Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Saudi Arabia tops the list of countries for laws that limit women's economic potential, while South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa have made the least progress over the last 50 years in improving women's economic opportunities, a report issued on Tuesday says. In the last half century, women's rights worldwide have improved significantly and yet in almost 90 percent of the 143 countries surveyed in the World Bank study, at least one law remains on the books to bar women from certain jobs, opening a bank account, accessing capital or making independent decisions. Twenty-eight countries make 10 or more legal distinctions between the rights of men and women, and half of these countries are in the Middle East and North Africa, followed by 11 in sub-Saharan Africa, it said. The World Bank report shows that when there is a gender gap in legal rights, fewer women own their businesses and income inequality is greatest, a finding that offers fresh insight on the impact that reducing barriers to women's economic opportunities could have on reducing world poverty. "When women and men participate in economic life on an equal footing, they can contribute their energies to building a more cohesive society and more resilient economy," said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in releasing the report, Women Business and the Law. Kim has set as a World Bank priority ending extreme poverty by 2030. Empowering women is viewed by development experts as crucial to achieving that goal, since women have the primary responsibility for the family. Women's economic inclusion helps lift household incomes, leading to healthier children who are more likely to attend school and who in turn raise themselves from poverty. Countries everywhere have started to remove legal obstacles to women's economic participation, but the progress has been uneven. In Latin America and the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia, legal restrictions have been cut in half since 1960, said Augusto Lopez-Claros, director of global indicators at the World Bank. MIDDLE EAST LAGS But the Middle East region shows the least progress and some countries have gone backwards. Yemen and Egypt have removed from their constitutions bans on gender discrimination. Iran has allowed husbands to prevent their wives from working, placed restrictions on women's mobility and limited their work in the judicial sector, the report said. Sarah Iqbal, program officer at the World Bank and lead author of the report, said the persistence of legal restrictions remains one of the most discouraging aspects of the report. "We have come a long way but still have a great way to go," she said in a news briefing. About 25 percent of countries surveyed have no laws addressing domestic violence and again the Middle East and North Africa region has the least protections, the report found. Additionally, Algeria and Morocco are the only countries in the region that have laws addressing sexual harassment in the workplace, the report found. Yet advancements worldwide have been made in the past two years. Forty-four countries improved economic opportunities for women between April 2011 and April 2013, the time period the report covers, and no new restrictions were imposed. Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Mali, for instance, no longer allow husbands to unilaterally forbid their wives from working; the Philippines has removed restrictions on night work for women, and Slovakia increased the wages paid women during maternity leave. The 2014 report covers 143 countries and was based on data from April 2011 to April 2013, on an examination of laws, and interviews with country experts in family and labor law. In addition, it looked at how conditions have changed over the past 50 years on two indicators - women's access to institutions and use of property in 100 countries.
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/A small island created in the Arabian Sea by the huge earthquake that hit southwest Pakistan has fascinated locals but experts say it is unlikely to last long.
The death toll from a powerful earthquake in southwest Pakistan rose to 328 on Wednesday after hundreds of mud houses collapsed on residents throughout the remote and thinly populated area, local officials said.
