Sunday, March 17, 2013
د فرانسې خبري اژانس په خپله یوه مقاله کې لیکي، چې ولسمشر حامد کرزى په ۲۰۱۴م کال له انتخاباتو وروسته له واکه پر لرې کېدو غور کوي، او په دا ورستیو کې د سختو خبرو په کولو سره خپل ولس ته باور ورکول غواړي چې دی د امریکا لاسپوڅی نه دی. ولسمشر کرزی امريکا تورنوي چې له وسله والو طالبانو سره يې لاس يو کړى چې په افغانستان کې د خپلو يولکو بهرنيو عسکرو شتوالي ته قانوني جواز برابر کړي. د فرانسې خبري اژانس په حواله، ولسمشر کرزى د ژر غوسه کېدو سابقه لري او مخالفان يې وايي دا خپله يو ثبوت دى چې ولسمشر کرزى بې ثباته دى او باوري کس نه دى، او د هغه داسې څرګندونې تر ګټې تاوان ډېر لري. خو نور بیا وايي، ولسمشر کرزي خپلې خبرې په پام سره سنجولې دي او په مستقيم ډول د افغانستان بېسوادو يا هم کم تعليمه ځوانانو ته مخاطب دى. بريتانوي تاريخ ليکونکي ويليم دالریمپل چې تېره اوونۍ يې په کابل کې له ولسمشر سره د نوي(۹۰) دقيقو لپاره کتلي وايي، ولسمشر کرزي د نورو مسايلو تر څنګ د بريتانيا د لاسپوڅي شاه شجاع پر برخليک هم ورسره خبرې وکړې، چې د بريتانيا استعمار ګرو په ١٨٣٩م کال کې له واک څخه ليرې کړ او وروسته ووژل شو. دالريمپل وايي: د ولسمشر کرزي نظر دا و چې امريکا له ده سره هغه چلند کوي، چې بريتانيا له شاه شجاع سره کړى وو، له هغه سره یې د يوه لاسپوڅي په توګه چلند کېده او دوى د خپلو ګټو لپاره وکاراوه. ٥٥ کلن کرزى چې د لوېديځ ملاتړ ورسره و، وروسته تر هغه چې د امريکا په مشرۍ بهرنيو ځواکونو پر افغانستان بريد او طالبان يې له سياسي صحنې ليرې کړل، د افغانستان ولسمشر شو. د فرانسې خبري اژانس ليکي، د امريکا او افغانستان اړيکې له هغه وروسته کړکېچنې شوې چې وسلوالو طالبانو سولې ته مخه کړه، د امريکايي پوځيانو تلفات کم او افغان حکومت په اداري فساد تورن شو. په وروستيو کې ولسمشر کرزي د امريکا خاصو ځواکونو ته امر وکړ، چې له ميدان وردګ ولايت څخه ووځي، د ځورونې تر ناثابته شويو ادعاوو وروسته يې د افغانستان له يوه پوهنتون څخه نړيوال پوځيان منع کړل دغه راز يې له افغان ځواکونو وغوښتل چې له امريکا څخه دې د هوايي ځواک د ملاتړ غوښتنه نه کوي. د سياسي چارو يوه کارپوه وحيد مژده د فرانسې خبري اژانس ته ويلي، دا د ولسمشر کرزي له خوا نااميدانه هڅې دي، چې کوښښ کوي د تاريخ په وړاندې ځان سپين ثابت کړي. اژانس ليکي، پر واشنګټن د کرزي لفظي بريدونه د ائتلافي ځواکونو په عملياتو کې د ولسي مرګ ژوبلې له کبله د ولسي خلکو ولاړه شوې غوسه نوره هم زياتوي. د امريکا سياسي او پوځي چارواکي د کرزي د وروستيو تورونو له کبله چې ويلي يې دي، امريکا او طالبانو لاسونه يو کړي حيران شوي، په امريکا کې د کانګرس غړو ويلي، کرزى به ډېر تاوان وکړي.
http://gulfnews.comThe Saudi Committee for Human Rights and Petition has pressed the Shura (Consultative) Council to launch a debate on the right of Saudi women to drive. The move by the committee is based on a study supported by 3,000 Saudi men and women from various parts of the country and calling for an open debate that should allow women to sit behind the steering wheel “in accordance with religious and social norms.” Under the bylaws, the Shura Council has to respond to all questions, queries and petition. “Debating the issue of allowing women to drive gives the Council greater credibility and promotes trust among the people who will view them as their representatives who are ready to engage in the debates they suggest,” Sulaiman Al Zayadi, the former head of the rights and petition committee that submitted the petition and requested a date to debate it, said in remarks published by Saudi news site Sabq on Saturday. The petition was handed before the end of the last session to the committee that approved it and suggested its debate by the Shura Council members.The new Shura Council, formed in January and which includes 30 women for the first time in its history has not yet looked into the petition. The study argued that local social and economic developments in Saudi Arabia and the international covenants endorsed by the Saudi kingdom require that Riyadh allow women to drive cars. An advisory and executive committee should be set up by Saudi Arabia to draw the religious, social and security regulations to allow women to drive as a prelude for social changes that will make the society more recipient to the idea of women driving, the study said. The committee should be made up of moderate religious scholars and representatives from the foreign, interior, culture and information ministries, human rights watchdogs, the Shura Council human rights committee and other members to be appointed by the king, it said.
