape cases in India rose by nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011.

10 reasons why India has a sexual violence problem
By Olga Khazan and Rama Lakshmi
The case of a 23-year-old medical student who died Saturday after a brutal gang rape on a bus in New Delhi has seemed to snap India to attention about its endemic sexual violence problem. Hundreds of Indians poured into the streets of New Delhi to mourn the young woman, and police announced that the six men arrested in connection with the attack had been charged with murder. In recent years, New Delhi has earned the title of “rape capital” of India, with more than 560 cases of rape reported in the city, but violence against Indian women is widespread and has deep roots. Here’s a look at some of the reasons behind the issue that’s bringing Indians into the streets:
Few female police: Studies show that women are more likely to report sex crimes if female police officers are available. India has historically had a much lower percentage of female police officers than other Asian countries. In New Delhi, just 7 percent of police officers are women, and they are frequently given inconsequential posts that don’t involve patrol duty, according to the Times of India. Of the 161 district police stations in Delhi, only one has a female station house officer. When women do report rape charges to male police, they are frequently demeaned: “The police refused to file a complaint. Instead, they asked my sister such vulgar details, it was as if she was being raped all over again,” Charanjit Kaur, the sister of another recent rape victim who committed suicide, told The Washington Post. “There was no lady police officer, they were all men. My sister cried in front of them and kept asking, ‘Would you still ask such questions if I were your daughter?’ As a result of the gang-rape incident, Delhi Police said they will launch a special effort to recruit more women.
Not enough police in general: There aren’t enough police dedicated to protecting ordinary citizens, rather than elites, a Brookings article argues, and the officers that are available often lack basic evidence-gathering and investigative training and equipment: Delhi, for example, is home to one of the largest metropolitan police forces in the world with some 84,000 officers. But only one-third are involved in any kind of actual “policing” at any given time, while the rest provide protection services to various politicians, senior bureaucrats, diplomats and other elites. According to the Times of India there is one officer for every 200 citizens and about 20 officers for every VIP. Many of those who do perform police duties can be found shaking down motorists, participating in protection rackets and simply looking the other way as crimes take place.
Blaming provocative clothing: There’s a tendency to assume the victims of sexual violence somehow brought it on themselves. In a 1996 survey of judges in India, 68 percent of the respondents said that provocative clothing is an invitation to rape. In response to the recent gang-rape incident, a legislator in Rajasthan suggested banning skirts as a uniform for girls in private schools, citing it as the reason for increased cases of sexual harassment.
Acceptance of domestic violence: The Reuters TrustLaw group named India one of the worst countries in the world for women this year, in part because domestic violence there is often seen as deserved. A 2012 report by UNICEF found that 57 percent of Indian boys and 53 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 think wife-beating is justified. A recent national family-health survey also reported that a sizable percentage of women blame themselves for beatings by their husbands. “When a boy grows up seeing his father assault his mother, he starts to accept such a behavior and repeats it,” Anuradha Gupta, mission director for India’s National Rural Health Mission, was quoted as saying.
A lack of public safety: Women generally aren’t protected outside their homes. The gang rape occurred on a bus, and even Indian authorities say that the country’s public places can be unsafe for women. Many streets are poorly lit, and there’s a lack of women’s toilets, a Women and Child Development Ministry report said recently. Women who drink, smoke or go to pubs are widely seen in Indian socirty as morally loose, and village clan councils have blamed a rise in women talking on cellphones and going to the bazaar for an increase in the incidence of rape.
Stigmatizing the victim: When verbal harassment or groping do occur in public areas, bystanders frequently look the other way rather than intervene, both to avoid a conflict and because they — on some level — blame the victim, observers say. Male politicians contribute to the problem, making statements that make light of rape or vilify rape victims’ supporters. One regional policymaker, Anisur Rahman, recently asked a female minister what “her fee” would be for getting raped. The son of India’s president also recently apologized after calling those protesting against the Delhi gang rape “highly dented and painted” women, who go “from discos to demonstrations,” the AP reported.
Encouraging rape victims to compromise: In a recent separate rape case, a 17-year-old Indian girl who was allegedly gang-raped killed herself after police pressured her to drop the case and marry one of her attackers. Rape victims are often encouraged by village elders and clan councils to “compromise” with the family of accused and drop charges — or even to marry the attacker. Such compromises are aimed at keeping the peace between families or clan groups. What’s more, a girl’s eventual prospects of marriage are thought to be more important than bringing a rapist to justice.
A sluggish court system: India’s court system is painfully slow, in part because of a shortage of judges. The country has about 15 judges for every 1 million people, while China has 159. A Delhi high court judge once estimated it would take 466 years to get through the backlog in the capital alone.
Few convictions: For rapes that do get reported, India’s conviction rate is no more than 26 percent. There is also no law on the books covering routine daily sexual harassment, which is euphemistically called “eve-teasing.” The passing of a proposed new sexual assault law has been delayed for seven years.
Low status of women: Perhaps the biggest issue, though, is women’s overall lower status in Indian society. For poor families, the need to pay a marriage dowry can make daughters a burden. India has one of the lowest female-to-male population ratios in the world because of sex-selective abortion and female infanticide. Throughout their lives, sons are fed better than their sisters, are more likely to be sent to school and have brighter career prospects. In recent days, Indian politicians have put forward a slew of potential remedies for India’s sexual violence problem. But it’s worth noting that it will be hard to end discrimination against women at police stations when it starts in the crib.

