http://www.brecorder.com/Central leader of PPP and sister of President Asif Ali Zardari, Faryal Talpur has said that election campaign of the party was gaining momentum and people were responding enthusiastically. In a TV interview on Friday, Faryal Talpur said that delay in election campaign of the PPP was due to scrutiny of the candidates for national and provincial assemblies elections. She expressed the confidence that the people of Pakistan were with the PPP and vote for it in the elections. In reply to a question, the PPP leader said that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would contest elections from NA-207 Larkana after two years. She said Bilawal’s future was tied with the youth of PPP and Pakistan. She was confident that future of Bilawal was bright and there would be a major change when he would himself lead the party. She said in the coming days, PPP would hold major public meetings while corner meetings were going on and attended by large number of people.
Friday, April 26, 2013
At least three people were killed and more than 30 injured in an explosion near an Awami National Party (ANP) office in the Mominabad area, Orangi Town of Karachi on Friday, reported Express News. The explosion, targeting a corner meeting of the party, was heard in several areas of the city including North Nazimabad, Gurumandir and Soldier Bazaar. DIG West Zafar Bukhari said that the blast targeted ANP candidate Bashir Jan, but he remained safe in the incident. An emergency was declared in the Abbasi Shaheed hospital, and the police cordoned off the site of the blast. The caretaker chief minister of Sindh condemned the attack and ordered the IG Sindh to submit a report of the incident. On Thursday, a blast had targeted Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s election office in the North Nazimabad area of the city, claiming five lives. The party had called for a day of mourning across the city on Friday (today). The Taliban have directly threatened the three main parties in the outgoing government, the Pakistan Peoples Party, the Awami National Party and the MQM, which are often described as secular. ANP, one of the largest political forces in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, is being targeted with increased frequency. The party has come under attack in K-P at least seven times over the past few weeks.
In Afghan society today there is a palpable sense of frustration about the state of the country and Pakistan’s role. In particular, Afghans resent their neighbor’s build up at the Durand Line, the border that Afghanistan has never accepted. Kabul claims Pakistan’s construction of checkpoints at the edge of the Goshta District of eastern Nangarhar Province are an incursion into its territory. However, Afghans are more upset over what they claim to be Islamabad’s obstructive role in the peace process. The prevailing view in Afghanistan is that Pakistan is playing a destabilizing role in the country. According to this view, the peace process with the Taliban has failed to make headway as a result. During a recent debate in Afghanistan’s senate, Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin came down heavily on Islamabad, saying that Pakistan represents the greatest threat to security in Afghanistan, and has sent conflicting messages during its talks with the government of Afghanistan. Cynicism prevails in Kabul over the Brussels talk that the U.S. has organized in the hope of reconciling differences between Afghanistan and Pakistan. On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a meeting that brought Afghan President Hamid Karzai together with Pakistan army chief general Ashfaq Kayani and senior Foreign Ministry official Jalil Jilani, with the ultimate aim of bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai was quoted by the Guardian as saying, "Unfortunately Pakistan today is changing the goalposts on its support for the peace process once again. Pakistan somehow decided now to put down certain preconditions for its support for the peace process which are completely unacceptable to Afghanistan and to any other independent country." According to the article, the establishment in Islamabad wants Kabul to sever ties with India, send its army officers to Pakistan for training and sign a strategic partnership deal. Some have claimed that the goal is to give Taliban members based in Pakistan a greater say in the peace talks. Abdul Hakim Mujahid, a member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, denounces the idea. The Council was set up three years ago to initiate the peace process with insurgent groups. Mujahid, who was the former Taliban government’s ambassador to the UN, told The Diplomat, “There is no doubt that the Taliban movement in Afghanistan has its own agenda with the national interest in mind. Taliban (members) in Pakistan have their own agenda in their own country. So they are totally different. We are working for peace and reconciliation – not with the Taliban movement in Pakistan but with the Taliban movement in Afghanistan.” He added, however, that he “hopes Pakistan will remain faithful to its promise of supporting the peace process.” But Afghans are leery of trusting their neighbor. “Tell me when Pakistan has thought about Afghanistan’s welfare,” Fathullah Naimzai, an educator in Kabul, told The Diplomat. “They have always thrived on destabilizing us and Pakistan’s intention is quite suspect. Had Pakistan not interfered in our country’s affairs we could have been really a peaceful country.” Reports in Afghan newspapers also reflect the collective sense of helplessness surrounding efforts to engage Pakistan in Brussels. According to a report in Daily Outlook Afghanistan, the current atmosphere and accusations are not conducive to a positive outcome in Brussels. When the High Peace Council came into existence there was a modicum of hope that the peace process would gain traction and help to stabilize Afghanistan following the withdrawal of foreign troops. In light of recent events, however, this hope looks increasingly forlorn.
