Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Turkish riot police on Wednesday fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of anti-government protesters at Istanbul's Taksim square, the epicentre of violent demonstrations which rocked the country in June. At least four people were injured, eye witnesses said, after police stepped in to break up a crowd of around 500 protesters clustered at the square. "We'll resist until we win!" the protesters shouted. "This is only a beginning, we'll continue to fight!" Cat-and-mouse games between police forces and protesters ensued in the streets around the square. Turkey's Islamic-rooted government was shaken in June by a wave of protests that presented it with the biggest public challenge since coming to power more than a decade ago. The unrest was sparked by plans to redevelop Gezi Park, which is adjacent to Taksim square, but soon evolved into a broader movement against the government, seen as increasingly authoritarian. According to police estimates, some 2.5 million people took to the streets in nearly 80 cities for three weeks to demand Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's resignation. Five people were killed and more than 8,000 injured in the civil unrest. The authorities had closed the park to the public after police evicted protesters on June 15. It was reopened earlier this month but demonstrators remain banned.
A rights activist in Bahrain says authorities have arrested a prominent blogger just days after warning of harsher measures against anti-government protesters in the violence-wracked Gulf kingdom. Bahrain's king earlier this week endorsed parliamentary calls to ban demonstrations in the capital Manama and impose tough punishments such as stripping citizenship for those convicted of violence. Security forces also have warned of a strong response to plans for major protest marches Aug. 14. Yousef al-Muhafedha, acting president of the Bahrain Human Rights Center, says blogger Mohamed Hassan was arrested early Wednesday. Hassan also worked as an assistant to various foreign journalists visiting Bahrain. Bahrain has been gripped by near nonstop unrest since February 2011 when majority Shiites began an uprising for a greater political voice in the Sunni-rule nation.
Washington TimesPolitical activist Mujtahid bin Hareth bin Hammaam, who operates an active Twitter campaign aimed at exposing corruption in the Saudi government, said Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi received the money on July 3, United Press International reported. The reason for the payoff, he alleged, was so Egypt's transfer of power would flow smoothly. But now the Saudi government isn't sure it spent its money wisely, he said. "King Abdullah knows well that failure of the coup in Egypt will be a disaster for al-Saud because any new government will be stronger and will adopt anti-Saudi Arabia policies," Mr. Mujtahid tweeted, according to UPI. "That is why King Abdullah is one of the supporters of unlimited use of force in cracking down protesters. … King Abdullah not only supported the coup and tried to convince others to accept new changes, he also helped el-Sisi." The Saudi king is trying to influence the West from taking action — including the issuance of strong criticisms — against Egypt, the activist said. Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jul/30/saudi-arabia-accused-giving-egypt-1b-oust-morsi/#ixzz2aeAFkV6E Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter
Damascus has recently lashed out at the Saudi regime, accusing the kingdom of backing “terrorists” after Riyadh condemned Syria for accepting fighters from Hezbollah in its struggle againtst foreign-backed terrorists. Syria has denounced that Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which work closely with the United States and its European allies, are responsible for the conflict and the ongoing bloodshed in its territory. The remarks by Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi came after Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Jeddah. Prince Saud al-Faisal spoke of “a foreign invasion” in Syria forgetting that his country has been financing and arming thousands of al-Qaeda-linked terrorists from all over the world and encouraging them to go to fight in Syria.
Pakistan’s top court on Wednesday issued a contempt of court notice to cricket legend-turned-politician Imran Khan and summoned him to appear before the court on August 2, DawnNews reported. The Supreme Court, in the notice issued to the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) chief, has said that Mr Khan apparently had tried to incite hatred against the apex court in one of his interactions with the media. A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, will hear the case on Friday. On July 26, while speaking with media representatives outside the Parliament House in Islamabad, Khan had said that his party had taken an active part in the movement to restore deposed judges of the higher judiciary during former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s regime. However, he alleged that the May 11 polls were badly rigged despite being supervised by the judiciary and the Election Commission. Pakistan’s Attorney General Munir A. Malik has also been summoned to appear before the bench with related records on Friday. Meanwhile, PTI’s senior leader Shafqat Mehmood has said the party will not seek a pardon and defend their case lawfully.
A Saudi court has sentenced a activist to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for violating the nation's anti-cybercrime law, Human Rights Watch reported Wednesday. A Jeddah Criminal Court found Raif Badawi, who has been in prison since June 2012, guilty this week of insulting Islam through his website and in television comments. "This incredibly harsh sentence for a peaceful blogger makes a mockery of Saudi Arabia's claims that it supports reform and religious dialogue," said Nadim Houry, the deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "A man who wanted to discuss religion has already been locked up for a year and now faces 600 lashes and seven years in prison."His lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair, told Human Rights Watch that Judge al-Harbi read the verdict Monday. The court is expected to send him a written notification by August 6. They'll have 30 days to appeal.Ensaf Haidar, Badawi's wife, said she's devastated by the news. "I don't know what to do," Haidar said Wednesday. "Raif did nothing wrong." Haidar and the couple's three children now live in Lebanon. Estranged from her family, Haidar said it would be impossible to take her children back to Saudi Arabia. The stigma is too strong there. "You feel like everybody's accusing you," she said, close to tears, in an April interview. "Like everybody's against you, at war with you." CNN has made several attempts to reach the Saudi Arabia government for comment but received no response.Badawi's legal troubles started shortly after he started the Free Saudi Liberals website in 2008. He was detained for one day and questioned about the site. Some clerics even branded him an unbeliever and apostate.Last summer, Human Rights Watch released a statement urging Saudi authorities to free Badawi. "Saudi authorities should drop charges and release the editor of the Free Saudi Liberals website for violating his right to freedom of expression on matters of religion and religious figures," a statement from the group said at the time. Rights groups accuse Saudi authorities of targeting activists through the courts and travel bans. Many were outraged when two of the country's most prominent reform advocates, Mohammed Al-Qahtani and Abdullah Al-Hamid, were sentenced in March to 10 years in prison apiece. Amnesty International called that trial "just one of a troubling string of court cases aimed at silencing the kingdom's human-rights activists." Asked in January about accusations that Saudi Arabia is cracking down on dissent, Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry, told CNN, "At the Interior Ministry, our area of responsibility is security." He added, "My understanding is that these cases are being looked at by the courts now. Nobody will comment on cases being looked at by the courts."
The number of civilians killed in Afghanistan in 2013 has increased by 23 percent compared to last year, the United Nations Assistance Mission reports. The U.N. says most of the deaths were at the hands of anti-government forces. The first six months of 2013 have been grim for Afghanistan’s civilian population. Caught in the crossfire of a fight for power between Taliban and other militants and the U.S.-backed Afghan government, civilians have been dying by the hundreds. The mid-year report by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA, says that more than 1,300 civilians were killed and more than 2,500 injured in the first half of the year. The report says most people are being killed by IEDs, or homemade bombs, that anti-government forces are hiding in heavily populated areas, like markets and busy roads. The Taliban rejected the report as propaganda. But Georgette Gagnon, UNAMA’s director of Human Rights in Afghanistan, called for an end to the militants’ use of IEDs. “We observed an increase in the Taliban's use of something called remote-controlled IEDs which are supposedly more discriminate -- meaning they can target a military target more precisely -- we have seen increased use in those types of of IEDs," Gagnon said. "However, the way they are being placed has been indoctrinate, meaning that they are placing these IEDs and making them go off in places that civilians frequent, such as parks, bazaars and busy public roads." According to the U.N. report, civilians are too often trapped in the gun and bomb battles raging in provinces where international forces have withdrawn and pro- and anti- government forces are fighting for control. With international combat forces due to leave by the end of 2014, Gagnon says the increase in ground battle deaths is a worrying development. “This is a new trend that poses an increasing risk to Afghan children, women and men," Gagnon said. Afghan women and children are increasingly bearing more of the brunt of the violence. UNAMA documented a steep 72 percent increase in the killing and maiming of children from IED attacks. Angheza Shinwari, a member of the provincial council of Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province, says Afghan security forces are not prepared to defend the population. She says that she is not optimistic about the security transition process. She praised Afghan men as being "very brave" and having God to help them. But she is not hopeful for what happens next. The Taliban rejected the U.N. report as baseless propaganda. It said in a statement released to the media that the nine percent of civilian deaths that the U.N. attributes to pro-government forces held “no resemblance” to the ground realities.
