Monday, October 7, 2013

Malala Yousafzai: Documenting a Pakistani Girl’s Transformation

There is a back story to Malala Yousafzai’s improbable transformation from a quiet, deferential 11-year-old living near Pakistan’s tribal areas to a teenage spokeswoman for girls’ education. Malala, shot in the head by the Taliban last year, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, to be announced on Friday.It begins with her determined father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, but gets pushed forward by intense news media coverage of her daring campaign. I met Malala in 2009, when she was determined to defy the odds and become a doctor. I spent six months making two documentaries about her life that helped bring her brave campaign to the world, transforming her into a public figure. After the Taliban tried to silence her, The New York Times wove the footage together into a single, 32-minute documentary. Since the attack last October, I have at times struggled with a question journalists often confront: By giving her a platform, did I inadvertently play a role in her shooting? I wanted to understand how this all unfolded so I began combing through nearly 20 hours of unseen footage of the family long before they were coached by publicists, and before they had signed multimillion-dollar book and movie deals. While my original documentary tells the story of Malala’s struggle for education in the face of the Taliban, this back story also raises some sobering and difficult questions. Malala was a brave young girl, advocating for a better future for all girls in her country, but was it fair for her to fight so publicly in such a dangerous environment? Or was she thrust into the limelight by adults captivated by the power of a child staring down the Taliban? Given Malala’s re-emergence on the world stage — healing from her wounds and nominated for the Nobel — I thought it was a good time to answer the five questions people often ask me about how I came to know this resilient young woman.
How did you find Malala?
In December 2009, while working as a reporter in The Times’s bureau in Afghanistan, I read a small news article in the Pakistani press about how the Taliban in the Swat Valley planned to ban girls’ education in January 2010. The ban would affect 50,000 schoolgirls, and I was astonished that the story was not being more aggressively reported in the media. When I went to Pakistan to report, a courageous Pakistani journalist who had reported in Swat, Irfan Ashraf, introduced me to a private school owner, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who was campaigning to save his business. He showed up with his 11-year-old daughter, Malala.After a lengthy interview with Zia, I asked him if I could ask Malala a few questions. She began answering in Pashtu, and Irfan translated. After about 10 minutes, I realized from Malala’s facial expressions that she understood my questions. I interrupted to ask if she spoke English, and she said, “Yes, I was just saying there is a fear in my heart.” I turned to Zia and Irfan and said: “What’s wrong with you people? She speaks better English then the rest of you and you are translating for her!” We all laughed. When I sat across Malala on the floor that day, it certainly never occurred to me that this shy girl would become so prominent.
Why would her father participate in such a documentary, knowing the dangers?
When we first met, I saw Zia as a middleman, someone who could introduce me to a family affected by the crisis in Swat. He quickly said no family would agree. Later that day, we discussed if his family could be documented. He was cautious, but intrigued. He saw The Times as a megaphone to the outside world. His friend Fazal Maula Zahid, an activist who co-founded a local organization advocating for peace in Swat, sat with us during our first interview. He bluntly told Ziaudin that the crisis demanded that they serve as agents of change. A lot was being said in Pashtu as well, so I didn’t understand all of the discussions. As Zia described the harrowing dangers in Swat, I became skittish. It was the only time in my career that a source was becoming increasingly interested in a story, while I was becoming increasingly tentative.At the end of a long day, Zia reasoned that he was already a known leader in Swat, and if the Taliban already wanted him, they could find him. After talking with my editors in New York and to Irfan, we all agreed to proceed, acknowledging that we would have to take many safety precautions over the months.