Daily TimesThe rape debate in India just started sizzling. Former adult film actress Sunny Leone, who is of Indo-Canadian origin, has been dragged into the rape fiasco that is being heavily debated in the Indian media especially after the string of brutal rapes taking place all over the country, particularly in New Delhi. The actress has left her blue-movie past and has entered the Bollywood mainstream. The porn star is being linked to the rape wave because of her history in the adult film industry especially after the anti-porn campaigners in India — as in many places the world over — started blaming porn films and clips as being behind the startling frequency of rape in the country. The vicious attack on a five-year-old girl by five drunken men, who, apparently, were aroused by adult movie clips on their mobile phones just before the rape, has strengthened this argument and it is Sunny Leone who has been caught in the crosshairs. Efforts are also being made to ban pornography in India. Whilst no one is advocating pornography, it feels as if campaigners in India are barking up the wrong tree. There have definitely been studies that link pornography with violent sexual crime but, the world over, adult movies do exist and rape also exists but nothing except for the crime is dealt with and punished. The trouble with India is that rape is an epidemic and Indians are misdirecting the blame. It is the attitude Indian men have about women that is the problem. It is the fact that anything as trivial as what a woman wears seems to trigger the primal male instinct, which results in the most atrocious of crimes. The fact that Delhi is known as the rape capital of the world seems to point to something more embedded within the Indian psyche than anywhere else in the world. Banning pornography and targeting an actress, who is a woman herself, seems to be lifting the responsibility off the shoulders off the man, who is the perpetrator of the rape. The oppressive and patriarchal view that Indian men have of women needs to change otherwise the news headlines never will.
Police in Bangladesh fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters during a mass rally by garment workers outside of the capital Dhaka on Friday, two days after a building collapse killed more than 300 people and left scores more unaccounted for.angladeshi police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators on Friday as they attacked factories and smashed vehicles near the capital Dhaka, two days after a building collapse killed more than 300 of their colleagues. Police opened fire with rubber bullets after protesters, some of whom were armed with bamboo sticks, blockaded roads and forced factories at Gazipur, just outside Dhaka, to close for the day. "The situation is very volatile. Hundreds of thousands of workers have joined the protests. We fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse them," M. Asaduzzaman, an officer in the police control room, told the AFP news agency. FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Bangladesh, David Bergman, said attempts to reach the scene of the disaster were blocked by “protestors concerned about the collapse of the building and the decisions by the manager and the owner of the building to allow the workers in.” “Clearly there’s an enormous amount of anger among the garment workers,” Bergman said.Mustafizur Rahman, the deputy police chief of Gazipur, said workers had attacked factories, smashed vehicles, burnt tyres on the roads and tried to torch roadside shops on the sidelines of the rally. "They are demanding the arrest and execution of the owners of the factories and the collapsed building at Savar," he told AFP. Meanwhile, the search for survivors from Bangladesh's worst-ever industrial accident stretched into its third day, with the death toll passing 300 after an eight-storey building housing five factories collapsed on Wednesday morning in Savar, a town near Dhaka. Rescuers expect that the number of those killed will continue to rise. Almost miraculously, 113 people have been rescued alive since late Thursday, all of whom were found in the same room of the collapsed Rana Plaza building. But there are fears that hundreds more may still be trapped under the rubble, with scores still unaccounted for. It is the latest disaster to befall the garment industry in Bangladesh after a fire at a factory making clothing for Walmart and other Western labels in November. Survivors have said the building developed cracks on Tuesday evening, triggering an evacuation of the roughly 3,000 garment workers employed there, but that they had been ordered back to production lines. Local television channel Somoy said the protests by workers also spread to several districts in the capital including at Mirpur, home to dozens of garment factories.
