Thursday, May 8, 2014
In Nigeria, women say they are proud that U.S. first lady Michelle Obama is standing with them, a day after she tweeted a picture of herself holding up a #BringBackOurGirls sign. But some security analysts fear that U.S. involvement could do more harm than good in the effort to rescue nearly 300 kidnapped girls. Outside a busy conference room, Hauna Ali, a Nigerian journalist and mother, grins as she holds up her cell phone. Her new Blackberry avatar is a picture of Michelle Obama holding up a sign that says #BringBackOurGirls. “It’s just wonderful," Ali said, near tears. "Michelle doing it, standing in the White House. It’s just mind-boggling.” Even after five years of the Boko Haram insurgency that has killed thousands of people, the kidnapping of nearly 300 girls nearly four weeks ago was a shock to Nigerians. Protests led by women broke out across the country and online activists rallied around Twitter hashtags like #BringBackOurGirls. Nigerians have never been louder in their demand for security, and Ali says Mrs. Obama’s tweet proves they have finally been heard. “We now have this feeling that we are not alone in this fight," she said. "Women in Africa now have a voice and our voice is being heard. Not just in Nigeria but in the whole world.” Foreign assistance offered In the past two days, the United States, Britain, France, Canada and China have offered assistance in finding the girls and Nigeria has accepted. But the girls are believed to be held in a remote region either controlled by or infested with well-armed militants who say they are holding the girls as slaves to be sold. Some security analysts fear that foreign involvement could do more harm than good. Ade Ogundeyin is the CEO of Proforce, a security company that builds armored cars and other military equipment. He says if the girls are rescued, it will only be with the help of local people, who will not work with Western forces. A Western presence in northern Nigeria could also aggravate the fighting. “We have to be very, very careful," he said. "This is a typical Nigerian situation. And if it is escalated, yeah, they could get the girls. But they may be all dead.” Boko Haram means “Western education is sin” and Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he leads the group, regularly threatens to kill any Nigerian who associates with the West and Western leaders. Women's rights issue Damiola Awesu, a Nigerian human rights lawyer, says the missing girls are not just a security issue, but a women’s rights issue. Even before the kidnapping, most girls in northeastern Nigeria didn’t go to school. She says it will be years before education levels for girls in the region will rise again to even minimal standards. “We want our children free," she said. "We want them to come back home. It’s their right to live their life. It’s their right to go to school. And the government has the responsibility to protect their rights.” Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has promised that the girls will be rescued and says they remain alive and healthy. But information is scarce and he hasn’t said how he knows anything about their condition or when they will be saved.
The Report on the National Security of China (2014), China’s first blue book on national security, was issued in Beijing on Monday. According to the report, against a backdrop where international terrorist activities are on an upward trend, terrorist incidents within China’s territory in 2013 showed a range of new features. The report draws the conclusion that terrorist activities within China’s territory are expanding across regions, with the government and the police as the main targets. The infiltration of religious extremists is posing a threat to the solidarity of socialist belief.
Terrorist activities within China’s territory are expanding across regions.According to the report, with the gradual expansion of its overseas interests China is facing a growing international security risk. Terrorism in the era of globalization will also affect Chinese living abroad. Additionally, against a backdrop where international terrorist activities are on an upward trend, terrorist incidents within China’s territory in 2013 were a freequent occurrence. According to official information, 10 violent terrorist attacks took place within China’s territory in 2013. The report states that since some elements of the terrorist incidents are associated with international forces, they cannot be prevented by national power organs alone. The establishment of the National Security Council, the highest trans-department decision-making body and deliberation and coordination agency, is a strategic measure to ensure that national security is effectively safeguarded. The infiltration of religious extremism is posing a threat to the solidarity of socialist belief. Religious extremists manipulated by hostile western forces are both provocative and deceptive, employing more diverse and subtle measures and spread over a wider range. The infiltration of overseas forces has spread its influence into most areas of China, and this situation is intensifying, according to the report. All the terrorists involved in the attacks of 2013 were religious extremists, according to the report. They were brought together to watch videos advocating religious extremism and terrorism before they perpetrated their atrocities. “The infiltration of religious extremists is posing a serious threat to China's ideological security and China’s national security. We must heighten our vigilance against this problem,” the report pointed out. The National Security Council will coordinate security both domestically and internationally. According to the central conference and documents, the National Security Council is the highest decision-making body and deliberation and coordination agency for national security. The National Security Council will coordinate security both domestically and internationally and it has four main functions. Firstly, establish and implement national security strategies. Secondly, boost the national security network and structure. Thirdly, establish national security policies. Fourthly, analysze and resolve major issues concerning national security.
