Friday, September 6, 2013

Video: Pakistan Army burning down Baloch houses

Pakistan Army burning down Baloch houses from Balaach Marri on Vimeo.

Twitter campaign highlights poverty in Saudi Arabia

By Daisy Carrington, for CNN
A few weeks ago, an Arabic campaign exploded on Twitter. The Arabic hashtag -- #الراتب_مايكفي_الحاجة (loosely translated as "the salary does not meet my needs") -- reached 17 million tweets in the first two weeks. At its height, it registered 1.2 million tweets a day, and was not only the most popular hashtag in Arabic, but the 16th most popular in any language. Somewhat unexpectedly, the campaign, which hints at a financially aggrieved populace, comes out of one of the world's wealthiest nations: Saudi Arabia. "There's a feeling among some people that I guess you could characterize as anger. Others are disappointed, some think it's a question of (the Saudi government's) priorities," says Fahad Nazer, a Saudi political analyst with JTG Inc.The anger he refers to is fueled by growing unemployment and frustration at government spending. Nazer notes that the campaign gained particular traction following the Saudi government's announcement that it would give financial aid to Egypt's military regime. "The government is giving handouts to Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia, and using a third of the country's budget for this year to pay for the Riyadh metro. Meanwhile, Saudi's are paying most of their salary on rent, private schools, private hospitals -- because public ones aren't good -- while salaries have practically stayed the same," laments Manal Al Sharif, a Saudi activist who gained notoriety for posting video of herself driving on YouTube. She is also one of the country's most vocal tweeters. "There's a long list of things that are wrong," she adds. Unemployment is higher than one might suspect in the oil-rich nation. Though official figures are hard to come by, there are approximately 1.8 million Saudis enrolled with Hafiz -- the country's unemployment benefits program -- according to Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher with Human Rights Watch.The campaign has also drawn attention to a topic that was once considered taboo: Saudi poverty. Accompanying many of the tweets are images and video supposedly depicting Saudis living in squalor; some show Saudi's beggar class while others reveal the existence of Saudi shanties. Lynsey Addario, a photographer who documented Saudi poverty in Riyadh for Time Magazine, recalls how the assignment challenged her expectations. "What you see on the surface are the shiny buildings and the shopping malls and the new universities being built -- the wealthy side. I was actually quite shocked when we went to the slums," she says. She recounted families struggling to pay the bills, and living in single-story, cockroach infested houses in the heart of Saudi Arabia's capital. "Poverty in Saudi challenges many people's assumptions, including some Saudis'," admits Nazer. Poverty and unemployment are particularly rife among Saudi youths (Coogle estimates they make up anywhere between 18 and 35% of the unemployment rate), and even more so among women. According to English-language newspaper the Saudi Gazette, an annual report put out earlier this year by the Ministry of Labor showed Saudi men in the private sector earn an average of $1,516, with women staffers pulling in half that sum. Al Sharif notes that working women are at a further disadvantage due to the many practices that are banned to them. "A woman in Saudi is dependent on men to do just about everything in her life. If a man doesn't exist, she will have to pay for those services she can't do herself, like driving a car, starting her own business or going to court," she notes.Despite its popularity, the campaign has attracted critics who argue Saudis are already too reliant on their government. Nazer himself notes that the campaign risks oversimplifying what is actually a very complex issue. Several factors, he argues, have fed unemployment, including a population explosion -- since the '70s, Saudi has grown from 6 million people to nearly 20 million, with an additional 10 million expats competing with nationals for jobs. Adding to the problem is the fact that in the past, many Saudis chose to study religion and languages -- areas for which there is little demand. "It's a complex situation, as is true of any economy. People who try to trivialize or simplify it miss a lot of variables," says Nazer. Regardless of where one stands on the issue, what's been particularly surprising is the willingness of Saudis -- who traditionally value cultural privacy -- to air their grievances in an international forum. "It's true, we are a very private nation, and we don't want the rest of the world to know anything about us," admits Al Sharif. However, she says, it's a price many Saudis are willing to pay. "Saudis are realizing that you can't isolate yourself from the rest of the world, because the only way we can communicate and read each other's views is through social media. It's our kind of parliament, where we can go and debate, and do things we can't do in the real world."

Video: President Obama Holds a Press Conference

Vladimir Putin Calls John Kerry A Liar Over Comments On Syrian Opposition

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a liar, claiming he had denied that al-Qaida was fighting with the Syrian opposition in that country's civil war.
Speaking to his human rights council, Putin recalled watching a congressional debate where Kerry was asked about al-Qaida. Putin said he had denied that it was operating in Syria, even though he was aware of the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra group. Putin said: "This was very unpleasant and surprising for me. We talk to them (the Americans) and we assume they are decent people, but he is lying and he knows that he is lying. This is sad." It was unclear exactly what Putin was referencing, but Kerry was asked Tuesday while testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee if the Syrian opposition had become more infiltrated by al-Qaida. Kerry responded that that was "basically incorrect" and that the opposition has "increasingly become more defined by its moderation. When asked if a strike would make al-Nusra and other extremist forces stronger, Kerry responded, "No, I don't believe you do (make them stronger). As a matter of fact, I think you actually make the opposition stronger. And the opposition is getting stronger by the day now." In testimony Wednesday, Kerry said that he didn't agree that "a majority (of the opposition) are al- Qaida and the bad guys." Extremists amount to 15 to 25 percent of the opposition, he said, including al-Nusra and many other groups that are "fighting each other, even now." Putin also repeated Russia's position that any use of military force against Syria without the approval of the U.N. Security Council would be an act of aggression.


