Thursday, December 5, 2013
پاکستان پیپلز پیپلز پارٹی کے سرپرست اعلی بلاول بھٹو زرداری نے کہا ہے کہ دہشت گردوں کو شہید کہنے والے ملک کے غدار ہیں۔ دادو میں پیپلز پارٹی کے کارکنوں سے بات کرتے ہوئے بلاو ل بھٹو زرداری کا کہنا تھا کہ پیپلز پارٹی ملک میں امن کے لئے کام کررہی ہے، یہی وجہ ہے کہ پیپلز پارٹی دہشت گردی سے سب سے زیادہ متاثر ہوئی ہے، سیکڑوں کارکنوں کے علاوہ ان کی والدہ بھی دہشت گردی کا شکارہوئی ہیں، ان کی والدہ جمہوریت اور اسلام کےلیے شہید ہوئیں اور پارٹی کا ہر کارکن جمہوریت کےلئے شہید ہونے کو تیارہے۔ بلاول بھٹو زرداری کا کہنا تھا کہ پیپلز پارٹی شہیدوں اورعوام کی جماعت ہے اور میری جماعت کا موقف ہے کہ فوج کے جوان بھی شہید ہیں جو دہشت گردوں کا نشانہ بنے اورجو لوگ دہشت گردوں کو شہید کہتے ہیں وہ ملک کے غدار ہی
The Express TribuneSenator Raza Rabbani and Senator Zahid Khan have received threatening letters, suggestive of serious consequences for demanding a treason trial against former army chief General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, Express News reported on Thursday. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Aitzaz Ahsan made this revelation today and speculated that the letters were written by a Musharraf supporter. Both letters were received through National Assembly and Senate secretariats and both were hand written. Aitzaz said copies of these letters will be provided to relevant authorities and that he will ask for a thorough investigation into the matter. In April this year, Rabbani and Khan – along with other senators – had called for Musharraf to be tried under Article 6 of the Constitution for abrogating the Constitution and derailing democracy. Raza Rabbani said that he had received the first letter ten days ago, threatening Rabbani that if he didn’t review his stance on Article 6, he could be assassinated or kidnapped. In second letter, the names of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Zahid Khan was also included. Zahid Khan said that his party workers and leadership had rendered supreme scarifies in the past and always opposed every dictatorship regime. He said that they would fully support the government in implementation of Article 6 and bring the trial to its logical end. The current Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had recently requested the Supreme Court to constitute a “special court” to try Musharraf for high treason for imposing emergency rule in the country in November 2007. Government to take action against threats The government assured on Thursday to initiate serious action on the threatening letters. Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq assured: “I will take up the matter with the prime minister seeking his indulgence to appoint a bold and honest officer who investigate the matter without any pressure.” “It is a very serious matter and we need to immediately identify those behind this move and bring them to justice,” he said, responding to a point of order raised by the leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan. Chairman Senate Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari called for a report be presented on the matter be to the House next week so it could proceed further in the light of finding of its investigation. Nayyar Bukhari observed the interior minister be asked to proceed on the matter in accordance with the law and inform the house what action the government is taking to ensue security and liberty of the senators. Article 6 of the 1973 Constitution (1) Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason. (2) Any person aiding or abetting [or collaborating] the acts mentioned in clause (1) shall likewise be guilty of high treason. (2A) An act of high treason mentioned in clause (1) or clause (2) shall not be validated by any court including the Supreme Court and a High Court. (3) [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] shall by law provide for the punishment of persons found guilty of high treason.
A Saudi female activist has called on other women to get behind the wheel again on December 28. On Wednesday, activist Nasima al-Sada said the call is a "reminder of the right so it is not forgotten," AFP reported. "We will continue until we get our rights," Sada said referring to a campaign launched on October 26, when police stopped 16 activists for defying the driving ban. On Friday, the kingdom’s security forces detained leading campaigner Aziza al-Yousef while driving a car through the capital Riyadh along with her fellow activist Eman al-Nafjan. There is no specific law to prevent women from driving in the kingdom, however, women simply cannot apply for driving licenses and some have been arrested for driving. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are prohibited from driving. The medieval ban is a religious fatwa imposed by the country’s Wahhabi clerics. If women get behind the wheel in the kingdom, they may be arrested, sent to court and even flogged. Supporters of the ban say allowing women to drive will threaten public morality and encourage them to mix freely in public. In 2011, dozens of women took part in a similar campaign, dubbed Women2Drive, challenging the ban. They posted on internet social networks pictures and videos of themselves while driving. In 1991, authorities stopped 47 women who got behind the wheel in a demonstration against the driving ban. After being arrested, many were further punished by being banned from travel and suspended from their workplaces.