Where is Malala’s mother in all of this?
Malala’s father may be a progressive educator, but her family is very traditional. As in most families in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, where they lived, her father works and her mother is a homemaker. In the larger region around Swat, only one girl in five attends school. Malala’s own mother is illiterate, and Ziauddin told me she did not interact with men outside the family. I was never able to speak with her, and rarely saw her at all, because, as her husband explained, “she was not habituated to be on camera.” Over time, Zia and I became friends, and we talked about everything. He would ask me to describe the beaches of Rio, and I solicited his interpretations on Rumi. But the issue of his wife was always a source of tension, and we had many honest discussions about our divergent views. One day while recording, I pressed him on the topic, saying: “It’s not just the camera. It’s the culture. Otherwise, we could all have dinner together.” He replied, “You are right. We have some limitations.” At times, Zia and I gently debated the topic in Malala’s presence, but she never spoke. I often wondered if the limitations were the choice of Malala’s mother, or if these restrictions were imposed. Once I asked Malala on camera, “What does your mother think of your father’s activism?” and she replied that her mother did not care about those things. How were your documentaries connected to the tragedy that followed?
After my documentaries aired, the family’s life changed dramatically. Donations poured in. Awards arrived. Dignitaries visited. The American Embassy sent Zia on a free trip to the United States. In the bombastic Pakistani press, Malala became the de facto voice of Swat. One night, Zia was bragging about meeting a Turkish diplomat. I tried to use humor to ground him, and said, “Why are you always bragging about meeting these people? They should be bragging about meeting you!” He said, “You are right,” and we laughed. In late 2010, the situation in Swat began to improve sharply. Targeted killings by the Taliban were less frequent. The school that Zia owned reopened. Enrollment spiked. I returned to Swat and spent a week roaming freely in remote areas that were once Taliban strongholds. But as Malala became more emboldened, she continued to speak out, even more forcefully, against the Taliban. She told the BBC that the Taliban were not human, and she often talked to reporters about how she imagined an assassination attempt. Two years after I left Pakistan, the Taliban shot her in the head. The Taliban issued a statement addressing why they tried to kill Malala. In addition to condemning her outspokenness, they also blamed the foreign media for not giving them a voice. The Taliban are a small minority, but they do represent a real faction within Pakistan. Today, four years after the documentaries aired, Pakistan is still engaged in a lively debate about whether to enter peace talks with the Taliban. Meanwhile, a steady flow of terrorist attacks continues to kill thousands of Pakistanis each year. Ultimately, the Taliban claimed responsibly for the shooting. Malala and her father thanked me for giving them a voice. But the question of protecting sources is something that foreign correspondents worry about all the time. The decisions are not easy, and there is no formula for making them. While giving people a platform to the world, we do everything we can to avoid situations in which our reporting turns people into targets. But most of the time, we just don’t know what will happen. My reporting certainly heightened the family’s status, and sparked their appetite for recognition.
What has changed in Pakistan since you made your films?
Pakistan continues to be one of the worst places to be a woman. More than half of Pakistani girls are not educated. Pakistan also has the world’s second lowest rate of female employment in the world, according to the World Economic Forum Gender Parity Report — lower even than Saudi Arabia. Pakistan’s failure to educate its citizenry is rooted in government ineffectiveness. Despite a recent increase, Pakistan still spends only about 2 percent of its gross domestic product on education. That is less than it spends on subsidies for its national airline, and only half the global average. Another major problem, which is often left out of the discussion, is the mentality of Pakistani men — fathers, brothers and uncles — many of whom still firmly believe that women belong at home.

