Monday, July 22, 2013
By MICHAEL WINERIP In 1986, as the suburban columnist for The Times, I interviewed the head of the Ku Klux Klan. The man lived in Shelton, Conn., and until then, the national news stories had talked about what a social commentary it was, that the new imperial wizard came from the North — the idea being that racism wasn’t just a Southern problem. This, of course, was true, although when I visited the wizard, I realized North versus South wasn’t the real story. The real story was that James Farrands was awfully small potatoes, a tool and die machinist who ran the Klan from the national headquarters in his garage. The state police at the time estimated there were 15 Klan members in Connecticut — mostly Mr. Farrands’s relatives. There was, however, one thing Mr. Farrands said during that interview that I have never forgotten and came to me again on Friday. It was while listening to President Obama’s speech on race, made after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager. Mr. Farrands was the first Roman Catholic imperial wizard, which surprised me because Catholics had long been one of the targets of the Klan. How could this be? I asked. He said that since John F. Kennedy’s presidency, Catholics have been admitted to the Klan. “If a Catholic could be president, then he could join the Klan,” Mr. Farrands said. I asked if this meant that if a Jew became president, Jews could join. “A ticklish question,” Mr. Farrands said. “A very ticklish question. We don’t take Jews. They’re not Christians.” And what if a black Christian became president? “Come on,” the imperial wizard said, rolling his eyes. “There’ll never be a black president.” In 1986, the imperial wizard found it hilarious — inconceivable — that a black person would ever be elected president. Few in my generation, myself included, could imagine such a thing, and yet just 22 years after my visit to the wizard, it happened. I’ve been struck watching the demonstrations in reaction to the verdict that the protesters — while vocal, and angry — have largely been peaceful and that there have been many whites among them. I remember the shock as a white teenager living in a white suburb, watching the race riots on the TV news after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And being a young, scared reporter in Miami in 1980, ducking behind my car as bullets flew by during riots protesting the acquittal of four white police officers in the death of an unarmed black man named Arthur McDuffie. As I watched President Obama speak to the White House press corps, what struck me was how such strong words were delivered with such restraint. He spoke like somebody who knew that one inflammatory phrase would do him in. On one hand, he complimented the judge and lawyers at the Zimmerman trial for being professional and noted that reasonable doubt was a factor. He pointed out that young black men are disproportionately perpetrators as well as victims and called for peaceful protests, saying violence would dishonor Trayvon Martin and his family. But the president also spoke of black men routinely being racially profiled — shopping, crossing the street, riding in an elevator. He questioned what the outcome would have been if circumstances had been reversed, and the black teenager was the shooter: “Do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?” And then there was the line that may prove the most enduring: “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” Twenty-seven years ago, when I asked the imperial wizard how he responded to people who said the Klan spreads hate, he answered: “Hate? We’re trying to spread love. Love for Christians. Love for white people. Love for the holy Bible. Oh heck, I love the colored people. I love the ones in the South more than the North. Why? Because they’re farther away. Ha ha!” As I age, I have come to believe that a lot that passes for progress is really just change. But in matters of race, I think change really has been progress. When I look at my own family, I know that I am better about race than my parents were, and my children are better about it than I am. Which was how President Obama concluded his comments: “We should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did, and that along this long, difficult journey, you know, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.”
http://www.usatoday.com/Presidents don't often comment on the deaths of reporters, but Helen Thomas wasn't your typical reporter. The first female journalist to cover the president full time, Thomas reported -- aggressively -- on 10 chief executives, from John Kennedy to Barack Obama. Thomas died Saturday at age 92. "Helen was a true pioneer, opening doors and breaking down barriers for generations of women in journalism," President Obama said in a statement. "She covered every White House since President Kennedy's, and during that time she never failed to keep presidents -- myself included -- on their toes."Obama also said: "What made Helen the 'Dean of the White House Press Corps' was not just the length of her tenure, but her fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account. Our thoughts are with Helen's family, her friends and the colleagues who respected her so deeply." Former president Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton also issued a statement on Thomas: "Helen was a pioneering journalist who, while adding more than her share of cracks to the glass ceiling, never failed to bring intensity and tenacity to her White House beat. Throughout her career she covered the issues and events that shaped the course of our world with perseverance and a tough-minded dedication. "Her work was extraordinary because of her intelligence, her lively spirit and great sense of humor, and most importantly her commitment to the role of a strong press in a healthy democracy." Thomas also served as the first female president of the White House Correspondents Association, which issued a statement: "Helen Thomas was a trailblazer in journalism and in the White House press corps, covering presidents from John F. Kennedy through Barack Obama. "Starting with the Kennedy administration, she was the first woman to cover the president and not just the First Lady. "At her urging in 1962, Kennedy said he would not attend the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents Association unless it was opened to women for the first time. It was. "And in 1975-76, she served as the first woman president of the association. "Women and men who've followed in the press corps all owe a debt of gratitude for the work Helen did and the doors she opened. All of our journalism is the better for it."