“We call on Saudi Arabia to collaborate with us in establishing security and stability in the region,” declared Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif during a visit this week to Doha, the capital of Qatar. On his Facebook page, which never has a dull moment, Zarif wrote, “We are willing to conduct consultations with senior Saudi officials whenever our brethren in Saudi Arabia are ready. Bilateral meetings will benefit both countries, the region and the Muslim world.” Riyadh is the next goal of Iranian foreign policy, after it signed an interim agreement regarding its nuclear program with the six world powers. Iran’s strategy is to become a key player in determining Middle East policies. Zarif is wasting no time, and it seems as if Riyadh is not indifferent to these overtures. Al-Riyadh newspaper commented Monday that Zarif’s declarations are a step in a new direction, as part of Iran's changing policies, but that “the road is still long before the heavy cloud lying over relations between Iran and the Gulf states and with other Arab states is dispelled.” Zarif’s first step was taken in a media-saturated visit to the sultanate of Oman, which hosted secret meetings between Iranian and American officials a few months earlier. From there, the foreign minister flew to Kuwait, where he declared his country’s readiness to develop economic ties with the state. Later, Zarif went to Doha, where he met Qatar’s new ruler, Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, who declared that the nuclear program accord was a “huge achievement for Iran.” The Gulf States have refrained from making such statements up to now, since they view this agreement, at least in public, as an American capitulation to Iran that could come at their expense. The Qatari sheikh clarified that “there are no historical disputes between Qatar and Iran and we are working to advance mutual consultations.” That was inaccurate, to say the least. Qatar and Iran have had public and sharp disputes over Qatar’s attitude to the Syrian regime and its financing and arming of Syrian rebels, particularly the radical Islamist groups. The United Arab Emirates also have a dispute with Iran over the sovereignty over three Gulf islands, Greater and Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa. The UAE claims that Iran took them by force in 1971. This dispute has not prevented these countries from maintaining extensive commercial ties with Iran; letting thousands of Iranian companies operate on their soil and serving as a bridgehead for Western products. They also handled the finances of many Iranian government officials until the imposition of heavy sanctions in 2012-2013. The Gulf States do not adhere to a common foreign policy and, despite their membership in a cooperative union, none of them can force the others to pursue such a common policy. Thus, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been longstanding adversaries on several issues related to the Middle East. Saudi Arabia supported opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood, while Qatar supported their regime in Egypt. Qatar, but not Saudi Arabia, is close to Hamas, while Kuwait pursues an independent foreign policy, unrelated to either country. Thus, while Oman, Qatar and Kuwait may have good relations with Iran, the Saudis have a separate account with regard to Iran, unrelated to its nuclear capability. Their struggle for control is taking place in Syria and Lebanon. The Saudi efforts to dampen the warming of relations between Egypt and Iran was assisted by American pressure, followed by the takeover of power by the Egyptian military. In the Syrian crisis, both countries need each other. Saudi Arabia is not blind to the pointlessness of continued fighting and the indifference of world powers to the slaughter taking place there. This week, Saudi Arabia witnessed how Turkey, its ally in the war against Assad, altered its tone while moving closer to the Iranian position. Iran is striving to participate in the second Geneva conference on the Syrian crisis, scheduled for January 22. It will need Saudi Arabia’s acquiescence, so that both the U.S. and the Syrian opposition forces agree to its participation. Saudi Arabia has shown in the past that it is very sensitive to shifts in the political map and that it can rapidly adapt to changing circumstances. Thus, for example, King Abdullah visited Syria in 2010, ending a five-year break in relations with Assad. Three years later, he was the first to demand that Assad be removed. Now, the kingdom may again be put to the test. Zarif’s visit, which has not been scheduled yet, may bring about yet another shift in the Saudi position, thus ending the virtual partnership with Israel over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
The White House is stepping up efforts to extend jobless benefits to long-term unemployed Americans, arguing that more than a million people will lose the assistance if it isn't renewed by the end of the month, slowing economic growth. In a report released Thursday, the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Labor Department concluded that if Congress allows benefits, to expire 3.6 million people will lose access to the benefits by the end of 2014. Democrats are pressing for legislation continuing a program in place since 2008 that gives federally paid benefits to jobless people after their 26 weeks of state benefits run out. Republicans in the GOP-controlled House oppose it. "Despite ten consecutive quarters of GDP growth and 7.8 million private sector jobs added since early 2010, the unemployment rate is unacceptably high at 7.3 percent, and far too many families are still struggling to regain the foothold they had prior to the crisis," the report states. The report notes that Congress has renewed the benefits when unemployment has been lower than the current 7.3 percent. New jobless numbers for November will be released Friday. The Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday that the Democratic legislation would cost $25 billion but stimulate the economy by 0.2 percent next year and create 200,000 jobs. Other estimates say the benefits would stimulate the economy by 0.4 percent. The report says that since 2008, nearly 24 million workers have received the unemployment insurance benefits. More than 11 million Americans remain unemployed; of those, more than 4 million have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks. The White House report coincides with a hearing in Congress Thursday organized by Democrats in which unemployed people will testify about the financial consequences they face if benefits are cut off. The report challenges studies cited by Republicans that the benefits have actually depressed job creation since 2008 because it forces companies to increase wages to keep and attract workers. The White House report, however, argues that for workers to use jobless benefits as leverage for higher wages, they would have to threaten to resign their jobs. Workers who quit are not eligible for the unemployment insurance.
Fast-food workers and labor organizers are marching, waving signs and chanting in cities across the country Thursday amid a push for higher wages. The actions would mark the largest showing yet in a push that began a year ago. At a time when there's growing national and international attention on economic disparities, labor unions, worker advocacy groups and Democrats are hoping to build public support to raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25, or about $15,000 a year for full-time work. In New York City, about 100 protesters blew whistles and beat drums while marching into a McDonald's at around 6:30 a.m.; one startled customer grabbed his food and fled as they flooded the restaurant, while another didn't look up from eating and reading amid their chants of "We can't survive on $7.25!" Community leaders took turns giving speeches for about 15 minutes until the police arrived and ordered protesters out of the store. The crowd continued to demonstrate outside for about 45 minutes. A McDonald's manager declined to be interviewed and asked that the handful of customers in the store not be bothered. Tyeisha Batts, a 27-year-old employee at Burger King, was among those taking part in the demonstrations planned throughout the day in New York City. She said she has been working at the location for about seven months and earns $7.25 an hour.
"My boss took me off the schedule because she knows I'm participating," Batts said.She said she hasn't been retaliated against but that the manager warned that employees who didn't arrive on time Thursday would be turned away for their shifts. Batts said she gets only between 10 and 20 hours of work a week because she thinks her employers want to avoid making her a full-time worker. Under the new health care law, workers who average 30 hours a week would be eligible for employer-sponsored health coverage starting in 2015. Despite the growing attention on the struggles of low-wage workers, the push for higher pay in the fast-food industry faces an uphill battle. The industry competes aggressively on value offerings and companies have warned that they would need to raise prices if wages were hiked. Most fast-food locations are also owned and operated by franchisees, which lets companies such as McDonald's Corp., Burger King Worldwide Inc. and Yum Brands Inc. say that they don't control worker pay. However, labor advocates have pointed out that companies control many other aspects of restaurant operations through their franchise agreements, including menus, suppliers and equipment. Fast-food workers have historically been seen as difficult to unionize, given the industry's high turnover rates. But the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2 million workers in health care, janitorial and other industries, has been providing considerable organizational and financial support to the push for higher pay over the past year. Berlin Rosen, a political consulting and public relations firm based in New York City, also has been coordinating communications efforts and connecting organizers with media outlets. The National Restaurant Association, an industry lobbying group, said most those protesting were union workers and that "relatively few" workers have participated in past actions. It called the demonstrations a "campaign engineered by national labor groups." In a statement, McDonald's said it respects the right to voice an opinion. But it also said that "outside groups are traveling to McDonald's and other outlets to stage rallies." In the meantime, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised a vote on the wage hike by the end of the year. But the measure is not expected to gain traction in the House, where Republican leaders oppose it. Supporters of wage hikes have been more successful at the state and local level. California, Connecticut and Rhode Island raised their minimum wages this year. Last month, voters in New Jersey approved a hike in the minimum to $8.25 an hour, up from $7.25 an hour.
