Tuesday, July 16, 2013
The new Egyptian government has warned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government officials against meddling in the North African’s internal affairs. In an interview with Turkey’s English-language daily Today's Zaman on Sunday, Erdogan said that ousted leader Mohamed Morsi is the only legitimate president of Egypt. "Currently, my president in Egypt is Morsi because he was elected by the people," he stated. "If we don't judge the situation like that it is tantamount to ignoring the Egyptian people.” In separate statements, Turkish government officials recently denounced the Egyptian military's removal of Morsi, the country's first democratically elected leader, as an "unacceptable coup”. On Tuesday, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry expressed "strong resentment at comments like these, which… represent a clear intervention in internal Egyptian affairs," said Badr Abdelatty, the ministry spokesman. Later in the day, Egyptian presidential spokesman Ahmed Elmoslmany also issued a statement about the issue, saying, “I consider the (Turkish) statements inappropriate and I consider it interference in Egyptian internal affairs.” "I clearly say to Ankara, it should respect Egyptian sovereignty and the will of the Egyptian people. Egypt did not interfere in what happened in Taksim Square," Elmoslmany said, referring to anti-government protests in Istanbul last month. "Turkey has to understand it is speaking about a big country with a great history," he added. Meanwhile, according to a report published on Tuesday in Today's Zaman, Turkish President Abdullah Gul demanded the immediate release of Morsi, who is being held incommunicado at an undisclosed location. On July 13, several Egyptian MPs in the disbanded upper house of parliament also rejected the ouster of Morsi. Speaking at a public rally organized by the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, some two dozen members of the Shura Council demanded the army reinstate Morsi, and called on other legislatures across the world not to recognize Egypt’s new military-appointed administration. They rejected the legality of any action taken following what they called a military coup d’état against the elected president -- including the dissolution of the parliament. In a televised speech late on July 3 night, Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that Morsi, a former leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was no longer in office and declared that the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mahmoud Mansour, had been appointed as the new interim president of Egypt. The army also suspended the constitution. Army officials said ousted President Morsi, who took office in June 2012, was being held “preventively” by the military. On July 4, Mansour was sworn in as interim president. Next day, he dissolved the Shura Council by decree. On July 5, Muslim Brotherhood supreme leader Mohammed Badie said the coup against Morsi is illegal and millions will remain on the street until he is reinstated as president. Badie vowed to "complete the revolution" that toppled the Western-backed regime of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The Egyptians launched the revolution against the pro-Israeli regime on January 25, 2011, which eventually brought an end to the 30-year dictatorship of Mubarak on February 11, 2011.
By CHARLES M. BLOW In a way, the not-guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman for his killing of Trayvon Martin was more powerful than a guilty verdict could ever have been. It was the perfect wrenching coda to a story that illustrates just how utterly and completely our system of justice — both moral and legal — failed Martin and his family. This is not to dispute the jury’s finding — one can intellectually rationalize the decision — as much as it is to howl at the moon, to yearn for a brighter reality for the politics around dark bodies, to raise a voice and say, this case is a rallying call, not a death dirge. The system began to fail Martin long before that night. The system failed him when Florida’s self-defense laws were written, allowing an aggressor to claim self-defense in the middle of an altercation — and to use deadly force in that defense — with no culpability for his role in the events that led to that point. The system failed him because of the disproportionate force that he and the neighborhood watchman could legally bring to the altercation — Zimmerman could legally carry a concealed firearm, while Martin, who was only 17, could not. The system failed him when the neighborhood watchman grafted on stereotypes the moment he saw him, ascribing motive and behavior and intent and criminal history to a boy who was just walking home. The system failed him when the bullet ripped through his chest, and the man who shot him said he mounted him and stretched his arms out wide, preventing him from even clutching the spot that hurt. The system failed him in those moments just after he was shot when he was surely aware that he was about to die, but before life’s light fully passed from his body — and no one came to comfort him or try to save him. The system failed him when the slapdash Sanford police did a horrible job of collecting and preserving evidence. The system failed him when those officers apparently didn’t even value his dead body enough to adequately canvass the complex to make sure that no one was missing a teen. The system failed him when he was labeled a John Doe and his lifeless body spent the night alone and unclaimed. The system failed him when the man who the police found standing over the body of a dead teenager, a man who admitted to shooting him and still had the weapon, was taken in for questioning and then allowed to walk out of the precinct without an arrest or even a charge, to go home after taking a life and take to his bed. The system failed him when it took more than 40 days and an outpouring of national outrage to get an arrest. The system failed him when a strangely homogenous jury — who may well have been Zimmerman’s peers but were