Shaky Response of India’s Government in Fatal Rape Case Magnifies Outrage

India often seems to careen from crisis to crisis, with protests regularly spilling onto the streets over the latest outrage or scandal, a nation seemingly always on the boil. But when things settle, as they inevitably do, little seems to change. Public anger usually cools to a simmer. Now, though, the heat has turned up again, as the death early on Saturday of a young woman savagely assaulted and raped here in the national capital has mushroomed into a new and volatile moment of crisis that has touched a deep chord of discontent. Protests that began more than a week ago as anguished cries against sexual violence in Indian society have broadened into angry condemnations of a government whose response has seemed tone deaf and, at times, incompetent. On Saturday, hours after the rape victim died at a hospital in Singapore, several thousand people gathered at Jantar Mantar, the designated protest spot in the center of the capital, to express their anguish and rage. The latest demonstrations followed a week that saw the authorities clash with protesters and cordon off the political center of the city with a huge display of force. “What the government is doing is politically stupid,” said Jayati Ghosh, a professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, speaking during a protest last week. “This will cause public disaffection, because people are seeing the government as inflexible and intolerant. If the government listened, they would find that people are trying to find solutions. “The problem,” she added, “is the government is not even listening.” For much of last week, as some protesters complained that the Indian state was more interested in protecting itself than its citizens, especially women, the symbolism has been stark: the authorities invoked emergency policing laws, closing off the governmental center of the capital, blockading roads and even shutting down subway stations — a democratic government temporarily encircling itself with a moat. At one point, fire hoses were turned on college students. Those restrictions were eased by Dec. 25, even as New Delhi remained consumed by an anxious vigil as the young woman remained in critical condition. Doctors gave daily, televised updates on her condition until Wednesday evening, when the authorities unexpectedly flew her by special airplane to a hospital in Singapore, where her condition deteriorated before she died of organ failure. It is the graphic horror of the attack that set off the outrage: the victim was a 23-year-old woman, her identity still withheld, whose evening at the movies with a male friend on Dec. 16 turned nightmarish. The police say a group of drunken men waved the pair onto a private bus, promising a ride home, but instead assaulted them with an iron rod and raped the woman as the bus moved through the city. College students, mostly women, led the early protests. Sexual violence has become a national scandal in India, amid regular reports of gang rapes and other assaults against infants, teenagers and other women. But women also spoke of a more pervasive form of harassment: of being groped in public; of fearing to ride buses or subways alone; of victims, not attackers, being shamed and blamed. “Rape happens everywhere,” Urvashi Butalia, a feminist writer, wrote in The Hindu, a national English-language newspaper. “It happens inside homes, in families, in neighborhoods, in police stations, in towns and cities, in villages, and its incidence increases, as is happening in India, as society goes through change, as women’s roles begin to change, as economies slow down and the slice of the pie becomes smaller.” Analysts say that India’s coalition national government, led by the Indian National Congress Party, had an early opportunity to defuse the anger by embracing the protests and providing comfort and reassurance. Yet that moment, analysts agree, was missed, as top leaders misjudged how quickly public anger would escalate, especially among the young. It was a generational divide between young urbanites, often communicating by social media, and a government unable to find a way to win public trust. Reassurances offered by Sonia Gandhi, president of the Congress Party, came off as unconvincing. Her son Rahul Gandhi, the party’s heir apparent, has barely been visible. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh first attempted to calm the situation last Monday with a taped national address, but his speech was overshadowed by a stray remark. At the end of the taping, Mr. Singh, speaking in Hindi, asked “Theek hai?” meaning “Is it all right?” It was most likely an innocuous comment to the cameraman that ordinarily would have been edited out. But it quickly went viral and became a bitter rallying cry on social media. That was followed by a sexist comment about female protesters by a member of Parliament, who also happened to be the son of India’s president. When the protests grew angrier and more violent, especially as men joined the ranks, many reportedly allied with rival political parties, the police responded with fire hoses, tear gas and nightsticks. Then the authorities invoked the emergency policing law, known as Section 144, to lock down the area around the presidential palace, Parliament and the main government offices. But if the government’s heavy-handed response met with broad criticism, the hard line taken by some protesters also raised concerns. Frustrated, many protesters called for the death penalty against convicted rapists, alarming many people in a country where executions are extremely rare. Then a police constable died of a heart attack during the protests. The authorities say he had a seizure after being attacked by protesters — a claim denied by some witnesses. “Collectively, we seem to have unthinkingly bought into a narrative of empowered indignation in which ‘anger’ against ‘authority’ is deemed to be just and justifiable and any means to vent that ‘anger’ is rationalized as socially acceptable and politically correct,” Harish Khare, a former spokesman for the prime minister, wrote in The Hindu. The constable’s death seemed to shift the tenor of the public mood, and Mr. Singh made another speech calling for calm and promising action. “The emergence of women in public spaces, which is an absolutely essential part of social emancipation, is accompanied by growing threats to their safety and security,” he said. “We must reflect on this problem, which occurs in all states and regions of our country, and which requires greater attention.” On Saturday morning, many of the people gathered at Jantar Mantar, shouting “We want justice,” were determined that the protests should remain peaceful. Neha Sharma, 24, a student at Delhi University, said capital punishment was not the solution but that reforms were needed in the criminal justice system. “We need to fix the system,” she said. “Neither the government nor the police are taking any steps.” Protesters have repeatedly called for reforms, citing the frequent insensitivity of the police and the courts toward women and the skewed priorities of a government that devotes thousands of officers to protecting politicians and other so-called V.V.I.P.’s, even as departments too often fail to protect ordinary citizens. “I’m now beginning to feel that my government is not capable of understanding the situation, let alone solving it,” said Abhijit Sarkar, 28, a social activist who participated in a candlelight vigil last week. “During the candlelight vigil, policemen were actually laughing at us.”

