Monday, July 1, 2013

The story of Malala's friend: Brightening girls' lives with education

By Gordon Brown, special for CNN
Gordon Brown is a United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education. He was formerly the UK's prime minister
Today we can tell the remarkable story of Shazia Ramzan, a 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl. Last October Shazia was travelling home from school with her friend Malala Yousafzai when a Taliban gunman boarded their bus and shot both of them. Malala suffered head and facial injuries and had to be rushed to hospital in the UK. Shot in the neck and arm, Shazia spent a month in hospital while her deep wounds healed. Both were attacked by terrorists who wanted to stop girls going to school. Shazia dreams of being a doctor. Fighting back from her injuries, she attempted to resume her schooling at home in the Swat Valley. So keen was she to return to school at the earliest opportunity that she ignored continuing threats to her life from the same Taliban terrorists who shot her and Malala. For months she has had to be escorted to school each day by two armed guards. Her home has had to be protected by police. Sadly, the more that Shazia spoke up, the more the threats escalated, making it difficult for her and her family to remain secure. And in the past few weeks violence has escalated across Pakistan. A female teacher was gunned down in front of her young son as she drove into her all girls' schools. A school principal was killed and his pupils severely injured when a bomb was thrown into a school playground in an all-girls school in Karachi just as a prize giving ceremony began. Only ten days ago, in a massacre which will long be remembered as the single worst terrorist assault on girls' education in recent years, the bus in which 40 female students were travelling from their all-girls college campus in Quetta was blown up by a suicide bomber. 14 girls were killed. So violent was the terrorist attack that another group followed the injured girls to hospital and opened fire on them again.Despite the public revulsion against the violence, the attacks have continued. Only this weekend two schools were blown up, while another two girls were murdered for posting a video in which they were filmed dancing in the rain. It is because of events like these that, with her family's support, Shazia feels forced to leave the country if she is to have the education she needs. Tomorrow she will resume her schooling in the UK after being flown over to Birmingham last weekend and reunited with her lifelong friend Malala. I first spoke to Shazia last November, a month after the attempted assassination. She told me then of her determination to persevere and to speak up for a girl's right to education. She called education the light that brightens up girls' lives. And when I met her off the plane from Islamabad on Saturday night, she told me that she wanted every girl to have the chance of an education. Her dream, she said, was to build schools so that every out-of-school girl could develop their talents and fulfil their potential. According to UNESCO, 700,000 school-age children in Malala and Shazia's home province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) are not at school today - and 600,000 are girls. They are some of the 32 million girls worldwide denied a place at school. In total, 500 million girls of school age will never complete their education. This makes the battle for education for every girl the civil rights struggle of our generation. And until we provide both the resources and security for girls to travel to school and feel safe from the Taliban, then many of Pakistan's schools will remain closed. The biggest force for change today is the courage of Malala and now Shazia and girls like them, who are no longer prepared to acquiesce in their subjugation. It is their courage that we will celebrate when at the United Nations on July 12th, the day of Malala's sixteenth birthday, we will hold Malala Day. A youth resolution will be passed demanding that world leaders provide the resources to get every child to school. Now with a new petition launched by Malala on A World at School, young people themselves from around the world are becoming more vociferous in fighting for their right to education than the adults who for centuries have been charged with delivering it. Go not just to Pakistan, where I met many of the million-strong Malala demonstrators demanding a girl's right to school. Travel to Bangladesh and you'll find girls who have created 'child marriage free zones', preventing themselves being kept from school in a loveless marriage they did not choose. Visit Nepal, where girls are fighting child slavery with the Common Forum for Kalmal Hari Freedom. Attend the marches in India led by child labourers, demanding not just an end to this form of slavery, but the delivery of their right to learn.We saw how in the wake of the attack on Malala and Shazia, over three million people -- including a million out-of-school Pakistani children -- signed petitions calling for children to be able to go to school. This powerful movement is supported by international campaigns such as Plan's Because I am a Girl and Girls not Brides, started by Nelson Mandela's The Elders group. As we shift from the 20th century movement of women's emancipation to the 21st century campaign for women's empowerment, girls sense that the future is theirs. And it is this new liberation movement, led by girls, that we will celebrate in ten days' time when Malala addresses the United Nations.


