Friday, December 13, 2013

China wants more contribution to world peace

China will continue to pursue a diplomacy of its own characteristics in the coming 2014 while making a greater contribution to world peace and development, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here Wednesday. Addressing a New Year reception for foreign diplomats and representatives of international organizations, Wang said Chinese diplomacy will strive to create a favorable external environment for the comprehensive deepening of its reforms and realizing the nation's great rejuvenation. According to the foreign minister, 2013 has seen fresh and important progress in China's diplomatic work, as evidenced by the country's growing international standing and influence. "We have advanced our ties with other countries and played the responsible role of a big country in dealing with important issues," Wang said. In his address, Nolana Ta-Ama, dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Togo's ambassador to China, hailed China's achievements in 2013. "I believe that China's development will bring important opportunities to the peace, development and prosperity of the world," he added. More than 400 people, including Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, attended Wednesday's reception in Beijing.

Day Of Martyred Intellectuals of Bangladesh: We will redeem the old promise

In the cold, sad winter of 1971, the collaborators of the Pakistan occupation army picked up and then picked off scores of our illustrious citizens in the naïve belief that the sorry end of these eminent men and women would cripple the new nation of Bangladesh at birth. Forty two years on, the ageing men who helped the enemy, through abducting and then murdering our academics, doctors, journalists and others on the eve of the arrival of liberty, thus giving a fresh, tortuous twist to our pain, find themselves facing the demands of justice.
And that is where hope rises anew in this tortured land. Where the local quislings of the Pakistan occupation army should have answered for their sins and for their crimes soon after the emergence of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in December 1971, we have observed in this land a subverting of the noble secular principles upon which freedom was founded all those years ago. Where the men of the Vichy regime in France paid a price for their political apostasy after the Second World War, where former Nazis and murderous soldiers of imperial Japan have systematically been spotted and hauled up before the law through Nuremberg and Tokyo, where villains in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and Liberia have faced the music for their acts against people they have racially and politically despised, the killers of 1971 in Bangladesh have for long remained out of the reach of the law.
But that period of darkness seems about to lift. The execution of a notorious collaborator of the Pakistani junta the other day has just given the lie to the notion that the old oppressors of the Bengali nation can never be made to pay for their criminality. Justice and the law have a way of catching up with evil, despite the long passage of time that may elapse between the commission of a crime and a penalization of that crime. Bangladesh’s particular tragedy has been its inability to prevent the rise of the forces of counter-revolution in the disturbed times following the trauma of August-November 1975. That was the reality, till now. And till the other day, this nation remained unsure as to whether it could at all have the old collaborators have their comeuppance. Now that the process of justice has begun, now that a purge of enemies across the national landscape is well under way, we know what we need to do to reassure ourselves the future remains in our grasp, in our sights.
And that future is necessarily tied to our past, to the stories of the many who went out of our lives when the enemy, dark and hooded and reveling in shaky, false bravado, took them away from their wives and husbands and parents and children and pushed them to death that was as gory as it was premature. On the graveyard of a communal state these sinister men, unbeknownst to them, would arise a republic sanctified by the blood of our intellectuals, of three million of our compatriots. And the republic, despite the machinations of evil men, has endured.
To our martyred intellectuals, indeed to every Bengali whose life was snuffed out by the Pakistan army, by its Jamaat and al-Badr and al-Shams mercenaries, the message goes out that the task of a restoration of decency resting on the spirit of 1971 has begun once more. And we mean to go the whole long distance, to persuade ourselves that this time round, we will not falter.
To the souls of our martyrs, we say — as dawn breaks in all its insistence — that it is time to refashion the old dream of a democratic, secular and egalitarian society they nurtured in their lifetime. We mean to redeem the old promise, in this December of revival and reawakening.

