Saturday, April 27, 2013
A blast in the Kumharwada area of Lyari in Karachi killed one person and left at least 12 people wounded, Express News reported. The explosion was reported to have occurred near a Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) corner meeting. The injured included three women and three children. PPP PS-111 candidate Adnan Baloch was also injured in the blast. The wounded were being shifted to Civil Hospital. Rangers and Police secured the area immediately after the blast. This is the third blast of the day, after twin blasts in the Orangi Town area of Karachi killed at least two people and left 27 wounded earlier on Saturday evening. This is the fifth such incident of the week in Karachi. One blast targeted the Awami National Party (ANP), while the other two targeted Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) election offices. The Taliban have directly threatened the three main parties in the outgoing government, the PPP, the ANP and the MQM, which are often described as secular.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain Saturday said blood of innocent people was being shed, because the Taliban want to keep the participants away from the public rallies held under the banner of Awami National Party (ANP), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and MQM. “Baton-wielding Shariah is unacceptable to us. We want enlightened and educated Pakistan,” the MQM supremo Altaf Hussain said while addressing a public meeting via telephone here as part of the party's campaign for May 11 polls. Expressing shock over killings of people in the recent bomb blasts, Altaf Hussain sent out condolences to the bereaved family members. He said he believes in Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s slogan which says: “Islam preaches no use of force”. Altaf Hussain dubbed the attacks on MQM offices as a conspiracy to keep the liberal political parties out of the electoral process. “The political activities are continuing only in the Punjab and ‘God willing’ they carry on like this,” he observed. He underscored the need to find the other end of the terrorists and expressed regret that some political parties do not even denounce the bomb blasts. The MQM chief reiterated that his party will form a government in Sindh following the next general elections, promising that the status of Municipal High School Nawabshah will be upgraded to a college.
THE PM last evening ordered the arrest of the owner of Rana Plaza and four other owners of garment factories who forced workers to work even after the discovery of cracks in the building. We thank her for it and point out that if this action was taken earlier at least Friday’s outburst of the workers — we can in no way be sympathetic to the lawlessness — may have been averted. Lack of immediate action created suspicions in their mind that owners, as in some previous cases, would get away. The very fact that the order for Rana’s arrest needed to come from the level of the PM, which should have been done at a lower level, speaks volumes for the autonomy of action enjoyed by our law enforcing agencies. Also we must point out that the crime of the building owner and those of the factory owners cannot be judged to be the same. The PM should also immediately set up a high level judicial commission to investigate all big buildings in areas like Savar, Gazipur, Ashulia, Tongi and low lying areas where likelihood of faulty constructions is the highest. This is most urgent in view of her own comment that 90 per cent buildings in those areas may have faulty construction. The anger of the garment workers has accumulated over the several instances when similar garment factory collapse did not lead to either punishment or adequate compensation for the victims. The real issue here is the collapse of governance in the housing sector. Rules are flouted literally at all levels. As is clear from the case of Rana Plaza construction starting from land acquisition, soil testing, to earth filling and making all sorts of construction, no legal guidelines were followed. The owner of the building itself, which was on one of the main traffic arteries of the city, had no permission to construct anything leave alone a nine story shopping cum factory complex. How could the owner do it, why Rajuk never intervened for so long, and how such an illegal building was allowed to operate for long, which has now cost us so many lives? The question is will we learn from all this and put an end to such “death traps”?
By Amy Kazmin NEW DELHI — Even before Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza building collapsed this week, killing at least 300 garment workers, the country’s $19 billion clothing-export industry was feeling the pressure of a worsening confrontation between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her political enemies. Since the beginning of February, Bangladesh has been virtually shut down for 33 days by strikes, protests and political violence pitting secular supporters of Hasina’s Awami League against its bitter rivals from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party. While garment factories supplying Western brands try to operate normally despite the disruptions, the shutdown of transportation, including roads and ports, and government offices, including customs offices, has prevented the import of raw materials and timely shipment of finished goods. Western buyers’ patience had already begun to fray. On Monday, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association held a news conference to complain that it had lost $3 billion in new orders and seen $500 million in existing orders redirected to neighboring India since January because of the unrest. Many garment manufacturers believe that the Rana Plaza tragedy, coupled with the threat of more disruptive political turmoil ahead, will prompt retailers such as Wal-Mart gradually to shift production away from Bangladesh, the second-largest garment exporter in the world after China. “The situation is becoming grave,” said Rubana Haq, managing director of the Mohammadi Group, a large manufacturer that supplies retailers such as H&M, Zara, Wal-Mart and Esprit. “We will start feeling the pressure from the buyers now.” Western retailers cannot abandon Bangladesh overnight, given its capacity, with more than 3.6 million workers. But Haq says she expects local garment exports to contract by at least 10 percent this year, and possibly more in the long term, as capacities grow elsewhere. “We will suffer from a serious image deficit,” she says. The numerous delayed deliveries stemming from the political turmoil have also given buyers an excuse to slash payments to manufacturers by 5 to 25 