While Karzai has reportedly accepted the invitation of Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, he stressed that the agenda of the trip should be first prepared and made clear. Meanwhile, the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) emphasised that Pakistan should fulfill its commitments regarding the peace process. "I personally believe that the neighbouring countries are taking undue advantage of the Taliban issue. They are using the issue to meet their goals and at the same time ruin Afghanistan," said Ismail Qasimyar, International Advisor for the HPC. The expectations from Pakistan regarding their commitments toward the peace process seem to fade with every passing day. Mr. Qasimyar accused the country of supporting the insurgents and not fulfilling the promises made to the Afghan government. On the contrary, several others criticised Afghanistan's policy against Pakistan. A member of the Right and Justice Party, Moeen Marastyal, urged the international community to put more pressure on Pakistan. He criticised the Afghan government of making dualistic policies and held it equally responsible for the failure of the peace process. "Afghan government should urge the international community to put pressure on Pakistan to cooperate in the peace process," said Mr. Marastyal. Pakistan is has a major role to play in bringing the Taliban to the negotiation table. In light of this, the Afghan government over the past few years has constantly urged Pakistan to honestly participate in the peace process. Unfortunately, Pakistan has always turned a blind eye to all its requests and did things keeping its selfish motives in the forefront. Experts feel that Sartaj Aziz's trip to Kabul will help in improving the relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Afghan government during Aziz's visit repeatedly voiced that the solution for Afghanistan's crisis is in the hands of Pakistan. The new government of Pakistan had invited President Karzai twice to visit the country. However, Karzai did not accept the invitations on the ground that agenda of the meet was not clear from Pakistan's side. President, Hamid Karzai has visited Pakistan 19 times since he came to power, but, none of the trips had any positive outcome.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issued a new call on Monday for the Syrian government and opposition to work together to expel all "terrorists and extremists from Syria", Russian news agencies reported. At the start of talks with Syrian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Qadri Jamil, Lavrov was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency that last month's agreement in Northern Ireland for the two sides to work together to expel the "terrorists and extremists" should "become one of the main points of the proposed international (peace) conference". "To our regret, unlike the government of Syria, a significant part of the opposition, including the National Council, has not expressed such readiness yet."
By Clifford A. KiracofeThe top military leader of the US armed forces recently came under attack by pro-Israel forces at a US Senate confirmation hearing. Senator John McCain, exploding in anger, said he would block General Martin E. Dempsey's continuation as chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and was furious that the general would not rubber stamp a war with Syria. The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff reports directly to the president who is the commander-in-chief of the US military. Under the US constitution, Congress has the authority to declare war, not the president. In recent years, however, Congress has passed this war making power to the White House in a move some critics say is unconstitutional. The spectacle of McCain's public attack on Dempsey is not helpful to the US' global image. Rather, it demonstrates the influence of the pro-Israel lobby in Congress and the aggressiveness and irresponsibility of many US politicians. McCain was apoplectic over the issue of war with Syria. He is the ranking Republican member of the US Senate Committee on Armed Forces. The chairman of the committee, Democrat Carl Levin, is also pro-Israel and also wants war against Syria but maintained a calm demeanor. At issue was US war planning for a Syria contingency. Congress until recently wanted to step up arming the Islamic terrorist forces arrayed against the government and people of Syria. However, the recent turn in the military situation on the ground as well as revelations about the opposition's connections to Al Qaeda changed some politicians' minds. Now there is skepticism in Congress about arming the terrorists any further, not to mention real doubts about undertaking a full-scale war. Pro-war politicians like McCain want so-called no-fly zones established inside Syria's borders. Military professionals know full well that to do this is an act of war. In order to establish such no-fly zones, numerous air strikes are required to suppress an extensive target set which includes Syrian anti-aircraft capabilities, tanks, and armored personnel carriers. McCain attempted to force Dempsey to reveal in public what he would recommend to the president. The general properly reminded the senator that such recommendations were confidential between himself and his commander-in-chief, the president. A particularly disturbing feature of McCain's tirade was his hostile reference to Russia. McCain said that US military activity against Syria would be a blow to Russia and to Hezbollah, the Shia resistance movement in Lebanon. Is US support for the anti-Syria terrorist forces in fact a behind-the-scenes proxy war against Russia? Dempsey, among the most highly regarded US military figures, has warned politicians against a "Thucydides Trap" involving escalating fears which would lead to military confrontation and war with China. He has also taken a number of steps to improve military-to-military relations with China and with Russia. Politicians under the influence of the militant pro-Israel neoconservative policy network and hawkish academics have a zero-sum, or win-lose, global perspective. They recklessly seek to maintain US global supremacy rather than to adjust to the changing international correlation of forces driving the emerging multipolar world. For McCain and like-minded senators and congressmen, perpetual war may seem the appropriate national strategy for the US. Greek historian Thucydides said it is arrogance and an unlimited will to power which brings inevitable destruction to states. He said prudence and moderation are the only standards for foreign policy and national strategy. We can only hope Congress will wake up and reject bellicose extremism and fly-by-night foreign policy.