Badawi, also ordered to pay $266,000 fine, has been behind bars since 2012 and was originally charged with apostasy.A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a blogger and activist to 10 years imprisonment and 1,000 lashes for setting up a "liberal" network and insulting Islam. The sentence for Raef Badawi was handed down on Wednesday in a Jeddah court. Badawi was arrested last June and sentenced to seven years in jail and 600 lashes. But an appeals court overturned the ruling and ordered a retrial. In addition to a harsher sentence, the court on Wednesday also ordered Badawi to pay a $266,000 fine. The network that he co-founded with another activist, Suad al-Shammari, had declared May 7 2012 a "day of liberalism" and called for an end to the dominance of religion over public life in the kingdom. Shamari said the network's website had "criticised some clerics, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (religious police), in addition to religious fatwas (edicts) considered harmful to Islam. "Clerics have filed a lawsuit against him. The government tries to appease them, at our expense sometimes," AFP news agency reported her as saying. Shamari said the network was only active online, adding: "Our activities remain virtual." Amnesty International called Wednesday's ruling "outrageous". Phillip Luther, director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Programme, said: "He [Badawi] is a prisoner of conscience who is guilty of nothing more than daring to create a public forum for discussion and peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression. “Raif Badawi is the latest victim to fall prey to the ruthless campaign to silence peaceful activists in Saudi Arabia. "The authorities seem determined to crush all forms of dissent through every means at their disposal, including imposing harsh prison sentences and corporal punishment on activists.”
http://www.thehindu.com/Pakistan released an FBI agent on bail on Thursday after three days in custody, officials said, a move that is likely to prevent the situation from escalating into a diplomatic spat. The American man was detained after airport authorities found him carrying ammunition and three knives on Monday as he was about to board a flight for the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. The arrest threatened to open a new chapter in troubled relations between Pakistan and the U.S., which have been uneasy allies since the September 11 terror attacks. But the relatively fast release, if confirmed, suggested efforts to defuse any tensions. A law enforcement official in the U.S. has said the man was an FBI agent and said he was in Pakistan as part of a multi-agency, anti-corruption programme. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivities of the case, said the agent appeared to have made a mistake and didn’t mean to carry bullets aboard the plane. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed the detention on Wednesday and said the U.S. was coordinating with Pakistani authorities to resolve the matter. She did not identify the man. A Pakistani court directed the man to submit a surety bond of Pakistani Rs. 1 million ($9,800) for his bail, police officer Rao Anwaar said. The American arrived in Karachi on May 1 and was detained after officials found him with the ammunition, knives and electronic devices that were being examined. Other police officials said investigators were under immense pressure from the Interior Ministry and other government officials to release the American so the report was rushed. They found he had no criminal intention in carrying the bullets during domestic air travel, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in exchange for release the details. Washington needs Pakistan’s help fighting al-Qaeda and stabilising neighbouring Afghanistan, as NATO uses Pakistani roads to supply its troops. However, relations have strained over a series of incidents. CIA contractor Raymond Davis shot and killed two Pakistani men in Lahore in January 2011. The U.S. unilaterally killed Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad in May 2011 and American forces accidentally killed 24 Pakistani troops along the Afghan border the same year. U.S. drones strikes in the country also have angered Pakistanis.