The text of the Egyptian military statement issued Monday warning the armed forces will intervene if the demands of the people aren't met in 48 hours. ___ "Egypt and the whole world witnessed yesterday demonstrations by the great people of Egypt expressing their opinion in an unprecedented, peaceful and civilized way. Everyone saw the movement of the Egyptian people and heard their voices with the greatest respect and concern. It is necessary that the people receive a reply to their movement and the call from every party with any responsibility in the dangerous circumstances surrounding the nation. As a main party in the considerations of the future and based on their patriotic and historic responsibilities to protect security and stability, the Armed Forces state the following: — The Armed Forces will not be a party in the circles of politics or governance and are not willing to step out of the role defined for them by the basic ideals of democracy based on the will of the people. — The national security of the state is exposed to extreme danger by the developments the nation is witnessing, and this places a responsibility on us, each according to his position, to act as is proper to avert these dangers. The armed forces sensed early on the dangers of the current situation and the demands the great people have at this time. Therefore, it previously set a deadline of a week for all political forces in the country to come to a consensus and get out of this crisis. However, the week has passed without any sign of an initiative. This is what led to the people coming out with determination and resolve, in their full freedom, in this glorious way, which inspired surprise, respect and attention at the domestic, regional and international levels. — Wasting more time will only bring more division and conflict, which we have warned about and continue to warn about. The noble people have suffered and have found no one to treat them with kindness or sympathize with them. That puts a moral and psychological burden on the armed forces, which find it obligatory that everyone drop everything and embrace these proud people, which have shown they are ready to do the impossible if only they feels there is loyalty and dedication to them. — The Armed Forces repeat their call for the people's demands to be met and give everyone 48 hours as a last chance to shoulder the burden of the historic moment that is happening in the nation, which will not forgive or tolerate any party that is lax in shouldering its responsibility. — The Armed Forces put everyone on notice that if the demands of the people are not realized in the given time period, it will be obliged by its patriotic and historic responsibilities and by its respect for the demands of the great Egyptian people to announce a road map for the future and the steps for overseeing its implementation, with participation of all patriotic and sincere parties and movements — including the youth, who set off the glorious revolution and continue to do so — without excluding anyone. A salute of appreciation and pride to the sincere and loyal men of the Armed Forces, who have always borne and will continue to bear their patriotic responsibilities toward the great people of Egypt with determination, decisiveness and pride. God save Egypt and its proud, great people."

Who’s afraid of Ayesha Siddiqa?

Dr Mohammad Taqi
Dr Siddiqa’s 2007 masterpiece Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy clearly did not win her any friends amongst Lieven’s friends There is no indication that the dark night of Takfiri terrorism is about to lift its heinous shadow from Quetta’s Shia Hazara. Are 40 days enough of a respite for the Hazara to be digging mass graves for their loved ones again? The terrorists of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) appear to think so. Just as the Hazara Shia were about to commemorate the Chehlum — the 40th day of mourning — of those killed in the January 10 Alamdar Road bombing, death rained again on Hazara Town this past weekend. Over 110 Hazaras — about half of them women and children — perished. Toothless condemnations from spineless politicians have already poured in. But those really running the show in Balochistan are quiet. For them the Shia genocide in Pakistan is simply the cost of doing business, a price that has to be paid for the ‘greater good’. In the past, this ‘greater good’ was merely wars in Afghanistan and Kashmir but over the last few years the same formula is being applied in Balochistan. We have previously noted here that the LeJ was inducted into Balochistan by its khaki patrons to undermine the Baloch movement just like Gulbudin Hikmatyar and the Taliban’s ilk were used to undercut the Pashtun nationalist movement. The idea is to neutralize the Baloch nationalist struggle and keep the Baloch people and their resources under the praetorian thumb. If these jihadi terrorists take out a few ‘heretic’ Shia along the way, the patrons look the other way. If such ‘collateral damage’ happens to be in Quetta city, better yet. From the security establishment’s perspective nothing throws a spanner in the Baloch liberation struggle better than a war in and over Quetta. A free-for-all between the LeJ Balochistan — now largely manned by ethnic Baloch/Brahuis — the Hazaras and the Pashtuns, provides a reason for increasing the military’s presence in Balochistan to hunt down the nationalists while protecting the jihadist assets. However, the state-sponsored narrative remains that a few fringe jihadists gone rogue are targeting the Shia. And then there is the ubiquitous smokescreen that the Shia genocide in Pakistan is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Pro-army analysts were the first ones to paint the target on the Hazaras’ back. Baseless claims were made about Iran funding the Pakistani Shia, especially the Hazara. The fact is that Iran has not provided a single gun to the Pakistani Shia let alone run a training camp. Contrast this with the scores of Saudi-funded madrassas-cum-camps littering the length and breadth of Pakistan. Not one government/public installation has ever been targeted by any Shia. And never mind that the martyred leaders like Benazir Bhutto, Salmaan Taseer and Bashir Bilour were anything but Iranian proxies. Still the obfuscation goes on, including unfortunately by otherwise enlightened writers. Even the international media outlets like the BBC hesitate to identify the victims for who they are: the Shia, and why they are being killed: because of their faith. When questioned on twitter a BBC Urdu producer taunted that it is easy to say things bluntly when sitting in the USA. Well, the last time I checked the BBC was still based in London. A few hours later, the BBC Urdu website did add the word Shia in its story on the Quetta carnage! When the eminent scholar and defence analyst Dr Ayesha Siddiqa wrote a piece, “Who’s afraid of the Karachi Literature Festival?” describing why she was declared persona non grata and debarred from the Karachi Literary Festival (KLF), another BBC producer tweeted: “Just because she was not invited she is making it a public issue.” One finds such remarks and taunts in poor taste and symptomatic of a bigger problem, i.e. the laziness and hyper-nationalism pervasive in sections of the Pakistani media creeping into reputable international media outlets. Dr Siddiqa has herself stated that she was kept out of the KLF because she was perceived as a stern moderator by the pro-Pakistan army author Anatol Lieven at last year’s KLF. I am afraid that Dr Siddiqa is looking at just the tip of the iceberg. Dr Siddiqa’s 2007 masterpiece Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy clearly did not win her any friends amongst Lieven’s friends. Dr Siddiqa has described the Pakistan army as the country’s largest business conglomerate that holds large — at times the largest — chunks of the banking, industrial, real estate, agriculture, transport and construction sectors of the Pakistani economy. Little wonder that Islamabad Club and major hotels refused, under duress apparently, to hold her book’s launching ceremony. But perhaps Dr Siddiqa’s cardinal ‘sin’ is that she has described the military as an economic class that is out to keep its chokehold on the nation’s resources through whatever means necessary in the name of welfare of the servicemen ostensibly, but really for the preservation and enhancement of the privileged officer class. This effectively redefines the military-nation relationship paradigm as a predatory phenomenon, where the security establishment is robbing the nation blind. The western capitals were ecstatic about the latest edition of the Pakistan army Green Book showing that outfit’s thinking is changing vis-à-vis the internal threat from extremists. The compendium emphasising information warfare opens with General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s message about attaining politico-military objectives through Information Operations and without using force. But before one gets ones’ hopes too high and starts looking for Hakeemulla Mehsud, Malik Ishaq or Mullah Fazlullah’s names among the internal enemies, chapter one serves as a serious reality check for anyone under an illusion that the army think is changing, when it identifies the ‘enemy within’. This chapter titled, “A treatise on Indian backed psychological warfare against Pakistan”, is written by a Brigadier Umar Farooq Durrani who slanders Dr Ayesha Siddiqa for among other things, taking “material marked as top secret to India”. After reading the drivel against Dr Siddiqa, things started falling into place. Keeping her, and a few others like her, out of the KLF and mainstream media is not coincidental, as that BBC producer would want one to believe. I recalled Iftikhar Arif’s immortal lines: Yeh raat yoonhi to dushman naheen humari keh hum/Darazi e shab-e-gham kay sabab se waqif hein (The dark shadows do not persecute us without reason/[They hound us] For we know the cause of this darkness long-drawn-out). The Supreme Court’s suo motu notice, though welcome, will lead us nowhere. I do not foresee an end to the shadows looming over the Shia unless the political leaders miraculously muster the courage to hold the military’s feet to the fire. PS: The announced ‘targeted operation’ against unnamed targets in Quetta will remain futile without naming them and identifying and nabbing their cohorts elsewhere in Pakistan.

