Wednesday, April 30, 2014
The White House described President Barack Obama's recent Asia trip as an effort to bolster security and economic ties in the region. But the U.S. president's vows of support for Japan and the Philippines led to widespread Chinese media coverage suggesting the trip was instead aimed at stalling China's rise, prompting some to call it Obama's "contain China tour." Despite White House assurances to the contrary, some in Beijing are still asking why he did not stop in China. According to Alejandro Reyes, visiting associate professor at the University of Hong Kong, there is little the president could have done to change that perception in China. “From Beijing's perspective, I would think — and we have seen already the reaction has been negative — they see the president's visit underscoring their view that the pivot has to do with containing China," he said. "I don't think he could have changed that, to be realistic.” Chinese commentaries on the president's trip have been quick to point out that Obama failed to negotiate a deal with Japan over a free-trade pact for Pacific nations and that he made little progress in inching the leaders of South Korea and Japan closer together. An opinion piece in China Daily, a state-run English language newspaper, accused the United States of ganging up with what it called "Washington's troublemaking allies" in the region. It also said the U.S. is presenting itself as a security threat to China. China's Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters on Wednesday that Beijing has good reason to ask Washington to explain its new security pact with the Philippines and why that does not harm regional stability. During his trip, President Obama was careful to stress that the new agreement with the Philippines was mainly for military exercises related to and dealing with humanitarian relief. Reyes says the search for missing Malaysian airlines flight MH370 and last year's devastating typhoon in the Philippines have highlighted the need for a strengthened U.S. presence in the region and stronger regional security architecture. “It is not inconsistent to what the United States is doing in the region," he said. "This idea that military-to-military ties are essential, you need to develop them in a region that really has no security architecture comparable to what you have at, say, NATO.” At the same time, Reyes adds, the U.S. needs to pursue deeper military-to-military ties with China. But some in the United States argue that too much focus is put on China and not enough on what benefits Washington's allies in the region are providing, says Clyde Prestowitz, a former U.S. trade negotiator and president of the Economic Strategy Institute. “Is China a threat to Japan and Korea and the Philippines, and Malaysia? I think one could say no. But even if it were, is it a threat to the U.S.? The answer is definitely no. So if the answer is no, then why are we providing protection? What benefit does the U.S. derive?” he said. Weighing the tangible benefits of the Asia pivot strategy could become even more important in the coming years. Washington is expected to further trim the U.S. defense budget at the same time that China’s military spending is projected to continue to rise. When the Chinese government was asked what it thought of the fact that Obama did not visit China during this trip, the Foreign Ministry played down the significance, saying “regardless of whether he comes or not, we will still be here.” China hosts the APEC Leaders Summit later this year in Beijing, an event Obama is expected to attend.
http://www.voanews.com/Think boys get better grades in math and science than their female counterparts? Think again. A new study of academic performance in more than 30 countries and spanning nearly a century shows girls do better than boys in math and science as well as other subjects. “Although gender differences follow essentially stereotypical patterns on achievement tests in which boys typically score higher on math and science, females have the advantage on school grades regardless of the material,” said lead study author Daniel Voyer, PhD, of the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada in a statement. “School marks reflect learning in the larger social context of the classroom and require effort and persistence over long periods of time, whereas standardized tests assess basic or specialized academic abilities and aptitudes at one point in time without social influences,” he added. Voyer’s data, which spanned from 1914 to 2011, showed that the grade gap between girls and boys was widest for language courses and most narrow with math and science, according to the study published in that American Psychological Association’s journal Psychological Bulletin. The study also showed that the better grades among girls in math and science was not evident until middle school. The gap grew from elementary to middle school and then narrowed between high school and college. “The fact that females generally perform better than their male counterparts throughout what is essentially mandatory schooling in most countries seems to be a well-kept secret, considering how little attention it has received as a global phenomenon,” said co-author Susan Voyer, MASc, also of the University of New Brunswick in a statement. Daniel Voyer echoed these sentiments. “Test scores have been used to perpetuate this notion for a long time, even though recent research shows that gender differences have essentially disappeared on them, at least in math,” he said in an email. “It is hard to get rid of a stereotype.” Some possible reasons for girls performing better could be that because parents assume boys will be better at math and science, they may encourage girls to try harder. This, the researchers say, could explain why girls get better grades in all courses. The authors also said learning style differences between girls and boys could also explain the gap. Previous research, they said, shows that girls “tend to study in order to understand the materials, whereas boys emphasize performance, which indicates a focus on the final grades." “Mastery of the subject matter generally produces better marks than performance emphasis, so this could account in part for males’ lower marks than females,” the authors wrote. Earlier this week, the National Center for Education Statistics released data showing that in the U.S. girls had a higher high school graduation rate, 84 percent, than boys who had a rate of 77 percent. Daniel Voyer hopes the research will spark more research. “It might get people to look outside the classroom for solutions to the underachievement in boys,” he said. “Our view is that there are multiple factors involved, making this a societal issue. He added that educational decision makers need to change their views about stereotypes of boys and girls. “With enough publicity about relevant findings, we might convince the public that they need to treat their boys and girls equitably,” he said.