http://news.cnet.com/While President Obama uses Apple's iPad, he admitted Wednesday that unspecified security concerns prevent him from using an iPhone. "I'm not allowed for security reasons to have an iPhone," Obama said during a meeting promoting his health care law with young people Wednesday at the White House. However, he said his daughters, Sasha and Malia, spend a lot of time on their iPhones. An enthusiastic e-mailer-in-chief, Obama fought hard to keep his BlackBerry after his inauguration in 2009. (By comparison, George W. Bush stopped using e-mail in 2001, and Bill Clinton sent only two e-mails during his presidency.) "I'm still clinging to my BlackBerry," he said during an interview with CNBC. "They're going to pry it out of my hands." While Obama didn't elaborate on what those "security reasons" were, some had theorized during the BlackBerry brouhaha that in addition to keeping the president's communications private, his security detail was concerned that a smartphone might easily reveal his real-time physical location. The issue has taken on greater prominence in recent months with revelations that the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency allegedly teamed up to monitor cell phone communications around government buildings in Germany, including those made by Chancellor Angela Merkel. In a statement, the White House said it had assured Merkel that no active monitoring was occurring. The NSA also reportedly has the ability to access user data on three of the most popular smartphone platforms, including Apple's iOS. According to documents reviewed by Germany's Der Spiegel, Apple's iPhone has been a favorite among NSA agents because of scripts that allow them to spy on 38 different features of the iPhone operating system.
The failure to reach a deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict poses a bigger existential threat to Israel than the Iranian nuclear programme, according a former head of the country's security agency, Shin Bet. Yuval Diskin, who left office two years ago, criticised the continuing occupation and the growth of settlements in the West Bank, saying a solution based on two states would soon no longer be an option. "I would like to know that our national home has clear borders and that we hold the people sacred, not the land. I would like to see a national home that is not maintained by occupying another people. I say this even though it's not popular: we need an agreement now, before we reach a point of no return from which the two-state solution is not an option any longer," Diskin said in a speech to mark the 10th anniversary of the Geneva Initiative, a peace plan proposed by Israeli and Palestinian politicians and public figures. The former security chief, who featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers, added: "We cannot live in one state between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea and we cannot treat the conflict as shrapnel in the backside." He was referring to comments by the economy minister Naftali Bennett, who dismissed the conflict as "shrapnel in [the] rear end". Diskin called for a freeze in settlement expansion, saying that the release of long-serving Palestinian prisoners, agreed by the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, before the current talks began, was "a disgusting and cynical move that was born out of a desire to avoid freezing settlement construction". Speaking as the US secretary of state, John Kerry, arrived in Jerusalem for a fresh push at unblocking the current talks process, Diskin warned of the consequences of the Israeli government's stance. "It doesn't seem like the current government is trying to change the direction of the settlement enterprise. Our friends in the world are becoming frustrated with the implementation of the two-state solution. There is immense frustration in the West Bank. The Palestinians are feeling that their state is being stolen from them. The Palestinian masses feel they have no future. We must take into account the link between the Palestinians and their brothers, the Israeli Arabs. The concentration of fuel fumes in the air is such that even a small spark can cause a massive explosion." Palestinian youths "that were born into occupation are distressed, frustrated and hopeless", he added. Diskin has repeatedly criticised Israeli government policy since leaving the Shin Bet, which runs security and intelligence operations in the West Bank and Gaza. His comments were dismissed by serving officials as "recycled criticism and self-righteous preaching". Diskin was "out of touch with reality", they said.
Top US diplomat says it won’t be hard to verify Tehran’s compliance; echoes Netanyahu in saying Israel must be able ‘defend itself, by itself’Israel’s security is of paramount importance to the White House, US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed at a joint press conference Thursday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. ”Israel’s security in this negotiation is at the top of our agenda,” he said.“The US will do everything in our power to make certain that Iran’s nuclear program, a program of weaponization possibilities, is terminated,” Kerry added. Both men sought to present an air of friendship and agreement after a private meeting, despite ongoing tension over Iran’s nuclear program and peace talks with the Palestinians. Kerry aimed to reassure Israelis who might be skeptical of Washington’s commitment to their security in the wake of the interim nuclear deal forged last month between Tehran and six world powers. “I understand the challenge of security that Israel faces, I understand it very well,” he said. Countering Israeli claims that the deal enabled Iran to advance surreptitiously toward a nuclear weapon, Kerry argued that “a peaceful program should not be that hard to prove, and everybody will know whether or not, in the end, the comprehensive agreement actually provides a test adequate to prove the peacefulness of that program.” Netanyahu reiterated his insistence that a final deal with Iran must deny Tehran the capacity to break out to a nuclear weapon. “It is crucial to bring about a final agreement about the termination of Iran’s military nuclear capability,” he said. “I have expressed my concern since Geneva that the sanctions would begin to unravel, and I think steps must be taken to prevent further erosion of sanctions.” But Kerry moved to reassure his host. ”The fundamental sanctions regime of oil and banking remains absolutely in place,” he said. “And we will be stepping up efforts of enforcement through the Treasury Department.” Speaking to the Obama administration’s ongoing efforts to broker a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, and echoing an oft-repeated refrain of Netanyahu’s, Kerry emphasized Washington’s “deep, deep commitment to the security of Israel, and the need to find a peace that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, that recognizes Israel as a country that can defend itself, by itself.” “I believe we are making progress,” he said of the talks. For his part, Netanyahu expressed support for the talks, saying he welcomed American involvement. ”I want to say that Israel is ready for a historic peace, and it’s a peace based on two states for two peoples,” he said. “It’s a peace that Israel can and must be able to defend by itself with our own forces against any foreseeable threat. “We don’t need artificial crises. What we need is not grandstanding, but understanding and agreements and that requires hard and serious hard work. I’m fully committed and Israel is fully committed to such an effort and I hope the Palestinians are committed to this goal as well.” Kerry arrived in the country Wednesday night, and according to US officials brought with him a West Bank security plan that he intends to present in meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week. This is the US secretary’s first trip to the region since the P5+1 signed an interim agreement with Iran in Geneva late last month, a deal which has yet to be finalized but which will limit the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program for six months in exchange for sanctions relief. Israel has castigated the deal, with Netanyahu calling it a “historic mistake.” Kerry’s visit comes at a time when the US-backed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are ostensibly at a standstill and tensions between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government are at an all-time high. Under heavy US pressure, peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians resumed in July after a three-year hiatus. Although they have continued out of the media spotlight, reports have mounted that the two sides have reached an impasse.