Tensions rising, U.S. Republicans and Democrats focus on debt ceiling

The White House on Monday reiterated that President Barack Obama would not negotiate with Republicans over the threat of a debt default, sticking to its line as stock prices fell and a U.S. government shutdown moved into its second week. But White House National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling did not rule out a short-term increase to the borrowing cap, such as two or three weeks, which could offer more time for an agreement. Speaking at a Politico breakfast, he said that while the administration prefers an increase that would last as long as possible, the length of the increase is Congress's decision. "The longer the debt limit is extended, the greater the certainty for our economy," Sperling said. "That said, it is the responsibility of Congress to decide how long and how often they want to vote on doing that." Conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives have resisted funding the government for the current fiscal year until they extract concessions from Obama that would delay or defund his signature healthcare law. Many of conservative Republicans want a similar condition placed on raising the debt ceiling, as well as measures aimed at cutting deficits. Republican House Speaker John Boehner vowed on Sunday not to raise the U.S. debt ceiling without a "serious conversation" about what is driving the debt, while Democrats said it was irresponsible and reckless to raise the possibility of a U.S. default. The last big confrontation over the debt ceiling, in August 2011, ended with an 11th-hour agreement under pressure from shaken markets and warnings of an economic catastrophe if there was a default. A similar last-minute resolution remains a distinct possibility this time. Equities investors were unnerved by the apparent hardening of stances over the weekend, with European shares falling to a four-month low on Monday and U.S. stocks trading lower. In comments on Sunday television political talk shows, neither Republicans nor Democrats offered any sign of impending agreement on either the shutdown or the debt ceiling, and both blamed the other side for the impasse. "I'm willing to sit down and have a conversation with the president," Boehner said on ABC's "This Week." But, he added, Obama's "refusal to negotiate is putting our country at risk." In his list of demands for raising the debt ceiling, Boehner did not mention the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, but rather focused on the debt. "It's time to talk about the spending problem," said Boehner, including measures to rein in costs of entitlement programs such as the Social Security retirement system and Medicare, the government-run health insurance program for seniors. Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, whose constituency includes Wall Street and New York's financial hub, on Monday said Boehner would be forced to act as the deadline for the nation's debt ceiling gets closer, calling it "too dangerous" to not raise the U.S. debt limit and saying any default could lead to an economic "recession, depression or worse." "The economy could collapse. Will it? No one's certain, but there's a high enough chance that no one - no one - should risk it," Schumer told CNN's "New Day." China, the biggest foreign holder of U.S. Treasuries, urged Washington to take decisive steps to avoid a crisis and ensure the safety of Chinese investments. "The United States is totally clear about China's concerns," Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said in the Chinese government's first public comment on the October 17 deadline. "We hope the United States fully understands the lessons of history," Zhu told reporters in Beijing, referring to the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating by Standard & Poor's in 2011. SHUTDOWN, DEBT CEILING ISSUES MERGED The two issues of the Federal government shutdown and the debt ceiling started out separately in the House but have been merged by the pressure of time. Harry Reid, leader of the Democratic-led Senate, is expected to decide soon on whether to try to open formal debate on a "clean" bill, without extraneous issues attached, to raise the U.S. Treasury's borrowing authority. Passage of such a measure would require at least six of the Senate's 46 Republicans to join its 54 Democrats in order to overcome potential procedural hurdles that opponents of Obamacare could erect. According to one Senate Democratic aide, the debt limit hike might be coupled with an initiative to reform the U.S. tax code and achieve long-term savings in Social Security and Medicare, whose expenses have soared along with the population of retirees. Republican lawmakers have floated other ideas, such as a very short debt limit increase, which would create time for more negotiations at the expense of further market uncertainty, and repeal of a medical device tax. The tax is expected to generate some $30 billion over 10 years to help pay for healthcare insurance subsidies under Obamacare. Some Democrats favor repealing the tax, but they insist that replacement revenues be found and repeal be considered only after the government reopens and the debt limit is raised. MAJOR PROBLEMS IN HOUSE Agreement in the Senate would send the tangle of issues back into the House, where the Republican caucus has adopted a hard line on both Obamacare and the debt ceiling. There may be enough support in the House to pass a clean spending bill, according to some analysts. That would require almost all of the House's 200 Democrats and about 20 of its 232 Republicans to vote in favor. But taking such a vote would require Boehner to violate his policy against bringing a vote on any legislation favored by less than a majority of House Republicans. Reid's spokesman Adam Jentleson issued a statement on Monday attacking what he called "Boehner's credibility problem," including the speaker's assertion that there are not enough votes in the House to pass a clean bill. "There is now a consistent pattern of Speaker Boehner saying things that fly in the face of the facts or stand at odds with his past actions," Jentleson said. "Americans across the country are suffering because Speaker Boehner refuses to come to grips with reality." The Pentagon said over the weekend that it would recall around 350,000 of its furloughed civilian workers. The rest of the 800,000 or so federal employees idled by the shutdown faced another week off the job. For the moment, neither side is moving toward accommodation, and the stakes rise with the passage of time. For any deal to work, negotiators probably would have to choreograph a multipronged approach that allows all sides to declare victory, even if it is one that sets up another battle in mid-November or December. While the shutdown so far has not caused major disruption in the markets, a fight over the debt ceiling could. From July 31 thru August 2 during the debt-limit standoff in 2011, the S&P 500 index lost 3 percent, and the deadlock led to a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating to AA-plus from AAA by S&P. The outlooks from Moody's and S&P, the only agency so far to have lowered its rating on U.S. debt, are both at "stable," but Fitch Ratings has indicated a negative outlook for the U.S. debt rating. All three agencies have said the U.S. debt profile has improved substantially over the past two years, with gross domestic product growth, while slow, proving to be persistently positive and the budget deficit trending lower. Fitch said in a note last week that the U.S. rating is at risk in the current showdown over the debt ceiling because failure to raise it sufficiently in advance of the deadline raises questions about the full faith and credit of the United States to honor its obligations. Political gridlock remains the greatest risk to the U.S. outlook, Fitch said in the note on October 1, the first day of the partial government shutdown. "This 'faith' is a key underpinning of the U.S. dollar's global reserve currency status and reason why the US 'AAA' rating can tolerate a substantially higher level of public debt than other 'AAA' sovereigns," Fitch said.