By Richard Leiby
Benazir Bhutto,The most popular politician in Pakistan's largest party won’t be staging any rallies or participating in debates as May’s historic national election nears. The reason: She's dead. Yet Benazir Bhutto, assassinated more than five years ago, is still the standard bearer of the Pakistan People's Party. In its TV commercials and banners, she has been pushed to the forefront of the party’s uphill campaign to return to power in Parliament after a widely criticized five-year term. Hers is the face of the party on its official manifesto. She looms over smaller photos of her widower, President Asif Ali Zardari, and their son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who lead the party but are rarely seen in public. The PPP’s campaign in the run-up to May 11 vote has been proscribed by security concerns. The Pakistani Taliban, which asserted responsibility for Benazir Bhutto’s murder, has warned the secular party that its candidates and rallies will be attacked. In recent weeks the militants have killed several leaders and workers in the parties that formed the PPP government’s ruling coalition. That may be part of the reason Benazir Bhutto, who served twice as prime minister and was Pakistan’s only woman premier, has become a constant presence in race. But her embattled party really has no other option but to stress its lineage, analysts say. The newly ended government was marred by an economic meltdown and persistent corruption cases against top officials. Even though the party and its coalition partners made history as the first civilian government in Pakistan’s 65-year history to complete a full term — and thereby shepherd in a democratic transition of power — that hasn’t lowered the price of wheat or gasoline, given people jobs or diminished poverty. Zardari polls miserably. The former prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, was drummed from office by Pakistan’s Supreme Court last year for refusing to submit to its orders to reopen a money laundering case against Zardari. And the public blames Gilani’s successor, Raja Pervez Ashraf, a former energy minister, for crippling electrical and natural gas shortages. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, 24, is too young to contest for a seat in the May 11 election — the minimum age in Pakistan is 25. In a video released Tuesday, the party heir reassured voters that he “wanted to launch the election campaign in the streets of my country alongside my workers,” but said it was too dangerous. “Once again the enemies of peace and prosperity are standing in front of us,” Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said. So the party is left with only ghosts to burnish its image. In campaign ads and on placards, Benazir Bhutto is always clad in a fashionable headscarf — in some photos merely casting a serene gaze, in others raising an arm forcefully, as if at an eternal rally. The latter image has been paired with one of her son giving a victory sign. In placards hung around the capital, Islamabad, touting one of the party’s National Assembly candidates, Benazir Bhutto takes the top position — usually reserved for living prime minister candidates in other parties’ signs. The PPP’s signage and literature also rarely fail to invoke the memory of her father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who founded the party and later served as Pakistan’s premier and president. Both of them are bestowed the title “shaheed,” or martyr, whenever mentioned in party speeches and materials. Zulfiqar Bhutto was deposed in a 1979 military coup and later hanged. Today his stolid visage is also an election-season staple, as the party makes a direct photographic appeal to his legacy as a socialist reformer. “You would hear people say, ‘I will vote for his grave, even, because of what he did for me,’” said Usman Khalid, a former Pakistan army brigadier general who resigned to protest Zulfiqar Bhutto’s execution. The 78-year-old Khalid runs a one-man Pakistani political party — based in the U.K. and on paper only — and comments on events. He said he knew both Zulifqar and Benazir Bhutto and understands the point of the current ads. “She has got a cult status and the Bhutto name has got a cult status,” he said. “Martyrdom and martyrs matter.” As the old PPP slogan goes: “Bhutto is still alive today and Bhutto will still be alive tomorrow.”