http://dunyanews.tv/Widespread and prolonged power outages in most parts of the country continued on Thursday despite Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s order to reduce duration of loadshedding, Dunya News reported. Urban areas are facing 10 hours while rural are suffering 14-hour power cuts every day. On the other hand, Sui Norther Gas Pipeline (SNGPL) authorities have suspended gas supply to fertilizer plants to boost power generation. 50 million cubic feet of gas will be supplied to power plants from today evening whereas electricity generation will increase by 800MW, sources told. Resultantly, loadshedding will reduce by two hours. During hearing of case pertaining to electricity loadsheeding, the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court today remarked that uncontrolled power thefts highlight government’s failure to tackle the crisis. He said government did not fulfill its responsibility to stop power theft, over-billing and conserve electricity. Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said new project will be operational after four years but where is the solution for current scenario. He directed the federal government to present its policy regarding electricity loadshedding by June.
Asif Ali Zardari denounces assassination of Advocate Rashid Rehman as despicable act of barbarism and fanatcism
Co-Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party former President Asif Ali Zardari has denounced the assassination of human rights activist Advocate Supreme Court Rashid Rehman in Multan Wednesday as a ‘despicable act of fanaticism and barbarity’ and demanded probe in the light of apprehensions expressed by the martyred Advocate himself prior to his assassination. “What is needed now is a transparent probe, early arrest of the criminals and exemplary punishment to the perpetrators of the crime under the law”, he said in a statement today. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari paid tributes to the Advocate Rashid Rehman as a martyr who laid down his life in the cause of human rights and in defending those accused of assorted crimes by fanatics and extremists in the name of religion. The former President said that the public statements by the assassinated lawyer of receiving threats of assassination because of his defence of a blasphemy accused should serve as the starting point of any honest and transparent investigations in the gruesome murder. It may be recalled that last month Advocate Rashid Rehman was reportedly threatened inside a court room in Multan to desist from defending a blasphemy accused or face extermination at the hands of fanatics. Reportedly he even made a verbal complaint about the threats to the Judge but no action seemed to have been taken. The human rights activist had also named his tormentors who had warned him that he will not be able come out alive of the court next time. The former President said that it is a matter of grave concern that the human rights activist was not only threatened inside a court room but within less than a month the threat was also actually carried out. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari said it was a matter of abiding shame and pain that people accused of religious crimes were being increasingly denied the right to a fair trial even after especially incorporating it in the 18th Constitutional Amendment. It is time that all stake holders worked together to ensure that blasphemy law is not misused in the manner it has been so grossly misused ever since the law was amended by Zia’s military dictatorship, he said. Asif Zardarti also prayed to Allah to give eternal peace to the soul of Rashid Rehman and patience to the members of the bereaved family.
A Hindu Afghan was was for the first time appointed as the ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The Afghanistan embassy in Canada following a statement said the newly appointed ambassador Sham Lall Bathija, presented his Letters of Credence to His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, at a ceremony held in Rideau Hall, Ottawa. Mr. Bathija was called an extraordinary, plenipotentiary and special envoy of the Afghan Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The Presidential Palace officials said Sham Lall Bathija is a senior Afghan diplomat who specializes in economy and has good knowledge of economic affairs in developing countries. Bathija was born in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan and has completed his higher education in the field of economy and law in India, according to BBC Persian. He has worked in various international organizations including the United Nations and has resided in United States of America.