Religious minorities, including Hazaras, remain the target of powerful religious militant groups, which have increasingly been emboldened because of the state’s inability to punish them, speakers told a recently organized general debate by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). If these militants are not controlled now, the country would face a civil war on ethnic and sectarian lines, they warned. Those who spoke on the occasion included South Asia Democratic Forum’s Director Paulo Casaca, political analyst and commentator Tarek Fatah and Baloch nationalist leader Mehran Baloch. Baloch alleged that the religious militants remain an ally of the state institutions in Balochistan. Taking his conspiracy theory further, he accused China and Iran for interfering in Pakistan for their own strategic interests. Sectarian killers use seminaries as their centers and persecute religious and ethnic minorities, he alleged. He alleged that secular Baloch elements are being side-lined from the political process as a strategy to allow extremist right-wing parties to suppress their “nationalist movement.” Paulo Casaca urged the European Union and the United States to promote “real democracy” in Pakistan which means a state of law, freedom of religion, and respect of cultural identities. Tarek Fatah said that Pakistan’s future remains linked with secularism. Only the separation of religion and politics will help resolve Pakistan’s horrendous crises, he said. “The current chaos is linked with the ideological confusion where the dominant narrative wants to end every opposing or alternative voice. Its damaging Pakistan and a new direction is needed.”
EDITORIAL :DAILY TIMESThe issue of the blasphemy law has reached ridiculous proportions. The latest victim of the misuse of this law is the vulnerable Christian community. The heinous crime perpetrated by a fanatical mob of burning down 200 Christian homes in Badami Bagh recently has raised many important questions of just where we have reached not just as a society but as a nation of ‘believers’. A raving mob of some 3,000 ‘faithful’ premeditated roughhousing a so-called blasphemy accused and ended up burning down the lives and assets of hundreds of Christian families caught up in the frenzy of a mob mentality. The Christians who came out onto the streets to protest this crime have been met with threats by clerics and police officials. These are not the actions of a civilised, harmonious religion and its people. In 2009, the Gojra riots, where eight Christians were burned alive and 60 Christian homes were burnt to ashes by a mob, indicated the sick direction in which this country was heading. Not a single culprit was apprehended for the Gojra massacre and, so far, the same can be seen for the Joseph Colony incident. When the extremists see that fanatics get away with murder, what is there to stop anyone else from repeating the crime? What is more, most of these ‘blasphemy’ cases are lodged against minorities and that too for reasons that do not stand up to scrutiny. It has been reported that the Joseph Colony incident occurred after a drunken row between two men, one of them the accused, who is a Christian. The accuser has fled whilst the accused languishes in police custody. Blasphemy charges are used as a disguise for vested interests, often to do with land grabbing. This is what our faith has been reduced to by the ‘pious’ — a cover for hidden agendas. The Rimsha Masih case was a proven case of land grabbing by a greedy neighbourhood cleric. When such incidents take place, it is the job of the people, the media and the government to take stock and demand accountability. It is also the job of this country’s legal system to haul up those who actually blasphemise by dragging God’s name in the mud. In another example of how moronic our psyche has become, reports from Shibli Town, Lahore tell of how an imam of a local mosque has accused a young Christian boy of committing blasphemy by allegedly urinating in the ablution area of the mosque, resulting in the Christians of the area feeling threatened. Is this serious? Does it not make one want to shake their head and cry for the state of this nation? It is time to do something about the blasphemy laws so that minorities are, at least, offered some protection by making sure that these foolish accusations cannot be flung about so conveniently. If this is not done, it is only a matter of time before everyone becomes fair game.
Egyptian police have used tear gas on a crowd of protesters outside the Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters in Cairo. The demonstrators turned out to condemn what they called an assault on journalists. It comes just one day after an RT cameraman and other journalists were attacked outside the headquarters by Brotherhood supporters. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of the capital Sunday afternoon, chanting slogans against President Mohamed Morsi and the Islamist group from which he hails. Some of the then were holding banners which read, "Down with Brotherhood rule." The demonstration turned violent after a group of protesters tried to break through security forces which were guarding the group's headquarters. Officers used teargas to disperse the crowds, while protesters set tires on fire in the street. The newly elected head of the Journalists' Syndicate, Diaa Rashwan, condemned the attacks and called on Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie to apologize. He also urged Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to condemn the assaults. Rashwan did not rule out that the violence against journalists had been carried out under orders from the Muslim Brotherhood's leaders; the reporters were covering a meeting between Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. At the same time, Brotherhood spokesperson Yasser Mehrez, has denied that his members intentionally attacked the journalists. "Clashes erupted because some people tried to break into the Brotherhood’s headquarters. The young members of the Brotherhood did not intend to assault journalists or anyone else,” Ahram Online quoted Mehrez as saying. “Everybody has freedom of expression and the right to protest, but insults and sabotage are unacceptable." The Muslim Brotherhood insisted that guards outside the headquarters were provoked and insulted by the activists and journalists. Reporters said the assault took place after activists sprayed anti-Brotherhood graffiti on the ground outside the headquarters; Brotherhood guards retaliated with sticks and chains. RT’s Mohammad Moukhtar, cameraman for the Arabic department, was among the crowd of journalists filming the activists drawing graffiti. He sustained a head injury while he was trying to protect his camera as a gang of men armed with sticks and knives attacked a group of activists and journalists. Despite Mohammad’s efforts, RT’s camera was broken and stolen. The latest violence against journalists comes amid unceasing unrest in Egypt, with anti-government protests being staged in the capital Cairo and across the entire country. Sunday’s protests at the Journalists' Syndicate in downtown Cairo was the first of three demonstrations the journalists plan to hold. They will gather at the prosecutor-general's office on Tuesday, and outside of the Brotherhood's headquarters on Wednesday.