Bahrain court gives life sentence to nine activists

A court in Bahrain has sentenced nine anti-regime activists to life in prison, as the Al Khalifa regime steps up its crackdown on protesters. The court issued the sentences on Monday after convicting the defendants of being allegedly involved in an attack in November 2011 in the capital city of Manama. Four of the defendants, who were present at the court, had previously said that they were subjected to torture and mistreatment in solitary confinement. Five other defendants, tried in absentia, were handed additional 10-year jail terms for failing to hand themselves in. Life imprisonment term in Bahrain is 25 years. The verdict brought to 104 the number of pro-democracy protesters sentenced to lengthy jail terms in Bahrain. On Saturday, Abdulrahman al-Sayyed, Bahrain’s prosecutor general, referred former Shia lawmaker, Khalil al-Marzooq, to court on charges of what he called “inciting terrorist crimes.” Al-Marzooq, who is the deputy leader of the al-Wefaq, Bahrain's main opposition party, was arrested on September 17. The Bahraini uprising began in mid-February 2011. Protesters initially called for political reforms and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests. Scores have been killed, many of them under torture while in custody, and thousands more detained since the popular uprising began in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

Twelve Years After Afghanistan Invasion, Experts Worry Conflict Being Ignored

U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan 12 years ago Monday in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, initiating a conflict some experts worry has been forgotten. Stars and Stripes reports that the war has largely faded from view as casualties continue to mount. At least 102 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan this year as of Oct. 1, more than during any of the first six years of the war, according to the Associated Press. After Osama Bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders eluded capture during the initial U.S. offensive, attentions shifted to the war in Iraq. That allowed the Taliban to regroup and prompted President Barack Obama to order a “surge” of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in 2009: Despite the surge, though, the Taliban remain entrenched, inflicting heavy casualties on Afghan forces — who have largely taken over security responsibilities from coalition forces — with little more than a year to go before all international troops are scheduled to leave. Afghanistan is a topic seldom mentioned by the White House, and with public support for the military mission there having crumbled in the past few years, it’s easy to see why. “President Obama talks about Afghanistan strategy maybe only once in a year,” Majidyar said. “When he does talk about it, he talks about the end of the war and talks only of positive things.” A White House spokesman declined to discuss whether Obama is avoiding public discussion of Afghanistan, instead issuing a statement about negotiations over a bilateral security agreement to keep American troops in Afghanistan past the end of 2014. Those negotiations have reached an impasse, the New York Times reports. Afghan President Hamid Karzai wants the remaining U.S. forces to cross the border and conduct operations in Pakistan if necessary to protect Afghan sovereignty, a prospect U.S. officials would prefer to avoid. Karzai has also thus far been unwilling to permit U.S. forces to continue searching for al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. The stalled negotiations increase the likelihood that all U.S. forces might withdraw from Afghanistan after the end of next year, similar to the complete pullout from Iraq two years ago. Top military officials have said they hope to avoid such an outcome in Afghanistan in light of al Qaeda’s resurgence in Iraq.

Peshawar still without police chief as threats of more attacks persist

Amid threats of more attacks, the already troubled Peshawar city is without its police chief for the last several days. In fact most of the officers are not willing to take over the office, once the most coveted position in the province only after that of the inspector general of police (IGP), since Peshawar has turned out to be one of the most dangerous cities of the world. Security remained at alert in the city on Sunday after reports of more terror attacks in the provincial capital. The News learnt on Sunday that some senior and junior officers were being considered for posting as CCPO but most of the reputed officers were not willing to be posted in Peshawar. The morale of the force is going down as well after realising none of their bosses are willing even to lead them from the air-conditioned well-guarded office of the CCPO in the Malik Saad Shaheed Police Lines. “Government and police bosses cannot afford to waste more time on making new experiments. Once such experiment of posting a CCPO who had not served against any key operational position in Peshawar has already failed,” said a senior police official, who suggested that a cop who has served as senior superintendent of police (SSP) Operations in Peshawar could better do the job. Another officer suggested bringing competent and brave police officer from another province who would not have threats to his family. “The Peshawar city should also be divided into more circles (divisions), at least the rural circle needs to be divided into two for better administration. Posting a seasoned and competent ranker as DIG operations to assist CCPO will also help improve the situation,” said an officer. He suggested that any competent officer from provincial civil service or rankers should also be considered for the job. The government and the police bosses are in a fix over the posting of Peshawar Police chief since the office is not only important for maintaining peace in the provincial capital but also the rest of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistan. The former capital city police officer (CCPO) Mohammad Ali Babakhel had quit the office over a week ago. He could head the Peshawar Police for 18 days before applying for a long leave. There are different stories about the reasons for his quitting the office. Babakhel personally has not spoken over the issue. During the last two months, the city mostly remained without the CCPO. After Liaqat Ali Khan went on leave, the city remained without the CCPO for several days. An Additional IG Mian Asif was temporarily given additional charge of the office before the by-elections on August 21 till Babakhel was posted as CCPO on September 2. The office has again been vacant for the last several days at a time when three recent bombing in the city has killed 146 people and injured around 300 others. Intelligence reports say there are more threats to the city. The spokesman for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Riaz Ahmad when asked said no officer has been appointed CCPO so far. “A search is on for the posting of a competent and suitable officer,” said the spokesman.