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan, resigned today a day after overseeing the election of the new President. In his resignation letter addressed to President Asif Ali Zardari, Ebrahim said that he has done his job to hold elections and it was time for the new Parliament to appoint his successor, so that the new chief can get ample time to prepare for next election in 2018. "In my humble opinion, the newly elected members of Parliament should have the opportunity to forge new consensus and choose a new Chief Election Commissioner," he said. "Therefore, in accordance with Article 215(3) of the Constitution, I hereby resign from the office of the Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan". The outgoing election chief said that he tried to perform to the best of his abilities despite personal threats. "Despite personal threats and even brazen gun attack on my family - I quietly stood firm against those forces who first tried to derail and then delay the 2013 Elections," he said. He regretted the violence in run up to the May 11 election in which dozens of people were killed. Ebrahim also expressed satisfaction over successful first ever political transition under a civilian government. Pressure has been mounting on Ebrahim from the opposition parties due to alleged irregularities in the May elections. He was also criticised for failure to stand up against the Supreme Court when it unilaterally changed date of presidential elections. Ebrahim was appointed in July 2012 after then ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and opposition PML-N agreed on his name, as part of constitutional obligation that government and opposition should jointly nominate the election chief.
Prison in Dera Ismail Khan was attacked by waves of gunmen wearing police uniforms who freed hundreds of IslamistsA massive jailbreak in Pakistan in which up to 300 Islamic militants escaped could lead to a wave of similar attempts to free detained extremists, security experts and officials have warned. The prison, in the western city of Dera Ismail Khan, was attacked on Monday night with suicide bombs, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and waves of gunmen wearing police uniforms. Authorities said 24 wanted terrorists were among those freed. Six policemen were killed in the two-hour firefight. The attack, which was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), underlines the continuing weakness of agencies charged with maintaining security and countering violent extremism in the troubled south Asian state. There are scores of similar detention facilities across the region where poorly trained, badly equipped police and prison personnel oversee thousands of militant prisoners. Last week around 500 militants, including many convicted senior members of al-Qaida waiting to be executed, were freed in a similarly brazen attack in Iraq. Waves of militants attacked the infamous Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad, using tactics almost identical to those employed in Dera Ismail Khan. A statement of responsibility issued in the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was later posted on a jihadist forum. "There is no evidence of any co-ordination as such but one could reasonably assume there is a contagion effect. It's a bit like hijacking in the 1970s and 1980s," said Magnus Ranstorp, a respected expert at the Swedish National Defence College. Imtiaz Gul, a security analyst and author in Islamabad, said the Pakistani Taliban, a coalition of different groups largely based in the restive semi-autonomous zones along the border with Afghanistan, would have been aware of the operation in Iraq last week. "All these groups watch one another. They pick up knowledge, learn lessons, replicate tactics … This will keep happening," Gul said. One western security official in Pakistan, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the prisons as "low-hanging fruit" for militants and said intelligence services across the region were "well aware" of the problem. There have been many breakouts in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Some have significant strategic consequences: a mass escape in Yemen in 2006 saw almost the entire leadership of the al-Qaida affiliate in that country (AQAP) gain freedom – a key factor in the surge of violence there. AQAP now poses the most significant threat to the west, officials say. Nearly 500 militants were also freed from a jail in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar in 2011, fuelling the local insurgency. "There is no strategy, no competence, no vision. So it's easy for these groups," said Gul. One strike in Pakistan last week targeted an office of the main spy agency, the ISI, while another killed more than 50 Shia Muslims. The jail in Dera Ismail Khan was supposed to be heavily guarded. Officials received a letter threatening an attack, but they did not expect it so soon, said Khalid Abbas, head of the prison department in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. A curfew has been imposed and army units deployed. Six Shia Muslim prisoners – the vast majority of Pakistanis are Sunni – were killed. Many of the high-profile prisoners who escaped belong to the violent sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jangvi, further evidence of increasing collaboration between groups. The Pakistani Taliban have also claimed responsibility for the two attacks earlier this week and for the shootings of 10 mountaineers at base camp on a famous peak, Nanga Parbat, last month. Hopes that the election of a new government in Pakistan, led by third-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, might lead to less violence, have been dashed. Some analysts have suggested the ambivalent position taken towards the Taliban by some high-profile Pakistani politicians might have emboldened militants. Imran Khan, the former cricketer turned conservative prime ministerial candidate, said negotiating with the extremists was the only way to end violence in the restive western border zones. In April 2012, Taliban militants armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades battled their way into a prison in the city of Bannu in north-west Pakistan, freeing close to 400 prisoners, including at least 20 described by police as very dangerous insurgents. After that attack, militants said they had been helped by insiders in the security services. An inquiry later found there were far fewer guards on duty than there should have been and those who were there lacked sufficient ammunition. One of the militants freed in that attack, Adnan Rasheed, recently gained attention by writing a letter to the teenage education activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban last year in an attempt to kill her. Rasheed said he wished the attack had not happened, but told Malala that she was targeted for speaking ill of the Taliban. Reuters new agency has reported that Rasheed was the mastermind behind this latest attack. Top jihadi jailbreaks and escapees The most high-profile: Abu Yahya, a senior al-Qaida propagandist and organiser, won global renown among militants for escaping from the high-security US-run detention centre at Bagram, in Afghanistan in 2005. He was killed by a drone strike last year. The most damaging: In February 2006, Naseer Abdul Karim Wuhayshi and 22 other suspected al-Qaida members broke out of a jail in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. They went on to build the affiliate of the group which now is seen as posing the biggest threat to the west. The most numerous: More than 900 prisoners escaped from Sarposa prison in Kandahar after a suicide attacker crashed a huge carbomb into its gates in 2008. The most unlikely: Rashid Rauf, a British militant detained by Pakistani security agencies escaped when allowed to go to the toilet by policemen accompanying him to a court in 2007. He was later killed. The most like a film: In 2011, 35 prisoners facing terrorism charges escaped through a sewage pipe from a temporary jail in the Iraqi city of Mosul – as a convict does in the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption.
Demanding for immediate disbursement of salaries to polio staff, members of Paramedical Association Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chapter, staged a protest demonstration outside the press club on Tuesday. The protest was leading by Para Medical Staff Association, President Anwar Khan, General Secretary Mohammad Zakir, and Vice President Mubarak Shah along with scores of polio staffs. They were carrying placards and banners, noted voice in favour of their demands. Addressing on the occasion, the Association president, Anwar Khan said that the polio staff had performed duties despite the security threats, but the authorities concerned were withhold their salaries for several months, without any specified reason. They said that it was totally unjust with poor employees. He said that the importance of polio staff can not be ignored in the present situation, saying that KP is being confronted with insurgency and terrorism, so it was challenging job for the polio staff. The association president said that the salaries of polio staff was also very nominal, which need to raise as per increasing inflation in the country. He demanded of the health authorities to immediate disburse salaries otherwise, they would compel to launch a protest campaign against it.
