Thursday, May 2, 2013

Attack on MQM office injures at least seven in Karachi

At least seven people were injured in a large blast targeting an electoral office of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) near Karachi’s busy Burns Road area on Thursday night, DawnNews reported. Initial reports suggest the political office, set up for election campaigning in the city’s NA-250 constituency, was the target of suspected terrorists. Several party activists are among the injured. Injured are being shifted to nearby Civil Hospital. Security and law enforcement forces have cordoned off the area which was engulfed with fear after the bombing. DIG South District Amir Sheikh told a private TV channel that the bomb exploded inside a nearby mosque. DSP Preedy Police Station Zamir Abbasi told Dawn.Com the blast was carried out through a time-device and around two to three kilos of explosives was used in it. Meanwhile, the Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility of the attack. Speaking to via telephone from an undisclosed location, TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said the proscribed organisation has carried out the attack on MQM. The outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had vowed to target secular political forces of the country – Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and MQM. The banned outfit had also claimed responsibilities of the last week’s attacks. More than 60 people have already been killed in militant attacks targeting electoral campaigning of PPP, MQM and ANP, across the country since April 11. Reiterating their stance of targeting the said parties for having secular views, the TTP spokesman, in a video message earlier today had vowed to carry on with the targeted attacks.

VIDEO: US Boeing 747 crash and burn caught on dashcam in Afghanistan

Saudi Diplomats Trafficking Women?
Are diplomats at an official Saudi government compound in the United States engaged in human trafficking? A case of "possible human trafficking" at a Saudi diplomatic compound in Virginia is under investigation, Homeland Security confirmed to News4. Agents from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations and Fairfax County police were called to a home in the 6000 block of Orris Street in McLean overnight and, in the words of a source familiar with the investigation, "rescued" two women. One woman reportedly tried to flee by squeezing through a gap in the front gate as it was closing. It's not clear if the women, who sources say are from the Philippines, called investigators to the home themselves or if someone else did. "Homeland Security Investigations DC did encounter two potential victims of trafficking and the investigation is ongoing," a D.C.-based spokesman for ICE/Homeland Security investigations told News4. If the women are from the Philippines, there is a high chance they are being trafficking for sex. Saudi Arabia has a history of using the sex trade in the Philippines. From a 2009 State Department report: The Philippines is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. A significant number of Filipino men and women who migrate abroad for work are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Palau, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. Muslim Filipina girls from Mindanao were trafficked to the Middle East by other Muslims. This story will most likely be treated as a local crime issue when in fact, it's a major international problem. The incident above didn't happen in the Philippines or in the Middle East, it happened in one of the most affluent parts of the United States. Not to mention, these women allegedly escaped from an official Saudi government compound.

Obama nominates Chicago exec Penny Pritzker as commerce secretary
President Barack Obama tapped Chicago business executive, longtime friend and major fund-raiser Penny Pritzker to be the next commerce secretary on Thursday. Obama made the announcement at a Rose Garden ceremony where he also said he will nominate Michael Froman, currently the deputy national security adviser for international economics, to be the next U.S. trade representative. Pritzker’s husband, Bryan Traubert and their college-age son and daughter were in the front row for the brief event; also in the audience were former White House senior adviser David Axelrod and White House Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. Pritzker turned 54 on Thursday and Obama noted her birthday in his remarks. “Penny is one of our country’s most distinguished business leaders. She’s got more than 25 years of management experience and industries, including real estate, finance and hospitality. She’s built companies from the ground up,” Obama said. “She knows from experience that no government program alone can take the place of a great entrepreneur. She knows that what we can do is to give every business and every worker the best possible chance to succeed by making America a magnet for good jobs.

Pakistan’s Election Commissioner is blind: Banned terrorist group freely participating in elections in Balochistan