Beset by divisions at home and abroad, President Barack Obama candidly acknowledged deep challenges Friday in pursuing support for a military strike against Syria from international allies and the U.S. Congress. He refused to say whether he might act on his own, a step that could have major implications for the U.S. as well as for the remainder of his presidency. The White House laid out an intense week of lobbying, with Obama addressing the nation from the White House Tuesday night. "I did not put this before Congress just as a political ploy or as symbolism," Obama said, adding that it would be a mistake to talk about any backup strategy before lawmakers vote on a use-of-force resolution. The president spoke to reporters at the end of a two-day international summit, where he sought backing for a strike against Syria in retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack against civilians. But Obama appeared to leave the summit with no more backing than he had when he arrived. In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, said he was the one with support from the majority of countries attending the Group of 20 meeting. Putin insisted anew that Obama seek approval from the United Nations before taking military action, despite the fact that Russia has blocked previous Security Council efforts to punish Assad throughout Syria's bloody 2½-year civil war. The White House tried to counter Putin's assessment by releasing a joint statement from the U.S. and 10 other countries announcing support for "efforts undertaken by the United States" to enforce an international prohibition on chemical weapons use. The statement did not specify military action against Syria, but administration officials said the intent was to show international support for that type of response. The countries signing the statement with the U.S. were Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Putin said the U.S. push for military action has been supported only by Turkey, Canada, Saudi Arabia and France. "The use of force against a sovereign nation is only possible as self-defense — and Syria hasn't attacked the United States — and on approval of the U.N. Security Council," Putin said. "Those who do otherwise place themselves outside the law." Indeed, Obama's coalition appeared anything but strong. Britain's Parliament has already voted against military action. Even French President Francois Hollande, who has expressed willingness to form a military coalition with the U.S. against Syria, displayed sudden caution, saying he would wait until a United Nations investigation into the Aug. 21 sarin gas attack was released before deciding whether to intervene militarily. The U.N. report is not expected to be released until mid-to late-September. Obama and Hollande discussed strategy during a meeting on the sidelines of the summit Friday. The U.S. president also held a surprise meeting with Putin, one that Putin initiated with some small talk during a break in Friday morning's summit session. A senior administration official said the two leaders, who have a strained relationship, eventually moved to a corner, pulled together their chairs and talked for about 20 to 30 minutes as other summit participants looked on. The official was not authorized to describe the meeting publicly and spoke only the condition of anonymity. Both Obama and Putin later said their conversations were candid, but yielded no new agreement on Syria. The burden of undertaking military action appeared to be weighing on Obama throughout his 50-minute post-summit question-and-answer session. He made several references to the immense responsibility the world places on the United States in responding to humanitarian crises, saying that the first question often asked is, "Why isn't the United States doing something about this?" The president departed Russia Friday night, bound for Washington where he also faces tough going in rallying support for military action, including from fellow Democrats. Force-authorization resolutions face an uncertain future in Congress, and a significant segment of the American public opposes a strike. In addition to Obama's Tuesday night speech, administration officials scheduled new classified briefings for lawmakers and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough was making the rounds on all five Sunday talk shows. The president admitted his campaign may not succeed. "It's conceivable at the end of the day I don't persuade a majority of the American people that it's the right thing to do," he said. "And then each member of Congress is going to have to decide." The options facing the U.S. and the international community are neither convenient nor appetizing, Obama said. But he appealed for action on moral grounds, citing U.S. estimates that the chemical weapons attack killed more than 1,400 people, including 426 children. Other estimates are somewhat lower. "There are times where we have to make hard choices if we're going to stand up for the things that we care about," he said. "And I believe that this is one of those times." Two recent polls show Americans oppose airstrikes, with a Pew Research Center survey showing 48 percent opposed to 29 percent in favor and a Washington Post-ABC News poll showing 59 percent opposed and 36 in support. Both surveys were taken over the recent Labor Day holiday weekend as the U.S. released its assessment of whether the Syrian government used chemical weapons and Obama announced he would seek congressional approval. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the public sentiment might be different if Americans could see the evidence from the chemical weapons attack, including the convulsions and other side effects of the nerve gases. "They don't know what I know. They haven't heard what I've heard," she said. An Associated Press survey found 34 senators in support or leaning in favor of authorizing military action, 32 against or leaning that way and 34 undecided ahead of votes next week. Tallies in the House show a significant number of Republicans and Democrats are also opposed to military action or leaning against it. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Friday formally introduced the resolution, which would authorize the "limited and specified use" of the U.S. armed forces against Syria for 90 days while prohibiting American ground troops from combat. Lawmakers return from their five-week recess on Monday and will begin to debate, with a Senate vote to move ahead on the resolution expected Wednesday. "I think we're going to get 60 votes. It's a work in progress," Reid said. Obama's unexpected decision last week to seek congressional approval halted what had seemed to be a march toward quick military action in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack the U.S. says was perpetrated by Assad's government. Obama has repeatedly said the deployment of the deadly gases would cross a "red line" and change his calculus regarding a bloody civil war in which he has been reluctant to intervene. If Congress votes down a resolution authorizing force, the president could risk further damage to his credibility if he doesn't follow through on his warnings to Assad. But moving forward against the will of Congress could worsen his already difficult relationship with Republicans and jeopardize the rest of his legislative agenda. Earlier Friday, White House deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken said of the president that it is "neither his desire nor his intention to use that authority absent Congress backing him." Obama deflected a question about the remark during his news conference, again refusing to give a yes-or-no answer about what he would do if Congress turns him down. On the ground in Syria Friday, a monitoring group said the government sent reinforcements, including tanks and armored personnel carriers, to a predominantly Christian village north of Damascus where rebels have battled government troops this week. Opposition fighters led by an al-Qaida-linked rebel faction had attacked the ancient mountainside sanctuary of Maaloula and briefly entered the village. The assault has spotlighted fears among Syria's religious minorities about the prominent role of Islamic extremists in the rebel ranks fighting to overthrow Assad. Meanwhile, the Kremlin said Russia was boosting its naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea, moving warships into the area. That was stoking fears about a larger international conflict if the United States orders airstrikes. The U.S. already has five Navy destroyers armed with Tomahawk missiles on standby in the Mediterranean. ___