Afghanistan's parliament voted on Monday to dismiss one of the country's chief security ministers, impeaching the interior minister in a potential blow to stability as NATO-led international forces speed up their withdrawal. The fractious parliament said Ghulam Mujtaba Patang, as head of a 157,000-strong police force, had presided over worsening security, including along a major highway running from the capital Kabul to Kandahar that is a crucial economic lifeline targeted by Taliban insurgents. "Afghanistan's interior minister, with 136 votes against him, is disqualified from the ministry and I ask the president of the Islamic republic of Afghanistan to announce another person for this position," said speaker of parliament Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi. It was unclear whether President Hamid Karzai would accept the vote as his administration tries to strengthen stability ahead of presidential elections and a pullout of NATO troops next year. Karzai has previously opted to keep ministers in their roles in acting capacity after similar votes. Lawmakers said Patang, a former provincial police chief liked by Karzai's Western backers, had also failed to fight corruption in the force and refused a summons to parliament, which has increasingly flexed its muscle against Karzai's power. But Patang, in a startling revelation, said 2,748 police officers, or almost two percent of the force, had been killed by insurgent gunmen in the four months since March 21, and argued it was the job of the more heavily-armed military to protect remote areas and highways. "I'm on the threshold of NATO's withdrawal," he said. "There will be lots of problems, there will be lots of challenges. From March 21st up to now, I swear to god, 2,748 police have been martyred. Imagine what effect it has on my mind." The parliament last August voted to remove former Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and then Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi over a series of insurgent assassinations of top officials and incidents of cross-border fire with Pakistan. Foreign troops are increasingly handing security responsibility to the 350,000-strong Afghan security forces as NATO-led forces look to withdraw from the unpopular war by the end of 2014.
By MANOJ JOSHITempers in India have been ruffled by some recent writings associated with the Brookings Institution which suggest that the road to peace in Afghanistan goes via Kashmir. The director of the institution's intelligence project, Bruce Riedel's 2013 book Avoiding Armageddon, has said that Pakistan has created its jihadist infrastructure to fight India directly in Kashmir and indirectly in Afghanistan. Indian "flexibility" in Kashmir was therefore, the key to game change in South Asia. Then there was the essay by our own William Dalrymple, written for the Brookings Institution, where he stated: "The hostility between India and Pakistan lies at the heart of the current war in Afghanistan."Stephen Cohen, the Brookings premier South Asia expert has taken up the India-Pakistan issue in his recent book Shooting for a Century, but takes a different tack which is not germane to this argument. With retreat staring it in the face, the US is being offered various options by analysts and scholars. The India-Pakistan one seems convenient, but it misses its target by a mile. There is no special India-Pakistan rivalry in Afghanistan. There may be one imagined by Islamabad, but the reality is that geography prevents New Delhi from any substantive involvement in Afghan affairs. That is why, the Indian effort which was mainly related to infrastructure and social development in the past decade was an adjunct to that of the US and ISAF's security operation, and with that security being withdrawn, India is confronted by a major dilemma.As a friend of Afghanistan and a strategic partner of its government, New Delhi remains committed to the economic and social development of the Afghan state. But that does not mean that, for the sake of keeping the US happy, it can cheerfully endorse its emerging policy of striking a deal with the Taliban, through the dubious instrumentality of the Pakistan military. Beginning with the Bonn and Berlin conferences of 2001 and 2004 respectively, we were told that the mission of the western forces was to transform Afghanistan. The state would have a new constitution, an elected government and its policies would be in line with the best practices of democratic countries of the west. Developments In 2013, the democratic project is being blithely abandoned. The west says it needs to withdraw, and must do so in good order. Therefore it has changed its order of priorities - placing the need to leave Afghanistan in 2014 as number one. To that end, it is willing to sup with the Taliban devil, and forget Pakistan's betrayal. And it wants the rest of the world to applaud the move. The problem for India is that the west's new road to Kabul is via Islamabad. The Doha talks have been facilitated by Pakistan, as indicated by the numerous meetings US Secretary of State John Kerry and the special representative for Afghanistan James Dobbins have had with Pakistan army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani this year. Pakistan, as we know, virtually created the Taliban and the outfit has served as its proxy in maintaining its influence on Afghanistan. The Taliban of today is even more amenable to manipulation by Islamabad than it was before. It is important to be familiar with a bit of history. Pakistan did not have much influence in Afghanistan till the rise of the Taliban. Actually relations between the two countries have been quite indifferent, to use a polite word, since the creation of Pakistan. Conventional wisdom assumed that it was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which triggered Islamabad's support to the mujahideen; the reality is that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was supporting Afghan Islamists against Kabul well before that event. Pakistan's Afghan policy, dictated as much by attitudes in Kabul, has never really been related to India. Following the defeat of the Russians, the Pakistanis had a free hand in Afghanistan. And what a mess of it they made. The end result was the rise of the medieval Islamic Emirate of Mullah Omar and the homicidal al Qaeda. Folly Pakistan bears a great deal of responsibility for what Afghanistan has gone through in the last two decades. Now the US, once again, wants to hand over its destiny to Islamabad. Considering the blood and treasure that Washington has already expended in the last decade, this is foolhardiness of a high order. But that is imperial hubris for you. Till the Soviet invasion, Indian interests in Afghanistan were essentially those of a friendly near neighbour. But following the invasion and the American-led jihad, things changed. Designated as the lead player in that jihad, Pakistan saw it as an opportunity to get its own back on India. Parts of Afghanistan under mujahideen control were used to locate training camps for terrorists. Besides a concern for the fate of the Afghan people, New Delhi worries that with Pakistan in the driver's seat, Afghanistan will once again become a training ground for terrorists. Responsibility Even so, New Delhi is unlikely to play the spoiler. The ball is really in the American court and it remains to be seen just how they will pick up the one that the Taliban have dropped in Doha. In the end, what will matter is the leadership in Kabul and whether it can keep its nerve against the psychological games being played by its mentors - the US and EU - as well as the Taliban. The Afghan National Security Forces appear to have the will to fight, and if they are supported they can give the Taliban a run for their money. The responsibility for the future lies firmly with the US and EU, who messed up the war and now seem to be determined to mess up the peace efforts as well. No amount of analytical jugglery can shift the onus to countries like India, whose role in Afghanistan may be important, but is still secondary. What India and other countries leery of the Taliban need to do, is to push the US and the EU to adopt a policy that will benefit Afghanistan in the long run, rather than be tailored for their immediate need to exit.