certainly not the peers of the teenager, who was in effect being tried in absentia — was seated. The system failed him when the prosecution put on a case for the Martin family that many court-watchers found wanting. The system failed him when the discussion about bias became so reductive as to be either-or rather than about situational fluidity and the possibility of varying responses to varying levels of perceived threat. The system failed him when everyone in the courtroom raised racial bias in roundabout ways, but almost never directly — for example, when the defense held up a picture of a shirtless Martin and told the jurors that this was the person Zimmerman encountered the night he shot him. But in fact it was not the way Zimmerman had seen Martin. Consciously or subconsciously, the defense played on an old racial trope: asking the all-female jury — mostly white — to fear the image of the glistening black buck, as Zimmerman had. This case is not about an extraordinary death of an extraordinary person. Unfortunately, in America, people are lost to gun violence every day. Many of them look like Martin and have parents who presumably grieve for them. This case is about extraordinary inequality in the presumption of innocence and the application of justice: why was Martin deemed suspicious and why was his killer allowed to go home? Sometimes people just need a focal point. Sometimes that focal point becomes a breaking point. The idea of universal suspicion without individual evidence is what Americans find abhorrent and what black men in America must constantly fight. It is pervasive in policing policies — like stop-and-frisk, and in this case neighborhood watch — regardless of the collateral damage done to the majority of innocents. It’s like burning down a house to rid it of mice. As a parent, particularly a parent of black teenage boys, I am left with the question, “Now, what do I tell my boys?” We used to say not to run in public because that might be seen as suspicious, like they’d stolen something. But according to Zimmerman, Martin drew his suspicion at least in part because he was walking too slowly. So what do I tell my boys now? At what precise pace should a black man walk to avoid suspicion? And can they ever stop walking away, or running away, and simply stand their ground? Can they become righteously indignant without being fatally wounded? Is there anyplace safe enough, or any cargo innocent enough, for a black man in this country? Martin was where he was supposed to be — in a gated community — carrying candy and a canned drink. The whole system failed Martin. What prevents it from failing my children, or yours? I feel that I must tell my boys that, but I can’t. It’s stuck in my throat. It’s an impossibly heartbreaking conversation to have. So, I sit and watch in silence, and occasionally mouth the word, “breathe,” because I keep forgetting to.
http://news.yahoo.com/President Barack Obama charged Tuesday that some Republicans oppose comprehensive legislation to overhaul the nation’s immigration policies because they are “suspicious” that the measure will swell the ranks of Democrats. "I think some in the House who believe that immigration will encourage further demographic changes -- and that may not be good for them politically," he told Norma Garcia, of Telemundo's KXTX in Fort Worth, Texas. Obama also rejected calls for a piecemeal approach to the problem – as advocated by some key GOP lawmakers – and said he hoped that the bill could reach his desk in the fall. The president had previously said he hoped it would be done before lawmakers head home next month -- and face voters potentially angry about the sweeping blueprint. The president's comments came as he sat down for four question-and-answer sessions with Spanish-language TV interviewers, part of a White House push behind the measure, which has stalled in the Republican-held House of Representatives. "I don't think that we're gonna see it before the August recess," Obama told Garcia. Republican struggles with the bill mean "we may have to go through several more weeks of work before we actually pass the bill. So it probably will -- hopefully happen in the fall." And he told Maria Rozman of Telemundo’s KDEN station in Denver that “Republican House members are wrestling with it.” “Many of their constituents are suspicious of this, suspicious of what immigration might mean for their political futures in some cases,” he told Rozman. (Obama’s comments may have been directed at complaints from some Republicans, like Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who have described immigration reform as a way to give citizenship to “undocumented Democrats.” But at least he wasn’t concern-trolling Republicans, as some supporters of the overhaul have done.) Obama rejected Republican calls for doing immigration reform piecemeal – notably by pressing ahead with tougher border security first, and only then taking up a potential “path to citizenship” for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants on U.S. soil today. “The danger of doing it in pieces is that a lot of groups want different things. And you know, there's a tendency I think to put off the hard stuff until the end,” he told Garcia. “And if you've eaten your dessert before you've eaten your meal, at least with my children, sometimes they don't end up eating their vegetables.” “So we need to, I think, do this as a complete package.,” he said. Obama also rejected the notion that legalizing the status of undocumented immigrants must wait until U.S. borders are perfectly secure. “We can't make it perfect. You're never going to have zero people crossing the border without the proper papers,” he told Rozman. “But we can't use that as an excuse not to solve the problem.” “If we know that what we're doing right now is not working as well as it should, then let's fix 80% of it, 90% of it,” he said. “The fact that it might not fix 100% of it is not a reason not to significantly improve the system that we have right now." Obama also sat down with two Univision stations, KMEX of Los Angeles and WXTV of New York/New Jersey.