Face-to-face meeting of world leaders fails to break impasse on Syria

An unprecedented face-to-face discussion among world leaders ahead of a possible U.S.-led military mission failed – as expected – to bridge the strong divide over how best to address the Syrian crisis. U.S. President Barack Obama left St. Petersburg, Russia, with a letter of support signed by the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, and Saudi Arabia. The discussion took place while Group of 20 leaders met in Russia to discuss global economic issues.“We support efforts undertaken by the United States and other countries to reinforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons,” the letter states, giving the U.S. new political support. It is clear though by the limited list of signatories that there remain G20 countries – such as Germany and the broader European Union – that are in-between the U.S. position and that of Russia and China, who strongly oppose military intervention in Syria. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, for his part, said he strongly urged fellow leaders Thursday night to consider the consequences of inaction in the context of history. “I may be oversimplifying it somewhat, but broadly speaking, we have two camps here,” said Mr. Harper, referring to those who support the position of U.S. and France and those who oppose a military strike in Syria. “We’re at an impasse here in terms of what the world community believes should or shouldn’t be done, and those who want to act have our full support.” He criticized the fact that some G20 leaders are of the view that no action can take place unless it has the support of the UN Security Council, where both Russia and China have a veto. President Obama told reporters that the world needs to consider the consequences of not acting in Syria and the message that would send. He also said that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin did have a conversation on the margins of the summit. The President said that while the media has been analyzing the body language of their exchanges, the conversations between the two of them are always cordial. “On Syria, I said ‘Look, I don’t expect us to agree,’” Mr. Obama said. However he said he reminded Mr. Putin that they both do agree that there must be a political transition in order to end the fighting in Syria and that both of them should work to help that happen. “It remains important for us to work together,” he said. The President declined several times to answer whether or not the U.S. would act in Syria without the support of Congress, dismissing the questions as "parlour games." In a detailed answer that looked back on past military decisions, Mr. Obama said politicians sometimes have to make decisions that are right, but not necessarily popular. "These kinds of actions are always unpopular because they seem distant and removed," he said. "People are struggling with jobs and bills to pay and they don't want their sons or daughters put in harm's way... When people say that it is a terrible stain on all of us that hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered in Rwandwa, well imagine if Rwanda was going on right now?" On Friday, Canada announced $45-million in additional support for the region. The money is aimed at providing food, clean water and sanitation, medical assistance, shelter and protection – both in Syria and for Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries. Ottawa says it has now contributed $203-million in humanitarian assistance related to the Syrian crisis since January 2013. British Prime Minister David Cameron – who chaired a meeting Friday morning focused on Syria that was attended by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird – announced about $85-million in aid. While speaking with reporters following the summit, Mr. Harper referenced the fact that chemical weapons have not generally been used since the First World War. He noted that he grew up near Sunnybrook hospital in Toronto – created in 1948 as Canada’s largest veterans’ hospital – and had the opportunity to hear from victims of chemical weapons. “Terrible stories,” he said, in reference to visits veterans would make to his classroom. “I can tell you it was a very real recollection when I was a boy that those kinds of things had happened. But as I pointed out last night, even in the Second World War, even in the war against fascism and Hitler, those forces did not on the battlefield resort to chemical weapons. So I really do believe here that if we’re going to sit back and allow a regime to try and win a military conflict through the use of chemical weapons, we are in new territory, we are in brand new territory that is extremely dangerous and that there will be no turning back from. Even the most ferocious, despicable and brutal powers from the past 100 years have all stayed away from this kind of warfare. So as I say, I think we’re in new territory and I think it demands a different kind of response from our allies than we would have been prepared to do in other circumstances.”

China's Xi tells Obama Syria crisis can't be resolved with military strike

Chinese President Xi Jinping told his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama on Friday that the crisis in Syria should not be resolved through a military strike and urged him to consider a political solution, state news agency Xinhua said. Xi's are the highest-level comments from China since an August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria. They follow remarks by a foreign ministry spokesman, who urged a role for the U.N. Security Council in resolving the crisis after the United States said it had given up trying to work with the council on Syria. "A political solution is the only right way out for the Syrian crisis, and a military strike cannot solve the problem from the root," Xinhua quoted Xi as telling Obama on the sidelines of a G20 summit in St. Petersburg in Russia. "We expect certain countries to have a second thought before action." China has called for a full and impartial investigation by U.N. chemical weapons inspectors in Syria into the attack, and has warned against pre-judging the results. It has also said that whoever used chemical weapons had to be held accountable. Xi stressed to Obama China's position on adhering to the two principles of "maintaining the basic norms of international law and relations" and the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons, according to remarks broadcast by state television. He urged the international community to work toward a meeting on Syria at a second conference in Geneva, with the aim of discussing an open political transition in Syria. Russia and China have both vetoed previous Western efforts to impose U.N. penalties on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But China has also been keen to show it is not taking sides and has urged the Syrian government to talk to the opposition and take steps to meet demands for political change. It has said a transitional government should be formed. Remarks on Thursday by Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, left no doubt that Washington would not seek U.N. approval for a military strike on Syria in response to the chemical attack. Asked about those comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the Security Council needed to be used. "China supports the important role that the U.N. Security Council plays in properly resolving the Syria issue," Hong told a daily news briefing in Beijing. "We hope relevant parties can continue communications and coordination and hold deep consultations so as to resolve the relevant issue in a peaceful way," he added. Separately, Xi urged Obama to adopt an "objective and fair attitude" in matters related to the Asia-Pacific region, where there are disputes over maritime rights and islands. Xi also reiterated China's long-held view on resumption of six-party talks on the Korean peninsula.

Bangladesh : Violence against women

Have we failed to stand up to it?
WOMEN have become an endangered species in Bangladesh. Hardly a day passes without news of violence against women; of girls, daughters, wives subjected to brutality and torture. Last Friday’s issue of The Daily Star carried not one but three stories of violence perpetrated on women. In one instance a jilted suitor in Barisal reacted by attacking his inamorata, causing her grievous injuries and subsequently her death. In another instance a young girl of fifteen could not bear the humiliation of being stalked, and not finding solace even in her parents, who rebuked her on hearing of the incident instead of giving her the much needed consolation and support, hanged herself. The third woman succumbed to her injuries after an acid attack in her home. These are but only a few instances of the widespread violence against women in the country. Needless to say, most of the violence is perpetrated by persons known to the victims or by those that live in the same vicinity, and also, regrettably, by members of her family. We feel that the state should devise more robust ways to prevent these crimes, and more punitive measures, apart from the existing laws, should be conceived that would act as severe deterrence. For example, the said stalker was arrested and sentenced immediately to one year prison term by a mobile court, but it was too late for the unfortunate girl, and, for an act that has eventually caused the life of the young girl, too little.