GEO TVThe angry mob stormed a grid station and broke the main door while protesting against relentless load shedding in Kohat on Wednesday, Geo News reported. According to sources, the local residents were protesting against the incessant load shedding and attacked a grid station on Pindi Road and damaged the main door of the station. The demonstrators, while expressing their agony, told that 20 hours of power failure during the holy month of Ramazan is unjust with the people, and demanded to end the unannounced load shedding on priority basis.
کالعدم شدت پسند تنظم تحریک طالبان پاکستان نے سینٹرل جیل پر حملے کی ذمہ داری قبول کرتے ہوئے دعویٰ کیا تھا کہ انھوں نے اس حملے میں دو سو کے قریب ساتھیوں کو رہا کرا لیا تھا۔ اس سے قبل سرکاری میڈیا پی ٹی وی کے مطابق ڈی آئی خان کے سینٹرل جیل کے سپرنٹنڈنٹ نے بتایا کہ جیل میں کُل 483 قیدی تھے جن میں سے 243 قیدی فرار ہو گئے ہیں۔ کمشنر مشتاق جدون کا کہنا تھا کہ حملہ آوروں نے لاؤڈ سپیکرز پر اپنے ساتھیوں کے نام پکارے۔ مقامی افراد کے مطابق طالبان لاؤڈ سپیکرز پر ’اللہ اکبر‘ اور ’طالبان زندہ باد‘ کے نعرے لگاتے آئے تھے۔ گزشتہ سال اپریل میں خیبر پختونخوا کے ضلع بنوں کی سینٹرل جیل پر طالبان نے حملہ کر کے تین سو چوراسی قیدیوں کو رہا کروا لیاتھا، فرار ہونے والے قیدیوں میں زیادہ تر طالبان شدت پسند تھے۔ پاکستان میں 89 جیلیں ہیں جن میں سے 65 جیلوں کو انتہائی حساس قرار دیا گیا ہے۔ سب سے زیادہ حساس قرار دی جانے والی جیلیں صوبہ پنجاب اور خیبر پختونخوا میں واقع ہیں
گزشتہ سال شدت پسندوں کی جانب سے ممکنہ حملوں سے متعلق کلِک بی بی سی کو موصول ہونے والی اس رپورٹ کے مطابق کالعدم تنظیموں سے تعلق رکھنے والے افراد نے خودکش حملوں، بم دھماکوں اور شدت پسندی کے مختلف مقدمات میں گرفتار ہونے اپنے ساتھیوں کی رہائی کے لیے جیلوں پر حملہ کرنے کی منصوبہ بندی کی۔ ان اطلاعات کے بعد پاکستان فوج نے جیلوں پر شدت پسندوں کے ممکنہ حملوں کو روکنے کے لیے جیل کے عملے کو کمانڈو تربیت دینے کا فیصلہ کیا تھا۔
http://lubpak.com/archives/279207Just as people in glass houses should not hurl stones, people in parliament houses should not hurl threats. Member of the National Assembly Jamshed Dasti, who based his election campaign on slogans of representing the “non-elites” and the middle-class of the country, recently demonstrated the same typical elitist behaviour associated with those walking the corridors of power.
Akash Ali is a nine-year-old labourer who works at a warehouse on Rawalpindi’s College Road. He suffers from asthma, but he seems unaware of the health and environmental hazards attached to his job. Akash works for a warehouse of electronic waste (e-waste). “My father has died and now I’m the only breadwinner of my family,” he told Dawn.com, adding that he has a mother, two younger brothers and a sister to support. E-waste includes old computers, television sets, mobile phones, printers, fax machines and electronic games.Most of the material contains toxic material which poses a serious risk to health, especially for the labourers involved in physically handling the material. He earns 90 rupees daily by cleaning old computers and their accessories, including key boards and printed circuit boards. “Sometimes I am also assigned to burn the old and discarded electronic material from where I think I contracted the asthma,” he explains. The owner of the warehouse, meanwhile, declined to talk on the health hazards his employees faced. What is certain, however, is that the relevant authorities have been unable to devise a cogent policy to handle the menace of e-waste. Pakistan has virtually become a dumping ground for such toxic material. It receives thousands of tons every year from developed countries like the United States and United Kingdom. A report titled “Recycling – From E-waste to Resources” prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme and released in July 2009 says that e-waste has become a huge and growing problem in the modern world. In the US alone, over 112,000 laptops and desktop computers are discarded every day. The report says around 40 million metric tons of e-waste are produced globally each year, and about 13 percent of that weight is recycled mostly in developing countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. About 9 million tons of this waste is produced by the European Union. China and India have strengthened their laws about the import of e-waste from developed countries; so it is likely the illegal waste will increase manifold in Pakistan in the coming months. Shershah in Karachi remains one of the major markets for e-waste in Pakistan where all sorts of electronic and electrical goods, spare parts, computers and smuggled goods arrive by sea and land for sale or further distribution to other cities. An International Labour Organisation (ILO) report titled, “The global impact of e-waste: Addressing the challenge,” says the demand for e-waste began to grow when scrap yards found a way of extracting valuable substances such as copper, iron, silicon, nickel and gold during the recycling process. The report says that even a low level of exposure of children and pregnant women to lead, mercury, cadmium and other heavy metals can cause serious neurological damage. Child scavengers who pick up things from e-waste sites are the most likely victims of different diseases. The main risks to human health and the environment arise from the presence in e-waste of heavy metals, Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), flame retardants and other potentially hazardous substances. If improperly managed, such substances may pose significant human and environmental health risks. Asif Shuja Khan, Director General Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency, says the informal e-waste activities are posing a serious threat to environment and human health as agricultural lands and livestock are getting contaminated by the waste in some parts of the country. He says the risks can be lowered if proper measures are adopted and the recycling industry is legalised through proper legislation. “Proper ventilation and light should be ensured at the recycling and dumping sites to minimise the health risks.” Khan says workers in the e-waste sites should also wear appropriate safety equipment such as goggles, gloves and arm protection. “Smoking, eating and drinking should be prohibited in the work areas and workers should also be advised to wash their hands with proper detergents before meals.” He says that a number of foreign companies have contacted the Pakistan EPA to start work in the recycling industry and reuse e-waste in the country, if the business is given legal cover through proper legislation. “We will take up the issue with the relevant authorities both in the centre and provinces to legislate on import, handling and management of the e-waste,” he says, adding Pakistan can earn millions of rupees, thousands of people can get jobs and health and environmental risks can also be minimised if the business is legalised through proper legislation. So far, the business of importing e-waste and its subsequent recycling at different places in the country remains illegal under the Basel Convention, to which Pakistan is a party, but it is going on without any check. The convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal bans the exchange of hazardous waste, including e-waste, between developed and developing countries. As Pakistan has not framed any particular rules and regulations to regulate the e-waste; so the importers keep benefiting from the loopholes. The e-waste is imported from developed countries under the disguise of “second-hand goods” and then recycled here for reuse. Under Articles 4 and 5 of the convention Pakistan is bound to take “appropriate and legal” measures and to establish a competent authority to manage and regulate the e-waste. The relevant ministries including the commerce and information technology departments have so far done nothing in this regard. The commerce ministry’s deputy secretary (foreign trade), Muhammad Ashraf, admits that no specific rules and regulations are framed to regulate and manage the e-waste. However, he was quick to clarify that the ministry itself doesn’t initiate any policy on any issue – rather it is the responsibility of the stakeholders to highlight a problem and submit their proposals with the ministry for the formulation of a formal policy. “Under the Basel convention, the ministry is so far only looking into environmental and health risks of plastic waste being imported from different countries,” he says. Ashraf says a formal strategy on the import of e-waste may be formulated if certain health and environmental hazards linked to the waste are brought into notice of the ministry. Officials in the IT ministry also remain oblivious to health and environmental hazards of e-waste; so nothing is being planned to regulate the waste or take up the issue with relevant authorities for redress.