To get to the source of the latest dispute between Afghanistan and the United States, you might have to travel down the road to Pakistan. That's because Pakistan's northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province has been the scene of a weeklong NATO supply route blockade that has disrupted crucial military supplies heading for Afghanistan. That interruption has helped fuel the latest diplomatic row between Kabul and Washington, in which the Afghan government has accused NATO of deliberately cutting vital supplies to the Afghan army and police. The alliance has rejected the allegations, but NATO's dependence on Pakistani supply routes suggests that the blockade is having a trickle-down effect. Hundreds of demonstrators, demanding an end to U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, have assaulted drivers and halted trucks bound for Afghanistan since November 23, preventing deliveries along one of two key routes. In addition, the blockade has prompted Washington to temporarily stop shipments of military equipment out of Afghanistan via Pakistan. The hundreds of cargo trucks stranded on the border are essential to the fledgling 350,000-strong Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), which includes the army and police, who still rely heavily on the Nato-led coalition in Afghanistan for fuel, vehicles, logistics, and other supplies. Pakistani security forces have intervened to stop the demonstrations called by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's newly elected government, led by former cricket star Imran Khan's Pakistan Movement for Justice (PTI). But transport unions say truckers have refused to resume their work for fear of being targeted, and Khan is claiming victory. 'Misguided' Protesters According to Yousaf Khan, president of the Union of the Transporters of Goods in Peshawar, protesters are stopping trucks in Peshawar and demanding that drivers prove they have no NATO goods in order to pass. "The problem is that the protestors are so misguided that they stop each and every vehicle, including the one carrying cement without caring they are carrying goods for NATO or not," he says. "Ten to 20 people stop a vehicle and then check its documents and the vehicle keeps standing there." Technically only the central government has the authority to determine the future of NATO supply routes on Pakistani soil. And while Islamabad has criticized U.S. drone attacks, calling them a violation of the country's sovereignty, it has shown no interest in repeating the seven-month blockade that followed a deadly U.S. airstrike near the Afghan border in November 2011. The land routes through Pakistan have been crucial to getting supplies to NATO and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa blockade, on a road that leads to the Torkhum border crossing, affects one of two key routes. The other is the Chaman border crossing in Pakistan's restive Balochistan Province. Hanif Marwat, the president of All Pakistan Trailer Association, says companies may be forced to cancel all transport to Afghanistan if the blockade in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa continues. "[Protestors] are breaking the vehicles' windshields, beating the drivers, and looting the goods," he says. "The owners can't do anything. We appeal to Prime Minister [Nawaz Sharif] that the PTI should carry out its demonstrations, but should not damage property." The blockade may be the source of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's accusations this week that the United States could be withholding fuel and other key military supplies in an effort to pressure him to agree to a contentious security arrangement. Dangerous Precedent The president has refused to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with Washington despite earlier agreeing to the text of the proposed pact. His decision to delay its signing has infuriated the White House, which has threatened to pull out all American troops from Afghanistan after 2014 if Karzai does not sign the deal by December 31. Waliullah Rahmani, the director of the Kabul-based Center for Strategic Studies, believes the spat over supplies has the potential to severely damage relations between Kabul and Washington, which are already under strain over the BSA. "The incident has already fuelled tensions," Rahmani says. Now there is a damaging blame game going on. Whatever [the reasons for the alleged halt], such incidents will only inflame tensions between Washington and Kabul more and more." Abdul Wahid Taqat, a retired Afghan general turned political analyst, notes a dangerous precedent -- the collapse of the Afghan communist regime in the early 1990s. Back then, well-armed Afghan forces splintered after Moscow cut its funding and crucial fuel dried up, accelerating a brutal civil war that eventually brought the Taliban to power. "If the United States has halted fuel supplies, it is an act of enmity against Afghanistan’s security establishment and forces," Taqat says. A statement issued by the presidential palace on December 2 accused the United States of "applying pressure and creating dependency" by cutting fuel supplies to Afghan forces. It added that "cutting the supplies is not in line with U.S. commitments." The statement cited information provided by the Afghan defense and interior ministers at a security council meeting on December 1. The ministers told Karzai that the interruption of fuel and equipment had occurred "two or three times" in recent days. The coalition has denied any stoppage in the fuel delivery, saying: "We continue to process orders as soon as they are received from ANSF."
