Wednesday, January 23, 2013
http://www.thedailystar.netThe long awaited process of justice has yielded its verdict against Abul Kalam Azad alias Bachchu Razakar. The court awarded him capital punishment under the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973. This is commendable because of the extraordinary nature of the crimes he committed. On the one hand, he stood against Liberation War and helped the enemy. And on the other, he has been found guilty of perpetrating crimes against humanity. We also commend the government for its single-minded determination to start the process, persist with it, and bring about this first verdict. By awarding capital punishment to the guilty, the International Tribunal-2 has done justice on two levels. First it has begun meting it out to those who eluded punishment all these years since 1971. It has also repaid debt to those who fell victim to his criminal designs. As a member of a party that actively opposed and worked against the national war of liberation, he attacked and killed the sympathisers of the liberation war. In addition, he committed crimes against humanity by participating in the genocide of innocent people, particularly members of Hindu community. The due process of law has been observed. The charges brought against him were established by evidences provided by the living witnesses including relations of the victims. The accused was provided with a defence lawyer to enable him to defend himself against the charges levelled against him by the prosecution. But his prosecutor could not come up with necessary defence as the accused has been absconding. His family members also did not extend any cooperation. The question of any vengeance or political vendetta does not arise, nor can any political motive be imputed to the trial process. By conducting the trial against the perpetrators of crimes against humanity in 1971, the nation has demonstrated to the world that in Bangladesh law works and even passage of long time does not make one immune from the application of law and justice. With this historic verdict, Bangladesh has come out of the culture of silence and vindicated itself through carrying forward a much needed trial process.
By Daniel GreenfieldWhen Obama took office four years ago, North Africa wasn’t keeping CIA analysts up at night. There were known trouble spots in the region, but no one thought that it was likely to turn into the next Afghanistan. Then along came the Arab Spring. Egypt, the great regional power, has since fallen into the hands of the Islamists and has become part of the pipeline for Islamist fighters moving weapons from Libya into Gaza and Syria. Islamists have won elections in Tunisia and Morocco. With the Muslim Brotherhood in ascendance in Libya, Algeria is the only large North African country to have beaten back the Islamists. Now it’s also under attack. Islamist ambitions had led to a brutal civil war in Algeria that the country is still recovering from. With Libya and Egypt to the West and Mali to the south, it is now more vulnerable than ever. And if Algeria sinks into another civil war, then North Africa really will be reduced to the level of another Afghanistan. And that may be exactly what the Gulf oil tyrants behind the Arab Spring really want. British Prime Minister David Cameron is already speaking of a North African conflict that could last for decades. It is a more sober assessment than the earlier claim by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius that the fighting in Mali would be over in a matter of weeks. By the time French President François Hollande got around to naming a timeline, it was the familiar one to most people from Afghanistan and Iraq. “We have one goal. To ensure that when we leave, when we end our intervention, Mali is safe, has legitimate authorities, an electoral process and there are no more terrorists threatening its territory.” It was the Afghanistan timeline all over again. When Mitt Romney brought up Mali in the presidential debate, the reference was met with sneers from the left and bewilderment from the media. “Despite Romney Claims, Mali is No Afghanistan, Expert Says,” is how US News and World Report headlined the rebuttal. Three months later, it’s become increasingly clear that not only is Mali turning into Afghanistan, but North Africa is sliding down the same muddy slope. It took French military intervention to keep a local Al Qaeda franchise from threatening Mali’s capital. And that was followed by a hostage crisis in Algeria. The common denominator for the violence in both Mali and Algeria is Libya. The Algerian attackers reportedly came out of terrorist camps in Southern Libya. While the Libyan government claims that there are no terrorist camps in Southern Libya, it has almost no authority or power outside Tripoli, and it is heavily infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists. While Gaddafi could promise the United States that he would end the sponsorship of terrorists and had the authority to be held to it, the new Libyan government is a fragile arrangement of factions that can offer nothing and will offer nothing. It has already disavowed French intervention in Mali. And it is likely that elements in the Libyan government were aware of the impending attack in Algeria, just as they were reportedly aware of the attack on the Benghazi mission. The new Libyan government is the Karzai government all over again; a collection of shifting factions that offers no support to the West, instead undermining it at every turn. The only thing that Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy had learned from the wars fought in Afghanistan and Iraq was to avoid the public turning on them by minimizing their casualty footprint. By avoiding troops on the ground, the trio thought that they had dodged all the problems that Bush and Blair had with Iraq. It never occurred to them that the reason Bush and Blair opted for occupation and reconstruction was to try and tamp down the resulting chaos. Despite their best efforts, their own people are coming back in body bags from Libya and Mali. And the killing has only begun. The new war in Mali began when Tuareg nationalists fighting in Libya teamed up with Islamists to refight an old civil war in Mali. The new civil war would have ended like the old one did if not for the ridiculous amount of weapons that Qatar and France had shipped to the Libyan Jihadists which made it possible for them to rampage across Mali. The good news in Mali is that the Jihadists are not particularly popular with the native population. But then neither were the Taliban. The Judo trick of occupation is that once there are enough foreign troops within reach; the Jihadists can make way for local fighters looking to make some money or expand their influence with a few attacks here and there. And this isn’t a non-profit enterprise. Building Islamist Emirates in North Africa is about more than just being able to chop off the hands of thieves or flog women for not wearing the Burqa. It’s about the flow of money and drugs from the east to the west and all parts in between. Before Al Qaeda put in its bid for Mali, the country’s lawless reaches had already become a mecca for Latin American drug cartels moving their product to Europe. The intersection between drugs and Jihad in Afghanistan and Mali are no coincidence. There are two substances that fund Islamic terrorism: oil and drugs. The alliance between Islam and the Left is built on the interlinked drug networks of Marxist regimes and guerrilla groups in Latin America and their Islamist counterparts in Asia and the Middle East. Bosnia gave the Islamists access to the lucrative European markets for human trafficking and Afghanistan cut the Islamist groups in on a piece of the Golden Triangle. North Africa gives them something even better, the interface between Europe and Africa with a Latin American connection. Fracking may be on the verge of turning the oil market upside down, but drugs aren’t going anywhere and the Islamists are betting on drugs to keep them going when the oil money trickles away. North Africa’s close connections to Europe make it the ideal stepping stone for the conquest of Europe that the Islamists look forward to. With the carnage growing in North Africa, it remains to be seen whether Obama, Cameron and Hollande will be able to succeed in North Africa where they failed in Afghanistan.
President Asif Ali Zardari said on Tuesday that elections will be held on time and no one can postpone them. The president said this while presiding over meetings with Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leaders from Jacobabad, Larkana, Tando Allahyar and Dadu. He advised both the federal and Sindh governments to resolve the pending issues as early as possible. He said the elections were nearing and the PPP wanted to contest the elections on the basis of its performance. Zardari, who has been in Karachi for one month now, was holding meetings with the party leaders to assess their performance and position.Sources said Zardari conveyed to the party legislators and leaders that performance of the government was good in its five-year tenure. The president asked the leaders about the political situation and position of opponents in these four districts. The sources said the president told the legislators that party tickets would be awarded on the basis of position of the candidates. He said the party needed young, educated and energetic candidates to meet public expectation. The sources said MNAs and MPAs of these four districts congratulated the president for the success of his political reconciliation policy. The party legislators gave credit to both federal and Sindh governments for development projects in the province. The president asked all assembly members about their assessment of the coming election scenario.According to official press release, special prayers were offered for Benazir Bhutto at the start of each meeting and the PPP elected representatives briefed Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who chaired these meetings, about the political situation and development in their respective districts. The PPP chairman inquired the office-bearers and workers present in the meetings about how the ministers, MNAs and MPAs are serving their respective constituencies. Those who attended the meeting were Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Secretary General PPP Sindh Taj Haider and Lal Bux Bhutto, Speaker Sindh Assembly Nisar Khuhro, Federal Minister Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, Senior Minister Pir Mazharul Haq, Law Minister Ayaz Soomro, Nazeer Bughio MNA, Mir Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani MNA, Jameel Soomro, MNA Shamshad Bachani, MPA Abdul Rahim Khoso, MPA Haji Munawar Abbasi, Provincial Minister Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto, Saira Shehliani, MPA Rafiq Jamali, Imran Leghari MPA, Provincial Minister Ali Nawaz Shah Rizvi, MPA Imdad Pitafi, MPA Ghulam M Shahliani, MPA Ghulam Sarwar Siyal, MPA Fayaz Ahmed Bhut, MPA Kalsoom Chandio, Hashaam Riaz and others.
