Saturday, July 6, 2013
A new study has revealed the UK monarchy to be only the third most expensive monarchy in Europe following royals in Norway and the Netherlands. According to the study, Norway’s monarchy cost the taxpayer more than £36million, the Dutch royal family more than £34million and Britain’s royals spent £32million of the taxpayer last year. Meanwhile, the cheapest monarchy was in Spain at £6.8 million. The figures were revealed in an annual report on eight monarchies including Sweden, Belgium, Denmark and Luxembourg, compiled by Belgian professor Herman Matthijs. Republicans in the UK will be dismayed to learn that France’s Socialist president Francois Hollande costs almost three times what Britons pay for the Queen, the study put the cost of the French presidency at £91million. Three years ago, it was concluded that the Queen headed the most expensive Royal Family in Europe - but since then other monarchies have been forced to become more transparent about their costs. The study does not include security and other hidden expenses that push the true cost of the Royal Family to more than £200million
په افغانستان کې مېشت په لسګونه هغه امریکايي سرتېرو ته د جولايي پر څلرمه نېټه د دغه هېواد د آزادۍ پرورځ امریکايي تابعیت یا شهریت ورکړل شو. د ریپبلیکن ګوند سېنېټر جانمکېن په باګرام کې له امریکايي عسکرو سره یوځای د خپل هېواد د خپلواکۍ ورځ لمانځله. د رویټرز ویډيو
http://www.geo.tv/President Asif Ali Zardari has summoned a meeting to review law and order situation in Karachi, especially in Lyari where violent protests erupted on Friday as killing spree continued unabated in the troubled neighborhood of the metropolis. The president who will arrive in Karachi today (Saturday) will chair a high level meeting at the Presidential Camp Office Bilawal House. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, top officials from Karachi Police and Rangers are likely to attend the meeting. According to Geo News, the Rangers carried out a search operation in parts of Lyari on late Friday night.
\ چارواکي وايي چې په افغانستان کې په ې یو لوی لامل د هغه په اړه د لږ عامه پوهاوي شتون دی ا
The Baloch Hal
BY MALIK SIRAJ AKBARPrime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his interior minister, Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, have fundamentally got a common problem: They both talk about the security forces and the intelligence agencies in the third person plural. Mr. Sharif and Mr. Khan both refer to the state institutions as “they” while apply “we” when talking about themselves. This either shows that the new government has not fully adjusted to its new offices and responsibilities or it still views the security apparatus beyond the control of the civilian government. Another possibility could be an intentional attempt on the part of the democratic government to exempt itself from responsibilities for which it is technically and morally required to provide an explanation. Since new governments were formed in Islamabad and Quetta, at least four major violent attacks have taken place in Balochistan, mainly Quetta, claiming the lives of nearly a hundred innocent citizens. These include the attack on the Ziarat Residency, bombing of a university bus carrying female students; the suicide bomb blast and the siege of the Bolan Medical College Hospital last month and the recent suicide bombing at an Imam bahargha in Quetta. In addition, dead bodies of the missing Baloch persons have also been frequently recovered since the new government came into power. During their visits to Quetta, the prime minister and the interior minister cited lack of coordination between various government agencies and departments as the main reason for unabated terrorist attacks. This could partly be the reason for the surge in the recent attacks. Prime Minister Sharif should know he cannot keep up the ‘we v/s they’ rhetoric for a long time. He is the head of the government and every intelligence agency and security force should be answerable to the prime minister. The chief executive of the country cannot shy away from his responsibilities for a long time by only saying that ‘they’ are not performing their duty while ‘we’ are attempting to grapple with the situation. This is no joke but a dire situation that involves the lives of innocent people. The government should move very fast to end this cycle of violence that is regularly taking away precious lives of unarmed citizens. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and opposition leader Imran Khan’s soft and conciliatory attitude toward the Taliban has emboldened all the extremist religious terrorist groups, such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has been actively conducting terrorist attacks on civilian population. The Prime Minister should review his approach toward the religious groups and order a crackdown against them. They are the enemies of the country and the people who inhabit it. The longer the government keeps glorifying or justifying these religious groups, the more human lives they will claim. Within a few weeks, the fanfare about the historic election of Sharif as the prime minister for a third term and Dr. Malik’s as Balochistan’s first non-elite chief minister will fade away and attention would be focused on actual problems. That said, the prime minister and the Balochistan chief minister should prepare to face tough questions regarding their progress in improving the situation in Balochistan. Unfortunately, P.M. Sharif does not have a road-map to address the conflict in Balochistan. Here is a three-point strategy we think he should apply to normalize the situation in the province. First, Mr. Sharif and his team should start a serious conversation with the Pakistani army. This conversation, if they wish so, should not include any Baloch representatives. This should purely be a conversation among the Punjabi elite (mainly politicians and the army commanders). Mr. Sharif should educate the army about the destructive outcome of its policies in Balochistan and how these policies have taken the country on the verge of collapse. The Prime Minister should hold talks with the army chief about the issue of the missing persons, military operations and Baloch representation in the army. Until the army and the elected government at the center are on the same page, prime minister’s pledges to Balochistan will hold not significance. In talks among themselves, the Punjabi elite should discuss what kind of relationship they want to keep with Balochistan. Later on, they should clearly state whether they want to keep Balochistan as an equal, respected federating unit or a colony whose mineral wealth, not the people, would have importance for the central government. Second, Mr. Sharif should himself reach out to disillusioned Baloch leadership, starting from veteran politicians like Nawab Khair Baksh Marri and Sardar Attaullah Mengal. These two prominent leaders, who still influence the politics of their children, live inside Pakistan and they should be met and told that the conflict has had a very heavy price for the common man in Balochistan. The longer the conflict continues, the more ordinary citizens will suffer. They should, in a nutshell, find a solution that is acceptable to all stakeholders and capable of ending the bloodshed in the province. Third, Balochistan can no longer suffice with mere promises of the central government. An important way to win the hearts of the local people is to ensure the development of the infrastructure, including improving the state of education, health facilities and other domains of life. If the P.M.L.