Monday, January 28, 2013

U.S: Senators push immigration plan

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has agreed on an immigration reform plan that would provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States but only after borders are better secured. The plan, unveiled a day before President Barack Obama is to give a policy speech on immigration in Nevada, tackles the most explosive issue - how to deal with the millions of foreigners living in the United States illegally. Under the group's proposal, undocumented immigrants would be allowed to register with the government, pay a fine, and then be given probationary legal status allowing them to work. Ultimately, they would have to "go to the end of the line" and apply for permanent status, according to the document by eight Senators including Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Democrats Charles Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Robert Menendez of New Jersey. The White House praised the group's efforts but warned that Obama would not be satisfied until there was meaningful reform. The president "will continue to urge Congress to act until that is achieved," a White House spokesman said. Lawmakers have scheduled a news conference for 2:30 p.m. ET. Under the plan, no one would be given more permanent legal status until new measures were implemented to stem the flow of immigrants across U.S. borders, a critical concession to conservatives and border state members of congress. The path to citizenship would also be contingent on a new enforcement measure to track the status of immigrants who may have overstayed visas, the document said. The proposal resembles previous immigration bills - including a 2007 measure that died in Congress in part because of disagreement over the timing and balance of border-enforcement measures versus granting citizenship to the millions of undocumented immigrants. But advocates noted that this time, the climate was ripe for immigration reform. "Conservatives, law enforcers and businesses are calling for immigration reform. You did not see that in 2007," said Ali Noorani, the executive director with the National Immigration Forum advocacy group. Democrats have considered future citizenship for undocumented immigrants a "bottom line" for a bill, as Schumer said Sunday at a news conference. Republicans, in turn, have tended to stress border security. While the framework released Monday includes something for all these groups, translating the four-page outline into legislation with a chance of passing is likely to prove challenging, notwithstanding the bi-partisan makeup of the group and support that came early Monday from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Rubio's involvement has helped give the plan credibility among some Republicans. His proposals have attracted support from influential conservatives, including former vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and TV commentator Bill O'Reilly. Last year, Rubio had a hard time getting conservatives on board for allowing "dreamers" to stay here - children of illegals, many of whom have spent most of their lives in the United States, are in the country through no fault of their own and attend U.S. schools. Rubio is a Cuban-American who is often mentioned as a presidential contender. He is a favorite of the Tea Party conservative movement. In addition to the path to citizenship, the Senators' proposal outlines three other legislative goals: retaining and attracting highly qualified workers; creating a system to prevent identity theft and the hiring of unauthorized workers: and establishing a way to bring in unskilled labor while providing them with workers rights. The immigration issue was largely pushed aside during Obama's first term as he tackled healthcare and the economy. But the president, who had overwhelming support from Hispanic voters in his 2012 re-election, cited it as part of his agenda when sworn in for a second term last week. Immigration has been among the toughest issues confronting Congress over the past two decades, in part because so many powerful interest groups have a stake in it, from business organizations in need of skilled labor to the trade union movement, which worries that a flow of immigrant labor unprotected by U.S. workplace laws could depress wages. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has made immigration reform a priority this year, expressing particular support for provisional visas for lesser-skilled workers and expansion of green cards for foreign nationals who receive advanced degrees from U.S. colleges and universities. On Monday, the Chamber praised the proposal and said it would work with all parties to get a bill passed.

Egypt clashes continue after Morsi’s ‘emergency’ announcement

Pakistan : Shias fearful as target killings reach provincial capital

The Express Tribune
As Peshawar experiences an unprecedented rise in sectarian killings with three prominent Shias targeted from January 9 to January 20, the community blame police inefficiency for the recent wave of violence. In the latest attack, a resident of Parachinar, Ashiq Hussain was targeted along with his friend near Kohat Bus Stand in the jurisdiction of Banamarhi police station. Hussain survived the attack, but sustained injuries. On January 9, Dr Riaz Hussain, the Pakistan Peoples Party president in Kurram Agency and prominent Shia leader from Parachinar, was gunned down. Later on January 20, Additional Session Judge Ihtisham Ali was attacked, leaving him critically injured. Two days later, Dr Shah Nawaz Ali was shot inside his clinic in Saddar, while on the 21st of this month, Fayaz Hussain was abducted and found dead on Ring Road. Moreover last week, a student Saqib Hussain from Parachinar and activist Haji Kamal Hussain went missing in the city mysteriously, further complicating matters. The situation has highly enraged Shias in the city who have even turned down an invitation to meet Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti to discuss the targeted attacks. Talking to The Express Tribune, Muharram Committee General Secretary Muzafar Ali Akhunzada blamed the Peshawar police for its inability to curtail the violence and said no arrests have been made so far. “Police have failed to protect us against these people who are openly engaged in sectarian violence. Shias are being targeted in crowded market places and the police are still not able to arrest anyone.” He added that due to the police’s incompetence, the attacks are increasing as terrorists are confident they will not be caught. “Our leader Sardar Sajjad refused to meet the chief minister as we believe that the administration has failed to perform its duty of protecting us,” he said. Police, on the other hand, says terrorists involved in target killings leave the city after the attacks as they are primarily based in the tribal belt of the country where the police has no jurisdiction. “Police is a law enforcement agency but it has to fight militancy, which is the real burden,” said a police official requesting anonymity. He added that that they are already preoccupied with major terrorist attacks. Last year in November, SP Hilal Haider was killed in a suicide attack in the historic Qissakhwani bazaar. He belonged to the famous Qizalbash family.