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/The tension between India and Pakistan reared its ugly head at the UN Security Council with both parties sparring over the relevance of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) at the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir. With Pakistan trying to use its UNSC presidency to internationalise the Kashmir issue in the aftermath of the brutal killing of two Indian soldiers on January 8 - as was reported by Mail Today on January 11 - India stressed that the mission's role has been "overtaken" by subsequent agreements signed by the two nations under which they had resolved to settle differences "through bilateral negotiations". The exchange between the two nations occurred during a UN Security Council open debate on peacekeeping, which was organised by Pakistan under its current presidency of the 15-nation powerful UN body. Presiding over the debate, Pakistan's foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani said his country has been a "proud participant" in peacekeeping missions. "Pakistan is also host to one of the oldest UN peacekeeping missions - the UNMOGIP. This mission has played an important role in monitoring peace along the Line of Control in Jammau and Kashmir," Jilani said. But the reference to the UNMOGIP was rejected by India's ambassador to the UN, Hardeep Singh Puri, who suggested that it would be better to spend resources allocated for the observer group elsewhere. "Suffice it to point out that the UNMOGIP's role has been overtaken by the Simla Agreement of 1972 between India and Pakistan, signed by the heads of the two governments and ratified by their respective parliaments," Puri stated. In fact, India's position regarding the UNMOGIP was made evident by national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon some days ago. Asked about the UNMOGIP at a media briefing in New Delhi, Menon had queried, "did it still exist", clearly making it apparent that India did not see any role for the UN body even though Pakistan has been pressing for it. The Indian envoy's stand mirrors what External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said on Tuesday. "India will not allow third party involvement and expect Pakistan to handle the issue bilaterally," he said.
In the aftermath of 9/11, the number of foreign students studying in the madressahs of Punjab had dropped sharply but about 450 are still on their rolls and causing a bit of worry to the province’s police. A recent field survey of the madressahs by the Special Branch of the provincial police revealed that 289 of them are, technically, staying illegally in the country. An overwhelming majority of them, 275, were found lodged in the madressahs in Lahore. Many of the foreign students have been continuing their stay in the residential madressahs without fulfilling legal formalities, the field report said. It suggested the Punjab government to direct local authorities to ensure the registration of foreigners at district police level to keep a watch on them on regular basis. Those found violating Pakistan’s immigration laws “should be sent back” to their home country. The report partly blamed the administration of madressahs for not paying attention to the legal status of the foreign students on their rolls. In the face of West’s ‘war on terror’— and description of the madressah system as “the breeding ground of Islamic extremists” — the former president Pervez Musharraf ordered, in 2005, that the foreign madressah students staying in Pakistan illegally must leave the country and the legal ones register themselves with the authorities. Seven years later, the secret police has counted 444 resident foreign students in the madressahs all over Punjab. Interestingly the highest number, 135, came from Indonesia, the next highest were the 99 students from Thailand. Other foreign nationalities studying in the Punjab madressahs are Kazakhstan (44), China (30), Philippines (28), Kyrgystan (21), Malaysia (20) and Myanmar (9), according to the survey report. It suggested the provincial government seek action by the federal ministries of interior and foreign affairs against the 289 foreign students found not holding valid documents. But it advised that before taking action the Wafaq-ul-Madaris, a body that manages the madressah network in Pakistan, be taken into confidence and approach the students’ diplomatic missions to provide security clearance for them. Asked for comments, the chief of the Wafaq-ul-Madaris Qari Mohammad Hanif Jalandhari told Dawn that when the visa of a foreign students expires, his madressah applies for an extension to the ministry of interior and that “normally the request is granted”. “Terrorist attacks, security reason and wrong policies of the government are the main reasons for the local madressahs losing their attraction to foreign students, which was a source of building people-to-people contacts,” he said. Today 444 foreign students are on the rolls of the madressahs in Punjab — 390 of them in Lahore alone. Only 115 students in Lahore madressahs hold valid visas, according