With Peshawar under attack, Pakistan looks the other way

By Myra MacDonald
Pakistan has been facing gun and bomb attacks for so long, it is tempting to think it will continue to muddle along, the situation never becoming so bad as to galvanise it into action. And maybe it will. But a series of attacks in and around Peshawar this month should give serious pause for thought. First came a raid on Peshawar airport in mid-December, for which the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility. Then political leader Bashir Ahmed Bilour – an outspoken critic of the Taliban and a senior minister in the provincial government of the Awami National Party (ANP) – was killed in a suicide bombing. While the city was still in shock over Bilour’s death, its defences were attacked. Taliban militants assaulted three security posts meant to separate the so-called settled areas from the neighbouring Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), killing two men from the security forces and taking 22 others prisoner. At least 20 of them were later killed by the Taliban,Pakistani media reported. It is difficult to escape the notion of a city under siege. For outsiders, particularly the United States – distracted by domestic political wrangling, weary of the war in Afghanistan, and weary too of trying to work out how to deal with Pakistan – the prospect of Peshawar succumbing to Taliban influence should be ringing alarm bells. And for Pakistanis, the potential loss of Peshawar should be even more alarming – even a small risk of that happening should be enough to stir memories of the unthinking drift to war that led to the loss of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, in 1971. Indian military intervention ensured Bangladesh won independence, but the origins of the conflict lay in the dissonance between Pakistan’s Punjab-dominated heartland and ethnic Bengalis; just as now there is a difference in understanding of the threat of militancy between mainly Pashtun Peshawar and the centres of power in the Punjabi cities of Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Yet for all those familiar tripwires, the alarm over the attacks on Peshawar has been muffled at best. While the ANP in Peshawar has appealed for consensus among political parties on a strategy to fight terrorism, many in the rest of Pakistan are looking the other way. True, some of the English-language media has run powerful commentary arguing that Pakistan must wake up to the threat of terrorism, but on the whole, initial shock over the attacks has dissipated into confusion. Here is the problem – or rather an additional problem compounding Pakistan’s internal divisions over whether the war against the Taliban is its own fight or one being carried out at America’s behest. All of this is happening at a time when the country is heading into an election, expected next May. Few want to rock the boat with, for example, a military offensive in North Waziristan that might unleash a wave of reprisal bombings on political rallies across Pakistan. For the first time in its history, a democratically elected government is set to complete its term and hand over power to another democratically elected government – a milestone worth fighting for. But the boat is already rocking. A huge political rally held in Lahore by Islamist preacher Tahir ul-Qadri – on the same day as ANP leader Bilour’s funeral in Peshawar – has got everyone talking about whether he was sponsored by “the establishment” (the Pakistan Army and its Inter-Services Intelligence agency) to disrupt the democratic process. Qadri has promised a march on Islamabad in January if changes are not made to the electoral process in time for the polls. And since it is not possible to make those changes in time, his threat has raised fears he might be paving the way for a government of technocrats which would (with the blessing of the military) take over for a few years until Pakistan’s crises are resolved. To an outsider, it sounds like another Pakistani conspiracy theory. To a Pakistani, used to the army’s dominance of politics and the so-called Deep State’s ability to pull the strings from behind the scenes, the threat to the democratic process is real. Among the unlikely cast of characters being conjured up by the media to support a government of technocrats are Qadri, the Defa-e-Pakistan alliance of militant and religious groups, and Imran Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaf Pakistan (PTI). Qadri and PTI deny taking any support from the military. In reality, nobody knows for sure what is going on, and because of the uncertainty, everyone is hedging their bets. And because everyone is hedging their bets, the country will not take on the Taliban. Meanwhile the Pakistan Army – which dominates security policy – says it will launch a new military operation only with political consensus. DIVIDED POLITICIANS And there is no political consensus. The ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has devoted much of its energy to simply staying in power to prove the democratic system can work – President Asif Ali Zardari confounded everyone by keeping his job and his government in place long enough to hand on the mantle of the PPP, which he inherited from his late wife Benazir Bhutto, to their son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who made his political debut in Pakistan this week. If Zardari and the PPP survived, it was partly thanks to opposition leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who having been ousted in a coup in 1999 knew better than to leave a gap where the army might take over. Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is the main challenger in the coming election and is likely to do well because of the PPP-led government’s reputation for poor governance and corruption. He has everything to lose if an escalation in militant attacks forces the election to be postponed. Imran Khan’s PTI has promised to break the mould of dynastic politics and end corruption. But in a constituency-based electoral system where local patronage buys votes, Khan does not have the party machinery to win a significant number of seats. And having positioned himself as a campaigner against U.S. drone attacks in the tribal areas, which he claimed were the main cause of militancy, he has left himself no space to take a strong stand against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. The Peshawar-based ANP, and the Karachi-based Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), whose leader Altaf Hussain lives in exile in London, have been pretty much alone in speaking out clearly against the Taliban. “The time has come for decisive action,” ANP’s Bushra Gohar, a member of the National Assembly, told Newsweek Pakistan. “We have to expose these elements. The time for apologies is over. We need to adopt a clear-cut policy.” But in an election year, the heartland of Pakistani politics is in Punjab where both the PML-N and PTI are based and where the biggest number of seats in parliament are to be won. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, in a statement released earlier this week, said it had no quarrel with those two parties. Even the PPP, whose roots are in Sindh province, knows its survival comes from winning popular votes in Punjab while maintaining an uneasy relationship – as it has done since it came to power – with the army. All have an interest in appeasing the religious right, whose street power in Punjab by far outstrips its ability to win votes in elections. All would be vulnerable to reprisal attacks by militants with deep roots in Punjab were they to take a strong stand against them. That leaves Peshawar bearing the brunt of TTP violence, along with the rest of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the tribal areas themselves. Karachi too is suffering from violence, but Peshawar is even more vulnerable, lying next to the tribal areas. Many of us have declared Pakistan to be on the brink so often over the years that it becomes hard to take ourselves seriously. It survives, doesn’t it? That famed “resilience”. And the chances are, it will be fine, muddling through until the election. And yet the steady infiltration of the Taliban into Peshawar, and their apparent ability to carry out attacks there with impunity, should worry everyone. All the more so since so many elsewhere in Pakistan are showing no signs of responding to the threat to a city barely two hours’ drive from the capital.