جس پل پر گذر کر کراچی سے حب کا راستہ بنتا ہے اس کے دونوں جانب پاکستان کے جھنڈے لگے ہوئے اس سے پتہ چلتا ہے کہ آپ ایک نئے شہر میں داخل ہوچکے ہیں۔ ورنہ کراچی کے حدود کب ختم ہوئے اور حب کب شروع ہوا پتہ نہیں چلتا۔ جو لوگ اس راستے سے اکثر آتے جاتے ہیں ان کے لیے ایک نئی اور دلچسپ چیز یہ ہے کہ جیسے ہی پل ختم ہوتا ہے سامنے ایک دیوار پرجلی حروف سے لکھا ہوا پیغام ’دم ہے تو کالعدم ہے‘ آپ کا خیر مقدم کرتا ہے ۔ یہ بلوچستان کا شہر حب ہے۔ اور پھر آپ جوں جوں آگے بڑھتے ہیں ضلع لسبیلہ کی سیاست میں ایک نیا اضافہ دیکھنے کو ملتا ہے۔ لاسیوں، بھوتانیوں اور جام آف لسبیلہ کی سرزمین پردیوبندی اہلسنت والجماعت سپاہ صحابہ کے جھنڈے اور مخصوص چاکنگ نظر آئے گی۔ حالانکہ یہاں پر مخالف فرقہ نہ ہونے کے برابر ہے۔ – شیعہ مسلمانوں کو تکفیری دیوبندی کافر قرار دیتے ہیں اہلسنت والجماعت دراصل کالعدم تکفیری دیوبندی دہشت گرد جماعت سپاہ صحابہ کے نیا نام ہے جو لشکر جھنگوی اور طالبان کا سیاسی چہرہ ہے اہلسنت والجماعت کے سربراہ احمد لدھیانوی دیوبندی اور نائب سربراہ لشکر جھنگوی کے بانی ملک اسحاق دیوبندی ہیں کراچی میں اس کی سربراہی اورنگزیب فاروقی دیوبندی جبکہ بلوچستان میں اس گروہ کی سربراہی رمضان مینگل کے پاس ہے – اس گروہ نے پچھلے چند سالوں میں اکیس ہزار سے زیادہ شیعہ مسلمانوں، ہزاروں سنی بریلوی مسلمانوں اور سینکڑوں احمدیوں اور مسیحیوں کو قتل کیا ہے ضلع لسبیلہ میں قومی اسمبلی کا ایک حلقہ 270 اور صوبائی اسمبلی کے دو حلقے 44 اور45ہیں۔ قومی اسمبلی کے حلقے پر اصل مقابلہ جام آف لسبیلہ جام کمال خان پاکستان پیپلزپارٹی کے غلام اکبر لاسی اوربی این پی منگل کے امیدوار محمد قاسم رونجہ کے مابین ہے۔ سنہ 2008کے انتخابات میں قومی اسمبلی کے اس حلقہ سے جام آف لسبیلہ جام محمد یوسف نے کامیابی حاصل کی تھی اب ان کے بیٹے جام کمال خان یہاں سے انتخاب لڑرہے ہیں جبکہ پی بی پینتالیس پر سابق سپیکر بلوچستان اسمبلی اسلم بھوتانی کے بھائی محمد صالح بھوتانی مضبوط امیدوار ہیں۔ صالح بھوتانی کے مقابلے میں جہاں اور بہت سارے امیدوار ہیں وہیں جمیل احمد بھی ہیں جن کا تعلق اہلسنت والجماعت سے ہے۔ جمیل احمد دیوبندی کا کہنا ہے کہ ان کی جماعت سپاہ صحابہ پر جب مشرف دور میں پابندی لگی تب اس کے بعد انہوں نے یہاں پر کام شروع کیا اور وہ اب اس حلقے سے اچھے نتائج دینے کی پوزیشن میں ہے۔ جمیل احمد نے علاقے سے شراب خانوں اور جوئے کے اڈوں کے خاتمے کو اولین ترجیح قرار دی اور کہا کہ ان کے خلاف جہاد جاری رہے گا۔ اہلسنت والجماعت سپاہ صحابہ کا زیادہ تر اثر حب میں ہے اور انتخابی جلسوں میں زیادہ تر قائدین کراچی سے ہی آتے ہیں۔ اہلسنت والجماعت چھوٹی دینی جماعتوں کے اتحاد متحدہ دینی محاد کے اتحاد کا حصہ ہے اور اس اتحاد کے امیدوار پورے ملک سے انتخابات میں حصہ لے رہے ہیں۔ مقامی صحافی نادر کے بقول ’بلوچستان میں گزشتہ سال فرقہ واریت کی جو وارداتیں ہوئیں اس کے بعد یہ دیوبندی اہلسنت والجماعت ابھر کر سامنے آئی۔ اس سے قبل کچھ مساجد تک ہی یہ جماعت محدود تھی اور انتی زیادہ سرگرمیاں نہیں تھی جو اب دیکھنے کو مل رہی ہیں۔‘ نادر کے مطابق ضلع لسبیلہ کے دیگر علاقوں میں یہ لوگ نہ ہونے کے برابر ہیں جبکہ خضدار اور اس سے آگے کوئٹہ تک گزشتہ چند سالوں سے اس جماعت کے کارکنوں میں اضافہ ہوا ہے۔ ایک جانب اگر سابقہ کالعدم تنظیمیں سپاہ صحابہ نئے ناموں سے الیکشن میں ہیں وہیں دوسری جانب کالعدم بلوچ مزاحمتی تنظمیوں نے بھی حب میں اپنا سکہ جمایا ہے۔ شہر میں گزشتہ کئی روز سے ٹی وی چینلز بند ہیں۔ کیبل آپریٹر کو دھمکیاں دی جارہی ہے جبکہ اخبارات کی ترسیل پر بھی پابندی ہیں۔ڈپٹی کمشنر حب امیر سلطان ترین کا کہنا ہے کہ انہیں بھی یہ اطلاعات ملی ہیں کہ کیبل آپریٹر اور ہاکروں کو ڈرایا جارہا ہے اور ہم ان لوگوں کے تحفظ کے لیے انہیں سکیورٹی فراہم کررہے ہیں۔ ’ہم نے تمام نیوز چینلز کیبل آپریٹرز اور اخبارات کے انتظامیہ کو کہا ہے کہ انہیں جتنی بھی سکیورٹی چاہی ہے ان کو فراہم کردی جائے گی۔‘ سلطان ترین کے مطابق انتظامیہ سکیورٹی اور جاسوسی ادارے امن و امان کی بحالی کے کام کررہے ہیں اور کسی بھی ناخوشگوار واقعے سے بچنے کے لیے پوری منصوبہ بندی کے ساتھ کام کررہے ہیں۔ ضلع لسبیلہ کے دیگر شہروں اوتھل ویندر اور بیلہ میں بھی انتخابی حوالے سے خاموشی ہے۔ ضلع لسبیلہ کا شہر حب بلوچستان کا سب سے بڑا صنعتی شہر ہے ماضی میں یہاں پر بڑی تعداد میں کمپنیاں تھیں لیکن امن و امان کی خراب صورت حال کی وجہ سے زیادہ تر کمپنیاں یہاں سے منتقل ہوچکی ہیں۔ یہاں کی صنعت اور سیاست میں بھی کسی حد تک کراچی کا اثر ہے۔ ضلع لسبیلہ میں بلوچستان کے دیگر شہروں سے امن و امان کے حالت بہتر ہیں لیکن حب میں وقتاً فوقتاً دہشت گردی کے واقعات رونما ہوتے

