By: Mohammed Hanif
Thursday, July 18, 2013
The HinduThe fatal consequences of having a routine midday meal for at least 22 children in Bihar’s Saran district expose the chronic neglect of school education in a large part of India. That governments cannot find a small piece of land for a school and are unable to store food materials without the risk of contamination is a telling commentary on their commitment to universal primary education. The Bihar horror clearly points to the absence of strong normative procedures for the provision of infrastructure, even for a new school. Such inefficiency and indifference is deplorable, considering that the Centre has been levying a cess on taxes, part of which is given to States to strengthen the Mid Day Meal Scheme; the collection stood at Rs. 27,461 crore during 2011-12. If the preliminary evidence pointing to food poisoning and ingestion of yellow phosphorous — which is used in fertilizers and as rat poison — is confirmed as the cause of the tragedy, it points to a colossal failure to observe minimum food safety standards. It is a matter of concern that man-made tragedies such as these can shake the faith of the citizen in a crucial welfare programme, rightly lauded as the biggest school meal programme in the world covering 10.54 crore children. The scheme has the vital objective of providing specified levels of calories and protein to pre-primary and primary school students. It achieves a lot more, by involving the entire community, providing employment to women, and breaking caste barriers by ensuring that all children have a meal together. It must also be pointed out that public provision of meals has been working well in the better-administered States, while partnerships with NGOs have sometimes miserably failed. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has confirmed that a staggering 95 per cent of meal samples prepared by NGOs in Delhi did not meet nutritional standards last year. The lesson here is that an accountable public system can perform well, arguably better than other arrangements, if there is strong commitment among policymakers and the bureaucracy. Evidently, even the vaunted ‘Bihar model’ of the Nitish Kumar government has a lot of distance to cover. It would be doubly tragic if the death of so many children is turned into a political arm-wrestling event, with little attention paid to systemic changes that can prevent a recurrence. State governments often show great concern for provision of infrastructure for economic growth but fail to see where it all begins — in a school system that produces the workforce of the future. Without even being able to guarantee children a safe meal, their assertions are meaningless.
The wheels of justice move onJAMAAT-E-ISLAMI’S secretary general, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, has got his comeuppance. Given the magnitude of the crime he committed as the head of the al-Badr, a death squad with the mission to decimate Bengali intellectuals at the fag end of Liberation War in 1971, the capital punishment handed to Mojaheed by ICT-2 is fully justified. This is the sixth verdict in a series of convictions against persons tried for crimes against humanity in 1971. In the preceding verdicts, three got capital punishment, while two received jail terms. It’s a hallowed moment in the Bengali nation’s 42nd year of statehood that it has been able to extricate itself of yet another moral thorn in its side through this verdict. But we are dismayed at the unabashed arrogance with which Jamaat-e-Islami and its student front Shibir have been reacting through violence and mayhem to the ICT’s verdicts pronounced against these bitterest enemies of our war of independence and Bengali nationhood. The acts of vandalism and destruction perpetrated by Jamaat activists in the holy month of Ramadan during hartals since Monday have taken their huge toll on life and property. Until Tuesday, nine people died in hartal-related violence along with its attendant collateral damage. This is extremely reprehensible. They must feel remorse, behave and respect the people’s sentiment.