Awami National Party (ANP) Information Secretary Senator Zahid on Tuesday demanded he removal of Election Commission of Pakistan officials who failed to perform their duties regarding holding free and fair presidential poll. Talking exclusively to Pakistan Today, Zahid said his party’s boycott was not against the presidential election, but the system under which hurdles were created to restrict parliamentarians in using their right to vote. He said the ECP violated the code of conduct for elections earlier and later the Supreme Court interfered by giving a faulty judgment on the initial hearing, without listening to the other parties, adding that the procedure was neither constitutional nor democratic. “On the other hand, the government did not adopt a flexible approach, which was a big mistake on their part,” he added. “The PML-N had majority in parliament, what would have happened if they had held the presidential polls by August 6?” Khan questioned, saying the reality was that the government was up to sabotage the process. To a question, he was of the view that in Senate, only 40 of 103 members cast their ballots, and Senate was a platform that united provinces and played an important role in legislation. “We consider the presidential poll controversial,” he added, saying the circumstances under which the polls took place were disputed. He said Tuesday’s major incident was the terror strike on DI Khan jail and government was quite over the issue, despite claiming that it would introduce change. “Is this the promised change?” the ANP leader said. “Even the media is biased over the issue and kept its eyes closed over jailbreak, proving to be a ‘Punjabi media’.” If the particular incident had taken place in Punjab, the media’s reaction would have been different, Zahid said. Wasim Sajjad of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid was of the view that it would have been better for the government not to indulge in any controversies over the presidential election. “The situation would have been different, because the president is a symbol of federation.” “Whatever happened is done, the president should now stay away from becoming disputed and should put aside party affiliations.” The PML-Q leader said the new president should create an environment in which no lawmaker felt hesitation in visiting the presidency and should take on board all political parties in the larger interest of the country. Commenting on the PPP boycott of polls, he said it was a political decision and every party enjoyed its right to boycott if it had reservations. Jamat-e-Islami leader Fareed Ahmed Paracha termed the presidential poll unpleasant, saying the election had stained the beauty of the democratic system. Talking to Pakistan Today, Paracha maintained that it was true that the PML-N held majority in parliament and would be able to bring their president. “However, several things happened in this election that caused disgrace to the presidential poll, including the change in the schedule of the presidential poll, PML-N’s contact with the Supreme Court and Supreme Court’s decision on the initial hearing of the trial,” he said. Paracha noted that on part of the opposition, the division was the most unpleasant situation faced and the opposition should not have been divided. - See more at: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/07/31/news/national/opposition-demands-removal-of-ecp-officials-skeptic-over-presidential-poll-result/#sthash.oSykw6M5.dpuf
The Frontier PostFormal Provincial Information Minister and Awami National Party Central Leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain said that Imran Khan and Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak failed to fulfill the promises which they made in their manifesto. While addressing a gathering at NA-5 on Tuesday, Mian Iftikhar Hussain said that 40day has passed and PTI led provincial government was unable to stop Nato supply and drone attacks. He said that the provincial government had leave the masses and had not provide them any relief and on the other hand security forces were facing a blood pool and the provincial government doesn't even gives a statement over it. Former Information Minister said ANP is ready to cooperate with PTI led provincial government to deal terrorism because it is our province and we want peace here but the PTI is divided into two halves and they were unable to deal with such situation. He said PTI who claimed to bring changed even violated its own manifesto and had totally failed. ANP Provincial General Secretary Arbab Tahir Khan, District President Malik Juma Khan, Ijaz Hussain, Ahmed Gul, Engr Hamid Ali Khan, Alam Zeb Advocate, Zir Ali Khan and JUI-F, ANP and PPP contestant for NA-5 Daud Khan Khattak also addressed the gathering and criticized PTI led provincial government. Arbab Tahir Khan and Daud Khan Khattak said that in the by-elections ANP would succeed because the people have seen that PTI government had done nothing up till now and they do not stand with the masses who voted for them whereas ANP always believed on working for the betterment of the people and they would continue to work for the betterment of the masses in the future.
The Baloch HalBy Sanaullah Baloch Balochistan’s dormant conflict was triggered by the exploitative nature of the multi-billion mega projects introduced by Musharraf. The general signed off on the Gwadar Port project and gave away the world’s best copper-gold project, Saindak, to the Chinese without a fair and transparent bidding process. To ensure the smooth and uninterrupted expropriation of Balochistan’s natural wealth he announced the construction of three military cantonments – furthering Baloch anger. The PPP regime, which came after Musharraf, put on hold the construction of garrisons but the multibillion dollar Saindak copper-gold deposit is being mined by the Chinese without any national or international monitoring. Against national and international rules, the Chinese company didn’t spend a single penny on human resource development, education, health and infrastructure in the concerned district, Chaghi. Musharraf’s glitzy mega-projects didn’t envisage any local participation and had no trickle-down effect. Instead of development, his defective policies led to the wholesale destruction of Baloch society, with political unrest and violence that resulted in a significant decline in social and development indicators. Regrettably, Pakistan’s newly-elected government is following the path taken by the former dictator, who unilaterally and insensitively took mega decisions concerning Balochistan’s sensitive projects. During his recent visit to China, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif signed several MoUs and agreements with the country. The majority of them strategically significant and profitable for the Chinese, these projects are in the conflict-stricken Balochistan region which has faced extreme violence and injustices particularly in the past few years. Apart from increased attacks by Baloch armed groups on fuel tankers bound to the Chinese-controlled Saindak copper-gold project, there hasn’t been any strong political response to PM Nawaz Sharif’s unilateral agreement with China on rails, roads, the Gwadar Port and natural resources. However, Baloch nationalists are cautiously observing the prime minister’s moves. No doubt, any miscalculation about Baloch grievances and their sensitivity towards mega projects will backfire. Energy-hungry China is not blamed for any of the miseries and dreadful social conditions in Balochistan. And the Chinese have not offered any political solution to nor discussed Balochistan’s appalling poverty, malnutrition, unemployment and many other social problems – simply because they are interested in Balochistan and the Baloch. China is a huge country with a massive population and is justified in looking for options and opportunities to sustain its economic growth and maintain political ‘stability’. The country is a risk-taker, and the Chinese are massively investing in very tricky projects in Africa. But one thing that our Pakistani politicians need to understand is that China’s investment and money are no guarantee for growth and political stability. In fact, these roads, rails and ports will be of little benefit to Pakistan and Balochistan. Simply, these rail and road links along with the Gwadar Port are there to accelerate growth and speedy access of Chinese products to west bound destinations – towards the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Apart from finished goods, these infrastructures would be of more use to China to transport Balochistan’s raw mineral resources, which include copper-gold and other rare-earth minerals. Thousands of kilometres of rails and roads were built during the British rule in Balochistan but these purpose-built roads and rails didn’t help bring education, social change and economic development. Such developments simply aimed to serve the interests of the colonial power – to facilitate colonisation, military deployments and economic exploitation. Before taking on such ambitious challenges, the prime minister and his team have to look for an out-of-the-box solution for Balochistan – nationally debated, consulted and implemented. China’s overwhelming presence, gigantic mining machines, crisscrossing railways and roads will have very little impact, if completed, on the lives of the Baloch people. Balochistan is going through an appalling human rights crisis – insecurity, law and order coupled with a surge of religious extremism which many believe is used as a tool to counter the Baloch national struggle. China has nothing to offer on these issues. It may have a solution for the country’s energy crisis, its crumbling railway and expropriation of resources. However, for peace, political stability and conflict resolution, PM Nawaz has to develop his own road map and demonstrate willingness to overhaul faulty and colonially-structured political, security and economic institutions that are unacceptable to the politically-conscious Baloch society. In an environment of mistrust, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif needs to address Balochistan’s chronic human rights crisis on a fast track. His government must powerfully unmask the real elements of the powerful security establishment that are benefiting from self-created chaos and disorder and are unwilling for any political settlement to be reached. Putting it in very simple terms: there is no ‘made in China’ solution for Balochistan.