Los Angeles police are preparing to turn out in force to deter any fresh disturbances following the acquittal of a Florida neighbourhood watchman who killed an unarmed black teenager. Police Chief Charlie Beck said criminal behaviour would not be tolerated. On Monday night, about 150 people broke away from a march, defacing property, assaulting people and stopping traffic. George Zimmerman, 29, was cleared on Saturday of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's death in February 2012. "We cannot allow a small group of individuals to not only damage the community, strike fear in the community, but also distort the message of so many in this community," Chief Beck said on Tuesday.
Black preachers said on Tuesday they were planning peaceful protests in 100 cities across the United States this weekend to press for federal charges in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Standing outside the U.S. Justice Department building in Washington, the preachers pledged to hold the protests near federal buildings and said action was justified because of what they see as the civil rights questions surrounding the death.
By Vladimir DuthiersThe Israeli army's Golani brigade recently wrapped up a two-week exercise of ground troops, special forces and air units along Israel's 81-mile-long (130 km) frontier with Syria. The drill was not aimed at preparing for an all-out war scenario but to respond to a new terror threat that has emerged from the ashes of the Syrian revolution. Israel Defense Forces claim that close to 3,000 fighters from the militant group Hezbollah have infiltrated Syria in support of the Assad regime and several hundred are now operating the Golan Heights. Hezbollah -- the Iranian-backed group based in southern Lebanon - has called for the destruction of the state of Israel. Leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has stated that once the Syrian uprising is put down, he will turn his attention to Israel. "Statements that were made by high ranking officials that the Syrian border will become a border with terror is something we are dealing with every day," said Lt. Col. Anan Abbas, the Golani Brigade Commander. "We are making sure that there will be no penetration through the northern border of Israel." Abbas gave CNN an exclusive tour of the region that has seen a tripling of Israeli forces and intelligence gathering over the last six months. The IDF now monitors the region 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Corporal Chen Holtzman, a soldier working in the IDF's Intelligence Operations Center, said they have the authority to deploy special forces units, artillery and aerial bombings if they suspect a threat to Israel. "We can see it for a few miles coming at us," she said. "If we see something coming at us, we can tell that immediately and everybody is prepared to do something about that." In addition to the constant surveillance, Israel is erecting a fence with Syria along its side of the disengagement zone. The mountainous Golan, known for its beauty and favored by backpackers and hikers, is one of the most traveled areas for Israelis. It was captured by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967 against Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Syria, but since 1974, right up to the Syrian revolution, the area was a quiet, almost bucolic military posting. Syria's children deserve chance to be kids again The turmoil in Syria changed the equation and in June, both countries nearly came to a full-on, open confrontation at a crossing post in Quneitra. Syrian rebels overran government-backed forces and for a few hours occupied the area. The Israeli forces watched, ready to intercede if the fighting spilled across the border. "The shooting began at 5am," recalled Abbas. "It was a morning full of fighting where the Syrian army and rebels were shooting at one another." To strike back at the rebels, the Syrian army moved several tanks and armored vehicles into area and the IDF went on high alert. "We had a lot of forces ready to react. Tanks, intelligence, special forces ... artillery, air force -- everything was ready for this incident," said Abbas. "If we would have seen that there was a leakage or direct fire into our territory we would have reacted immediately and destroyed the source of fire." Even before the skirmish at Quneitra, shots between rebels and Syrian government forces have strayed across the border. The IDF's response to these is to destroy the firing position -- whether rebel or Syrian army. "I do not differentiate between a force that is Syrian or a force of the rebels," Abbas said. "If I identify armed men next to the fence, we are prepared to face all the threats and respond."
