Thursday, January 31, 2013
http://www.dailynewsegypt.comPolitical parties have announced on Thursday the planned routes for Friday marches across Egypt. In Cairo, marches from Al-Nour Mosque in Abassiya and Raba’a Al-A’daweya Mosque in Nasr City will converge at the Presidential Palace. The marches will begin after Friday prayers. The Popular Current said the marches are meant to reaffirm the demands of the Egyptian people and to protest against the policies of President Mohamed Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Current listed Alexandria, Daqahleya, Beheira, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Fayoum, Minya, Aswan, Qena and North Sinai as governorates where marches have been planned. Marches from Al-Arbaeen Square in Suez and from Al-Fardous Square in Ismailia to their respective Governorate Buildings will be held. The Popular Current said routes of the marches in the rest of the governorates especially Port Said and Sharqeya have yet to be decided. Port Said, Suez and Ismailia have been hit hardest by the latest round of violence that shook the country. They are currently in a state of emergency. Al-Dostour Party was organizing more marches from Hadayeq Al-Qoba, Matareya, Al-Hijaz Squares and Ain Shams. The party has also planned a march from Sayeda Zeinab Mosque to complete the demands of the revolution on Thursday evening. The National Salvation Front (NSF) said on Thursday masses of Egyptians will protest on Friday to announce their rejection of a regime that wants to impose its individual will on the people. “The people will go out to reaffirm the same demands the National Salvation Front has held on to and repeated in its statements without the president listening… which escalated the crisis,” the Front said in a press statement. The Front affirmed that the protests will be peaceful and will be raising six demands including the formation of a national rescue government and the formation of a committee to amend the constitution. The opposition group is also demanding the dismissal of Tala’at Abdallah, the current prosecutor general, forming a judicial committee to investigate the recent deaths of protesters, and ending the state of emergency which was imposed on the governorates overlooking the Suez Canal. The NSF said Friday’s planned protests will be an expression of the people’s anger against Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood.
www.telegraph.coThe internationally recognised leader of the Syrian opposition has offered to hold direct negotiations with the Assad regime for the first time, in a dramatic volte face. A spokesman for Moaz al-Khatib, the Damascus cleric who leads the Syrian National Coalition, told The Daily Telegraph he was speaking "in a personal capacity" in making the offer. But he said the Coalition would discuss the proposal "in the next few days", possibly even Thursday. If it agrees and President Bashar al-Assad makes good on his own offer of negotiation, the proposal could bring the first major breakthrough between the two sides for more than a year. Mr Khatib posted the offer on Facebook, saying: "I announce I am ready for direct discussions with representatives of the Syrian regime in Cairo, Tunis or Istanbul. I became aware thanks to the media that the regime in Syria has called on the opposition to enter into dialogue." He said the offer depended on the release of political prisoners, and of exiles being allowed to return. He did not explain why he had made the decision, or how he would persuade other members of the Coalition to go along with the change of heart – up to now the opposition has demanded Mr Assad step down before any talks take place. The Syrian National Council, the largest individual component, rejected the proposal immediately.However, there are growing signs of unease, including among the Coalition's backers in the West and the Gulf, at the current impasse, particularly with radical jihadists playing an ever more prominent role in the fighting inside the country. Mohammed Ali, Mr Khatib's spokesman, said the extent of the violence had to be acknowledged. "What he is thinking is to stop the blood, and to save the lives of the people," he said. "You can't say, 'fight, fight, fight'." The Coalition is furious at the lack of support from the Western powers and Gulf states which negotiated its creation and promised to recognise it as "legitimate representative" of the Syrian people – in theory allowing aid to flow into its coffers and support to be directed to the rebels. There has been little sign of that, with focus instead turning to the plight of Syria's 700,000 refugees. Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia each pledged $300 million to that cause yesterday, part of a United Nations appeal for $1.5 billion, now reached. Justine Greening, the international development secretary, more than doubled Britain's pledge from £21 million to £50 million. Mr Khatib was a compromise choice to bring together the different factions – Arab and Kurdish, Islamist, Christian, Alawite and secular – in the opposition. However, he has failed to win the international public profile garnered by leading figures in the opposition movement in Libya at an equivalent stage of the uprising there.