The National Union of Syrian Students in Poland and Polish citizens organized a sit-in outside the UN headquarters in Poland's capital, Warsaw, in protest against the acts of terrorism perpetrated by the armed groups in Syria. The participants stressed support to Syria against the conspiracy targeting it, holding banners expressing condemnation of the killings and vandalism acts of the armed terrorist groups. A number of participants handed a letter addressed to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to his representative in Poland, demanding exerting pressure on the countries funding terrorism in Syria and expressing support to launching a political dialogue among the Syrians.
By MICHAEL MUDD A COURT has struck down, at least for now, New York City’s attempt to slow the growth of obesity by limiting the portion size of sweetened beverages. But governments should not be deterred by this and should step up their efforts to protect the public health by limiting the marketing tactics of food companies. Anyone who believes these interventions are uncalled-for doesn’t know the industry the way I do. I was part of the packaged food and beverage business for more than 20 years. As the national waistline grew, the industry sought refuge in the fact that the obesity epidemic has many causes. It has insistently used that fact to fight off government regulators and justify why it should not have to change what it sells or how it sells it. With tobacco, the link between product and disease is direct and singular. But it is less clear with food: the rise in obesity is the result of multiple factors. Suburban life discourages walking. Escalators have replaced stairs. Schools have eliminated gym class. Kids play video games now, not kickball. Even the vast increase in two-income households over the past 40 years has had an impact, discouraging cooking and increasing reliance on packaged foods and chain restaurants. It all adds up. So when it’s time to pick the guilty party out of the police lineup, the food industry cries foul whenever critics point to it. “Hey,” the industry complains, “why pick on us when everybody in the lineup is guilty?” But that’s not true. Everybody in this lineup of cumulative social and environmental changes may have played a role in the growth of obesity, but none are culpable the way the big food processors and soft drink companies are. The industry is guilty because it knew what the consequences of its actions might be. Large food processors employed a flock of Ph.D. nutritionists and food scientists. The connection between calorie consumption and weight gain was always as plain as the number on the bathroom scale. But instead of acknowledging this and taking corrective action to sell a better product more responsibly, food processors played innocent by blending in with the crowd of causes. It’s time to end the charade and mandate the needed changes that the industry has refused to make. For much of my time in the food business, I defended the status quo. Then, as obesity’s prevalence increased in the ’90s, I argued for change. Today, more than eight years after leaving the industry because of its failure to reform, I still struggle with the paradox that defined the business. In so many other ways, these are good people. But, little by little, they strayed from the honorable business of feeding people appropriately to the deplorable mission of “increasing shareholder value” by enticing people to consume more and more high-margin, low-nutrition branded products. Confronted with this, the executives who run these companies like to say they don’t create demand, they try only to satisfy it. “We’re just giving people what they want. We’re not putting a gun to their heads,” the refrain goes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Over the years, relentless efforts were made to increase the number of “eating occasions” people indulged in and the amount of food they consumed at each. Even as awareness grew of the health consequences of obesity, the industry continued to emphasize cheap and often unhealthful ingredients that maximized taste, shelf life and profits. More egregious, it aggressively promoted larger portion sizes, one of the few ways left to increase overall consumption in an otherwise slow-growth market. All this tells us two very important things. First, the food industry knows it has a problem, potentially a very big one if the forces against it ever do coalesce effectively. So, in maneuvering for protection by managing public opinion and policy formation, the industry will always try to camouflage itself as just one of many causes in the growth of obesity. Just as the National Rifle Association points to mental illness and violent video games as a way to deflect attention from the inherent dangers of guns, food processors will wring their hands about physical activity and, yes, video games. We shouldn’t fall for it. Next time you hear of a big food or beverage company sponsoring an after-school physical activity program in your community, you can be sure they’ll say it’s to show “our company’s concern for our kids’ health.” But the real intent is to look angelic while making consumers feel good about the brand and drawing attention away from the unhealthful nature of the company’s products. “Posing for holy cards,” as one of my colleagues used to put it. Second, as more is revealed about their deliberate indifference, food companies must be made to change their worst practices. After years of foot dragging and hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying fees, it’s obvious the industry won’t change on its own. Quite simply, change will have to be forced — by public pressure, media attention, regulation and litigation. Yes, companies will point to some “better-for-you” versions of their traditional products and they will trot out a few smaller-portion-size packages to show the “choices” they’ve provided. But left alone, the industry will concentrate on selling its problematic core product lines. The needed changes could take many forms. Here are some of the most promising: Levy federal and state excise taxes on sugared beverages and a few categories — snack foods, candy, sweet baked goods — that most undermine health. These taxes could help pay for education programs, subsidize the healthiest foods for low-income individuals and, maybe, discourage consumption. Make mandatory the federal guidelines for marketing food to children that were proposed in 2011. These guidelines — written jointly by the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Agriculture — were only to be voluntary, and still lobbyists for the food industry persuaded Congress to block them. Communicate more actively with people about their food choices. Require prominent disclosure of calories for every item on the menu in chain restaurants and vending machines. And create a front-of-the-package labeling system to encourage healthier food choices. Finally, the government should back community-based campaigns to inform and inspire better eating and more exercise. I left the industry when I finally had to acknowledge that reform would never come from within. I could no longer accept a business model that put profits over public health — and no one else should have to, either.