Pakistan: YouTube unblocking/blocking

Daily Times
The government does not seem to know what it is doing or indeed should do about YouTube. It may be recalled that the government blocked YouTube some time ago on the grounds that the blasphemous material on YouTube was not being removed by the hosts, Google Inc. The material in question was the trailer of a blasphemous film posted in the US. The government approached Google to have the material removed or blocked but Google indicated its inability to do so as it had no agreement with Pakistan, unlike some other countries, allowing it to accede to such requests. Thus the ‘ban’ on YouTube came to acquire a semi-permanent character. Lo and behold then, joy broke out in the ranks of YouTube-starved Pakistanis when Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced on Friday that the government was about to unblock YouTube within 24 hours. True to its word, the government did — for one hour! According to media reports the ‘ban’ was reimposed on the orders of the prime minister. A case of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing? What the government has to do is update its knowledge of the internet. The ‘ban’ on YouTube did not work completely, since YouTube fans could circumvent the block and gain access through other hosting sites. This is the ubiquitous nature of the internet. Many countries have tried to deprive their citizens of access to this or that website considered unacceptable, only to find that their ‘firewalls’ could be, and were, breached. Google now requires the Pakistan government, in the absence of an agreement on blocking offensive material, to approach it through the US government since it is not bound by Pakistani law or wishes. We await with bated breath the next scene in this suspense drama. Admittedly, blasphemous material is liable to evoke an emotive, even violent reaction from people of deep faith. However, a tendency has been observed in recent years that the violence manifests itself in mindless fashion on ourselves and our own country. Who that damages surely does not need to be spelt out, except to say that we only harm ourselves and reinforce stereotypes so common about Muslims as illogical, emotional people who cannot think straight. In the brave new world of instant communication globally, we need to take a mature and considered attitude to such provocations, because that is all they are, attempts to get our goat and see us riled up. The more mature and cool we are in dismissing such rubbish in the manner it deserves, the better we will end up serving ourselves, our faith, and the values that make that faith great, based on the example of tolerance and forbearance in the face of provocation set by none other than Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

Pakistan: Taliban kill 21 kidnapped Levies personnel

As many as 21 paramilitary soldiers abducted during a militant attack on check-posts on Thursday in FR Peshawar have been killed, Geo News reported. Correspondent says the Levies personnel have been shot dead and their bodies have been dumped in Hasan Khel area of FR Peshawar. He says that political officials and members of local Jirga were sent to the area to retrieve the bodies. All the bodies have been identified and families of the victims have been informed about the killings. The proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have claimed responsibility for the killings of security officials. The shooting of the soldiers came a day after Pakistan Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud said in a video message the militants were willing to negotiate a ceasefire deal. However, he refused to disarm. AFP adds,Taliban militants have shot dead 21 Pakistani soldiers who were kidnapped three days ago in northwest Pakistan, officials said. The soldiers were abducted from two government paramilitary camps outside Peshawar on Thursday and the bodies were discovered about four kilometres away. "We found 21 bullet riddled bodies of security personnel a short while ago in an uninhabited area," local government official Naveed Akbar told AFP. "One was found alive but wounded and admitted to hospital while another managed to escape unhurt." Gul Shehzad, another government official, said authorities received information just before midnight that some bodies were lying in the wilderness within about four kilometres of the camps. "The hands of soldiers were tied with rope before they were shot," Shehzad told AFP. He said Taliban militants had accepted the responsibility for the kidnappings.

Earthquake strikes Pakistan, Afghanistan: USGS

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan Saturday, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said, with the quake felt in the capital Kabul and parts of Pakistan. The earthquake struck in the late evening at a depth of 115 kilometres (70 miles), some 140 kilometres north of Afghanistan’s eastern city of Jalalabad and 130 kilometres west of Chitral in neighbouring Pakistan. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage but shaking was felt in Kabul, 180 kilometres away, as well as in northwest Pakistan and the Pakistani capital Islamabad. Northern Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the collision of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. Two quakes in June triggered landslides that killed at least 75 villagers.