to the special branch’s report. When the City Police Officer Rawalpindi Azhar Hameed Khokhar was contacted and asked about the status of foreign students in local madressahs, he said: “No foreign student has been studying in the Rawalpindi district as they had stopped coming to Pakistan due to security situation.” But the special branch’s field survey of the madressahs in Rawalpindi discovered four foreign resident students – one of them without a visa. Likewise, of the 11 foreign students studying in the madressahs in Chakwal, five held no visa. In contrast, all the 17 foreign madressahs students found in Gujrat were legal residents, as were the two studying in Khanewal madressahs. In Attock, the survey found 12 foreign madressah students, with four continuing their studies without having valid visa, while the madressahs in Faisalabad had three foreign students with one found staying illegally. Visas of three of the five foreigners studying in Rahim Yar Khan madressahs were found with expired visas.
Business RecorderAfter declining almost continuously for a long period, foreign private investment has improved considerably during the first half of FY13. According to the latest data released by the State Bank on 15th January, 2013, it has jumped by as much as dollar 269.2 million or 63.9 percent to reach dollar 690.5 million during July-December, 2012 as compared to dollar 421.3 million in the corresponding period last year. The main factor responsible for this steep increase was a net inflow of dollar 127.8 million in portfolio investment in sharp contrast to the net outflow of dollar 109.8 million in July-December 2011. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) which is the most important component of foreign investment to enhance productive capacity of the economy, however, indicated a slower growth of only dollar 31.6 million or 6.0 percent to stand at dollar 562.8 million in July-December, 2012. So far as the inflow of foreign investment during the latest month ie December, 2012 was concerned, it was highly encouraging, some would say even promising for restoring health to the economy. While portfolio investment in December, 2012 showed a net outflow of dollar 17.1 million as compared to dollar 28.8 million in the same month last year, foreign private investment and DFI were up dollar 153.9 million or 185.42 percent and dollar 142.2 million or 127.2 percent respectively, during this period. An improvement in the level of foreign investment should ordinarily be regarded as a very positive sign for the economy and a vote of confidence by foreigners in the economic management of the country. Undoubtedly, a higher amount of DFI could be very helpful in reviving growth, introducing new technology, increasing exports, generating employment etc. The inflow of DFI during the first half of the current year could also inspire the hope that at the current rate, the net inflow of foreign investment during FY13 would be higher than dollar 760 million received in the previous year though it will still be far below the level of dollar 5.454 billion attained in FY2008. However, before entertaining hopes for a permanent reversal in DFI trends with its positive impact, the rise during this particular period needs to be interpreted with great care. This is so because the level of private foreign investment during July-December, 2012 has risen mainly due to a substantial inflow of portfolio investment which is invested in the shares market for speculative purposes and could leave the country at a very short notice due to any negative development in the host country or better prospects abroad. As such, it does not contribute to strengthening the productive capacity of the country. Also, it needs to be noted that although the level of foreign investment has increased during the latest period, it is still too low to make a significant impact on the health of economy. Other countries in the region are receiving much more foreign investment than Pakistan. Lastly and more importantly, the latest picture about the trend in foreign investment has emerged basically due to a sudden spurt in its level from the US, Hong Kong and Italy. Although we don't know the actual reasons for such a sharp increase in foreign investment from these countries but most probably it could be only a one-off phenomenon. The fact of the matter is that we have to upgrade infrastructure, remove energy shortages, curb militancy, improve law and order situation, reduce corruption etc and just be a normal country before expecting increased flow of foreign investment from abroad on a sustained basis. Only a brave soul could invest in a country where sectarian killings and suicide bombings are rampant, sit-ins could paralyse life in the capital, electricity or gas is a rare commodity and the Prime Minister is likely to be arrested. All said and done, we want to see a sustained increase in the level of foreign investment for improving country's economic prospects but a number of hurdles have to be overcome first to create conducive conditions for the sustainability of the present trend.