By Najam SethiPolitical Islam and national security policies are ravaging Pakistan. But neither the generals, who spawned this symbiotic process in the 1980s and nurtured it in the 1990s, nor the politicians, who exploited or condoned it for legitimizing themselves, have the will to turn back the tide. In consequence, the country is besieged by dozens of armed non-state ethnic, sectarian, jehadi, criminal, separatist and terrorist groups in one garb or another that have overrun law and order and plunged various communities into a blood bath. The minorities, in particular, are being targeted with a genocidal vengeance. The targeted killing of Shias, in particular the Hazara community in Balochistan, has captured headlines in the last two years for three reasons. First, the scale of the killings is alarming - nearly 1000 have been killed in the last eighteen months, mainly in Balochistan, Karachi and the Northern Areas. Second, the assassins - Sipah e Sahaba, Lashkar e Jhangvi and various related offshoots - have been audacious enough to claim responsibility. Third, the civil-military establishment has admitted its unwillingness or inability to tackle this menace for reasons that are flimsy and self-serving. The Ahmedis and Christians have been laid low by the blasphemy laws that enable mischief mongers and vested interests to target them with impunity. Chapels, charities, schools and homes have been attacked. Graves have been desecrated. In the Gojra riots in Punjab, 2009, a Christian community was forced to flee, its homes were looted and burnt down. In 2011, Shahbaz Bhatti, a notable Christian leader, was assassinated in broad daylight. The same year, a mob attacked a Christian community in Gujranwala. And last week, another frenzied mob burnt down 200 Christian homes in a Lahore suburb. In every case, the PMLN administration has either avoided pre-emptive action or stood by while the Muslims mobs have rampaged. Indeed, in every case, the provincial or local government in question has screamed its party-political innocence by scapegoating the police department, swept the inquiry report under the rug and refused to learn any lessons for the future. The Gojra incident illustrates this well. A Tribunal of Inquiry headed by Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman, who is now a Supreme Court judge, delivered a 258-page indictment of the provincial government. The report was never made public precisely for this reason. But its main conclusions saw the light of day. First, it warned that "the unfortunate incident of Gojra must be taken seriously and the needful be done on a war-footing without further loss of time." But the PMLN government did exactly the opposite by consigning it to the rubbish bin. Second, the Tribunal advised appropriate amendments to the blasphemy laws - in particular PPC Sections 295, 295-A, 295-B, 295-C, 296, 297, 298, 298-A, 298-B, 298-C, and relevant provisions of CrPC 196 and 196-B and Police Order 2002 - to strip them of their mischief-making potential. But no government has had the courage to do this. Third, it focused "on the inability of the police to assess the gravity and sensitivity of the situation", it noted the "inadequate precautionary and preventive measure by the police", and the "failure of the intelligence agencies in providing prompt and correct information". Much the same charge is now being laid at the door of the various law and order departments of government. Fourth, it criticized the "irresponsible behaviour of the administration" for willfully ignoring the developing situation. This happens time and again. The recent incident in Lahore demonstrates the opportunist political approach of the PMLN. The police - and therefore the government - knew the full facts of the matter before the alleged Christian blasphemer was even arrested. They knew the charge was patently fabricated; that a section of local traders had a vested interest in seizing the Christians' property; that local PMLN "influentials" were egging on the vested interests. But the police did nothing for 36 hours after the arrest to thwart any Muslim mob attack on the community. If anything, the lack of any preventive show of force by the administration or warning to potential trouble-makers that they would be dealt with an iron hand, probably encouraged the mob-drivers to attack the Christian community. Indeed, when a contingent of the police arrived on the scene during the mob's looting and arson, it preferred to stand aside and watch rather than wading in to disperse the arsonists. Police officials openly admit that when they sought orders from their political masters, the orders were either ambiguous or delayed or contradictory. In other words, the government only moved to redress the situation with offers of compensation after the media flogged it for its antipathy. The PMLN's attitude towards the Christians and Ahmedis is distinctly blameworthy. Worse, its soft, hands-off approach to militant anti-Shia organisations like the SSP and LeJ is condemnable. A bit of fear and some sneaking sympathy for the cause of such groups is all too evident. For a party that plans to rule Pakistan for the third time, this is unforgiveable.