Bangladesh: ‘Butcher of Mirpur’: Quader Mollah hanged

''The execution of Quader Mollah is the beginning of the fulfilment of the long-cherished dream of Bangladeshis''
Abdul Quader Mollah, a top ranking Jamaat leader and a prime accused in the trial of war crimes, has at last been executed at one minute past ten on Thursday night at Dhaka Central Jail for his crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971. Mollah was one of the six Jamaat leaders who have been awarded death sentence. His execution was the first case of hanging in the process of war crimes trial. Mollah was indicted in the war crimes trial on six charges. He was accused of killing women and children, a journalist and a poet, raping women and mass killing of 344 innocent civilians at the Alubdi village in Mirpur and elsewhere. His heinous crime earned him notoriety as the ‘butcher of Mirpur’. The International Crimes Tribunal – 2 found him guilty on five counts and awarded him life term in prison on February 5, 2013. This conviction sparked sharp reaction among different sections of the people and gave rise to countrywide movement demanding maximum punishment for Mollah. These events led to the amendment of the crimes tribunal act allowing both parties in the case to submit appeal prayer against the sentence. Following an appeal from the government seeking capital punishment, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court found Mollah guilty of murders and other war crimes and converted his life sentence to death sentence. Later, on Tuesday night when the stage for his hanging was all set, the defence lawyers hurriedly submitted a review prayer with the SC, which rejected the review prayer after two day’s hearing. The final decision of the apex court cleared the way for the execution of Mollah. The people of the country had to wait for more than four decades to see the trial and punishment of the perpetrators of the most heinous crimes. The execution of Abdul Quader Mollah is just the beginning of the fulfilment of the long-cherished dream of the people who had to shed blood and tears and lose their near and dear ones to create a country of their own. They want to see the completion of the war crimes trial, award of deserving punishment to all war criminals along with execution of rest who have already been sent to the death house.

Bangladesh:Ban Jamaat, Hefazat by Dec: Shahriar Kabir

Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee President Shariar Kabir on Friday demanded the banning of Jamaat-e- Islami and Hifazat-e-Islam Bangladesh within December to uphold the achievements of the Liberation War. “Jamaat and qaumi madrasa based Islamist organisation Hifajat-e- Islam should be banned as political parties in Bangladesh within December to save the country,” demanded Shariar Kabir while speaking at the Ganajagaran Mancha at Shabag intersection in the capital. Ganajagarn Mancha is a platform formed immediately after an International Crimes Tribunal handed down life imprisonment to Jamaat leader Quader Mollah on February 5. The Mancha on Friday vowed to continue movement until all war criminals are tried and the verdicts are executed. At the programme, Shahriar Kabir also claimed that Jamaat has waged war against the country to avenge Pakistan’s defeat and to stop the trial of war criminals. “The government should deploy army to resist them” Kabir said. He said that Jamaat, accused of atrocities during the 1971 Liberation War, should not be allowed to pursue politics in the country as the High Court cancelled the party’s registration. Shahriar Kabir further said that no foreign conspiracy could foil the trial of war criminals. Earlier, on June 27, the High Court declared Jamaat’s registration with the Election Commission ‘illegal and void’. The party had immediately challenged the verdict and sought a stay on the verdict. However, the Chamber Judge of the Supreme Court turned down Jamaat’s petition for a stay on the verdict. On Thursday, Jamaat appealed to the Supreme Court against the HC verdict that declared its registration illegal.

Iftikhar Chaudhry demands fool proof security and bullet proof car! Where are his “Jannisar’s” now?