Karzai offers Pakistan anti-terror cooperation
President Hamid Karzai on Monday denounced deadly bomb attacks in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, bordering Afghanistan. At least 47 people were killed and more than 114 others wounded in yesterday’s bomb explosions in Quetta and Peshawar. Thirty individuals were killed and 70 injured in a suicide bombing near an imambargah (Shiite mosque) in the Aliabad area of Hazara town in Quetta. Another 17 people were killed and 46 wounded during an explosion in the Badaber area on the outskirts of Peshawar. Several women and children were among the casualties. While denouncing the attacks in the neighbouring country, Karzai said terrorists killed and maimed innocents Afghans and Pakistanis on a daily basis. He called for sincere cooperation between the two nations in the fight against the twin scourge of terrorism and extremism in the region. Afghanistan had always been willing for such collaboration, a statement from the Presidential Palace quoted Karzai as saying.

Tahrir Square erupts in joy after Egypt army statement
Thousands of protesters erupted in joy on Monday after the military said it would intervene if the people's demands were not met in 48 hours, an AFP journalist said, after millions took to the streets to call on President Mohamed Morsy to step down. "Come down Sissi, Morsy is not my president," they protesters chanted, urging the country's minsiter of Defence, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, to intervene. On the streets of Cairo, cars beeped their horns and waved Egyptian flags after the army statement. The powerful General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi issued a pressing ultimatum to President Morsy in a televised audio statement on Monday afternoon, calling on political forces to bridge Egypt's growing divide and agree on an inclusive roadmap for the country's future within 48 hours. "If the demands of the people are not realised within the defined period, it will be incumbent upon [the armed forces] announce a road map for the future," said Sissi.