President Barack Obama blasted Senate Republicans on Wednesday just hours after they blocked one of his top legislative priorities, a bid to increase the federal minimum wage for the first time since 2009. "They (Republicans) prevented a raise for 28 million hard-working Americans. They said no to helping millions work their way out of poverty," Obama said at the White House, backed up by low-wage workers. On a nearly party-line vote of 54-42, Obama's Democrats fell short of the needed 60 Senate votes to end a procedural roadblock against a White House-backed bill. The legislation would raise the minimum hourly wage from its current $7.25 to $10.10 per hour during the next three years, and then index for inflation in the future. Just one Republican, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, joined Democrats in voting to advance the measure. Senate Majority Leader, Democrat Harry Reid switched his vote from yes to no to reserve his right to bring up the bill again. With polls showing that more 60 percent of Americans support raising the minimum wage, Democrats intend to hammer away at the issue in an effort to rally their liberal base in advance of the November congressional elections. "Change is happening, whether Republicans like it or not," Obama said. "And so my message to the American people is this: Do not get discouraged by a vote like the one we saw this morning. Get fired up, get organized, make your voices heard." The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would raise the wages of 16.5 million Americans and lift 900,000 of them out of poverty. But it also estimated the bill could cost up to 1 million Americans their jobs because businesses may simply be unable to afford to pay them. Republicans on Monday cited a Bloomberg Poll in which 57 percent of respondents said it was an "unacceptable" trade-off if the bill raised the incomes of 16.5 million Americans while eliminating 500,000 jobs. Democrats argue an increase in the minimum wage would boost the economy overall by getting more money into it. "Millions of American workers will be watching how United States senators vote today," Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said before the vote. "They'll be observing to see if we ensure all full-time workers in this country receive livable wages." Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell mocked Democrats, saying: "They don't even pretend to be serious about jobs anymore." The Democrats' "true focus" was on "making the far left happy - not helping the middle class," McConnell said.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-In-Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party said labour and working classes are the engine of progress and prosperity of any nation that is why People’s government always infused confidence into working classes and encouraged them to play the pivotal role in nation-building. In his message on the International Workers Day – May Day -, he said PPP is the only Party in the country which drew widespread support from the labour and working classes in Pakistan as there was and is no other mainstream political party representing them directly. He said that PPP had always made labour and workers as partners in all state enterprises under the Benazir Stock Option Programme and treated them equally while formulating economic policies. Labour Unions and Collecting Bargaining Agents in government and private business and production houses were introduced by Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and promoted by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto to create a vibrant working class for the good of the country. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari urged the Peoples Labour Union leaders and workers to redouble their efforts to unite the working class to safeguard their rights. “Personalisation in the name of Privatisation of profit-making state units shall be vehemently opposed and the interests of labour class will not be compromised at any cost,” he pledged. PPP Patron-In-Chief saluted the toiling masses and peasants on International Workers Day and asked Sindh government to introduce policies for the better working conditions and extended benefits for them.
Vice President Biden delivers remarks at an event releasing the first report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. April 29, 2014.
The spread of deadly superbugs that evade even the most powerful antibiotics is no longer a prediction but is happening right now across the world, United Nations officials said on Wednesday. Antibiotic resistance has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country, the U.N.'s World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a report. It is now a major threat to public health, of which "the implications will be devastating". "The world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill," said Keiji Fukuda, the WHO's assistant director-general for health security. In its first global report on antibiotic resistance, with data from 114 countries, the WHO said superbugs able to evade event the hardest-hitting antibiotics - a class of drugs called carbapenems - has now been found in all regions of the world. Drug resistance is driven by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, which encourages bacteria to develop new ways of overcoming them. Only a handful of new antibiotics have been developed and brought to market in the past few decades, and it is a race against time to find more as bacterial infections increasingly evolve into "superbugs" resistant to even the most powerful last-resort medicines reserved for extreme cases. One of the best known superbugs, MRSA, is alone estimated to kill around 19,000 people every year in the United States - far more than HIV and AIDS - and a similar number in Europe. THE DRUGS DON'T WORK The WHO said in some countries, because of resistance, carbapenems now do not work in more than half of people with common hospital-acquired infections caused by a bacteria called K. pneumoniae, such as pneumonia, blood infections, and infections in newborn babies and intensive-care patients. Resistance to one of the most widely used antibiotics for treating urinary tract infections caused by E. coli -medicines called fluoroquinolones - is also very widespread, it said. In the 1980s, when these drugs were first introduced, resistance was virtually zero, according to the WHO report. But now there are countries in many parts of the world where the drugs are ineffective in more than half of patients. "Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating, "Fukuda said in a statement. Laura Piddock, director of Antibiotic Action campaign group and a professor of microbiology at Britain's Birmingham University, said the world needed to respond as it did to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. "Defeating drug resistance will require political will, commitment from all stakeholders and considerable investment in research, surveillance and stewardship programmes," she said. Jennifer Cohn of the international medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres agreed with the WHO's assessment and confirmed the problem had spread to many corners of the world. "We see horrendous rates of antibiotic resistance wherever we look in our field operations, including children admitted to nutritional centres in Niger, and people in our surgical and trauma units in Syria," she said.