Written by Lal KhanThe political debate in the ruling elite is shrouded with the issue of corruption. It is dubbed as the most serious threat to the system and eradication of this menace is being portrayed as the recipe for the social and economic salvation of this country. The most vociferous leaders on this issue are integral part of the military, civilian and the bureaucratic elite and are openly notorious for their corrupt practises and demeanours. However very little is said about its social economic and political aetiology and root causes. The most crude and obtuse explanation is the personalisation of the issue limiting it to the conduct and role of individuals. Firstly corruption is not the cause of the crisis of the prevalent socio economic system but it is a symptom of the diseased capitalism that needs and breeds this curse. It is the inevitable by product of the misery, dearth and the deprivation excruciating society. And corruption is not just a Pakistani phenomenon but where ever capitalism exists, corruption, prostitution and crime are its essential components. Corruption has rapidly soared in China ever since the process of the restoration of capitalism began under Deng Xiao Ping in the late 1970’s. According to an official report Indian capitalists have stashed away 1.4 trillion dollars in Swiss and other off shore financial heavens. This huge amount is from tax evasion and other corrupt practises of India’s national bourgeoisie. The Economist in its recent issue says, “the world has 50-60 active tax havens, with over t$21 trillion invested virtually tax-free and over 30% of global foreign direct investment is booked through these tax havens and it does not stop here as domestic investment is routed offshore to qualify for tax breaks reserved for foreign investors. Some suspect this accounts for a sizeable portion of ‘foreign’ investment in India and China. This is also the case in America, whose companies face one of the rich world’s highest corporate-taxes, also has some of the most energetic tax avoiders.” There is not a single capitalist country on this planet that can claim to be corruption free. The multinational corporations set aside huge sums of money in their budgets for the kick backs to the military and the civilian political elites with whom deals are done. Biggest culprits are rulers of the neo colonial states and prominent companies mainly the military industrial complex and the oil industry. These corporations also bribe the parliamentarians, political parties and leaders and the bureaucrats that are the policy makers in ‘defence’, infrastructural projects and other massive economic undertakings. The financial sharks and corporate businesses invest heavily in elections campaigns to get their backed politicians elected and then use them to get state bailouts, contracts and other economic privileges. The 2012 presidential race was the most expensive in US history with overall cost of $6 billion. But with the worsening of the economy the role of corruption and black economy becomes more and more intensive. Economists at Paris School of Economics and Global Financial Integrity have highlighted in recent studies that the elites of 139 low-middle-income countries have parked up to $9.3 trillion of unrecorded wealth offshore and this turns some of them from big debtors into creditors. “Developing countries as a whole don’t face a debt problem, but a huge offshore tax-evasion and money-laundering problem,” With the weak and debilitated economic base of the decayed Pakistani capitalism this parallel or the black economy has been expanding robustly. From about five percent in the mid seventies it has soared to about seventy percent of the total economy now. At the present stage the formal or the official economy is growing at the rate of less than three percent while the growth rate of the black economy is estimated to be nine percent. It is like a tumour that has over taken in size of the body in which it was rooted. This black economy is based on several sectors of the economy comprising of drug trade, human trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and ransom, counterfeiting, smuggling, illegal logging, software and music piracy and several other criminal activities. But the massive share of this black economy comes from the corruption in state and society. This black economy has had severe ramifications in politics, state and society with spiralling terrorism, crime and devastation. The covert fragmentations within the structures of the state are also due to the conflicts between the different warring factions representing the various segments of this parallel economy. Paradoxically this corruption and the black economy have been a buffer and a support for the economic cycle that is running this country. Due to the burgeoning crisis of the formal economy Pakistan has been relying more and more on this corruption. With ever increasing military expenditure and repayment of debt and its interest, there is hardly anything left to spend on the social and infrastructural sectors. Austerity, price hikes and blatant exploitation has pulverised the already impoverished masses. Due to the collapse of the living standards along with the decline in the buying power of the society there has been a severe contraction of the market. It is this black market consumption which keeps the economic cycle moving. This sector apart from being a cushion for the formal economy is responsible for 73.8 percent of the total employment in the country. Characteristically its investments are in short term sectors like the real estate, transport, health, education and other services sectors. It is shielded by the religious fundamentalist groups, several political parties, sectarian and nationalist chauvinist setups, sections of the state bought off by these lords of the black economy and outright criminal mafias. Those politicians parroting the rhetoric of ending corruption are either too naive or unashamedly deceiving the people. If corruption, the main source of the black market is eradicated then it will bring down the whole economic edifice of Pakistan as it is so large and actually the formal economy is enmeshed in this black economy. The stark reality is that Pakistan’s capitalism is in its terminal decay. Just like a junkie who is dependent on his fix, this decaying system is totally dependent on this informal economy. It is simply not possible to revive or recreate a healthy capitalist economy in this country. With little or no chance of the recovery of world capitalism in the near future Pakistan’s exports, foreign investment and industrial growth are almost ruled out. The debt burden continues to pile up. In the last five years the incumbent coalition democratic regime has acquired more foreign and domestic loans that the ones acquired in the previous sixty years. Any party in power in this system would not and could not have done much else. With the falling rupee the debt burden keeps on mounting. With about 2 percent of the population paying taxes, declining exports and record deficits the economy cannot run on the foreign remittances alone. Pakistan’s economic future is bleak to say the least. Within the present system no miracle can pull it out of the abyss into which it is unravelling. It is not a question of interpreting or predicting the system; the point is to change it.