by Sarah Khan
What a turn of events one can witness just two days after his retirement. The once Almighty, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry knowing his sins and wrong done to the people of Pakistan though his judicial activism is requiring that he be given fool proof security and be allowed a bullet proof car and is essentially demanding the same protocol that he was enjoying as Chief Justice. Wah Sahab Wah! Kya baat aap kee! On the other hand, the incumbent CJ, Mr. Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani has asked for his protocol and additional security be removed! What a difference from Protocol demanding Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Afterall, a low-life like Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry could only demand such things! The “request” was moved just a few days before his retirement, by his front man, Dr. Faqir Hussain. It is worth remembering that Dr. Faqir Hussain is on his second extension granted by Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. One must question Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry that if he has not done anything wrong to anyone, then he should not fear anything. He must have made judgments on the basis of “law” but having known the darkest period of Pakistan’s judicial activism, we know that Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry fears for his life. He allowed the Taliban and Sipah Sahaba terrorists to run havoc in the nation by acquitting them. His actions allowed for thousands of Shias to be killed. He hounded political parties. He hounded bureaucrats. He fired judges and employees of courts! Wah Abu Arsalan, Wah! Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry should acknowledge his sins and seek forgiveness from the people of Pakistan. Another key question is that Where are his “Jannisar’s” now? Why should the police be forced to provide security to a man who created a mess for everyone?
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Bilawal Bhutto: ''GSP-Plus status a triumph of Asif Zardari’s policy of “Trade Not Aid”
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-In-Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party has hailed European Parliament’s decision to extend GSP-Plus facilities to Pakistan and termed it a triumph of former President Asif Ali Zardari’s “Trade Not Aid” policy, which People’s government vigorously pursued during its tenure that ended early this year.
With the fresh access to European market, Pakistan exports will earn a whooping amount estimated at Rs215 billion extra each year enabling the government to build thousands of schools and hospitals every year while created hundreds of thousands new job opportunities, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said in a Press statement Friday.
He eulogized the hard-work of PPP Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani, Ministers Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Hina Rabbani Khar and other team members spread over five years for lobbying and meeting the standards and criteria. “GSP-Plus status doesn’t come overnight. Behind it lay the great vision and foresight of former President Asif Ali Zardari and his team over the years,” he added.
PPP Patron-In-Chief pointed out that under directions of former president Asif Ali Zardari the PPP government had signed and ratified a number of conventions relating to human rights, labour rights and environment, lobbied at the highest level with countries of EU and set up special teams of experts and professionals in the ministries of commerce and foreign office to pursue the goal of GSP Plus status with the EU.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said PPP had always looked forward for the welfare of future Pakistan and its generations and always sacrificed its present for future generations. Instead of cosmetic schemes to lure the innocent people into debt traps, the PPP weaved long-term dreams for the economic prosperity of Pakistani masses. GSP-Plus status and the Pak-Iran Gas Pipleline are just a few landmark credits of the PPP’s last government at center, he concluded.

Pakistan's 'ghost schools' threaten next generation

Pakistan: In a decrepit white-walled classroom in southern Pakistan, Bushra valiantly struggles to keep discipline as a dozen girls run and scream around her. With no teacher for the past eight months, the 10-year-old has been forced to step in.
"I teach them lessons from the Koran, I teach them Sindhi, I teach them to count one-two, I teach them the alphabet A-B-C-D," said Bushra, wearing a traditional nose stud and a scarf around her head. She says she dreams of becoming a doctor and learning about computers.
But her academic ambitions risk being scuppered after her own teacher fled. Authorities have not appointed a new one, making Bushra's situation typical for a student at one of Pakistan's 7,000 so-called "ghost schools", where no formal classes can be taught.
These abandoned pupils are part of a growing education crisis in the country where, according to the United Nations, over five million children do not attend primary school.
"The last teacher told us she would stop coming if we did not pay for her transportation to the village," said Salim Samoon, who has seven granddaughters at the school catering for the roughly 600 residents of Chancher Redhar, a village two hours drive from Karachi in the south of Pakistan.
"But we have no money and the authorities have not appointed a new teacher," he said. The southern village is far from the notoriously conservative parts of northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border, where Taliban attacks against public schools are commonplace.
Schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai become an international symbol of the right to education for all after surviving a 2012 Taliban attack in which she was shot in the head.
But the damage caused by "ghost schools" across Pakistan, such as the one in Chancher Redhar, is self-inflicted and potentially greater: a new generation of children growing up without an education, either because the schools have been abandoned, destroyed, or because teachers are not turning up.
"Maybe the media highlights the bombings of schools more because it is visible. But this is a more dangerous problem," said Rahmatullah Balal of the NGO Ailaan Alif, who has published a ranking of districts in terms of the quality of education available.
According to his ranking, the district of Thatta, home to Bushra and her classmates, lies in 140th position out of a total of 144, behind Taliban hideouts in the northwest.
Teachers paid to stay home
Alerted last year to the problem of "ghost schools," the Supreme Court of Pakistan asked provinces to scrutinise institutions that took students and were officially regarded as schools. The results, released in late November, where shocking.
"In most of the basic teaching units of the district, the situation is very alarming," the report said.
"Most of these schools are teaching institutions only in name, but virtually no student is being admitted there to seek education and the teaching staff is taking salary at home."
Along with teachers who received salary but did not teach, other schools failed to appoint teachers, were appropriated by wealthy landowners, or had budget irregularities, such as "paid-for" computers which never arrived.
"The government and bureaucrats have no willingness to solve the problem," said Balal.
"The money that the government gives to the school is consumed by bureaucrats. The budget might tell you what the money has been used for in the schools, but you don't see it get spent and then the money is gone." He says school funds are split "50-50" between feudal lords and bureaucrats, partly to ensure that there is no threat to the feudal lords' power base by seeing the poor receive education. 'Admit to the problem' Those politicians who are actively trying to raise the issue say that it is not a priority for the government. "We have to invest in our education because it is the only way to get progress," said Humera Alwani of the Pakistan Peoples Party. "You have to admit to a problem before you can correct it," she said. The existence of "ghost schools" also removes incentive for poor families to ensure their children get an education. Instead, many see more value in sending them to work in the fields or bazaars. "I do not like this school, this is why I do not go," said Arbab, not yet a teenager. "I go to fetch and buy water, and then I sell it." Local residents worry another generation will grow up without the skills they need. "These kids of ours, they don't know anything. They don't know the meaning of their names, they don't know the basics, they know nothing," said Kazoo Samoon, a villager in Chancher Redhar. "My other daughter grew up without an education and now these children will grow up without any education."
In the cramped class, Bushra's attempted lesson is over in just a few minutes, ending with a rendition of the national anthem.
Then the girls continue to play as they have done every day since their teacher left, waiting for the arrival of another who may never come.