http://mediacellppp.wordpress.com/Speaking on a point of order in upper house of parliament, Raza Rabbani, who was PPP’s presidential nominee, categorically said the move by Supreme Court and ECP was a first step towards reintroduction of “one unit”, which would certainly widen the gap between centre and provinces. The PPP fully backed by Awami National Party (ANP), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Balochistan National Party-Awami (BNP-A), clayed ECP for its failure to exercise its constitutional powers, and said it always sought refuge in the lap of apex court in matters of national importance. “The ECP earlier rejected the PML-N request for rescheduling the presidential election, but at the same it also said that if the apex court directs it, there is no harm in following the directives [and] this is what it [ECP] did after the court announced its verdict without issuing notices to other presidential candidates,” he added. Rabbani said the decision to boycott the presidential election against SC was made in protest “meddling” into the jurisdiction of ECP at the behest of ruling party, adding the commission had fixed August 6 for the presidential poll by exercising its powers under Article 41 of the constitution, but it abruptly agreed to change the schedule without any objection. He said the PPP participated in the election campaign with all seriousness and contacted all opposition parties, adding that his party also made efforts for fielding a joint candidate. “But we were left with no option but to boycott the election,” said Rabbani, adding that Supreme Court did not issue any notice, nor did they hear the PPP or provide it an opportunity to present its point of view, “rather a unilateral decision was made. We see it as part of moves to strengthen the centre’ once again,” he maintained. Rabbani said the Supreme Court decision made it difficult for him and other opposition candidates to carry out campaigns in four provincial capitals and the federal capital in just two days. He said they hoped the Election Commission would function independently after the 18th Amendment as it was the ECP’s responsibility to announce the election schedule and hold the poll. The PPP leader said the party’s decision to boycott the presidential election was a part of struggle against military and civilian dictatorships.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
President Barack Obama has asked two senior Republican senators to travel to Egypt to meet with its military leaders and the opposition, as Cairo's allies struggle with how to address the turmoil convulsing the country. Senator John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, hope to travel to Egypt next week, Graham said on Tuesday. "The president reached out to us, and I said obviously I'd be glad to go," Graham told reporters outside the Senate. "We want to deliver a unified message that killing the opposition is becoming more and more like a coup" and to encourage the military to move toward holding elections. He said specifics of the trip, including with whom he and McCain would meet, had not yet been worked out. McCain and Graham, two of the Senate's most influential voices on foreign policy matters, have at times been harsh critics of Obama's foreign policy. The White House has recently been reaching out to them on a range of issues. U.S. officials have been grappling with how to respond to the situation in Egypt since its elected Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, was ousted by the military on July 3. In particular, they have struggled with how to handle the $1.55 billion in mostly military aid Washington sends to Cairo each year. Egypt has long been an important U.S. ally in a tumultuous region and officials in Washington value their ties to its military leaders, many of whom have studied in the United States. U.S. law bars sending aid to countries in which there has been a military coup, and Obama administration officials have been scrambling to talk about events in Egypt without using the word. GLOBAL ANXIETY Mursi is being held in a secret detention facility in Egypt. Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, on Monday became the first outsider to see him since he was deposed. His fate - and a deadly crackdown by security forces on his supporters - has raised global anxiety about a possible bid to crush Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood. Senator Rand Paul has introduced an amendment to a Senate transportation funding bill that would end military aid to Egypt under the law banning aid after coups and redirect the money to domestic infrastructure projects. Senate Republicans discussed how to deal with the amendment during their weekly lunch meeting on Tuesday. It could come to the Senate floor for a vote on Wednesday, although it was not expected to win much support. The Obama administration has made clear it does not want to make a decision about events in Egypt - or the aid. Obama's Democrats control hold a majority of seats in the Senate. Several Republicans, including McCain, Graham and Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also said they thought the situation in Egypt was too fluid for a vote so soon. "I may come to think we need to cut off aid, but I'd like to go over there and talk to the military and to any members of the government and Brotherhood factions to find out what is going on the ground, and send a clear message to the people in charge of Egypt that there are certain expectations here in America that are bipartisan in nature," Graham said. Corker said he felt Washington needed to weigh in one way or the other on whether the situation in Egypt was a coup, and look at changing the law if necessary. "We can't just leave it hanging out there. We are a nation of laws. That's where we need to go," he said. "But now is not the time, September is the time to do after we know the best route forward."
Israel and Palestinians launched a fresh effort here Tuesday to hammer out a long-elusive peace deal that would result in the creation of a Palestinian state as the United States set an ambitious timetable of nine months for achieving such an agreement. “Our objective will be to achieve a final status agreement over the next nine months,” US Secretary of State John Kerry, flanked by Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator for the Palestinian officials invited to the US-brokered talks, said in a prepared statement to reporters.
The United Nations says an estimated 6.8 million people continue to need humanitarian assistance in Syria, which has been experiencing deadly unrest since March 2011. "So far this year, UN agencies and humanitarian partners have organized 21 cross-line convoys and reached nearly 1.8 million people with food, water and health supplies in hard-to-reach areas,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Tuesday. “The World Food Program (WFP), working with 22 local NGOs [non-governmental organizations], has reached 2.4 million people with food assistance so far this month. The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners have provided primary health care and medical supplies throughout the country,” UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey said at a daily news briefing at the UN headquarters in New York. “More than 153,000 children have received medical check-ups through 51 UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund]-supported mobile medical teams in all 14 governorates,” he added. “The UN refugee agency has provided more than 1.4 million people with essential aid, including cash assistance, across Syria this year,” the spokesman stated. According to reports, the West and its regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants operating inside Syria. According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and a total of 7.8 million of others displaced due to the violence.
