bakhtar news agency.Hamid Karzai the president of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is due to travel to US for a series of negotiations. The visit takes place in invitation of Obama the president of US, during which they will discuss on future relations between the two countries and regional issues. BNA commentator writes: The visit of US by President Karzai has scheduled to be taking place next week. The politicians consider the visit important for the future of Afghanistan. The visit takes place in a time Afghanistan and US are talking about signing a security deal and already have signed a strategic cooperation agreement, according to which US considers Afghanistan as its allies countries. The spokesperson of the president has said, Hamid Karzai the president of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan during his visit to Washington will talk to the American president and other high ranking officials of that country on important issues like security cooperation, transition of security responsibilities to Afghan security forces, economic and political issues, equipping and supporting Afghan security forces, decade of evolution (the years after 1014) and donors for the projects of the decade and ways of distributing the financial aids. According to the politicians, security cooperation and remaining a number of American troops in Afghanistan After 2014, economic issues and negotiation with oppositions are at the focus of talks of the parties. The topic of signing a security cooperation agreement between the two countries comes in the agenda while the two sides after a long and controversial talks, signed the strategic partnership deal. This document specifies the stand of US regarding to foreign interferences in domestic affairs of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, so far Afghanistan was unable to use the privileges of the document and as before suffers the problems emanated from foreign interferences. Now it is to Afghanistan using the experiences of the previous security agreements, cautiously pay attention on signing any security deal, to be practical and legal. The politicians praise the move of Mr. Karzai who before going to US, consulted with Jihadi and political figures and got their views on relevant issues. Without doubt during the visit the Afghan authorities discuss the issues with their American counterparts will be in favor of our national interests. One of the issues to be discussed is equipping Afghan security forces which have paid less attention previously. Today there is no a balance between Afghan security forces and those of the region that threaten peace and security not only in our country but in entire region. Also Afghanistan is lack of an air force to defend its territory. The US as a country that made the most assistance to Afghanistan, is committed to equip Afghan security forces and we hope the negotiation in Washington give a motive to equipping Afghan security forces. The other issue of upcoming negotiations is the evolution decade. The NATO leaders in their last session in Chicago have committed to assist Afghanistan in a way to protect the achievements of the last year and to promote the self – sufficiency of Afghanistan in security and economic fields. To achieve the above objectives requires a precise planning and strong international support. Washington negations will focus on the issue and bilateral cooperation to meet the objectives in that end. The visit of US by the president of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was planned in a time that the country has placed the expansion of its foreign relations at the top of its agenda; and asks the international community to assist our country to find its place among all countries and to fight successfully against terrorism and corruption and to ensure economic development and to strengthen trust between Afghan people and world community.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
The HinduBy coming out with a heady combination of concrete proposals and tough actions, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has put herself in the forefront of the national debate on dealing with rape, and the issues of prevention and punishment. Harsher punishment and speedier conviction as modes of deterrence constitute the key features of her 13-point plan for ending sexual violence and securing justice for rape victims. Among the most noteworthy of her points is the decision to set up fast-track Mahila courts in each district to deal with sexual crimes against women. This, coupled with day-to-day trials, could guard against rape cases dragging on indefinitely, sapping the energy of victims, and destroying their will to fight for justice. Too often, the ordeal they undergo as they help in the investigation and participate in the trial prompts victims to give up their fight midway. Enlisting women investigators and prosecutors, as envisaged in the Chief Minister’s plan, could ease some of the psychological trauma of the victims. Ms Jayalalithaa also announced a set of procedures that would enable monitoring of rape cases by senior police officers. For seeing the cases through right until the ends of justice are met, it is important to fix responsibility at the highest levels of officialdom. Likewise, installation of CCTV cameras in public buildings, launch of a helpline for women in distress, and additional security in malls and women’s colleges are all good initiatives. While coming up with these thoughtful measures, it is unfortunate that Ms Jayalalithaa could not resist yielding to the calls for the death penalty and chemical castration of offenders. Rape is sexual violence of the most brutal kind, and those who advocate chemical castration are obviously seeing it as an act of sex rather than as an act of violence. If a criminal is deemed so potentially violent that chemical castration is needed to prevent repeat offences, what is the guarantee that he would not resort to other forms of physical violence against women? As a deterrent too, there is no reason why it should work any better than death penalty, and there is enough evidence that death penalty hardly works as a deterrent. As for amendments to Central laws such as raising the one-time remand period from 15 days to 30 days, these need to be debated thoroughly in the context of their possible misuse by law-enforcing authorities. Also, it remains to be seen whether the inclusion of rape in the Goondas Act, which would result in preventive one-year detention without bail, survives a legal challenge since this too is fraught with the potential for misuse.
http://www.irishcentral.comMalala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old schoolgirl who was shot in the head because of her human rights work in Pakistan, has received the 2012 Tipperary International Peace Award.