Washington values democratic system in Pakistan

US Ambassador to Pakistan‚ Richard Olson has said that his country does not support any specific individual or political party. Talking to newsmen here on Monday‚ he said Washington values democratic system in Pakistan and wants free and fair elections. He said his country will accept results of general elections as strengthening of democracy and the state institutions in Pakistan is the need of hour. The US Ambassador said holding of meetings with politicians and businessmen is a routine

Pakistan to get US surveillance plane this year
Pakistan is expected to receive maritime surveillance P3C Orion aircraft from the US this year, state media quoted the country's ambassador in Washington as saying. Sherry Rehman, who has been meeting with top American officials as part of efforts to restore the full range of bilateral ties, has said both the civil and defence cooperation between the two sides are gaining momentum, reported Xinhua Monday citing Radio Pakistan. Pakistan's Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Muhammad Shafique, currently on a visit to the US, discussed matters related to ongoing cooperation between Pakistani and American navies and expressed satisfaction over senior level exchanges. Pakistan signed an agreement with the American defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin seven years ago, for the delivery of seven Orion aircrafts. The navy received three of these aircrafts in 2010, while two more were delivered in 2011. In addition to the Orions, the navy is also operating seven aging Fokker F27-200 Friendship naval surveillance aircrafts, which it had acquired during the 1980s. The Orions are one of the most popular maritime surveillance aircrafts in the world, being used by the naval forces in a number of nations such as the US, Japan, New Zealand and Brazil. The aircraft were first inducted into the US Navy in 1962, and so far more than 750 units have been manufactured. The US Navy recently decided to replace its Orion fleet with the Boeing P-8A Poseidons. The Pakistani ambassador said that Pakistan-US interactions are important to push forward bilateral defense ties and said the Pakistan Navy's key role in securing sea lanes in North Arabian Sea as part of the anti-piracy international coalition has been widely appreciated in the US.

India, Pakistan and unveiled threats

Daily Times
In an unsettling display of muscle flexing, neighbouring India recently paraded its newest long range nuclear missile Agni V that reportedly can hit anywhere in China and even as far off as some areas in Europe. The occasion was India’s Republic Day and it was marked by a barely diplomatic choice of words when Indian President Pranab Mukherjee stated that India was ready to extend the hand of friendship to Pakistan but that the friendship should not be “taken for granted”. That the president, who holds an extremely important position of responsibility, especially when it comes to India’s relationship with Pakistan, should speak so harshly and hastily after the recent hostilities at the Line of Control (LoC) is surprising. A spate of deadly attacks has taken place at the LoC where Pakistan claims that three of its soldiers were killed by Indian army men followed by counter-allegations by India that Pakistani soldiers killed two of theirs, brutally beheading one of them. Both sides have refuted these claims. Both countries seem to be at a communications standoff with India’s latest extensions of friendship being offered but without any real commitment to the cause. It is also extremely alarming that the Indian president decided to use such deliberately scorching words on the day his country was exhibiting a mighty nuclear weapon — intimidation or threat? This particular statement highlights the growing concern about the nuclear arms race in the region, especially between two neighbours as bitterly divided in the past as Pakistan and India. The peace process that the two countries laboured so meticulously over after a tense silence following the Mumbai attacks in 2008 is an effort that must be nurtured and seen through. Just getting both countries to the table, willing to approach their respective issues with ears and minds open is achievement enough. Seeing it through is the real challenge. And it is this challenge that many of the detractors of the peace process wish to sabotage in any way possible. It is pertinent that the authorities, whether diplomatic or military, on both sides of the border understand this fact. It is vital that the Indian authorities look into the possibility that non-state actors may have carried out the attack on their soldiers. The Pakistan army is not known for such acts of mutilation. Funnily enough, some segments of the Indian media have pointed out that the Indian army, in fact, resorts to such brutalities at times by decapitating and piking the heads of our soldiers. It is with this backstory that one realises how the Indian authorities hardly have the moral high ground to issue such visible threats to Pakistan. Those who have a stake in the peace process and composite dialogue between India and Pakistan must understand that maturity, humility and a real commitment to preserving the delicate balance needs to exist if non-state actors are to be defeated. A bilateral settlement between both sides must be initiated instead of the blame game that is being touted. Now is not the time to whip up war clouds because, if real, effective communication is not established, then the bigger picture is lost. India and Pakistan are in dire need of effective statesmanship and restraint otherwise the fragile peace will not take too long to dissolve.