Noorzia Atmar is the human face of women's rights in Afghanistan, her unbridled and open enthusiasm now bruised and sheltered from the public eye. As one of the country's first female lawmakers, she was a vocal and active force in carving out a bigger role for women in a society that had suffered for years under the hard-line rule of the Taliban. Today her voice has been muted, and her existence in a home for battered women epitomizes the rapid unraveling of what advancements had been made. Shortly after losing her place in the national parliament, Atmar ran into trouble at home. After divorcing her abusive husband, she was spurned by her own family and forced to seek refuge in a discreetly located shelter in Kabul for abused women and girls. The 40-year-old's plight has cast a spotlight on the erosion of women's rights that has sped up just as international troops prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014. As international scrutiny has waned, powerful religious and conservative circles have taken steps to undermine women's rights. In the past decade, women have made significant inroads in Afghan society, with millions of girls attending school and women entering the workforce, including in the country's political realm. Yet despite the progress, domestic abuse is routine, forced marriages are the norm, and female suicide rates in Afghanistan remain among the highest in the world. Shame And Duty Atmar says her husband, Toryalai Malakzai, initially seemed open-minded about her political ambitions. The couple married in 2010, while Atmar was vying for reelection as a member of parliament from the eastern province of Nangarhar. But soon after she failed to win reelection she was confined to her home, and on the rare occasions she was allowed to venture outside, her husband forced her to wear an all-covering burqa. Atmar fled home after Malakzai stabbed her and threatened to kill her six months ago. "I was the victim of abuse. I had a very bitter life while I was with that man," Atmar says. "He was getting drunk and hitting me every day. That was his routine. It reached the point where he threw a knife and other sharp objects at me. [That's why] I'm currently in a women's shelter." Atmar, who has lived in the shelter for several months, says that after fleeing from her husband she turned to her family for help. But she says her parents ordered her to return to her husband. She returned, but not for long. Atmar soon filed for divorce and left for the women’s shelter. It was then, Atmar says, that her family disowned her. "My family had one disagreement with me. They said divorce was a shameful thing and I shouldn't do it," Atmar says. "I have the feeling that my own family hated me. When my name is mentioned at social gatherings, my family curses me. This has been particularly hurtful." Shelters Under Siege Atmar now commutes between the shelter and her job in a vehicle provided by the government, for which she works as an adviser. She says she fears becoming the victim of a so-called honor killing carried out by her husband or her own family. She does not know how long she will stay at the shelter, whose existence has been the source of controversy in Afghanistan. The country's independently run and funded women's shelters, once a symbol of women's progress, have been described by conservative lawmakers as "brothels." In 2011, Afghan President Hamid Karzai attempted to bring the shelters under government control. A draft law that was abandoned following a flurry of Western media attention would have required women to obtain government approval and even virginity tests before they would be granted access to shelters. Atmar, a former journalist, says shelters for abused women must remain open for women who would otherwise be forced to fend for themselves on the streets. "I'm worried that if these shelters close, my sisters [Afghan women] and I who have suffered from domestic violence won't have anywhere to go. This is our worry," Atmar says. "If a woman has had her arm or leg broken or has had her nose or ears cut off, should we throw them on the street? In the current situation in Afghanistan the shelters are the only places of refuge for women." Official Rollback? Atmar's own plight comes as a string of controversies threaten to undo progress on women's rights in the country. Afghanistan's lower house of parliament has proposed revisions to the criminal code that would effectively reverse measures designed to protect women from domestic violence. Those proposed changes, to the criminal procedure code, would prohibit a criminal defendant's relatives from being questioned as witnesses for the prosecution. If the provision became law, it would effectively silence victims and their family members. In addition, the upper house of parliament is currently debating a revised electoral law whose draft text omits passages -- enshrined at the urging of the international community -- that set aside 25 percent of the seats on provincial and district councils for women. That draft has already been passed by the lower house of parliament and, if enforced would essentially deprive women of posts in parliament and in government at the provincial and local levels, where conservative and male-dominated elements tend to prevail. That came after lawmakers in May halted indefinitely a debate on legislation outlawing rape and forced marriages. Female lawmakers had wanted to cement the law -- passed by a presidential decree in 2009 -- through a parliamentary vote. But it received stiff opposition from conservatives, who have threatened to scrap it. In what appears to be a response to recent developments, Western nations and aid organizations have moved to reaffirm their commitment to protecting women's rights in Afghanistan. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a program with an aim to educate, train, and empower at least 75,000 women between the ages of 18 and 30. USAID says that the goal of the five-year program is to strengthen women's rights groups, increase female participation in the economy, and raise the number of women in decision-making positions in government. The United States is providing nearly $200 million for the program, with another $200 million expected to come from international donors.