Ahmadiyya TimesA Christian man in Pakistan has been given a life sentence for sending “blasphemous” text messages to Muslim clerics. Addition District and Sessions Judge Mian Shazad Raza sentenced 28-year-old Sajjad Masih to life in prison and a fine of 200,000 rupees (about $2,000) Saturday in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Masih was arrested in December 2011 for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages to Muslim clerics of Gojra in Toba Tek Singh, about 125 miles from Lahore. According to Christian Today Austraila, attorney Javed Sahotra told Morning Star News that prosecutors at the court in the Toba Tek Singh District did not produce any evidence that Masih had committed blasphemy. Sahotra said Masih had repeatedly avoided arrest but went to the Gojra city police station to record a statement on Dec. 18, 2011. “The police refused to let him leave and put him behind bars,” Sahotra said, adding that Masih’s case was registered under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy laws, which call for death or life in prison of anyone found guilty of blaspheming Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Christian leaders had accompanied Masih to the police station, but Sahotra said officers removed Masih from his cell after they left and started beating him. “They hung Masih upside down in a room and tried to force him to confess that he had indeed sent those text messages,” Sahotra said. “A naked electric wire was tied around his feet, and he was threatened with electrocution if he did not do what the police wanted.” Officers did not carry out the threat against Masih but instead sent him to Toba Tek Singh Prison. The attorney blames the situation on young Muslim men who had plotted against Masih to “punish him for being friends with a local Christian girl.” Prosecutors argued that the woman, Roma Masih, had broken off a marriage engagement with Sajjad Masih and that he had used a mobile phone SIM card bought under her name to send blasphemous messages in revenge. Tariq Saleem, the complainant in the case, lives near Roma Masih’s former neighborhood. Under cross examination, he admitted he had not received any blasphemous text messages as he had originally claimed, Sahotra said. “The complainant backtracked from his statement during cross examination—Saleem told the court he had been forced by the police to file the case,” Sahotra explained. Still, Raza convicted the young Christian. Sahotra pointed to further lack of evidence, including the fact that Masih was in his office in Pakpattan during the time he was accused of purchasing the SIM card. “We even submitted affidavits of Masih’s co-workers in court in support of our claim,” Sahotra said. In addition, police did not produce the SIM card or the mobile phone from which the text messages were sent, and officers failed to retrieve the service provider’s call data records. Masih is one of many Christians who have been falsely accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, which is nearly 96 percent Muslim. Christians make up just 2.45 percent of the population.
http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC has urged Election Commissioner of Pakistan to publish data of expenditures born by all political parties during election 2013 campaign in Pakistan, according to press note issued by PCC Headquarters here today. PCC Chief said that billions of Rupees were spent by PML (N), PPP, PTI and other political parties on advertisements in newspapers and electronic media, rallies, use of helicopters, banners and pamphlets but people of Pakistan are not told about such heavy amount by Election Commission of Pakistan nor Supreme Court of Pakistan has taken any notice that which country or organization funded such costly election campaign in Pakistan. Nazir Bhatti said “Muslim political party’s leaders took millions of Rupees from Hindus, Christians and Sikhs who sought Selection in National assembly of Pakistan and Provincial Assemblies as bribes for election campaigns” There are some Churches which are involved in illegally selling Church properties, Evangelical Bishops who receive billions of aid from their sister Churches in Western countries for promotion and preaching of Gospel and Non-Governmental Organizations NGO funded for charitable programs lavishly spent and hosted receptions during election campaign of 2013, in honor of Muslim political leaders in different cities of Pakistan. Pakistan Christian Post PCP sources revealed that one evangelical group based in Islamabad spent forty millions of rupees in election campaign of one Muslim political party in hope of Selection as Member of National Assembly of Pakistan seat. PCP sources were further told that some Church in Punjab gave millions to PML (N), PTI and PPP for election campaign that their relatives shall be selected in National Assembly or Provincial Assembly seats from quota of these parties. The Hindus and Sikhs were also not in payments to Muslim political parties during election of 2013, it cost them 100 million per seat. Nazir Bhatti urged Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court of Pakistan to take note if Election Commission fails to publish parties’ election expenditures data because corruption cannot be capped in Pakistan, unless facts not surface that which organization or country paid heavily funded election campaign of election 2013, of Pakistani political parties. Dr. Nazir Bhatti said that PCC warn Church leaders and NGO heads to not to involve in politics of Pakistan and drain evangelical and charity funds for which they are trustees to use for uplift of life standard of poor and oppressed Christians in Pakistan. PCC Chief said if these NGO which have one political arm not announced to leave any one of Social or political wing will be brought in notice of their funding agencies and government of Pakistan for immediate action.