indiatimes.comFormer captain Shahid Afridi feels under current situation no international team will tour Pakistan and advised the PCB to stop trying to convince weak teams such as Bangladesh to play in their country. Afridi said on Geo News TV on Wednesday that while he understood the honest efforts made by the board to somehow revive international cricket in Pakistan but felt running after teams like Bangladesh would serve no purpose. "I don't think teams will tour Pakistan in present circumstances. It is better if the board waits for the situation to improve in our country. When things improve all the teams will want to play in Pakistan it is a matter of time," Afridi said. The flamboyant all-rounder, who rejected a lucrative offer of around Rs 40 million to play in the Bangladesh Premier League, said he was not in favour of the board trying to convince teams like Bangladesh or other weaker sides to come to Pakistan. "It is unfortunate the way Bangladesh reacted. But it is serving us no purpose. It only creates negativity. It is better if we just focus on our domestic cricket and the Super League is a step in the right direction," he said. He pointed out that Pakistan was one of the leading teams of the world and had shown that it can do well anywhere in the world, despite not playing at home since 2009. "Our cricket is doing well and our team is performing well. So we shouldn't be too worried about when teams will come to Pakistan it will happen eventually we just have wait patiently," he said. Afridi said he would be playing against Afghanistan for the Pakistan A side next month. "I might also play a four day match to get more practice to get back into proper form," he said. Indications are that the board will appoint Afridi to lead the Pakistan A side against Afghanistan with senior wicketkeeper, Kamran Akmal also getting a chance to play after being sidelined for the Test series in South Africa. Afridi also said that the Test series that starts in South Africa would be a real test for the players. "But I think it will be an engrossing and tough series because our test team is well balanced and capable of surprising anyone anywhere. But we have to play to our best against the world's number one team," he said.
Associated PressA roadside bomb killed two Pakistani polio workers on their way to vaccinate children in a northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border on Thursday, an official said. The two men were on their way to Malikhel village as part of the U.N.-backed anti-polio campaign when the bomb hit their motorcycle, said government administrator Yousuf Rahim. The attack — the third this week against polio workers in Pakistan — took place in the Kurram region, a known militant stronghold. On Tuesday, gunmen riding on a motorcycle shot and killed a policeman protecting a polio team in Gullu Dheri village of Swabi district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The polio workers escaped unharmed in that attack. In a separate incident in the northwest on Tuesday, a man wounded a polio worker with an axe. Rahim said it was not immediately clear if the two workers killed Thursday were the actual target of the bombing. Javed Husain, a doctor at a hospital in the town of Parachinar, said the slain men were working as contractors for the government-run anti-polio program in the area. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but suspicion fell on Islamic militants. Some of the militants oppose the vaccination campaign, accuse health workers of acting as spies for the U.S. and claim the polio vaccine is intended to make Muslim children sterile. Pakistan is one of only three countries where the crippling disease is endemic. The virus usually infects children living in unsanitary conditions; it attacks the nerves and can kill or paralyze. As many as 56 polio cases were reported in Pakistan during 2012, down from 190 the previous year, according to the United Nations. Most of the new cases in Pakistan were in the northwest, where the presence of militants makes it difficult to reach children. In December, gunmen killed nine polio workers in similar attacks across Pakistan, prompting authorities to suspend the vaccination campaign in the troubled areas. The U.N. also suspended its field operations in December as a result of the attacks, though it has since resumed some activities.
The Express Tribune
A bomb exploded in a police van near Bacha Khan Chowk in Peshwar, injuring nine people, Geo News reported. According to sources, miscreants had fixed a timed device in a police van near Bacha Khan Chowk and Jinnah Park that went off when the policemen were not present in the van. However due to the explosion, nine pedestrians were injured. The injured have been shifted to Lady Reading Hospital. The bomb disposal squad added, that the explosives weighed half a kilogram.
EDITORIAL: Daily TimesIn an act of tragic desperation, an unemployed factory worker has killed himself and his entire family due to the demon of poverty and hunger. The 45-year-old Muhammad Qasim had been unemployed for about five months due to the factory where he worked being closed down because of the frequent gas and electricity load shedding. The factory was located in Faisalabad where many others have also been shut down due to the energy shortage, laying off hundreds of thousands of workers. Taking a gun, he shot dead his wife and five children in their sleep, turning the gun on himself in a final act of desperation. It has been estimated by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) that 1,600 people ended their lives due to mass poverty in 2011, with this number increasing in the following year. These suicides are the very last resort for those thousands upon thousands of people driven to the brink of complete deprivation because of unemployment, inflation and lack of basic facilities. That this particular incident, where one of the children was only a year old, is heartbreaking no doubt, but what is even sadder is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. With millions deprived and the gap between the rich and the poor widening every day, frustration, suicides and crime are all increasing. While the government may have invested time and capital in pro-poor initiatives such as the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), which has been applauded by even the World Bank, such schemes do not reach every needy person from the massively stricken masses. The energy shortage is typically seen as bothersome, inconvenient and miserable, but this hardly highlights the mammoth unemployment that results because of it, in turn contributing to the deprivation and poverty prevalent in the country. The government’s real fault lies in the fact that it has taken no steps towards fixing this major woe. Short-term measures such as the Rental Power Projects (RPPs) have been struck down and Independent Power Projects (IPPs) will be years in the making. Not much has been done by the authorities to kick-start any energy projects on a war footing. Our vast coal reserves, which promise to be a national treasure for this fuel-starved nation, remain untapped and alternative energy is still in the pilot stage. The collective suicide of this man’s family should serve to wake up those who have the power to resolve the problem although, judging from the track record of the last five years, this seems a fond hope. A couple of years ago, a man set himself on fire in front of parliament to protest against the state of the country’s poor and we stayed callous and aloof. This man and his innocent family may just have died in vain.