Hasan Rouhani’s government is expected to include key members who hold degrees from US and European universitiesJust days after Hasan Rouhani’s election victory in Iran, his top advisers and allies gathered for a closed-door strategy session at a think tank run by the new president. The group, lugging spread sheets, notes and policy papers, also carried something new into the mix — an array of degrees from Western universities.Soon after Rouhani’s swearing-in Sunday, he is expected to unveil key members of his government and give more clarity about his behind-the-scenes brain trust. In all likelihood, the core of his team will include figures whose academic pedigrees run through places such as California, Washington and London. The Western-looking credentials of Rouhani’s inner circle are no surprise. Rouhani himself studied in Scotland. What remains unclear, however, is how much they could actually influence Iranian policies and foster potential outreach diplomacy such as direct talks with the US or possible breakthroughs in wider negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program. “Studying in the West doesn’t mean you would make concessions to the West,” said Rasool Nafisi, an Iranian affairs analyst at Strayer University in Virginia. “What it does mean is that the level of understanding and ability to pick up nuances are much higher. The next step is seeing how much of that can translate into changes at the top with the ruling clerics, where it really counts.” On many levels, this is the fundamental question as the clock starts on Rouhani’s presidency after eight years of the hectoring style of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There is little doubt that Rouhani will bring a far calmer and more measured approach. That alone may help with efforts to rebuild strained ties with Europe and open new possibilities for deal-making after the expected restart of nuclear talks with world powers. But Rouhani’s Western-educated political entourage is not about to steer Iran in a completely new direction after his election victory last month. Rouhani, a cleric and former top nuclear negotiator, does not stand against the Islamic system or the firm controls at the top: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard. Khamenei has final say in all key matters, including Rouhani’s selections for key Cabinet posts such as the foreign and intelligence ministers. That leaves Rouhani — effectively the international face of Iran — with the task of projecting a new image of dialogue rather than diatribes on the world stage. Inside Iran, Rouhani has to adopt the role of salesman: trying to get Khamenei and the ruling clerics to buy into his views that interaction with Washington and its allies could bring dividends such as steps to ease tightening economic sanctions. Many of those being considered for Cabinet posts share Rouhani’s approach, including a former deputy foreign minister, Mahmoud Vaezi, who holds degrees in electrical engineering from California State University, Sacramento and San Jose State University. He began his doctorate in foreign relations at Louisiana State University but finished the degree in Poland. Vaezi was head of the foreign ministry’s European and American affairs section from 1990-97 under reformist President Mohammad Khatami. In recent years, Vaezi has been a senior figure at Rowhani’s Center for Strategic Research. “The potential candidates … are those who understand international relations and understand the language of the West,” said Tehran-based political analyst Behrouz Shojaei. “This shows Rouhani is serious in seeking to ease tensions with the outside world and improve Iran’s economy.” Another potential contender for foreign minister is Mohammad Javad Zarif, who did postgraduate studies at San Francisco State University and obtained a doctorate in international law and policy at the University of Denver. Zarif also raised his profile in the US as a diplomat at Iran’s UN Mission in New York during a five-year posting that ended in 2007. In one of his last public events, Zarif was a headline speaker at a conference in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on conflict resolution whose participants included the current US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Meanwhile, Hossein Mousavian, currently a research scholar at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, is likely to hold a key foreign policy adviser role. Mousavian also graduated from Sacramento State. Officials with academic roots in the West are nothing new in the Middle East. Many Gulf Arab leaders and top officials studied in Europe or the US Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to high school outside Philadelphia and returned to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jordan’s King Abdullah II attended boarding schools in England and Massachusetts and then moved on to Britain’s royal military academy Sandhurst. But Iran’s elected leadership — the presidency and top parliamentary posts — has had far fewer Western-educated figures. In the years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Western credentials were viewed with suspicion. Ahmadinejad, who studied in Iran, has strongly favored advisers who also have homegrown academic backgrounds. Rouhani’s administration could mark a strong break and include advisers whose connections with the West straddle before and after the Islamic Revolution. Among them is Rouhani’s younger brother, Hossein Fereidoun, who is helping the president-elect put together his Cabinet list. Fereidoun was a member of the security team when the Islamic Revolution’s leaders, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, returned from exile in France in 1979. He later served in Iran’s U.N. Mission. Rouhani previously went by the family name Fereidoun, but dropped it in an apparent attempt to hide from authorities before the Islamic Revolution. The review of potential candidates for economic roles includes Chamber of Commerce president Mohammad Nahavandian, who holds a doctorate in economics from George Washington University, and Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, who holds an economics doctorate from Paisley in Britain, and was spokesman of Rouhani’s campaign office. A possible candidate for the critical oil ministry post is Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, a former deputy oil minister and president of Iran’s state oil company, who has an engineering degree from California State Polytechnic University. But speculation was growing that Rouhani could look to a former oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, who was ousted when Ahmadinejad took office in 2005. Some semiofficial Iranian news agencies, including ISNA, cited sources saying that Rouhani will tap a former defense minister, Mohammed Forouzandeh, as the chief nuclear negotiator. Such a choice would bring a relative novice in international dialogue into a critical role. Rouhani’s aides have not commented on the report, and other names such as former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati have been raised in the Iranian media. Other noteworthy possibilities include Ali Jannati as head of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, where the wide-ranging mandate includes oversight of foreign media in Iran. Jannati is considered a moderate, but his father, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, is an ultra hard-line cleric who often leads the nationally broadcast Friday prayers from Tehran University.
It’s easy to overanalyze What It All Means — given that Obama and Clinton are not only the two most famous politicians in the country but also have, well, a past. Once rivals for the top office, they became allies of a sort with Clinton serving as Obama’s top diplomat. But, Clinton isn’t announcing for president anytime soon (although we do believe she will run) and Obama isn’t endorsing anyone for president anytime soon (and probably won’t ever). Sometimes a lunch is just a lunch. That said, the lunch that launched 1,000 “will she” and “will he” stories does give us a chance to write about something that has intrigued us of late: The idea that Clinton may well be the heir to a vast majority (or at least a majority) of the campaign talent that elected and then reelected Obama. Earlier this month, Jeremy Bird, the national field director for Obama’s reelection race, and Mitch Stewart, who ran the 10 swing state operation for the president, signed on to “Ready for Hillary,” the super PAC that is functioning as a campaign-in-waiting for Clinton should she decide to run. While the Bird/Stewart hires drew attention when they were announced, it’s hard to overestimate what the duo’s decision to work for a Clinton vehicle (and said vehicle’s willingness to have them) means going forward. The single most valuable commodity in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is the staff talent that Obama cultivated during his two presidential campaigns. While some of the top names — David Plouffe, David Axelrod, Jim Messina, Dan Pfeiffer etc. — are Obama-ites through and through and won’t likely ever work on another presidential campaign, there is a whole layer of staff talent beneath them that is itching to bring what they learned in 2008 and/or 2012 to bear on another campaign. Bird and Stewart are at, or near, the top of that list — due in no small part to their expertise in building a field operation, a major weak spot of Clinton’s 2008 campaign. Getting Bird and Stewart does not, of course, mean that the Obama campaign team — such as it is once some of the more senior people peel off to make megabucks in the private sector — will move en masse to Clinton if she runs in 2016. But, it does create at least the possibility that Clinton might have the lion’s share of those people in 2016, as opposed to their scattering to a variety of candidates in the race. This may well be a moot point — under two scenarios. In the first, Clinton doesn’t run, leaving the Birds and Stewarts of the world in search of another candidate. In the second, she does run and, in so doing, drives all of the other serious challengers (Joe Biden and so on) out of the race. Under the latter scenario, every ambitious staffer — those tied to Obama and those not — has no choice but to sign on with Clinton. Still, in these early days of the 2016 presidential race, staff hires are critical. Keep an eye on any other Obama campaign talent starts moving toward Clinton.