-N government pushes the Balochistan government to end corruption at official level, ensure good governance, create jobs and develop the infrastructure, there is no reason people’s sense of deprivation should not be eliminated. Unfortunately, Mr. Sharif still does not have a clear Balochistan plan. He only verbally states his commitment to resolve the issue which is not enough. The prime minister should have a plan and ensure its smooth and immediate implementation.
Editorial: The Baloch HalA credible Pakistani Urdu-language newspaper, Express, has reported that the government is considering granting amnesty to all personnel of the security forces and intelligence agencies who have been involved in enforced disappearances, torture and killings. As a quid pro quo, these officials would assist in recovering the missing persons. The newspaper quoted ‘reliable [government] sources’ that the new administration is emulating the Argentina model where several missing persons were recovered under a similar arrangement. The report added that the government was contemplating registering terrorism-related cases against those who are recovered while the intelligence personnel would not be questioned regarding those whose who have been killed during custody. The cases of the dead missing persons, under this plan, will be permanently closed for future investigations. Since the majority of the missing persons in Pakistan belong to Balochistan, the fresh government plan should concern and caution us all. This is an outrageous plan if it is what the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz government intends to do. For a long time, we have been proposing the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Balochistan to ascertain the details of what had happened in the province during the past ten years. Since state institutions, such as the Supreme Court of Pakistan, have found ample evidence regarding the involvement of intelligence agencies and the Frontier Corps (F.C.) in missing persons’ cases, the government is hesitating from taking action against those who are involved in these crimes. The security forces have been operating in Balochistan with such impunity that their involvement is an open secret and there is barely a need for a thorough investigation. However, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is still important to formally confirm the state-sponsored crimes against the Baloch people. Granting amnesty to those who were involved in illegal crimes does not set a positive precedence. The new government should end the culture of immunity and no one should be above the law. If the security forces and the intelligence agents carried out unlawful actions, they should face trial for their actions. The missing persons’ issue reflects a very complicated state policy which is not very easy to resolve. When General Musharraf took advantage of the context of the war on terror and sanctioned enforced disappearances in Balochistan, he had a long-term strategy in his mind. His regime, while initiating the enforced disappearances, had no intention of sending the people back to their homes once they were taken into official custody. So, he developed such a a mechanism that missing persons were constantly kept at different locations under the supervision of different officers. Their whereabouts were regularly changed so that officers and lock-ups would have no fresh records of people detained there. One such example is the case of Ali Asghar Bungalizai, a tailor master who disappeared from Quetta in 2002. While one brigadier of the Inter-Services Intelligence (I.S.I.) admitted before former Balochistan Governor/Corps Commander General Abdul Qadir Baloch, who is currently a federal minister in Prime Minister Sharif’s cabinet, that Mr. Bungalzai was in I.S.I.’s custody and would soon be released, a new brigadier, who replaced the previous one, completely denied having any information about Mr. Bungalzai. Eleven years later, no one still knows who among the two I.S.I. brigadiers lied. Renowned Pakistani novelist and journalist Mohammad Hanif has elegantly narrated Mr. Bungalzai’s story “Looking For Uncle Ali” in his book The Baloch Who Is Not Missing. Cases like Mr. Bungalzai’s were actually the outcome of an intentional policy pursued by Musharraf so that no officer could have complete information about a particular case. Because, the ultimate goal was to kill these people and dump their bodies at unknown locations. While some people’s bodies were found, many other’s faces were so mutilated that no one could identify them. Hence, there are several people who have been killed in the official custody but their families still cling with the hope that they are alive and one day will return home. Possibly, there are numerous other such people whose dead bodies were never found. On their part, the Baloch have repeatedly rejected government offers for ‘amnesty’ because they rightly argue that amnesty is generally granted to criminals whereas most of the Baloch are not criminals but the victims of state-sponsored crimes. They have not been convicted by any Pakistani courts. Instead, the Baloch have a genuine demand that those who have indulged in these unlawful acts should be punished. Since the government personnel involved in these killings directly have an issue with the families of the Baloch victims, the government has no moral and legal authority to grant them amnesty. We want international human rights groups, such as the Human Rights Watch and the Amnesty International, to get involved and prevent any such plans of the Pakistani government to grant absolute amnesty to gangs of official criminals. These people should be put on trial and punished for their crimes. This is not a matter of a few individuals but this is the question of the civil rights of thousands of citizens and their brutal murder. The law should not be so brazenly supportive of rights abusers.