percent. “Buyers’ maximum tolerance is a two-week delay,” Haq said. “After that, they are canceling orders or imposing discounts.” The Rana Plaza tragedy comes less than five months after at least 110 people were killed in a fire at Tazreen Fashions, a factory supplying Wal-Mart, albeit without its knowledge. The two disasters have raised serious questions about the standards and management practices of Bangladesh’s garment industry. This week, thousands of angry garment workers have taken to the streets to protest poor industry conditions and to demand the arrests of the Rana Plaza owner and the owners of the factories inside. Ominously, the political violence hampering the industry even before the disasters is unlikely to abate any time soon. Bangladesh, which gained independence from Pakistan after a brutal war in 1971, remains divided between secular ethnic nationalists and Orthodox Muslims, who would have preferred to remain with Pakistan. Those simmering tensions have been reignited by a war crimes tribunal that Hasina’s government has established to try those accused of atrocities during the liberation war, mainly leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami. When the first conviction was issued in February, supporters of Hasina’s Awami League took to the streets to demand the death penalty. However, Jamaat leaders, and their ally the BNP, argue that the tribunal is overtly partisan and that Hasina is using it to destroy rivals ahead of parliamentary elections. Rival political groups have held dueling protests about the convictions and subsequent sentencing. Activists from Jamaat’s youth wing have also been accused of vandalizing train tracks, causing derailments and attacking police officers. The political violence has claimed at least 100 lives, and verdicts by the tribunal are expected in May and June, raising the prospect of further unrest. Meanwhile, a new Islamic organization, Hefajat-e-Islam, or protector of Islam, mobilized about 100,000 people for a demonstration in central Dhaka this month demanding mandatory Islamic education and a ban on women mixing freely with men — an agenda that critics say would amount to a “Talibanization” of Bangladesh. The group has set a deadline of early May for its demands to be fulfilled, threatening more protests if they are not. Ifty Islam, the managing partner of the Dhaka-based boutique consultancy Asian Tigers Capital Partners, says the country appears to be descending into chaos, which could prompt a state of emergency or a military intervention. “The deterioration of law and order is occurring at an increasingly rapid and alarming pace, with concurrent massive economic dislocations,” he wrote in a recent report. “A worrying new element in the political maelstrom is the nascent emergency of Islamic nationalism.” All this forms a gloomy backdrop for Bangladesh’s garment industry as it struggles to retain the confidence of its image-sensitive customers after two high-profile disasters. “We will probably see a phase of violence until December,” Haq said. “I’m not very optimistic.”
Bangladeshi authorities arrested eight people, including two factory owners, after 334 people died in a building collapse near the capital this week. Many others were trapped under concrete rubble. Several relatives of the owners and two engineers also were arrested, the state-run news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha reported. Police identified the owners as Mahmudur Rahman Tapash and Bazlul Samad Adnan. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday had ordered police to arrest the owners of the building and the garment factories in it so that they can "face legal actions," her spokesman said. Most of the victims appear to have been garment factory workers. "It is not an accident, it is a killing incident," Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu told reporters. "All, including owners and administrative officials concerned, must be put on the dock for the killing of people." Amid the arrests, the death toll mounted as families of the missing hoped for a miracle. Rescuers pulled out a woman who had given birth in the mangled mess of the crumbled eight-story building, Sangbad Sangstha reported. It was unclear Saturday how the mother and the baby were doing a day after they were rescued. But most reports coming from the fallen structure near the capital, Dhaka, were of woe. Officials coordinating the operation have said the rescue efforts would end Saturday morning and heavy equipment will retrieve the remaining bodies and cart away the rubble. The announcement ignited protests Friday from crowds near the rescue site, many of them relatives showing pictures of the missing to whomever would pay attention. Police used tear gas to disperse them, the news agency said. Protests continued Saturday as large crowds took to the streets in four districts in Dhaka. At a nearby medical college hospital, "thousands of survivors have been treated," said Sajjad Hussein, a spokesman for an anti-corruption agency. "The crisis for blood is acute and the hospital authority is urging people to donate blood for the victims. There is also a shortage of medicine. The local military hospital is also treating patients." Looking for loved ones The picture of despair was clear Friday at a nearby local school, where bodies were being kept. Hundreds amassed, many of them relatives desperately searching for loved ones. "People with photos of their relatives, mostly workers of the apparel factories, are asking the officials there for help. Whenever an ambulance is arriving at the spot, everyone is rushing towards (it) hoping to find at least the body of their near and dear ones," Hussein said. Nineteen people had been rescued alive, Dhaka District Police Chief Habibur Rahman said Saturday morning. In all, more than 2,300 people had been rescued, police said. But it may take some time until the full extent of the destruction will be known. Late Friday, relatives reported 595 people still missing, police said. The collapse occurred Wednesday morning, a day after cracks appeared in the structure. It has stirred outrage in Bangladesh over lax safety standards in the country's key industry. The cracks led the bank to order its employees not to report for work Wednesday, and the shops in the mall were closed because of a strike. But garment factory workers were told to report to work despite their concerns that the building's structure was not sound The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association announced Friday that all garment factories would be shut over the weekend "for treatment of victims of the Savar building collapse and completion of the rescue operation successfully."