By PETER BAKER
Electricity shortfall has reached 3,000 megawatts on Tuesday. Whereas power breakdown was reported in several areas due to technical problems. According to power ministry official, electricity generation remained 13,800MW against the demand of 16,800MW, creating a shortfall of 3,000MW. Rural areas are facing load shedding for over 12 hours while urban areas are suffering up to 8 hours of power outages. Long and unannounced phases of load shedding has made lives of people miserable as prolonged outages have resulted in shortage of drinking water in several areas.
The HinduThe Pakistani Taliban’s revelation that its fighters, drawn from various countries, have joined the Syrian rebels in battling President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces points to Syria becoming a theatre of global jihad. Quoting Taliban commanders in Pakistan, Reuters reported that hundreds of fighters joined the opposition combating the Syrian army. The report said the purpose of the exercise was to establish closer links with al-Qaeda’s central leadership. Figting group In Syria, the Taliban has been operating with groups such as the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra, whose fighters have been drawn from neighbouring countries such as Libya and Tunisia, forming a nucleus of fighters in the Levant that can mutate in the service of global jihad. Analysts say outfits such as the al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda in Iraq and a number of other extremists groups have organised themselves under the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF) umbrella group, forming the most potent fighting core of the Syrian opposition. According to Reuters, Taliban fighters had gone to Syria to fight alongside their “Mujahedeen friends”. “When our brothers needed our help, we sent hundreds of fighters along with our Arab friends,” said one senior Taliban commander. He added that the group would soon release videos demonstrating the “victories” recorded by the group in Syria. “Since our Arab brothers have come here for our support, we are bound to help them in their respective countries and that is what we did in Syria,” another commander was quoted as saying. “We have established our own camps in Syria. Some of our people go and then return after spending some time fighting there.” After overrunning the strategic town of Qusair on Syria’s border with Lebanon and tightening its grip around the militant stronghold of Homs, the Syrian army is aiming for peripheral consolidation around the capital Damascus. Iran’s Press TV has posted video footage of the Syrian army’s advance along Al-Qaboun and Jobar — suburbs of Damascus. Troops have blocked a tunnel and established control over an industrial zone that was used by the opposition in Al-Qaboun to reinforce fighters in Jobar. The Syrian military has also claimed that it has recovered chemical agents and chlorine from a militant hideout in Jobar.
The first war crimes tribunal of Bangladesh on Monday said in its judgement, sentencing Jamaat-e-Islami guru Ghulam Azam to 90 years in prison, that the party had acted as a ‘criminal organisation’.The three-judge tribunal found the former Jamaat chief guilty of all the charges levelled against him that included conspiracy, incitement and complicity to war crimes as well as murder. The court also urged the government to take measures to prevent anti-Liberation elements from holding public offices. A former Dhaka University student leader, Azam was also found guilty for his superior role as head of Jamaat. The tribunal in its damning indictment stated that Jamaat had played a ‘foul role’ during the independence of Pakistan, under the leadership of the party’s founder Syed Abul A’la Maududi, and also during the independence of Bangladesh — this time under the leadership of Maududi’s disciple Ghulam Azam. The judgement states under the section on Jamaat’s role during the ‘independence struggle of Pakistan and Bangladesh’ that the party had opposed ‘the idea of a separate state for Muslims’ but turned its colours as soon as Pakistan got its independence in 1947. It then “claimed itself as the only Islamic patriotic political party of Pakistan”. Noting Jamaat’s opposition to Bangladesh’s independence also, the judgement states, “But as soon as Bangladesh got its independence in 1971 at the cost of millions of lives then Jamaat-e-Islami claims itself as a true patriotic party of Bangladesh, terming those pro-liberation parties as Indian agents.” The judgement then bins the party’s political wisdom saying that it had played a ‘foul role’ during both the historic occasions and goes further saying that Jamaat “utterly failed to realise the pulse of the common people” both times likely “due to its lack of farsightedness caused by