Friday, January 25, 2013
Sponsorship of terrorism through non-state actors is a matter of deep concern, President Pranab Mukherjee said today making it clear to Pakistan that India is ready to offer a hand of friendship but that should not be taken for granted. In his address to the nation on the eve of 64th Republic Day, he said in the recent past, serious atrocities on the Line of Control on Indian troops have been seen, an apparent reference to the beheading of an Indian soldier by Pakistan Army. "Neighbours may have disagreements; tension can be a subtext of frontiers. But sponsorship of terrorism through non-state actors is a matter of deep concern to the entire nation," he said. He said India believes in peace on the border and is always ready to offer a hand in the hope of friendship. "But this hand should not be taken for granted," he said.
By: Ali Hashem for Al-MonitorThanks to French President Francois Hollande, who felt the need to step in to contain the collapse of Mali, and a calamitous rescue operation by Algerian forces that resulted in the deaths of 37 hostages, the Western media has discovered Mali. The largest West African country is under threat of division in a war that sees government troops, along with a Western coalition led by the French, battling well-armed ethnic Tuaregs and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Ansaruldin group, who were already at war with each other. Once known as French Sudan, Mali is one of France's main allies in sub-Saharan Africa. Fears are growing in Paris that the chaos might spill out to neighboring states fom what was anciently called "French West Africa," drastically affecting regional and international stability and peace. But that’s not all. France is concerned the spread will put what remains of its influence in this part of the world under serious threat. The war in Mali, many believe, wasn’t entirely unpredictable for those keeping a close eye on the situation. There were strong indicators, such as weaponry and fighters crossing the loose borders. The country was forced to face the ambitions of well-armed ethnic Tuareg fighters, who returned home after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya. Tuaregs revived their 100-year-old dream of an independent state in the Azawad territory to the north of Mali. They took advantage of a coup d'état that ousted President Amado Toumani Toure to control their area and declare independence with the help of an al-Qaeda-affiliated group. The latter were looking for a safe haven in a hostile environment, especially amid the end of the Libyan war. The Islamists, later on, overthrew the Tuaregs and installed Shariah law in the area, a move some sources suggest was prompted by post-revolution Libya, whose leaders were keen to uproot any pro-Gadhafi sentiments near their borders. Post-revolution Libya is perhaps the most critical factor in the struggle for Mali; the fall of Gaddafi and the links the Ansaruldin have with the new rulers of Tripoli gave this war a different perspective. It is as if Mali were the arena where another version of the Libyan war resumed, though with different objectives. Less than two years ago, NATO strikes helped the rebellion in Libya and paved the way for the opposition to end 40 years of Gadhafi rule. At that time foreign intervention was welcomed by Libyans, and not much opposed by Arabs and Muslims. This was in stark contrast with the reaction to foreign intervention in Iraq in 2003. While in Libya, I had the chance to meet Abdulmonem Al Mukhtar, once a member of the Islamic Libyan fighting group, who was killed just weeks after we met in April 2011. Al Mukhtar fought against the Americans in Afghanistan and returned to Libya on March 2011 along with 100 of his loyal fighters to take part in the war. Near Ajdabiya, to the east of Libya, I asked how he could be an enemy of NATO in Afghanistan and an ally in Libya. He laughed, told me not to be a “fanatic" and added, "In Afghanistan, they are an occupation force. Here, they are helping us topple the dictator." It wasn’t only Abdulmonem who approached the situation this way. Everyday people gave similar answers, and mainstream media organizations weren’t far behind in that logic. There was a common belief that in a war for liberation, all means were justifiable. Later on some of the Syrians revolting against President Bashar al-Assad started demanding foreign intervention to help them defeat the regime, and so did those who supported them around the Arab and Muslim world. People initially welcomed foreign intervention — at least, until they contemplated it further. As a result of the Libyan war, a new war started in the region. Once again, the tables are turned. Yesterday’s allies in Libya are today’s enemies in Mali. Voices refusing foreign intervention became louder and louder, calling on the West, specifically France, to respect the sovereignty of the sub-Saharan state. Some dubbed the military intervention a new crusade, while the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia and the prime minister of Libya all warned the intervention will fuel conflict in the region. Many didn’t realize that a war in Mali had surfaced until news of foreign intervention made headlines. Some are starting to raise questions about the consequences of foreign military intervention, and the forces it will unleash. The Libyan “success” preceded the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Ben Ghazi, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, and now we have Mali. It is not that the war in Mali started only now; it's only now that the world started thinking of its consequences.