http://www.thefrontierpost.comSpeaking at the death anniversaries of Khan Abdul Ghaffar (Bacha) Khan and Khan Abdul Wali Khan at Peshawar's Nishtar Hall on Monday, Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali reiterated his plan of convening an all parties conference on the issue of terrorism that is certainly a commendable initiative because the unabated subversive and sabotage activities by religious extremists have since become the number one predicament of the country. The ANP had, in fact, had the courage of convening such a moot of soon after the martyrdom of Bashir Ahmad Billlour in December and the ANP president only re-emphasized its importance as a vehicle to formulate a comprehensive anti-terrorism political policy because not only the ANP but several other parties in the country were target to militancy and extremism. When the ANP announced the convening of an APC, several parties, including the MQM, Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party and PML-Q, instantly agreed their participation. Asfandyar also met President Asif Ali Zardari in Karachi on Jan 10 with an invitation to the meet as the co-chairperson of the Pakistan People's Party. The ANP also contacted with the PML-N and several other political organizations for the moot. The ANP, despite the huge loss of the late Billour in a terrorist attack, had not shut the door for talks with the Taliban. It rather invited the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan to come on the negotiating table with the only condition that the TTP should renounce violence. In a general perspective, convening any such moot without a matching policy and corresponding steps will be a useless exercise. The most outstanding step in this direction was taken on October 22, 2008 when a joint session of parliament adopted a well thought out resolution after a two-week in-camera briefing by military intelligence officers. Although that occasion was restricted in a sense that not all parties but their parliamentary groups were part of the deliberations, all mainstream parties, however, availed the opportunity of listening of the nuisance direct from the horse's mouth. That resolution, among other things, sought to review the country's national security strategy and revisiting the methodology of combating terrorism. Although parliament approved army operation against militants, the matching political strategy has yet to be worked out. This is an exclusive reminder to the ANP whose leadership was also the part of those deliberations to pick the thread from the parliament's resolution to add a political strategy to fight terrorism in all its manifestations. For example, the ANP may include volatility of Karachi which is adding to the worries on the economic front besides pure law and order conditions. Then there is Balochistan where political instability coupled with insurgency like situation, caused by the involvement of foreign powers, is assuming a monstrous proportion. They may also make FATA part of their APC agenda where sheer poverty and deprivation of the people of their political and socio-economic rights is giving birth to militancy. In fact, the ANP APC should present a comprehensive plan to a national policy on all critical areas of life. The ANP moot must also take into account a general apathy of the international community to Pakistan falling prey to the twin-menace of militancy and extremism that has killed thousands of the people since its inception. This must also be mentioned that Pakistan cannot defeat terrorism on its own, simply because this a global issue even in Pakistan's perspective. The roots of international terrorism, of which Pakistan is the primary victim, lie in the complex nuisance of international history played out over the last three odd decades by world actors in South and West Asia regions. This burden of history is being borne by Pakistan alone. This also is a hard and regrettable fact that the powers which sowed the seeds of terrorism in areas bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan in connivance with the dictatorial rule in Pakistan, have simply abdicated their role to remedy the wrong. The ANP's APC in this context can make a new history provided all the political parties also seize this opportunity in the same spirit providing the input that commensurate with turning out an institutional effort to take on the challenging task. The host party that has the philosophy of Bacha Khan as the guiding light, will hopefully create an epoch making milieu in achieving the objective of making Pakistan a land of peace, love, tolerance and forward looking policies that guide the nation of 180 million people to the ultimate destination of egalitarianism.