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has once again challenged Pakistan Muslim League President Nawaz Sharif to debate and asked him (Nawaz) not to be scared too much, Geo News reported. Speaking to party election campaign rally here at Hockey Ground on Saturday, Khan hit hard on Nawaz Sharif and said ‘jackals can not be leaders’. Criticizing policies of Sharif brothers, Imran Khan said they did nothing in five terms what they could do so at sixth time. He said Mian Sahab and his younger brother were asking masses for vote on the basis of experience, adding with this experience they had only raised number of factories. PTI chief said provinces can generate electricity as per the constitution and asked Mian Sahab why he could not do so.
The top NATO military commander says, with all the challenges still facing Afghanistan, he is only “cautiously optimistic” that the Afghan government and security forces will be able to maintain security and prevent the country from again becoming a safe haven for terrorists after most foreign forces withdraw at the end of next year. U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis spoke about the situation in an interview. It’s been nearly four years since Stavridis took over at U.S. European Command, and a few days later as commander of NATO operations worldwide. Since then, he has made numerous visits to Afghanistan to provide strategic guidance to troops and commanders from dozens of countries, and to monitor progress. But four years later - and after more than 11 years of Western military involvement, thousands of casualties and billions of dollars spent - he can muster only ‘cautious’ optimism that in the end the Afghanistan effort will succeed. “I think we've gone, over the four years that I've been in command, that I can speak to personally, from a period of time in which I had doubts about our ability to succeed to today, [when] I think we will succeed. And I remain cautiously optimistic that we will,” said Stavridis. That optimism is based in large part on what the admiral sees as significant improvements in the Afghan security forces, which showed him some of what they can do during a visit two years ago. More broadly, he said Afghanistan’s civilian society also is changing for the better. Meanwhile, Taliban attacks continue in several parts of the country. But the admiral said that when foreign troops, except for trainers and counter-terrorism experts, leave at the end of next year, the Taliban’s ability to convince Afghans to help them will be severely reduced. “The Taliban narrative throughout this period, throughout this decade, has been 'we're fighting the foreigners.' And that was their rallying call. Well, guess what. At the end of 2014 they're not fighting the foreigners, they're fighting Afghans - their own brothers, and by the way their sisters, in the Afghan armed forces. So their narrative breaks at the end of 2014,” he said. It could still all go wrong, but Afghanistan researcher Matthew Willis, at London’s Royal United Services Institute, has a view similar to the admiral’s. “I think they will hold it together. A lot of people are concerned that, following 2014, Afghanistan will revert to a 1990s sort of situation, which ultimately was civil war. But there is no reason that history should repeat itself,” said Willis. After years of war and dashed hopes, however, no one is expressing confidence, only hope and caution. And as he prepares to retire after 37 years in the U.S. Navy, Admiral Stavridis shares one lesson he has learned, partly from the Afghanistan war. “In the end, in this 21st century, we won't deliver security from the barrel of a gun. We won't deliver security from the barrel of a gun,” he said. The admiral said security and freedom will be gained through international cooperation and a communications strategy to explain and promote democratic values, with only sparing use of the military to which he devoted his career.
http://www.dw.de/The plight of Afghan refugees is known, but less familiar are the dissidents and victims of civil war who have sought refuge in Afghanistan although the war-torn country has no asylum law as yet. Amir Hamza Halimov fled to Kabul in the early 1990s. He was one of tens of thousands of Tajiks who crossed the border to Afghanistan when Emomali Rahmon became president and civil war broke out in Tajikistan. Most returned after the end of the war but Halimov, a dissident who feared repercussions because of his anti-regime activity if he returned, stayed in Afghanistan. He and his two sons live in a guesthouse provided by the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations. The ministry has provided accommodation to about 150 asylum seekers from Iran, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iraq. Although there is no asylum law, it acts according to the tradition of nanawatai that allows a beleaguered person, even an enemy, to enter the house of any other person and make a request of him which cannot be refused, even at the cost of the host's own life or fortune. There are also countless numbers of separatists from Indian-administered Kashmir who have taken refuge in Afghanistan as well as Muslims from China's Xinjiang province. Confused status Until now, Halimov's food and living expenses had been covered by the ministry but he says this support stopped three months ago. Now he has to buy food on credit. He cannot work because his status is unclear. He has spent six years going from one authority to the next to clear his case but in vain. He is still not officially recognized as an asylum seeker nor does he have Afghan nationality. The Afghan president has the right to grant Afghan nationality if he wants to. Earlier this month, four Iranians who fled their country after taking part in post-election protests in 2009 were granted Afghan nationality by President Hamid Karzai.The government is currently drafting asylum and nationality legislation. Finally Afghanistan will be "a country that can provide refuge in the classical sense" says Karl Kopp from German rights organization Pro Asyl. People persecuted for political reasons or fleeing civil war will be able to apply for asylum. The country can be a "corridor of protection" in a region where there is no traditional system of protection. However, Kopp points out that the main problem is still how to create stable, secure conditions in the devastated country.