fanaticism”. The judgement then turns its attention to the accused saying that ‘based on facts of common knowledge and evidence’ it could be gathered that “under the leadership of Ghulam Azam almost all the members of Jamaat-e-Islami along with its subordinate organs actively opposed the very birth of Bangladesh in 1971…” It goes on to say that after 42 years, some of the anti-liberation people are still at the helm of Jamaat-e-Islami. As a result, said tribunal Chairman Justice A T M Fazle Kabir, in a stiffening tone, the younger Jamaat members “are being psychologically reared up and nurtured with anti-liberation sentiment and communal feeling which is a matter of great anxiety for a nation”. The judgement noted that there was no proof of Jamaat ever changing its attitude towards the Liberation War by way of repentance or showing respect to the martyrs. The tribunal chief went on that in the interest of a democratic and non-communal Bangladesh “no such anti-liberation people should be allowed to sit in the helm of Executives of the Government, social or political parties including government and non-government organisations”. “We are of the opinion that the Government may take necessary steps to that end for debarring those anti-liberation persons from holding the said superior posts in order to establish a democratic and non-communal country for which millions of people sacrificed their lives during the War of Liberation.” The final part was perhaps the most damning for Jamaat. The tribunal’s judgement states, “Taking the contextual circumstances coupled with documentary evidence into consideration, we are led to observe that Jamaat-e-Islami as a political party under the leadership of accused Prof. Ghulam Azam intentionally functioned as a ‘Criminal Organisation’ especially during the War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.”
Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, should reject a proposed criminal law revision that would effectively deny women legal protection from domestic violence, Human Rights Watch said today. A new draft of the criminal procedure code, seen by Human Rights Watch, is currently being considered by Afghanistan’s parliament. The proposed language would prohibit the relatives of a criminal defendant from being questioned as a witness against the accused. Should this provision become law, victims and other family members who have been witnesses to abuse will be silenced in domestic violence cases, making successful prosecutions unlikely. “Afghanistan’s lower house is proposing to protect the batterers of women and girls from criminal punishment,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Legislative approval of this criminal law revision would effectively stop prosecutions of people who beat, forcibly marry, and even sell their female relatives.” Article 26 of the draft law, entitled “Forbiddance of Questioning an Individual as a Witness,” states that “The following people cannot be questioned as a witness: … 4) Relatives of the accused person.” The amended procedure code would pose a serious threat to critical protections for women and girls embodied in Afghanistan’s groundbreaking Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women (the EVAW Law), passed by presidential decree in 2009. The EVAW law provides criminal penalties for various abuses including rape, child marriage, forced marriage, domestic violence, sale of women and girls, and baad, the giving of girls to resolve disputes between families. The proposed ban on testifying against relatives follows several other efforts by the Wolesi Jirga to further weaken the inadequate legal protections for women’s rights, Human Rights Watch said. Members of parliament opposed to women’s rights have increasingly sought to repeal or weaken the EVAW Law. A Wolesi Jirga debate over the EVAW Law in May 2013 was halted after 15 minutes when parliamentarians called for revisions that would have eliminated the minimum marriage age for girls, abolished shelters, and ended criminal penalties for rape and domestic violence. Although the EVAW law has been slowly and unevenly enforced, it has been a crucial tool for fighting violence against women. In May, the Wolesi Jirga passed a revision of Afghanistan’s Electoral Law that deleted an existing guarantee reserving at least 25 percent of seats in each of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial councils for female candidates. The new version of the law provided no set-aside provincial council seats for women. The upper house of parliament, the Meshrano Jirga, subsequently reinstated the set-aside for women on provincial councils. On July 15, Afghanistan’s Tolo News reported that the two houses had agreed upon a version of the law that reduces the set-aside to 20 percent. “It’s perverse that