Sunday, July 7, 2013

PTI becomes largest Political Party that hates minorities especially Christians
Christian news (Yeshwa Younis) Neither the ideology of Muhammad Ali Jinnah nor the ideals of the Pakistan’s constitution disrespects the non-Muslims as the Latest act of KPK Assembly has done. The teachings of Holy Prophet of Islam never were against the Christians but as the tsunami of PTI (Pakistan Tharak e Insaf ) as hit the KPK Gov’t there has passed the act that sanitary workers can only be non- Muslims (e.g Christians and Hindus). It is not only a disgrace to the Christians but to the teachings of the founder of the Pakistan as well as the teachings of Koran which clearly states that Christian religion is closest to that of Islam. Christians in Pakistan have expressed extreme distress at this action and foresee it as an attack on their religion & religious sentiments. We Strongly condemn the most controversial remarks of Chief Minister of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa Pervez Khattak of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) that Muslims cannot be hired as the sweepers and cleaners in the province in the frequent absence of the current sweepers and if provincial government hires the replacements, only minorities will be given the chance to fill up the vacancies. “Chief Minister KPK’s comments about minorities strongly condemned: Albert David Chairman PUCM has strongly condemned the in house statement given by CM KPK. Whilst speaking in the assembly. The Chief Minister said that “cleaners/sweepers will only be from minority community and Muslims are not eligible to clean streets and roads” He said, these are highly insensitive, discriminatory and biased remarks. We demand a public apology and resignation from Mr Khattak. PTI will face a strong protest by Non Muslim Pakistanis if the leadership of PTI does not take an immediate action. Is it this “change” that PTI had been rallying for, he questioned the PTI leadership.” “Pakistan Christian Congress President Dr. Nazir S Bhatti has strongly condemned the state of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) nominated Chief Minister in KPK province that only sanitary workers’ jobs may be given to religious minorities in KPK province. Nazir Bhatti urged Christians to stay away from PTI because on next step it’s going to announce separate dress for non-Muslims in KPK where Jamat Islami (JI) an ally party of PTI in government of KPK have demanded separate assembly for women and minorities.”

The controversial Afghan film “Madrasa” screened in Kabul city

The Afghan film “Madrasa” was finally screened in Lycee Esteqlal high school in capital Kabul following months of controversies. The movie directed by Afghan filmmaker and actor Asad Sikandar, is considered to be one the most controversial movies in Afghanistan which sparked criticisms by neighboring Iran. The movie was displayed in Lycee Esteqlal high school in Kabul city in the presence of film artists, filmmakers and representatives fo various cultural organizations. The Madrasa film was banned by the government of Afghanistan after the government of Iran criticized the scenario of the movie, which reflects forced difficulties the Afghan refugees face outside the country. The director of the movie Asad Sikandar said that certain parts of the movie was censored and the film was allowed to be screened following efforts by filmmakers, media agencies and a number of the Afghan parliament members. The story of the film is based on an Afghan family migrated in Iran, and the issues the family was facing while admiting their children to school. The film was due to be screened in a French cultural center in Lycee Esteqlal around two years ago, however the embassy of Iran in coordination with the French embassy prevented the film to be displayed. Asad Sikandar the director of the film said that the main scenario of the film remains unchanged and only certain parts of the movie has been censored or deleted. He insisted that the story is based on Afghan refugees who are facing educational issues outside the country, and the children must have the right to have access to education despite illegal migration by their parents.

India turns down Afghanistan’s arms plea
India has turned down Afghanistan’s request for supply of lethal weapons, saying it was neither in a position nor willing to contribute lethal weapons right now, days after Afghan President Hamid Karzai raised the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “We are going to help with non-lethal equipment but I don’t think we are either in the position to or willing to contribute lethal weapons right now,” External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said here. Noting that India already supplies important elements of supporting equipment, transportation, which includes helicopters, the minister said “...we think it is not advisable to go beyond that. It is a fragile area, there are stakeholders, there are other people. We don’t want to become part of the problem.” During his recent visit to India, Mr. Karzai had handed a “wish list” to Indian leadership seeking greater military and civilian support in the wake of proposed withdrawal of US-led forces from Afghanistan in 2014. Mr. Khurshid, in an interview to Straits Times, said there are lots of people who have perceptions about the future of Afghanistan and “if we can help Afghanistan without creating further problems for them, I think that would be a preferred way to do it.” He said, “We are in touch with them constantly, and we are committed and have said very categorically... We are not looking at exit routes for ourselves which means we are there to stay for a long term. We are very comforted by the fact that Afghans have confidence in us. We won’t let them down.”