Afghanistan: Banarjee’s assassination won’t deter Afghan-India relations
Under any circumstances are Afghan-India relations ordained to tarnish even in spite of impulsions and compulsions of savages and brutes whose resolve is demoralization and destruction. Strings of relations between both have traditionally been strong and friendly and their determination for amity and harmony will never ever wither with trifling and even significant occurrences. Once again, the Taliban militants attempted to put the long-lasting bonds of Afghanistan and India in harm’s way by killing an Indian national. On Thursday, the Taliban allegedly assassinated Sushmita Banerjee, an Indian author, outside her house in Paktika province. Her body was riddled with loads of bullets, with her hair ripped off. Banerjee who was also known as Sayed Kamala had been running a health clinic in the province. Banerjee, a Calcutta resident who had moved to Afghanistan in 1989 after marrying an Afghan businessman, had recently returned to be with her husband. She was a brave woman who had dared the Taliban two decades ago. She set an example of bravery after she escaped from the clutches of the Taliban in 1994. Banerjee's death came 18 years after the Taliban sentenced her to death for refusing to wear a burqa in public. It’s absurd to regard Banerjee’s murder as less of a shock, because life of every human being is so precious and valuable. Her murder came as a shock to many and was a palpable manifestation of the Taliban fundamentalists’ extreme hatred of philanthropists. Radical Taliban who often prey on the naivet and gullibility of the masses are the foes of Afghanistan and India. They opt for the cruelest acts of barbarism to show their arrogance and defiance against humanitarian services and morality. India became the largest regional provider of humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Afghanistan after the Taliban regime toppled. Dubbed as Afghanistan’s historical friend, India has been working in various construction projects, as part of its rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan. India’s aid to Afghanistan has been vast and generous since then. Its focal strategy in Afghanistan is to build transportation links that bypass Pakistan, helping reduce the Afghan economy's dependence on Pakistan. India has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian and economic aid, making it the largest regional provider of aid for Afghanistan. India's support and collaboration extends to rebuilding of air links, power plants and investing in health and education sectors as well as helping to train Afghan civil servants, diplomats and police. India also seeks the development of supply lines of electricity, oil and natural gas. In 2005, India proposed Afghanistan's membership in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Both nations also developed strategic and military cooperation against militancy. Afghanistan strengthened its ties with India in wake of persisting tensions and problems with Pakistan. India pursues a policy of close collaboration with Afghanistan. Although India has been targeted on many occasions by the Taliban radicals in Afghanistan, it keeps its resolve intact and doesn’t allow its ties with Afghanistan wane. A top Indian diplomat in her recent visit to Indian consulate in Jalalabad had reassured that militancy can’t deter the friendly relations between Afghanistan and India. No matter how malignant and fierce the intimidations and provocations by the foes of the two countries have been, India has never had the impulse and whims to put its cozy relations with Afghanistan in jeopardy. The Taliban and their extremist affiliates and delinquents should know that they cannot undermine the bonds between Afghanistan and India that shaped a few millennia ago. Their brutality and vicious actions will unleash agony and melancholy upon themselves only and there comes a time when they will answer to their crimes.

President Zardari : Pakistan’s first elected President completes five-year term
As Asif Ali Zardari prepares to step down on Sunday, speculation is rife on what he will do in future.
Having surprised many by becoming Pakistan’s first elected President to complete a five-year term, Asif Ali Zardari will step down from office on Sunday and will be succeeded by India-born Mamnoon Hussain. The husband of late former Premier Benazir Bhutto, Mr. Zardari had a controversial term but was able to keep democracy on track through a series of understandings and alliances with the country’s main political parties. Mr. Zardari, the de facto chief of the Pakistan People’s Party, faced a strong and assertive judiciary that pursued him over multi-million dollar graft cases against him in Switzerland. One casualty of the struggle was former Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani, who lost his job when he was disqualified by the Supreme Court for refusing to implement its order to ask Swiss authorities to reopen the cases. As Mr. Zardari prepares to step down, speculation is rife on what he will do in future. Some say he is likely to spend his time abroad while others close to him say he will remain in Pakistan and work to strengthen the PPP, which is now the main Opposition party. The PPP faced a crushing defeat in the May 11 general election but emerged as the second largest party after the ruling PML-N. Mr. Zardari’s son Bilawal, who is the chairman of the PPP, can run for Parliament only after he turns 25 in September. Bilawal stayed away from the PPP’s lacklustre poll campaign because of “security threats.” After Mr. Zardari steps down, the new President will be sworn in on Monday. Replacing Mr. Zardari would be Mamnoon Hussain, who beat former judge Wajihuddin Ahmad of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf in a one-sided Presidential poll. Born in the historic city of Agra, India, Mr. Hussain, who belongs to an Urdu-speaking ethnic group that migrated from India during the Partition, was the ruling PML-N’s candidate.
Ceremonial role
Though Mr. Zardari wielded considerable power as the PPP led the previous Government, Mr. Hussain will assume a largely ceremonial post at a time when the PML-N Government is framing a new counter-terrorism policy. Among the many issues that Mr. Hussain will have to consider after he assumes office is the controversial subject of ending a moratorium on executions imposed by Mr. Zardari. While Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wanted to end the moratorium, Mr. Zardari wanted it to continue.

