Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pakistan Govt Admits Punjabi Taliban’s Presence In Punjab
The federal government has finally admitted that Punjabi Taliban are present in Punjab province. Addressing a gathering at a private university here on Saturday, Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said that Punjabi Taliban were emerging in South Punjab. He, however, reiterated that government would eliminate elements, who wanted to bring about their own system by force. Responding to a question, Rashid said that PTI chief Imran Khan would be taken into confidence about government’s next strategy to deal with terrorism.

Hangu: Explosion at festival kills 6 children
According to police, all six children belonged to the same family.
At least six children were killed as a result of an explosion that took place at a children’s festival in Hangu on Sunday. Police and rescue personnel rushed to the site; those injured were rushed to a nearby hospital where many are in critical condition. According to police, children were playing with what looked like a toy and it exploded. All six children belonged to the same family, the police sources told. Police is still uncertain about the exact nature of blast. An investigation has been launched after cordoning off the area.

Climate change: Food security should be top priority for Pakistan

Experts from various disciplines gathered at the Climate Change Conference in Karachi stressed a dire need for research on the issue in Pakistan as it ranked amongst countries highly vulnerable to the phenomena. The conference, organised by Habib University, highlighted the urgent need to incorporate climate change adaptation into the national climate policy. The keynote speaker, Dr Bruce McCarl, a disitinguised professor of Agricultural Economic at Texas A&M University, sounded the alarm and advised the government of Pakistan to put a special emphasis on saving it agricultural sector, first and foremost since it was most sensitive to extreme weather. McCarl, who was also part of the Noble Peace Prize winning team of Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007, said, "From agricultural point of view, Pakistan should focus on its most staple crops like Wheat" because food security should be the top priority in the climate change scenario. Shafqat Kakakhel, chairperson of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) said that Pakistan was prone to natural disasters and was frequently facing an increase in floods, droughts and other extreme events. Kakakhel also stressed the need for educational institutes to introduce climate change and environment policy in the school curriculum. Climate change and the role of media was the subject of another important panel discussion at the conference where Rina Saeed Khan, a prominent writer on environment, said in her presentation that though Pakistan was one the lowest emitters of green house gases in the world it remained highly susceptible to the climate uncertainties. Her presentation touched upon the hurdles of communicating climate change phenomenon to the masses in local languages without losing its impact. Muhammad Badar Alam, the editor of Herald Magazine, was also of the opinion that there was a serious lack of credible information about climate change as the government departments were often tight lipped about the dissemination of information about the issue. Alam had a three-point solution to address the situation. Firstly, access to viable information from the institutes and the scientists, secondly, its comprehension from the journalists, and most importantly passing that information to the masses in jargon free language. Later in a panel discussion director World Wide Federation (WWF), Sindh, Rab Nawaz, stressed upon the need for downstream water in the Sindh delta to keep the mangroves in healthy condition.

Pakistan struggling with polio campaign

Recent attacks on polio vaccination teams has undermined the country's efforts to rid itself of the disease.
Almost 100 new polio cases have been registered in Pakistan since last year and officials are worried that number could increase if more people are not vaccinated.
But the work of Pakistan's polio vaccinations teams has been hampered because they face targeted attacks.