President Barack Obama will propose a "grand bargain for middle-class jobs" on Tuesday that would cut the U.S. corporate tax rate and use billions of dollars in revenues generated by a business tax overhaul to fund projects aimed at creating jobs. His goal, to be outlined in a speech at an Amazon.com Inc facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is to break through congressional gridlock by trying to find a formula that satisfies both Republicans and Democrats. Efforts to reach a bipartisan "grand bargain" on deficit reduction have been at an impasse for months. Senior administration officials said Obama is not giving up on a big deficit-cutting package, but given that no agreement appears on the horizon, he is offering a new idea to try to follow through on his 2012 campaign promises to help the middle class. "As part of his efforts to focus Washington on the middle class, today in Tennessee the president will call on Washington to work on a grand bargain focused on middle-class jobs by pairing reform of the business tax code with a significant investment in middle-class jobs," said Obama's senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer. A spokesman for John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, criticized the idea even before the release of the plan's details, saying it further backs Obama's policies on taxes and spending "while leaving small businesses and American families behind." Obama wants to cut the corporate tax rate of 35 percent down to 28 percent and give manufacturers a preferred rate of 25 percent. He also wants a minimum tax on foreign earnings as a tool against corporate tax evasion and increased use of tax havens. The new twist is that in exchange for his support for a corporate tax reduction, he wants money generated by the tax overhaul to be used on a mix of proposals such as funding infrastructure projects like repairing roads and bridges, improving education at community colleges, and promoting manufacturing, senior administration officials said. Obama's proposal would generate a one-time source of revenue, for example, by reforming depreciation or putting a fee on accumulated foreign earnings. Officials gave no specific figure on how much money would be raised, but Obama called for $50 billion for infrastructure spending in his State of the Union speech in February. The White House hopes the idea will gain some traction in Congress because Republicans want corporate tax reform and Democrats want spending for infrastructure, so this offers something for both sides. Administration officials said they recognize, however, that the climate is difficult in Congress with Republicans adamantly refusing anything that is seen as increasing spending and Democrats in no mood to cut taxes and get nothing for it. Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee on the Senate Banking Committee, sounded a skeptical note, but said he has yet to see the proposal's details. "It would have to be a massive deal, I think, for any kind of Republican to look at revenues as part of this," Corker said on MSNBC. He said it would have to include "transformative structural changes" for programs such as Medicare for the elderly and the Social Security retirement system. Obama's speech in Chattanooga is the latest in a series of speeches aimed at making good on his promises to boost the U.S. economy in ways that help the middle class. He is looking to breathe new life into his second term, which has so far found successes to be fleeting.
In an operation carried out with military-like precision, Taliban fighters disguised as police and armed with bombs broke 250 prisoners out of a Pakistan jail on Tuesday with the help of what appeared to be insider informants. The attack in the city of Dera Ismail Khan showed the ability of the al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban to strike at the heart of Pakistan's heavily guarded prison system and walk away with dozens of senior Taliban fighters and commanders. The overnight assault on the Central Prison took place despite reports that regional officials had received intelligence days, if not weeks, ago suggesting such an attack was imminent. Officials blamed a combination of negligence and lack of communication among Pakistan's many security agencies, but some suggested there may have been a degree of insider help. Just hours before the attack, army and police units had met at the jail to discuss security, one source said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter. "It is very difficult to attack such a place without proper information or contacts," said the police source, adding that some prisoners were suspected to have been in touch with the Taliban by mobile phones provided by sympathetic wardens. "They are corrupt, lazy and unprofessional. And the militants may have supporters in the city." Another senior official in the provincial capital of Peshawar said only about 70 of the 200 prison guards who were meant to be on duty were present that night. "Most policemen ran for their lives once the attack started, leaving their weapons behind," the official told Reuters. "They could have easily killed some of the attackers but they even gave up their own guns, providing the attackers with more ammo." The attack came a year after a similar mass jailbreak in the northern town of Bannu which Taliban militants said was carried out with inside help from prison guards. An inquiry later found there were far fewer guards on duty than there should have been. A senior Taliban official told Reuters separately the latest attack was masterminded by Adnan Rashid, a Taliban commander who was himself freed in last year's prison break. "LOCKS ARE BROKEN!" This time, Pakistani Taliban said they had sent a squad of 100 fighters and seven suicide bombers on a mission to free some of their top leaders, and they said they released 250 prisoners - a number roughly matched by Pakistani authorities. Fighting continued into the early hours of Tuesday, with explosions and machine gunfire rattling the city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, on the edge of Pakistan's lawless ethnic Pashtun tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. As the attack unfolded, gunmen blew up electricity lines to the prison and detonated bombs to breach the outer walls. They fought their way inside using rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, and called the names of Taliban prisoners they wanted to release through loud speakers. Once inside, attackers shot open most of the locks and used bombs to blast their way deep into the prison, shouting "All the locks are broken! Those who want to escape, now is your chance," prison officials who were there at the time told Reuters. Gunmen also took over a nearby house and hospital, holding the residents hostage as they fired on police from the rooftops and laid ambushes for reinforcements. Describing the chaos that gripped the town that night, police Constable Gul Mohammed said he had been rushing to the scene when he was confronted by two boys holding rifles. "They told me to stop," he told Reuters. "I told them I am a policeman, and that's when they opened fire." He added that he was shot three times. At least 12 people were killed, officials said, including five policemen and four prisoners from the minority Shi'ite branch of Islam. Their throats were slashed by gunmen, officials said. The Taliban are mostly majority Sunni Muslims. The carefully planned attack underlines the growing capabilities of the Pakistani branch of the Taliban, an offshoot of the insurgents of the same name in neighbouring Afghanistan. Despite promising peace talks with the insurgents during an election campaign this year, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears to be accepting the use of military force may be unavoidable after a series of high-profile attacks. QUESTIONS The senior security source in Peshawar said an army intelligence unit had sent a "red alert" to the regional interior department four days ago warning of a "huge attack of Dera Ismail Khan and surrounding areas". Another security official in Peshawar said the warning was sent two weeks ago, saying telephone call intercepts indicated the militants had been planning a jail break and that interrogations of captured fighters confirmed it. Mushtaq Jadoon, the town's civil commissioner, said the 253 escaped prisoners included 30 top militants and six people on death row. Those who escaped are believed to have been whisked away to nearby South and North Waziristan, areas where the Taliban has strongholds. Asked about the possibility of an insider job, an Interior Ministry spokesman said there had been warnings of a big attack in the region for some time. "There have been complaints that prisoners have cell phones there," the spokesman said. "I presume there could have been something from inside, some sort of intelligence from inside." Security forces said they had imposed a curfew on the city and the gun battle was over by dawn. A Reuters reporter at the scene saw security forces and bomb disposal squads conducting searches amid ruined walls pocked with bullet holes. The audacity of the latest assault raised embarrassing questions over how well-prepared security forces are following a series of high-profile attacks, and underscores the challenges facing the new government in combating the militancy. The heavily guarded jail at Dera Ismail Khan houses about 5,000 prisoners. About 250 are Taliban and members of banned sectarian groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni militant group that has killed hundreds of Shi'ites this year. "It was a heavily guarded jail and considered one of the most protected prisons in the province," said a senior government official in Peshawar. "We will investigate how the militants managed to come from the distant tribal areas and break into the jail and take away their people." The attack came the day lawmakers were due to choose a new president in a largely ceremonial vote, and two days before a major Shi'ite festival which security officials have warned could be attacked.