4 Pakistani soldiers killed by blast
Four Pakistani soldiers were killed and five others injured in an IED blast in the lawless North Waziristan tribal region today. The Improvised Explosive Device was planted by the roadside and detonated as a security forces’ convoy was passing through the area, military sources said. Security forces cordoned off the area and launched a search operation. No other details were immediately available. No group claimed responsibility for the attack. US and Afghan officials described North Waziristan Agency as a safe haven for Taliban and Al Qaeda elements.

NICL scam: Gilani says he has immunity, cannot be arrested

The Express Tribun
Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Friday claimed that he has immunity and no one can arrest him, in relation to the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) scam. Speaking to the media in Multan, Gilani said that he gave up his prime ministerial position for the sake of the president’s immunity and now the section one of Article 248 of the Constitution gives him immunity. “I’ll see how anyone arrests me… The NAB [National Accountability Bureau] chairman is himself summoned, how can he summon me?” Gilani questioned. Commenting on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case, Gilani said that 4,008 people took advantage of the ordinance but none of them faced consequences. “The only people being punished in the case were those who were not related to the case… I don’t believe in this form of justice.” Gilani has been ordered to appear before the NAB joint investigation team in relation of the NICL scam. The former premier was accused of making the alleged illegal transfer of the investigation officer in the scandal.

Pakistan police guarding polio workers killed

Gunmen have shot dead at least one policeman providing security to a team of polio workers in north-west Pakistan, officials say. Two policemen were travelling from the town of Swabi to Topi by motorbike when they were attacked. It is unclear if the other guard survived the attack. It is the latest in a series of attacks on polio teams around the country. The Taliban oppose the polio vaccination scheme, which they see as a cover for international espionage. Islamist militants have been at the forefront of a decade-long campaign of violence against health workers, who they also accuse of being part of a Western plot to sterilise Muslims. But earlier this week a prominent religious seminary in Pakistan - which wields great influence with Taliban groups - backed polio vaccinations, saying they are not un-Islamic. Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic, due in part to militant resistance to polio mass vaccination campaigns. Nigeria and Afghanistan are the others. The current campaign against immunisation was started by the current Pakistani Taliban leader, Mullah Fazlullah, in 2005, and turned more violent after US forces killed former al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, in a secret raid in 2011.
No group has said it carried out this latest attack.
Polio's last stand? 2012 cases
Nigeria - 97
Pakistan - 47
Afghanistan - 26
Chad - 5*
Source: IMB
* Polio is considered "non-endemic" in Chad