Culture and lifestyle during Morsi’s reign

On the first anniversary of Mohamed Morsi’s rise to power, we review the decisions and changes that shaped the lifestyle and culture of Egyptians. Over the past year, there has been a steady trend of hostile or distrustful treatment of artists and media figures by the public and government, starting from the first months of Morsi’s tenure. In June 2012, although no governmental decisions were made regarding culture, a change in the general mood and reaction to art was tangible, with some reports of hostile feedback from the public regarding cultural events. One incident took place when a passerby was irritated by a dance show, saying it was inappropriate. One of the first acts of the censorship authority under Morsi’s administration was to ban the import of the history book, A History of the Modern Middle East, by Martin Bunton and William Cleveland, in August. The authority failed to cite the reason for its decision, although the book was reportedly used at the American University in Cairo. In October, the censorship authority rejected a film script by Amr Salama about positive discrimination of Copts in Egypt, on the grounds that it would incite religious discrimination. In November, the authority proposed changes to director Mohamed El Sharkawy’s play Ashekeen Torabek, due to scenes that criticised the regime, but after much media attention the play was staged without any changes. In March 2013, director Amir Ramses’s documentary, Jews of Egypt, was banned from being screened by Egyptian National Security, which later relented, and the film was shown in cinemas. The past year also witnessed attacks on media figures, including television personalities Khaled Saleh and Youssef Al-Hosseini. Saleh filed a lawsuit in which he accused Freedom and Justice Party members of inciting violence against media personalities. In October 2012, Tawfiq Okasha was accused of insulting the president, but was later found not guilty. In November 2012, the satellite TV Dream channels were forced to stop broadcasting by the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU), and TV anchor Lamees El-Hadedy was investigated for contempt of religion. In March and April, comedian Bassem Youssef was accused of insulting the president and Islam, and the government threatened to shut down the channel on which the show is broadcasted. The music scene received its share of difficulties, in one instance a concert in Minya was cancelled because part of the performance included Christian hymns. A Freedom and Justice Party lawyer issued a complaint against Sawy Culture Wheel for hosting “devil worshippers,” when they staged a heavy metal concert last September. In October, the musicians syndicate cancelled some concerts at the venue of musicians who were not affiliated with the organisation, damaging the underground music scene. Visual art was not immune to criticism either; in December 2012 cartoonist Doaa El-Adl and Al-Masry Al-Youm were sued by Salafi lawyer and “secretary-general of the National Centre for Defence of Freedoms” Khaled Al-Masry, citing that El-Adl’s cartoon of Adam and Eve was insulting. In January 2013, Sawy Culture Wheel refused to exhibit the cartoons of Samah Farouk because they criticised the Muslim Brotherhood. In May 2013, Morsi appointed Alaa Abdel Aziz as minister of culture, who proceeded to remove some prominent intellectuals from their positions, which caused uproar within the artistic community. Notably, the latest removal was of Dr. Ines Abdel Dayem, the head of the Cairo Opera House, which triggered a strike at the house, and lead to a sit-in at the Ministry of Culture and another sit-in in Alexandria, demanding Abdel Aziz’s dismissal. The sit-in in Cairo is on–going, and each night dance and musical performances are staged in front of the ministry.

Four Egyptian ministers quit Morsi's cabinet amid protests: Govt. official

Four Egyptian ministers have quitted the cabinet of President Mohamed Morsi following the massive protests in the country, government official says.

Teeming crowds greet Obama in Tanzania
Teeming crowds and blaring horns are welcoming President Barack Obama to Tanzania's largest city, where the U.S. president's likeness is everywhere as he arrives on the last leg of his three-country tour of the African continent. Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their two daughters touched down Monday afternoon in Dar es Salaam, where a marching band awaiting them on the tarmac danced and played as dozens waved U.S. and Tanzanian flags. Hundreds of young people lined the streets wearing t-shirts and sarongs bearing images of Obama, forcing Obama's motorcade to slow at times as it sped along a main thoroughfare that's been permanently renamed "Barack Obama Drive" — a sign that the visit from America's first president of African descent has resonated deeply with Tanzania's people. A world away from U.S. political battles, Obama was preparing to join together Tuesday with former President George W. Bush at a ceremony honoring Americans killed nearly 15 years ago. Bush will be in Tanzania for a conference on African women organized by the George W. Bush Institute. Although no meeting between the two men had initially been planned, the White House announced as Obama flew to Tanzania that Obama and Bush would come together Tuesday for a wreath-laying ceremony at the site of the 1998 bombings at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam. Eleven Americans were killed in that Osama bin Laden-masterminded attack, which mirrored a near-simultaneous bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, the birthplace of Obama's father. First lady Michelle Obama and former first lady Laura Bush also planned to team up at the conference Tuesday for a joint discussion on promoting women's education, health and economic empowerment. President Bush plans to be in attendance, before delivering his own speech there the following day, after the Obamas will have left. Having both presidents in town "sends a very positive message that both political parties in the United States share a commitment to this continent," said Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser. During his African visit, Obama has credited Bush with helping save millions of lives by creating the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. "The United States has really done wonderful work through the PEPFAR program, started under my predecessor, President Bush, and continued through our administration," Obama said Sunday during a visit to the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Center in Cape Town. Bush's accomplishment in fighting AIDS was one of his signature foreign policy successes, while Obama has not been so focused on Africa despite his roots there and only now is making a major presidential trip to sub-Saharan Africa. Obama's only previous visit as president was a brief visit to Ghana his first summer in office, although he traveled to Africa several times previously and has vowed to come back. While in Tanzania, Obama planned to launch a trade partnership with Africa, initially focused on the eastern African countries of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda — a region of more than 130 million people. The program is designed to assist those countries' trade with each other and with the United States. Among the impediments to trade that the U.S. intends to alleviate are physical roadblocks that delay the transport of goods and products. As an example, Michael Froman, the U.S. trade representative who is traveling with Obama, told reporters it takes 42 days to export coffee out of Rwanda, compared to 14 days out of Colombia. Obama also planned to sign an executive order aimed at combating wildlife trafficking in Africa, particularly the sale of rhinoceros horns and elephant tusks. The State Department will provide $10 million to train and assist African authorities fighting the illegal poaching and selling of animals and animal parts. Grant Harris, the senior director for Africa for the National Security Council, said rhinoceros horns sell for $30,000 a pound on the black market. After arriving in Tanzania on Monday afternoon, Obama was preparing to meet with President Jakaya Kikwete. He'll visit later with business leaders from the U.S. and Africa to talk about increasing trade in east Africa, before ending the evening with a dinner hosted by Kikwete. On Tuesday, Obama plans a private greeting at the U.S. embassy, which has been relocated since the 1998 attack. The president then delivers a final speech focused on bringing more electric power to Africa and heads back toward Washington by noon.

