Friday, September 5, 2014

Shakira - Can't Remember to Forget You ft. Rihanna

China: Xi stresses adherence to China's political path ahead of legislature anniversary

President Xi Jinping on Friday said China must promote socialist democracy through the improvement of the system of people's congresses, as the National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature, celebrates its 60th anniversary.
While hailing the system of people's congresses as China's fundamental political system, Xi said "In new situations, we should hold high the banner of people's democracy, while adhering to and improving the system of people's congresses as required by the times."
"We should keep to the socialist path of political development with Chinese characteristics and continue to promote socialist democracy," he said at a conference to mark the aniversary, which falls on Sept. 15.
China's socialist political system has proved itself feasible, efficient and has vitality because it was developed in the country's social soil, Xi said, adding that any system should be designed and developed according to a country's actual conditions and situations.
"China needs to draw lessons from the achievements of foreign politics, but the foundations of our system should absolutely not be given up," Xi said.
Copying another country's political system is not feasible and will even ruin the future and fate of China, he said.
The development of socialist democracy is a must for modernizing the country's "governance system" and "governance capability," he said.
"The key to developing socialist democracy is expanding rather than weakening our advantages and characteristics."
He stressed China must stick to the CPC's core role that exercises overall leadership and coordinates all efforts to ensure effective governance of the country and prevent engendering "a host of dragons without a head" or "a heap of loose sand," Chinese sayings which mean a country is leaderless or not united.
All power of the country must belong to the people, ensuring their power of voting as well as democratic decision-making, management and supervision in accordance to law, he said.
Politicians making boundless promises during elections with no responses to people's demands after the elections should be avoided, he added.
"We must stick to and improve the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation led by the CPC so as to prevent parties being at strife and jostling each other (for positions)," he said.
Regional autonomy of ethnic minorities should also be followed and improved to consolidate socialist ethnic relations that feature equality, solidarity, mutual aid and harmony rather than estrangement and conflicts.
China must strengthen self-governance at the grass-roots level to prevent phenomenon that the people seem to have power but are actually powerless, he said.
He also noted the system of "democratic centralism" which helps forge united forces to administer and govern the country and avoids impeding of each other and internal conflicts.
People should unswervingly stick to the CPC's leadership, ensure people's master status and promote the rule of law in their efforts to enhance the system of people's congresses, Xi said.
The President called for efforts to improve legislative work to provide legal support to China's development and major reform measures.
The country should deepen reform on its judicial system, expand channels for the public to supervise the use of power, and establish an effective system to curb corruption, Xi said.
Chinese leaders Li Keqiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli were also present at Friday's conference, which was presided over by top legislator Zhang Dejiang.

U.S. - Atlantic City’s Next Gamble

ATLANTIC CITY — NUCKY JOHNSON’S town can still throw a party. Tens of thousands of fans recently flocked to Atlantic City for two free concerts on the water’s edge, first by Blake Shelton and then by Lady Antebellum. With casinos shutting their doors, leaving thousands jobless, these are just the type of fun events that the resort city needs if it is to survive. But some businesses misbehaved. Several casinos charged concertgoers $50 for parking, five to 10 times the usual rate. Some people in this city never miss the opportunity to sacrifice long-term vision for a fast buck.
Since the arrival of casino gambling in 1978, Atlantic City has squandered one opportunity after another. Much of the city looks as drab and dreary as it did before the casinos opened. Many buildings abandoned in the early 1970s — the last time the resort hit bottom — still haven’t found a use. The people in City Hall can’t decide whether to let them stand or knock them down, creating more empty lots. For large portions of the city, it’s as if gambling never happened.
For 20 years Atlantic City had most of the nation’s gamblers to itself, but the city’s leaders failed to exploit that position by diversifying the local economy. Huge casino profits and tax revenues rolled into town like tidal waves of cash. Some casino operations reinvested in the city better than others, but City Hall frittered away many millions on salaries and contracts with power brokers’ pals. No thought was given to a serious citywide capital improvement program.
The easy money generated complacency, and now we’re paying for it. There are more than 60 places to gamble east of the Mississippi, not counting online. Vacationers don’t have to travel to Atlantic City to visit a casino, and they won’t, unless we give them more reasons to come.
The key to the future lies in the past. Atlantic City was built on “spectacles”: crowd-drawing events from free concerts, boxing matches and beauty contests to art shows, beer festivals and basketball tournaments. Founded in 1854 as an experiment in social planning, it was the first city in America conceived solely as a resort. With the singular purpose of providing leisure-time activities for visitors, it has no other reason to exist.
Yet implicit in this experiment is that vacationers’ tastes are forever changing and so, too, must Atlantic City. Keeping the experiment flourishing, by perpetually reimagining an up-to-date resort economy, requires each generation to develop a new vision.
In the 19th century, Atlantic City wasn’t so much the “world’s playground” as Philadelphia’s watering hole. Excellent railroad service made it easy for Philadelphia’s immigrant factory workers to break away from the staid City of Brotherly Love. The resort reached the zenith of its popularity in the ’20s. To quote one old-timer, “Prohibition didn’t happen in Atlantic City.”
Boss of the city throughout this era was Enoch “Nucky” Johnson (no relation to me). He dominated political and social life from 1911 to 1941, when he went to jail for tax evasion. Nucky understood that repeat business by vacationers was indispensable. Unlike Nucky Thompson, the character based on him in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” Johnson ruled with a velvet hammer. His power was such that he never needed violence to get his way. (Still, I can picture him handling the money-grubber demanding a $50 parking fee for a free concert. It wouldn’t happen a second time.)
Despite being a corrupt autocrat, Johnson had the foresight to invest in the future. During Prohibition, while the bars, nightclubs and hotels were rolling in cash, he knew it couldn’t last forever and rallied the city to construct a first-rate entertainment venue in the form of the Atlantic City Convention Hall, now known as Boardwalk Hall. Although the city saw a steady decline in visitors following the repeal of Prohibition, the venue remained a draw, as it does today.
Unfortunately, Johnson also left behind a community so acculturated to political bossism that when the “Organization” finally collapsed in 1971, the city was rudderless. Machine politics was replaced by an endless free-for-all among hapless politicians hoping to be the next boss. (Few succeeded; some went to jail.) Those who did make it into office used the city’s payroll to swell the ranks of their supporters. Today the city has one of the highest ratios of government employees to population in the country. With so many tax dollars going to salaries, there’s little left for anything else. Despite its corruption, Johnson’s machine didn’t bloat City Hall’s payroll and delivered essential municipal services in a competent manner. That’s not true today.
City Hall is where innovative ideas go to die. There has yet to materialize a sustained effort to rethink the city’s role in the national economy and rebuild it into a safe, clean, first-rate resort. Any attempts at “planning” are smothered in the cradle by petty political interests.
It’s not hopeless. There’s more to Atlantic City than casinos. While gambling revenue is plummeting, retail and restaurant profits are rising. Hiding in plain sight are splendid assets: the mighty Atlantic Ocean, beautiful beaches, easy access by one-fourth of the nation’s population, the Boardwalk, modern convention facilities, an excellent international airport 10 miles away, institutions of higher learning eager to help, and finally, a skilled work force to make things run smoothly.
We just need a City Hall that can free itself from Nucky Johnson’s legacy of corrupt patronage, while embracing his example of creative foresight.