"Establishment responsible for Peshawar situation"

Most of the guest speakers at Geo News special transmission programme ‘Jeenay Do Peshawar Ko’ were of the view that the ‘establishment’ was mainly at fault for letting Peshawar become a stronghold of terrorists. The guests at the proramme included: Mian Iftikhar Hussain of Awami National Party (ANP), tribal leader Gulab Jamal, Akram Durrani of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), Professor Ibrahim of Jamat-e-Islami (JI), Barrister Masood Kausar of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and Sardar Mehtab of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N. However, Shaukat Yousafzai of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Anisa Zaib Tahir Kheli held the political parties responsible for the situation in Peshawar. Calling Peshawar a city of flowers, majority of the speakers saw its strategic position as the prime reason for its destruction. Mian Iftikhar, Ghazi Gulam Jamal, Akram Durrani and Sardar Mehtab endorsed this view. Shaukat Yousafzai held Peshawar’s being too close to tribal areas responsible for the problem in the provincial capital while Masood Kausar saw the presence of Afghan refugees as its main cause.

Ahmaddiya leader concerned over the sect's persecution in Pakistan

The global head of the Ahmaddiya Islamic community is hoping his visit to Australia will help highlight the persecution his followers face in his home country Pakistan. Mirza Masroor Ahmad who lives in exile in London is visiting Australia and will then head to New Zealand and Japan. Pakistan's Ahmadis consider themselves to be Muslim, but the nation doesn't legally recognise this. Mr Ahmad, known by his followers as the Caliph of the Ahmaddiya, has told Radio Australia's Asia Pacific the suffering of Ahmadis in Pakistan must stop. "In 2010, two of our mosques, almost 90 of our people were killed, and hundreds were injured...every one or two weeks, I receive news of one or two Ahmadis being murdered or martyred," he said. The Ahmaddiya movement only has around 5000 followers in Australia, but claims tens of millions of members around the world. Mr Ahmad says he would like to use his visit to warn that conflict in Syria could spiral out of control if major powers get involved. "They've already ruined the peace of their country, but they're going to doom their country, and moreover, this could expand to (across) the region," he said. "It could be the cause of the third world war." Mr Ahmad says if the international community worked together, it could stop extremism in Syria and other places. "If the big powers want to control these extremists, they can control them," he said. Mr Ahmad says sporadic mob violence spurred on by Muslim clerics in Indonesia also continues to affect the community. "The mullahs are also very furious there, they can go to (any) extent they want," he said. The Ahmaddiyas reject extremism and say true Islam promotes peace.

Malala eyes politics to 'change future' of Pakistan

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban last year for campaigning for girls' education, said Monday she hoped to become a politician to "change the future of my country". The 16-year-old, whose continued fight for all children to go to school has made her a favourite for the Nobel Peace Prize this week, also backed dialogue with the Taliban, although she said this was an issue for the government. "I will be a politician in my future. I want to change the future of my country and I want to make education compulsory," Malala said in a BBC interview. She added: "The best way to solve problem and to fight against war is through dialogue, and is through peaceful way. "But for me the best way to fight against terrorism and extremism is a simple thing -- educate the next generation." She added that issues of terrorism are "not an issue for me, that's the job of the government.. and that's also the job of America". Malala dismissed the continued threats against her life and repeated her desire to return to Pakistan from Britain, where she was flown for treatment after the attack in October and where she now goes to school. "The bad thing in our society and in our country is that you always wait for someone else to come," Malala said. "If I'm saying that there is no-one who is doing anything for education, if I say there is no electricity, there is no natural gas, the schools are being blasted, and I'm saying no-one is doing this, why don't I go for it, why don't I do this? "I believe that I will achieve this goal because Allah is with me, God is with me and he saved my life." Malala admitted Britain had been a culture shock, "especially for my mother because we had never seen that women would be that much free -- they would go to any market, they would be going alone with no men, no brothers and fathers". She said: "I'm not becoming western, I'm still following my own culture, the Pashtun culture."