White House Fiscal Cliff Meeting Brings Hope for a Deal

Last-minute fiscal cliff talks in Senate

Associated Press
Senate leaders groped for a last-minute compromise Saturday to avoid middle-class tax increases and possibly prevent deep spending cuts at the dawn of the new year as President Barack Obama warned that failure could mean a "self-inflicted wound to the economy." Obama chastised lawmakers in his weekly radio and Internet address for waiting until the last minute to try and avoid a "fiscal cliff," yet said there was still time for an agreement. "We cannot let Washington politics get in the way of America's progress," he said as the hurry-up negotiations unfolded. Senate Republicans said they were ready to compromise. "Divided government is a good time to solve hard problems_and in the next few days, leaders in Washington have an important responsibility to work together and do just that," said Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, delivering his party's weekly address. Even so, there was no guarantee of success. In a blunt challenge to Republicans, Obama said that barring a bipartisan agreement, he expected both houses to vote on his own proposal to block tax increases on all but the wealthy and simultaneously preserve expiring unemployment benefits. Political calculations mattered as much as deep-seated differences over the issues, as divided government struggled with its first big challenge since the November elections. Speaker John Boehner remained at arms-length, juggling a desire to avoid the fiscal cliff with his goal of winning another new term as speaker when a new Congress convenes next Thursday. Any compromise legislation is certain to include higher tax rates on the wealthy, and the House GOP rank and file rejected the idea when Boehner presented it as part of a final attempt to strike a more sweeping agreement with Obama. Yet lawmakers have until the new Congress convenes to pass any compromise, and even the calendar mattered. Democrats said they had been told House Republicans might reject a deal until after Jan. 1, to avoid a vote to raise taxes before they had technically gone up and then vote to cut taxes after they had risen. Nor was any taxpayer likely to feel any adverse impact if legislation is signed and passed into law in the first two or three days of 2013 instead of the final hours of 2012. Gone was the talk of a grand bargain of spending cuts and additional tax revenue in which the two parties would agree to slash deficits by trillions of dollars over a decade. Now negotiators had a more cramped goal of preventing additional damage to the economy in the form of higher taxes across the board — with some families facing increases measured in the thousands of dollars — as well as cuts aimed at the Pentagon and hundreds of domestic programs. Republicans said they were willing to bow to Obama's call for higher taxes on the wealthy as part of a deal to prevent them from rising on those less well-off. Democrats said Obama was sticking to his campaign call for tax increases above $250,000 in annual income, even though he said in recent negotiations he said he could accept $400,000. There were indications from Republicans that estate taxes might hold more significance for them than the possibility of higher rates on income. One senior Republican, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, said late Friday he was "totally dead set" against Obama's estate tax proposal, and as if to reinforce the point, Blunt mentioned the issue before any other in his broadcast remarks. "Small businesses and farm families don't know how to deal with the unfair death tax_a tax that the president and congressional leaders have threatened to expand to include even more family farms and even more small businesses," he said. Officials said any compromise was likely to ease the impact of the alternative minimum tax, originally designed to make sure that millionaires did not escape taxation. If left unchanged, it could hit an estimated 28 million households for the first time in 2013, with an average increase of more than $3,000. Taxes on dividends and capital gains are also involved in the talks, as well as a series of breaks for businesses and others due to expire at the first of the year. Obama and congressional Democrats are insisting on an extension of long-term unemployment benefits that are expiring for about 2 million jobless individuals. Leaders in both parties also hope to prevent a 27 percent fee cut from taking effect on Jan. 1 for doctors who treat Medicare patients. There was also discussion of a short-term extension of expiring farm programs, in part to prevent a spike in milk prices at the first of the year. It wasn't clear if that was a parallel effort to the cliff talks or had become wrapped into them. Across-the-board spending cuts that comprise part of the cliff were a different matter. Republicans say Boehner will insist that they will begin to take effect unless negotiators agreed to offset them with specified savings elsewhere. That would set the stage for the next round of brinkmanship — a struggle over Republican calls for savings from Medicare, Medicaid and other federal benefit programs. The Treasury's ability to borrow is expected to expire in late winter or early spring, and without an increase in the $16.4 trillion limit, the government would face its first-ever default. Republicans have said they will use administration requests for an extension as leverage to win cuts in spending. Ironically, it was just such a maneuver more than a year ago that set the stage for the current crisis talks over the fiscal cliff.

The Sexiest Music Videos of 2012

2013: crunch in Syria?

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke for to media after discussing the Syrian crisis with international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi at a meeting in Moscow on Saturday. "The main obstacle to having the crisis settled is unwillingness to compromise on either side. Accordingly, Russia continues to urge world powers to try to persuade the conflicting sides to become less uncompromising and seize on the resolutions of the Geneva conference on Syria as a real chance to find a way out of the current mayhem in their country." Unfortunately, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, which has already been recognize by the US, the EU and the Arab League as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, continues to insist that the Assad regime must go. Lavrov said Russia wants to explain to the Coalition’s leader Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib that this position leads nowhere: "We offered him a meeting in Moscow or a neutral capital of his choice. But strangely, he declined the offer, saying Russia must change its position first and even apologize for its previous stance on Syria. I suspect Mr Khatib has little experience as a politician. I believe it would be much better for his campaign if he was informed about Russia’s position first hand, rather than through biased and sometimes grossly distorted reports carried by the Western media." Mr Brahimi rejected speculation that the UN is considering a peacekeeping mission in Syria. Mr Lavrov described the latest recall of United Nations and Arab League observers from Syria as an unforgivable blunder. He argued that the UN must expeditiously mount a new and much stronger Syria peacekeeping mission. Lavrov and Brahimi agreed that the Syrians are now unable to start a national dialogue without outside help. They said they hope the required help is on its way, and the Syrian conflict will start fizzling out before next summer.

Britain most unequal nation in Europe

Official figures show Britain is the most unequal country in Europe and that the wealth gap between the country’s rich and poor is twice as wide as any EU member state. An analysis by the Office for National Statistics revealed that some regions in Britain are up to 10 times poorer than London according to its Gross Value Added (GVA) measure. Based on the data, the poorest areas are the Wirrel, West Wales and the Valleys with just £11,000 in GVA per person compared to the inner-London figure of £111,000. The other regions seen on the poverty league tables are Cornwall and the Scilly Isles, Tees Valley and Durham, Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire. The revelations have drawn angry reactions from officials in the poorest regions including Welsh Treasury spokesperson Jonathan Edwards MP who denounced failure of successive London governments to tackle inequality, saying such differences are "immoral" and show a complete failure of economic planning. Frances O'Grady, who will take office as the Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary in a few days, also said the situation creates major economic obstacles for the government. "These regional inequalities are making whole areas of the country unaffordable, creating employment black-spots in other parts and are holding back our economy,” she said. Grady added that failed wage growth and cuts to vital benefits “will serve only to entrench existing inequalities."