With foreign combat troops preparing to leave Afghanistan, India has agreed to supply the country with military equipment. Guest columnist Ahmed Rashid says the move risks raising tensions. India's decision last week to pay for arms and equipment from Russia to boost the strength of the Afghan National Army (ANA) could be a dramatic game-changer in the region - as well as a step fraught with escalation in regional rivalries. Pakistan is almost certain to look critically at the deal and accuse India, its rival, of trying to outflank it. For the last few years India has tactfully declined to say yes to Afghan President Hamid Karzai's repeated pleas for the Indian supply of heavy weapons for the ANA, such as long range artillery, tanks and aircraft. Spending billions of dollars in the past decade, the United States has rebuilt the ANA, but it has made sure that it remains a lightly armed force with defensive rather than offensive weapons. Both the US and India seemed to have been careful in not upsetting Pakistan, which has been critical of the size of the ANA and will most certainly react if the ANA receives offensive weapons. Until recently there have been high tensions between the Pakistan military and the ANA along their disputed, porous and unmarked border, with the Afghans repeatedly accusing Pakistan of wilfully allowing the Taliban to cross from their havens in Pakistan to fight the Americans and the ANA. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan have no control over large parts of their common border. India's refusal to accept Mr Karzai's requests has gone down well in Islamabad, and both India and Pakistan have been on their best gentlemanly behaviour when it comes to not making provocative or rash statements about their well-known mutual rivalry in Afghanistan. This relationship was tested after the Afghan Taliban's Haqqani network launched attacks several years ago on the Indian embassy and its personnel in Kabul. India and the US have repeatedly put the blame on Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which has worked closely with the Haqqani network since the 1970s. Since those attacks ceased, both countries have kept the rhetoric down, despite constant needling by Mr Karzai, Afghan army generals, Russia and Iran, which have all argued that India needs to do more to support the ANA. India has declined, saying it does not want to get involved in the civil war in Afghanistan even though it has supported the government strongly. Now that the Americans are leaving by the end of this year, India seems to have changed its tune. So far the agreement with Russia implies that India will pay for Russian arms such as light artillery and mortars to be delivered to Afghanistan. However both countries say it could involve the delivery of heavy weapons in the future. According to Reuters, India is expected to help Afghanistan restart an old armaments factory near Kabul, refit old Soviet-era weapons, and step up training of Afghan officers and special forces - something it has already been doing in small numbers. Afghans have long fought with Russian or, previously, Soviet weapons and much prefer those to Western arms. Under US supervision and payment, the Russians recently supplied the tiny Afghan air force with Russian-made M-17 helicopters, which the forces of the Northern Alliance used for many years in the war against the Taliban. All this is likely to deeply annoy Pakistan, and escalate tensions with India and rivalry over their influence in Afghanistan. The Pakistan army has a low opinion of the ANA and does not trust it receiving offensive weapons which could be used on their common border. Now - just as Pakistan is giving the Afghan Taliban and its leader Mullah Mohammed Omar sanctuary on its soil - Afghanistan is allowing the Pakistani Taliban and its leader Mullah Fazlullah to shelter in Afghanistan. Both sides have denied providing official sanctuary to the Taliban. This tit-for-tat escalation has already led to fire-fights, exchanges of artillery fire and casualties between the two armies on the border. Islamabad also has suspicions that Indian trainers or advisers on the border could theoretically now replace US and Nato trainers. Moreover, the arms deal could lead to a replay of the bloody civil war in the 1990s, when Pakistan backed the Taliban, and India, Iran, Russia and the Central Asian republics backed the then Northern Alliance. Balancing act? However, one country could play a stabilising or balancing role and that is China. President Karzai has also asked China for military help but Beijing has been extremely reluctant to get involved on the ground in Afghanistan - just as China refuses to get involved in other conflict zones such as North Korea. Pakistan could now ask its closest ally, China, to get more involved in bolstering the ANA. That could balance Indian and Russian influence. One critical unanswered question remains: who is going to pay the $4bn a year that the ANA needs to continue functioning and paying salaries? The US and Nato have said they are willing to foot part of the bill but not for very long. There is no hint that India, Russia or China have offered money up front to support the ANA. Most experts conclude that the ANA will have to drastically reduce its size anyway by next year, because nobody will be willing to support more than 320,000 soldiers and policemen who constitute the present Afghan security forces. If outside countries pour in heavy weapons without the money to pay for sustaining the army, the danger of those weapons ending up with the Taliban becomes even greater. That is exactly what happened with the last lot of Soviet heavy weapons left behind in 1989 when Soviet forces left Afghanistan. The weapons were soon in the hands of warlords and the Taliban and the civil war started. Pakistan fears that any heavy weapons arriving in Afghanistan could end up in the hands of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. Afghanistan needs peace before it needs more weapons, and it needs bigger doses of diplomacy and political dialogue to get the Taliban to stop fighting. If that could happen, rather than flooding it with weapons once again, Afghanistan would be a happier place.