The Supreme Court today released the full text of its verdict awarding death penalty to Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah for war crimes. The apex court published the judgement after all the five judges — Chief Justice Md Muzammel Hossain, Surendra Kumar Sinha, Justice Md Wahhab Miah, Justice Syed Mahamud Hossain and Justice AHM Shansuddin Choudhury Manik — signed the court order. The Appellate Division bench awarded death penalty to Quader Mollah by majority view while Justice Wahhab Miah gave Mollah to life term imprisonment. On September 17, the SC sentenced the Jamaat assistant secretary general to death, overruling his life imprisonment awarded by the International Crimes Tribunal. In its verdict, the SC said the death sentence is only appropriate punishment for Mollah for his heinous crimes against humanity. The nation has to bear consequence of the offences committed by Mollah for ever, it said. The release of the SC verdict may clear the way for its execution, court sources said. The government will execute the SC verdict as per the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act immediately after its certified copy is released, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told The Daily Star yesterday. He said there was no scope for a review petition as per the Tribunals Act, 1973, under which Mollah had been convicted.
The resurgence of new radicals such as the madrasa-based Hefazet-e-Islam, patronised by both the Jamaat and the BNP, is viewed by India as inimical to the interests of a stable, democratic Bangladesh
Bangladesh is set to go to the polls on January 5, 2014 to elect its 10th Parliament amid a protracted political crisis. The Opposition combine has initiated a new wave of violent agitation to undo what it calls a “unilateral election.” However, it is unlikely that the Election Commission will cancel the polls it has announced to meet the nation’s constitutional obligations, unless the political players manage a negotiated settlement of the crisis. Interestingly, the political crisis of the small South Asian nation has drawn global attention of varying dimensions. Some of Bangladesh’s “foreign friends” are subscribing to what the ruling “pro-liberation” secular political parties stand for, and others are possibly lending weight to the anti-government protagonists who largely pursue political Islam, including militancy. The stand taken by the country’s “foreign friends” has come into public discourse too. The Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its allies see an “Indian hand” behind the ruling Awami League’s views, while the Awami League and its allies see an “overt U.S. support” for the BNP-Jamaat coalition.1971 liberation war The United States has had frosty relations with the Awami League since the time it supported Pakistan (then West Pakistan) during Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971. That the Awami League has a somewhat socialist orientation and maintains closer ties with India, could also be other reasons for Washington’s antipathy. The U.S. is for a “constructive dialogue” between the major political parties and against any election excluding the main opposition party. Even though India is a strategic ally of the U.S., the two countries are not in common understanding of the Bangladesh situation. The reasons may be more than one. Bangladesh is not only India’s next door neighbour; India played a historic role when the people of former East Pakistan fought their war of independence against the Pakistani army. India, as media reports and analyses suggest, has maintained that the polls should be free, fair and credible, and that it is for the people of Bangladesh to decide who will form the next government. Addressing Indian concerns In recent years, Bangladesh has met some vital security concerns of India. Moves were made to restore regional connectivity which New Delhi wanted, including boosting of trade and commerce. All these, however, irked the Jamaat-e-Islami and its ally, the BNP. The BNP’s strong alliance with the Jamaat since 2001 and the Islamist militancy that developed when they shared power are cause for concern. The resurgence of new radicals like the madrasa-based Hefazet-e-Islam, patronised by both the Jamaat and the BNP are also seen as being inimical to the interests of a stable, democratic Bangladesh. The U.S., which, ironically, considers the Jamaat as a “moderate Islamic party,” appears to think that the threat perception of Bangladesh’s liberals, perhaps shared by India, is overblown. China was the firm ally of Pakistan in 1971, and it vetoed twice Bangladesh’s entry in the United Nations. However, Beijing’s relations with the Awami League developed in later years. For China, which maintains a significant military relationship with Bangladesh, a stable Bangladesh is important. Going beyond its tradition, it has made a number of public statements about the current political situation, calling for dialogue between the major parties. In 1971, the former Soviet Union supported Bangladesh’s independence, as part of its alliance with India. During the tenure of the Sheikh Hasina government, relations were revived. However, Moscow has made no statement on the current political stalemate. The European Union’s stated position is that it would like to see a participatory and credible election with a level-playing field. There are some who feel that as, according to the Bangladesh Constitution, elections must take place by January 24, 2014, it is irrelevant which party boycotts it. But an election without the participation of a major political party might lack credibility. West’s stand Many pro-West civil society leaders in Bangladesh think India’s understanding of the Bangladesh situation may “backfire.” On the contrary, secular thinkers overwhelmingly see the U.S.’s understanding of the situation as a “sheer misjudgment.” They argue that the implementation of Washington’s stand may be “dangerous” for Bangladesh’s democratic future, as the “defeated forces” of 1971 may get a further boost. Many diplomatic experts say that India should not pursue a “one-friend policy” in Bangladesh. But it must neither pursue, they argue, a policy that harms secular “pro-liberation” forces and encourages religious fundamentalists and communalism. Democracy, development and counter-terrorism are common among Washington and New Delhi's concerns as stated. But India, perhaps, has an additional responsibility — of ensuring that it does not support the rebirth of militant and political Islam, against which Bangladesh was born 42 years ago. As a political consensus is still remote and Bangladesh is firmly on its way to election, a vital question is: will the opposition succeed in undoing the electoral process? A significant population of Bangladesh will answer in the negative, even while admitting that the opposition might succeed in causing destabilisation resulting in death and destruction. The BNP’s weak organisational strength was evident in the recent anti-government campaign, when it was almost dependent on the hardcore Jamaat “cadres” whose prime concern is to undo the war crimes trial and get its convicted leaders freed. If this dependence continues, even many BNP leaders fear, the ultimate leadership of the opposition camp might be taken over by the Jamaat. There is a near-consensus that the violent means demonstrated in the recent street agitations have largely eroded the BNP’s popularity. A majority of people in Bangladesh wants a political consensus, so that a credible election can be held. However, there is a third option that always comes to mind when the country is in a political crisis: the intervention of the army. When the BNP-Jamaat coalition was in power (2001-06) and desperately wanted to be re-installed in power by holding a unilateral election in 2007, the military intervened covertly. Initially popular, the military-backed regime stayed in power for two years. Despite a series of controversial actions, the regime organised fair and credible elections in 2008. The scenario has changed today and there is not much likelihood of a repetition of events.