http://www.indiatimes.com/The main suspect in the brutal attack yesterday on Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh had quarrelled with him a few days ago but Pakistani authorities at Kot Lakhpat Jail did not take notice of the incident, official sources said. Death row prisoner Amer Aftab tried to attack Sarabjit a few days ago and abused him, the sources told PTI. The reason for the altercation could not immediately be ascertained. Aftab, who was being held in a barrack near Sarabjit's barrack in one of the most secure sections of Kot Lakhpat Jail, was among six prisoners who attacked the Indian national at about 4.30 pm. The prisoners gathered near Sarabjit's barrack after evading guards, a jail official said on condition of anonymity. The prisoners overpowered two jail wardens and Aftab snatched the key of Sarabjit's cell and opened the door. Sarabjit was hit on the head with bricks and his face, neck and stomach were cut with blades and sharp pieces of a ghee tin. "When the staff found Singh, he was unconscious and bleeding profusely. The staff removed his clothes which were covered with blood. They put on the shirt and pants of a jail warden and took him to Jinnah Hospital," the jail official said. Earlier, unnamed officials of Kot Lakhpat Jail were quoted by Pakistani TV news channels as saying that only two prisoners Amer Aftab and Mudassar were involved in the attack. The officials were also quoted as saying that Sarabjit was attacked when he and other prisoners were brought out of their cells for an hour-long break. However, the sources rejected these claims and said Sarabjit was assaulted by at least six prisoners within his barrack. Aftab, who was sentenced to death for murdering a mayor's brother, and Mudassar were locked up after the attack and interrogated, sources said. Malik Mubashir, Deputy Superintendent of Prisons in Punjab province, was appointed to head the inquiry into the attack. Mubashir would probe all aspects of the incident and ascertain whether some jail officials may have been involved or linked to the attack on Sarabjit. He will also ascertain whether the attackers were motivated by "religious elements", the sources said. Sarabjit was admitted to the state-run Jinnah Hospital with a severe head injury this evening and his condition was described as critical. Authorities had tightened Sarabjit's security after the recent execution in India of Afzal Guru, who was convicted for his involvement in the 2001 terror attack on the Indian parliament. In January, another Indian prisoner in Kot Lakhpat Jail, Chambail Singh, died after allegedly being assaulted by prison staff. Though he died in mysterious circumstances, Singh's autopsy was performed almost two months after his death. Sarabjit was convicted for alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990. His mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and former President Pervez Musharraf. The outgoing Pakistan People's Party-led government put off Sarabjit's execution for an indefinite period in 2008. Sarabjit's family says he is the victim of mistaken identity and had inadvertently strayed across the border in an inebriated state. Sarabjit Singh Still in Coma Lahore: Sarabjit Singh, an Indian man who is on death row in Pakistan, continues to be in critical condition in a hospital in Lahore where he was admitted yesterday after he was brutally attacked by a group of prisoners at a jail. Sources say he is in "deep coma" and doctors will not be able to perform any surgery on him till his condition stabilises. He is believed to have suffered extensive internal bleeding caused by a severe head injury. Sarabjit, 49, is on ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit of the state-run Jinnah Hospital in Lahore. Yesterday, he was brutally assaulted within his barrack at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore. Sources say at least six prisoners hit him with bricks, blade and sharp pieces of a ghee tin. Pakistani TV news channels quoted their sources as saying that next 24 hours would be crucial for Sarabjit. "Doctors attending to Sarabjit Singh have informed Indian officials that he is in coma on ventilator and receiving intravenous drip," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said. Even as Sarabjit was in coma, doctors carried out X-rays, MRI, CT scans on him. They are now waiting for his condition to stabilise before conducting further tests, Mr Akbaruddin added. He also informed that Indian High Commission officials are in regular contact with the Medical Board of Jinnah Hospital. Sources quoted doctors at Jinnah Hospital as saying that Sarabjit's condition was measured as 5 on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), which indicates the level of damage or injury to a person's central nervous system. The GCS comprises tests of eye, verbal and motor responses. The three separate values and their sum are considered in deciding a person's status. The lowest possible GCS score is 3 while the highest is 15. Two Indian High Commission officials got consular access to Sarabjit Singh in the ICU of Jinnah Hospital this morning and spent some time with him there. Some news channels reported that a team of Indian doctors might visit Lahore to assist in Sarabjit's treatment though this could not be independently confirmed.