Pakistani teen activist Malala honoured, vows to step up fight

Pakistani teen Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head last year by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' education, vowed on Friday to intensify her struggle for "a world where everyone can go to school." Speaking at a ceremony in The Hague where she was awarded the 2013 International Children's Peace Prize, Malala said last October's attack on her had made her more determined than ever to continue her campaign. "I was just one target for their violence," Malala said in her acceptance speech, referring to her near-fatal shooting when a Taliban gunman's bullet grazed her brain.
"There are many others for whom we must continue... so that children all over the world can have a right to go to school," she said to thunderous applause. Malala, 16, received her prize from the 2011 Nobel Peace laureate, Yemeni journalist and activist Tawakkol Karman, who told a humbled Malala "you are my hero." "You cried: 'No one can stop me or any girl from learning'," Karman told Malala, speaking in Arabic in an address praising the Pakistani teen's achievement. "The bullet aimed at your head at that moment was a milestone in the history of your country," Karman said at the ceremony at the historic Knight's Hall near the Dutch parliament. After she was shot, Malala was given life-saving treatment in Britain where she now lives. Her brave fight for survival and her speech at the United Nations in July have made her a leading contender for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. But the response to her in Pakistan has been mixed, with many hailing her as a national heroine while others have criticized her for promoting a "Western" agenda. The International Children's Peace Prize, an initiative of the Dutch-based KidsRights Foundation, was launched in 2005 and set off by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev when he chaired the Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome. It carries a cash value of 100,000 euros ($133,000) that is invested in projects relating to the winner's cause. Last year's winner was 13-year-old Cris "Kesz" Valdez for his work with Filipino street children while he himself was destitute.

President Zardari will visit Lahore ‘to rejuvenate PPP’

President Asif Ali Zardari is arriving in Lahore on Sept 8, the day his term in presidency ends, in a bid to ‘rejuvenate’ the Pakistan Peoples Party in Punjab. The PPP Punjab executive committee on Thursday passed a resolution, commending President Zardari for completing his five-year term despite various challenges. It also praised him for ‘promoting the politics of tolerance and reconciliation and strengthening democracy in the country’. PPP leaders Manzoor Wattoo, Raja Riaz, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Chaudhry Manzoor, Tanvir Ashraf Kaira, Shaukat Basra, Aslam Gill, Raja Amer, Omar Sharif Bokhari, Beelam Hasnain and Faiza Malik were present in the meeting held here at the Model Town residence of Mr Wattoo. The resolution said the PPP would be more active when Mr Zardari would be free to look after its affairs. Raja Riaz said on the occasion the party would get a new lease of life, especially in Punjab, when Mr Zardari would be among the PPP workers. He said the party needed overhauling and angry workers should be wooed. Wattoo said Mr Zardari during his visit would meet the party workers and reorganise the PPP. The meeting passed another resolution condemning the flaws in the Local Government Bill 2013. “The party has requested PPP Secretary General Sardar Latif Khosa to challenge the bill in the court,” Wattoo told reporters after the meeting. He said the party was more concerned about the holding of local body polls on non-party basis which, he said, was against the spirit of devolution of power. “The bill which empowers the chief minister to sack the chairman of a union council is also unfair. Besides, the government under the constitution cannot undertake the process of delimitation as the power rested with the Election Commission of Pakistan,” he said. Replying to a question about denial of some Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leaders that their party would not go for an alliance with the PPP in the forthcoming local body elections, Wattoo said there could be cooperation between the two parties with regard to ‘seat adjustment’. Shaukat Basra said the PML-N government had disappointed the masses by allowing price hike, inflation and increase in electricity, fuel and gas prices. “People were expecting relief from the PML-N government but it had extremely disappointed them during its 100 days in power,” he said. Wattoo demanded the government should withdraw the increase in electricity tariff forthwith.

Firing leaves at least eight dead in Peshawar

At least eight unidentified people were killed late Friday night when unknown gunmen attacked their vehicles in Peshawar, the capital of troubled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, said a police official. SHO Badaber Police Station, Abidur Rehman told the incident took place near Gulzar Chowk in Peshawar’s Matni area – a buffer zone between provincial capital and lawless tribal region of Dara Adamkhel. “At least eight people are killed and number of others are inured,” said Rehman. He said vehicles travelling to southern districts including a Karachi-bound Bus on Kohat Road were the apparent target of the attackers. The dead bodies and injured were being shifted to Leady Reading Hospital in Peshawar. Police and other law enforcement forces have cordoned off the area and a search operation to arrest the miscreants was underway. Meanwhile, local residents reportedly came out on the street and exchanged fire with the attackers alongside security forces. The clash lasted for an hour at least. The motive and the perpetrators of the attack were not immediately known. Earlier in the day, at least five people were injured when a motorcycle packed with explosives detonated inside the Hashtnagri police station, located in the centre of the city. More than 40,000 Pakistani people have been killed in attacks by al Qaeda and Taliban-led militants in the last decade. Washington considers the tribal belt as the main hub of Taliban and al Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.

Blast at Peshawar police station injures five: police

At least five people were injured Friday when an explosion rocked a police station in central Peshawar, the capital of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, police said. Police Superintendent Ismail Kharak said a motorcycle packed with explosives detonated inside the Hashtnagri police station, located in the centre of the city. The injured, which included three policemen, were shifted to the Lady Reading Hospital for emergency care. A number of vehicles parked inside the station were damaged by the blast, he added. Kharak said investigation was underway into how the motorcycle had entered the police station.

Pakistan: It lost his dream, but can Pakistan find Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s speech on his vision for the nation's future?