But in a country of 1.2 billion people, where local sexual assault cases which wouldn't merit a mention in the U.S. or Europe now make headlines, you can be excused for thinking India is suffering from a "rape epidemic." Even Indian women's rights activists will agree, rape is not part of the country's culture; it's certainly not a new phenomenon and it's surely not particular to India. Heightened awareness What is new to this country though, and what is significant, is the heightened awareness of sexual violence against women. The discourse has dominated local newspaper editorials and television talk shows this year. Women are now feeling more emboldened to ignore the stigma and report not just cases of rape, but even harassment, molestation, stalking and voyeurism.
It is this change that makes the December Delhi gang rape a turning point for India and perhaps the victim's lasting legacy. Indian law prohibits the naming of sexual assault victims, but to her family and millions of Indians, she will be remembered by the name the media gave her: Nirbhaya, or "fearless one." On December 17, 2012, the day after the attack, I received a text message from students at New Delhi's prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University, informing the media of a protest being held at the location where the 23-year-old medical student and her male friend had boarded a bus the previous night. The white chartered bus that circled the city for almost an hour while the student was repeatedly raped by six men and sexually violated with an iron rod. I wasn't expecting a large showing, after all, sexual assault is sadly commonplace. Government statistics show a woman is raped every 20 minutes in India.
'Indian Spring' But when I arrived at the intersection in the upscale South Delhi neighborhood, I saw hundreds of young urban students holding hands, hoisting placards, shouting slogans.
remember reporting how unusual it is for this section of society to protest in New Delhi; they tend to be politically apathetic because they are the materially contented, having benefited more than others from India's economic growth over the last two decades. But one after another, young women and men took to the streets shouting, "Enough is enough." "I'm protesting today because this (rape) is an everyday problem," explained one student. "I can't wear what I want, I can't go where I want without men staring at me ... where is my freedom?" asked another. What happened next was unprecedented. Day by day, the protests swelled from hundreds to thousands to tens of thousands; young and old, men and women marching to India's seat of power, jumping over barricades, braving the water cannons in New Delhi's December cold. No one expected it to become so big. Some even called it the "Indian Spring." The government was shaken to its core. "Sometimes it just takes one incident to galvanize a society and to inspire change, and this certainly seems to be that watershed moment," I said during a live shot.
Relating to victimWhat was it about this particular incident that struck a nerve? The horrific nature of the act was one thing, but would people have reacted in the same way if this had happened in rural India? Probably not. As one student put it, "we're protesting here because she (the victim) could have been me." Many in Delhi could relate to the victim. She represented the aspirations of so many Indian girls, studying hard, daring to dream big. The victim's family migrated to Delhi from a village in Uttar Pradesh state in search of a better life. Her father worked 16-hour shifts as a baggage handler at the Delhi airport to pay for her education. She even tutored several neighborhood children to help put her two younger brothers through school. "She had a great passion for academics. Every year the happiest day for us was when my daughter's school results would come out, she would always be one of the top two students in class," her father Badrinath Singh remembered proudly. She wanted to become a doctor and lift her family's status in society, a culture that places high value on social class. In some ways she succeeded. She managed to attend some of the country's best schools, get a job at an international call center, inspire her brothers to study engineering and aeronautics. On that fateful night, she was watching Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" at an upscale mall, where young girls in skinny jeans and tank tops hang out at Starbucks, shop at Zara and eat sushi. Fighting for women Almost one year on, I reflect on what's changed.
I have met some incredibly strong women fighting against all odds in a society which often places less value on women. Sumanjeet, 25, was pressured to abort all four of her babies simply because they were girls. "How could they afford to pay for their daughter's dowry?" her husband asked. Daughters, especially in rural India, are often seen as a burden. A 16-year-old student from a lower caste (known as a dalit) was gang raped by eight upper class men in the state of Haryana. When her father found out what his daughter had been through, he killed himself out of shame. Relatives and neighbors advised the family not to report the case to the police because no one would want to marry a "tainted" girl. I also met a mother who has been tirelessly fighting for justice the past six years. Her daughter was gang raped by wealthier neighborhood boys when she was just a teenager. This remarkable woman has hired more than a dozen lawyers, some female, but they all kept switching sides or said they could no longer represent her. The mother suspects they were bought over by the wealthier rapists. India's awakening Under enormous public pressure, the government ordered the December Delhi gang rape case to be fast-tracked. But what about the tens of thousands of other rape cases left languishing in India's notoriously slow-moving judicial system? All of these women though, no matter what corner of India they come from, have heard about the Delhi gang rape and the justice the victim eventually got. They say they too have a sense of hope now. In the headlines this week, the managing editor of one of India's most respected investigative magazines resigned in disgrace after he allegedly assaulted a young female colleague. He acknowledged a "lapse of judgment" but insisted it was not assault. In another case, an intern accusing a Supreme Court judge of sexual harassment. Stories which would have likely gone unnoticed, unreported a year ago. Something has shifted in India this year. An awakening of sorts. Nirbhaya's parents take solace in this. They told me they have lost everything, their lives will never be the same but they are proud of the change their daughter helped bring about. "Let us not forget, it was because of her sacrifice that all these changes have taken place and I believe there will be more positive changes in the future," her father told me, underlining the societal changes emerging out of a personal disaster.
http://www.tolonews.com/The Afghan National Cricket Team will play Pakistan next Sunday in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of a preparation program for the World Cup next year. The Afghan National Cricket Team has played against Pakistani twice, earning one win and and one loss. "The cricket team has started brief exercises in Dubai," Cricket Board media officer Farid Hotak said. "We have resolved our problems and we hope to defeat Pakistan." Meanwhile, the Afghan Cricket Team will stand against Ireland in the final match of the Intercontinental Competitions. Afghanistan holds the previous championship title for the Intercontinental Cup. The Afghan Cricket Board has emphasized that, for success at the world cup in 2014, preparations and short exercises outside the country are important.
A British expert says U.S. commanders are routinely conned by propaganda contractors.U.S. propaganda efforts in Afghanistan have failed because of poorly designed programs by contractors who often propose expensive marketing solutions to U.S. commanders incapable of making informed choices, according to a study published by the Army's War College.