Energy Fraud: Nawaz Sharif’s advisor Musaddiq Malik, Mian Mansha and Abdullah Yousuf in Power Plant Scam
A letter about the energy policy, blaming a gang of four for what is described as a con operation, had the parliamentary corridors on fire. The thrust of the letter was that the IPPs are being paid in the name of clearing circular debt as part of a larger conspiracy. It questions the credentials of the people who are involved in the energy policy and alleges this to be a clear case of conflict of interest. The quartet is named as Mian Mohammad Mansha, his nephew Shahzad Saleem, Nadeem Babar and Saqib Shirazi of the Atlas Group. The key players, according to the anonymous letter, are IPP power plant owners—mainly Sapphire Power, Liberty Power (Mukati Group of Karachi) and, among others, Said Power. The hired henchmen for them are Abdullah Yousaf (Chairman of IPPs Association—IPPAC), Mussadaq Malik (Special Assistant to the PM and Minister of Water and Power) and Shahid Sattar (Planning Commission official). It gives profiles of all of them, which raises a number of questions about them but Sheeshnag keeps it for the moment and only mentions the profile of one—Mussadaq Malik. He is described as somebody who gets in every government from Musharraf to the Interim government and is now part of the PML (N). He is a pharmacist who first emerged as the expert of development in Nasim Ashraf’s National Commission of the Human Development. Now he comes as the biggest energy expert that this country ever saw. Most people remember him as the Jamiat’s goon from FC College in Lahore. He was recommended by Syed Babar Ali to Nawaz Sharif to which Mian Sahb readily agreed—such being the mutual back-scratching arrangement among the tycoons. It is yet to be seen what Syed Babar Ali, otherwise a rare respected tycoon, saw in this pharmacist-turned-developer-turned-energy expert. The letter explains in detail the energy policy of 1994 and 2002 and concludes that “the project costs, operational expenses, debt repayments and return on equity is covered under the Capacity Purchase Price (CPP) invoice and the fuel cost is covered under the Energy Purchase Price (EPP). Both investors are forwarded separately by companies to NTDC/WAPDA.” The letter gives a long detail of what it alleges to be a scam. In short, it says, “the 1994 Power Policy IPPs (total 14) continue to skim and make illegal profits on the fuel (both liquid and gas fired plants) by lying about their heat rebates (plant efficiency). Such profits are conservatively estimated to be four to five per cent. Due to delays and tariff deals, they lost the remaining cushion/padding, yet have made fabulous returns.” “The 2002 Power Policy IPPs (total 13) over invoiced the initial project setting up cost and continue to skim and make illegal profits on operational expenses and heat rate (fuel consumption). They skim money at three levels (excluding the original project cost)—operational expense, over invoiced fuel and kickbacks from OMCs.” The letter alleges that annual returns are in the range of 35 percent to 40 percent. “Inclusive of original project cost—a payback period of two years. Not bad.” The letter asks some questions: Why did the PM-designate visit Mansha’s Raiwind farm for a briefing on circular debts and energy issues? Considering that Mansha is the leader of the nine IUPPs who have invoked Government of Pakistan guarantee and is in the Supreme Court, to say the least, was it not embarrassing? Mansha and Nadeem Babar are in the energy task force. Guess what—their key recommendation—pay IPPs. Isn’t this a conflict of interest? Munir Malik was the lawyer of IPPs. How will he defend the case of the State as Attorney General against them? Why did PPIB and NEPRA approve without background the checking the efficiency of diesel gensets installed at the Mansha and Atlas plants and indeed the efficiency/heat rate of all power plants set up under 2002 power policy? Is it true that the government is giving Muzaffargarh power plant to Mansha? If so, why not bid it first? Why doesn’t the government adjust the “stolen amounts” and then the tariff formula? It suggests that the government should ask the IPPs to share the burden with the masses. “The full adjustment should be made in six to eight quarterly payments. This will save the government Rs 200 billion as equity for starting the mid-term programme of setting up coal fired projects. Assuming a 70/30 debt equity ratio, as used by the IPPs, the government can set up thousand MWs of power generation in next three years.” Now, all of this seems to come from another lobby, which definitely has an interest. But they do have a point that needs to be studied. Otherwise, they have sent it to the SC for taking it up. God save us. - See more at: http://lubpak.com/archives/278031#sthash.m8gi7eLT.dpuf
By MATTHEW ROSENBERG Afghan forces are now leading the fight here. They managed an air assault last week, for example, and they may be winning the respect of the Afghan people. But the bottom line for Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. is simple: Afghanistan still needs the United States and will for years to come. The problem for General Dunford, the commander of American and allied forces here, is that most Americans no longer seem to believe that the United States needs the war in Afghanistan. In an interview on Sunday that he had requested, General Dunford, 58, sought to counter an abundance of disheartening news recently about the war and to make a case for why American troops need to stay in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission ends next year. A central theme in his pitch: Americans will not be fighting and dying here after 2014. Afghans are already doing most of the fighting, he said, and by the end of next year “the actual fighting on a day-to-day basis will all be done by Afghans.” Still, “Afghan forces, at the end of 2014, won’t be completely independent,” he said. “Our presence post-2014 is necessary for the gains we have made to date to be sustainable.” American forces will be critical behind the scenes for at least another three or four years, he said, to help Afghans master the nuts-and-bolts of running a military: logistics, intelligence analysis, developing the air force. “We’re not talking about putting people on the ground, in harm’s way,” General Dunford said. For American generals, running the war effort in Afghanistan has always been as much a diplomatic sales job as a battlefield command. Most often, that has meant managing President Hamid Karzai, whose occasional anti-American outbursts have included a threat to join the Taliban and calling Americans demons. But a steady drumbeat of bad news has forced General Dunford to turn his attention to the home front in an effort to counter the spreading perception that the war is a failed enterprise. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released last week found that only 28 percent of Americans think the war is worth fighting. Among the developments from Afghanistan that are fueling the disillusionment was a botched effort by the United States to open peace talks with the Taliban, which prompted Mr. Karzai to angrily suspend negotiations on a long-term security deal that would keep Americans here after 2014. Then there was the anti-American tirade by Mr. Karzai’s chief of staff, and an ugly spat over whether the United States should pay Afghanistan $70 million in fees to get its equipment out of the country. The response within the Obama administration has been a renewed debate on the so-called zero option — pulling out all American troops when the NATO combat mission here ends next year. Congress has also jumped into the fray with a Senate measure to withhold $5 in aid for every $1 Afghanistan charges the United States to move the equipment. The poor poll numbers “reflect the noise that’s been out there for the last 60 days,” the general said, asserting that ground realities were better than portrayed in news reports. With the summer fighting season now almost half over, he said, Afghan forces “have proven very resilient.” He described Al Qaeda, the reason the United States came to Afghanistan, as a shell of its former self, with only about 75 members in Afghanistan, and most of them too busy trying to stay alive to plan attacks in the West. But keeping Al Qaeda on the margins would require American Special Operations Forces to remain after 2014 alongside regular troops focused on training, General Dunford said. As in previous interviews, his focus was narrow, on Afghan security forces. He avoided talk of the debilitating level of corruption within the government, the weakening commitment to human rights among many Afghan officials, the faltering economy and uncertainty about next year’s presidential elections. He did concede, however, that today “investing in Afghanistan, you could argue, was a gamble.” But, if the elections are held and Afghan forces are able to keep the vote relatively secure, “it begins to be a risk like everywhere else,” he added. By giving the Afghan Army and the police the tools needed to take on the Taliban, the United States “is providing the Afghan people with an opportunity to decide what kind of government they want to have.” Other American and European officials have been far less certain that the election will be a cure. Some contend the Afghan government is as big a threat to the country’s stability as the Taliban, if not a greater one. But few disagree that the Afghan security forces have improved significantly, despite absorbing thousands of combat deaths this year and contending with a desertion rate so high that a quarter to a fifth of the 352,000 soldiers and police officers must be replaced each year. To stay on track, the Afghans would need hands-on support from American forces through at least 2017, General Dunford said. He declined to specify how large a force should remain, undoubtedly aware that wading into a policy debate has proved treacherous for past commanders. The Obama administration has indicated that it would probably leave no more than 9,000 troops in Afghanistan, plus a few thousand contributed by NATO allies. General Dunford said that he asked the administration for more time to make an assessment, but added, “I don’t have reason to believe we’ll ask for more than that.” The general has good reason to be cautious. After President Obama ordered tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan in 2009, administration officials complained the president had been pressured into the decision by commanders who publicly advocated for more troops. Since then, the White House has at times cut the military out of its deliberations on the pace of the troop drawdown and the future shape of the mission. In the interview, General Dunford was careful not to get ahead of the administration. When asked whether American forces would use air power to aid Afghan troops in battle after 2014, or help them evacuate the wounded, he replied, “That will be a policy decision that will be made sometime next year.” Asked if the military could handle the eventuality of the zero option, the general replied: “Absolutely.”