Baluchistan: '' National Party & J.U.I-F Nexus ''

The Baloch Hal
The National Party (N.P.) has taken a dramatic decision to support the right-wing Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (J.U.I.-Fazal) in Khuzdar district against the candidate of the Balochistan National Party (B.N.P.-Mengal). This move has attracted considerable criticism from Baloch nationalist quarters for a number of reasons. Firstly, the J.U.I.-F was a part and parcel of the past two provincial governments responsible for the killing of Baloch people and carrying out deadly military operations in the province. Secondly, it maintains close contacts with the Taliban and provides them shelter inside Balochistan. The formation of any kind of election alliance or seat-to-seat adjustment with J.U.I-F amounts to encouraging religious parties in Baloch areas. It is not a very healthy sign at a time when Balochistan is witnessing an extraordinary rise in Sunni extremism in the wake of the unabated attacks on the Shia, Hazara community in Quetta. The Baloch nationalists should in fact play a pivotal role in weakening and defeating religious parties instead of consolidating their grip over the province. Thirdly, the two major Baloch nationalist parties, the B.N.P. and the N.P. should assist each other in winning the elections instead of pitting candidates and supporting religious elements against each other. Right now, Baloch secular parties should stay united if they want to stage a political comeback after the elections in order to change the political landscape of the province. Jamil Akbar Bugti, a son of the late Nawab Akbar Bugti, has strongly objected to N.P.’s support for the J.U.I. In a statement published in local newspapers, Mr. Bugti asked the Baloch parties to refrain from using his late father’s name in the election campaigns. He alleged that the J.U.I. was equally responsible for the killing of his father and, he maintained, the N.P. had joined hands with the murderers of Nawab Bugti. Hence, Mr. Bugti, who lives in Quetta, appealed to the N.P. not to run an election campaign in the name of Nawab Bugti, who was killed in mysterious circumstances in 2006 by the General Musharraf regime. On its part, the N.P., has defended its decision by saying that the latter did not respond positively to repeated offers of electoral cooperation with the National Party. The N.P. senior leader and the former senator Hasil Khan Bizenjo said that his party was very keen and committed to the idea of brokering an electoral alliance with the B.N.P. but negotiations between the two parties did not succeed because the B.N.P. wanted more seats in the parliament. The N.P. has not set a very good precedence for the Baloch nationalists by supporting the J.U.I. against a Baloch nationalist political party. The N.P. knows that the B.N.P. had been winning the National Assembly seat from Khuzdar for many years. All the past three winners of the seat from Khuzdar, Usman Advocate, Rauf Mengal and Sanaullah Baloch, had remained affiliated with the B.N.P. This year, B.N.P.’s victory in Khuzdar is extremely important if the Baloch nationalists want to limit the influence of Mr. Atta-ur-Rehman Mengal, a son of former senator Naseer Mengal. Mr. Mengal’s brother, ShafiqMengal, is accused of running the anti-Baloch nationalist death squad known as the Baloch Musla Defai Tanzeem and promoting radical Islam in the secular Baloch region. This underground group has killed hundreds of Baloch political workers allegedly with the support of the Pakistani intelligence agencies. Similarly, the N.P.’s support for the J.U.I will divide the nationalists’ votes which will also favor Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, the Balochistan head of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (P.M.L.-N). Mr. Zehri had recently shown his personal disliking for Sardar Akhtar Mengal and the Marri family by registering a case against the two in connection to the killing of his son, brother and the nephew in a recent assault on his convoy. The National Party is an important political group of Balochistan that believes in the empowerment of the Baloch middle class. But such absurd decisions raise eyebrows about N.P.’s questionable intentions and flawed electoral alliances. The Baloch society can hardly afford to vote for religious parties. While the people do have a right to vote for whoever they like, a progressive and secular Baloch party must not assist a religious party to come into power. In support of his party’s decision, Senator Bizenjo has reminded how the B.N.P. chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal had once held hands with Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani, the Balochistan head of the J.U.I. during his government in late 1990s. However, Senator Bizenjo should know that we no longer live in 1990s. The threat of religious extremism was nearly nonexistent at that time. Today, the situation has significantly changed across Pakistan. The Taliban and the homegrown Sunni extremist groups like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are trying to gain full control of Balochistan to reconfigure the dynamics of our secular society. The National Party leadership should review their decision and withdraw the electoral support to the the J.U.I-F. in Khuzdar and elsewhere in Balochistan. Whether or not the N.P. agrees to adjust seats with the B.N.P. is secondary at this point. Currently, the biggest concern is the left-wing Baloch nationalists’ support for the pro-Taliban J.U.I-F against another fellow Baloch Nationalist in a district which is constantly on the ‘must-occupy’ list of religious extremist elements.

MQM, PPP, ANP receiving open threats

Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain has said that his party, PPP and ANP are receiving open threats but public will not support those, who supported the extremists in past, SAMAA reports. Altaf Hussain said in his telephonic address to a gathering at the MQM central office Nine-Zero that the blasts and threats cannot break our spirit; the terrorists are enemies of the country and we will live or the terrorists, you would decide it. This is a matter of national security and we are ready to fight along with the army to those, who had blown up schools of the baby girls, he added. While criticizing the opponents, Altaf Hussain said we are being taught meaning of the patriotism while those who opposed Pakistan have turned patriots but we do not need certificate of patriotism from any one. “It is said that the political parties have armed wings in Karachi; we don’t have any armed wings but they do have armed wings, which support the terrorists,” the MQM chief added.