This morning’s Wall Street Journal has the following headline on the front page: “Americans Want to Pull Back From World Stage, Poll Finds.” Americans in large numbers want the U.S. to reduce its role in world affairs even as a showdown with Russia over Ukraine preoccupies Washington, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds. In a marked change from past decades, nearly half of those surveyed want the U.S. to be less active on the global stage, with fewer than one-fifth calling for more active engagement—an anti-interventionist current that sweeps across party lines. …The poll findings, combined with the results of prior Journal/NBC surveys this year, portray a public weary of foreign entanglements and disenchanted with a U.S. economic system that many believe is stacked against them. The 47% of respondents who called for a less-active role in world affairs marked a larger share than in similar polling in 2001, 1997 and 1995. You can tell from the way the reporter frames the poll’s findings that she unhappy about what she calls “anti-interventionist” sentiment. She is shocked such sentiments can be so popular even as (in her words) Russia defies U.S.-EU sanctions and Ukraine continues to unravel. But she must have missed the YouGov poll conducted last month finding that only 14 percent of Americans said the U.S. has “any responsibility” to get involved in Ukraine, and only 18 percent think the U.S. “has any responsibility to protect Ukraine if Russia were to invade.” “Americans are more likely than not to say that the United States has no responsibility to get involved in Ukraine even under extreme circumstances, the new survey shows,” the Huffington Post reports. “Pluralities of Democrats, Republicans and independents agreed that the U.S. does not have a responsibility to protect Ukraine.” The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll is consistent as well with the Pew poll from back in December that found a majority of Americans – more than ever before in Pew’s 50-year history of polling this question – think the U.S. “should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along as best they can on their own.” It will be interesting to see how these popular sentiments shape the upcoming 2016 presidential elections. One thing we can expect is a lot of vitriol for these kinds of opinions by Republican and Democratic standard-bearers. Typically, pro-war sentiments are taken to be very serious, while non-interventionist sentiments are condemned as either dangerously isolationist or naive. It’s worth noting though that the poll numbers themselves have disproven the isolationist charge: most Americans (77%) think increased trade and business ties with the rest of the world is a good thing, while only 18% think its negative. So, quite explicitly, Americans don’t like greater involvement in the world by the U.S. government and they do like greater economic involvement in general.
VOA NewsUkraine’s acting president says that the Kyiv government has effectively lost control over the situation in the country’s eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions where a number of government buildings have been taken over by pro-Russia separatists. Oleksandr Turchynov says that Russia is now eyeing six more regions in the country’s east and south. A takeover by Russia of two such regions, if it were to take full control of Donetsk, would secure Russia’s land connection with Crimea, which it annexed last month. The takeover of two more regions along the Black Sea coast would connect Russian mainland with Moldova’s Russian-speaking Transdniestria enclave. Speaking Wednesday at a meeting of regional leaders in Kyiv, Turchynov said ‘saboteurs’ have received instructions from Moscow to destabilize the regions of Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson, Zaporizhzha, Mykolayiv and Odesa. Kyiv says that many of the ‘saboteurs’ have received training and are being financed by Russia, a charge Moscow denies. On full alert Bracing for a possible invasion by Russian troops massed on the border, Turchynov says Ukraine’s military has been put "on full combat alert." Speaking at a ministerial meeting in Kyiv on Wednesday, he said there was a real threat of Russia starting a war against Ukraine's mainland. The announcement comes as pro-Russian gunmen seized yet another administrative building in eastern Ukraine. Armed insurgents took control of the city council building in Horlivka early Wednesday, a town of more than 260,000 people. Police say the pro-Russian rebels have also overtaken the town’s regional police department. Hundreds of pro-Russian separatists overran more Ukrainian government buildings near the Russian border earlier this week, taking control of several in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The pro-Moscow rebels in Donetsk have set a referendum on secession for May 11. A similar vote last month led to Russia's annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Recruiting agents To bolster its claims that unrest in Ukraine is being fomented by Russia, Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) today released a video it says proves that Moscow is actively recruiting agents from among Ukrainian citizens. The video purports to show “citizen K.” who says he was recruited by Russian intelligence during a trip to the Crimea region earlier this month. According to “citizen K.”, recruits are paid a daily stipend of 100 hryvnias (approximately $10) for collaborating with Russian agents, with those having military experience receiving several times that amount. Although officially released by the SBU on its YouTube channel, the video’s authenticity could not be independently confirmed. OSCE monitors The latest takeovers come as negotiations resumed to gain the release of seven European observers taken hostage last week in the city of Slovyansk. The self-proclaimed pro-Russian mayor of that city said Tuesday he would be willing to swap the observers for pro-Russian activists held by Ukrainian authorities. The monitors - four Germans, a Pole, a Dane and a Swede - had been sent to Ukraine by the Organizations for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Tuesday called on Russia to leave Ukraine in peace. In a speech at the non-governmental Atlantic Council, Kerry blamed Russia for the current crisis in Ukraine, accusing Moscow of attempting to change the security landscape in eastern and central Europe. In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to re-evaluate the role of Western investors in Russia's energy-driven economy, if sanctions imposed by Washington and the European Union continue. Costs to Russia There are further signs that Russia is paying an economic price for its involvement in Ukraine. The International Monetary Fund said international sanctions imposed on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine were hurting the economy. The IMF cut its 2014 growth forecast for Russia to 0.2 percent from 1.3 percent and forecast capital outflows of $100 billion this year. The IMF mission chief to Russia, Antonio Spilimbergo, also told reporters that Russia was “experiencing recession” and that a resolution of the Ukraine crisis would significantly reduce Russia's own economic uncertainties. Ukraine is also suffering from the turmoil, with economic output falling 1.1 percent year-on-year in the first three months of 2014, according to government figures released on Wednesday. Gazprom said Ukraine's unpaid bill for gas supplied by the Russian energy giant was now $3.5 billion. However, the European Union said it was ready to provide economic aid to Ukraine along with the IMF.