Son of Hypocrite Maududi: ‘He never let us read his books’

Brought up under the shadows of Syed Abul A’la Maududi, preacher of Sharia-based state in the subcontinent against secular democracy, Syed Haider Farooq Maududi managed to rise above his father’s fundamental ideology. A strong critic of his father’s Jamaat-e-Islami, the Islamic revivalist party from which Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami has evolved, Farooq is now in Dhaka on his first visit here after the Liberation War. He talked to The Daily Star about his father’s philosophy, party and present politics in South Asia. On the creation of Jamaat-e-Islami in 1941, Farooq said his father’s political ideology was a result of the era he was born in. “In the era he [Maududi] was born, there was communism, imperialism and he had made Islam also a system of ism, a system of life,” he noted. On religion-based politics, Farooq said, “Religion is for the people and people are not for religion. Religion makes a human being a good human being.” However, religious sentiment is so deeply rooted in this region that no one is ready to listen to the right thing, he observed. About his upbringing, he said his father never let his children read his books or allowed them to involve in Jamaat or any other likeminded politics. “If he ever saw us in a rally or demonstration, he would later call us and ask what business we had standing there. He totally kept us away from all these.” “This is a tragedy of all our religious politics that we use people’s children, but keep our own away from it as we all know about its negative impacts,” he added. Asked why his father had kept his children in the dark about his political views, he said, “The person who is at the helm knows about its inside well.” Farooq also stated that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a senior political leader of the Indian independence movement, had warned his father about creating a religion-based party, saying that religious-minded people would gather under its umbrella, bringing about no good. “That is exactly what happened. When my father founded the party, religious fundamentalists gathered around him. He (Abul A’la Maududi) used them for political purposes, knowing them how dangerous they could be,” he added. He said his father knew that the Jamaat-e-Islami had deviated from his vision, but he decided not to do anything about it for his advanced age. Describing the Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan and Bangladesh as equals, he said Jamaat should not do politics in Bangladesh whose birth it had opposed. Syed Abul A’la Maududi too had opposed the creation of Pakistan during the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 because, to him, Pakistan was a state for the Muslims, not an Islamic state. “He [Abul A'la Maududi] said this is not Pakistan. He didn’t accept Mr Jinnah’s logic [of a nation state for the Muslims]. But ultimately he had migrated to Pakistan, where he floated the party saying that if you made Pakistan on the basis of Islam, we have all the right to make it an Islamic state,” Farooq said quoting his father. He elaborated on how Jinnah had changed his stance about religion and allowed the practice of religion by the non-Muslims, declaring that the state would not interfere in the matter. Asked if the Jamaat’s opposition to Pakistan and then his father’s doing politics in the very country can be viewed as similar to the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami’s role here, he replied, “Though my father had opposed Pakistan, the circumstances were such that he had to migrate to Pakistan.” Both Jinnah and Maududi had changed their stances. Jinnah had shifted his ground from creating a Muslim state to a secular one and Maududi from opposing Pakistan to trying to establish religion-based politics. “As a consequence, we are left in a state of chaos, as you can see now,” said Farooq. Working for a private airlines company, Farooq on several occasions had visited Bangladesh before 1971. He is a vocal critic of the protagonists of “Jihad” in Kashmir and writes columns in Urdu newspapers.

Lahore University: Hooligans of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba at it again

One of the premium institutions of higher learning in Punjab is being held hostage by an Islamist student organisation and there does not seem to be anything anyone can do about it. The Punjab University (PU) has been hijacked by the sinister agenda of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT), the militant student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), that has been making life hell for the students, administration and teaching faculty for decades. Everything from what they wear to which subjects are taught is scrutinised by these hooligans who go to many violent lengths to fulfil their deranged plans. The latest news to emerge from the campus grounds is that IJT goons have besieged the residences of those in charge of the hostels. This is because the administration has started taking some stringent measures to crack down on the shenanigans taking place in the hostels of the university. The hostels are the hub of all IJT activity. The IJT has had control of the hostels for a very long time and now the university administration is finally trying to wrest it back where it belongs. On Thursday night, university authorities locked six hostel rooms when they found out that some IJT members were holed up inside illegally. IJT ruffians broke three of the locks, completely defying university faculty. They then went on to attack the homes of the hostels incharge and the chairman of the Hall Council. There is no dearth of such tales in the PU. The hostel issue is particularly contentious because of the fact that right under the noses of the university authorities and government itself, all manner of hooligans and even militants are given sanctuary in these rooms by the IJT. This is not just illegal, it is dangerous. The PU is an educational institution and to have even the slightest possibility of those affiliated to terrorism and illegal activities residing within the campus is dangerous for other students. This kind of behaviour by the IJT has been going on since the 1960s but their daring and defiance have reached new heights. In today’s particularly volatile law and order situation, for a university to have such a destructive force within its boundaries is worrisome indeed. The JI will never stop supporting them because this kind of muscle is just what they want. The government must take action against these thugs who, if not stopped, will swallow the university whole. Just sitting back and watching this happen will only make this situation worse.