The Baloch HalEditorial: BY:MALIK SIRAJ AKBAR Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, the Balochistan President of the Pakistan Muslim League (P.M.L-Nawaz), has recently been featured in the media mostly for negative reasons. Previously, the media depicted him as a man who obstructed Dr. Malik Baloch’s election as the chief minister. Now, he is back in the news for more perturbing reasons. Last week, Mr. Zehri’s ‘private’ security guards assaulted Samiullah Somoro, Quetta’s Superintendent of Police (SP), outside the Balochistan Assembly when the police officer on duty prevented them from entering the building of the provincial legislature. The Policeman cited instructions from the Election Commission of Pakistan to justify the restriction of private guards inside the Assembly building. Mr. Zehri is among the three people who have so far been nominated as provincial ministers in Dr. Baloch’s cabinet. The incident took place when the P.M.L.-N leader had gone to cast his vote for the Senate elections. The incident, which included slapping of the S.P. by Mr. Zehri’s guards, drew two immediate reactions. Firstly, Capital City Police Officer (C.C.P.O.) Mir Zubair Mehmood and other Deputy Inspectors General (D.I.G.s) protested against the incident and stopped performing their duty to object to the brazen assault. Secondly, the Chief Minister, Dr. Baloch, showed absolute immaturity and poor judgment by abruptly suspending the S.P., who had actually been assaulted by Mr. Zehri’s armed men. Dr. Baloch had apparently taken the decision only to protect his own coalition government which almost entirely depends on the support of the P.M.L-N and the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (Pk.M.P). On its part, the Balochistan High Court (B.H.C.) promptly intervened and took suo moto notice of the episode. Headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Essa and Justice Jamal Mandokhel, the B.H.C. bench summoned Balochistan Chief Secretary Baber Yaqoob Fateh, Advocate General Shakil Baloch and the C.C.P.O. Quetta to inquire about the details of the event. The Chief Justice said, “People have immense expectations from the new provincial government; this act by the government brought down the morale of our police.” Backed by the B.H.C., the Quetta police have now registered a cases against five guards of Mr. Zehri and initiated further investigations. While no one among Mr. Zehri’s cops has been arrested, this case has distinctly pitted the executive and judiciary branches of the government, standing on one side, against the legislature, standing alone, ironically, in support of an attack on a policeman. Feeling that their mutual interests are threatened, members of the Balochistan Assembly belonging to other political parties, such as the Pakistan Muslim League (P.M.L.-Quaid-e-Azam), have begun to express support for Sardar Zehri and have suggested that the police officer who had come from the Sindh province, should be banished from Balochistan. For instance, Shiek Jaffar Khan Mandokhel, the Balochistan president of the P.M.L.-Q, addressed a rare press conference at Mr. Zehri’s residence and accused the media of “exaggerating” the episode. He argued that the media was involved in the “character assassination” of Mr. Zehri who, according to Mr. Mandokhel, faces genuine threats to his life. Seen from a democratic perspective and the realities on the ground, the Balochistan Assembly should have absolute control over the security apparatus of the province. However, legislators, mainly those belonging to the government, must not take this advantage for granted. As the Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court rightly pointed out, people have very high expectations from the new government. It should not use democracy as a tool to empower some tribal chiefs. A true democratic government should work for social reforms and public welfare. It should rid Balochistan of archaic traditions and unreasonable practices such as tribalism and keeping of private armies. The behavior of Mr. Zehri’s guards, the dismissal of the police officer by the chief minister and Mr. Mandokhel’s press conference were all wrong. The chief minister’s goal should be to establish the rule of the law not to stand with those who violate it. While this may appear as a small matter which should be resolved by the provincial authorities, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should still care what his party’s chief in Balcohistan is doing. Mr. Sharif should either urge his party chief to respect the law or he should step back to pave the way for other law-abiding politicians. Otherwise, people like Mr. Zehri would continue to embarrass the prime minister with their actions. The killing of his son, brother and nephew in an election campaign was indeed tragic but that tragedy should not grant Mr. Zehri immunity from the rule of the law. As a veteran lawmaker himself, Mr. Zehri is expected to guard, not violate, the law.