Pakistan:No. of New Terrorist Organisation under TTP Umbrella claiming Terrorist Attacks ,still PML-N Govt reluctant to Ban them
Despite the recent emergence of previously unheard of Terrorist organisations which have claimed credit for terrorist attacks, the PML-N government has not banned a single one since coming to power. In fact, no organisation has been banned since the PPP-led government`s tenure ended. The last time any such exercise was carried out was in March last year when the PPP government outlawed 14 organisations. The interior ministry, currently run by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, is responsible for banning such organisations. The Primary exercise of banning organisations commenced under the rule of retired Gen Pervez Musharraf. According to the National Internal Security Policy (NISP), 60 organisations have been banned since 2001 by the interior ministry. The policy was presented in the National Assembly on Feb 26 this year. Basharatullah, a Supreme Court lawyer who has represented scores of terrorism suspects in courts, says once an organisation is banned `all its acts, such as collection of funds, gatherings and campaigns, can be prosecuted under terrorism laws` However, the practice has its critics. Amir Rana, who heads the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies and has written extensively on militancy, says management of the list of banned organisations is a `complete mystery`. `Nobody knows what mechanism the government follows to first add an organisation to the list and then ensure its strict implementation. Implementation would mean that the organisation is not allowed to carry out any activity in the country. But most of the banned organisations continue to run their operations after changing names, Rana says. Talking to Our Corespondent , a senior federal government official involved in law enforcement said the interior ministry, with its limited resources, did try to follow the trail of the banned outfits. He expressed hope that monitoring would improve once the NISP was implemented. When asked why the PML-N government had not banned militant outfits such as Ahrarul Hind, which emerged recently to claim responsibility for some devastating terrorist attacks, the official argued that such measures did not solve the problem. `The only way forward,` he added, `was to bring every culprit involved in heinous crimes to justice. It is not clear how the PML-N plans to achieve this, but for the moment it seems that it is not going to follow the previous two governments` policy of banning organizations. Rather they are more than Happy to negotiate with them , and that also on their terms , which is a Big Question Mark on the Credibility of the Present Government , that whose interest they are safe Gaurding , the Interest of the Terrorist and enemies of Pakistan , or the National Interest of Pakistan. According to the NISP, organisations were first banned in the aftermath of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks in the US. The first two outfits to be banned were Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) Headed by Malik Ishaq , The Proclaimed Offender , who has even being released by the Judiciary of Pakistan on the Pretext of Non availability of Credible evidence , and People who can testify against him , as his gang members have on record Killed a Number of Witness in different cases against him , and the second was Sipah-i-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP), which was being also nominated in the list as to equalize the effect to show and Prove that the Nature of terrorism is actually sectarianism , while it was Plain terrorism , conducted clearly against the Interest of Pakistan , and Islam. On the Agenda dictated to these Organisations who were funded directly by Saudi Arabia and US to work on their agenda of Dis Integration of Pakistan , and defamation of Islam. The next year, the process gained momentum as six more entities made it to the list, including Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP). In 2003, Al Qaeda topped the list of organisations which were outlawed, followed by Millat-i-Islamia Pakistan (which was then the reincarnation of SSP) of Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi; Khuddam-ul-Islam (the new face of JM) of Maulana Masood Azhar,etc. During 2004 and 2005, only one outfit Khair-unNaas International Trust registered by Abu Shoaib was added to the list. And in 2006 Hyarbyar Marri`s Balochistan Liberation Army and the Islamic Student Movement of Pakistan were added to the list. After the 2008 elections, PPP`s Rehman Malik put four new parties on the list, including Lashkar-e-Islam, Ansar-ul-Islam and most importantly Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). After a year`s silence, in 2010 the government added five more organisations to the list, among them the Balochistan Republican Army, Balochistan Liberation Front and Balochistan Liberation United Front. In 2011, Mr Malik`s ministry turned its attention to Gilgit Baltistan where it slapped the ban on three groups. The Peoples Amn Committee (Lyari) was also banned this year. The next year 12 groups were banned, including Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, which was another reincarnation of the SSP, Jaish-eIslam and Balochistan National Liberation Army. The trend continued as the Balochistan Liberation Army and the Islamic Student Movement of Pakistan were added to the list. The trend continued during the last year of the PPP government. Interestingly, all 14 entities which were banned in 2013 were declared illegal on March 15, the last day of Mr Malik as minister. Majority of these organisations were Wahabi Saudi funded Organisations linked either to the violence in Fata and across Pakistan or in Balochistan. A number of foreign-led Saudi Funded Organisations , which are said to be operating out of Fata, were also banned. Apart from domestic concerns, Pakistan has to abide by its international obligations and ban certain organisations. Three organisations face sanctions under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267. Unanimously adopted in 1999, with a special focus on Afghanistan, the council established a sanctions regime to cover individuals and entities associated with Al Qaeda and Taliban wherever located. Jamaat-ud-Dawa of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and AlRashid Trust of Mufti Rasheed were enlisted under the UNSCR list on December 10, 2008. It should also be noted that the Govt and the Establishment have Since the Inception of this Menace of Terrorism in Pakistan , Since the Rule of Zia ul Haq , who Pushed Pakistan into Hell , for his and his henchmen Personal Benefits , this Terrorism is always covered under the Rug , Under the Pretext of Sectarianism, while it should also be noted that on record how many Organisation were Banned of the Shia Sect , which are not more than a couple of them , while the Majority , Rather 90% of the Banned Organisation belong to Wahabi , Takfiri Group, which is based on Saudi Ideology , and none of the Banned belong to the Sunni Sect , this also clearly shows that there is no Sectarianism in the Country , as even today , Shia and Sunni Sects , live happily side b;y Side , of each other , and have no enemity or rivalary , but the Terrorism is foreign Funded , which is being even Patronized by the Pakistani Govt and some Black Sheeps of the Establishment .