PAKISTAN: AHRC condemns the assassination of a prominent human rights defender and places the responsibility on the government of Punjab
A remote controlled bomb exploded at Double Road near NADRA office. Two people have died and six got injured amid the incident. Rescue teams reached the site and the injured were shifted to the hospital.
http://dunyanews.tv/At least eight security personnel embraced martyrdom and several others got injured in a roadside blast in troubled North Waziristan tribal area bordering Afghanistan, Dunya News reported on Thursday. According to Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) had been planted by terrorists on Miranshah-Ghulamkhan road. The bomb exploded as a military convoy passed in the village of Ghulamkhan. Several security forces personnel were also critically injured in the explosion, ISPR reported. Local military officials confirmed the incident and said troops called in air support and launched a search operation in the area after the attack..
Hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria have found a powerful ally — Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who survived a Taliban assassination attempt and became a global symbol of girl-power, equal rights and triumph over terror. "These girls are my sisters," the brave 16-year-old activist told NBC News' Bill Neely on Wednesday in Birmingham, England, where she has been living since being targeted for death in 2012 because of her tireless campaigning. "And I am feeling very sad." She offered a message to the abducted Nigerians: "Never lose hope because we are with you."
Yousafzai, a remarkable figure who was a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize and was invited to the White House, called on the world to speak out against the brutal Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, which bragged about abducting more than 200 girls and threatened to sell them. "We should all stand up together and we should speak," she said.
Although the Nigerian crisis is unfolding a world away from where she was ambushed on a school bus in the Swat region of Pakistan, Yousafzai saw disturbing parallels between the two situations. "It is what happened in Swat as well. In Swat we were suffering … girls were banned from going to school and banned from going to market, and the same is happening in Nigeria," she said. "They were in schools trying to study thinking about their future, and then suddenly some people came and abducted them." She added, "I think it is beyond our imagination and a very horrible situation, so it is like another kind of terrorism." Yousafzai was just 11 when she outraged the Taliban with a speech entitled, “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” Despite the danger, she continued to speak out about girls' right to schooling. She was on a bus on her way home from an exam when a gunman stormed on and shot her point-blank in the head. Even though her insistence on speaking out nearly cost Yousafzai her life, she feels she has no choice but to join the international chorus calling for increased pressure on the Boko Haram to release the Nigerian girls.
"It is my duty that I will speak even if no one is listening to me," she said. "I will continue … until people take action. "I have learned from my life when you are speaking from truth, when you are speaking from justice, then no one can defeat you. And this is what I believe in." Protesting against the abductions is the only hope of preventing more of them, she said: "The thing is, if you want to protect other girls as well, then we have to speak." Yousafzai runs a foundation in her name and she said its next project will be focused on secure education for girls in Nigeria. "I think this is just a small globe," she said.