Sarabjit Singh: Punjab CM Najam Sethi’s Deobandi friends attack Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in Lahore jail
Indian national Sarabjit Singh, currently on death row in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail, was seriously injured on the head after being attacked by six prisoners (Deobandi militants of banned sectarian outfit Sipah Sahaba ASWJ) and rushed to a hospital, where his condition was described as “critical”. Sarabjit was admitted to the intensive care unit of the state-run Jinnah Hospital this evening, Indian and Pakistani officials said. The attack occurred when Singh and other prisoners were brought out of their cells for an hour-long break. The six prisoners (Deobandi militants) assaulted Sarabjit with blunt objects and he sustained a severe head injury. Jails in Pakistan are practically ruled by Deobandi militants of banned Jihadist-sectarian terrorist outfit Sipah Sahaba (operating as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and Lashkar-e-Jhangvvi) which is alleged to have tacit support of the ISI. In the past Deobandi militants in Pakistani jails have killed a number of Shia prisoners, e.g., Basharat Hussain Zaidi in Karachi, Qalandar Bakhsh in Sukkur; a number of blasphemy accused Christians and Ahmadis too have been attacked in jails by Deobandi militants. The attack took place in Pakistan’s Punjab province which is currently ruled by senior journalist (caretaker) Chief Minister Najam Sethi who is known to have close links with Pakistan’s military establishment. In recent past, Njam Sethi has been seen promoting and humanizing Deobandi terrorist clerics including Ahmed Ludhianvi of Sipah Sahaba (ASWJ) who was promoted in his TV talkshow (Aapas ki baat) and magazine The Friday Times (edited by his employee Raza Rumi). Ever since Sethi took over as caretaker Chief Minister a few weeks ago, Sipah Sahaba (ASWJ) has been given full freedom to contest elections in various constituencies in the Punjab (Jhang and other areas) and there is a surge in attacks on Christians, Ahmadis and Shias. The main suspect in the brutal attack yesterday on Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh had attacked him a few days ago but Pakistani authorities at Kot Lakhpat Jail did not take notice of the incident, official sources said. Death row prisoner Amer Aftab Deobandi tried to attack Sarabjit a few days ago and abused him, the sources told PTI. Aftab, who was being held in a barrack near Sarabjit’s barrack in one of the most secure sections of Kot Lakhpat Jail, was among six prisoners who attacked the Indian national at about 4.30 pm. It was well-planned systematic attack, and Deobandi prisoners were well coordinated while the police stood by. The prisoners gathered near Sarabjit’s barrack after evading guards, a jail official said on condition of anonymity. The Deobandi prisoners allegedly “overpowered” two jail wardens and Aftab snatched the key of Sarabjit’s cell and opened the door. Sarabjit was hit on the head with bricks and his face, neck and stomach were cut with blades and sharp pieces of a ghee tin. “When the staff found Singh, he was unconscious and bleeding profusely. The staff removed his clothes which were covered with blood. They put on the shirt and pants of a jail warden and took him to Jinnah Hospital,” the jail official said. Earlier, unnamed officials of Kot Lakhpat Jail were quoted by Pakistani TV news channels as saying that only two prisoners Amer Aftab Deobandi and Mudassar Deobandi were involved in the attack. The officials were also quoted as saying that Sarabjit was attacked when he and other prisoners were brought out of their cells for an hour-long break. However, the sources rejected these claims and said Sarabjit was assaulted by at least six prisoners within his barrack. Malik Mubashir, Deputy Superintendent of Prisons in Punjab province, was appointed to head the inquiry into the attack. Mubashir would probe all aspects of the incident and ascertain whether some jail officials may have been involved or linked to the attack on Sarabjit. He will also ascertain whether the attackers were motivated by “religious elements” (ie Deobandi militants of Sipah Sahaba ASWJ), the sources said. Sarabjit was admitted to the state-run Jinnah Hospital with a severe head injury this evening and his condition was described as critical. In January, another Indian prisoner in Kot Lakhpat Jail, Chambail Singh, died after allegedly being assaulted by prison staff in Pakistan. Though he died in mysterious circumstances, Singh’s autopsy was performed almost two months after his death. Sarabjit was convicted for alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990. His mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and former President Pervez Musharraf. The outgoing Pakistan People’s Party-led government put off Sarabjit’s execution for an indefinite period in 2008. However, Pakistan’s military establishment, ISI in particular and its Deobandi Jihadist proxies of Sipah Sahaba wanted to expedite Sarabjit’s execution. Sarabjit’s family says he is the victim of mistaken identity and had inadvertently strayed across the border in an inebriated state. Owais Sheikh, Sarabjit’s lawyer said, “Yes, this is very much disturbing. This is not something that we can ignore. Naturally, this will have very very serious consequences. “Sarabjit told me and a CID (Crime Investigation Department) official after the execution of Afzal Guru that a prisoner in Kot Lakhpat Jail had issued death threats. I brought this to the knowledge of prison authorities and the Punjab Home Department but they did not beef up his security,” Awais Sheikh said. “Whatever has happened, our jail authorities are responsible for that. Hope god saves Sarabjit Singh. He has been seriously hurt,” he said. Leading Human Rights activist Ansar Burney said, “I am going to file another mercy petition to Pakistan President to immediately release him and send him to India”. “There were serious threats to Sarabjit. After Chamel