It was the speech in which Muhammad Ali Jinnah set out his vision for the nascent Pakistan, a nation he hoped would be prosperous, tolerant and where corruption would find no home. Sixty-six years later Jinnah’s vision has all but disappeared, and so has his speech. While transcripts of the words he delivered on 11 August 1947 are easily available, whatever recordings there might once have been appear to have been lost. For many years, broadcasters and activists in Pakistan have been scouring various archives in a hunt for the “lost speech”, adamant that the words and vision of the country’s founder have never been more sorely needed. This week, in a partial breakthrough, officials at Radio Pakistan, part of the state-owned broadcaster, announced that they had been sent two important Jinnah recordings from staff at All India Radio (AIR), their counterpart in India. The recordings were made in 1947 and are of considerable historical importance, but they are not the missing speech of 11 August. The head of the Indian broadcaster, Leeladhar Mandloi, said his staff had no knowledge of that recording. “They are pretty important and significant,” said Javed Khan Jadoon, of Radio Pakistan’s current affairs department, speaking from Islamabad. “Every speech delivered by him is an important one.” The first of the two recordings given to Radio Pakistan by AIR dates from 3 June 1947 when Jinnah, who trained as a barrister in London and spoke in a clipped, accent-less style, talked in Delhi about the decision to hold a referendum in the then North- West Frontier Province on whether it would join India or Pakistan. The other was made on 14 August, the day Pakistan was born, in which he addressed the country’s constituent assembly in Karachi and in which he talked of different religious communities living together. “The tolerance and goodwill that the great Emperor Akbar showed to all non-Muslims is not of recent origin,” he said. “It dates back 13 centuries, when our Prophet, not only by words, but by deeds, treated the Jews and Christians handsomely after he conquered them.” That address echoes the missing speech he made three days earlier, again to the constituent assembly, and which today is clung to by those Pakistanis who decry the way in which religious and ethnic minorities in Pakistan face widespread discrimination and frequent violence. In it, Jinnah, who would die just 13 months later, told the assembly members that he dreamt of a time when people would not be described as Hindus or Muslims, simply as citizens of Pakistan. “You are free. You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan,” Jinnah declared. “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” The search for the missing recording gathered pace in 2008 when Murtaza Solangi became director-general of the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation. He learnt that because in the summer of 1947, the AIR studios in Lahore and Peshawar were not equipped with recording equipment, engineers were dispatched from the Delhi headquarters to capture and broadcast Jinnah’s speeches. The BBC also reportedly broadcast the speech. Mr Solangi raised the issue with various Indian officials and broadcasters and was led to believe AIR might have a copy. “The speech matters to Pakistanis who want a pluralistic, tolerant Pakistan,” said Mr Solangi. Mr Solangi said over the years the story of the lost recording had taken on mythical status. He said many people believe copies of it were deliberately destroyed during the rule of military dictator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, whose desire to increasingly “Islamicise” Pakistan would have been at stark odds with Jinnah’s wishes. Mr Solangi had speculated that if AIR did not possess the recording, it might be elsewhere in Delhi. However, the BBC Delhi bureau and the National Archives of India said they did not have it. An official at the Nehru Memorial Museum said they thought they only had recordings of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister. Mr Solangi, whose term as director-general expired earlier this year and who now works as writer and analyst, said he was not disheartened and that he would “keep on trucking” in his quest to find the recording. Meanwhile, officials at Radio Pakistan now have to figure out what to do with their two new treasures. Some have suggested that the recordings should be broadcast to mark Jinnah’s birthday on 11 September. Mr Jadoon said: “We have to decide when to run them and how to do that. An editorial judgement will be made.”
‘You may belong to any religion...’: Extract
If we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in cooperation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make. I cannot emphasise it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community – because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalees, Madrasis, and so on – will vanish. Indeed, if you ask me, this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence and but for this we would have been free peoples long long ago. No power can hold another nation, and specially a nation of 400 million souls, in subjection; nobody could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, nobody could have continued its hold on you for any length of time but for this. Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this. You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State. As you know, history shows that in England, conditions some time ago were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some states in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.

NATO weapons readily available in Pakistan

As NATO troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, some of their equipment is being smuggled out and sold in Pakistani markets. Experts say that banned militant groups are also laying their hands on sophisticated weapons. Peshawar's "Karkhano Market" is famous for selling smuggled western goods. From the US-made sniper rifles to Chinese laptops, you can buy anything here. The market is situated in Khyber Agency, a northwestern tribal area close to Afghanistan, which does not come directly under the jurisdiction of the Pakistani federal government. From this and other tribal areas, much of the illegal foreign goods are also brought to the markets of the central Peshawar city, which is also the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a province which has been marred by violence perpetrated by the Taliban insurgents.These days the markets of Khyber Agency and Peshawar are flooded with equipment used by NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan. As the international troops prepare to leave the country in 2014, their used stuff is being smuggled out of Afghanistan to Pakistan's restive northwestern areas. The militants also attack the trucks carrying NATO goods and weapons, which they also sell to local shopkeepers.
The goods available in these markets include pistols, Kalashnikovs, night vision goggles, daggers, military uniforms, sleeping bags, laptops, cameras and medicine. Sniper rifles, however, are in big demand in these markets. You have to place a purchase order and make payments in advance to get these sophisticated weapons. Usually bought by tribal militias, the demand for sniper rifles is such that their prices have increased manifold in the past few years. A good rifle can be purchased for up to a million Pakistani rupees or 8,000 euros. Though the business is still covert and illegal weapons are not sold out openly in these markets, those who really want to buy them can get them without much difficulty.
Illegal trade
Authorities, however, deny that illegal western goods are readily available in these markets. "No illegal product is being sold in these markets," a police officer at a check post near a Peshawar market told DW on condition of anonymity. "What you find in these markets are Chinese goods, which are available everywhere in the country. You won't find a single weapon in Peshawar markets," he said. The officer admitted, however, that illegal weapons are being sold and purchased freely in adjacent tribal areas. "We have no authority in these areas. But I can assure you that no illegal weapon can be smuggled into Peshawar."But counter-terrorism and security experts contradict these claims. They say that much of the sophisticated illegal weaponry is transported from tribal areas to the rest of the country without much hindrance. Pak-Afghan Business Forum's director Zia-ul-Haq Sarhadi shares this view: "The authorities do not check the trucks going back and forth from Afghanistan into Pakistan. Nobody knows what is inside these trucks. For the past ten years, the Pakistani authorities have not been able to monitor smuggling along the border," Sarhadi told DW.
Other items
US-made products are very popular in Pakistan. Foreign products such as shoes and rucksacks available in Peshawar's illegal markets are quite cheaper in comparison to what you get in proper stores.A US-made pair of boots can be purchased for three thousand rupees (20 to 25 euros) in these illegal markets, whereas those in the city stores cost at least twenty thousand. Some shopkeepers say these are not stolen items. They are cheaper because there is no custom duty on them, they claim. However, DW has learnt that much of this mechandise comes from the containers robbed by criminal gangs or militant groups. Many a time, truckers also steal these goods and sell them at a low price. Local sources claim that as NATO troops get ready to withdraw from Afghanistan, many international non-governmental organizations working in Kabul are also wrapping up their work. They are disposing of their used products, which are then sold by Afghan merchants to shopkeepers in Kabul and Peshawar. Inayat Khan, a Peshawar-based shopkeeper, told DW that not all items are actually made in America. "Many products are made in China. The shopkeepers put the made-in-USA label on these Chinese products and sell it to consumers, charging more money," Khan said.