Peshawar: Ill-equipped: KTH’s neonatal ICU deprived of functional X-ray machine

The Express Tribune
The only portable X-ray machine in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH), Peshawar is non-functional since the last five years. As a result, newborn children suffer greatly at KTH, which is one of the four major hospitals of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), The Express Tribune learnt on Saturday. A senior doctor wishing not to be named said the hospital purchased a portable X-ray machine for Rs1 million in 2007 from a Lahore-based company. “Three months after the purchase, the machine stopped working and is now lying idle in the storeroom,” he said. The company’s contact numbers are unreachable. The machine is needed to perform scans on 10 to 15 infants in the ward every day, but the authorities are not bothered, said the doctor. This is not only an ordeal for the patients who suffer, but an inconvenience for doctors as well, he added. He informed doctors now have to get the machine from the radiology department of the hospital. However, they have to wait to acquire the machine when there is a rush, which affects the treatment of newborn babies. According to a KTH official, many such dysfunctional machines are lying in the storeroom since years despite the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government’s approval to get them repaired. “These machines cost millions, but they are wasting away lying in the storeroom due to lack of experts and negligence of officials,” he added. When contacted, the new Chief Executive of KTH, Dr Inayat Shah Roghani admitted the X-ray machine has been dysfunctional since a long time. “We are aware of this and now I have the authority to order repairs or purchase a new one. Thus, we will order it soon to give relief to patients and avoid inconvenience for doctors,” he said. Repair of such machines will be the top priority of my agenda, Roghani promised.

Pakistan: Terror group sees Islamabad as a lucrative city for extortions

For the last couple of years, the capital city has seen an alarming increase in extortion cases. Unable to trace the culprits, the police say an outlawed terror group is behind the crime. The banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has a hand in all the small and big extortion incidents. The terror outfit is involved in extorting money from rich people directly and indirectly, a police officer told Dawn on the condition of anonymity.He added that the TTP was found directly involved in targeting big businessmen, traders and professionals, especially doctors. But these cases were not so rampant. The disturbing factor is that the TTP was also indirectly encouraging small groups to collect extortions and share the money with it. This racket of splinter groups has widened its activities across the city but most of the cases are not reported to the police on time, he said. The TTP started getting extortions after its traditional source of foreign funding was either plugged or reduced. In the early days, militant groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan used to receive funds from abroad. Though the militant groups still receive funds from other countries, they are not sufficient to carry out terror activities. This has forced them to look for other sources of income inside the country, with extortion, kidnapping for ransom and bank robberies being the most lucrative of them. It was in September 2012 when the police arrested three people in the capital city and unearthed the TTP’s direct involvement in receiving extortions. The network had demanded Rs 6 million as extortion from a trader in the Blue Area. During investigation, the accused disclosed that they collected extortions from traders and transferred the money to Manchester, UK, through Hundi for onward delivery to the terror network. In June this year, traders of Sabzi Mandi informed the police that a group of Afghan nationals was forcing extortions from them, but when the police registered a case, the group escaped from the area. During investigation of the case, it was revealed in August that some people in Khana Pul, Sihala and Mandi Mor areas also collected millions of rupees every month and diverted them to militant outfits, the officer added. The second direct involvement of the TTP in extortion came to light when a business centre in Sihala was attacked a week back. This was the second attack on the centre since July 26. On June 17, Mohammad Raja Asif, the owner of the centre, received a telephone call in which the caller threatened him to pay Rs100 million. Later, he continued receiving similar calls from different local and Afghan numbers. On July 26, his business centre was attacked with hand grenades in which his office was damaged. The next day – July 27 – he received another call from an Afghanistan-based number and the caller told him that the attack was the result of his failure to pay the extortion sum. The caller again threatened him to pay the Rs100 million. After this, the businessman approached the Sihala police who registered a case but failed to trace the calls. Then, on September 30, two motorcycle riders pulled up outside the centre and lobbed two hand grenades into the building. Besides damaging the centre, the attack also left a security guard injured.However, the police denied the occurrence of the incident as it left them red-faced because of their failure to trace and arrest the extortionists after being informed about the threat. The bomb disposal squad reported that the hand grenades were made locally. When contacted, Sub-Inspector Mohammad Hanif, the investigating officer of the first attack, said the culprits were still at large. There is no detail of the local and Afghan numbers used by the extortionists, he added. The police approached the local mobile service providers and an intelligence agency to get details of the numbers and the locations from where the calls had been made, the SI said. Even though they could not help investigators reach the callers, the police maintained that the culprits belonged to a terror group. An IT (information technology) expert in the capital police told Dawn that legally Afghan SIM (subscriber’s identification module) can be operated on roaming in Pakistan if the Afghan mobile service provider has any agreement with a local mobile company. But investigations into various terrorism, kidnapping for ransom and extortion cases have showed that militants were using numbers with the help of grey traffic – illegal exchanges – which worked through the internet. As a result, the details of the numbers under their use and their locations always remained untraceable, the expert said. Another senior police officer close to the investigation told Dawn that keeping in view other extortion cases, the police believed that the TTP was behind the threatening calls made to Mr Asif. He said the Taliban either used to drop letters at the residences of their targets or called them for extortion. The police have found some leads which show that the calls made to Mr Asif were made from the tribal areas. He said it also showed that the callers were affiliated with the militant group. The police officer said majority of extortion cases remained unreported. It is only in some cases, especially in which terrorists issue threats to the victims, when police are approached, he added. In the case of Mr Asif, the police only came to know about the extortion calls when his business centre was attacked, he claimed.