Pakistan: Democratic histrionics

Daily Times
Lal Khan
The obscene mantra of successes of the democratic transition and respect for the mandate being propounded by the bourgeoisie are the reflection of its actual fears and predicaments
For decades, the question of democracy verses dictatorship has been debated relentlessly in the political arena of our elites and their toadies. For capitalism and imperialism, military dictatorships and bourgeois democracy are interchangeable as long as they guarantee the continuation of their exploitative system of plunder. Since the Second World War, there has been a succession of one military dictatorship after another in ex-colonial countries. Pakistan has been no different as the military brutally imposed itself on the poor masses for more than half of the country’s history. Whenever the ruling elite was threatened with a movement against its obscene rule, it pulled out all the stops against the masses, including the most obscure tricks in the book, to pacify and divert the masses with non-issues. If this seemed unsuccessful, then quickly it leaned on its ‘B’ team, the traditional left (read PPP). Since the fall of Ziaul Haq, there have been successions of right and so-called left democratic governments in Pakistan. The current hysteria in the electronic and print media around Musharraf’s trial, the relatively ‘peaceful’ transition of the chief justice and the army chief, and the repetitive mantra of the mainstream parties’ leaders and the intelligentsia of a successful transition from one democratic government to another proves that the PML-N government is a continuation of the same age old tactic.
However, this transition does not mean much for the vast majority of the people who have continuously suffered under the military and democratic rule of the ruling classes with incessant degradation and agony of economic and social exploitation and coercion. Along with these frivolous issues projected by the elite and its media, the social horizon is rocked with sensational sexual and financial scandals and juicy illicit relations of the rich and the famous. If this were not enough, the masses are inflicted by the daily terror of Islamic obscurantists and the terror of price hikes, shortages, unemployment and biblical poverty. The people of Pakistan are not duped by any of it and there is a real revolt simmering underneath the surface but, for the current period, this is blocked from all sides. The crisis of the elite has permeated into all sections of the state and politicians, some of whom are so frustrated at being left out of the structures of power and accompanying loot that they are forced to resort to calling for rebellions and revolutions, and this can only be for a regressive obscurantist dawn. The divisions, confusion, inertia and total failure of this degenerated, belated, impatient ruling class, and its dysfunctional state and structures to solve any of the fundamental problems are starkly chalked on the streets and walls of the country. Capitalist democracy, in its present condition of terminal decay, is the rule of the rich for the rich and by the rich. It is being exposed in the mass consciousness and even in the thinking of sections of the state. Not only this, the ‘democratic’ system has led to social and economic disasters for the masses and its process, methodology and political legitimacy have been severely eroded. The present regime has confessed that, if the results are verified, a majority of the results would prove to be duplicitous. The obscene mantra of successes of the democratic transition and respect for the mandate being propounded by the bourgeoisie are the reflection of its actual fears and predicaments, which could provoke a revolt against the socio-economic distress from below. This is also the basis of the policies of reconciliation and wrangling on non-issues by the different sections of the elite in crisis itself. These democratic histrionics are more doctored and planned than the impromptu fashion with which they are being depicted.
The current epoch is an epoch of crisis and, as its tremors are being felt across the globe in a domino effect, it has also exposed the hollowness of bourgeois democracy and its degeneration across the world where its authenticity and relevance are being questioned by ordinary people. There are serious doubts developing, even in Europe and the US, the advanced cradles of bourgeois democracy. In one country after another these processes, elections and their outcomes are being boycotted and rejected by the opposition political parties. In the last few months we have witnessed this in Eastern Europe, Africa and near to us in Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia. It is perhaps not so astonishing that the foremost protagonist of capitalist democracy, The Economist, had to say this in its last issue, “Those living in dictatorships often harbour the delusion that the point of democracy is that you get the government that you want. Those living in democracies soon realise that this is not the system’s most salient feature: rather, it is that voters get the government they want and are expected to put up with it until the next election.”
Karl Marx could not have put it in simpler language when he wrote: “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them...Necessity is blind until it becomes conscious. Freedom is the consciousness of necessity.” One of the most radical and egalitarian presidents of the US, Thomas Jefferson, was more pertinent than any of the elitist intellectuals and politicians of modern day sick capitalism. He famously wrote: “Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” The masses are extremely resourceful and, when faced with the failures of old traditions, they invent new parties and methods of struggle. The rise of the Aam Admi Party in the Indian capital of New Delhi is one reflection of this. Despite its radical programme and some actions like subsidised clean drinking water and electricity for those who are lucky to have cables and pipes running to their homes and saying no to pomp and glitter, Mr Kejriwal’s coalition had a very rude awakening of having to work within the confines of the rotten existing system. This is clearly reflected by the inability to provide water to the vast majority of Delhi’s poor and the realisation of total incapacity of reforms within the system. The real issue is that under the oligarchy and dictatorship of corporate and finance capital, there can be no genuine democracy. The masses are discovering this reality through painful experiences, betrayals and deceits, and are drawing correct lessons from this. The mass consciousness in general lags behind economic realities but once it catches up with these events, the collective consciousness takes the form of an irreconcilable class struggle. Its victory, through a socio-economic transformation, can give the masses that collective democracy from the grassroots level where they will be able to decide their own fate. Only then can human emancipation become a reality.