Yasser Latif Hamdani
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. Usman, who limps on a leg bowed by the polio he caught as a child, made sure that his first three children were protected from the disease, but he turned away vaccinators when his youngest was born. He was furious that the Central Intelligence Agency, in its hunt for Osama bin Laden, had staged a fake vaccination campaign, and infuriated by American drone strikes, one of which, he said, had struck the son of a man he knew, blowing off his head. He had come to see the war on polio, the longest, most expensive disease eradication effort in history, as a Western plot. In January, his 2-year-old son, Musharaf, became the first child worldwide to be crippled by polio this year. “I know now I made a mistake,” said Usman, 32, who, like many in his Pashtun tribe, uses only one name. “But you Americans have caused pain in my community. Americans pay for the polio campaign, and that’s good. But you abused a humanitarian mission for a military purpose.” Anger like his over American foreign policy has led to a disastrous setback for the global effort against polio. In December, nine vaccinators were shot dead here, and two Taliban commanders banned vaccination in their areas, saying the vaccinations could resume only if drone strikes ended. In January, 10 vaccinators were killed in Nigeria’s Muslim-dominated north. Since then, there have been isolated killings — of an activist, a police officer and vaccinators — each of which has temporarily halted the campaign. The war on polio, which costs $1 billion a year and is expected to take at least five more years, hangs in the balance. When it began 25 years ago, 350,000 people a year, mostly children, were paralyzed. Last year, fewer than 250 were, and only three countries — Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan — have never halted its spread at any point. While some experts fear the killings will devastate the effort here, Pakistan’s government insists that they will not, and has taken steps to ensure that. Vaccinators’ pay was raised to $5 a day in the most dangerous areas, police and army escorts were increased and control rooms were created to speed crisis responses. But the real urgency to finish the job began earlier, for a very different reason. Two years ago, India, Pakistan’s rival in everything from nuclear weapons to cricket, eliminated polio. “Nothing wounded our pride as much as that,” said Dr. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, a vaccine expert at Aga Khan University’s medical school. Bill Gates, who is the campaign’s largest private donor and calls beating the disease “the big thing I spend the majority of my time on,” said that Pakistan’s desire to not be further humiliated “is our biggest asset.” After India’s success and hints from the World Health Organization that it might issue travel warnings, Pakistan’s government went on an emergency footing. A cabinet-level “polio cell” was created. Vaccinators’ routine pay doubled to $2.50. More than 1,000 “mobilizers” were hired to visit schools and mosques to counter the ever-swirling rumors that the vaccine contained pork, birth control hormones or H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Mullahs were courted to endorse vaccination. They issued 24 fatwas, and glossy booklets of their directives were printed for vaccinators to carry. Perhaps most important, local command was given to deputy commissioners, who have police powers that health officials lack. Pakistan is closer than ever. Although cases will not peak until after the summer monsoons, there have been only 21 so far this year. A few years ago, 39 substrains of the polio virus circulated; now only two do. About 300,000 children live in areas too dangerous for vaccinators, but almost all the sewage samples from those areas are clear of the virus. Ultimately, though, success will depend on more than political will and the rivalry with India. In the wake of the recent killings, it will rely most of all on individual acts of courage, like those by prominent imams who pose for pictures as they vaccinate children. Or by Usman, who appeared with his polio-stricken son, Musharaf, in a fund-raising video asking rich Persian Gulf nations to buy vaccines for poor Muslims elsewhere. Or by volunteers, like the women of the Bibi family, in Karachi, who formed a vaccination team. Two of them, Madiha, 18, and Fahmida, 46, were gunned down in December. Television news showed female relatives keening over their bodies. Not only are those women still vaccinating, but Madiha’s 15-year-old sister also volunteered for her spot. “All the children of Pakistan are our children,” said Gulnaz Shirazee, 31, who leads the team. “It’s up to us to eradicate polio. We can’t stop. If we’re too afraid, then who will do it?” A Moving Target If there is one spot on earth where polio may make its last stand, it is a cramped slum called Shaheen Muslim Town No. 1 in Peshawar, a hotbed of anti-Western militancy. Since sampling began, its sewers have never tested negative for the virus. It is a neighborhood of migrant Pashtun families who rent rooms briefly and move on, looking for menial jobs picking fruit or making bricks. On a recent sunny afternoon, its alleys were full of carts drawn by donkeys whose faces were decorated with the red prints of hands dipped in henna. Many women wore the full burqa popular in Afghanistan. In this part of the world, virtually all those with polio are from the Pashtun tribe, in which resistance to vaccination is highest. It is Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group and the wellspring of the Taliban, but a minority in Pakistan. Pakistani Army sweeps and American drone strikes have driven many Pashtuns from their mountain valleys into crowded cities. Peshawar worries even Dr. Elias Durry, a normally optimistic polio specialist with the W.H.O. “You can get 90 percent vaccine coverage, and come back a few months later, and it’s 50 percent,” he said. “People just move so quickly.” Shaheen’s sewers are concrete trenches about a foot deep, into which wastewater, rendered milky white by dish soap, flows from pipes exiting mud-brick houses. A child reaching into one for a stick to play with showed how easily the virus, carried in fecal matter, could spread. Though the area has clean water from a well, the steel pipe it flows through at times dips inside the sewerage trench. It has dents where