Pakistan: 18 politicians named in ISI funds scam contesting polls

At least 18 politicians belonging to several mainstream political parties, including Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif, who had been named in the Mehrangate scandal as the alleged recipients of millions of rupees dished out by the ISI before the 1990 polls, are contesting the upcoming general elections without having been cleared in the scam. Six months down the road since the apex court had announced its historic verdict in the Asghar Khan case, these 18 politicians have yet to face any inquiry or investigation by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as ordered by a three-member bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain. Sixteen years after a retired air marshal filed a petition against a former chief of army staff for sponsoring the Nawaz Sharif-led Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) to defeat the PPP in the 1990 polls, the Supreme Court had ruled on October 19, 2012 that the 1990 polls were rigged and that action should be taken against former army chief General (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg and former ISI chief Lt Gen (retd) Asad Durrani for violating the Constitution by manipulating the 1990 polls. The IJI won these elections and Nawaz Sharif became the prime minister. The Supreme Court verdict had stated: “Legal proceedings shall be initiated against the politicians, who allegedly have received donations to spend on election campaigns in the general election of 1990. Therefore, transparent investigation on the criminal side shall be initiated by the FIA against all of them and if sufficient evidence is collected, they shall be sent up to face the trial, according to law. Mr. Younas Habib shall also be dealt with in the same manner. Proceedings shall also be launched against the persons specified hereinabove for affecting the recovery of sums received by them with profit thereon by initiating civil proceedings, according to law”. However, six months later, the FIA has neither initiated any inquiry nor investigated any of the alleged beneficiaries of the ISI funds as directed by the apex court, for strange reasons. The inaction on the FIA’s part has enabled at least 18 politicians to contest the upcoming elections without having cleared their names. Those named in the infamous Asghar Khan case as the alleged recipients of the ISI funds and now contesting the 2013 general elections include Mian Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Javed Hashmi, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Aftab Ahmed Sherpao, Liaquat Baloch, Liaquat Ali Jatoi, Afaq Ahmed, Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah, Mir Humayun Marri, Pir Noor Mohammad Shah, Ismail Rahu, Nadir Magsi, Jam Mashooq, Dost Mohammad Faizi, Imtiaz Sheikh, Ghulam Ali Nizamani and Ali Akbar Nizamani. The court verdict was based on a July 24, 1994 affidavit by Lt. Gen. (retd) Asad Durrani according to which the recipients of the ISI funds included Nawaz Sharif (in rupees) 3.5 million, Lt General Rafaqat [the head of the president’s election cell] 5.6 million, Mir Afzal 10 million, former prime minister Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi 5 million, former chief minister Sindh Jam Sadiq Ali 5 million, former prime minister Mohammed Khan Junejo 2.5 million, Pir Pagaro 2 million, former law minister Abdul Hafeez Pirzada 3 million, Yusuf Haroon 5 million [he confirms having received this for Altaf Hussain, the chief of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement], former chief minister Sindh Muzaffar Hussain Shah 0.3 million, Syeda Abida Hussain 1 million, Humayun Marri 5.4 million, Jamaat-e-Islami Rs5 million; Altaf Hussain Qureshi and Mustafa Sadiq Rs0.5 million; Arbab Ghulam Aftab Rs0.3 million; Pir Noor Mohammad Shah Rs0.3 million; Arbab Faiz Mohammad Rs0.3 million; Arbab Ghulam Habib Rs0.2 million; Ismail Rahu Rs0.2 million; Liaquat Baloch Rs1.5 million; Jam Yusuf Rs0.75 million; Nadir Magsi Rs1 million; Ghulam Ali Nizamani Rs0.3 million; Ali Akbar Nizamani Rs0.3 million; former Punjab governor Ghulam Mustafa Khar Rs2 million; Ghulam Sarwar Cheema Rs0.5 million, former prime minister Malik Mairaj Khalid Rs0.2 million, and Syed Salahuddin of Takbeer Rs0.3 million. All these payments were made by Lt Col Mir Akbar Ali Khan of the ISI (Rawapindi HQ 313 survey). During the Mehrangate investigations (conducted by the second Benazir Bhutto government, Younas Habib had confirmed in his statement filed in the Supreme Court and recorded under section 161 Cr.P.C, that the following political and other pay-offs were made by him between 1991 and 1994 [after the 1990 polls]: “General Mirza Aslam Beg Rs140 million; Jam Sadiq Ali (the then chief minister of Sindh) Rs70 million; Altaf Hussain (MQM) Rs20 million, Advocate Yousaf Memon (for disbursement to Javed Hashmi, MNA) Rs50 million; 1992 - Jam Sadiq Ali Rs150 million; 1993 - Liaquat Jatoi Rs.01 million; 1993 - chief minister of Sindh, through Imtiaz Sheikh Rs12 million; Afaq Ahmed of MQM (Haqiqi group) Rs0.5 million; 1993 chief minister of Sindh, through Imtiaz Sheikh, Rs01 million; 1993 - Ajmal Khan, a former federal minister, Rs1.4 million; 1993 - Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister, Rs3.5 million; 27/9/93 Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister, Rs2.5 million; 26/9/93 Jam Mashooq Rs0.5 million; 26/9/93 Dost Mohammad Faizi Rs1 million; Jam Haider Rs2 million; Jam Mashooq Rs3 million; Adnan, son of Sartaj Aziz, Rs1 million;