Singh’s death, I alerted authorities that he may be in danger,” Burney said. “This was a murderous attack and the outcome of a conspiracy. How can a death row prisoner, who is held in strict security, be attacked?” he questioned. The Kot Lakhpat jail currently has some 17,000 prisoners though its official capacity is only 4,000. There have been instances in the past of prisoners being attacked and even killed within the prison. Sarabjit Singh Still in Coma Lahore: Sarabjit Singh continues to be in critical condition in a hospital in Lahore where he was admitted yesterday after he was brutally attacked by a group of prisoners at a jail. Sources say he is in “deep coma” and doctors will not be able to perform any surgery on him till his condition stabilises. He is believed to have suffered extensive internal bleeding caused by a severe head injury. Sarabjit, 49, is on ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit of the state-run Jinnah Hospital in Lahore. Yesterday, he was brutally assaulted within his barrack at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore. Sources say at least six prisoners hit him with bricks, blade and sharp pieces of a ghee tin. Pakistani TV news channels quoted their sources as saying that next 24 hours would be crucial for Sarabjit. “Doctors attending to Sarabjit Singh have informed Indian officials that he is in coma on ventilator and receiving intravenous drip,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said. Even as Sarabjit was in coma, doctors carried out X-rays, MRI, CT scans on him. They are now waiting for his condition to stabilise before conducting further tests, Mr Akbaruddin added. He also informed that Indian High Commission officials are in regular contact with the Medical Board of Jinnah Hospital. Sources quoted doctors at Jinnah Hospital as saying that Sarabjit’s condition was measured as 5 on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), which indicates the level of damage or injury to a person’s central nervous system. The GCS comprises tests of eye, verbal and motor responses. The three separate values and their sum are considered in deciding a person’s status. The lowest possible GCS score is 3 while the highest is 15. Two Indian High Commission officials got consular access to Sarabjit Singh in the ICU of Jinnah Hospital this morning and spent some time with him there. Some news channels reported that a team of Indian doctors might visit Lahore to assist in Sarabjit’s treatment though this could not be independently confirmed.
(PCP) Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC have welcomed three more Christian political parties on joining campaign of “Christian to Boycott Election 2013” without assurances to repeal blasphemy law and allocation of Dual Voting Rights to Christians and other religious minorities to elect their representation in parliament instead of Selection under imposed Joint Electorate system. Military Dictator Pervez Musharraf imposed Joint Electorate for minorities in 2002, which bared religious minorities to elect their representatives in parliament on reserved seats and empowered Muslim political parties to select minorities’ leaders on these seats. Nazir Bhatti commented on claims of Pakistan Muslim League (Q) President Ch. Shujat Hussain in a election rally in Gujrat that PML (Q) awarded “Dual Vote” to minorities said “The PML (Q) which was ally party of Pervez Musharraf after national general of 2013, gave right to elect their representatives in local government but in National Assembly of Pakistan and Provincial Assemblies religious minorities were denied their right to elect their MNA and MPA with their votes and substandard Selection system was practiced” PCC Chief said that Pakistan is first state on globe where democracy have different definition as 272 seats of National Assembly of Pakistan are elected by franchise vote while 60 reserved seats for women and 10 reserved seats for religious minorities are being filled under undemocratic and unconstitutional system of selection. The Muslim political parties as PPP, PML (N), PML (Q), PML (F), PTI, MQM, ANP, JI, JUI and others have nothing for religious minorities in their election 2013, manifestos. These Muslim parties are enjoying vote bank of minorities but select Christian, Hindu, Sikhs, Ahmadiyyia and Parsi on reserved seats of their choice or after taking bribes. “Christians and other religious parties have nothing for their social and economic uplift in these elections being held under Selection system instead of Elections on their reserved seats and their decision to participate in such elections and their decision to Boycott is just” added Nazir Bhatti Nazir Bhatti said that Christian supporting Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan and Syed Munawar Hassan are playing with fate of Christians in Pakistan as violence rose against Christian on pretext to blasphemy laws while PPP, MQM, ANP and PML (Q) government failed to protect life and property of Christians in Punjab province of Pakistan. Nazir Bhatti said that now 8 leading Christian political parties have joined “Boycott” campaign and more will join before Election Day and May 11, 2013, will be observed as “Black Day”
Teachers in several districts of Balochistan have refused to carry out their duties during elections due to terrorism threats from the Taliban, Geo News reported Saturday. While confirming the stance, sources of Government Teachers Association told that the decision was taken after Taliban issued threats to carry out terrorism acts in different districts of Balochistan during the upcoming polls. The districts where the teachers have refused to discharge their duties include Turbat, Khuzdar, Kallat, Chaghi, Kharan, Gwadar, Panjgur, Mastung and others. The instructors are of the view that they have concerns regarding their duties during general elections on May 11. Therefore, the caretaker chief minister, chief secretary and Election Commission have been informed in writing about their stance.