The Balochistan PointHamid Mir, a prominent Journalist was shot and seriously injured in an attack by unidentified gunmen in Karachi on Saturday. In a statement read out by his brother on Thursday, senior journalist Hamid Mir said that he faced threats from both state and non-state actors. After the Saturday’s attack Hamid’s brother Amir Mir also blamed one of the security state agencies for the attack. Hamid Mir said he had informed Geo management, family and close friends of threats he was facing prior to the April 19 attack. Hamid Mir said he had identified elements who had threatened him and they were identified by his brother Amir Mir following the attack. Hamid hosts the prime time show Capital Talk on Geo News and writes columns for newspapers of the Jang group. Hamid has been taking up the issue of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances in the restive province of Balochistan. According to Hamid Mir that a security agency was upset with him because of a ‘Capital Talk’ program which covered the long march of Mama Qadir Baloch, in which he criticized the role of intelligence agencies in politics. Mir said his fight was the same as that of his father Professor Waris Mir. This was a fight for Pakistan’s survival, safety and to strengthen the country. His fight was for democracy, elimination of terrorism, supremacy of law, protection of freedom of expression, rights of small province and to be the voice of the poor. He added that this voice could not be silenced. Hamid Mir said that he was working alongside the media, civil society, and political parties in this fight. The senior Geo News anchor said that he would continue to wage this fight till his last breath. He added that no institution or individual in Pakistan was above the law or constitution. Attack on Hamid Mir is not astonishing because currently Pakistan is being marked as most horrible country where journalists are being target killed or extra-judicial murdered. Prior to attack on Mir a large number of Journalists have been killed in Pakistan and most of them belong to Balochistan who all were murdered by state and non state actors. Murder and extra-judicial killing of Journalists is, no doubt, due to expressing and reporting truth in Balochistan. Here we consider that attack on Hamid is series of attacks on Baloch Journalists who were reporting human rights abuse and burning issues of Balochistan. The deadly attack on Hamid Mir is a heavy price for speaking truth. We hope he would continue his struggle for freedom of press and becoming voice for oppressed and deprived communities/ nations in Pakistan.
The highly contagious virus often spreads in areas with poor sanitation.Lahore has been declared as high risk for polio after the virus was detected in environmental sample, Dunya News reported on Wednesday. The sample was taken from a sewer near outfall road in the city. Punjab health department has announced to launch anti-polio campaign in 73 union councils of the provincial capital from May 5, 2014. In Pakistan - the only country where polio cases are increasing - gunmen frequently attack polio workers, accusing them of being Western spies and part of a plot to sterilize Muslims. In neighboring Afghanistan, a three-year-old girl was found in February to have contracted the first case of polio in the country s capital Kabul since 2001. Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria are the only countries in the world left where the virus remains endemic, largely due to violent conflicts, weak health systems and poor sanitation. Until the 1950s, polio crippled thousands every year in rich countries. It attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours of infection. The highly contagious virus often spreads in areas with poor sanitation and children under five are the most vulnerable.
Sindh Assembly’s unanimous adoption of the Child Marriage Restraint Bill on Monday for both genders below 18 is nothing less than a historical achievement in the provincial assembly. Postulated by the bill, marriage involving anyone below 18 years of age is now a crime, a non-bailable and non-compoundable offence deserving three years in prison. Furthermore, the state or any person can file application with the Judicial Magistrate of First Class against child marriage. It was stressed upon that full implementation by lawmakers take place in all constituencies. The bill replaces the superannuated Child Marriages Act 1929 which carried a punishment of only Rs 1,000 against the social evil. After the repealing, the House committee increased the age of marriage to 18 years while increasing the monetary fine to Rs 45,000 along with imprisonment for three years. The movement of the bill could not have been possible without the dedication practiced by female lawmakers as well as their allies. In addition to this, the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sikandar Mandhro strengthens cohesion between activists, lawmakers and parliamentarians on issues concerning female autonomy, social epidemics, environmental problems and the welfare of children. It bears mentioning that Sindh Women Development Minister Rubina Saadat Qaimkhani’s focus and support for female lawmakers and other male members of the assembly in favor of the bill augmented the belief that child marriage must be criminalized. And while it is worthy of lauding, the passing of the bill occurs at an interesting time: Although it is vociferously supported by PPP, one cannot help but remember its bogged down performance when the same party was in power. Only recently has the debate made compassionate rounds in the assembly. Ergo, the delayed action of the assembly and how, even now, other provincial assemblies lag behind in addressing a reprehensible crime remains distressing. It should not take months to deliberate whether child marriage is a violation of human rights: Any child marriage is by definition a forced marriage as it is inherently devoid of consent from the younger member. Criminal penalties are practically more effective as they recognize violence against children as a crime and embody a statement that such abuse will not be tolerated by any means. The remaining provinces must take a lesson from this precedent and establish societies where children are seen as human beings and are shielded from sadistic practices.
Ongoing Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) Part-I & II Annual Examinations have become a nightmare for students who are forced to appear in the papers during scorching heat while 70 to 80 per cent examination centres face loadshedding. As mercury levels of Karachi hits 42 degree centigrade students are students facing intense problems in attempting their exams. On the other hand K-Electricity is also showing no mercy for students, teachers and other staff managing papers as loadshedding continues at exam centres. BIEK Controller Examination Imran Khan Chishti told The Nation that almost 70 to 80 per cent of 108 examination centres, formed are in the grip of power failure. More than 200,000 candidates are enrolled in the intermediate examinations. According to reports, many candidates had fainted during the exam while other candidates were seen sweating excessively. Talking about the issue, Prof Iftikhar Azmi, central leaders of Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association (SPLA), condemned the apathetic behavior of the K-Electricity, and said that the government should have played its due role. “I am shocked over the behavior of the provincial government, which has no influence on the policies of K-Electricity towards loadshedding especially during the papers of intermediate examinations,” Areeb, a candidate suffering from loadsheeding in the papers. Exam centres face external threats: According to reports of different examination centres, prepared by BIEK, external elements are trying to influence various examination centres to facilitate cheating mafia in the absence of the Police and Rangers. Following the reports, Chairman BIEK Prof Anwar Ahmed Zai has contacted officials of police and rangers, and requested them to deploy more personnel around the examination centres during papers. BIEK Controller Examination Imran Khan Chishti said that during the surprise visit of special vigilance teams as many as 32 candidates were caught red-handedly while using unfair means in the papers held on Tuesday.