As the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP aka ASWJ-LeJ) and Taliban (TTP) continue to bring annihilation to it and slaughter courses through its districts, Pakistan wails in desolation on the breath of hate. Cradle of an old and proud civilization, it was not always like this but now it is being consumed, its name being blackened, its history being annulled, and its people being dissolved by the fires of bigotry and violence imported from the sands of Arabia. Stricken from hate and terror everyone seems to be biding their fate or bidding for their war, as dividing curses -fuelled by the wealth from the Middle East- continue to pour forth. As the phallus of abhorrence continues to harden on the promise of a prurient afterlife, our world is burning in an obsequious serenade to the biases held fast in that Peninsula. As the devils of apostatization and terror roam free to honour their spiteful philosophy and the society abounds with putrefied life, it seems that our nascent years were the best days and the rest has been a descent into a bloody sunset that now seems here.Sorry for these dark thoughts that gripped me after watching this video sent by a friend that shows a mother bewailing her son, still missing after Abbas Town’s blast. This mother spoke six days ago and I don’t know if there has been any development about her son since then. Let’s pray she finds her darling lad, the pride of her hopes, even if to mourn over his body reduced to mashed tissues and bones for the crime of being born a Shia. It is not hard to imagine that when her son was born, like every mother, her heart ceased to be her own. It became her son who crawled and loped and hopped and giggled and cried in her lap for a kiss from her. Now, the rest of her life is reduced to a blubbering mess in the wait for reuniting with her age’s future shade. Can anyone imagine the grief of a mother who seeks solace even in the assurance that her son has been blown to death and his pieces now lie in peace? As I watched this video, I asked myself, has the recent bomb attack by the SSP in Abbas Town made it one attack too many? The bombing and attacks on lives and properties have left our society devastated and the people in general and Shias and minorities in particular in fear. Who suffers the most? I think the worst hit are mothers who bear the pain and loss of their beloved sons and daughters and are yet condemned by life to continue their existence for the rest of the family. How my heart ached as I wiped a tear off my daughter’s eyes while watching this mother lament in an agony that does not allow her to even grieve for her son. How I wish he could somehow whisper in her ears:
Mommy, mommy, please don’t cry. I’m in heaven now, so dry your eyes. God is keeping me safe and warm, just as you did from the day I was born. I don’t know for sure why this happened, we parted much sooner than you planned. Please brave the bitter grief on your way, and I’ll be a good boy in all I do or sayWith the recurring bomb attacks by the SSP and TTP, the peace of Pakistan has been murdered and the fabric of the society has been eroded. To the families of the victims of terror the life seems worthless. Zafar Abbas of JDC recounts the harrowing experience of some of these women. He explains how in Abbas Town, only the latest in a long list of such instances, no one was excluded – Shias and Sunnis; Mohajirs and others; male and female; the small and innocent; the young and promising; the old and wise, all alike fell victim to this ruthless act of savage barbarity. Shattered and battered they pull along in a neighbourhood where the people are left to mourn the loss of their loved ones. The break of each day offers no comfort or warmth as every dawn is laced with fear and hopelessness. In every home where there was a victim, laughter has long ceased and smiles have been wiped off faces that were once glowing. Heads are bowed in sorrow and with pain hearts are left heavy. But, yet, Zafar describes that the chief mourners are the mothers, who struggle to accept that their loved ones have departed. His voice quivers as he recounts the inconsolable wails of a woman who lost her husband and her son. I neither have the heart nor the words to repeat what he has to narrate. It is happening across Pakistan to women whose loved ones are blown in bomb blasts, or targeted and killed, or die in the blasts in their school vans, or are killed for working for the security agencies. Their breadwinners, husbands, fathers, and brothers are gone without bidding them bye. They have lost their children who were all they had for now and for ever. Like the dart of a sword in the heart, the SSP and TTP attacks have left mothers’ reduced to epithets of agony. How many of our mothers will we allow to be drawn to the caresses of darkness? How many? Is there a dawn for us somewhere?
Unidentified terrorists set on Sunday blew up four CD shops in the Mattani area in the outskirts of Peshawar near main Kohat road. However, no casualties were reported. A pamphlet was found at the explosion scene which warned of more attacks against those engaged in ‘un-Islamic’ businesses. A trader confirmed that they had received the pamphlet according to which all ‘immoral’ businesses would face the same fate. According to police sources, one kilogramme of explosive was used in the bombing, adding that no one was harmed in the attack. Earlier this month, shopkeepers in Peshawar discontinued the sale of mobile phone, USB and flash memory and other media devices after the Taliban had threatened to blow up mobile phone markets for selling ‘shameless’ video clips, ringtones and accessories. In the past, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other terrorist organisations had also warned those selling Viagra, obscene films and those running Internet cafes and CD shops.
Radio Free Europe/Radio LibertyPakistan’s civilian government has become the first government in Pakistani history to fully complete its five-year term. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf acknowledged the failings of the government but nevertheless said the completion of the term -- and the expected handover to another civilian government -- had marked a victory for democracy. Pakistan's military has ruled for approximately half the period since the country’s independence in 1947, staging coups three times. The outgoing democratically elected government had to contend with a myriad of problems ranging from deadly attacks by Islamic militants to sectarianism, separatism, natural disasters, and the failure of authorities to guarantee regular energy supplies to residents. "It is true that in the past five years we have not been able to flow rivers of milk and honey," Ashraf said in a televised address. "But we have tried to control the number of problems that we had inherited. We have used all our resources to strengthen the foundations of democracy and - by the grace of Allah -- today democracy is so strong that no one will dare to dislodge it in the future." In addition to the daunting list of domestic troubles, the outgoing government had to contend with deteriorating relations with the United States, particularly in the aftermath of the 2011 U.S. forces raid that killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was living in a compound not far from a key Pakistani military facility. The government has also been criticized for failing to take effective action against widespread corruption, economic decline, and a worsening security situation. Ashraf portrayed many of the country's problems as having been inherited from the previous military regime of President General Pervez Musharraf. In his speech, Ashraf claimed a series of foreign policy successes for the government, including in Pakistan's relations with rival India, and with Afghanistan, Iran, China, and Russia. "In order to boost peace and trade in the region, we stretched a hand of friendship towards Afghanistan and India so that ties are strengthened and lasting peace and progress in the region is ensured," he said. "Besides China, we also broadened our ties with Russia. By signing the Gwador Port agreement with China, we opened a new chapter in Pakistan-China relations. Recently, keeping in view the power needs of Pakistan, the presidents of Pakistan and Iran inaugurated the gas pipeline." Parliament was dissolved at midnight on March 16 upon the expiration of its mandate. A caretaker administration will manage the country’s affairs until general elections are held within 90 days. Underscoring the deep divisions in Pakistani politics, lawmakers failed to reach consensus on a caretaker government in time for the last parliamentary session. The Central Election Commission has recommended the holding of elections between May 8 and May 10. Ashraf appealed to “all political parties, national institutions, civil society, and mass media to complete the election process in an independent, peaceful, and pleasant environment.”