Associated PressHundreds of villagers in northwest Pakistan turned out Wednesday to bury five female teachers and two health workers who were gunned down a day earlier by militants in what may have been the latest in a series of attacks targeting anti-polio efforts in the country. The seven had worked at a community center in the town of Swabi that included a primary school and a medical clinic that vaccinated children against polio. Some militants oppose the vaccination campaigns, accusing health workers of acting as spies for the U.S. and alleging the vaccine is intended to make Muslim children sterile. As mourners carried the coffins through the town for burial Wednesday, family and friends expressed horror that such an attack had struck their community. "I told her many times at home 'be careful as we are poor people and take care of yourself all the time,'" said Fazal Dad, whose daughter was among the seven killed. "And always in response she said: 'Father, if I am not guilty, no one can harm me.'" The group was on their way home from the community center where they were employed by a non-governmental organization when their vehicle was attacked Tuesday. The four militants on motorcycles spared the young son of one of the women who was riding in the van, pulling him from the vehicle before spraying it with bullets. The driver survived and was being treated at a Peshawar hospital. There has been no claim of responsibility, and police have not made any arrests. The director of the NGO said he suspected the attack might have been retribution for the group's work helping vaccinate Pakistani children against polio. Javed Akhtar said the community group has suspended its operations throughout the province. Despite the killings, polio vaccination workers will be out in force this Saturday in four areas in the northwest considered at high risk for the disease in an effort to keep it from spreading. Police will give extra protection to the workers taking part in the campaign in Peshawar, Nowshera, Charsadda and Mardan, said the commissioner of Mardan, Adil Khan. Many local residents view the girls' primary school and medical clinic run by the NGO at the community center as saviors for the community's poor. Now many are worried about what will happen if those services are cut off. Gul Afzal Khan, a villager whose children studied at a community center run by the group, said the attack was a big loss. "What is their crime?" he asked. "They were just giving free education and health assistance to our children." The attack also was another reminder of the risks to women educators and aid workers from Islamic militants who oppose their work. Last month, nine people working on an anti-polio vaccination campaign were shot and killed. Four of those shootings were in the northwest where Tuesday's attack took place.
By:Dr Mohammad TaqiThe three-pronged Afghan jihadist conglomerate viz. Taliban proper, the Haqqani network and the Hizb-e-Islami (Hekmatyar) is what Pakistan continues to bet on This week will mark the second death anniversary of the founder-owner of this newspaper. Salmaan Taseer was martyred in cold blood for the crime of speaking up for a just cause. Last week was the fifth anniversary of Benazir Bhutto’s martyrdom. Days prior to that, Bashir Bilour was martyred in a suicide bombing. He is the senior most Pashtun nationalist leader this side of the Durand Line to have been assassinated since Khan Shaheed Abdus Samad Khan Achakzai. Glowing tributes were and will continue to be paid to all of them. All these leaders died not just for their words but actions and resolute stand against bigotry and terrorism. Unfortunately, Pakistan and its military and many political leaders commemorate their ultimate sacrifice with inaction and paralysis. After the assassination of the Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa’s senior minister Bashir Bilour, his party the Awami National Party (ANP) did take a very clear stance on confronting the terrorist menace. Last week, the ANP’s consultative committee released a policy statement, which not only recommended clear action but also laments the party being left high and dry by rest of the country. The communiqué notes: “ANP supports negotiations with all those elements that recognise the writ of the state and renounce violence. Those who are not prepared to do it should face effective and meaningful action. ANP is of the considered opinion that all of us should express zero tolerance towards all violations of the country’s sovereignty and integrity. We are opposed to drone strikes and have raised our voice against it. However, we are also opposed to terrorists — individuals and networks — from within the country and from other countries who