By PAUL D. SHINKMAN
Top U.S. general warns: There is no confidence among Afghan forcesThe U.S. could cut out President Hamid Karzai from the peace process in Afghanistan altogether, following the wartime leader's recent balks at signing an agreement for coalition troops to stay after 2014. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that a senior Afghan official such as the defense minister could sign the post-2014 bilateral security agreement, or BSA, instead of Karzai, according to multiple press reports. This document defines the size and role of U.S forces in Afghanistan, as well as protection for them. A general assembly of tribal leaders, known as the Loya Jirga, has approved the current framework for around 10,000 troops that would include legal immunity for them. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Wednesday that the military would be open to such a resolution to the stalemate brought on by Karzai. "The issue of who has the authority to speak for a sovereign nation of Afghanistan, I suppose the lawyers can figure that out," said Hagel. "What we would be interested in, certainly as a secretary of defense, is whatever document is agreed to...someone has the authority to sign on behalf of Afghanistan. I suspect that would fulfill the kind of commitment we need." Afghan ministers followed up Wednesday, saying that they likely would not sign a pact without Karzai's nod. Hagel said the Loya Jirga had "enthusiastically, strongly endorsed the text" of the BSA agreed upon by President Barack Obama and Kerry and presented in November. "What we need to account for is the freedom of movement for military personnel," said Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey on Wednesday. "[And] legal protections against an Afghan legal system that is best described as 'nascent.'" The military also requires an infrastructure for force protection, he said. As for whether the U.S. would be willing to cut and run entirely, as it did in Iraq in 2011, Dempsey said, "I have not been told to plan for a 'zero option.'" "Clearly, I understand the possibility given the current impasse," he added. The U.S. remains flexible, but the coalition of 44 countries it has built to bolster the fighting in Afghanistan, as well as the local forces they train are much more brittle. "We will see an erosion of the coalition" without a BSA approval, Dempsey said. "It really needs to be done now. Mostly because what's hanging in the balance in Afghanistan is confidence. The Afghan National Security Forces are very capable, but they're not confident."
Anatol LievenWhat on earth is Hamid Karzai up to? When I visited Afghanistan in October, most people with whom I spoke assumed that the Afghan president would resist signing a long-term military basing agreement with the United States until the Loya Jirga (grand national assembly) had approved it. At that point, having burnished his credentials as an Afghan nationalist, it was thought that he would sign, since the Loya Jirga would give him cover and since he must know that the entire future of his state and his own Pashtun ethnic group probably depends on it. But now that the Loya Jirga has approved the agreement, Karzai has instead announced he might not sign until after the presidential election in April—thereby putting at risk the willingness of the US and the West to remain engaged in Afghanistan at all.
A new book brings to a wider audience a theory of cover-up, sweeping blame and staggering security failures behind the 2007 assassination of Pakistan's ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Author and Chilean diplomat Heraldo Munoz headed a damning UN report in 2010 that said Bhutto's death could have been prevented and that Pakistan deliberately failed to investigate properly. Now a UN assistant secretary general, his book "Getting Away with Murder: Benazir Bhutto's Assassination and the Politics of Pakistan", goes on sale in the United States next week. Oxford-educated Bhutto served twice as prime minister and had returned from exile to stand in elections when she was killed in a gun and suicide attack on December 27, 2007. Six years later, no one has been convicted of her murder. The government at the time blamed the Pakistani Taliban. Despite scant evidence, a Pakistani court this August charged Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's ruler from 1999-2008, with her killing. Munoz compares the assassination to a collective murder plot in a 17th century play and singles out Pakistan's ex-interior minister in particular for refusing to give straight answers. Asked at a New York launch event whether he feared for his life during his investigation, Munoz said "not really", but revealed that in around January 2010 he was forced to step up security. "I got a warning from a very trustworthy source that 'these people' are capable of anything and 'these people' don't know the world," he told the audience. Although he never knew who "these people" referred to "I thought maybe we were stepping on some toes," he said. Munoz likened the best explanation for who killed Bhutto to the 17th century Spanish play "Fuenteovejuna" by Felix Arturo Lope de Vega, in which a village united together to kill a hated commander. Al-Qaeda wanted her dead, the Pakistani Taliban executed the attack -- possibly with support of rogue intelligence agents -- and local police did a cover-up, Munoz said. Bhutto's own security failed her and those who encouraged her to return to Pakistan did not provide her with protection, Munoz argues. At one point the US suggested she hire the security contracting firm formerly known as Blackwater, Munoz said, but Musharraf refused to let foreign agents in. "Political actors, even those close to her, would rather turn the page rather than find out who did it," he said. "She was clearly a target for the Pakistani Taliban and Al-Qaeda for sure," said Munoz. "Sectors of the Pakistani establishment also wanted her dismissed or dead." He said police were "clearly responsible for a cover-up and I'm convinced that came from higher up". Federal investigators were delayed in accessing the scene, first by cups of tea until it got too dark and then by a big lunch. In the end they collected only 23 pieces of evidence from the washed-down scene where Britain's Scotland Yard said ordinarily thousands would have been expected. Munoz said it was ridiculous to imagine that Bhutto's widower, Pakistan's desperately unpopular former president Asif Ali Zardari, had been involved in her death. "He was helpful but I cannot say his whole government was helpful because we encountered all sorts of obstacles," he said. He said former interior minister Rehman Malik, Bhutto's head of security, had been in a back-up bullet-proof Mercedes but was nowhere to be found immediately after the attack. "They probably wanted to save their skin, to put it bluntly," Munoz said. "Never could we get straight answers from him." The diplomat said guilt was for the courts to decide, but that Musharraf bore "political responsibility" by not providing adequate security to a former prime minister living under threat.