The Express TribuneRangers arrested the former president of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s (LeJ) Sindh chapter during a raid in Karachi on Sunday, reported Express News. Qari Abdul Hayee, alias Asadullah, was allegedly involved in the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl. He was arrested in 2003 from Multan over his suspected involvement in planning and carrying out the kidnapping and murder of Pearl. Hayee is also wanted in several other criminal cases, including helping his accomplice, Riaz Basra, in escaping from the Lahore sessions court in 1994. Rangers shifted him to an undisclosed location for interrogation. Targeted operations were initiated in sensitive areas of Karachi after two bomb blasts –in Quetta and Karachi – targeted the minority Shia community killing more than 190 people. The LeJ had claimed responsibility for the Quetta blast and had threatened to exterminate all Shias. Following the attack, LeJ leader Malik Ishaq and his son Malik Muhammad Usman were detained for a month. Several other members of the banned outfit were also arrested during separate raids. Qari Abdul Hayee’s past A black warrant had been issued in January, 1994 against Hayee for his involvement in the Shehr Sultan killings. Police investigations showed that Hayee had thrown grenades on a Shia mosque in Sher Sultan and resorted to indiscriminate fire along with his two accomplices in the attack. About half a dozen people died and Sher Sultan police registered a case against the accused. At one point, his capture carried a bounty amounting to Rs2 million. Hayee was arrested and had been awarded the death sentence by the Dera Ghazi Khan anti-terrorism court on six counts for killing six people in the Shehr Sultan attack. Hayee was also a close aide of Riaz Basra, the founder of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and had reportedly met Taliban chief Mullah Omar once in Afghanistan during his years-long stay there. The accused had helped LeJ in militant training in Afghanistan and allegedly trained hundreds of terrorists. He is considered a specialist in bomb manufacturing and had shifted from Afghanistan to Karachi after the fall of the Afghan Taliban in 2002. After internal differences arose in the LeJ, Qari formed his own Qari Asad group. He was also Imam at Jamia Siddiq Akbar mosque, forming a strong base in Karachi. He also formed a party Karawan Muhammad during the period of 1993-94.
Reports of gross violations of rules with alleged corruption have surfaced in the construction of the multi-million rupee Daanish Schools project with senior bureaucrats putting their full force behind covering up the deeds of their retired colleague, Pakistan Today has learnt. Sources privy to the development revealed that the Punjab auditors had pointed out severe violations of rules in execution of Daanish Schools Project under former managing director Yousuf Kamal. They maintained that Kamal allegedly ran the entire project on his whims and in complete violation of the Punjab Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules with auditors observing “poor construction” on “much higher rates” than what the rules allowed. They further revealed that a high-level meeting was also held on Friday at the chief minister’s secretariat on the same issue, where it was decided to “clear up” past mistakes and continue the project under rules and regulations. According to rules for a tender below Rs 200 million, only 4.5 percent higher than the approved government rates can be approved, while for mega projects involving more than Rs 200 million, the ceiling is 9.5 percent. However, the sources said the authorities had approved higher rates ranging from 6 percent to even 18 percent for the contractors of their choice, which the auditors have termed the “gravest” violation of set rules. They further alleged that all contracts were awarded under the former managing director’s tenure who did not even bother to form a PC-I—a prerequisite for initiating any government scheme, while the funds were transferred directly into commercial accounts of concerned DCOs who released them after getting a nod from the authorities without following any formal procedure. They further maintained that no competitive bidding was ensured as is set under the rules in awarding of contracts, while the rules demand inviting contractors for bidding every year, the authorities selected the contractors at the start and then continued with them for reasons best known to them. Daanish School incumbent Managing Director Sajid Hasan maintained that the entire mode of financing was “grant-in-aid” which does not require PC-I or other administrative and technical approval. “The auditors are of the view that it should have been made under Development Financing Mode which requires approval from the competent forum and following of set down procedure. The government had given a nine-month deadline and hence a few procedures were missed to expedited work,” he added. The matter came to public attention when a group of contractors who worked on the Daanish Schools project came out protesting and demanded payments of their outstanding dues. Sources revealed that the concerned district coordination officers (DCOs) and the former MD have been releasing funds to these contractors at their will, something which came to light when the Punjab government auditors called “gross violations”. This led the authorities to stop any further funds which sources said was tantamount to catching the “tail and leaving the elephant”. So far, the government has spent more than Rs six billion since 2008 on one of the most ambitious project of the Punjab government. The government set up a separate authority and gave then PVTC Chairman Yousaf Kamal additional charge as managing director of the newly established authority in May 2009. A finance department notification further clarified that the MD had powers equal to an administrative secretary. Sources alleged that the powers exercised by the former MD were beyond those even an administrative secretary was entitled to. “Even if the project was run under grant-in-aid mode, it was nonetheless public money which could be spent only through a set procedure and not on the whims of a few officers,” they said, adding that the DCOs were empowered to approve schemes up till Rs 100 million while that of a secretary was Rs 200 million with all spending needed to be approved by a proper forum, something which had been completely ignored in completion of Daanish Schools Project. Sources further said once the audit objections were raised the matter was sent to Schools Education Secretary Aslam Kamboh, who after addressing a few objections, sent the rest for publications. “A pile of objections is lying with the concerned departments,” a source said. Another senior official said the chief secretary had sent a probe committee to one of the districts after receiving complaints of severe violations, but the DCO concerned refused to share the data, allegedly on the orders of the son of a senior politician. MD Sajid Hassan further maintained that a meeting was held on Friday on the same issue to look into the matter and things had been “sorted out.” To another question, he said the tenders were advertised and rules followed, but he could not justify the existence of audit objections in that case. Another senior official on the condition of anonymity said the incumbent MD prepared all rules and had been going by the book in the execution of the project, unlike his predecessor. Talking to Pakistan Today, former MD Yousaf Kamal said it was because of the “financial constraints” that the government had not been able to pay the contractors. “The government probably spent it on projects of their own priority,” he said. Responding to a question, he said if an auditor pointed out some shortcomings, the departmental audit committee looks into it and files response as per routine procedure.