have carved our sanctuaries on our soil. We are of the view that instead of defending ourselves on our doorsteps and in the streets we should go after terrorists’ sanctuaries. We should evolve a national consensus on a comprehensive strategy for defeating terrorist outfits that are out to destroy our state and society. Pakhtuns in FATA and Pakhtunkhwa are bearing the brunt of the terrorist menace. Why is the rest of the country not effectively joining this struggle? Is it only the struggle of Pakhtuns who are being killed on both sides of the Durand Line?” Of late, the Pakistani military brass has been blaming the civilians for not showing leadership against terrorism. The military and those who echo its thought have castigated the civilians — with some justification — for not visiting the men in the trenches to show support and boost their morale. Did it not behoove the top military leaders to visit and condole with Bashir Bilour’s family and party? Was this not the time to draw a line in sand and bolster a party that has lost hundreds of men in fight against militancy? Was Mr Bilour not one of the handful of civilians who reached every hotspot even when combat was ranging as he did when the Peshawar Air Force base and airport were under terrorist assault? Was he not a symbol of resistance like no other leader that should have been owned by the military and civilians alike? Was the ANP policy statement, which was released to the media, not something that the ISPR should have endorsed and owned? The trigger or should one say keyboard-happy ISPR has never wasted a moment springing into action against the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, an elected prime minister and even the judiciary. Why do they have cold feet now? The answer is simple. In 2013, Pakistan’s military establishment continues to look at the domestic terrorism problem through the Afghanistan and, in turn, the India lens. It seems that the key assumptions that the Pakistani security planners have operated under have not changed one bit. They continue to gun for a Pakistan-installed regime in Kabul after the US and NATO withdrawal that starts this year and will complete in 2014. The three-pronged Afghan jihadist conglomerate viz. Taliban proper, the Haqqani network and the Hizb-e-Islami (Hekmatyar) is what Pakistan continues to bet on. These groups, the al Qaeda with its assorted transnational jihadists and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) remained joined at the hip. But Pakistan seems willing to continue tolerating the TTP in the hope that some of its ‘wayward’ leaders can be replaced with more pliable ones and the cadres reoriented towards Afghanistan once the US withdraws. Similarly, the Pakistani state continues to tolerate, if not harbour, the Punjabi Taliban especially the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and its political wing the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) now operating as the Ahle-Sunnat-wal-Jamat (ASWJ) in anticipation of a future role against India. The militancy cannot be eradicated by non-violent means. One cannot offer the cheek to AK-47 and suicide vests. Only the state and its military might has the capacity to fight and subdue terrorists. Private lashkars and militias are a patently horrible idea to fight terror. The army is the only entity capable of putting the jihadist genie, which it has let out in the first place, back in the bottle. Civilian leadership has the desire as indicated by the ANP statement and the courage as shown by Bashir Bilour, Salmaan Taseer and Benazir Bhutto to fight terrorism. But unless the military shows its willingness to take on the whole spectrum of jihadists — not just the ones it thinks are rogue — the civilians will end up backtracking as indicated by Asfandyar Wali Khan’s subsequent watered down statements. The deep state’s obsession with tripping democracy even in the last quarter of an elected government, using a charlatan speaking with forked tongue and twisting the MQM’s arm to join him, leaves little doubt that the security establishment is not about to mend its ways. The gruesome slaughter of the 21 levies personnel near Peshawar and the Mastung car bombing killing 20 Shia pilgrims by Pakistan’s jihadist proxies is virtually business as usual. As the news of these brutal inland attacks poured in the Army Chief was harping on how a strong navy was important for Pakistan! We are all prisoners of hope and one does wish the year 2013 to be a peaceful and prosperous one for Pakistan and its people. But it might just be realistic to qualify the wish with a question mark. PS: I may have to eat my hat but let me add that the brass will keep dragging its feet on the North Waziristan operation.