The forces opposed to democracy in Pakistan are on the rampage, living up to their promise to foil the nation's will to have election on May 11. As the D-day nears, the incidence of violence is notching up and is inexorably spreading far and wide. Tuesday was one such day which presented the grim picture of the wreckage the anti-polls forces can cause, as there were no less than four bomb blasts in Quetta (and it seems there is no end in sight as yet because Wednesday morning there was the fifth bomb) and one in Karachi - of course in addition to many more isolated incidents of violence in other places. A blast near an ANP meeting in Site-Orangi Town rattled the entire Karachi yesterday evening. According to initial reports, this terrorist attack claimed at least 11 lives and caused injuries to scores of people. That the militants' bete noire Pervez Musharraf miraculously escaped a murderous attack in Islamabad some kind of divine power seems to be still weighing in with democratic forces, otherwise it was said to be a touch-and-go situation. Imagine how devastatingly it would have foreshadowed the possibility of on-time election. Sometime back, the prevailing prognosis was that incidence of violence being confined to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and violence in Quetta was sectarian in nature and Karachi was recovering given the law enforcing agencies' clean-up operations. But that's no longer the case as there are now more bomb blasts, and almost all aimed at disrupting the electoral process. Apparently, the caretaker governments are even more ineffective than their predecessors which were then accused of being soft over violence in line with their political scheming. That is no more the case, and the situation is getting desperate by the day. The violence being employed as a political tool by the anti-democratic forces is condemnable, but understandable given that these forces have always been opposed to democratic system for Pakistan. But what is extremely disturbing and no less intriguing is the indication that the targets of almost all recent bomb attacks are three political parties. While PPP and MQM are centre-left and ANP appears to be a shadow of a secular (leftist) outfit. Whether they have earned the terrorists' ire for their whatever credentials, or if they are paying for anti-militancy stance when in power, there is no clear answer to it. Isn't it diabolic that the ANP cannot come out in the open in its so-called home province fearing violence, but others are free to address huge rallies in there? This is absolutely unacceptable that the shadow of violence should so comprehensively overpower the PPP that its chairman has to launch the party's election campaign via a video. No less disturbing is the fact that as the trio has come under the terrorists' intense fire, others practically enjoy immunity courtesy the terrorists' perceived 'soft corner' for them. No doubt for the ANP, PPP and the MQM this is no more a level-playing field - something the Election Commission of Pakistan has to bother about in order to ensure the election on May 11 is fair, free and transparent. The MQM leadership has decided to shut its election offices for the time being and called for a province-wide lockdown that's perhaps the only way it could lodge its protest. Should the party fail to receive adequate assurances of protection against violence one would imagine it could go for the next step: boycott of the election on May 11. Such a decision will please the forces that are hell-bent to sabotage the electoral exercise like nothing else. We hope and expect it will not go for that drastic step, insisting that boycott of the upcoming election has a make-or-break significance, unlike the previous and others in the field would remain indifferent to it at their own peril. Isn't it small-mindedness, if not short-sightedness, on the part of the parties who enjoy immunity not to share concerns of the parties that are now under attack? They feel safe and free to hold big rallies the comfort is quite delusional given that that forces which are now attacking ANP, PPP and MQM are not for democracy in Pakistan. That they are being spared of violence it is certainly a tactical move on the part of these forces; their endgame strategy is aimed at depriving Pakistan of democracy. Before it is too late all the political stakeholders need to sit together and hammer out a consensual approach and put up a united front against the agents of violence, keeping in mind that the caretakers and the ECP, separately or together, haven't the wherewithal with them to give adequate protective coverage to the contenders in the election. The political leaderships should realise that it's democracy in Pakistan that is at stake; a battle lost here would be the war lost to the enemies of democracy.