THE terrorist atrocities perpetrated in Peshawar and Nairobi on the weekend were dissimilar but not exactly disconnected. For one, both were explicitly directed against non-Muslims. The dozen or so men who stormed into the Westgate shopping mall in the Kenyan capital reportedly queried potential victims about their faith before singling out their victims. Outside the All Saints Church in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa capital, no such interrogation was deemed necessary. The pattern of the Nairobi siege has been compared with the Mumbai rampage of 2008. The suicide bombings in Peshawar, on the other hand, resemble the targeting of Shia imambargahs and Ahmadi places of worship. In both cases, however, commentators purportedly representing the perpetrators have harped on the theme of foreign military intervention as a primary motivational factor. The Somali militia Al Shabaab, which has claimed responsibility for the Nairobi carnage, has said it was a response to Kenya’s military role in neighbouring Somalia, where a ramshackle regime in Mogadishu barely survives in the presence of troops contributed by the African Union (AU). The Shabaab militia, though, has a particular beef with Kenyan forces, which have collaborated with local warlords to substantially restrict its remit. In Pakistan, it was initially reported that the Junoodul Hifsa, which is linked to the local Taliban, claimed the responsibility (subsequently denied by the Taliban). Reportedly, it said it had been provoked by the American drone strikes in the tribal areas — without elaborating, obviously, on the connection between the All Saints churchgoers and the CIA’s Predators, because there is none. Sadly, but not altogether surprisingly, Imran Khan, whose party wields provincial power in KP, chose to implicitly harp on the same theme, while also linking the attack to elements opposed to the prospect of peace talks between the Taliban and the government in Islamabad, without specifying who he had in mind. It is intriguing that the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) reportedly denied involvement in the attack, but in itself it proves nothing. It is hardly a secret, after all, that groups loosely affiliated with the Taliban pursue relatively independent agendas, so even if the TTP is not being entirely disingenuous, it is perfectly conceivable one of its associates may have decided to commit mass murder without clearing its plans with the TTP hierarchy. It may well also be the case that whoever authorised the unutterably vile act was indeed determined, inter alia, to thwart any sort of peace process. If so, they are likely to have been pleased by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s indication from London that in the wake of the monumental tragedy, conciliatory talks were off the agenda. Perhaps he felt he had little choice. After all, many sensible voices in Pakistan oppose negotiations with dedicated killers as pointless, and arguably irresponsible. After all, in any civilised state, some things must be non-negotiable. Such as the sanctity of life. Talks ought not to be written off completely as long as there is the slightest chance that they could lead to a modus vivendi that does not entail submitting to obscurantist blackmail. But given that the prospects of successful negotiations are incredibly slim, is there a Plan B in place? A dozen years after the 9/11 backlash, has the notion sunk in that Pakistan and terrorism cannot indefinitely coexist? Pakistan cannot, surely, want to lapse into another Somalia. The lessons are tangential, no doubt, but ought not to be ignored. The African state fell into disarray following the ouster of Siad Barre in 1991, and was overrun by competing militias under rival warlords, a trend that UN and US intervention in the mid-1990s — including an ill-fated contingent of Pakistani peacekeepers — singularly failed to arrest. A semblance of stability was eventually restored by the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which fell short of a satisfactory solution, but temporarily brought peace to Mogadishu by sidelining the warlords. Its nomenclature alone may have sufficed, though, to provoke a disastrous US-backed Ethiopian invasion, which led to the ascendancy of Al Shabaab, which had until then been a relatively minor component of the ICU. There have since then been competing factions within Al Shabaab, which affiliated itself with Al Qaeda a few years ago, with Somali nationalists — who primarily opposed a foreign presence on their soil — lately weeded out by the votaries of global jihad, who have attracted adherents, including British and US-born Somalis, from across the world. Both Al Shabaab and the Kenyan authorities claim that the Westgate terrorists were a disparate bunch in terms of nationality. The vast area Al Shabaab once controlled within Somalia has also been shrinking, largely because of military operations by Kenyan and other AU forces in collaboration with warlords whose loyalties are easily bought. What’s more, its leadership and ranks have lately been depleted by a vendetta against nationalists averse to the agenda of global jihadism. The militia is likely to have been aware that the shopping mall it targeted in Nairobi is Israeli-owned, but it appears Westgate was chosen because it is magnet for Westerners as well as the Kenyan elite. Its ruthlessness inevitably made the world pay attention. And Kenya, whose president and vice-president have both been implicated by the International Criminal Court in the violence that followed elections five years ago, has received offers of additional support from the UK, US and Israel. Pakistan and Somalia are very different entities but, although it is clear that US intervention has not had a salutary effect in either case, stemming the bloodshed in both cases deserves more concerted engagement at a local level than, most tragically, has hitherto been the case.