Bahrain: Amnesty renews call to free jailed teachers' union chief

Rights group Amnesty International has renewed its call for the release of the jailed president of the Bahrain Teachers Association, Mahdi Abu Dheeb. Mr Abu Dheeb was convicted by a military court of plotting to overthrow the government during unrest that swept Bahrain in 2011. His original 10-year sentence was subsequently reduced to five on appeal. Amnesty has described Mr Abu Dheeb as a "prisoner of conscience". Both Mr Abu Dheeb and his vice-president Jalila al-Salman allege they were tortured in detention after calling for a strike by teachers in March 2011 in support of pro-democracy activists who had taken over a prominent landmark, Pearl Roundabout, in the capital, Manama. The Bahrain Teachers Association was dissolved by the government after its leaders were arrested. Ms Salman was originally sentenced to three years in jail but that was reduced to six months on appeal. However in March this year she was sacked from her teaching job after criticising Bahrain's human rights record at a conference in Washington DC. In a statement timed to coincide with 1 May, International Workers' Day, Amnesty said: "All that they did was call for a strike in their role as trade union leaders. Mahdi and Jalila were punished for doing their job. This May Day stand with workers across the world and demand Mahdi's release." Mr Abu Dheeb's daughter, Maryam, in a recorded message accompanying the statement, said: "Silence is a crime." She urged people to speak up and "take a step and show you care about what is going on in my country". Teachers' organisations around the world, as well as human rights campaigners, have called for Mr Abu Dheeb's release. The Bahraini authorities did not respond to a request from the BBC to comment on the Amnesty International statement.

German Labor Day rioting: Firecrackers and water cannons unleashed

Bangladesh tribunal indicts UK Muslim leader

Bangladesh's war crimes court has indicted a Bangladesh-born British Muslim leader for his alleged role in the murder of top intellectuals during the country's 1971 liberation war. "The court has taken into cognisance the charges of war crimes against Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin and issued a warrant to arrest him," International Crimes Tribunal registrar Nasiruddin Mahmud told the AFP news agency on Thursday. State prosecutor Syed Haider Ali told AFP that Mueen-Uddin "has been indicted for crimes against humanity and genocide. The charges include the killing of the country's top intellectuals during the 1971 war of liberation". The country's International Crimes Tribunal has already charged 12 people with war crimes and sentenced to death two people, including the vice-president of the largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami. The court also indicted Ashrafuzzaman Khan, a US citizen, on the same charges. Mueen-Uddin has held senior positions in a host of Islamic organisations in the UK and was involved in the setting up of the Muslim Council of Britain, according to his website. Al Jazeera's Nicolas Haque, reporting from Bangladesh, said that Mueen-Uddin was a "prominent figure in the British-Bangladeshi community", "Prosecutors of the Bangladesh war crimes tribunal believe he helped Pakistani forces organise targeted killings during the 1971 liberation war Bangladesh fought with Pakistan," he said. Haque said it was unlikely Mueen-Uddin would face trial in Dhaka due to the fact that because Bangladesh has the death penalty there is no extradition agreement between the two countries. Bangladesh, which was called East Pakistan until 1971, has struggled to come to terms with its violent birth. The current government says up to three million people were killed in the war, many murdered by locals who collaborated with Pakistani forces. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government established the tribunal in March 2010 to try the collaborators, but it has been hit by a series of controversies. A presiding judge resigned in December last year after his leaked internet calls showed he was under pressure from the government to deliver a quick judgment.

Uncertainty looms over the future of Afghan press
Since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, there has been a boom in the country's media sector. Some critics believe the withdrawal of international troops poses a huge threat to freedom of speech. There are more than 200 print publications, 44 television broadcasters, some 140 radio stations and 8 news agencies in Afghanistan. It's something quite unprecedented in the country's history. While the Taliban was in power, between 1996 and 2001, there were no forms of media at all, apart from Radio Shariah. Since 2001 the sector has flourished, and yet, some critics claim this may not last for long. Concerns about the future was made apparent just a few days ago in the western city of Herat, when dozens of journalists and activists demonstrated against restrictions on press freedom in front of a regional government building. Symbolically, they stuck black tape across their mouths. While there has been a sharp rise in the amount of violence against journalists, the activists said, the government looks on from the sidelines, failing to act.
Violence against journalists
The protest was precipitated by the shooting of a journalist in Herat. Ali Asghar Yaghobi had been travelling in his car at the time when he was followed by two masked men on motorbikes - and shot at Yaghobi, who works for a local radio station in the city, was taken to hospital to be treated for chest injuries. Although he survived, many of his fellow journalists claim that the police have not really tried to catch the attackers. One of Yaghobi's colleagues, the journalist Shapoor Saber, fears that the situation is only going to get worse unless the government takes action to stop the violence. Among the concerns is the worry that journalists might begin to practice self censorship. “The main fear that has recently emerged when it comes to journalists not being able to do their jobs is that security incidents against journalists are not even investigated, let alone punished,” Saber told DW. “They are not being protected and that has major repercussions when it comes to the working practices of the media.” Saber believes that unless something changes, journalists will no longer be able to report freely. While there are some organizations that campaign for the rights of journalists, they are not well supported. Among those groups is the Center for the Protection of Afghan Journalists. “In the first month of the Afghan calendar year alone, the center had already registered eight attacks on journalists, with four of those being in Herat province,” Khalil Amiri, who is head of the center, told DW. “Unknown assailants beat up three journalists and then there was the shooting of Ali Asghar Yacubi. In addition, said Amiri, there had been a number of the types of threats against journalists and news organizations that have now become regular occurrences.
Not only the Taliban
The international organization Reporters without Borders (RWB) began to notice this trend in Afghanistan some time ago. “The attacks can often be attributed to the Taliban, but also to the Afghan authorities, to local authorities, the police or even government officials,” said Benjamin Ismail, the organization's director for Asia. “These attacks have not been cleared up and have gone totally unpunished. As long as the authorities do not act - launch proper investigations and punish the perpetrators, the number of attacks will rise.” Above all, Ismail complains that Islamic clerics have a strong influence on the government. A short time ago, President Hamid Karzai, under pressure from the national religious council the Ulema, issued a decree that banned the broadcasting of “unislamic and obscene” television programs. It is not the first time that media freedoms have been restricted on religious grounds, believes Ismail. Such instances have become ever more frequent in recent years, he claims, and threaten to undermine Afghan democracy.
Withdrawal may be turning point
NATO troops will leave Afghanistan in 2014 In RWB's press freedom index, Afghanistan was in 128th place out of 179, compared with 150th the previous year. The placing compares favorably with some neighboring countries. Iran is in 174th and Pakistan is 159th. However, Ismail believes that - given the planned withdrawal of International Security Assistance Force next year - it is best not to be too optimistic. When the withdrawal takes place, he foresees the threat of financial support for the media drying up. The Afghan press and broadcasters would be among the first to be hit by the consequences, with the possibility of a return for the Taliban after the ISAF pullout. Concerns about the withdrawal have already made themselves apparent, both politically and economically. Since the beginning of the year, says Ismail, two media companies have closed for financial reasons and some 30 violent attacks on journalists have been recorded. For the former success story that was Afghanistan's post-Taliban era media, there appear to be many dangers ahead.

