Sunday, August 31, 2014
http://www.voanews.com/President Barack Obama leaves Tuesday for a trip to Estonia and later Wales, in Britain, for a gathering of leaders of NATO countries. Russia's latest actions in Ukraine are making the trip an especially important one. The arrival of U.S. troops in Estonia last April was a concrete sign of American support for Baltic nations feeling threatened by Russia's aggression in Ukraine. Obama's stop in Estonia -- a NATO member -- is meant to reaffirm America's defense commitments. “Part of the reason I’ll be going to Estonia is to let the Estonians know that we mean what we say with respect to our treaty obligations,” said the president. Fresh violence and evidence that Russia is sending hundreds of troops into Ukraine means Obama's visit comes at a critical time. Estonia, like Ukraine, is a former Soviet Republic, and also like Ukraine, has a large Russian minority. These factors make Estonians feel vulnerable. Heather Conley, a former Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of State, said, “There has always been a great fear in the Baltic states that if push came to shove, they question whether NATO would really have their back. And I think it’s very clear, not only with words and our solidarity, but we’ve actually put U.S. soldiers, hardware, in the Baltic states.” But NATO's capacity to fulfill its commitments is another question. With European members cutting their defense budgets, much of the burden of providing equipment and personnel for alliance missions is falling on the U.S. The president plans to call on member nations to do more. “Part of the reason I think this NATO meeting is going to be so important is to refocus attention on the critical function that NATO plays to make sure that every country is contributing in order to deliver on the promise of our Article 5 assurances,” said Obama. U.S. officials hope the crisis in Ukraine will be enough of a wake-up call for NATO members to realize they should boost their contributions.
Going to war may seem one of the most hazardous ordeals on the planet, but perhaps not. The International Labor Organization (ILO) says there is more chance of dying from work than fighting for your country on the battlefield. The admission was made by Guy Ryder, the ILO’s director-general, who was speaking at the 20th World Congress in Frankfurt to participants from 141 countries in what is the world’s largest occupational safety event. “The challenge we face is a daunting one. Work claims more victims around the globe than does war: an estimated 2.3 million workers die every year from occupational accidents and diseases,” said Ryder, in an article published on the organizations website. Ryder believes that work related deaths should get more attention than they currently do in the mass media. “Ebola and the tragedies it is causing are in the daily headlines – which is right. But work-related deaths are not. So, the task ahead is to establish a permanent culture of consciousness,” he said. While health and safety around the work place is improving, this is certainly not the case around the globe. In 2013, over 1,100 laborers died in a Bangladeshi factory after the building where they were working collapsed. Ryder believes it is unacceptable that people are forced to work in such conditions, where their lives are unnecessarily put at risk. This puts safety and health alongside forced labor, child labor, freedom of association and discrimination, which were recognized in the ILO Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.” Ryder mentioned that total of cost of work related illnesses and accidents are a staggering $2.8 trillion around the globe. He also stressed the importance of investing in safety procedures and insurance, saying, “every dollar that is invested pays in.” The head of the ILO said that it is imperative that better data is logged to record accidents at the work place, to help prevention and also give target figures to help reduce the number of mishaps: “We live in the Information Age where policy-makers have access to data on most issues. But in relation to occupational safety and health we lack data to design and implement evidence-based policies and programs. That’s a failure – also of political will.” The ILO is a body of the United Nations and is based in Switzerland. It was founded in 1919 in response to the horrors of the First World War, as part of the Treaty of Versailles with the belief that lasting peace can only be achieved through social equality. Its purpose is to try and achieve better working, social and economic conditions for workers around the globe and to ensure that safety is paramount.
As Iraqi troops help liberate the besieged town of Amerli, Australia joins the U.S. and other Western nations in carrying out airdrops of humanitarian aid and military equipment to Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.
A 15-minute phone call made just under a year ago may be what historians say set the stage for a landmark nuclear agreement with Iran – if one is achieved by a November 24 deadline. The call between Presidents Barack Obama and Hassan Rouhani marked the first direct contact between the United States and Iran since 1979.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Farooq Sattar said on Sunday that changing Prime Minister is a logical option considering the ongoing political crisis, Dunya News reported. Addressing the media, Sattar said that all four pillars of the state are under attack, alleging that the government has failed to prevent the worst. MQM leader said that it is vital to save the system and constitution at the moment by changing the Prime Minister, adding that this is a constitutional and legal option. Condemning the police brutality, Farooq Sattar said that the government has raised serious question over its mandate by launching the operation against civilians.
The Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) officials have said that President Hamid Karzai is planning to leave the presidential palace on coming Tuesday. IECC chief, Abdul Satar Saadat, told reporters that Presidnet Hamid Karzai has insisted that the next presidential inauguration should taken place on coming Tuesday. Saadat further added that President Karzai is planning to leave the palace if the presidential inauguration did not take place on Tuesday. He urged President Karzai not leave the palace and wait until his successor has been elected and the presidential inauguration takes place. According to Saadat, the president is considering to transfer the power to the vice-presidents. However, he said there are no guarantees that the vice-presidents would transfer the power to the elected president. However, the presidential palace officials have rejected the remarks by IECC officials and said the president will not abandon the palace until the next president is not sworn in.
Local officials have reported that the number of girls attending school in eastern Khost province has increased to 115,000 as education awareness rises within families since the fall of the Taliban regime.Local officials have reported that the number of girls attending school in eastern Khost province has increased to 115,000 as education awareness rises within families since the fall of the Taliban regime. In the past years, the girls in Khost were not allowed to go to school beyond the sixth grade because families believed it would taint the honor of the family. However, in recent reports many girls have surpassed the sixth grade and some have even graduated from high school. "I am currently in the eighth grade," Mujhghan, one of the many girls attending school, said. "My family encourages me to go to school." Gul Pekai, another student, said that attitudes toward education have changed in society, showing appreciation toward her family and friends who have encouraged her to further her education. Deputy Head of the Education Department of Khost, Bakht Noor Bakhtyar, said that the number of girls attending school increases every day. Khost Governor Abdul Jabar Naeemi has expressed optimism over the recent developments in the education sector, especially for girls. "Families are encouraged to let their daughter graduate from high school," Naeemi said. "We encourage families to allow their daughters to continue after the sixth grade." The province of Khost has witnessed a positive change in the education sector and attendance of aspiring young girls, but the rest of the country has recently seen a decrease in the attendance of girls because of the deteriorating security issues.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan on Sunday demanded immediate resignation of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and blamed him for the killing of innocent people. "Police action against innocent people should be condemned. We will fire an FIR against Nawaz Sharif," said Imran Khan. "Nawaz has killed innocent people. We will won't budge till Sharif resigns," said Imran. Earlier, demanding immediate resignation of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, thousands of protesters led by Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri had running battles with police and paramilitary forces in Islamabad in the wee hours, resulting in injuries to more than 300 people. The clashes started after orders by Khan and Qadri on Saturday to shift their protest venue to the official residence of Sharif to force him resign immediately. At least 308 injured were brought to Polyclinic and Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, the two premier state-run hospitals, a Pakistani channel Duniya TV reported. Hundreds of protesters entered the lawn of Parliament but they were stopped at the main entrance of the building where army soldiers were deployed. Khan and Qadri are with protesters and exhorting their supporters to force their way towards the PM House. Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said that protesters had committed a crime by attacking parliament which is a "symbol of democracy". The clashes were continuing as police pushed them back with intense shelling of tear gas and rubber bullets. The situation was very tense in the capital as a number of demonstrators refused to budge from the protest site. Both the leaders are agitating since August 14 against alleged rigging during the last year general elections. "I will lead the march to the PM House. All my supporters should follow me," Khan said asking women and children to stay behind until asked by him to join the march towards the PM House. Khan's announcement came soon after a similar decision by Qadri. Thousands of police and paramilitary personnel were deployed blocking all the roads leading to the PM residence. Khan asked his supporters to remain peaceful and asked law enforcement agencies not to stop the agitators. As tension mounted, Sharif left for Lahore. A late night government announcement categorically ruled out Sharif's resignation and there is no threat to his life. Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/pakistan-protests-nawaz-sharif-imran-khan-tahir-ul-qadri-islamabad/1/380042.html