Message from Mr. Asif Ali Zardari President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (On the occasion of Defence Day 6th September, 2013)
On the occasion of Defence Day today, we salute the people for demonstrating exemplary unity and the armed forces for their valour and courage. We also pay homage to the martyrs who laid down their lives or suffered otherwise in 1965 defending the country. They laid down their lives so that we live in safety and with honour. An abiding lesson of September 6 is that no aggression can succeed as long as the people are united in fighting for the cause and as long as our brave soldiers are standing ready to guard our frontiers and shed blood for it. September 6 is no ordinary day for Pakistanis. Back in 1965 on this day the people of Pakistan closed their ranks in standing behind the armed forces of the country to face a serious threat to the country. This unprecedented national unity and courage of the armed forces has indeed made the day a memorable occasion in our national calendar. The need to imbibe the spirit of September 6 this year is even greater as the country is confronted with a new and far more serious challenge to its existence from the militants, extremists and fanatics. Let us therefore on this occasion renew our pledge to defend our country from all kinds of threats be they external or internal and also the ethos of this nation. No other nation has paid such a heavy price as the people of Pakistan in fighting the militants and to safeguard their right to live in accordance with the democratic values for which Pakistan was created. On this occasion let us renew our resolve to fight the militants to the finish. Let us also pay homage to our sons and daughters who laid down their lives in the defense of the motherland. Their sacrifices will never go in vain. Pakistan Paindabad!

Farewell for President Zardari today

The PPP has invited all opposition parties to a farewell reception the party is giving to President Asif Ali Zardari in the Parliament House on Wednesday. A source close to the Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly, Khursheed Shah, said that leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), PML-Q, Awami National Party (ANP), Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and parliamentarians from Fata (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) had been invited to the reception. He said an invitation had also been sent to National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, but it could not be known whether he would attend the function or not. The source said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had not been invited to the function. Besides opposition leaders, former prime ministers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf and journalists covering the parliament have also been invited to the reception. Sources in the National Assembly said the reception was being hosted in the Speaker’s banquet hall in the Parliament House without getting a formal approval from the speaker. However, they added, the speaker did not object to the use of hall for the function. Talking to Dawn, Khursheed Shah said all parliamentarians belonging to opposition parties had been invited to the reception. It has been learnt that Mr Zardari would be the first president in the country’s history to whom a farewell reception is being given in the Parliament House. President Zardari will address participants of the function after a welcome address by the opposition leader. Mr Zardari will be first elected president of the country to complete his five-year term on Sept 8. He has the distinction of addressing the joint sitting of the parliament for six times.

Pakistan: IMF deal must not lead to complacency

As expected, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved on 4th August 2013 a three-year arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) for Pakistan amounting to dollar 6.68 billion or 425 percent of the country's quota to help the country forestall a balance of payments (BoP) crisis, rebuild foreign exchange reserves and support its economic reform programme to promote inclusion growth. The approval of the loan enables an initial disbursement by the IMF of about dollar 544.5 million while the remaining amount will be evenly distributed over the duration of the programme, subject to the completion of quarterly reviews. According to the Fund, the programme, among other things, is expected to help the economy rebound and reduce fiscal deficit; it is also aimed at enabling government to undertake comprehensive structural reforms to boost investment and growth. Adherence to the programme was also expected to catalyse the mobilisation of resources from other sources. Deputy Managing Director of the Fund, Takatoshi Kato, asserted that "by providing large financial support to Pakistan, the IMF is sending a strong signal to the donor community about the country's improved macroeconomic prospects." Despite the challenges it faces, Pakistan is a country with abundant potential, given its geographical location and rich human and natural resources. The Fund has also noted that Pakistani authorities have already taken some difficult decisions to achieve the intended objectives of the programme. Some of the prior actions included an understanding between federal and provincial governments on a budget surplus as the 18th Constitutional Amendment and the 7th NFC Award have shifted the tilt of resources from centre to the provinces, issuance of notices to at least 10,000 new potential taxpayers to broaden the tax net, subsidies in the power sector have been targeted to those using up to 200 units while effective measures are being taken to curb electricity theft and recovery from defaulters to reform the entire power sector. Approval of the EFF by the IMF at this critical juncture is undoubtedly a major event for the economy of Pakistan. Keeping in view the payment obligations of the country, particularly to the IMF, the threat of default was imminent as foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan had dwindled to only dollar 5 billion or equivalent to about 5 weeks of inputs. A significantly large amount sanctioned by the IMF coupled with expected flows from other sources would help the country to plug the huge gap in the external sector accounts and increase or stabilise the foreign exchange reserves of the country around the present levels. Obviously, concessional loans of such a magnitude were not possible from other sources. The real benefit of the programme, however, will be the expected restoration of macroeconomic stability through tightening of fiscal and monetary policies in a manner that would ensure social stability and extend support for the poor during the adjustment process. By entering into a proper arrangement the Fund and Pakistani authorities have sent a strong signal to the donor community and foreign investors about country's determination to improve its macroeconomic prospects by following appropriate policies. Given the present state of the economy, particularly the alarming situation in the external sector, disruption in foreign trade with all its hazardous consequences and meltdown of the economy was a real possibility. However, it needs to be noted that the Fund staff this time has put more emphasis on highlighting the bright aspects of economy to make a favourable case for Pakistan. For instance, Pakistan had always abundant potential due to geographical location and rich human and natural resources but failed to exploit these resources to improve its economy. One, however, fails to understand how it is going to be different this time. Also, this is the 16th programme that Pakistan and IMF have agreed to since 1958 but the authorities of the country have mostly been lacking in resolve and unable to unshackle the economy from the dependency syndrome. This needs to change because the mood of multilateral institutions, including the IMF, can change fairly quickly, depending in particular on the US stance, which is the largest shareholder in these organisations. Therefore, instead of asking for waivers during the programme, it would be better to own the programme and adhere faithfully to Fund's conditionalities to achieve the targeted goals. This is particularly so because the programme has been agreed after mutual consultations and designed to attain a sustainable position in various sectors of economy. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has been insisting that the EFF programme is homegrown and largely designed at our terms; but he has to work very hard to do the needful and prove that he could succeed where others have mostly failed. He must not become complacent over any success. Macroeconomic objectives of the programme revolve around the country's weakest points and it would take a lot of courage and resolution to undertake policies to achieve the targeted goals. The Finance Minister has kept his word. The Ministry of Finance has released a Letter of Intent (LoI) along with a "Memorandum on Economic and Financial Policy for 2013/14-2015-16" on the Ministry's website without waiting for the Fund to do so. With uncertainty rampant around us, it would be difficult, if not hazardous, to speculate on the likely contours of the upcoming Monetary Policy Statement (MPS). However, the PML (N) government has taken some tough but realistic measures with regard to utility tariff and POL prices. These hikes are bound to put pressure on the price line this year. Further, any laxity on the fiscal front will also add to pressure on monetary policy. The challenge for economic managers is to choose between orthodox steps or take risk. The IMF has been wrong on its core inflation estimates for Pakistan before and can be erroneous again. Local businesses fix prices on the anchor of PKR parity and not interest rate unlike the developed economies. A sharp depreciation of the rupee in recent days and weeks has unhinged the price line and stabilising it again is the challenge the present government faces. Aren't the matters that appear simple always complex?