Broken-up Britain? UK epidemic of separated families
Research by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that the UK has one of the highest rates of family breakdown in the western world and that only 69% of children live with their mother and father. The UK came only behind Belgium, Estonia and Latvia for broken homes and well below the average for OECD countries of 84%. The analysis looked at the living arrangements of children between the ages of 0-14 in 30 OECD member countries, it was reported in the UK media. The worst country for broken families was Latvia with just 64.9% of children living with both parents. Finland had the most children living with both their mother and father at 95.2%. Italy stood at 92%, with Germany at 82%, and the US ahead of Britain on 70.7%. The statistics also showed that the number of kids in the UK living with just their mother was 27.6%, while children living with their father was just 2.4%. Christian Guy from the Centre for Social Justice explained that the figures were a depressing wake up call for UK politicians. “Timid politicians are becoming numb to Britain’s sky-high family breakdown rates. Behind too many front doors, instability damages adults and children. Yet, as these OECD figures show, broken families are not some inevitable feature of modern society or social progress.” The Marriage Foundation, a pro-marriage campaign group, said that the figures reflected an “appalling epidemic of family breakdown.” “The latest UK data tells us that 450 out of 1000 children will experience the break-up of their parents before their 16th Birthday, largely as a result of the trend away from marriage, in particular the collapse away from unmarried families,” said Harry Benson, the Marriage Foundation’s communications director. He continued that the figures should “convince politicians of all colors of their utter failure to deal with the central social problem of our times.” He said that family breakdowns cost the government £44 billion ($71 billion) a year but yet they have no policy to reduce or prevent the continued rise of families breaking up. But Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions said the government has invested £30 million in relationship support to prevent family breakdown. “Across government we’re working to improve the support available for families who experience abuse at home by more effectively punishing the perpetrator and doing more to educate young people about domestic violence,” he said. In May this year the Centre for Social Justice, a think tank run by Iain Duncan Smith, found that the coalition government was failing to deal with the “tragic breakdown of family life.” It also found that the welfare system penalized couples. Overall the report gave the collation 4 out of 10 for measures to “reverse family breakdown” and just 2 out of 10 for their approach to the voluntary and community sector.

Russians’ nostalgia for USSR is dwindling

Some 56 per cent of Russians still regret the dissolution of the Soviet Union, according to a poll published on the eve of the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the first Socialist state. However, this is almost 10 per cent less than a decade ago, a survey by All- Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) revealed. A third of Russians do not mourn over the collapse of the Soviet Union 21 years ago. That is 6 per cent more than in 2002. The majority of respondents who feel nostalgic about the end of the Soviet era are those above 45 years of age, with low education level, non-internet users and residents of capital cities of Russian regions. Youngsters, people with higher education and active web users – on the contrary – prefer life in modern Russia. Two thirds of those questioned agreed that Soviet Union furthered the cultural and economic development of peoples that lived on the territory of the country. At the same time, 20 per cent believe that it was the other way round. The state that once united 15 republics dissolved in December 1991, after the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus signed the document which marked the end of the Soviet empire. Two decades on, over a half of Russians are confident that the collapse of the USSR could be prevented, the pollster found out. Still, 35 per cent stated that it was inevitable. Shortly after the disintegration of the country, people were split on the reasons behind it. Back in 1992, 27 per cent of citizens thought that the communist state was doomed as the transition to democracy began. With the passage of time Russians have changed their opinion: now 45 per cent of people blame politicians for bringing the Soviet empire to an end. On December 8, 1991, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus signed the agreement on the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The document known as “The Belavezha Accords” managed to provide for a peaceful disintegration of the USSR. On December 12, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic ratified the accords on behalf of Russia and at the same time denounced the 1922 Treaty on the Creation of the Soviet Union. Several days later – on December 25, 1991 – the first and only Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev stepped down from office, declaring the USSR extinct.

Pakistan: Muslim mob attacked Christian worshipers on Christmas Day in Islamabad
When President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari and Chairman ruling Pakistan Peoples Party PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari where cutting Christmas cake presented by National Harmony Minister a Pakistani Catholic Dr. Paul Bhatti and photo session was being enjoyed by Archbishop of Karachi Bishop Joseph Coutts and Karachi Diocese Bishop of Church of Pakistan Sadiq Daniel in Karachi on December 25, 2012, a Muslim mob equipped with lethal weapons was firing at innocent Christian worshipers who were coming out of different Churches in Iqbal Town of capital city of Pakistan Islamabad. It was 12:00 noon, in Iqbal Town in Islamabad, on December 25, 2012, when Christian worshipers were coming out of different Churches after performing Christmas prayers, more than one hundred Muslim extremists equipped with automatic rifles, pistols and sticks attacked the Christian women, children and men. Ashraf Masih, when running to save his life was hit with bullet in his leg, Iqbal Masih received bullet injuries in his leg and arm, Shahzad Masih was injured fell on ground and was beaten with sticks mercilessly by mob, Yousaf Masih was seriously injured while more than one dozen Christian women, men and children received injuries. The area police of Shahzad Town Police Station arrived on scene to maintain law and order and arrested only two Muslims named Mohammad Khalid and Mohammad Riasat Satti and sent injured Christians for medico-legal in hospital. The case under Section 452, 109, 324,148,149 PPC was registered in First Information Report FIR number 669/2012, in Shahzad Town PS against 35 unknown and 4 nominated Muslim attackers but police released one nominated arrested accused Mohammad Riasat Satti same evening of December 25, 2012. The tension was high all over Pakistan and special security arrangements were adopted by government after a religious decree of one Muslim cleric against celebrations of Christmas and participation of Muslims in it. A religious decree (Islamic Fatwa) issued on Facebook by one Muslim cleric Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer as “We should be tolerant towards people of other religions but we cannot participate in religious ceremonies and events of non-Muslims. Christmas is religious event of Christians and according to their theology Jesus was son of Allah born to Allah on this particular day so we need to avoid this event and should not greet them. Muslims can eat their food and are allowed to marry chaste women of Christians but Christmas cannot be celebrated by Muslims because it is against the concept of monotheism in Islam” The National Harmony Minister Dr. Paul Bhatti and State Minister Akram Gill were also busy in photo shoots with high ranking officials and Shahzad Town Police Station officials were not arresting Muslim attackers but twisting incident in communal riots. Mr. Basharat Khokhar, a human right activist, based in Islamabad was first to reach Iqbal Town today to negotiate with administration to remove blockades from areas of Christian residents who were under siege from Christmas day and running out of food supplies and milk for children on fear of safety and security of life from further attacks of Muslim mob. Pakistan Christian Post contacted DSP Arshad Ali Khokhar and SHO Fiaz Ahmad Ranjha of Shahzad Police Station for information on not arresting Muslim accused in FIR but none was available to respond. The news of this attack on Christians on Christmas Day was intentionally blocked by media and administration of capital city Islamabad.