Several times during the last eleven months there were indications from the government that it was going to remove the ban on YouTube. But fearing strong reaction from its extremist sympathisers, each time the government developed cold feet and postponed the decision. The PML-N leadership needs to come to terms with the fact that we live in a global society where bans of the sort can only isolate the country. What is more they feed extremist tendencies. YouTube is a treasure trove of information and is an important part of the social media. With its numerous videos on myriads of subjects including the various branches of science, history, geography and even mathematics, it has been of immense use for the student community and the teachers. For music lovers, from soul music to classical, semi classical, folk and pop, everything is available at a few clicks. It has helped budding artists to learn drawing without the help of expensive tutors. The political parties had started to rely increasingly on YouTube to engage with their followers. To block it amounted to cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. The rationale behind blocking the YouTube is questionable. The site does not force the viewers to visit controversial uploads. Those who complain of injurious material should resist the temptation to access it. Bans are of no use as viewers keen to access banned sites can do so, albeit through a somewhat tedious process. YouTube was banned in Pakistan in September 2012 when a man with a diseased mind uploaded on it the trailer of a highly substandard movie called “Innocence of Muslims”, which injured the feelings of the Muslim community all over the world. If no note was taken by the anti-blasphemy brigade, few would have ever known about the existence of the movie and even those who opened the site would have found it more repulsive than entertaining. Banning the YouTube is like closing down an entire library which happens to have just one objectionable book. On Tuesday, the National Assembly unanimously supported a resolution presented by a PPP MNA to unblock the YouTube. The government however continued to harp on the so called ‘sensitivity’ of the issue. Is Pakistan the only Muslim country where people have sensitivities? What about Saudi Arabia where viewers watch three times as much YouTube as their peers in the US? Turkey only banned it this year not on account of public sensitivities but for leaking recordings considered politically damaging by the administration. After the National Assembly has called for lifting the ban, the PML-N should pick up the courage and unblock the site. Appeasing the extremists has already done the country enough harm. It’s time the government dropped the policy.
As if things could not get any worse for our image abroad, Pakistanis look set to face even more restrictions and bans when it comes to travelling abroad. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has implemented its threat to impose strict curbs on Pakistanis’ travel to foreign lands. An emergency committee of the WHO made its recommendations and, on Monday, the announcement was made to stop the spread of the poliovirus by slapping travel bans on Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria where the disease was most reported. Out of the many recommendations, in all probability, it will be made mandatory for all international travellers to have a polio vaccination certificate verifying that the traveller has had polio drops administered at least four weeks prior to travel. If anyone is travelling urgently, then the vaccine should be taken by them at the earliest before departure. The Pakistan government has responded by saying that it will set up immunisation points at airports and all points of exit in the country. How they actually plan to do that — a mammoth undertaking — is a big question. Besides, will immunisation immediately prior to departure at airports be acceptable to other countries? The planning, coordination and organisation of our government authorities, especially in matters of social welfare, are abysmal. We have been unable to curb the spread of the disease in our own country where 59 cases have already sprung up in this year alone. Would it not have been better for those in charge to have taken responsibility and prevented this outcome where Pakistan is being ostracised internationally? Instead of having to go through what will no doubt be debilitating repercussions for all of Pakistan’s citizens, should the government not have taken the spread of polio seriously? Should those in charge not have come down hard on the militants who were first spreading lies and propaganda about the vaccines and then resorting to murderous campaigns against health workers risking their lives to immunise children? Should we not have acted then? It is all very good that now we are thumping our chests and assuring the international community that we will set up check points and administer drops to all travellers but should we not have avoided this calamity? Even if we digress from talking about international travel, when will we consider the toll this is taking on our children who are being crippled by the spread of this disease? We are becoming a heartless nation for not helping them, and the world is now recognising that sad reality.