http://sada-e-azadi.net/Polio is a crippling disease that affects dozens of children in Afghanistan every year. Polio (poliomyelitis) is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. One in 200 polio infections leads to irreversible paralysis, usually in the legs. In Afghanistan, polio cases are mostly reported in its border areas with Pakistan. According to Abdul Qayom Pokhla, chief of Kandahar’s Department of Public Health, at least 24 cases were recorded last year in the south – 11 from Kandahar, 11 from Helmand and 2 from Uruzgan. Because of people’s movement from one place to another, the virus can affect children who have not been immunised against the disease anywhere in the country. Polio cases have decreased by over 99 per cent since 1988, from an estimated 350,000 cases in more than 125 endemic countries to 223 reported cases in 2012. In 2013, only parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria remain endemic for the disease, according to a World Health Organization report.. Symptoms The virus enters the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine. It mainly affects children under five. Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis, usually in the legs. Among those paralysed, 5 to 10 per cent die when their breathing muscles become immobilised. There is no cure for polio; but, it can be prevented. A polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Tremors were felt as far away as the Indian capital of New Delhi, hundreds of miles to the east, where buildings shook, as well as the sprawling port city of Karachi in Pakistan.
Pakistan's military Wednesday rushed to reach the scene of a huge earthquake that killed more than 230 people and toppled thousands of mud-built homes when it hit the country's southwest. The 7.7-magnitude quake struck on Tuesday afternoon in Balochistan province's Awaran district whereas aftershocks continued to occur in the northwestern part of the country with the latest tremor measured on Wednesday at 4.7 on the Richter scale. Officials said 238 deaths had been confirmed so far, 208 in Awaran district, and the toll is expected to rise as rescue teams reach more villages in the remote area. “A total of six districts, Awaran, Kech, Gwadar, Panjgur, Chaghi and Khuzdar, and a population of over 300,000 have been affected by the earthquake,” Jan Muhammad Buledi, spokesman for the Balochistan government said while adressing a press conference. Buledi confirmed the quake's death toll at 238 and added that more than 400 persons had suffered injuries. The provincial government spokesman stated that Iran and Turkey had offered support for the earthquake survivors in Balochistan. He admitted that thousands of earthquake survivors were facing difficulties in Awaran and Kech districts of Balochistan. Buledi said aid workers were facing difficulities in reaching out to survivors since communication system was severely affected by the earthquake. Buledi said teams were working to recover bodies, but the priority was to move the injured to hospitals as soon as possible, a difficult task in a desolate area with minimal infrastructure. “We are seriously lacking medical facilities and there is no space to treat injured people in the local hospitals,” he said. “We are trying to shift seriously injured people to Karachi through helicopters and others to the neighbouring districts.” The head of the provincial disaster management agency, Abdul Latif Kakar, said that 30 people had died in Kech district, a toll confirmed by another senior local official. "There is nothing, patients are dying", Rehmatullah Muhammad Hassani, an earthquake survivor told Dawn.com via phone from District Headquarter Hospital Awaran claiming that patients were not even provided basic first aid in the hospital. "There are no doctors and para-medics", Muhammad Hassani claimed. Hassani said that a large number of mud-walled houses had collapsed as result of the powerful earthquake tremors. "We fear there are people still under the rubles", he said. The Awaran resident added that authorities had yet to launch an effective rescue operation to retrieve the people stuck from under the rubble. Moreover, a para-medic, Nazar Muhammad, said 70 injured were brought to district hospital Awaran for medical treatment. He said, "we have no surgery equipment and we are only providing basic first aid to the survivors." The army has sent 100 medical staff and 1,000 troops to the area to help with rescue efforts and has established a medical centre in one of the worst-affected villages, Tarteej. The scale of the territory involved is daunting. Awaran's population is scattered over an area of more than 21,000 square kilometres. More than 60,000 people live within 50 kilometres of the epicentre, according to the UN disaster agency, mostly in easily collapsible mud homes. Abdul Rasheed Baloch, a senior official in Awaran, said teams had worked through the night to try to retrieve bodies and survivors from the rubble. “Around 90 per cent of houses in the district have been destroyed. Almost all the mud houses have collapsed,” he said. Some of the dead have already been laid to rest in their villages, he added. Tremors were felt on Tuesday as far away as New Delhi and even Dubai in the Gulf, while people in the Indian city of Ahmedabad near the border with Pakistan ran into the streets in panic. Office workers in Pakistan's largest city Karachi rushed out of their buildings in an experience reminiscent of the 2005 earthquake to that hit the country. A 7.6 magnitude quake in 2005, centred in Kashmir, had killed at least 73,000 people and left several million homeless in one of the worst natural disasters to hit Pakistan. The US Geological Survey issued a red alert on Tuesday, warning that heavy casualties were likely based on past data, and the provincial government declared an emergency in Awaran. Television footage showed collapsed houses, caved-in roofs and people sitting in the open air outside their homes, the rubble of mud and bricks scattered around them. Iran's Red Crescent reported no damage from the latest quake over the border from Pakistan. Balochistan is Pakistan's largest but least populous province. But it is also a flashpoint for growing violence against minority Shia Muslims and has suffered attacks blamed on Taliban militants. It also suffers from an ongoing separatist insurgency which began in 2004 when Baloch rebels rose up to demand a greater share of profits from the province's mineral resources.