In a rare show of political maturity and harmony, the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Opposition parties in the Provincial Assembly have unanimously nominated a well-respected and widely-trusted Justice (retd) Tariq Pervez Khan, as caretaker Chief Minister of the province, unlike the ongoing tug of war amongst the political parties in the Centre and the rest of the Provinces—Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab. Even more welcoming move is that Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti of the Awami National Party (ANP), following Pakhtun traditions, personally visited the house of the opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) to discuss the name of caretaker chief minister thus two leaders gracefully agreed on the nomination of the caretaker Chief Minister hence they announced the name of Justice Khan at a joint press conference in Islamabad that paved the way for unprecedented smooth transition of power for next elections. The outgoing KPK Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti showered rich tributes to the Opposition leader Durrani, eulogizing his support and guidance in evolving consensus on the Caretaker Chief Minister. Justice Khan, born on February 1948, is mostly regarded as a clean personality and unbiased professional that the people of KPK were looking for to head the caretaker set-up in the restive province to ensure free, fair, transparent and impartial elections. After completing his education from Peshawar, Justice Khan practiced law there till he was elevated as a judge. Having vast experience and knowledge of the local politics and the tradition, impartial Justice Khan is well deserved candidate to lead the province to smooth transition of power. Thus the hope and expectations attached to him in his new role are not misplaced. Secondly, amicable consensus in the KPK on the Caretaker CM, indeed, is good omen and it must have sent positive signals to Islamabad for others to follow suit. Above all, the KPK has put the anxiety and apprehensions about the fate of the elections to rest. The National Assembly ceases to exist today hence the ongoing consultations on the caretaker setups will soon to come logic conclusion. The Prime Minister, the Chief Ministers, taking a step forward, have agreed in principle to hold the elections of the national and provincial assemblies on the same day but they are yet to come to terms on the dissolution of provincial assemblies on the same date. The differences have erupted over the MQM’s late decision to part ways with the PPP and to sit on the opposition benches edging out the PML-F—a strategy, the two former allies have designed to their own advantage. The PML-N, having leverage of the constitutional five-year term for the Punjab Assembly ending on April 8, is twisting the PPP arms to revive status of its ally PML-F in the Sindh Assembly. The differences do exist amongst the stakeholders but will soon be ironed out. The KPK politics has set a healthy example for all to follow failing which constitutional doors are ajar to keep political wheels moving.
THE FRONTIER POSTIt is not for nothing that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was the first to announce its caretaker chief minister after Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti and Leader of Opposition Akram Khan Durrani, a former chief minister himself, met a few times. They chose the former chief justice of Peshawar High Court, Tariq Pervaz Khan, a man with extremely good reputation as an upright man. One hopes his short stint as the caretaker CM will be as unblemished as was his career as a judge. There is a reason for this timely resolution to the issue of caretaker chief minister: Because from their everyday life, the people of this province know that if talks fail, violence, which can escalate to killing each other, is not far behind. This experience, in their tribal and family lives, has made even the common people and politicians wary of situations going out of hand. That is not to say that everybody here is as mindful of solving solution amicably. Exceptions are aplenty. Some newly rich and some first timers in the assemblies did lose their tempers too soon. They don't express themselves while respectful of others.. But such men and women are generally not appreciated either by the ordinary people or political leaders. Men and women who can keep their cool even in the most infuriating situations are considered as the individuals who can solve knotty issues. Nevertheless, Hoti grew up in a family with political giants in his family. Durrani was tutored in politics by no less a crafty politician than Maulana Fazlur Rehman himself. Both individuals should be congratulated for being the first timely picking caretaker CM for their province and lessening the confusion in the politics of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Both the leaders were able to resolve the issue because they refused to be bogged down by small details and one hopes that both sincerely wanted to have fair elections in the province. In the other three provinces and the centre, politicians have not been so quick. They continue to squabble over minute details and want to be seen as important players in the choice of the caretakers. This delay in the three province and the centre in choosing the caretakers CMs and the prime ministers puts a damper on the elections process and people fear that the disagreement between politicians may lead to a much graver situation. Many even hear the thud of army boots in Islamabad. Some are just disgusted with the delay. At the most the delay in nomination of the caretakers may give the current prime minister and the chief minister five to seven days and for that these politicians are seeking excuses to further agreement on the issue and leaving the people in suspense. It is shameful that some of our so famous politicians will stoop so low to stick to their high offices and for such a little time. No wander the people are getting fed up with politics and politicians. The culture of being glued to high positions when one's time is up or is no more fit or deserving is sickness that has invaded all spheres of our social life. From players, to bureaucrats to general, to politicians most of us want to overstay our welcome. One hopes the example set by the politicians of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be followed by politicians in the center and other provinces.