Egyptians have returned to the streets to mark the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, the former president. Hundreds took to the capital's now iconic Tahrir Square on Friday morning, where youths protesting against the government clashed with Cairo police. The ministry of health said 16 people were wounded in the violence.
Saudi-backed Bahraini forces have fired tear gas to disperse anti-regime demonstrators, who took to the streets in the capital, Manama, in defiance of a regime ban on protests
The Express TribuneA 10-year-old died of measles at Mayo Hospital’s paediatric ward on Wednesday, doctors said, becoming the first casualty of the disease in the city. Muhammad Wasif was brought to the hospital on Tuesday night and had developed pneumonia. Another 10 children with measles were also admitted to Mayo Hospital. “They are being kept in isolation as measles is a droplet infection, meaning it is highly contagious. If a kid with measles is kept in the ward with other kids, there is a 90 per cent chance all of them will catch measles,” said a doctor at the paediatric ward. “We may also face problems in accommodating all the kids in isolation due to space issues.” A Health Department official said that 12 children infected with measles had been admitted to other public hospitals in Lahore, taking the total number of known cases in the city to 92. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday expressed concern about the rising number of measles cases and directed the Health Department to prepare an emergency plan within two days for the prevention of measles. He directed officials to make sure that the anti-measles vaccine is available in the province and to launch a public awareness campaign regarding preventive measures. Children in the affected areas must be vaccinated, he said at a meeting with Health Department officials. Special Assistant on Health Khawaja Salman Rafique, the Planning and Development chairman, the Health, Law, Prosecution and Home secretaries, the acting inspector general of police, the Lahore commissioner, the Gujranwala commissioner, the Lahore DCO, the Health director general, the director general of the Forensic Science Laboratory and Dr Faisal Masood also attended the meeting. Multan and Gujranwala Forty cases of measles have been reported in Multan, and three children are currently under treatment, but there have been no deaths from the disease, according to EDO (Health) Dr Munawar. He said vaccination teams had been set up to inoculate children in affected areas. He said that the disease had arrived in the district from Sindh, where some 200 children are thought to have died in a recent outbreak. Six new measles patients were reported in Gujranwala on Wednesday. Health officials said the children were being treated at Civil Hospital. Health Director General Dr Nisar Cheema said the number of measles patients being reported in the Punjab was far less than Sindh, and the outbreak had not yet become an epidemic in the province. He said that more cases of measles had been reported in the Punjab in previous years than in this year so far.
DAILY TIMESDisturbing news concerning the state of our collective health and disease prevention efforts are rife these days from Sindh to Punjab to FATA, and even in foreign climes. The rampant measles outbreak that has afflicted the Sukkur region of Sindh has left some 500 people dead in the last two months, most of them children. The virus has taken on terrifying proportions. It is highly contagious because it is spread from person to person through the air via infectious droplets — leaving a trail of sick and dying children with no hope in sight. The virus does not show any signs of slowing down. In fact, it is tearing through provincial boundaries showing up in all the other provinces, including far flung North Waziristan where some five children have already died and 20 more have been infected in less than a week. This situation is deplorable; helpless children are being struck down by this sickness and the government seems equally as helpless in helping these innocent souls. The high numbers, which speak of an epidemic in the making, have nudged the Ministry of Inter-provincial Coordination to establish a nationwide vaccination programme to counter the fast paced spread of measles. This is too little too late. Disease is no respecter of provincial and national boundaries. The lacklustre way the authorities have been managing the emerging crisis has been disastrous. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already categorised Pakistan as a country that must be monitored, given the catastrophe of our anti-polio drive. WHO has given Pakistan an ultimatum: counter polio by September 2013 or be quarantined with a ban enforced on international travel. Speaking of polio, two cases of the disease have been reported in Egypt with it being found that this particular polio strain crossed over from Pakistan. This has prompted the Egyptian authorities to start an anti-polio drive in Cairo. It has also made it mandatory for all children travelling from Pakistan to be immunised at the airport before entering Egypt. We should be ashamed of ourselves; we have left our children to rot and foreign lands are apprehensive of letting our citizens enter their country. The government has to tackle this issue on a war footing. It is essential that a medical emergency be declared across Pakistan with inter-provincial coordination taking precedence over anything else. It is not enough now for provincial governments alone or singly to tackle these emerging health problems but for all levels of government, including the federal authorities, to counter this looming catastrophe.