The Baloch HalBy Muhammad Akbar Notezai Day by day, Balochistan is becoming a battleground for journalists who barely and rarely dare write and report independently. They regularly receive threats from security forces, underground organizations, sectarian organizations, political parties, student associations, etc. These warnings come as a price the journalists have to pay while endeavoring to perform their journalistic duties with honesty in the restive province. Due to these reasons, in Balochistan, independent journalism has become a far-fetched idea. There is no journalistic activity in the following districts of Balochistan: Khuzdar, Dera Bugti, Kohlu, Kalat, Panjgur, Kech, Awaran, Gwadar, Kharan and even in Quetta. By no journalism means the local reporters and journalists are bound due to various pressure groups. They cannot report indifferently about any happenings due to the threats, because nearly 33 journalists belonging to these districts have been cruelly killed. And surprisingly, so far slain journalists’ killers are not apprehended. Nor are the problems journalists face resolved. The names of slain journalists who have been killed: Mohammad Iqbal, Khalil Ullah Sumalani, Dr. Chisti Mujahid, Khadim Hussain Sheikh, Wasi Ahmed Qureshi, Faiz Sasoli, Lala Hamid Baloch, Mohammad Khan Sasoli, Malik Mohammad Arif, Mohammad Sarwar, Ijaz Raisani, Ilyas Nazar, Wali Khan Babar, Abdost Rind, Rehmat Ullah Shaheen, Zarif Faraz, Siddique Eido, Munir Ahmed Shakir, Akhter Mirza, Javed Naseer Rind, Razak Gul Baloch, Haji Mohammad Rafique Achakzai, Abdul Qadir Hajizai, Dilshad Deyani, Abdul Haq Baloch, Khalid Musa, Abdul Ahad Baloch, Rehmat Ullah Abdi, Jamshaid Ali Karl, Saif-ur-Rehman Baloch, Muhammad Imran Sheikh, Mohammad Iqbal and Mehmood Ahmed Afridi. Moreover, those districts of Balochistan which were previously considered to be safe for journalists are now turning into dangerous places for them to write and report. Also, due to engagement of the security forces and the armed struggle the journalists are dangerously reporting, or sometimes they avoid reporting so that they may not be threatened. If those journalists who have dared report bravely have been blind folded, tortured and taken to prison. One of its examples is the Haji Arif (Reporter at Vash TV) from Kharan District of Balochistan who was picked up and released soon by security forces as they would not have evidence against him. In rural areas of Balochistan, journalists’ problems further compound due to lack of resources and tense situation. As one of Balochistan’s renowned and senior journalists, Shehzada Zulfiqar, told this writer: “Journalists are working just like clerks and conductors in the rural parts of Balochistan. They are bound to issuing or writing about press releases, etc, not more than that. Whenever they try to write or report something independently and indifferently, they get warned of dire consequences.” This is the reason the journalists’ journalistic duties seem impossible to be performed in the rural parts of Balochistan. Shehzada Zulfiqar further added about the security of Balochistan’s journalists: “There are no ways to be followed for the security of Balochistan’s journalists. Balochistan has become a most ‘dangerous place’ for journalists. One of my journalist friends, Malik Siraj Akbar, had to seek political asylum due to the same worst circumstances. He felt the pulse. He knew he would have a no space in Balochistan. That is why he had to stay there, not to come back. But, unfortunately, all journalists cannot do so.” Shehzada Zulfiqar further said that he being a Baloch journalist went through the case of Mehmood Ahmed Afridi, who was shot to death by the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) in Kalat town, did not have any links with intelligence agencies. He was guiltless. In recent months, private TV reporter Jahangir Aslam and Directorate of Public Relation Balochistan Sector Incharge Abdul Wahid Baloch were heading towards their residence from Press Club in Turbat when gunmen opened indiscriminate firing on them, injuring them critically. Moreover, the number of Daily Tawar’s, the well known Baloch nationalist Urdu language newspaper, staffers, contributors and sub-editors have allegedly been killed or abducted by the security forces. Also, its office was recently raided, and the newspaper allegedly said that the security forces surrounded, burnt all the furniture of the office and took away the electric equipments, including fax machine, computers and electric generator. Haji Abdul Razzaq, who is a staffer at the same newspaper, was kidnapped by the security forces on March 24 and he is still missing. In July 2009, Daily Azadi and the Daily Balochistan Express, Quetta, while on August 18, 2009, the Daily Asaap Quetta newspaper