Daily TimesThe Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government and the IMF finally came to an agreement over the bailout package that is desperately needed to resuscitate Pakistan’s economy. Despite all the claims of the new government that it would break the begging bowl, the inevitable has happened as Pakistan seeks help from the IMF yet again. An agreement has been reached over a $ 5.3 billion three-year loan programme titled ‘Extended Fund Facility’. It has a repayment period of 10 years with an initial grace period of four years. The Ministry of Finance has requested an increase in the loan amount from $ 5.3 billion, which is 348 percent of Pakistan’s quota in the IMF, to $ 7.3 billion which is roughly 500 percent of Pakistan’s share in the IMF. IMF mission chief Geffrey Franks in a press conference stated that Pakistan would have to implement tough fiscal measures such as imposition of more taxes, withdrawal of tax exemptions, increase in power and tax tariffs, elimination of power tariff subsidies and privatisation or restructuring of public sector enterprises. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his team have vehemently tried to portray that the IMF loan is in line with the PML-N government’s homegrown fiscal policies and that the IMF had not dictated its terms in the agreed bailout package. Dar said that the conditions upon which the loan programme is contingent are part of the reforms PML-N had set forth in its party manifesto and which were also evident in the recent budget. This claim is false to the extent that in order to receive money from the IMF, the government has to levy new taxes, a measure that was not in the recent budget’s purview and had been denied until now as a possibility by Mr Dar. Moreover, the government will have to make some other tough decisions such as privatising public sector enterprises and reviving others such as PIA and the Railways that are bleeding heavily. Pakistan has had a long dismal history of borrowing from the IMF. Since 1988, Pakistan has engaged with the IMF in 11 loan programmes, out of which only four were termed successful by the IMF (and that too in terms of repayments made and not in terms of any positive effect on Pakistan’s economy). Considering Pakistan’s track record it comes as no surprise that, regardless of what the government might say, the terms offered by the IMF are harsh. The loan granted to the previous People’s Party government in 2008 was worth nearly $ 11.3 billion, significantly more than the present loan programme. The IMF was more generous last time, perhaps, to encourage the strengthening of democracy in Pakistan that had finally freed itself from General Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorial rule. The PML-N government should be honest with the nation. The elections of 2013 manifested the increased awareness of the people, who are in touch with ground realities. The People’s Party’s government was voted out as the electorate was quick to recognize that the government had failed to deliver. Mere promises and slogans are not enough to get the approval of the people anymore. The incumbent government will have to deliver in order to stay in the people’s good graces. It is advisable that the government should refrain from making promises it cannot keep as this would only raise undue expectations. Also, people should not be kept in the dark about national issues that affect everyone, such as the real state of the economy. We have witnessed how the government has had to take tough fiscal measures, and will further have to in the future, in conformity with the reforms prescribed in the loan programme. This is in sharp contrast to the dreamy picture that was being portrayed during the election campaign. The government should take necessary steps to educate the people about the current economic situation and the rationale behind the reforms that need to be introduced in order to achieve long-term economic growth.
www.assistnews.netThe escalating misuse of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws is killing minorities in Pakistan, a UK-based human rights organisation is warning.Following the torching of 178 Christian homes in Pakistan due to allegations of blasphemy, the Global Minorities Alliance (www.globalminorities.co.uk), staged a protest outside the Scottish Parliament and launched a worldwide awareness campaign, which has so far received a massive response.