India Condemns Spy's Prison Death In Pakistan
India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is demanding "justice" from rival Pakistan following the death of an Indian citizen who was jailed in Pakistan on spying charges. Sarabjit Singh, who had spent 16 years in Pakistani prison, was reported early on May 2 to have died following an assault by fellow inmates at a jail in the city of Lahore. He reportedly suffered a severe head injury when he was hit with a brick. Singh had been convicted and sentenced to death over his alleged role in a series of bombings in Punjab Province in 1990 that killed 14 people. His family maintained he was innocent. In a Twitter statement, India's Singh called on Pakistani authorities to bring to justice those responsible for what he called a "barbaric" attack on an Indian citizen.

Former PML-N MPA charged with gas theft

The Shafiqabad Police along with the Lahore Sui Gas Taskforce raided the factory of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Qaiser Ameen Butt, who has been member of the Punjab Assembly from 2002 to 2007, and found the gas was being illegally supplied to the factory. The Shafiqabad Police registered a case against Butt and sealed the factory. Lahore Sui Gas Taskforce Incharge Chaudhry Basharat said the taskforce had been tipped off that the factory was illegally using the gas. - See more at:

Pakistan: Deteriorating security may compromise fair polls

The Frontier Post
Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrahim on Thursday admitted that in case the law and order situation does not improve, it would become difficult to administer a free and fair election. He said in the wake of the worsening law and order situation, holding of free and fair elections was not possible, adding that it was the responsibility of the federal and provincial governments and law enforcement agencies to improve the country’s security situation. Addressing a meeting at the Election Commission in Islamabad, the chief election commissioner said all arrangements had been finalised for the holding of elections in the country. However, he said the Supreme Court had also asked the governments at the centre and the provinces to address the law and order situation, otherwise transparent elections would not be possible. In response to various statements emanating from several quarters regarding the ECP’s responsibility to maintain law and order during the May 11 general elections, the CEC pointed out that under the Constitution, ECP had the mandate of holding the elections and that all executive authorities were bound to assist the commission to fulfill its constitutional duty. Earlier on April 25, the ECP had convened a meeting of all four provincial governments and the federal government to review security for elections in which they shared their detailed security plans and assured that all possible measures would be adopted to provide protection to candidates, political leaders and in all matters allied to the election activities. CEC noted that tragic events were taking place on a daily basis and, therefore, all security and law enforcement agencies need to sit together, identify the root causes, propose action plans and then implement them in a well-coordinated manner within given timelines. He also called upon political parties to help the ECP in holding free and fair elections.