Within months of coming to power the right-wing government of the Muslim League announced their intentions of privatizing the state owned enterprises. On 13th September it was announced that 26% of the shares of Pakistan International Airline’s would be privatized along with the control of the management of the company. Pakistan Post, Railways, WAPDA (Water and Power Development Authority) and many others are also on the list for privatisation. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is the state owned airline operating flights to 24 domestic destinations and 39 international destinations in 25 countries across Asia, Europe and North America. Established in 1946 as Orient Airways it employs 20,000 workers and plays a key role in the Pakistan’s economy and infrastructure. Once a profitable organization, PIA has been losing money for some years now owing to the corruption of its top management, most of which only have the merit of being friends of those in the government. PIA was once one of the best airlines in the world. A number of foreign carriers had their staff trained by PIA. Until the 70s it was a very profitable institution and a source of income for the government. The gradual decline started in the 80s and corruption is attributed to be the main cause of that. This coincides with the advent of huge sums of black money in Pakistan’s economy. The ever-increasing deficit of national airlines has now swelled beyond Rs 180 billion. On 14 March the National Assembly was told that PIA had acute shortage of aircraft and out of total 38 planes, only 24 were being operated on various routes. In February 2012 Transparency International reported that PIA signed an agreement to purchase five 777 Boeing aeroplanes for $1.5 billion. In that deal $500 million were given to the PIA management as kickbacks for purchasing the aircrafts for 50% more than the market price. These and many other examples clearly show that prime beneficiaries and perpetrators of major corruption are the top bosses, not the ordinary workers. If properly managed, the financial gap could be closed just by the profits of PIA owned hotels in the heart of New York and Paris. One example of this loot and plunder is the current practice of a Federal Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who is also the owner of a private Air Line called Blue Air. His airline is now starting operations from Birmingham (Britain) to Pakistan from 28 September. But before that he is withdrawing all PIA management staff from Britain, in order to create a vacuum of management which will continue for many months. This will help his private airline to get market share of PIA. Similar policies have been carried out over many years to bring down this national asset. But the workers are quite determined to fight against these vicious attacks. Addressing a public meeting in Lahore, Secretary General of Peoples Unity, Hussain Abbas, the official representative union of PIA workers said that if workers are given democratic control of PIA “we will turn it into profitable institution within few months”. He said that five new planes have been grounded due to minor problems, but that management is not allowing for them to be repaired, which means that the company is being drained of funds. The President of Peoples Unity in Lahore, Sajid Gujjar, also exposed the vested interests of the present government who is led by Nawaz Sharif, who himself owns many industries. He said that they are only looking to loot and plunder this public asset in order to do favours for their cronies. He said that PIA owns luxurious hotels in Manhattan New York and on Champs Elysees in Paris. The Roosevelt hotel (http://www.theroosevelthotel.com/) in Manhattan has 1,015 rooms and has rents up to $2600 per night. If only these hotels are managed properly all the losses of PIA could be made up for. But these rulers want to bankrupt these hotels in order to buy them cheap. The Chairman of PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunication) workers union, Sabir Butt, said that if workers stay united no force on earth can privatize PIA. He explained the experience of privatization of PTCL in 2005, when some leaders sold out to the government. He said Privatization of state institutions has not yielded anything in the past. PTCL used to be one of the most profitable telecom companies in Asia. It had 72 thousand employees and the profit earned in the last year before privatisation was Rs. 30 billion. Now PTCL has 18 thousand workers and the profit has dropped to just Rs. 8 billion per year along with a steep drop in the quality of the services. Privatisation of Karachi Electric Supply Corporation has also resulted in disaster for the consumers and the workers. Muslim Commercial Bank