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) President Javed Hashmi has said that Imran Khan’s decision of marching towards PM house was against the party discipline. Talking to media, Hashmi said the party leadership unanimously decided that they will not go further but Imran Khan imposed his decision. He said he asked Imran Khan to wait till the end of talks but Imran emphasized that he had to move forward. Hashmi said Imran Khan has become the follower of Tahirul Qadri, adding that Khan will be held responsible if democracy was derailed. He said that Imran Khan told him to leave if he had reservations against his decisions. PTI president said Imran Khan promised him that he will not go further from a certain point, adding that children and women were our responsibility. He urged the government to immediately stop barbarism. He said he was very tensed over the current situation. Fearing martial law, he said it wasn't very far from us now. He asked Imran Khan to take his party out of this embarrassment, adding that such protests are not even allowed in Washington and London.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Saturday said that the politicians should have not asked the army to mediate between the government and the protesting parties. In a statement, HRCP Chairwoman Zohra Yusuf said that there should be no two views about the fact that the day when political discord needed adjudication from the army was an exceeding gloomy day for Pakistan. “It is unfortunate that the day is upon us now. This is exactly what the civil and all pro-democracy forces had feared and cautioned against.” According to the statement, “Developments in the last few days prove that the democratic transition that had been prematurely celebrated is a long way off yet. We had hoped against hope that the politicians would live up to their commitments and avert being pushed towards the precipice.” The statement also read, “The closing of ranks among the politicians to protect democracy and the constitution from this latest ambush has been the most pleasant outcome of the circus going on in Islamabad. It has also done the country a service by bringing together under one umbrella all the actors who will stop at nothing to give the so-called umpire yet another chance to intervene.” “There is no doubt any longer about who played the dirty part in this sordid affair. Notwithstanding all the mistakes that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif might have committed and his inept handling of the situation, it seems more clear than ever that Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri — who rejected efforts and observations from the executive, judiciary and parliament, including PTI’s own coalition partners in a provincial government — had come to Islamabad with the solitary objective to do all they could to invite a role from the military. Nawaz Sharif is now being painted as having given them that pleasure.” “HRCP joins civil society and all pro-democracy elements in mourning this sad development. It must at the same time make it clear that the army’s role must end with the closure of this most unsavoury chapter in Pakistan’s history and normal functioning of the elected government resumed. The government must continue to strive to end the standoff while avoiding the use of force against participants of the sit-ins as long as they remain peaceful,” the statement read.
Pakistani police on Sunday clashed with scattered pockets of anti-government protesters trying to advance on the prime minister's residence after a night of violence that saw hundreds wounded and the first death in more than two weeks of demonstrations. The violence has raised the stakes in a political standoff, in which cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri have led twin protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, alleging massive voting fraud in the election that brought him into office last year in the country's first democratic transfer of power. Backed by parliament and many political parties, Sharif has refused to step down. Government negotiators have tried to convince Qadri and Khan to end their protests. Senior hospital official Dr. Wasim Khawaja said Qadri supporter Naveed Razzaq drowned in a ditch after he was in a crowd that was bombarded with tear gas. Hundreds of people were wounded overnight as police battled protesters with tear gas, batons and rubber bullets near the premier's official residence and the adjacent parliament building. The protesters started regrouping at daybreak Sunday and made repeated attempts to make their way through heavy deployment of police and barricades to reach the premier's residence. Police strengthened their lines and responded by lobbing tear gas canisters. Scores of protesters, including women, carrying hammers and iron rods broke down a fence outside the parliament building late Saturday, enabling hundreds of people to enter the lawns and parking area, according to an Associated Press photographer at the scene. Islamabad police chief Khalid Khattak said the protesters were armed with large hammers, wire cutters, axes and even a crane. More than 300 people — including women, children and police officers — were admitted to two government hospitals in the Pakistani capital, medics and police said. The injured had wounds from tear gas shells, batons and rubber bullets, said Dr. Javed Akram, who heads the capital's main hospital. Akram said 182 people, including 37 police officers, were treated at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences. Another 152 people were brought to a government hospital near the scene of the clashes, said another physician, Dr. Tanvir Malik. The protests began with a march from the eastern city of Lahore on Independence Day, Aug. 14, that eventually reached Islamabad. Khan and Qadri had called for millions of protesters to join, but crowds have not been more than tens of thousands. The protesters' presence and heightened security measures have ground much of the capital to a halt. On Saturday similar marches were held in Lahore and Karachi, and on Sunday small demonstrations were held in other towns. Riot police initially showed restraint during Saturday's march, but when the crowd started removing shipping containers used as barricades, they fired salvos of tear gas canisters that forced the crowds back. Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan visited the scene of the protests late Saturday to boost police morale. "A group wanted to capture the prime minister's house and other buildings. We are under oath, and the police as well, to protect the state assets," he told reporters.