Afghanistan’s parliament is devoting its time and energies to attacking women’s hard-fought legal protections,” Adams said. “The international donors who bankroll the Afghan government should serve notice that they will not underwrite legislative initiatives to victimize women.” The legislative threat emerging from the Wolesi Jirga coincides with other recent developments that indicate a broad-based attack on women’s rights which the government has contributed to, rather than opposed: President Hamid Karzai appointed to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) a former Taliban government official, Abdul Rahman Hotak, who publicly denounced the EVAW Law. Hotak was quoted in the New York Times on July 1 saying, “The people who have written that law do not know Afghanistan and Afghan society very well – perhaps they think Kabul is Afghanistan.” The same week he told Reuters that in his view the EVAW Law is “violating Islam” and there should be a law that people are “comfortable” with. Another ominous sign of the ongoing rollback in women’s rights in Afghanistan was the decision in early July by an appeals court to release three family members convicted for the torture and starvation of a teenage in-law, Sahar Gul, after serving only about a year of a 10-year sentence for her attempted murder. In 2011, Sahar Gul’s stepbrother sold her for US$5000 to be forcibly married. She was about age 13 or 14 at the time. According to media reports, soon after the marriage her in-laws attempted to force Sahar Gul into prostitution. When she resisted, the in-laws locked her in the basement of their house for months, burned her, pulled out her fingernails and pinched her with pliers. She was found in December 2011 locked in the basement, badly malnourished. The appeals court reversed the sentence and instead ordered the release of Gul’s mother-in-law, father-in-law, and sister-in-law for lack of evidence of attempted murder. On July 3, unidentified assailants shot and killed Islam Bibi, the most senior female police officer in insecure Helmand province, on her way to work. The murder highlighted the risks to women in public life and the Afghan government’s failure to protect women under threat. The escalating setbacks to women’s rights have not deterred the Afghan government from trying to put a positive spin on recent developments, Human Rights Watch said. On July 10, an Afghan delegation at the United Nations in Geneva for the first review of Afghanistan’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), assured the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women that the Afghan government is fully committed to implementing CEDAW and to promoting women’s rights. “While Afghan officials give lip service to women’s rights at the UN, the president, parliament and courts are actively undermining those rights,” Adams said. “Afghanistan’s foreign donors should be loud and clear that they won’t stand by while Afghan women’s hard-won rights are swept away.”
The Express TribuneFour tradesmen hailing from the frequently-targeted Hazara community were gunned down and two passers-by were seriously wounded in a targeted killing incident in Quetta on Monday night. Police officials said this was a sectarian assault. The incident occurred just when the market area near Kaghan Hotel was bustling with activity a few minutes before the Iftar meal. There were some reports that proscribed Sunni organisation, Jaish-ul-Islam, had claimed responsibility for the attack. Raza Hussain, a Hazara community member, and owner of Ali Trading Center along with his three companions, was ambushed by armed men riding a motorbike, carrying sophisticated weapons. The deceased and injured were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta. Following the incident, Hazara community rushed to the Civil Hospital Quetta, blocked the Jinnah Road by placing barricades and shouted slogans against perpetrators and law enforcement agencies. The Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) condemned the killing of Hazara community members and announced a shutter-down strike to protest the incident. HDP District Secretary Bostan Ali, while talking to The Express Tribune, said that “the killing of Hazara members is genocide”. He alleged that behind the sectarian targeted killing are secret agencies who are trying to create a civil war situation. Moreover, Shia organisations in the province such as the Balochistan Shia Conference, Majlis Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen have announced a three-day mourning against the murder. Expressing shock and grief, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Governor Balochistan Muhammad Khan Achakzai and Chief Minister Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch have also slammed the incident.