offices were forced to close their publications. And unfortunately, the attack on the Daily Asaap Quetta newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Jan Muhammad Dashti, the newspaper had to close its publication to save its rest of the staffers. It is also pathetic to know that in Balochistan, especially in its rural parts, journalists do not have any facilities available. They are hardly paid salaries in few districts, not all 30 districts of Balochistan. Despite having these economic problems, they go to intelligence agencies, separatist leaders, Sardars/ Nawabs and landlords to report. So, in these circumstances, their minor mistakes while reporting create countless hardships for them, and sometimes these minor mistakes get them threatened or killed. There are several more multi-dimensional challenges being faced by journalists in Balochistan. Journalists, economically, are living a deplorable life. There are a few newspapers and TV channels in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, that pay their reporters. But even these reporters’ salaries are not equivalent to their counterparts that are getting in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and Peshawer. Due to these reasons, Balochistan’s journalists have either quit the journalism or they have kept silence. The government has failed to ensure them their safety. On the contrary, its own institutions threaten the journalists whenever they endeavor to reach the truth.
Punjab govt agrees to release most dangerous Lashjar-i-Jhangvi terrorists - More Shia genocide on the way?
http://lubpak.com/archives/275053The government has agreed to release three members of the Lashjar-i-Jhangvi in exchange for eight policemen held hostage by a gang led by notorious bandit Chotu Mazari and the handover is expected to take place on Monday night, The Express Tribune has learnt. On Sunday night, the bandits released three civilians kidnapped months earlier for a reduced ransom of Rs2 million, after talks between MPA Sardar Atif Mazari – representing the government – and Ataullah, aka Patt Umrani, an ally of Chotu Mazari. The gang of some 50 to 60 bandits had taken the police hostages a week ago when they stormed pickets on islands in the riverine region in Rajanpur. Earlier negotiations with Chotu Mazari for the release of the hostages had failed because the police had refused to give up all three LJ men arrested a few months ago. The bandits then fled the area with the eight police and three civilian hostages in tow. Sources told The Express Tribune that Chotu Mazari had handed over the 11 hostages to Umrani and asked him to negotiate on his behalf. After negotiations with the MPA on Sunday night, Dr Wazir Khan, his 18-year-old son Shahzeb Khan, and a dispenser – all of them from Rahim Yar Khan – had been released in exchange for Rs2 million. Chotu Mazari had earlier demanded a ransom of Rs10 million. The hostages had been kept in the tribal area of DG Khan and in Rakni, Barkhan district, Balochistan province. Tahir Khan, the doctor’s son, said he did not want to comment on how the release had been arranged, but added that he and the rest of the family were very pleased to see his father and brother again. Atif Mazari told The Express Tribune that he would ask the police to give the family a vehicle belonging to Chotu Mazari as compensation. The vehicle had been confiscated by the police a few months ago. Regional Police Officer Umar Akhtar Hayat Laleka said Dr Wazir Khan had been recovered from one of the islands in the Rajanpur kacha area. He said that the police had cordoned off an area of 50 square kilometres from Rojhan to Kashmore and Chotu Mazari was on the run. Police hostages According to sources privy to the negotiations, Atif Mazari and Umrani are to hold talks on Monday night for the release of the police hostages in exchange for Chotu Mazari’s companions. The sources said that the three LJ men had been released by the Basti Malok SHO into the custody of RY Khan District Police Officer Sohail Zafar Chattha, who in turn had handed the men over to Atif Mazari. They said that Mazari and Umrani were expected to finalise an exchange deal on Monday night. The bandits had sought a similar deal a week ago, but the negotiations were thwarted when the police declined. Atif Mazari said that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had directed him to facilitate negotiations between the bandits and the police. He said he was confident that the eight police hostages would be recovered. According to police sources, Chotu Mazari is a member of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and has also donated money to Jaish-i-Muhammad. He had received training in Afghanistan. His three allies are also active LJ members, they said - See more at: http://lubpak.com/archives/275053#sthash.6tJPdYoI.dpuf