‘Morsi tries to ram Sharia constitution down Egyptian people's throats’

President Morsi’s attempts to push through a Sharia constitution go against Egyptian cultural tradition and spark an even worse uprising as people don’t want religion to be dictated, political analyst and author William Engdahl told RT.
RT: Despite Morsi having strong support in the country, why is there so much anger at him and the Muslim Brotherhood at present?
William Engdahl: I think a number of issues. Number one – is trying to ram a Sharia constitution down the throats of the Egyptian people. That goes against Egyptian cultural tradition – 80-90 per cent of the population are Sunni Muslims – but it is a tradition of tolerance for other religion groups, Coptic and other Islamic groups. The other thing is the economy. Morsi has done nothing to improve the economy. In fact the economy has generated youth unemployment to bulge to an explosive level. That I think is a lot to do with the tinderbox that you see in the streets right now. But the other thing is that the military hasn’t yet weighed in as to whether they are going to continue to back Morsi as they have done under enormous Washington pressure – they are dependent on Washington for military aid and have been for decades. But the interesting new factor is that the Tamarod campaign – the reorganized opposition group that led the protest a year ago in Tahrir Square and elsewhere – they have claimed to have gathered a 15 million-strong petition asking for Morsi to step down. I think this is a make or break situation. The Obama administration continues to back the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a very unfortunate thing, but that’s a part of a larger geopolitical agenda that Washington and the State Department have built up over the past years.
The US supported the uprising that brought Morsi to power. Now the opposition's calling for a ''second revolution'', do you see Washington playing a part?
I think there is a question whether that was a democratic election because a lot of the opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood were simply in disarray and Washington pressed for an early election. The military thought they had done a deal with Morsi that he would be a figurehead and as soon as Morsi got into power he renaged on that deal, he fired chiefs of staff and so forth, and did it with backing from Washington. The Obama administration is backing the Muslim Brotherhood agenda here and in Syria with the opposition there.
RT: Could Sunday prove to be a watershed moment?
ME: There is no question that it is going to be massive. Morsi has already indicated he is going to take an Erdogan kind of brute force state power reaction to try to terrorize the opposition, but that is not going to work at this point. I have talked to people who were in Tahrir Square demonstrations two year ago and it is like a festering boil that has been growing as long as Morsi has shown that he has done nothing to improve the fundamentals of the economy. All he has done is introduce or he tried to introduce that fundamental constitution that would turn Egypt into a Sharia state. Most Egyptians don’t want that. They want to have their religion in private, but not to have the state dictate to them exactly what it is going to look like. The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Protesters to Egypt's Morsy: You have one day to step down

Egyptians who helped overthrow a 29-year dictatorship in a widely-hailed revolution have now given the country's first democratically elected president one day to step down from office. In a statement posted Monday on its official facebook page, Tamarod (the "rebel" campaign") demanded that if President Mohamed Morsy doesn't leave office by Tuesday, the group will begin a civil disobedience movement, call for nationwide protests and march on the presidential palace where Morsy's administration is running affairs. If the last few days have been any indication, Tamarod's deadline will most likely be ignored. Both sides -- the anti-government demonstrators and Morsy's supporters-- have dug in their heels. And the results have been deadly. On Monday, protesters stormed the main headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the party that Morsy led before his election. Armed with Molotov cocktails, the mob set the office on fire, shouting, "The people has toppled the regime." A day earlier, five people were killed and 613 wounded in confrontations between the two sides, Egypt's official news agency reported.
On the one hand
Those calling for Morsy's ouster say he has hijacked the gains made in the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak and has pushed aside moderate voices.They say Morsy's policies are to blame for a breakdown in law and order, for an economy that's gone south, and for a gas shortage that has Egyptians waiting at the pumps for hours.
On the other
Those supporting the president say he is the people's choice and refer to the 13 million votes he earned in elections held exactly a year ago Sunday. They say he inherited a broken system and should be given time to fix it. "We're not leaving and the president is staying," one supporter told CNN. "We believe in democracy. If people don't like him, they can vote him out in three years."
Deadly results
Periodically, the two sides have clashed and the results have been deadly -- even before the Sunday clashes. On Friday, Andrew Pochter, a 21-year-old American in Alexandria to teach children English, was stabbed to death while watching the demonstrations, his family said. And the Muslim Brotherhood has lost four members to violence in recent days. The Islamist group was shunted aside under Mubarak but is now the most powerful political force in Egypt. For his part, Morsy says he is ready for dialogue. But the gap between the two camps is wide and only getting wider.
Unclear road map
The demonstrators say they have collected 17 million signatures -- roughly four million more than what won Morsy the presidency -- and all of them call for Morsy to go. The opposition is made up of various groups and loose coalitions, and not all anti-Morsy protesters agree with the road map the Tamarod campaign is advocating. Some are loyal to the ousted Mubarak government, while others want the army to intervene.
The army variable
Last week, Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said the army would, if necessary, "prevent Egypt from slipping into a dark tunnel of civil unrest and killing, sectarianism and the collapse of state institutions." His remarks raised the specter of a return to the powerful role the military played in domestic politics under Mubarak. "Egypt," the government-run newspaper Al-Akhbar said, "is on the brink of a volcano."