Pakistan: Reopening ghost schools a lucrative business in Thar

The number of schools in the most-underdeveloped district in Sindh is roughly twice the number of total villages. According to education department records, there are 4,153 operational schools in 2,484 villages of Tharparkar district. The schools are ‘operating’ on paper only and are not even remotely related to providing education to children living in these villages. Such schools are used only to embezzle government funds received for their management, Dawn reliably learnt. A couple of years ago, more than 50 per cent ghost schools in the district were got reopened by local influential persons in connivance with officials of the education department. The schools regularly receive funds, ration for students, stipends and scholarships which the bogus schools management committees — comprising the supposed supervisor, teacher and at times the education district officer and additional district officer — distribute among themselves, according to sources in the education department. According to regulations of the education department, a primary school has to be opened after every two kilometres. However, since the education officers have a stake in schools funds they have been more than generous in opening as many as 60 bogus schools in a single village, said the sources. These officials have evaded notice by maintaining fake records for students’ enrolment and semis code. A school with a semis code receives Rs22,500 per year as school management committee fund, a stipend of Rs250 for every girl student enrolled and the person who opens the school in his locality or village gets the job of a lower staff or a naib qasid. Moreover, funds and wheat, oil and ghee are also given by the World Food Programme and Tawana Pakistan Project for these schools. According to education department records, there are 61 primary schools for boys and girls and one high school in Vaouridora village in Chhachhro taluka which has a total population of 6,580 people. Around 3,950 boys and girls — 60 per cent of the population — have been shown enrolled in these schools, also having 182 students who have even studied up to matric. Out of these 62 schools 42 do not even have a building but have been allotted a semi code by education officials. Meanwhile, 27, 22 and 17 schools have been supposedly functioning in Chhachhro, Diplo and Islamkot towns respectively. A greater number of schools are operating in several villages of Tharparkar district having a population of less than 5,000 people. Moreover, 24 schools have been opened in Chelhar, 23 in Karuro, 23 in Charnore, 22 in Thardos, 21 in Kitar, 19 in Kitari, 19 in Sakrio, 17 in Kantio,16 in Udani, 15 in Janjhi,14 in Danbhario,14 in Ranpario, 13 in Jetrar, 12 in Khimejopar, 11 in Pabuhar, 11 in Bhorilo, 10 in Dhaklo, 10 in Jese jo Par,10 in Kaloi, and 9 in Aranro village, state official bogus records. A senior teacher who worked with the Tawana Pakistan Project confirmed that many schools in Thar maintained bogus records of students’ enrolment.“Wheat and oil obtained for these schools is openly sold in the market of these villages and towns,” he said. An education official who wished not to be named shed some light on ‘the rationale behind opening several schools in a single village’. He said that influential persons of various communities used their clout to get as many schools opened as possible because for each school opened in a village, bogus teachers gave a cut of their loot to the school superviser and the influential person who had got the school opened. If a teacher paid Rs1,000 a month to the supervisor then more schools meant more teachers and more money, he explained. Tharparkar district education officer Abdul Majid Hur said that the matter was being probed thoroughly. He said that he would not hesitate to take a stern decision for putting the educational system in Thar on a sound footing and ensuring that quality education was imparted in schools. For about two years now, people working in such bogus schools in connivance with the education department have managed to pull the wool over the eyes of stakeholders who are funding these schools.