and Habib Bank Limited were privatised with the infamous legislation of 27/B barring any union in financial institutions. The privatisation of PIA would result in massive layoffs that would lead to more unemployment, poverty and misery. Fares would also increase and a number of domestic routes to remote areas would be closed down. Addressing the public meeting of PIA workers comrade Adam Pal of PTUDC said that Bourgeois financial analysts and the media are prescribing privatization as the solution of all the problems in PIA. The newly elected government of Pakistan secured a loan of $6.68 billion from IMF few weeks ago. Most of this money will be used to pay back the interest on other existing loans, which have already been repaid many times over. But the loan comes with strict conditions of vicious attacks on the working class. This gives the government the excuse of implementing the directives of the IMF, privatization being on the top of the list. Through corporate media, Privatization is being portrayed as a magic pill which, will transform Pakistan into a prosperous economy. But this is all a big lie for workers and people of Pakistan. Comrade Adam Pal also warned against the option of selling 26% shares to workers of PIA. He said this is a ploy of some “sympathizers” which will end in a sabotage of whole struggle. We should call for total control of PIA under democratic control of workers and end of policy of Privatization. He promised the workers to bring them solidarity from workers of other industries and public institutions and workers from other countries of the world. This was enthusiastically appreciated by all. Representatives from the Young Doctors union were also there. Dr. Tajamal But also spoke and said that the Young Doctors union will support PIA workers in their struggle. The President of the Lahore zone of Pakistan Steel official representative union, Mr Shah, also supported the struggle and vowed to fight against policy of privatization. After the financial meltdown of 2008 and the following crisis of global capitalism the workers in the advanced capitalist countries are being subjected to brutal austerity and unemployment resulting in the contraction of European and American markets. The growth rates of the so called emerging economies have also slowed down drastically. In these conditions it would not be easy for the rulers to find good buyers of state owned institutions. Who would want to invest in Pakistan which is facing a terrible security situation compounded with political instability? Therefore there are no investors in the market who would buy PIA, Pakistan Steel and Pakistan Railways as a whole. The situation is somewhat similar to that in Britain during 80s, when Margret Thatcher sold off British Telecom for just one pound. Since the pathetic bourgeois rulers cannot do anything like that, they have decided to go for fragmented privatization of the state owned institutions. PIA and other state institutions will be sold at throwaway prices to the cronies of those in power. Pakistan International Airlines has decided to close down the flights and offices in US, Australia and some European countries due to shortage of planes and a persistently growing deficit. Such steps are being taken to further justify the privatisation. The first major Privatization in Pakistan was that of Muslim Commercial Bank during the first government of Benazir Bhutto. The last PPP government tried its best but could not carry out any major privatisation. They reverted to the sinister scheme of Public Private Partnership (PPP) by offering 12% shares to the workers. In 2011 the PPP government tried to sell off PIA but the workers waged a marvellous struggle and won. (http://www.marxist.com/pakistan-strike-at-pakistan-international-airlines.htm). Ferment is building up in the ranks of the workers in PIA. Protests are already underway. The workers are preparing for a fight back. They have already defeated one attempt to privatise the airline and they have learned important lessons in that struggle. But it is not only the workers of PIA that are at stake. Other institutions are in the queue as well. This fight has to be a joint struggle of all the workers, particularly those from Railways, WAPDA, Post and other state owned enterprises. The only way out is to make all fronts a battlefield in this class war. We appeal to workers of the world to express solidarity with this struggle and send solidarity letters from their unions. No to Privatization! Workers control and ownership of all state and private enterprises! Long Live Workers Unity! Workers of the world unite!
Canada: Islamic group's charitable status revoked over alleged link to terror organization ( charitable arm of Jamaat-e-Islami )
The Express Tribune