In spite of making Dr Abdul Malik, a Baloch nationalist with a sterling reputation among most factions in Balochistan, as a chief minister, nothing has changed. Murders, disappearances, terrorist attacks by sectarians against Hazaras continue. Groups of violent armed men still roam freely in Quetta as anywhere else in Balochistan. As if it is a jungle out there and not human dwellings. The many meetings between the federal and provincial rulers both in Quetta and Islamabad; the many briefings by the officials responsible for the law and order in the strife torn province; the many sessions between the security and intelligence agencies all seems to have given no results. The federal and provincial governments still seems to by appeasing the Baloch Sardars when the fact is that these very Sardars have been playing, and still do, on both sides of the fence: Parts of these important tribal families are with the insurgents, parts with the civilian governments, parts of these catering to the agencies and are trying to play the civil authorities against the security forces and the other way around. And all the time, most of these families have very close ties with foreign powers who keep them well stocked with money and weapons to keep the province visibly torn between various factions. Half of the families of these Sardars stay abroad and if one look at their apparent sources of income, they can hardly afford to live in decent hotels and residents in Pakistan, yet they live a royal life style in foreign countries famed for high costs of living. Unless the federal government takes notice of the difference between their apparent sources of income and their luxurious standards of living and make these Sardars to give accounts for the same, they will never come under control. It was hoped that with Dr. Abdul Malik as chief minister, the poor and voiceless of the province will not just find a voice but their say will be valued and their interests given priority. That, however, has not even begun to happen. When all is said and done, the game in Balochistan played by the sardars and parts of the officialdom is for money. The money they take in the name of their people from the federal and provincial governments on the pretexts of development projects which never materialize. It is all about money for these sardars who want to keep the province bleeding and remain a source of income for them. The government can turn things around by starting projects which directly helps the poor and the needy. Right now the federal government is financing its organizations elsewhere in the country which are loosing hundreds of billions. These organizations by all accounts would have been making huge profits if these were in private hands. While it would be wise for the government to either dissolve these or sell them to the private sector, Balochistan needs some industries set up by the government in that province to provide jobs to the poor people their. And it would not be something new. The Pakistan Industrial Development Authority (PITDC) was set up for doing exactly that. This organisation would pioneer by setting up industries in sectors which were never tried in the country and where the private entrepreneurs would be hesitant. Once examples were set by PITDC, the private investor would follow. Why not do the same for Balochistan? Why not establish heavily guarded industrial sites in various parts of province and regardless of profit and loss consideration. The purpose should be to employ the poor and take enough of them out of the economic and social influence of the Sardars. Once that is done and work ethics of industrial nature is inculcated among the poor Baloch a social change will be the next step. Such out of the box solutions, however, needs an iron political will which if the present federal government has, will be possible. In the short run, the government in Islamabad should put its act together and put one of its important and influential politicians, probably, the interior minister himself, to coordinate information sharing and action of the different federal agencies. This is important, as these agencies have for too long been working independently and bringing them to new of thinking and operating may take some nudging. Of course we need new laws against organised violence by organised crime, insurgents and unbridled sectarianism. We need a policy of zero tolerance and a strong implementation of it. We need to establish a strong manifestation of the writ of the state and that can only be done if the culprits whoever they are brought before the courts and punished according to the words and spirit of law. To achieve this end, we should spare no efforts or money. Let us not waste time. Let us start right away.