Kabul is turning the tide
The peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government from the very outset had been on a sticky wicket. There is nothing new in the shenanigans and tomfooleries of the Taliban. The very style of opening their political office in Qatar revealed the entire process was conspiratorial. It is not something that we should be taken aback by as we know the cunning nature of the Taliban very well. Their nature has become quite unpredictable and they can do anything at any movement of the peace process. Particularly they are known for their eleventh-hour U-turns. For the past ten years we have been just hearing of conditions over conditions, but no compromise and no show of elasticity, which has left the peace process in disarray. There should be no doubt on the sincerity of the Afghan government but parts of the problems are the US and the Taliban. There has been too much of “us and them” mentality during the past decade, however, this mentality will lead us no where but to a complete breakdown if all parties to the current political turmoil are not careful. The major responsibility comes on the US. It is the US obduracy and blunders that we are still caught in a whirl of an unending war. If the US hadn’t axed the Taliban from the mainstream politics in 2002 by excluding them from the Bonn Conference, the political crisis in the country would have come to an end too long ago. But unfortunately the haughty U.S. miscalculated the Taliban’s strength and earned their wrath. It was just in 2006 that the US realized it shouldn’t have excluded the Taliban from the first Bonn Conference. Since then the US revved up its peace talks’ efforts, nevertheless, a snag hit the peace process from the very beginning. Though, a lot hinges on the results of peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban but relying on a saggy peace process is more than idiocy. Till yesterday, everyone was clinging to its own set of conditions; when the Taliban shown readiness on opening their political office this war-weary nation’s pessimism receded. But the way they opened their political bureau in Qatar gave birth to a new to a new series of confusions and uncertainties. Talking over this sticky situation, the Afghan President Hamid Karzai in a recent radio speech on Thursday night said the opening of the Taliban’s Qatar office for peace negotiations was conspiratorial and his government was successful in staving it off. Besides that following an hour long vide conference between the US President Barrack Obama and President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday, Jay Carney—a White House spokesman, told newsmen that Obama and Karzai reaffirmed that an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process is an incontestable way to put a halt to the persistent violence and ensure a durable stability in Afghanistan and in the region. After the recent face-off over Taliban’s office in Qatar, Kabul seems to be victorious as the US had never publicly acknowledged the Afghan High Peace Council’s (HPC) lead in the peace process, nevertheless when Jay Carney made it clear the process should be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, it washed away many misconceptions. It means, in the future, it will be the Afghan High Peace Council talking to the Taliban. If this time around, HPC is bypassed, it will dent the relations of Kabul and Washington to the extent of irreparability. Onward the US shouldn’t be part of the problem. Moreover, the Taliban’s Tuesday bloody attack on the Presidential Palace and CIA office in Kabul have given birth to many speculations as to what the militants’ true intentions are, and whether or not the peace process will deliver the desired results. But among all these negatives, there is yet a good news. As the situation is becoming tense, Kabul is emerging as a dominant party, in an impregnable position to turn the tide against the Taliban.