Taliban-linked militant killed in U.S. drone strike in Pakistan

A senior Taliban-linked commander designated a foreign terrorist by the United States was killed on Friday in a suspected U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun tribal region on the Afghan border, security and militant sources said.
The drones fired two missiles on a compound in the village of Dargah Mandi in North Waziristan, destroying a house and killing seven people, one security official said. Another official put the toll at five. Security sources said all those killed were insurgents. The location of the attack is known as a stronghold of the Haqqani network, which regularly attacks U.S. forces in Afghanistan from its mountain hideouts in Pakistan. An intelligence source in the region said Sangeen Zadran, a senior Haqqani commander who also served as the Taliban's shadow governor of Afghanistan's Paktika province, was among the dead. There was no official comment on the death toll. Pakistan's foreign ministry condemned the U.S. drone strike in a statement. In a sign of how deeply Taliban-linked militants are entrenched in the tribal areas, mosques in Miranshah, the main regional town, made loudspeaker announcements that a funeral prayer for Zadran would be offered on Friday, residents said. The United States placed Zadran, who was 45, on its list of global terrorists in 2011. He had long been accused of involvement in bomb attacks and assaults on U.S. bases in eastern Afghanistan, planning movements of foreign Taliban fighters and orchestrating kidnappings of Afghan and foreign nationals in border areas. A source among insurgents on the ground said the dead from Friday's drone attack also included a 32-year-old al Qaeda commander who was an expert in explosives, and identified him as Zubir al Muzi, an Egyptian national. U.S. drones have been hitting militant targets in troubled and inaccessible border areas such as North Waziristan, the main stronghold of groups aligned with al Qaeda and the Taliban, since 2004. Pakistan is angry over the drone strikes, saying they cause civilian casualties and violate its sovereignty. In response, the United States has reduced their use in recent years. It is hard to assess the impact of drone attacks because independent observers and journalists have almost no access to the areas where the strikes occur. Most information comes from officials who speak on condition of anonymity. U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have fallen significantly over the past 2-1/2 years, to total 20 this year. There were 48 in all of 2012 and 73 in 2011, a tally by the New America Foundation shows.

U.S. Drone Strike Kills 6 in Pakistan

At least six people were killed in an American drone strike in Pakistan’s restive northwestern tribal areas early Friday, according to government officials and local news reports. The American drone strike was directed at a house in the Ghulam Khan area of the North Waziristan tribal region, close to the border with Afghanistan. The identities of those killed were not immediately clear. North Waziristan has long been a haven for Taliban and Qaeda militants. Still, American drone strikes are deeply unpopular in the country, and opposition to them has become an essential staple of local politics and grievances against the United States. Pakistani politicians and government officials condemn the missile strikes, which are directed by the C.I.A., as a violation of the country’s sovereignty. Opposition politicians like Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party, have long campaigned against the strikes, saying that they result more in civilian casualties than militant killings. In October 2012, Mr. Khan led a big protest rally to the edges of the tribal regions against the use of drones on Pakistani soil. The number of U.S. drone strikes has, however, dropped sharply in recent months. The last drone attack occurred on Aug. 31, when at least four suspected militants were killed in an attack in North Waziristan. John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, hinted in a visit to Pakistan earlier in August that the drone strikes could end soon. “The program will end as we have eliminated most of the threat and continue to eliminate it,” Mr. Kerry said at the time in an interview broadcast on state-run television. “I think the president has a very real timeline, and we hope it’s going to be very, very soon.” The drone strike on Friday came as Pakistan celebrated Defense Day, marking a day of remembrance for those killed in the 1965 war with neighboring India. As news of the drone strike spread, there was a flurry of critical reactions, especially on Twitter, the microblogging site. Shireen Mazari, a lawmaker and information secretary of Mr. Khan’s political party, remarked that the American drone strike “reminds us of the changing nature of multiple threats” the country is facing. In a Twitter posting, Mr. Khan himself condemned the drone strike and said he planned to take it up with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a meeting of all political parties on Sept. 9. Mr. Sharif has convened a much-awaited meeting of political leaders next Monday in Islamabad to devise a national strategy to deal with militancy and terrorism.