Despite warnings by the media and health experts for the past many months alerting the newly formed government and health department regarding the growing threat of a poliovirus outbreak in the provincial capital, it reported a polio case on Saturday and the health experts were quick to term it the tip of the iceberg. In a recent report in The News by this correspondent titled “Poliovirus about to break loose in KP” it was stated that official documents suggested the province had seen a major upsurge in the reporting of the Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) cases and that a major outbreak of polio cases was in the offing. According to documents of the provincial Health Department, AFP case number EPID KP/30/13/042 Peshawar was confirmed with the presence of poliovirus type 1. The unfortunate child diagnosed with polio was identified as Uzair, son of Dost Mohammad. He is 12 months old and lives in Ijazabad-1, Gulbahar No 4 of Shaheen Muslim Town-1, Peshawar. His samples were collected on June 30 by the relevant authorities, though officials of the health department claimed parents of the child had refused polio drops and termed polio vaccines as un-Islamic. Another set of documents also suggest that two areas in Peshawar, Shaheen Muslim Town and Larama, from wherethe World Health Organisation (WHO) has consistently been taking sewage water samples for assessment and reporting positive results, proved the identification of the poliovirus in the sewage water of the city. “The sewage sample results suggested that Peshawar will definitely report a case sooner or later. Technically, the case is not a surprise at all,” an official of the WHO provincial office told The News on condition of anonymity. In another development, and confirmed after the release of the Abbottabad Commission report that has fixed the responsibility of the dirty role of Dr Shakeel Afridi on Save the Children and USAID and cast serious doubts on the role of the international donor agencies in the country, health experts now think that restoring public trust and lost credibility of the polio campaign amongst the masses will be a mammoth task. “Name a single strategy of the international donor agencies aimed at restoring public trust and credibility of the polio campaign that has not backfired?” questioned a high-ranking officer of the provincial health department. The harsh revelations of the Abbottabad Commission report has only added salt to the injury for the polio programme in the province at a time when it was trying to recover from the targeted attacks on polio team members. It is now required to overcome another challenge. Like the two troubled tribal regions of South Waziristan and North Waziristan, where the government has not been able to run polio campaign and vaccinate children for the past two years, it seems polio teams may find it difficult to reach children and get them vaccinated against the crippling poliovirus in settled districts of the province if practical measures were not taken for removing mistrust from minds of the parents regarding polio vaccines.
The faithful line up to pray in a small Shia mosque hidden away down the dusty side-streets of Peshawar. But the central arch where the imam stands in front of his congregation is covered in blast marks and dark smears. The ornate blue tiles have been smashed. This is where a militant blew himself up just two weeks before. "When I came inside, I saw severed legs, human organs and heads… all over the mosque," says Syed Hussain Hussaini, whose nephew was among the 21 people killed. On the ceiling, walls and even on a building opposite, are pockmarks from hundreds of ball-bearings which had been packed inside the young man's suicide belt. Although today the congregation seems determined to set fear aside, tensions rise rapidly when a man with a pistol inside his clothing is stopped at the gate. A heated argument breaks out as the security guards try to remove the gun. But the man is not - as had been feared - another militant from the majority Sunni Muslim community trying to carry out a second sectarian attack. He is a Shia who had lost his father and uncle in the bombing and was carrying a weapon in case of another attack. He has past form: he shot dead a suicide bomber with the pistol a few years ago. For Syed Hussain Hussaini, the attack on the mosque and a series of other killings since Nawaz Sharif became prime minister last month, prove once again that whatever government takes office, Pakistan's Shia minority, like the rest of the population, will not be protected. The Jihadist militants are getting stronger, he says: "You have seen all over Pakistan, in Karachi, Quetta, and Peshawar, there are bomb blasts, targeted killings and suicide attacks. Governments have always failed right from the first day until today. People are on their own." Figures provided by the Edhi emergency services organisation show that between April and the end of June, 247 people were killed in bombings in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan. And these figures do not include Waziristan, a militant hotspot. In response to the increasing flow of casualties from the violence, the main regional hospital has just built a new accident and emergency department with six operating theatres. It is expected to open later this year. "It's a huge complex, a hospital by itself," says Professor Arshad Javaid, the chief executive of the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar. "I think if I called it the world's largest casualty (department), I would not be exaggerating." Inside the hospital, beneath a sign saying "bomb blast patient", Mohammed Shaheen lies recovering from serious injuries caused by a suicide attack in Mardan almost a month ago. He was attending a funeral and standing close to a local politician who