Despite a massive campaign to highlight the importance of Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), as many as 47,099 children were missed out in recent polio vaccination drive because of parents’ refusal. The Federal Capital is no exception where parents of 251 children refused to get the mandatory polio drops to their sons and daughters of below five-year age. Besides, 2,895 children could not be reached because of different reasons including change of addresses or they were out of the city. According to a data provided by World Health Organization (WHO), as many as 24,968 refusals came from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 14,978 from Sindh, 5,068 from Balochistan, 910 from Punjab, 889 from Federally Administered Tribal Area, 32 from AJK and three from Gilgit-Baltistan. Moreover, during the campaign, held from November 18 to 20, 33.04 million children were successfully vaccinated whereas 2.34 million were missed in the country. Documents shows 172,000 health workers participated in the polio campaign, which covered 97 per cent area of the country (excluding North and South Waziristan). Till November 2013, more cases of polio (72) were reported as compared to the same period last year when 57 cases surfaced. Polio patients were mainly found in inaccessible areas. Head of WHO Polio Programme in Pakistan, Dr Durray Ilyas while talking to mediapersons at WHO head office on Wednesday said that Pakistan had the capacity to eradicate polio by 2014 but it needed an extensive campaign which ensures 100 per cent coverage of children. “It is a matter of concern for WHO that polio virus has been traveling from Pakistan to other countries. Polio strains have been found in Egypt and then Syria. On the other hand countries like Nigeria have controlled the virus,” he said. Secretary, Ministry of Health Services, Imtiaz Inayat Elahi said because of poor show at home he had to face embarrassment at international conferences on polio particularly when some strains of Pakistani virus were found in other countries. “We have contained polio in some areas of the country but some troubled spots remained inaccessible,” he said. Sameed Arshad, a student of Bahria University, told Dawn that he and other students also participated in the polio campaign as volunteers. “After two days training we were allowed to go in to the field to convince people about giving polio vaccine to their children,” he said. Mr Sameed said: “We usually talked with people sitting in cars along with family members so majority of them agreed to our views. “We also gave polio drops to children. People allowed us to give polio drops to their children, but some of them resisted saying they have already vaccinated their children against the virus,” he said. “I believe that if everyone starts giving polio vaccine to his/her children, there will be no case of polio after six months. If people will continue refusing, polio will become a big issue for us,” he said.
Scarily, mayhem seems to have returned viciously to the streets of the beleaguered port city of Karachi, with the monster of terrorism having gulped up at least 16 innocent precious lives in lethal attacks on Tuesday. This is immensely perturbing, to say the least, as it puts into wide question the efficacy of the ongoing months-long operation mounted to pacify this crucial metropolis of the nation that it makes the hub of its economic life. The Rangers who are leading the operation may have, together with their police partners, succeeded in curbing somewhat the wholesale violence and bloodletting to which the outgoing rulers had thrown the poor city and its harried residents to be belaboured so nonchalantly. But the monstrosity of death and destruction is palpably not yet out, not even down. It is still on the prowl and on the rampage, even if not as bloodily as before. But it would be unfair to wholly blame the Rangers and the police for this failure to behead the monstrosity once and for all. Certainly, they must take the blame, but the most of it must go to the political leadership across the board that put them to this task. This leadership should have first grasped fully what the hydra-headed monster it was faced up with and then chalked out a strategy accordingly to grapple with it. That obviously it didn't do, which is more than evident from its approach to deal with the ravaging terrorist violence and carnage in Karachi as an evil phenomenon particular only to the port city that in reality it is not. The bloodshed there is very much part and parcel of the terrorist mayhem that engulfs the entire country variously and hence cannot be dealt with in isolation from the other parts of the land. Appallingly, even as the vile phenomenon of violence and bloodletting is plaguing this unfortunate nation now for years on end, its political elites by and large are yet to comprehend what in reality is this evil. They are yet to understand that what is bloodying the nation is in fact a beehive nest of a well-knit networking of all manner of terrorists, militants, insurgents, murderers, criminals and gangs, with their evil reach stretching all over the country. Ideological firebrands and sectarian fanatics may be a significant part of this network. But drug syndicates, smuggler mafias, criminal gangs, foreign-funded insurgents, separatists and proxies, private militias, plain murderers, hired guns and marauding outlaws make its no insignificant part. Tackling this multifarious beehive nest thus necessarily requires a concrete comprehensive multidimensional strategy with a countrywide operation. Sans this strategy, fighting out terrorism and criminality could, at best, be just a pipedream, even in a localized theatre, what speak of countrywide stage. And so is it with this nation's political elites' favourite pastime of all-parties conference and suchlike talking shops. Verifiably, it is a multidimensional strategy that really matters in the ultimate analysis. And this strategy is not just a security operation. Nor is it just dialogue. It is much more than that. It spans the entire gamut of national life, stretching all over the political, security, diplomatic, administrative, legal, educational and development fronts. It is a very wide-ranging national effort that requires all in the state and its citizens to fructify in triumph. The fight involves not just going after the monsters of vileness with a gun or appeasing them with a sweet tongue. It is a fight on multiple fronts simultaneously. But that seems not even in the remotest thoughts of the political elites across the spectrum. The outgoing incumbents left the field without formulating any such strategy. The present lot has shown no such plan as yet, even as it keeps talking of coming out with one any time. The only instrument that the present lot has unfolded so far to counter the waltzing terrorism in the country is the device of dialogue. But dialogue alone cannot work. That is is what tells the recorded history. And that is what tell the experiences of the countries going through the tribulation of rampaging militancy, insurgency or terrorism. Even as the Colombians have considerably enfeebled and weakened the FARC rebels in a fight over half a century, many are still not sanguine if the fighting will come to an end if the peace negotiations between the government and the rebels reach a positive finality. Some one-quarter of the rebels are widely believed to keep fighting the guerilla war against the state. In the Philippines, some dissidents broke the ranks with the main Moro guerilla outfit, spurning the negotiated peace deal with Manila and they still keep fighting the state security forces, often lethally. And in Nepal, it may not be quite surprising if some Maoist factions walk out of the peace deal with Kathmandu, which they had accepted only grudgingly. And the same may go with the contemplated dialogue foray of our own incumbents. In any case, the vicious beehive nest of terrorism and militancy would keep mauling this unfortunate nation until and unless a comprehensive all-embracing strategy is not evolved and put in place. And Karachi would keep bleeding and crying when the kingpins who have left behind their foot-soldiers and errand boys to keep the beleaguered city aflame are not pulverised in their safe lairs they are hiding in elsewhere in the country or abroad. This is as plain as that.