President Zardari for indiscriminate crackdown against criminals

President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday directed the Sindh government to launch a crackdown against criminals in the port city without any discrimination. He also directed the Sindh government to convene an All Parties Conference (APC) to evolve a consensus strategy to deal with the scourge of lawlessness, terrorism, extortion and other such crimes in the metropolis. In a bid to quell the ongoing conflict in the restive Lyari neighbourhood, President Asif Ali Zardari also directed the Sindh government to put in all its resources to end the conflict. In a meeting held at Bilawal House, which was attended by Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and heads of the police and Rangers, President Zadari said indiscriminate action should be taken against target killers, extortionists and land grabbers active in the city. The president was briefed by the chief minister, IG Sindh and DG Rangers on the law and order situation of the city in the meeting. The president directed the Sindh government to establish pickets in various troubled areas of the city and also said that high range CCTV cameras should be installed in all the entry and exit points of Karachi. He said that maintaining law and order was a shared responsibility of the political forces, which must join hands to maintain the peace in Karachi. Participants of the meeting gave their perspective on the reasons behind the volatile situation in Lyari and gave suggestions on how to tackle it. The president has also formed a three-member committee under the Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah to negotiate with the Muttahida Quami Movement. Khurseed Shah and Rehman Malik are the two other members of the committee. The chief minister informed the president that the Sindh government was planning to call an All Parties Conference (APC) to restore law and order in the city. The other political parties will be invited to suggest ways to control law and order in Karachi. The president was told that by the end of this year, Karachi will have 3,000 CCTV cameras. The president told the chief minister to address the paucity of funds faced by the law enforcement agencies and reiterated that “establishing the peace and order of the city was the prime responsibility of the Sindh Government.” The president also heard a committee representing Lyari. A delegation, comprising Senator Yusuf Baloch, Senator Saeed Ghani, Abdul Qadir Patel, and MPA Sania Naz briefed them about the ongoing conflict in Lyari. Sources privy to the meeting said that the Baloch of Lyari were asked to sit and talk to the Katchis, to which the committee said that those behind the current conflict do not represent the Katchis which is fuelled by outsiders. The president said that the Pakistan People’s Party will soon organise a peace conference at the Kakri Ground, and a peace walk in the area to help calm the communal temperature in the area. However, the Lyari committee informed the president that “certain elements” from the MQM have penetrated into the Katchi neighbourhoods, which were responsible for the violence in the area. The committee also complained to the president that the law enforcement agencies do not heed orders from the elected representatives of Lyari, which was making it all the more difficult for them to restore peace in the area.

Pakistan: The state of children

According to a report on "The State of Pakistan's Children 2012" launched by the Society for Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) in Lahore on 27th June, 2013, almost 25 million children and adolescents were out of school in Pakistan, out of which seven million have yet to receive primary schooling. 225,000 annual newborn deaths were reported in the country that pose new challenges to an already under-equipped health sector of Pakistan. Besides, violence against children was culturally entrenched as children in Pakistan had to cope with physical violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, recruitment in armed conflicts and acid attacks. Not only they have to cope with a lack of educational opportunities but have also to face poor health conditions, a near absence of protection, miserable conditions in juvenile jails and employment in hazardous occupations. Pakistan also lacks adequate facilities to deal with the children who come into conflict with the law. Ineffective implementation of law means that children are often denied bail, kept with adult prisoners and produced in handcuffs before the courts. The report also revealed that there were 12 million child labourers in Pakistan as of 2012. The contents of the report reveal that SPARC has done a good job in highlighting the miserable conditions of children generally prevailing in poor and lower middle-class families. The poor state of education in the country was evident from Pakistan's position on the Education Index where it ranked 113 out of 120 countries. The lack of schooling among children shows that this position is not going to improve and Pakistan will fail to reach the education related MDGs by 2015, which call for 100 percent Net Primary Enrolment Rate (5-9 years) and Completion Survival rate (grade 1 to 5) whereas these rates were hovering around 50 percent in the country at present. Overall literacy rate was also much less at 58 percent in 2011-12 as against the MDG target of 88 percent. In the absence of a database on violence etc against children and massive under-reporting of cases, it was not possible to estimate such abuses with certainty. However, Sahil's Cruel Numbers revealed that there were 3,861 cases of child sexual abuse in the country in 2012 while Madadgaar Helpline reported 5,659 cases of violence against children from January to October, 2012. Whether the government or families themselves will do something to improve the situation is not difficult to guess. Starved of resources and pre-occupied fully with other important issues like energy shortages, law and order situation, militancy in the country and a host of economic problems, the government does not find enough time to take effective steps to pass all pending legislation pertaining to children and fulfil its international commitments regarding human rights in general and child rights in particular. The existing laws to protect the children are also mostly ineffective due to obvious reasons. So far as families' own efforts to improve the lot of their children is concerned, they are basically handicapped by poverty and the children are used to make money to supplement the families' incomes through a variety of ways without caring for their welfare. In a situation like this, hardly any attention is paid to UN International Convent on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1996, UNESCO's "Education for All" or MDGs' targets. Government of Pakistan has made education free and compulsory up to Grade 10. Parliament of Pakistan has passed a bill for free and compulsory education under Article 25-A of the constitution that entitles every child of age 5 to 16 years the right of education. Such steps could be a good beginning but a lot of ground has still to be covered before the condition of children could be expected to improve to make the lives of next generation more productive and fulfilling. We can only hope that the government and the parents could spare some of their time and resources for the welfare of children and check various kinds of abuses now prevalent in the society. This issue would appear to be a minor one but has huge implications for the future of the country.