Pakistan: Democracy under attack

QUITE a few observers have declared that the 2013 elections have already been subverted. Worse, the ostriches in command have buried their little heads in the sand. The terrorist attacks on candidates, election meetings and political workers have certainly made holding a free and fair election nearly impossible. Except for Punjab, all parts of the country are disturbed, with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Fata in an acute state of disorder. Thus, peaceful elections in 124 National Assembly constituencies, 45.5 per cent of the seats up for direct election, are quite unlikely. The terrorists are enjoying the freedom of the land. During the week ending on Monday last more than a score of cases of election-related violence were reported, in which nearly 25 people were killed. The political parties under attack are giving brave statements about foiling the terrorists’ plans to disrupt the polls but the latter’s success is quite evident. On Sunday, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan again announced their resolve to continue murderous attacks on three political parties — the PPP, ANP and MQM — on ideological grounds and added that they did not expect any good from the other parties either. They have been emboldened by two factors. First, the Twiddledums and Twiddledees supposed to be running the government are merely parroting their intention to extend maximum security cover to all parties and are only busy increasing security for themselves and their outfitters. Secondly, the parties that have been spared are displaying criminal indifference to the systematic extermination of their rivals. The PML-N is not bothered because the terrorists consider it a like-minded organisation and also because it is free to carry out electioneering in its home province. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief has made a feeble plea that the terrorists may kindly stop killing people because he does not want any distractions. The Jamaat-i-Islami chief, otherwise known for sobriety, wants the terrorists to be identified despite the fact that they have repeatedly introduced themselves. The implication is that some hidden hands or the victim parties themselves are involved. Perhaps religious parties alone can get away with such doublespeak. The attitude of the parties for the time being approved by the extremists clearly betrays their naiveté as there is no guarantee that their turn will not come. It also highlights the most fatal flaw in Pakistan’s politics, namely, a strong tendency among politicians to treat fellow politicians as their worst enemies and thus contribute to the victory of their common oppressors. There should be little doubt that all political parties and the population they claim to lead will again pay a heavy penalty for failing to read the signs. The violence perpetrated on selected political parties and candidates apart, the new wave of terrorism has created such a climate of fear that at some places the polling staff are refusing to accept assignments. Even threats of dismissal from their regular jobs and imprisonment are said to be having no effect on them. If the polling staff cannot be convinced of the authorities’ ability to protect them the ordinary voter will have even less faith in his security. What the government and the political parties perhaps do not realise is the difference between the earlier acts of terrorism and the present, election-related series of killings. Earlier on, the extremists were either resisting encroachment on their traditional domain or putting pressure on Islamabad to concede their demands, while the present wave of terror is directed at destroying democracy, the very foundation of the Pakistan state, as a tribal warlord has again proclaimed. What we see on the chopping block is not merely the head of this party or that, at stake is the basic premise of the state, its integrity and the people’s future. Unfortunately, the blood of all those killed in election-related violence is not on the hands of militant extremists alone. The hands of all those who have the power to confront the extremists are not clean either. Besides, a ceaseless campaign to demonise politicians, started by Ayub Khan and carried out to this day by holy knights of various brands and in different robes, has alienated the people from democracy to an extent that they do not see in the killing of a political worker an attack on their own rights. That organised disruption of electoral activities should spread despair in society is understandable. One should not be surprised if calls begin to be raised for postponing the elections or for the intervention of the oft-tested messiahs. Both courses will cause irreversible harm to the polity. The concept of representative government might disappear altogether and the militants might be handed over a victory they do not deserve. All such options, which are no sane options in fact, must be categorically and demonstrably rejected. The people of Pakistan must accept their predicament as the bitter fruit of their follies, their own failure to bury the mischief that had raised its head many, many years ago. They must also realise that refusal to settle the bill now will mean inviting a heavier claim the next time around. The worst possible prospect is that some more lives may be lost, the militants’ cover may give wings to religious parties’ ambitions, and many among those that may be elected on May 11 could be extremists’ nominees and not representatives of the people. But the people will survive them as they have survived a long list of all conquering hordes. The extremists can only delay the Pakistani people’s tryst with destiny as a free and self-governing community. They do not have the power to turn the clock back. However, the extremists can still be defeated, not by the clueless security forces but by unarmed citizens. If they turn out in huge numbers on the polling day they can still win the day for democracy and for themselves.

Pakistan: IMF's concerns and our response

The International Monetary Fund is "monitoring" massive capital flows into Asia and has urged Asian policymakers to guard against overheating of their economies. The levels of inflows are above historical trends, skyrocketing property prices. Earlier, the Fund was worried about "three-speed recovery" in the world's largest economies. IMF's Managing Director Christine Lagarde also called it a critical moment that requires well-calibrated 'customised' responses by different economies to get back in sync with each other and strengthen global growth. Her comments were of course consistent with the reports released over the past week, showing deep concerns, especially about the continued recession in eurozone. While the concerns of Fund's Managing Director may be in order, one needs to realise that the air of crisis of last year when there was a fear that eurozone would break up under stress and the US economy would revert to a contractionary cycle by the austerity of "fiscal cliff" was now largely over. As the large economies still not have fully returned to sustained growth after the 2008 crisis, it is only natural that less developed economies would remain vulnerable due to their closer links with the developed economies and turbulence in the financial markets. It is nonetheless true that the various groups of countries are moving at different speeds and that cannot be considered as the healthy recovery that one could wish for. However, in spite of the above factors/developments, we are of the view that there is no need to strike the panic button, at least as yet. The loose monetary policy being followed in developed countries is taking the world economy into an unchartered territory. Also, it needs to be borne in mind that the rate of recovery is always uneven between various groups of countries. It is also never the same between various regions of the same country. The mood in 2012 was almost hopeless but now it should be less frustrating, if not very upbeat. Some countries would continue to face problems even if most of the other countries come out of recession and revert to pre-2008 economic activity. This is due to the difference in attitudes, resources, and policy implementation. Moreover, the severity of the endemic problems could be reduced in the short run but a complete resolution of these issues requires time and patience. Pakistan is a classical case in this context. It should be pleasing that the 2008 financial crisis is largely over and the country was not much affected by that but as everybody knows, the relief provided by the global recovery could be small and could only have a limited impact on the economy. This is because most of Pakistan's problems are of its own making and such positive outside developments could only help but cannot provide a real forward push to the economy. Fiscal imbalances cannot be corrected from outside. Our failure to collect taxes, as well as allowing PSEs to continue with mounting losses and maintaining populist stand on subsidies lie at the root of the problem. Policies to reform the economies may not be exactly the same but the goals like sustained growth and macroeconomic stability cannot be different and are definitely worth pursuing.

KP Interior Ministry orders to shut Torkham border on May 11

The Interior Ministry of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has ordered to seal the Pakistan-Afghanistan Torkham border on May 11 when general elections will be held, Geo News reported Thursday. Further in its order, the KP Interior Ministry has instructed the Additional Chief Secretary FATA to restrict the Afghan refugees to their camps from May 10 to 12 in the backdrop of general elections for security reasons. The ministry has also announced to close the Pakistan-Afghanistan Torkham border for the same purpose, sources said.