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa faces acute shortage of oral polio vaccine and thus, struggling to implement the World Health Organisation recommendation for vaccination of all those traveling abroad from there, it is learnt. The provincial government is required to administer OPV to people approaching the Bacha Khan International Airport, Peshawar for international travel. “The government has decided to implement the WHO recommendations and administer anti-polio drops to all people traveling abroad from the province. However, it’s not possible until the federal government supplies the required stock of vaccine,” a relevant official told Dawn on Wednesday. On Monday, the WHO had recommended travel restrictions on Pakistanis traveling abroad to prevent polio transmission to the countries long declared free of the crippling disease. The recommendation is about vaccination of all those traveling aboard against polio irrespective of their ages. Until now, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department has been administering OPV to children up to five years of age. The department had already anti-polio counter at the Bacha Khan International Airport, Peshawar, where children under five years of age are being provided OPV before traveling abroad. However, the province will need an additional 50,000 doses of the OPV to be able to provide to the about 2000 people traveling through the airport every day. Only this year, we have administered OPV to 479,000 children under five year at the Bacha Khan International Airport, officials said. The WHO declaration came after back-to-back polio cases from Fata, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi and emergence of positive environmental water sample from Lahore with a view to protect polio-free countries from re-infection. The province has enough human resources to implement the recommendations in letter and spirit but it requires around 600,000 additional doses per year. The provincial government has conveyed to the relevant authorities about the desired quantity of OPV. After the 18th Constitutional Amendment, it was the responsibility of the provinces to procure vaccine but the federal government had taken it upon itself to make sure that the provinces receive OPV. In this light, the health department is waiting the supply of vaccine before embarking on the implementation of the WHO recommendation. The province’s existing stock is supposed to be given to the children to the under-five children during campaigns. Under the plan, the people planning to travel abroad within next forty days could get vaccination at the district headquarters hospitals and teaching hospitals and a certificate by the relevant medical superintendents, while those visiting foreign countries within few days could be given OPV on the counter at the airport. When contacted, provincial health minister Sharam Khan said travel restrictions were initially for three to six months and that the polio vaccine certificate would be valid for one year. “We are fully prepared to implement the WHO recommendation and continue our efforts to eradicate polio,” he said. The minister said the government had made marked progress towards polio eradication due to the Sehat Ka Insaf programme and that efforts were underway to continue vaccination in other districts, too. “We have also requested the federal government to ensure vaccination of children in Fata and put brakes on the transportation of virus to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Similarly, request to Afghan government has also been sent through federal government to immunise children in areas located nearby Pak-Afghanistan border,” he said. The minister said the Indian government had already made it mandatory for Pakistanis to get vaccinated against polio before traveling to its territories two months ago.
Human Rights Advocate Rashid Rehman Khan was gunned down by unidentified attackers in Multan, DawnNews reported late on Wednesday night. Initial reports suggest that Khan was targeted by two gunmen inside his office at Kachehri Chowk. Sources told Dawn.com that two clean-shaven young men barged into Advocate Khan's office and shot him dead. They also injured his two lawyer friends, identified as Nadeem Parwaz and Afzal. Injured were taken to Nishtar Medical Center where Parwaz is said to be in a critical condition. “Armed gunmen stormed the chamber of Rashid Rehman and started indiscriminate firing on Wednesday evening, injuring Rehman and two of his associates present there,” senior police official Zulfiqar Ali told AFP. Advocate Rashid Rehman Khan was a coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). The senior lawyer was defending a university lecturer accused of blasphemy and had complained that he had been receiving threats on his life. The HRCP had voiced serious concern over the threats extended to Khan. The Supreme Court advocate had submitted an application with the District Bar Association president Sher Zaman Qureshi last month, saying he was threatened by two lawyers and two other persons who asked him not to appear in the case he was representing. Rehman was representing Junaid Hafeez, a lecturer at Bahauddin Zakariya University. Hafeez was known for his liberal views at the university and the case of blasphemy was registered after pressure from right-wing student groups, said a student, who wished not to be named. Pakistan has strict laws against defaming Islam, including the death penalty for blasphemy, and rights campaigners say they are often used to settle personal disputes. A recent report from a US government advisory panel said Pakistan used blasphemy laws more than any other country in the world, listing 14 people on death row and 19 others serving life sentences for insulting Islam.