Five more polio cases were detected in three different areas of North Waziristan, South Waziristan and Bannu, Geo News reported on late Tuesday night. The National Institute of Health has also confirmed that five children were affected by the polio virus. Identities of the patients were yet to be known. The new cases set alarms bells ringing for Islamabad as they coincide with a meeting of WHOs health committee in Geneva where a report into polio situation in Pakistan was presented, triggering fears of travel ban on Islamabad. The report was produced by Aysha Raza, focal person for anti-polio campaign, who told Geo News that a rigorous anti-polio drive was being run to cope with the crippling disease despite deteriorating law and order situation and ailing economy. She, however, expressed the hope that considering Pakistan’s problems the international community will not impose travel bans. Mrs Raza said if imposed the ban would be for a brief period.
Generally, journalists (whether they are anchorpersons or analysts) feel protected in Pakistan when they are pro-military and feel vulnerable when they are anti-military. In the Mir-ISI bitterness, several media houses must have found an opportunity to win over the ISI In an evolving democracy such as Pakistan, where the option for defining the boundaries of the freedom of expression is still open, rivalry between its prime intelligence agency and its prime media group comes as no surprise to anyone. There was already an atmosphere of antagonism and mistrust existing in the ISI against Mir. Even if the brother of Hamid Mir blamed the ISI chief and the concerned television channel kept on showing the picture of the ISI chief, nothing proved the involvement of the ISI in the armed attack on Mir. What Mir’s brother did or what the television channel did was not surprising for viewers who regularly watch Mir’s talk show. The Mir-ISI animosity surfaced in May 2010 when a tape was aired in which Mir was purportedly speaking to a Taliban militant about Khalid Khawaja, a former ISI agent. Mir denied the authenticity of the tape. Later on, in May 2011, in the wake of the murder of Saleem Shahzad, a renowned investigative journalist, Mir advised in his talk show that journalists should refrain from talking on the phones about their movements because their phones were being tapped. Similarly, in the middle of 2013, Mir was found brandishing his mobile phone during the talk show and claiming that he was being threatened by certain intelligence personnel. The implicit conflict between Mir and the ISI was obvious. Nevertheless, Mir’s brother overlooked other possibilities of information leakage and attack. Having taken advantage of the current Mir-ISI resentment, some anchorpersons and analysts are settling a score with Mir, not because Mir scorned them but because they could not outwit him. Some anchorpersons who were jealous of Mir’s talk show have now turned against the television channel that he represents. However, some analysts who were for some reason against the television channel represented by Mir have now turned against Mir also. Generally, journalists (whether they are anchorpersons or analysts) feel protected in Pakistan when they are pro-military and feel vulnerable when they are anti-military. In the Mir-ISI bitterness, several media houses must have found an opportunity to win over the ISI (or the military) so that their flaws are disregarded. Secondly, they want to feed on the emotions of people by wearing the garb of pro-ISI and pro-military stances to raise their popularity. That is why a sudden upsurge can be noticed in the number of media persons (and houses) vocal against both Mir and the television channel he belongs to. A piece of news is being bandied about: that the ISI has made a dossier listing the anti-Pakistan activities of the television channel to which Mir belonged. One can surmise that the dossier must have the same documents that were aired in the recent past. If the documents are the same, there will be another allegation against the ISI: that it used one media group to tarnish the image of another media group. This may lead to another knee-jerk reaction against the ISI in the future. When the viewers did not pay any heed to some anchorpersons’ claims, will they now pay any attention to the dossier’s claims? Above all, if any anti-Pakistan activities were conducted by the television channel Mir belongs to, the viewers would have noticed them. If the television channel Mir belongs to does not listen to the dictation of the ISI or the military, it does the right thing. The viewers need a news channel that is independent and outside the influence of both the government and state institutions, including the military and the ISI, to do objective reporting and analysis. To achieve that goal, the mistakes made by the channel, its reporters and anchorpersons can be overlooked.