Notwithstanding the deaths and injuries the terrorists' caused on Friday, the scorecard of terrorists' strikes in Pakistan reads: two explosions took place one each in Hangu and Kohat's Dhoda area; a cracker bomb was thrown at an Awami National Party (ANP) National Assembly candidate in Landhi; and a convoy of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) in Mach faced gunfire from the militants. In Islamabad, an advisory issued by the Intelligence agencies claims that the Tahrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has reportedly made a comprehensive plan to kidnap former President Pervez Musharraf for which it has constituted different teams. This is not the first time that the intelligence agencies through its mouth-piece the interior ministry have made revelations, predicting more bomb blasts and suicide attacks in various parts of the country. Some of these predictions, during the period of the previous regime even came true, giving the former interior minister Rehman Malik a chance to brag. But practically, the non-stop chatter of Rehman Malik miserably failed to counter or to foil the attacks he had predicted. Thus the militants gained a significant strength in the previous regime, leaving him with the title of 'motor-mouth'. He is gone. Hopefully he will never come back but the spirit of modus lingers on in the ministry. The ministry still believes in telling the people about the information it gathers. It is not the ministry's job to tell people about terrorists' plan; rather, its prime duty is to protect the people from the destruction the terrorists wreak. Mere vague predictions of the coming evil without any effective plan to make them not come true, create panic and better when avoided. The repeated failure of the government agencies in performing their duties has rendered the entire country vulnerable to the terrorists. Numerically terrorists' ratio to the Pakistan military might is insignificant but the militants' tactical planning, conviction and courage to execute what they believe in is arguably far more superior. The militants, on both sides of the Durand Line, strike at will the Pak security forces' check posts, kidnap the personnel there with the dreaded outcome of finding the slaughtered bodies of the abducted personnel on the roadsides. All these incidents are not mere acts of terrorism rather it is a proxy war that the Blackwater agents and their cronies have unleashed on Pakistan. Islamabad should take up the matter with the USA leadership in categorical terms to seek an end to the foreign support and funding to the terrorist outfits, failing which Pakistan cannot win against militancy, otherwise, Islamabad would need to revisit its policy on the war on terror. In fact, Pakistan must withdraw its support and cooperation to the foreign forces in Afghanistan till they stop backing the militants operating in Pakistan. Our forces have been stretched to the limit; yet, they are putting up a brave fight. The patience of the people, however, is running short, and the time is not far when the people of Pakistan first will throw out the American stooges sitting in the corridors of power and then stand up against meddling of the foreign forces in the country. The masses have already turned back on all the coalition partners-ANP, PPP and the MQM--who had served Americans' interests in the region without caring much about the loss of human life and material that Pakistan suffered during last five years or so. The verdict of the people is already in the form of 'writing on the wall. Read it, come May 11.
The Frontier PostPML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi on Friday questioned Sharif brothers’ failure to implement its manifesto during five years of rule in Punjab. “Why did Sharif brothers not implement their manifesto. Shahbaz Sharif makes allegations to cover his poor performance,” he said while addressing a public meeting here. “Sharif wasted Rs70 billion in jangla bus service. There is no medicine in hospitals.” He said that Shahbaz Sharif remained chief minister of Punjab thrice. The PML-Q leader said that his party’s performance was before people.
Daily TimesSpreading terror all around, the militants have stayed true to their promise of interrupting these elections by targeting the parties whose ideologies they find go against their hardline views. In the latest incident, an election office of the MQM was bombed in the North Nazimabad area of Karachi on Thursday, killing six people and injuring many more. On Tuesday, another office of the MQM was bombed in Karachi in an attack that killed four people. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has taken responsibility for the attacks and has vowed to continue attacking the campaign trail of the political parties they have threatened and blacklisted: the MQM, PPP and ANP. The ANP has already suffered many casualties with some of their most prominent leaders being killed by militant bomb attacks. It must be stressed that only those parties are suffering that have been put on the TTP hit list. This will inevitably skew electioneering. These political parties’ chances in the upcoming elections are being weakened because they are not being allowed to gather and organise their supporters. They are not being allowed to appeal to the public and every time they venture out of their fortresses, they are easy targets for the militants who leave no opportunity to make a hit. Parties with a right-wing or centre-right agenda and a soft spot for the Taliban and their types have been left out of the crosshairs and are free to conduct their campaigns vigorously during this crucial time in the run up to the landmark elections. One cannot help but wonder what the caretaker government is up to. Is it sleeping? It was very clear the moment the assemblies were dissolved and the caretaker set up put in place that this was no ordinary interim period. These pre-election weeks are dangerous days with some mainstream political players being forced to stay behind in the race out of security concerns. The TTP had made its course of action clear but where was the course of action of the caretaker government? Why has no high profile meeting and attempt at ensuring a safe environment for those contesting the elections been made? It is unimaginable that the interim government has not chalked out a clear and concise plan with the security and law enforcement agencies to streamline the election process. We have leaders and workers of key political parties being repeatedly massacred and there is no support from the system. These are hardly fair elections. The caretaker Interior Minister Habib Malik Khan needs to wake up and smell the carnage. He needs to identify that all is not well with these elections and that the militants are up in arms against the state and the democratic process. He is the ‘acting’ interior minister and he needs to ‘act’ the part. Does he not know or care that if the militants are allowed to run free like this, causing havoc and destruction, there is no guarantee for the safety of the citizens who are expected to turn out in droves on election day? Why is no one thinking about the fact that the militants are just waiting for a chance to inflict the maximum amount of damage to the state, democratic politics and citizens? It is time the interim set up started doing its job. That is, after all, the only way to ensure the historic democratic transition Pakistan is experiencing.
The Awami National Party (ANP) today observes a day of mourning against the deadly attack near its office that killed at least nine people and injured over 50 in Orangi Town area of Mominabad, Geo News reported. ANP Sindh chapter leader Shahid Syed appealed to people of Karachi to mark the day of mourn peacefully keeping their businesses open and transport on the roads. Condemning what he said a cowardly assault, he said that such attacks could not restrain ANP from its struggle. He also advised party workers to avoid provocations and donate blood to the injured. A bomb went off near an ANP office when party candidate Bashir Jan was about to address a public gathering.