trucks have banged it, and it is pierced by connectors, some attached just to rubber hoses. “Piped water with sewage mixed in is worse than no piped water,” said Dr. Bhutta of Aga Khan. “Sometimes rural populations have it better. They carry water from the river, and they defecate in open fields, so there’s no mixing.” Pakistani children suffer diarrhea so often that half the country’s young are stunted by it. Polio immunity is low, even in vaccinated children, because other viruses crowd the gut receptors to which the vaccine should attach. At the clinic in Shaheen, the doctor running the polio drive, an ophthalmologist, complained that he got too little police help. “I have 28 teams, so I requested 56 constables,” he said. “I was given 12.” He said the underpaid officers inevitably knocked off at midday because their station house serves a hot meal. The same problem was echoed in Gadap Town, a Karachi neighborhood where vaccinators were killed in December. As a team worked its way from house to house with a reporter, it had every reason to feel secure: because the visit was arranged by an official, six officers with AK-47s came along. But another team passing by was guarded only by an aged sergeant with a cudgel. “Yes, we have a security problem,” Dr. Syed Ali, a local official, said quietly on a side street. “What is a stick in front of a gun?” The isolation and poverty of the Pashtun tribe underlie its resistance. Many of its imams are from Islam’s fundamentalist Deobandi sect, which emerged in the 19th century as a reaction to the British conquest. Many Pashtun neighborhoods receive few government services like health clinics, paved streets or garbage pickup, but get shiny new billboards trumpeting the polio fight paid for by Western donors. “People tell us, ‘We need schools, we need roads, we need housing, and all you bring our children is polio, polio, polio,’ ” said Madiha, a black-veiled Gadap vaccinator. In the middle of last year, it became known that in 2011, the C.I.A. had paid a local doctor to try to get DNA samples from children inside an Abbottabad compound to prove they were related to Bin Laden. Even though the doctor, Shakil Afridi, who is now serving a 33-year sentence for treason, was offering a hepatitis vaccine, anger turned against polio drops. Leaders of the polio eradication effort could not have been more frustrated. They were already fighting new rumors that vaccinators were helping set drone targets because they have practices like marking homes with chalk so that follow-up teams can find them. Now, after years of reassuring nervous families that the teams were not part of a C.I.A. plot, here was proof that one was. “It was a huge, stupid mistake,” Dr. Bhutta said. Anger deepened when American lawmakers called Dr. Afridi a hero and threatened to cut off aid if he was not released. The W.H.O. and the Unicef, afraid of offending the United States, did not protest publicly. Unicef’s executive director, Anthony Lake, is a former White House national security adviser, which put the agency in an awkward position, an agency official said on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. But the deans of a dozen top American public health universities wrote a letter of protest to the Obama administration. Mr. Gates said he endorsed it, though he was not asked to sign. He also said he discussed the issue with Tom Donilon, the former national security adviser, though he would not give details of the conversation. Fistfuls of Rupees New opposition has forced the adoption of new ground tactics. Dr. Qazi Jan Muhammad, the former deputy commissioner of Karachi East, called his approach “a mix of carrots and sticks.” Whole apartment buildings were missed, he discovered, because Pashtun watchmen were shooing away vaccinators. “I had the police tell them: ‘Either you let them in, or you go behind bars,’ ” he said. He had traffic circles blocked so teams could approach each car, and he led some teams himself holding fistfuls of rupees, worth about a penny each. “I saw a girl, about 11, carrying her 2-year-old sister,” he said. “I gave her a 10-rupee note and said, ‘Will you allow me to give drops to your sister? You can get sweets for yourself.’ ” “She told all the children, ‘A man is giving away 10 rupees,’ and they all came rushing. I vaccinated 400 kids for only 4,000 rupees.” The sewers of his district, which has several million inhabitants, are now virus-free. At the Front Lines Again The country’s new determination has also brought Rotary International back to the front lines. The club, founded in Chicago in 1905, started the global polio eradication drive in 1988. It has had chapters in what is now Pakistan since 1927, and is now led by Aziz Memon, a hard-driving textile magnate. Mr. Memon, 70, and other Rotary-affiliated executives have used their money and political connections to keep the pressure on. They compensated the killed vaccinators’ relatives and held news conferences at which the families urged others to continue fighting. Rotarians also work in places that terrify government officials. In an industrial neighborhood in Karachi, where both gangs and the Taliban hold sway after dark, Abdul Waheed Khan oversaw a Rotary polio clinic in his school, Naunehal Academy. A big, gregarious man, he angered the Taliban by admitting girls to his academy and offering a liberal arts education instead of only Koran study. His only security was local teenagers who ride motorcycles beside his car to keep anyone from pulling up alongside. In March, he hosted Dr. Robert S. Scott, the 79-year-old Canadian chairman of Rotary’s polio committee, who flew in to vaccinate children to prove that the fight would go on despite the December killings. “I had a fatwa put on my head,” Mr. Khan said in April as he led a tour of the clinic. “They said I was Jewish. I had a friend issue a counter-fatwa saying I was a good Muslim.” On May 13, Mr. Khan was killed by gunmen who also wounded his 1-year-old daughter. His clinic will not close. “No one can replace Waheed, but life has to go on,” Mr. Memon said. ‘This Is Good Work’ Rotary also sponsors a tactic used to reach children from areas too dangerous for home visits: “transit point” vaccinating. At a tollbooth on the highway into Karachi, Ghulam Jilani’s team takes advantage of an army checkpoint. As soldiers stop each bus to search for guns, Rotary vaccinators hop aboard. On a typical day, they reach 800 children. Yes, Mr. Jilani said, the soldiers’ presence may intimidate some resistant families into complying. Also, he added brightly: “We scare them a little. We say, ‘You are entering a city with the disease. Don’t you want your children safe?’ ” About 90 percent comply, he said, sometimes after a public argument between a father who believes the rumors and a mother, outside their home and at times backed by other women on the bus, insisting the children be protected. Near the Afghan frontier, where thousands of children live in valleys under Taliban control, teams do the same at military roadblocks. At hospitals, which are usually guarded by soldiers, nurses will pack extra doses of the vaccine on ice for families willing to smuggle it to neighbors. Some frontier clan chiefs have lost their government stipends for opposing vaccination, and officials have threatened to deny national identity cards to their clans. But the chiefs are in a bind; the Taliban have assassinated many for cooperating with the government. Mr. Memon of Rotary opposes what he called “these coercive gimmicks.” “We can’t twist arms,” he said. “We want to win them over with love and affection.” Among hundreds of men wearing turbans and topees at Karachi’s main train station, Muhammad Arshad stood out in his blue baseball cap with Rotary’s bright yellow gearwheel. Threading his way through the crowd squatting on Platform 1, he picked out children under age 5. “What a nice boy,” he said to Sohail Ameer, chucking his infant, Abadur Rahann, under the chin. “May I give him drops against polio?” Mr. Ameer agreed, and it was over in seconds. Abadur looked nervous, but he did not howl and squirm like some. After the December killings, Mr. Arshad worried briefly, he said. “But then I thought: This is good work, and God will protect me.” Friendly strangers came up to the Rotary table to suggest he play it safe and quit. He replied that the railroad police would protect him. His wife tried the hardest. “But I told her,” he said. “If a man has to die, he can die even at home. I’m going back to work.”
http://www.rsc.org/Secular members of academia in Turkey are banding together to strike back at what they portray as attempts by the government to put scientific institutions under the control of religious scholars. But they say their actions are being stifled by a new ‘climate of fear’.Growing dissatisfaction with the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s treatment of science surfaced on 6 June when about 2000 scholars marched across Istanbul to Taksim Square. There they joined people protesting against the destruction of Gezi Park, and more broadly against the government. Later that month the Turkish scientific community was shocked to learn that prominent chemical engineer Kemal Gürüz had attempted suicide in jail. Gürüz, 65 years old and a former president of the Turkish Council of Higher Education and the country’s main research council, TÜBITAK, has been in prison since June 2012. Outspoken secularity Last month he was indicted in connection with an alleged coup attempt. However, his supporters say that the charges are punishment for his outspoken secularity. ‘On June 14 more than 30 of the people with the same accusation were set free, waiting for the trial, but he was not: he was very depressed, and tried to cut his wrists with a broken glass out of desperation,’ explains his wife, Güniz Gürüz, a retired professor of chemical engineering at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara. The fracture between secular and religious scholars in Turkish academia opened in 2011, when nearly half of the members of the Turkish science academy TÜBA resigned in protest at government interference. In December 2011, some of these academics founded the new Bilim Akademisi. The split came after Erdoğan announced in August 2011 that new members of the academy would be appointed by governmental bodies, instead of academy members. ‘Prominent scientists are a slim minority among newly elected members [of TÜBA]: this is tragic,’ says Ersin Yurtsever, a theoretical chemist and professor at Koҫ University in Istanbul, who is one of the founders of Bilim Akademisi. ‘The new academy is not opposing anything: it just wants to be independent.’ ‘The government is trying to take control of everything by putting its people everywhere,’ says Mahir Arikol, a chemical engineer and emeritus professor at Bosphorus University. Public university rectors in Turkey are appointed by the country’s president following a vote among professors. However, in 2012 at Gezi University in Ankara the candidate who came fifth ended up being appointed, says Yurtsever. Although the move is legal, some scientists suspect political bias. Both TÜBA and TÜBITAK were given the opportunity to comment but chose not to. A new academy Bilim Akademisi has 120 members, Yurtsever says, and has set up graduate summer schools, conferences for the general public, and a programme to support young scientists. It is funded by member fees and donations, and by overheads on its activities. ‘We will send delegations to Turkey in autumn to speak with both TÜBA and Bilim,’ says Matthias Johannsen, executive secretary of All European Academies (ALLEA), an organisation of which TÜBA is a longstanding member, and to which Bilim Akademisi has applied to join. In October last year ALLEA sent a letter to the president of Turkey expressing concerns over TÜBA’s independence. ‘We are inspecting the statutes of both organisations: our general assembly will decide in April 2014,’ says Johannsen. ‘Prominent scientists don’t want to join the new academy for fear of being punished with not getting funded,’ says Yurtsever. ‘A few cases of arbitrary investigations and marginalisation of outspoken professors in universities have triggered widespread fear and self-censorship,’ he says. ‘Chemistry, as a basic science, does not feel much political pressure, but social scientists must be feeling a lot,’ says Yurtsever. This year, Turkey’s main research council refused to fund a workshop on quantitative evolutionary biology, arguing that ‘evolution is a controversial issue’. In January, books on evolution disappeared from the list of popular science reading of the agency. Yurtsever and Arikol both think the government is succeeding in scaring scientists, but not in convincing them. ‘People are speaking up more and more, but only when they are in a group, not individually,’ Yurtsever says.