Around 498 people have been wounded in clashes between police and protesters in Pakistan's capital Islamabad, hospital officials said Sunday, as a fortnight-long political impasse took a violent turn. The violence, which began late Saturday and continued early Sunday, erupted after around 25,000 people marched from parliament to the prime minister's house, where some attempted to remove barricades around it with cranes, an AFP reporter at the scene said. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. Islamabad police chief Khalid Khattak told AFP that police exercised restraint but the protesters were armed with axes, wire cutters and hammers. "They had a crane and drove it until the entrance of the presidency. We are using only tear gas and firing rubber bullets where needed," Khattak said. Railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said protesters tried to uproot the entry gate of the prime minister's house. The protesters, led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, had been camped outside parliament house since August 15 demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif quit amid allegations of vote rigging. The injured were rushed to Islamabad's two main hospitals, and the number of casualties is expected to rise as clashes continue. Demonstrations have also erupted in the eastern city of Lahore and the port city of Karachi. Khan and Qadri claim the 2013 elections which saw Sharif sweep to power were massively rigged.
Clashes between police and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf workers erupted here after Imran Khan and Tahiurl Qadri announced to shift their sit-ins in front of the prime minister house, prompting police to use tear gas and rubber bullets to keep the protesters at bay, Abbtakk reported. Enraged political workers took to the streets in Lahore against use of force in Islamabad.Police try to stop dispres the protesters by doing baton charge and use tear gas which for the time being disperse the protesters but they returned and start protesting again once the police took back step. The workers vandalized shops and burned tires on the road near Liberty Chowk.
LAST evening the political crisis that has captivated this country for three weeks boiled over.First, there were indications that somehow the government had acceded to the most extraordinary and wretched of capitulations: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was, according to feverish rumour, to go on a month-long enforced vacation while a senior minister ran the government and the Supreme Court-led judicial commission investigated the allegations of so-called widespread fraud in last year’s election. If the allegations were found to be true, again according to the mooted deal, the National Assembly would be dissolved and fresh elections would be held. That the deal was rumoured to have been reached just hours after Mr Sharif had spoken scornfully of the protesters and their number and impact in Islamabad suggests that the government had already lost all control of the situation. Then, late into the evening, came another spectacular, shocking turn of events. Imran Khan, Tahirul Qadri and their respective protesting camps decided to move from their venue outside parliament towards Prime Minister House. Know more: PTI, PAT protesters clash with security forces That suggested a deal – any kind of deal – was off and that the government’s foes were going for the political kill. In retaliation, the government bared its teeth against the protesters and mayhem ensued as tear gas shells were fired and the civilian-run police – not the military – were used to repulse the protesters onwards movement. Never – never – has the capital witnessed such scenes in its history and events, at the time of writing these lines, could well end up as a disaster. Surely though the events of Saturday evening were highly choreographed and scripted by some power other than Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri. The very idea that a few thousand baton-wielding protesters can march towards Prime Minister House without some explicit assurances behind the scenes is absurd. Quite what those assurances are and what the endgame ultimately is will be known soon, perhaps overnight or in a day or two. The biggest question: can Nawaz Sharif survive? The answer, in these frantic hours, must surely be a miserable, despondent no. If that is in fact the case – if Mr Sharif’s third term as prime minister is at or near an end – what does that say about the PML-N supremo? Is he a failed leader or a political martyr? Piecing together the events over the last year and especially over the past few months, the answer seems to be Mr Sharif is a failed leader. This was a political crisis that was mishandled from the outset. Too much confidence, too much scorn, too much arrogance – and very little nous. For five years, from 2008 to 2013, Mr Sharif mostly said and did the right things. The democratic project had apparently – and thankfully – become larger than Mr Sharif’s whims. But one year into his term, in his handling of the forces determined to undo the project, Mr Sharif has proved himself a leader very much out of his depth.