Pakistan: Soaring numbers: Disease outbreaks demand attention

State of child health in Pakistan is among core national issues which call for immediate and serious attention. Representatives of various international health organisations, who have over the years played a key role in assisting Pakistan to control outbreaks in the country, believe that the gap between reported and assessed cases, disintegrated and unreliable monitoring and observation systems have massively contributed to the outbreaks in Pakistan over the past five years. Head of the polio eradication at the World Health Organisation in Pakistan Dr Elias Durry, while talking to The Express Tribune, said that there are three major causes explaining why hundreds of thousands of children are missed during immunisation drives each year. He cited poor health service delivery at the grass root level to be a major cause adding that the inability to keep a proper check and balance over it only made things worse.Parents who refuse to get their children immunised also contribute to the number of rising cases. One of the other causes which work as a major contributor to the hike in numbers is the inaccessibility to children of areas mostly under militant threats. In regard to outbreaks he said, “As large number of children remain unimmunised for a long period of time, you are playing the virus’s game and not the eradication or control game… which is the sole reason children face outbreaks like measles and polio.” He went on to say that while the outbreak of measles was due to the aforesaid reasons lack of accountability only added to the soaring numbers. For polio, he added that areas like Fata should be made accessible for vaccinators if Pakistan is to head off major outbreaks. However, another UN official sternly criticised Pakistan’s evaluation systems aimed at surveillance of immunisation drives terming them insufficient to curb outbreaks. Speaking on condition of anonymity he added, “Pakistan is among those developing nations that have yet to do much for the welfare of the general public. But the lack of social demand for immunisation, discrepancies, corruption, underperforming officials and militancy are factors that push Pakistan back to the starting point”. Immunisation drives Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Pakistan provides vaccination against tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza type B and measles. According to the Findings of Global Alliance for Vaccines Initiative’s paper on EPI, the programme, over the last two decades has failed to reach its expected reduction in the number of diseases preventable by vaccines. One reason cited for the poor performance was the reduced focus on EPI (funding and technical assistance) in relation to other specific campaigns (for example, polio). In addition, reduced attention to capacity building of available human resources on local-level planning, management, logistics, and monitoring, evaluation and surveillance have resulted in poor EPI performance. Further, the management of the programme has further deteriorated due to the increased political interference over the last decade. With the implementation of 18th Amendment, that lead to the devolution of powers to provincial governments, has resulted in stock-outs, poor quality vaccines, and overall negative effects on the outcomes. The EPI is under-resourced to achieve expected results. EPI is too underfinanced to provide a comprehensive immunisation service to the community. Additional resources are needed for vaccines, logistics, recurrent expenses, human resource expansion, capacity building, training, and social mobilisation. Immunisation is believed to be a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases and is estimated to avert between 2 and 3 million deaths each year. It is one of the most cost-effective health investments, with proven strategies that make it accessible to even the most hard-to-reach and vulnerable populations.

Blasts Kill Dozens in Pakistan During British Leader’s Visit

Militant bombings in Pakistan killed dozens of people across the country on Sunday in attacks that overshadowed a visit by the British prime minister and underscored the array of threats facing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s new government. In the city of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province and the center of a violent campaign by Sunni militants against the Shiite Hazara minority, a suicide bomber detonated explosives near a mosque on Sunday evening, killing at least 28 people, officials said. No specific group claimed responsibility, though officials attributed the attack to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an outlawed group that has killed hundreds of Hazaras there in recent years. Though a national outcry over anti-Shiite violence has intensified over the past year, government and security officials have been accused of dragging their feet on efforts to curb the attacks. And it is just one of the facets of violence in Baluchistan, the center of a separatist movement that has brought repeated violent crackdowns by the Pakistani security forces. On the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, a car bomb detonated as a convoy of Frontier Corps militiamen passed on the area’s main highway. The bomb, parked near a police station and in a market area that is always crowded, killed at least 17 people. Though the Frontier Corps convoy appeared to be the target, all the victims were civilians, according to Javed Marwat, the deputy commissioner for Peshawar. The people wounded, including three members of the Frontier Corps, were taken to hospitals in Peshawar. Several cars and shops were damaged. In a separate attack, a military convoy was struck by a roadside bomb in North Waziristan, the semiautonomous tribal region where militants of all stripes — local and foreign — have taken refuge. At least four soldiers were killed, and at least 19 people were wounded, officials said. The Pakistani military has balked at American pressure to start a military operation in North Waziristan, and army troops deployed in some areas there mostly stay inside their bases and encampments. But military convoys regularly move during what are called “road opening” days, when the authorities impose a curfew to help clear the roadways in an attempt to ensure safe passage. “Curfew was announced last night, so some militants might have planted the bomb and waited for the convoy to move,” one Pakistani security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “All they needed was to push a button, even if there was curfew.” There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks, and officials said that militants in the semiautonomous tribal regions straddling the border with Afghanistan were most likely involved. The attacks came even as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif played host to Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, in the first visit by a Western leader since Pakistan’s elections in May. The two focused on helping Pakistan’s economy, and pledged to expand economic cooperation and trade. But militancy again dominated the day’s headlines in Pakistan. In a joint appearance, the two leaders said that countering such violence was critical, and the British leader said his country would offer more expertise and equipment to help fight bombing campaigns by the Taliban and other militant groups. Mr. Sharif and Mr. Cameron also discussed the war in Afghanistan and the coming Western military withdrawal. The shift has major implications for the Pakistani government, which is concerned about ensuring its influence in Kabul, and for the militants who work on both sides of the border. “I have assured Prime Minister Cameron of our firm resolve to promote the shared objective of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan,” Mr. Sharif said.