President Obama's Weekly Address

Obama presses Congress to resolve fiscal cliff

Death of India rape victim stirs anger, promises of action

A woman whose gang rape provoked protests and rare national debate about violence against women in India died from her injuries on Saturday, prompting promises of action from a government that has struggled to respond to public outrage. The unidentified 23-year-old medical student suffered a brain injury and massive internal damage in the December 16 attack and died in hospital in Singapore where she had been taken for treatment.
Protesters rallied peacefully in the capital New Delhi and other cities across the country to keep the pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government to get tougher on crimes against women. That was in contrast to the pitched battles protesters fought with police last weekend. The six suspects held in connection with the attack on the student on a New Delhi bus were charged with murder following her death, police said. The maximum penalty for murder is death. Authorities, worried about the reaction to the news of her death, deployed thousands of policemen, closed 10 metro stations and banned vehicles from some main roads in the heart of New Delhi, where demonstrators have converged since the attack to demand improved women's rights. Despite efforts to cordon off the city centre, more than 1,000 people gathered at two locations. Some protesters shouted for justice, others for the death penalty for the rapists. Most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists who say that successive governments have done little to ensure the safety of women. Political leaders vowed steps to correct "shameful social attitudes" towards women in the world's biggest democracy. "The need of the hour is a dispassionate debate and inquiry into the critical changes that are required in societal attitudes," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a statement. "I hope that the entire political class and civil society will set aside narrow sectional interests and agenda to help us all reach the end that we all desire - making India a demonstrably better and safer place for women to live in." The woman, beaten, raped and thrown out of a moving bus, had been flown to Singapore in a critical condition by the Indian government on Thursday. "She was courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome," Kelvin Loh, chief executive officer of the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore said in a statement announcing her death from multiple organ failure. The Indian government has chartered an aircraft to fly the student's body back to India, along with members of her family, T.C.A. Raghavan, the Indian high commissioner to Singapore, told reporters. The body was taken from the hospital to a Hindu undertaker in Singapore and hours later, lying in a gold an yellow coffin selected by Indian diplomats, the body was driven in a hearse to the airport. "DETERMINATION" Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in the northern Indian city of Lucknow. In Hyderabad, in southern India, a group of women marched to demand severe punishment for the rapists. Protests were also held in the cities of Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. "For some reason, and I don't really know why, she got through to us," well-known columnist Nilanjana Roy wrote in a blog on Saturday. "Our words shriveled in the face of what she'd been subjected to by the six men travelling on that bus, who spent an hour torturing and raping her, savagely beating up her male friend." Sonia Gandhi, the powerful leader of the ruling Congress party, directly addressed the protesters in a rare broadcast on state television, saying that as a mother and a woman she understood their grievances. "Your voice has been heard," Gandhi said. "It deepens our determination to battle the pervasive and the shameful social attitudes that allow men to rape and molest women with such impunity." The victim and her male friend were returning home from the cinema, media reports say, six men on their bus beat them with metal rods and repeatedly raped the woman. Media said a rod was used in the rape, causing internal injuries. Both were thrown from the bus. The male friend survived. The six suspects have all been arrested and are in custody. The attack has put gender issues centre stage in Indian politics. Issues such as rape, dowry-related deaths and female infanticide have rarely entered mainstream political discourse. Analysts say the death of the woman dubbed "Amanat", an Urdu word meaning "treasure," by some Indian media could change that, although it is too early to say whether the protesters calling for government action to better safeguard women can sustain their momentum through to national elections due in 2014. The outcry over the attack caught the government off-guard and it was slow to react. It took a week for Singh to make a statement on the attack, infuriating many protesters who saw it as a sign of a government insensitive to the plight of women. The prime minister, a stiff 80-year-old technocrat who speaks in a low monotone, has struggled to channel the popular outrage in his public statements and convince critics that his eight-year-old government will now take concrete steps to improve the safety of women. "The Congress managers were ham-handed in their handling of the situation that arose after the brutal assault on the girl. The crowd management was poor," a lawmaker from Singh's ruling Congress party said on condition of anonymity. Commentators and sociologists say the rape has tapped into a deep well of frustration many Indians feel over what they see as weak governance and poor leadership on social issues. A global poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in June found that India was the worst place to be a woman because of high rates of infanticide, child marriage and slavery. New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India's major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. Government data show the number of reported rape cases in the country rose by nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011.