February 18, 2013. Dr Ali Haider, a prominent eye surgeon of Lahore, was driving his 11-year-old son Murtaza Haider to school when two motorcyclists opened fire on them. The motorcyclists targeted them with Kalashnikov in front of the main gate of Forman Christian College. Both father and son died on the spot. They were targeted only for being Shia. It was the fifth incident of sectarian killings in Lahore in the past few months. The killings continued even after this incident touching the figure of 16 in the past two years. Recently Lahore police succeeded in a breakthrough with the arrest of six members of a gang allegedly involved in these killings. The gang was connected to Malik Ishaq, one of the founding members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi formed in 1990s. The group, working under the direction of Haroon Bhatti, an old LeJ member, was active in the provincial capital for the past two years killing 16 people on sectarian grounds, says the police. Six of their targets were badly injured but survived, Deputy Inspector General (Investigations) of Lahore police Zulfikar Hameed tells TNS. Another police investigator says the major lead of the group came from a traffic warden who was taken into custody from the Naulakha area a few weeks ago and was associated with the network. The arrested suspects also planned to attack two senior police officers in Lahore and had a long list of their targets mostly from the Shia community. Police officials requesting anonymity tell that these killings started after Malik Ishaq, who has confessed more than 70 murders on sectarian grounds, was set free from the Pakistani courts for ‘lacking evidence’ in his cases. After his release, he revived his violent group, made hate speeches and conferences publicly (available on You Tube). In the past two years, this group has confessed to as many as 16 target killings in Lahore on religious grounds, while six targets survived. Those killed include Dr Shabihul Hassan Hashmi on May 19, 2012 in cantonment; Syed Abbas Shah on May 21, 2012 in Hanif Park; Shakir A li Rizvi advocate on October 19 2012 near Lahore High Court; Syed Waqar Haider, a private bank manager on February 11, 2013 near Garden Town; Dr Syed Ali Haider and his son Murtaza Ali Haider on February 18, 2013 in Gulberg; Dr Muhammad Azeem Jafar on July 11, 2013 in Misri Shah; Mubasher Hussain Naqvi on August 27, 2013 near Railway Station; Arshad Ali Shah advocate on August 28, 2013 in Misri Shah; Ghulam Raza Jafry on October 22, 2013 in Mughalpura; Allama Nasir Abbas on December 15 near Garden Town; and Syed Ali Hussain Qizilbash on January 15, 2014 in Gulberg. The group also killed Khurram Raza Qadri of Pakistan Sunni Tehreek for being vocal against Taliban on May 3, 2013 in Tibbi city and attacked columnist and anchorperson Raza Rumi on his hard criticism of religious outfits. The group, also showing a clear difference within Ahl-e-Sunnah-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ, formerly Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan from which LeJ emerged, also attacked ASWJ Punjab chief Shamsur Rehman Muavia on December 6, 2013 on Ravi Road. Haroon Bhatti, the ring leader of this group of LeJ, who was mostly receiving directions from a close aide of Malik Ishaq for the targets, contested for Punjab presidentship of ASWJ (Punjab chapter) against Muavia and lost, the police says. Later, he planned the killing and the attackers also offered Friday prayers along with Muavia on that day. “Another major reason of his killing was difference within the ASWJ ranks; the old LeJ members used to say that they have sacrificed for the party and now others have taken over the party. There were also differences on financial matters of the party,” a senior police official says. The group also attacked Masood Abid Naqvi advocate on December 4, 2012 in Mozang; Dr Sagheer Asghar Baloch Bhakkar on September 3, 2013 in Race Course area; writer Asghar Nadeem Syed on January 21, 2014 and Professor Namwar Abbas on February 8, 2014 in Garden Town but these targets only got injured. The group also kidnapped a trader from Brandreth Road who was a resident of Defence Housing Authority and received Rs 20 million ransom against his release. The calls for his ransom were made from Waziristan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa areas, police say. Bhatti, the ringleader of the group, who has escaped from the country after the arrest of other members, prepared the group headed by a local resident of Badami Bagh Lahore, Abdul Rauf, in his late 20s, who is from a wealthy Gujjar family with huge piece of land in Kasur district. Police say Rauf, who owns more than 625 acres of land in Kasur and other districts, had been brainwashed by Bhatti in a local seminary Jamiatul Azhar. After Karachi, where sectarian killings were the order of the day in the past few years, security officials had feared a similar wave in Lahore as well after the release of Malik Ishaq. There were intelligence reports of possible target killings. In the late 1980s, dozens of noted members of Shia community were targeted by the LeJ, following an operation by the then Punjab government. Today, there are reports in the press that the Punjab government is soft on these elements because it has made some political compromises keeping in view the next general elections. Ishaq spent more than 14 years in prison on charges of terrorism and attempted murder charges that were eventually dropped in 2011 due to a lack of evidence. But many believe that the cases fell apart because of death threats to judges and potential witnesses. LeJ is regarded as the most extreme Sunni terrorist group in Pakistan and stands accused of killing hundreds of Shia since its emergence in the 1990s. The five other apprehended suspects are Sabir Shah, Sheikh Farhan, Shafqat Farooqi alias Muavia, Mohammad Hashim and Suleman Pathan. “We have put the police force on the frontline by breaking this sectarian network. This was a big challenge,” senior police official says. “You cannot resolve this issue without a long term strategy and strong political will with an improvised criminal justice system.” Abdul Rauf, who was impressed by LeJ hardcore leadership, got weapon training in his own compound, according to his recorded statement available with the police. He planned to kill Dr Ali Haider when a few days before the incident he took his father to his clinic where his appointment was delayed by the personal assistant of the victim. Later, Rauf saw black flag (Alam) on doctors’ house. Later, he informed Bhatti about this and started following the target.