Every 9th Pakistani suffering from liver diseases

Every 9th countryman suffering from liver diseases piling up the number of patients to 1.2 million in which around 300,000 patients are in dire need of liver transplantation. Prof Amir Latif, who is one of the two professors of liver diseases and transplantation in the country and currently serving as professor of liver transplantation in Liver Transplant Unit of Kidney Center in Sheikh Zayed Hospital (SZH), said this while responding to a question about leading diseases of liver in Pakistanis. He said around 80 to 90 per cent of liver disease patients were suffering from viral diseases like hepatitis while the remaining patients have metabolic, wilson and alcoholic diseases. Regarding symptoms of the disease in patients, Prof Amir Latif said constant feeling of tiredness, dark complexion, fever, haemetensis, malena and ascites are major symptoms of liver disease patient. As many as 1.2 million patients of liver transplantation were present in the country wherein 300,000 were in dire need of liver transplantation, he said. Responding to another query about the survival period of liver disease patient, he said it varies to the intensity and stages of disease, however, a liver disease patient may expire within one to six years if not treated properly. "We can provide all kind of treatment of liver diseases if government provides required facilities including two operation theatres, 50-bed separate ward, medical officers for back up treatment, some diagnostic equipment and funding," he said. It is worth mentioning here that seven liver transplantation has been performed in the liver transplantation unit established in February last year in Kidney Centre of Shaikh Zayed Hospital on experimental basis. But this sole unit of liver transplantation required necessary facilities as the transplantation were performed by using operation theatres of urology and cardiac departments, he claimed.
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PPP will resist loot sale of national institutes: Kaira
Pakistan People’s Party Secretary Information Qamar Zaman Kaira has vowed that his party will resist the privatisation of 31 Public Sector Enterprises (PSE) and will not accept the loot sale of the national assets to the crony capitalists. He expressed his dismay over the decision because even the profit-making public enterprises were also on the hit list of the government which defied their claim of selling those PSEs which were running on losses. He said the OGDC and the banks were the success story of the country’s economy and were contributing in the national exchequer in a big way and their privatisation was beyond comprehension except to benefit those who were known for good rapport with the people now in the corridors of power. He said the PPP would mobilise the social resistance against the decision of the government to privatise the PSEs indiscriminately regardless of their imperatives of strategic considerations. He said the PML (N) had committed that they would make these PSEs profit making organisations with roots to branches restructuring and by inducting management experts within short span of time but all proved just political slogans. He added the government had decided to follow another track of getting rid of the PSEs and thus contemplated throwing the baby with the bathing tub. He made it clear that the PPP would not let the interests of the employees working in these PSEs be jeopardized. The greed and lust of potential buyers would be frustrated with the support of the people, media, civil society and political leadership, he added. He regretted that the prime minister and his party were living up to its reputation of safeguarding the interests of the traders at the expense of all and sundry. He also criticised the recent enhancement of GST in a number of items, adding that imposition of taxation was the sole prerogatives of the parliament and could not be imposed through an executive order.

Explosion in Peshawar: 5 police officers dead, several injured

Explosion near a hospital in the Mulk Kheel area of Budhbeer, Peshawar, Express News reported on Monday. 5 police officers dead and 23 injured including 7 police officers. Injured are have been taken to Lady Reading hospital where emergency has been declared. Security forces have surrounded the area. The police van which was providing security to a polio team was targeted.