Pakistan: Prices of petrol and CNG increased

People suffered a double blow on Sunday as the government increased the prices of petroleum products and CNG with effect from Monday. The price of petrol has been raised by Rs2 per litre and that of high speed diesel (HSD) by Rs2.16, according to an official of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra). The petroleum ministry has also imposed an additional nine per cent GST on CNG, increasing it to 24pc. As a result, the price of CNG has gone up by Rs2.54 to Rs75.48 per kg for Region-I (Potohar, northern Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan) and by Rs1.85 to Rs66.75 for Region-II (central and southern Punjab and Sindh). Earlier in the day, oil marketing companies had announced an increase in prices of petrol and diesel by Rs2.66 and Rs3.66 per litre, respectively. But later a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance said the government had decided to adjust 66 paisa in petroleum levy on petrol and Rs1.50 on diesel. Ogra spokesman Afzal Bajwa told Dawn that the authority had recommended to the government to keep the prices unchanged, but the recommendation was turned down. After the adjustment in levy, the new ex-depot price of petrol will be Rs101.77 per litre, Rs2 more than the previous rate of Rs99.77, and that of HSD will be Rs106.76, Rs3 more than the earlier rate of Rs104.60. The prices of kerosene have been raised to Rs96.29 per litre from Rs93.79, light diesel to Rs92.17 from Rs89.13 and high octane blending component (HOBC) to Rs126.77 from Rs124.41. Besides the import parity price of petroleum products and profit margins of dealers and oil companies, the government charges petroleum levy at Rs14 per litre on HOBC, Rs10 on petrol, Rs8 on HSD and Rs6 on kerosene. The government has also started charging 17pc GST on sale price of petroleum products, one per cent more than the previous rate of 16pc.

Quetta carnage: need for a new security paradigm

Daily Times
BY Hasan Naser
From the recent terrorist attacks it has become evident that the Taliban want the government to negotiate with them on their terms and conditions The terrorist attacks in Quetta bring to spotlight the issue of ever diminishing state writ in the province. The serene Quetta is drenched in blood once again. It was only months ago that the Hazara community suffered militants’ wrath. But no action was taken against the perpetrators. The militants have enough space to operate freely and spread mayhem. For instance, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) took no time to claim the responsibility of the attack on the students of the women university. But the state has not condemned the banned outfit unequivocally, let alone taking any punitive action. It is worth noting that the terrorist outfit enjoys close nexus with the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP). But the state’s appeasement policy vis-à-vis the TTP is bewildering. Let it be clear now that there are no good or bad Taliban. Making a distinction between them is catastrophic on the part of security establishment. There are also separatists in Balochistan who are bent on challenging the writ of the state. Bombing of the national heritage at Ziarat has come as a shock to the nation. The participation of the Baloch in the election process and the subsequent installation of a nationalist chief minister dealt a blow to the rejectionist. They are out to destabilise the fledgling democratic set-up. The security establishment and the civil leadership do not seem to be on the same page on the Balochistan question. The security establishment has resorted to high-handed tactics in the past, which have proved counter-productive. The recovery of mutilated bodies has only helped the cause of the hard-liners. The civilians have very little say in running the security affairs of the state. It is quite clear who is calling the shots in Balochistan. There is a growing concern over the failure of the security agencies to pre-empt terrorist attacks. Frontier Corps (FC) is responsible for the security but it is not under the control of provincial government. There is urgent need to empower the civil law enforcement forces to take over from the FC. It is time for the security agencies to pool information and forestall attacks. The government has hinted at calling an all parties conference (APC) to address the problem of terrorism . It is a welcome move. It would be helpful in finding a long-term solution to the worsening law and order situation in the country. The security establishment is also likely to attend the joint session of parliament. APC is the first step in the right direction. A comprehensive counter-terrorism policy must be devised with input from all stakeholders. Political leadership would have to take the initiative and lead from the front. The Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar came hard on the security establishment. But his own party the Pakistan Mulsim League-Nawaz (PML-N) owes explanation with regard to its soft approach towards terrorists. The PML-N seems to be lacking in clarity in addressing the larger problem of terrorism. In his maiden speech in the National Assembly, the prime minister talked about every issue but terrorism. There was no mention of the government policy on how to deal with the problem of terrorism. The PML-N should not be seen to be friendly with known terrorists. Imran Khan is all for talks with the Taliban, but despite the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s coalition government in the province of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it continues to suffer attacks from militants. Deadly attack on a Peshawar mosque is an eye-opener for the ‘champions’ of peace. From the recent terrorist attacks it has become evident that the Taliban want the government to negotiate with them on their terms and conditions. All the talk of talk is itself the admission of the fact that the military has failed. From this weak position of negotiation the government would not be able to fix the menace of terrorism on its own terms. On the other hand, the Taliban have not budged an inch from their extreme position. To conclude, once a clear security policy is formulated the PML-N would have to ensure that it is implemented in letter and spirit. Only taking all political and military leadership on board would yield the positive outcome. To quell the Baloch insurgency, a multi-dimensional approach is to be adopted. It needs integration of the disgruntled elements, addressing their genuine grievances and isolating those who do not want to come down from the mountains.