Raza Rumi is alive. It appears Hamid Mir will survive. Shan Dahar is dead.For CPJ, most of this weekend was taken up learning about and responding to the assassination attempt on Geo TV's most prominent anchor and commentator, Hamid Mir. CPJ quickly released a statement after the attack and fielded questions from international and Pakistani media almost nonstop. On Sunday, I met with about 30 Pakistani journalists and community leaders in New York to discuss the situation. The government has offered a reward of 10 million Pakistani rupees (about $102,000) for information leading to the apprehension of the people who tried to kill the very high-profile Mir. This weekend's response wasn't unlike that on March 28, when gunmen sprayed the car of TV anchor and widely-respected analyst Raza Rumi, a member of the Express Group of media organizations. And we handled a flood of questions after the January 17 attack on an Express TV van in Karachi, in which three media workers were killed and a cameraman injured. It was the third attack in eight months on the Express Media Group. An attack on an Express bureau chief's home was the fourth. The attack on Rumi was the fifth. But in the middle of all the phone calling and emailing in the last few days, I received two email messages that took the focus off Mir and Raza Rumi, but are, in fact, all part of the same problem. I've conjoined both messages and edited them to make them a bit clearer: Dear All, Still we are waiting for justice regarding Shan Dahar's case, please raise case of Shan along with Hamid Mir. No more investigation is done in this case, please take up our case to [the] government level. We have submitted an application to our honorable Deputy Inspector General of Police Larkana Division for a re-investigation of Shan Dahar's case one week before, but no output. We need your support & cooperation all the time. Could you please follow up our case with higher authorities, we don't have approach nor any source. Your prompt action will be highly appreciated, awaiting suitable response. Riaz & Fouzia Brother-in-law of Shan Sister of Shan Dahar Karachi, Pakistan My CPJ colleague Elisabeth Witchel, our international expert on questions of impunity in the killing of journalists, and I met Riaz and Fouzia in Karachi in March, a week or so prior to a CPJ delegation meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Information and Law Minister Pervaiz Rasheed. The couple is adamant in pursuing justice for Shan Dahar, and we've promised them that we would raise their case whenever we could. There has been little substantive movement in the investigation of the shooting death of Dahar, a local reporter for Abb Takk television. He died on January 1 this year, while filming near a pharmacy in Larkana. He had already produced one story on prescription drugs being illegally resold in the town, and was taking video of a package bearing a "not for resale" label on it shortly before he was shot, according to his family. Nasir Baig Chughtai, the director of news for Abb Takk, confirms that Dahar was on assignment at the time he was killed. He died in the hospital after waiting for hours for medical treatment, which never came, possibly because it was the New Year holiday. CPJ's data show that 96 percent of journalists murdered around the world are local journalists covering local stories. Dahar's case is every bit as typical of that reality as the murder attempts on Rumi or Mir. And worse, in 90 percent of the cases of journalists killed, no one is brought to justice--the killings happen with impunity. Pakistan has the world's ninth worst record for bringing the killers of journalists to justice, according to CPJ's annual Impunity Index. So, starting on January 1: An increasingly bad record for the Nawaz Sharif government in terms of journalists' safety. Much has been made of the somewhat successful prosecution in March of some of the perpetrators, but none of the masterminds, in the January 2011 murder of Geo TV reporter Wali Khan Babar. But the credit for that cannot be given to the Sharif government. The trial was underway when the government came to power and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was instrumental in pressuring the federal and Sindh governments to bring the trial to a conclusion. What worked were the tactics of hearing the case in an Anti-Terrorist Court; changing of the trial venue to a less dangerous location; the use of special prosecutors; and a witness protection program for those with the courage to testify. This has emerged as a model for such politically sensitive trials, even though they may come at a cost: In early April Abdul Saboor, the brother of Abdul Maroof, the special public prosecutor in Wali Khan Babar murder case, was killed by unidentified men. No motive has been ascertained, police say. When CPJ met with Sharif and Pervaiz Rasheed in March, we walked away with the feeling that the government realizes it has a problem when it comes to journalists' security and is ready to take steps to deal with it. Amid the ongoing killings, attacks and unrelenting threats, their plans are coming closer to be realized. In an April 14 piece in The Express Tribune, "Protecting journalists in Pakistan," Mazhar Abbas, who won a CPJ International Press Freedom Award in 2007, outlines where things stand in terms of the government's efforts to address the problem legislatively. Abbas, a former secretary-general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, is far from a government apologist. He remains a strong advocate of journalists in the best trade-union tradition. But even he says, "There is a sense of realization within the government that the security of media in Pakistan is the responsibility of the state." Abbas explains that in recent days the government submitted 20 draft proposals for consideration by the National Assembly, which arose out of its consultations with most of the stakeholders to the problem. The proposals cover everything from insurance for journalists to safety training, who pays for protective gear for staff on dangerous assignments, and how quickly attacks on journalists must be investigated and brought to trial. A main forum for that discussion has been the Pakistan Coalition on Media Safety, a group that arose just over a year ago out of a U.N. conference in Islamabad, the International Conference on Safety & Security of Pakistani Journalists. Now, in 2014, a year later, Abbas says he hopes the legislation to protect journalists will be enacted by World Press Freedom Day, May 3, 2015, a year from now--an optimistic but achievable deadline. Meanwhile: After this weekend's attack on Mir, the highly respected Zohra Yusuf of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said, "There should be an independent and judicial inquiry commission but that should not end like the one established to probe into killing of journalist Saleem Shahzad. This time the attempt went unsuccessful so there is a need to inquire about the details and people behind the attack before they plan another one." Her idea was adopted by the government on Sunday. CPJ has been highly skeptical of the value of special judicial inquiries and tribunals like those called for by the HRCP's Yusuf. See, for example, "Justice for Saleem Shahzad? We've seen this before..." and "What should happen following the Raza Rumi attack." We feel that special investigations, even when they include high-ranking judicial figures, circumvent the basic application of the laws of the country for the crime of murder: a police investigation, the appointment of a prosecutor, a trial, a conviction, and a sentencing. We feel that as the government waits for its proposed new legislation, it should use those tools it already has, the tools it used in the Babar case, to continue to prosecute the ongoing attacks on journalists. The threats and violence remain as prevalent as they ever have been, and show no signs of abating. Prosecutions of those who would kill journalists should start now.
Amnesty International details journalists' claims of harassment, intimidation and attacks at the hands of military intelligenceAmnesty International says it has "credible concerns" that Pakistan's powerful military spy agency kidnaps, threatens and even kills journalists who cross it.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
By Sara YasinIt looks like George Clooney, the man famed for being a confirmed bachelor, will be marrying hot shot human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin. It's the stuff that romantic comedies are made of: A hunky Hollywood playboy with a long list of ex-girlfriends finally decides to settle down after a whirlwind courtship with a brainy, accomplished and beautiful human rights lawyer.