was killed, along with 27 other people. Mr Shaheen believes the violence of the militant groups is now beyond the control of the government. "They wanted to contain it and were taking measures, but they could not succeed. Now only God can do something," he says. So now Nawaz Sharif is under intense pressure to spell out how he plans to bring the situation back under control. State 'unprepared' Many observers believe he came into office without any kind of coherent security strategy and is still in the process of trying to develop one. Mr Sharif has been adamant the economy is his first priority. "I am very disappointed," says retired general Talat Masood, a security and defence analyst. "I think the most important responsibility of the government is protecting people. "I hope they will get over their state - I won't say of slumber - but their state of unpreparedness." A leaked document obtained by the BBC Urdu Service says the spate of attacks carried out by jihadist groups in recent years "appears to be the most serious crisis faced by the country since independence". The document - described as a draft national counter-terrorism and extremism policy - warns that the jihadists want to take Pakistan back "to the stone age", that they have links with al-Qaeda and want the population to "rise up against their un-Islamic leaders". The biggest of the Sunni militant groups is the Pakistani Taliban which has bases in most of the major cities and seems capable of carrying out attacks at will There are signs that other extremist groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi - responsible for many of the attacks on the Shia community - are collaborating with the Taliban. The authors of the document are highly critical of the country's political leaders, accusing them of failing to take the lead in tackling extremism, and call for a much more co-ordinated counter-terrorism policy. It is not clear whether this refers to the current or previous governments. So far Mr Sharif's response has been to hold meetings with military and intelligence agencies and call for all major political parties to reach a consensus on the best way forward. While there is agreement that getting the security agencies on side is essential, some observers describe the prime minister's call for an all-party conference as "passing the buck". But senior officials of the governing party such as Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, deny there is a policy vacuum at the moment. "We have been working on this for quite some time," he says. "You have to look at the root causes (of extremist violence) and the best course is dialogue (with the militants). "It is the only way to arrive at a solution. If you are in a hurry and take hasty decisions, you will never get a durable solution and a durable peace." But that could take years and it is not clear what the government will do if the Taliban reject talks or if negotiations break down. Members of the business community in Peshawar, who have been badly hit by the lack of security over the past decade, remain gloomy. "My business has declined 70%," says Mazhar Ul Haq, a leading carpet dealer. And he is doubtful much will change in the near future under the new government. "The militants have spread a lot and I don't know how they (the authorities) can handle it."
The PIA management has promoted two brothers of the PML-N’s Information Secretary, Senator Mushahidullah Khan, with effect from 2007. Officials told Dawn on Monday that Rashidullah Khan and Sajidullah Khan had been promoted from Grade 8 to 9 (manager to deputy general manager) and Grade 7 to 8 (assistant manager to manager) respectively with effect from 2007. The management has issued a notification in this regard despite the fact that no promotion board meeting took place this year. The officials said that the notification of the promotion of Rashidullah and Sajidullah did not mention whether they would be entitled to other perks and privileges with retrospective effect. They also claimed that the promotion board meeting was not required in such cases. “Both brothers were declared promoted by the selection board in 2007, but their promotion was not notified,” they said. There are also reports that Rashidullah will be given an important position after his promotion from Grade 9 to Selection Grade 10 as no hurdle is now left to promote him in that grade. Mr Rashidullah justified his own and brother’s promotion and rejected the impression that their political connections had anything to do with it. “Sajidullah and I were rather politically victimised over the past five years in the PPP government as my brother, Mushahidullah, was a member of the PML-N. “Even a former PIA managing director had refused to take up our case citing the Mushahidullah factor,” he told Dawn. He said the promotion board had promoted him and Sajidullah in 2007 in Grade 9 and Grade 8, but letters of the promotion could not be issued because the PPP government had taken over the government soon after that. Mr Rashidullah further claimed that his name was on top of the seniority list, but he had been ignored in the previous promotion board’s meetings. “My and Sajidullah’s promotion are absolutely on merit and seniority based and since the 2007 promotion board meeting had promoted us, we are entitled to be promoted from that date,” he said, adding they did not seek perks with retrospective effect. He said his and Sajidullah’s promotion were due over a decade back, but during the previous government employees not even completing five years in service in a grade had been promoted out of turn. Earlier, the Nawaz Sharif government appointed Shujaat Azeem, the brother of another PML-N senator Tariq Azeem, as adviser to the Prime Minister on aviation. Shujaat Azeem was removed from the PAF as he held dual nationality.