by DINA TEMPLE-RASTONEarlier this month, Pakistan's powerful Lower House of Parliament passed what analysts have dubbed Pakistan's Patriot Act. Its name here is "Investigation for Fair Trial Bill." It has been presented to the Pakistani people as a way to update existing law and usher the rules for investigation in Pakistan into the 21st century. Among other things, it makes electronic eavesdropping admissible as evidence in court. To American ears, the argument for the new law should sound vaguely familiar. Pakistani officials say that in order to fight the war against terror, they need to be allowed to capture emails, listen in on cellphone calls, and track suspects so they can stay one step ahead of the terrorists. That's the same argument FBI Director Robert Mueller made before members of Congress when the FBI sought changes in the Patriot Act. Already A Common Practice The difference is that the Pakistani version has been introduced into an entirely different societal context. To begin with, it is an open secret that security agencies in Pakistan already tape phones and monitor email with impunity. They are supposed to get warrants to do this, but they rarely do. The bill is seen as legal cover for what is already common practice. Another difference: This being Pakistan, the feeling among those who are following the bill is that the investigative powers won't be limited to terrorists. Politicians, they believe, are likely to be the main targets. "There are two sides of the argument. One is that this is a country at war — a war within and war in the region — so you need certain laws to protect people from terrorist activity," says Harris Khaliq, a poet and columnist in Islamabad. "At the same time, Pakistan has a checkered political history and we as citizens are really wary of a situation where these laws or such policies could be actually used to oppress political opponents of whoever is in power." It is common to use criminal charges as a brickbat against powerful politicians. Bribery and corruption charges are routinely filed and then dismissed. Smear campaigns are frequent. Democracy in Pakistan is too fragile to allow these kinds of sweeping powers, says Aasim Sajjad, a professor of political economy at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad. "Frankly, to be honest, it is not as if this act per se would be required for this sort of big-brother apparatus to operate. I think it operates in any case," Sajjad says. "The worry is that the state and the intelligence apparatus here has historically been so powerful and so unaccountable that there is a feeling that we would be totally surrendering every last remaining bit of independence or civil liberties" by passing the law. Limited Opposition To Date While Sajjad's concern about civil liberties would be common in the United States, in Pakistan it is unusual. Aside from university professors and the liberal elite, opposition to the bill has been, at best, muted. While its passage in the lower house made the front pages of the English-language papers here, there was barely a whisper about it in the Urdu-language press. "Amongst a fairly limited circle — activists and observers — there has been concern," Sajjad says. "But it hasn't generated or garnered the kind of response that I think would be necessary for some sort of countervailing pushback to prevent something like this from going through. It will pass the Senate and the president will sign it." Mohman Hussein Baluch is a Ph.D. candidate in Pakistani studies at the university, and his reaction is typical of the students there. He says if he isn't doing anything wrong, he has nothing to fear. "I am a peaceful citizen of Pakistan. I bleed in peace, so I am not worried about this," he says. The Senate is more conservative than the Lower House in Pakistan, and it is expected to approve the bill and send it to the president for his signature early in the new year.
The Express TribuneA Pakistani charity on Wednesday suspended its operations for three days after seven staff were shot dead in the northwest, where aid groups demanded better protection. “The NGO has suspended its activities for three days to mourn the deaths. They will decide after three days whether to start work again or not,” said Abdul Rashid Khan, police chief of Swabi district where the attack took place. The six women and their male colleague were ambushed and shot dead on Tuesday after returning from a local community centre. “All seven victims of the attack have been buried. Police have started to investigate but we are not yet in a position to accuse anyone,” Khan said. The organisation, Support With Working Solution, runs dozens of health and education projects, including polio vaccinations, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the Taliban and other militants are active. Tuesday’s attack, for which there has been no claim of responsibility, comes days after nine polio vaccination workers were shot dead in a string of incidents in Pakistan. There are growing concerns about a renewed surge of violence in the northwest. On Wednesday, an umbrella organisation of around 200 charities in the northwest held talks on how to secure more protection, said Idrees Kamal, the coordinator of the Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network. “We are here to discuss the situation and to chalk out a work strategy for the future because we need better security,” Kamal said. Other charity workers said Tuesday’s attack had heightened fears. “It has created uncertainty. We were already facing problems,” said Imran Takkar, programme manager of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child. “How can a state protect its people if it can’t protect its ministers?” Takkar told AFP, referring to the assassination of Bilour. Yasrab Nazeer, provincial programme coordinator of Rahnuma which works on health projects, said the attacks were alarming. “We are really concerned about such attacks. NGO workers, particularly women workers, feel insecure. The government will have to take steps for our protection,” she said. Imtiaz Iltaf, police chief of Peshawar, said officers were preparing a strategy to protect aid workers. “We are in a state of war. The whole country is facing an insurgency, so we are revising the present security steps and working on a new strategy,” he said. According to Islamabad, more than 35,000 people have been killed as a result of terrorism in the country since the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
http://www.usatoday.comThe "fiscal cliff" deal is done, so President Obama is back on his Hawaii vacation. Obama boarded Air Force One at about midnight Tuesday, some 30 minutes after White House remarks saluting the House vote to avert a series of tax hikes and budget cuts known as the fiscal cliff. "Happy New Year everybody,"' Obama told reporters. The president landed in Honolulu shortly after 5 a.m. on Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. ET.Obama and his family began their traditional end-of-the-year vacation on Dec. 21, but the president returned to the White House on Dec. 27 to tend to the fiscal cliff debate. His family stayed back in Hawaii. The president is scheduled to return to Washington over the weekend.