India files murder charges against suspects in brutal gang rape

India Mourns 23-Year-Old Gang Rape Victim

The young Indian victim of a brutal gang rape has died in Singapore, where she had been taken for treatment. Thousands of people staged peaceful protests in the Indian capital -- where the incident took place -- despite tight security to prevent mass demonstrations. As Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, the incident has sparked widespread calls for social change. From people on the street, to the country's top leaders, messages of grief and vows to prevent similar crimes poured in as news spread of the death of the 23-year-old rape victim. The young woman died early Saturday morning in Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore of severe organ failure, 13 days after she was brutally beaten and raped by a group of men in a moving bus in New Delhi. She had undergone multiple surgeries in the capital before being flown to Singapore Thursday for special treatment. India's High Commissioner to Singapore T.C.A. Raghavan said the victim's family members were by her side when she died. "In the end it was the scale of her injuries which proved too much," said Raghavan. Thousands of people came out into the streets in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi to mourn her death, demand justice for her and safety for women. The biggest protests were in the capital, where the crime took place. Hundreds of young people gathered at several locations, although authorities closed several metro stations and many roads and deployed hundreds of police to prevent mass demonstrations. But the protests were quieter than those last week which had turned violent. In some parts of the city, people marched in silence, others held up placards. They all demanded a safer city and speedier justice for crimes against women. Many shouted slogans. In the evening they lit candles in her memory. The protestors termed it “Black Saturday”. "We want safety as our first priority" "We should be able to breathe peacefully and walk on the streets" “I do not feel safe at all….” “It is not just about the government, I think the people of this country need to realize that what they have made this country, we have to change this…” Across the country, ordinary people and media paid tribute to the young girl, calling her "braveheart" and "India's Daughter," and saying her death should be honored by bringing about social change. There is widespread public outrage against authorities for not doing enough to prevent such crimes and assure safety of women. Murder charges have now been added to the rape charges brought against six suspects in the case. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a statement, said he understood the reactions from a young India that genuinely desires change. He said "It would be a true homage to her memory if we are able to channelize these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action." Delhi's Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said the victim has shaken India's conscience. "Our hearts are burdened with grief and shame. And this is not a moment for speeches or words, but for deep reflection. I would like each one of you to be calm and peaceful," said Dikshit. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde vowed strict action against the accused. Shinde says the government will heed public calls for strict punishment for the guilty and ensure that such incidents do not happen again. Home Secretary R.P.N. Singh said authorities are committed to bringing about change to ensure women's safety. "The government will work overtime to try and bring about laws and steps that will ensure that no other person, no other citizen of the country has to undergo the same kind of trauma," said Singh. India's government has been criticized for being slow to understand the outrage that followed the incident, in a country where crimes against women are growing, and where police figures show that rape is among the fastest growing crimes, even though many rapes go unreported.

Fresh Gas Reservoir Discovered in Balochistan

The Baloch Hal
The Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL), operator of Zin Exploration licence, together with joint venture partner Government Holdings Pvt Ltd (GHPL) has discovered gas reservoir bearing zone from its well Zin SML-I located in District Dera Bugti of Balochistan. Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources (MPNR) in a statement said that MD OGDCL who called on Dr Asim Hussain Advisor to Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources informed the Advisor about the new discovery. MD OGDCL briefed Dr Asim Hussain that preliminary assessment shows estimated reserves in place of about 1.06 TCF, which would be confirmed by further appraisal wells. It is of low calorific value gas but with the right technology, can be enhanced to better quality gas. Advisor on Petroleum expressed confidence that this discovery will add to the hydrocarbon reserves base of the Joint Venture Partners, brining significant earnings for the country. It is worth mentioning that the Zin SML-I well was drilled down to depth of 1050 meters targeting to test the potential of Sui Main Limestone formation. The target zone age has tested 8.05 MMSCFD gas through 128”/ 64” choke.

Pakistan: PM Ashraf orders to block Youtube again

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has ordered PTA to block video sharing website Youtube once again after it was briefly restored on Saturday. The decision to block Youtube was made after the clips of the anti-Islam film could still be viewed on the website. According to the PTA all Internet Service Providers (ISPs)had blocked the website. Earlier on Saturday, PTA lifted the ban on Youtube. In a tweet last night, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Youtube would be restored within 24 hours. “There was a great demand to unblock Youtube,” Malik tweeted. The video sharing website had been blocked after violent protests over the posting of an anti-Islam film. Speaking to Geo News, DG PTA said talks were underway with Google to remove blasphemous content from Youtube. Prior to this, Youtube has been blocked in Pakistan in 2008 and 2010

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa: 95% success rate of TB treatment in K-P

The Express Tribune
The provincial government is training private doctors and laboratory technicians to provide free treatment and diagnoses facilities to people infected with tuberculosis (TB) in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). The initiative has been taken by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and National Tuberculosis Control Programme in collaboration with the Public Private Mix (PPM) programme of the World Health Organization. Addressing an awareness seminar titled ‘Fighting TB Together’ on Friday, PPM Provincial Coordinator Saeed Abid said they had trained around 200 doctors and 50 laboratory technicians in 11 districts of the province, who will provide free of charge medicines and diagnosis facilities. Saeed said that 40,000 people were affected from TB annually in K-P alone. He added that 231 out of every 100,000 people in the country had contracted TB, making Pakistan have the sixth highest number of TB patients in the world. Dr Maqood Ali Khan, technical focal person for the provincial TB control programme, said 1,000 centres in the province have given free treatment to over 36,000 patients while 230 centres are providing diagnosis facilities for TB. “The success ratio of patient treatment in K-P is 95%, higher than other provinces,” said Dr Maqood, adding that the rate would improve once private hospitals were included in the programme and more awareness had been raised. Dr Maqood further said a state-of-the-art TB Resistance Laboratory was established in Hayatabad Medical Complex that is treating Multidrug Resistance TB. It is a dangerous type of TB which is developed when patients do not get treatment on time. The treatment for the disease is very costly. Dr Fazal Khan from the National TB Control Programme said that people aged 15-35 were mostly affected by TB. Symptoms become visible when a person’s immunity level decreases. TB is an infection primarily affecting the lungs that is caused by bacteria called micro-bacterium tuberculoses. It is generally spread through breathing in the same space as an infected person through close contact. The main symptoms include weakness, weight loss, night sweats, coughing for more than two weeks and chest pain. Medical experts recommend consulting hospitals and TB centres for a diagnosis. The government is providing eight months free-of-cost treatment in all major hospitals and a number of other centres in the country. According to the World Health Organisation Tuberculosis Report 2012, 8.7 million people contracted TB in 2011 across the world, with 1.4 million cases being fatal. TB is one of the top killers of women worldwide and killed 0.5 million women last year.