Radio PakistanPresident Asif Ali Zardari has called for concerted efforts to increase trade and economic interaction among the people of Pakistan and Iran. He was talking to an Iranian delegation led by Senior Advisor to the Supreme leader on International Affairs Ali Akbar Velayati in Islamabad. President Asif Ali Zardari has also called for early finalization and implementation of Pakistan-Iran projects‚ especially those in the energy sector‚ transport‚ trade and commerce to promote greater bilateral cooperation. The President said people of Pakistan have special attachment with their Iranian brethren and highly value their fraternal ties. The President said there is an urgent need to address the issue of tariff and non tariff barriers to promote mutual trade and increase trade volume. Suggesting encouragement of trade in local currencies the President said that the two countries should seriously consider preferential tariff and free trade arrangements. He also urged the need to further facilitate visa procedure and opening of new border posts for greater connectivity and interaction. The President reiterated Pakistan's commitment for expeditious implementation of all mega projects including Pak Iran gas pipeline‚ one thousand megawatt Taftan-Quetta transmission line‚ four hundred megawatt Gwadar power supply project and construction of Noshki-Dalbandin sector of Quetta Taftan Highway. The President said that ECO Container Train would revolutionize cargo and transit facilities between the two countries. He also urged the need to further ease visa procedures and opening new border posts for greater connectivity and interactions. Discussing regional situation and shared challenges‚ the President emphasized upon the need for joining hands against the shared threat of militancy and extremism. Referring to situation in Afghanistan‚ he stressed for the need to have greater coordination for promotion of peace and stability in the neighboring country. About Middle East‚ the President said Pakistan desire peace and stability in the region and will continue to support every effort in this regard.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
indiatimes.comThe operation by Pakistani soldiers to capture strategic heights in Kargil sector in 1999 was a "four-man show" orchestrated by former army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf though then premier Nawaz Sharif was "not" kept totally in the dark, a retired general has said. Lt Gen (retired) Shahid Aziz, who recently created ripples by acknowledging in an article that regular troops were involved in the Kargil operation, said the "misadventure" was a "four-man show" and details were initially hidden from the rest of the military commanders. When the operation began in the spring of 1999, it was known only to Musharraf, Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Mohammad Aziz, Force Command Northern Areas chief Lt Gen Javed Hassan and 10 Corps commander Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmad, Aziz told the Dawn newspaper. Though former premier Nawaz Sharif has for long claimed that he had no information about the Kargil operation, Aziz said information he had gathered suggested Sharif was not kept "completely in the dark". Aziz said he was personally not aware of what information had been shared with Sharif but recalled that another general had told him that Sharif had once asked during an informal discussion: "When are you giving us Kashmir?" This suggested that Sharif was not completely in the dark, Aziz said. The former general's remarks are the first time someone from the senior military hierarchy has spoken in detail and with frankness about the Kargil conflict, the report said. Aziz said the operation was a "failure" and the actual figure for Pakistani casualties was still not known. "It was a failure because we had to hide its objectives and results from our own people and the nation. It had no purpose, no planning and nobody knows even today how many soldiers lost their lives," he said. A majority of corps commanders and principal staff officers were kept in the dark and even then Director General of Military Operations Lt Gen Tauqir Zia learnt about the operation after it had begun, said Aziz, who was the head of the analysis wing of the ISI in 1999. Musharraf worked on a policy of "need to know" throughout his tenure as army chief and later President, Aziz said. Musharraf would issue orders to only those who were required to implement them instead of first consulting corps commanders and other officers. "The Pakistan army did not plan the operation because Gen Musharraf never saw Kargil as a major operation. Only the FCNA was involved in it and perhaps a section of 10 Corps," said Aziz. He claimed the operation reflected a "major intelligence failure for India". "It was a miscalculated move", he said, adding that "its objectives were not clear and its ramifications were not properly evaluated". Aziz said he first discovered that something was up in Kargil when he came across wireless communication intercepts that showed something was making "Indian forces panic". He added: "The intercepts worried me as I thought we were not aware of whatever was unsettling the Indians. I deputed two officers to figure out what was happening". The next day's intercepts were clear enough for Aziz to realise that the Indians' anxiety stemmed from the fact that someone from Pakistan had captured some areas in Kargil-Drass sector but it was not clear if they were mujahideen or regular troops. "I took these intercepts to then ISI Director General Lt Gen Ziauddin Butt and asked what was happening. It was then that Aziz was told by Butt that the army had captured some area in Kargil". Aziz said this was not right. "In his opinion, he should have been told about the proposed operation in advance so that he could have provided his analysis in advance," the report said.
By Kevin Sieff