Associated PressPakistani officials say they'll seal their border with Afghanistan and restrict the movement of Afghan refugees on May 11 during parliamentary elections. Officials at the Interior Ministry and the election commission said Friday the measure is aimed at preventing terrorist attacks during the vote. Officials did not say how they would restrict the movement of hundreds of thousands of people spread out across the country or close the porous border. Pakistan announced similar measures in the past but failed to take action. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters. About 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees and 1 million other Afghans live in Pakistan. They are a legacy of their home country's repeated conflicts. Pakistanis often accuse them of importing terrorism and crime.
Daily TimesThe coming elections present a scenario familiar in some respects but unrecognisable in others. The string of blasts in Quetta, Karachi, Peshawar and DI Khan bear the imprimatur of the Taliban that have vowed to disrupt, if not stop, these elections. One can therefore only sympathise with and admire the courage of those who have put life and limb on the line to carry through the democratic process. Three parties in particular, the PPP, the MQM and ANP, have been singled out by the terrorists as targets because of their secular leanings. The rest may be cocooned in silence, but post-elections they may not be able to remain as sanguine that they are safe, since the Taliban have made no secret of their antipathy for democracy. The winners in particular may well prove to be at risk across the board in the future. Given the rash of violence, voices are being heard asking for the postponement of the elections. These have been categorically countered by President Zardari and Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebraheem with the vow that the polls will not be delayed even one day. Overseas Pakistanis will not be able to vote in this election given the inability of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the caretaker government to put the arrangements for their voting in place in time. However, given the Supreme Court’s interest (and ire at the prolonged delay of two years in the matter before it), there is every likelihood that this will come to pass long before the next elections. The final tally of candidates for 1,170 seats for the National and four provincial Assemblies makes impressive reading, despite the controversial process of scrutiny of nomination papers that brought the strange behaviour and approach of the returning officers into the limelight. According to the ECP, for the National Assembly’s (NA’s) 272 general seats, 4,671 candidates are in the field. For the 60 reserved seats for women in the NA, 258 candidates are in the running. For the reserved seats for minorities in the NA, 71 candidates are vying for 10 seats. For the 577 general seats in the four provincial Assemblies, 10,958 candidates are in the running, with 559 for 128 women’s reserved seats and 175 for 23 reserved seats for minorities. In any electoral contest, let alone one in a country beset with myriads of problems compounded by violence, this would be an impressive tally, testifying to the strength of commitment of the political class to the democratic process. However, despite the impressive numbers of candidates and the by now universally acknowledged critical importance of this democratic transition for the first time in the country’s history, there is a dark side too. First and foremost, it has to be admitted that barring a few new faces, the same cast of characters is likely to return to the Assemblies. As a class, the politicians have not exactly come out smelling of roses over the last five years. The former incumbents in particular are facing the chickens coming home to roost of five years of largely ineffectual government whose bad odour is made worse by allegations and charges (unproved so far in any court of law, it must be pointed out) of unbridled corruption and mismanagement. The PPP and its ally ANP stand squarely in the dock on this count, with the president being forced to approach the ECP regarding the campaign of ‘vilification’ being carried out against the person of the president, particularly by the PPP’s main rival, the PML-N. The president feels constrained to reply to these allegations after the Lahore High Court case in which he pledged to distance himself from partisan politics, but the fact that until recently he was the Co-Chairperson of the PPP has left him open to being dragged into the electoral fray without the right of public reply. The received wisdom at the moment amongst analysts is that the PML-N is on the rise, the PPP weighed down by the incumbency factor as much as internal problems of leadership and the threat from the terrorists, the PTI, despite its vigorous campaigning, albeit a credible challenger by now, still has a mountain to climb before it can displace the two main parties. The MQM and ANP, despite relatively stable constituencies in their areas of influence, are directly in the line of fire of the terrorists and having to tailor their campaigns accordingly. Whichever way the chips fall on May 11, the sceptics hold to the pessimistic view that the problems confronting the masses, whether unemployment, inflation, energy or sundry others are unlikely to yield to betterment no matter who wins. This mood of pessimism amongst the masses may dampen enthusiasm for the polls and affect turnout, but the historic juncture this election represents nevertheless is undeniable.
The outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has distributed pamphlets in Buner, Peshawar as well as in different parts of Karachi warning citizens not to participate in upcoming elections. They have done it before and are doing it again yet are not visible to any of the official security agencies put in place all over the country. Notwithstanding the panic such rebellious and threatening material creates, the worrisome aspect is that Taliban come to the public places to distribute leaflets without any fear of being noticed or challenged. Yes! The TTP men are daring volunteers, having no fears of any security force but the failure, negligence or inefficiency of the security agencies to give a matching response to the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan is a major source of anxiety and concern for the masses that are exposed to these threats. It is a rude shock that the local administration and the security officials have been caught unaware of any such incidents. Taliban's earlier threats have scared the Pakistan people's Party, Awami National Party and the MQM. All three political parties have curtailed their political activities in public in their respective areas to save lives of its leadsers. Having achieved the desired impact-the TTP leaflets, distributed in various areas of Karachi, Peshawar and Buner--are throwing warnings to the people against attending political rallies and casting their votes at polling stations else wise they would themselves be responsible for their own lives. Calling democracy Un-Islamic, the TTP has vowed to continue its fight against secular forces. Hardly there is anything new in the pamphlets to surprise the people. But the TTP penetration in Peshawar's Badaber, Mattni and Adizai areas and in Shalbandi area of Buner to distribute the leaflets confirms the fact the TTP network is operative in the cities unchecked and can strike ahead of the general elections, foxing the government's high security alters. The TTP's ploy will shake the people's confidence in the Government's security agencies and in their anti-terrorism measures. The TTP, so far, has succeeded to out-maneuver the security mechanism raised by the Election Commission. Yet the people of Pakistan have to wither the violence whether it comes from the TTP or from any other quarter for the sake of the country. Salvation of the Country and the nation lies in bringing in the next elected government through polls not in accepting the rhetoric of the terrorists using the name of religion. The entire nation has to stand by the armed forces to counter the terrorists' threats, out-rightly rejecting self-proclaimed righteousness by any group or individual. Yet the TTP threats should not be taken lightly. The TTP leaflets are nothing to be afraid of but certainly are another wake-up call for the entire Pakistan. The security agencies must earnestly stand up to the challenge thrown at them for saving the lives of the people and the sovereignty of Pakistan. The Election Commission must hold solemn discussions to put up foolproof arrangements to see through the process of the electing new government.
The Anti-Terrorism Court on Friday gave the FIA physical remand of former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf in the Benazir Bhutto murder case. Geo News reported. The retired General who is already serving a two-week house arrest, set to expire on May 4 for sacking judges when he imposed emergency rule in November 2007, was presented before the ATC on Friday morning where he was served the fresh remand order which he will serve concurrently. Joint Investigation team to Interrogate The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) says a joint investigation team will interrogate General (retired) Pervez Musharraf regarding why Benazir Bhutto’s post mortem was stopped, whether the retired General threatened Bhutto in 2008 over the phone, and on whose authorization did the Interior Ministry conducted the press conference after Bhutto’s death. Mark Siegel agrees to testify The FIA has also contacted American journalist Mark Siegel, an important witness whom the FIA has requested to appear before a trial court to record his testimony. Sources add, that Siegel has agreed to the FIA’s request. In Court today Pervez Musharraf appeared before the ATC in Rawalpindi for his remand hearing under tight security. He is accused of conspiracy to murder former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who died in December 2007. "We requested a three-day remand of retired general Pervez Musharraf and judge Chaudhry Habib-ur Rehman gave a three-day remand and adjourned the case until Monday," prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar told. The formal application seeking physical remand of Musharraf had been submitted before the ATC on Thursday. The ATC had also allowed the FIA to include Pervez Musharraf in the investigation of Benazir Bhutto murder case. Prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar represented FIA and presented his arguments while Afshan Adil Advocate represented Pervez Musharraf. After listening to the arguments, the court had allowed FIA to formally arrest Musharraf and include him in the investigation. Musharraf is accused of involvement in a conspiracy to murder Benazir Bhutto, who died in a gun and suicide attack in December 2007. It is one of the three cases he is fighting in the courts since returning home last month after four years in self-imposed exile.