Saturday, December 29, 2012
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.
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.
The Express TribuneFive 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.
EDITORIAL:The HinduThe 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.
http://www.reuters.comThe 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.
http://www.washingtonpost.comBy Olga Khazan and Rama Lakshmi
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.By Myra MacDonald
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.
Associated PressSenate 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.
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."
http://rt.comResearch 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.
http://www.pakistanchristianpost.comWhen 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.
The Baloch Hal
The Express Tribune