Pakistan: Analysis: IMF bailout could help, but it probably won’t

The $5.3 billion International Monetary Fund’s bailout of the government certainly has the potential of helping Islamabad stabilise the economy, but judging by how the bureaucrats have played the negotiations, it will probably do nothing of the sort. Pakistan has entered so many bailout programmes with the IMF that, by now, the bureaucrats at the finance ministry consider the Washington-based lender to be a serious source of regular funding instead of a lender of last resort that it is supposed to be. And they have grown increasingly more skilled at outright conning the IMF into imposing conditions that minimise the work the bureaucrats have to do, but also have the effect of sinking the country further into fiscal quicksand. And this particular IMF programme has the Q Block babus’ fingerprints all over it. Consider, for example, the inexplicable condition that the Council on Common Interest somehow gets the consent of the provinces to run artificial surpluses in order to make the overall fiscal situation of the country look good. This is not a condition that originated in the IMF’s heads: it came from the finance ministry bureaucrats who loathe and despise the National Finance Commission award because it took away money – and therefore power – from them and gave it away to the provinces. They want it back, and they have managed to convince the IMF that this is a good way to reduce the budget deficit. And therein lies the dirty little secret of the IMF bailouts: while the international lender has broad policy guidelines what it thinks is sound fiscal and economic policy, the detailed proposals for exactly how to achieve those goals are suggested mainly by bureaucrats in the finance ministry and the Federal Board of Revenue, with the occasional good idea wandering in from the State Bank of Pakistan or the Planning Commission. So here is how this charade goes: the bureaucrats call in the IMF, because they do not want to actually do their job and collect taxes. They present a highly distorted picture of the problem which somehow omits just how flawed their own policies are and instead blame things that have nothing to do with the core of the government’s financial mismanagement problems. This provincial budget surplus condition is a case in point. The NFC award is in no way responsible for the federal budget deficit, but the bureaucrats will not tell the IMF that. They will only show how much money gets transferred to the provinces, while neglecting to point out the fact that the deficit would shrink a lot faster if the government simply did what it is supposed to and cut back energy subsidies and privatise grossly mismanaged state-owned enterprises. That is where two-thirds of the deficit problem comes from. Of course, the IMF is not stupid. They know they are being taken for a ride, but they also have no choice. They have sunk money into Pakistan and, much as one may hate them, it is the civil servants whose job it is to get that money back. So the IMF gives in on the provincial budget demand and in exchange demands that the deficit be reduced even more than the finance ministry’s original target and that the cuts come from subsidies. Now, a fair deal would be for the bureaucracy to give the IMF what it wants in exchange for getting what they want. But the bureaucracy is not playing to be fair. They are playing to win. So the cuts may well come, but they will come from the development budget, which is the part of federal spending that does not pay for their perks and privileges. A small part of the development budget does provide perks to bureaucrats, but worry not: that is the part that will stay in. Readers may have noticed by now that the finance minister has not been mentioned in any of this. There is a reason for that. If the repetitive cycle of IMF bailouts from 1989 has taught us anything, it is this: the finance minister may not be innocent in all of this, but at the end of the day, he is just a bystander, powerless in front of the mighty Civil Service of Pakistan.