Several arrested after violence erupts at Seattle May Day protest

Several people have been arrested after a May Day protest in downtown Seattle turned violent Tuesday night. Q13 Fox reports police were using pepper spray and "ball blasts," which give off a bang and a dose of pepper, to control the crowd. The protest turned violent around 7:45 p.m., with protesters throwing rocks, bottles, metal bars at officers. Police officers ordered the protesters to clear the area or face arrest. This is the second year in a row a Seattle May Day protest has turned violent, according to Q13 Fox.

Pentagon prepares to ask Congress for break from 'sequester'

The Pentagon is preparing to ask Congress soon for more authority to shift funds to cope with automatic spending cuts, confronting lawmakers with another exception to the "sequester" just days after they gave a break to the flying public and the airline industry. The request may be sent to the House of Representatives' Appropriations Committee as early as next week, a House Republican aide said on Wednesday. The Pentagon won increased budget flexibility in March, but officials have told members of Congress they believe it was insufficient to cover shortfalls in training and operations. The Defense Department move would follow closely the fix last week to ease airline flight delays caused by the temporary furloughs of air-traffic controllers by the Federal Aviation Administration. The cuts, known as "sequestration," were originally hatched by Washington in 2011 as a way to force the White House and Congress to find an alternative budget deal rather than have spending cuts kick in automatically. But policymakers failed to reach such a deal earlier this year and the cuts - totaling $109 billion for the current fiscal year - took effect on March 1. Defense spending has taken the single biggest hit from the automatic cuts, with a $46 billion reduction through the September 30 end of the fiscal year. One House aide said the request would cite a shortfall in war-fighting because of higher than expected costs of withdrawing from Afghanistan. Pentagon officials paved the way for the move in testimony to congressional committees over the past few weeks in which they expressed worries about the sequester's impact on military readiness, particularly with tensions rising in Syria and Korea. "With the events in the world today, with Korea, Syria, Iran, the continued fight in Afghanistan ... the discussion on readiness could not come at a more critical time," General John Campbell, Army vice chief of staff, told a U.S. Senate panel on April 17. "The reality is that if sequestration continues as it is ... we risk becoming a hollow force," he added. Members of Congress from states with a heavy military presence have been urging a shift of funds since the sequester took effect and might be hard-pressed to vote against it. An April 18 bipartisan letter from Virginia senators and representatives urged Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to move quickly to prevent furloughs and loss of pay for "thousands of Virginians." 'REPROGRAMMING' The Defense Department is preparing the request to shift funds, said Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Robbins, a Pentagon spokeswoman, but has not "yet specified the timing or the amount" it wants to transfer, or "reprogram" in budget jargon. Congress last week approved a similar request from the Justice Department to shift $313 million within its budget to avoid furloughing some 60,000 employees. Robbins said it was not yet clear whether the Pentagon would submit several different reprogramming requests or one large omnibus-style request, but the budget shifts would be sought "soon." The Pentagon was one of several government agencies that won some budget flexibility in a stop-gap government funding measure passed in late March. That allowed more than $10 billion that was locked up in other accounts to be shifted to the Pentagon's operations and maintenance account, which funds training exercises and military readiness. While that has helped, it did not make up for the deep budget cuts brought on by the sequester. The Army alone is facing about a $13 billion shortfall in training, operations and Afghanistan war costs, Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno told lawmakers last week.

Brain implant 'predicts' epilepsy seizures

A brain implant may be able to predict epilepsy seizures by picking up the early warning signs, a small study suggests. The device uses the brain's electrical activity to tell patients if their risk of a seizure is high, moderate or low. The study on 15 people, published in the Lancet Neurology, showed the device worked in some patients. The charity Epilepsy Action cautioned that it was still early days, but said it could be an "exciting development". Epilepsy is thought to affect 50 million people worldwide. Abnormal activity in part of the brain causes seizures involving involuntary shaking. Independence impact Signals were collected from the surface of the brain and sent down wires to another implant in the chest. This beamed the data to a hand-held device which worked out the odds of a seizure. The trial was run at three hospitals in Australia and was funded by the manufacturers NeuroVista.The results were mixed. For the first four months the brain was monitored so the system could learn a patient's brainwaves before a seizure. Only eight patients then progressed to the stage where the device was fully activated and they were constantly informed of their chance of a seizure. It was between 56% and 100% effective in those patients. Prof Mark Cook, from the University of Melbourne, said if the technology could be proven if could help remove the unpredictable nature of epilepsy. He told the BBC: "Being able to predict the events with many minutes or hours lead time could have significant impact on independence. "This could change the way the illness is treated. For instance, our current strategy of giving medications continuously because of the unpredictable occurrence of events could alter the types of medications being developed. "Short-acting therapies may prove to be effective without subjecting patients to the long-term problems that currently available therapies may cause." 'Useful tool' Commenting on the findings, Christian Elger and Florian Mormann, from the University of Bonn medical centre, described the results as "a major milestone... showing for the first time, to our knowledge that prospective seizure prediction is possible". They added: "Whether this performance is also sufficient for clinical applications is unclear, this will depend on how well patients tolerate false alarms or missed seizures." Simon Wigglesworth, deputy chief executive of Epilepsy Action, said more research was needed, particularly given the "small sample size and the inconsistencies in the data collected". "If a person is able to be alerted when they are about to have a seizure, this could help them to take steps to make sure they are safe during the seizure. The device could also be a useful tool for carers of people with epilepsy," he said. "Predicting seizures may help us to understand more about the ways seizures can be managed and ultimately prevented."