Pakistan: Elahi slams govt over inflation ahead of Ramzan

Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) senior central leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi Saturday criticised the government and said that prices of essential articles are already soaring prior to the holy month of fasting, Ramzanul Mubarak. He said this while talking to representative delegations of different areas and political figures separately here. He said that people's life was being made miserable instead of providing them some relief. He also said that his party regarded service to the people as worship and that was why the focus of their politics was on serving the poor and common man and solving every one's problems. He further said people of Gujrat were their benefactors and they did not forget their benefactors and colleagues. Commenting on the new federal budget and Punjab budget, Parvez Elahi said that these have unleash a vicious cycle of soaring prices of essential articles, including eatables and other daily use items, electricity, gas, petrol, diesel and even transport fares have been increased unilaterally. He said that besides daily use items, other service bills were also touching the sky, as rents of shops, houses and buildings were also increasing each days. Elahi said that a meager allocation of Rs 10 lakhs had been made in the new provincial budget for the established Wazirabad Cardiology Hospital as a result of which it was impossible to make it functional even this year. Those who met Ch Parvez Elahi also included important personalities of Union Councils Mangowal, Nagrianwala, Ghakaraan, Saroki and Chak Saada. On this occasion, Mian Imran Masood, Ch Ejaz, Haneef Haideri, Javed Maajra, Hamid Warraich, Amjad Butt, Parvaiz Pagganwala, Mazhar Natt, Arshad Waheed Butt and other party leaders were also among those present. - See more at:

PPP rues making Najam Sethi caretaker CM

The Pakistan People’s Party said on Saturday that proposing the name of Najam Sethi for caretaker chief minister of Punjab was a ‘mistake’. “On the recommendation of the leadership I had proposed the name of Najam Sethi for the caretaker chief minister. Later, he joined hands with the Sharif brothers and extended his full support to them to win the May 11 elections,” PPP leader and former opposition leader in Punjab Raja Riaz told a press conference at the press club here on Saturday. He said the Sharif brothers in return made Sethi the chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board. He said the monthly salary of the PCB chairman was Rs1.5 million. Raja Riaz said the Election Commission bureaucracy and the caretaker chief minister were hand in glove in defeating the PPP. He demanded fresh elections in Punjab under the supervision of a new election commission. He said he was ready to meet the expenditure to verify voters’ thumb impression in his constituency in Faisalabad but nobody was willing to redress his grievances. Riaz said the PML-N leadership had made false promises with the people as there had been no letup in loadshedding and price hike. He dared the PML-N leadership to make the Abbotabad report public. He asked the prime minister to shift former president Pervez Musharraf from his residence, which has been declared sub-jail, to the Adiala jail.

Pakistan: Death penalty revival

The previous government of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had in practice operated an informal moratorium on executions of prisoners on death row since 2008 after Mr Asif Ali Zardari was elected president. In the past five years, the only execution carried out was of a soldier convicted by a court martial. The new PML-N government has decided against continuing the moratorium. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have criticized this decision as retrograde in nature. More than 150 countries have either abolished the death penalty or have stopped administering it. The world over, the notion of rehabilitating incarcerated individuals and integrating them back in society has gained ground. The focus generally is on reforming prisoners who would otherwise be condemned to death. In a place like Pakistan where the judicial system is flawed and many innocent people are convicted solely because they are too poor to hire proper legal representation and efficaciously fight their cases, the death penalty seems not only primitive but also excessive and inappropriate. According to estimates, Pakistan has around 8,000 people on death row. These individuals, many of whom may be innocent, have exhausted the appeals process and will face imminent execution as the moratorium has been lifted. The interior ministry said that the new government will not give a general amnesty to prisoners on death row. Instead, it would deal with death penalty convicts on a case-by-case basis. It further said that the cases of individuals on death row would be examined and consideration entertained for special cases such as those involving women and the elderly. The number of individuals facing execution was said to be 450 according to the interior ministry, which is significantly less than the estimates of human rights groups. Research has revealed that the death penalty does not deter crime. What needs to be done on a war footing is to improve the justice system of Pakistan. The lower courts are extremely inefficient, clogged with a mountain of undecided cases, and notoriously corrupt. Moreover, the rich can literally get away with murder by offering bribes or blood money (Qisas and Diyat) whereas the poor can only pray for elusive justice. In such dismal circumstances, Pakistan should look to modernizing its judicial system and reform its prisons. If the justice system can be improved to an extent that people have confidence in it, that would in itself be a deterrent for those involved in criminal activities as they would know that it would be impossible for them to escape the clutches of the law.