Video: President Obama Holds a Press Conference at the NATO Summit

Video Report: Young Yazidi girl escapes Islamic State kidnappers

Russian Foreign Ministry: NATO Statements on Ukraine Endanger Progress in Peace Process

The gist and tone of the statements made by NATO-members on the situation in Ukraine risk to hamper progress in the peace process and escalate tensions in the violence-torn country, Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday in a statement, commenting on the results of the NATO summit in Wales.
“The gist and tone of statements on the situation around Ukraine and the announced plans of NATO countries to conduct a joint drill with Ukraine on its territory before the end of this year are bound to escalate tensions, threaten the start of progress regarding a peaceful settlement in Ukraine and contribute to the deepening of the split in Ukrainian society,” the ministry said.
Moscow accused the North Atlantic Treaty Organization of supporting neo-Nazi and extremist forces in Ukraine, particularly the Right Sector. “Moreover, they testify to NATO’s unreserved support for Kiev’s neo-Nazi and extremist forces, including the Right Sector,” the statement says. Moscow also stated that NATO adopted a line towards eastward expansion, the plan which has been nurtured for a long time, while “the Ukrainian crisis became merely an excuse for the start of their implementation.”
Russia will examine in detail the specific decisions of the summit, but is not surprised by the results.
“The alliance established in the Cold War era as a military and political bloc cannot change its genetic code by definition. Its strategic course on interfering in the affairs of foreign states did not emerge yesterday or today. It logically flows from NATO’s search for its role and place in the global security system under the conditions of the absence of a coalition military confrontation,” the ministry’s statement says.
Following Crimea’s reunification with Russia in March 2014, NATO has been boosting its military presence close to Russia’s border. In particular, dispatching a number of warships to the Black Sea and reinforcing air patrolling missions in Baltic airspace. Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over the increasing NATO military presence close to its borders.

NATO cautious welcome for Ukraine ceasefire

Kurdish forces make gains on ISIS in Iraq as NATO leaders promise help

Kurdish forces backed by U.S. air cover made gains Friday against ISIS fighters in Iraq's Mosul province as NATO leaders concluded a summit in Wales, pledging to help defeat the radical Islamic forces.
The Kurdish fighters, known as the Peshmerga, retook several villages seized this summer in ISIS' lightning assault in Iraq as well as high ground overlooking plains on the approach to Mosul, CNN's Anna Coren reported.
"It is a duty of everybody who loves democracy and freedom and human rights to struggle against the terrorists," said Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Rowsch Shaways, a Kurd.
U.S. forces conducted four airstrikes Friday around Mosul Dam and in Irbil, destroying an observation post, several vehicles and three mortar positions, U.S. Central Command said.
In Kirkuk province, ISIS fighters kidnapped nearly 50 men from the village of Tal Ali after beating them, according to Kurdish security forces. ISIS ordered residents to fight the Peshmerga before leaving, the Kurdish officials said.
In Wales, President Barack Obama said NATO allies were committed to fighting ISIS.
"It's not going to happen overnight, but we're steadily moving in the right direction," Obama said.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said alliance members "stand ready to assist Iraq" in its fight against ISIS, but neither he nor British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested there are immediate plans to send combat troops.
"For Britain's part we don't rule anything out. We'll act on our national interest," Cameron said in response to a reporter's question about committing troops. "I think in terms of the sort of decisions you're talking about, we're not at that stage yet, and I think it's very important that what we do is part of a comprehensive plan."
In addition to conducting some 131 airstrikes against ISIS targets in the last several weeks, the United States has sent military advisers to Iraq to help with strategies to combat ISIS.
Canada -- a NATO member -- said Friday it also will send "several dozen" troops to Iraq to help advise that country's government on fighting ISIS, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office said.

Obama Says US Will 'Degrade and Ultimately Defeat' ISIS Like Al Qaeda

The militant group, also known as ISIS, “poses a long-term threat to the safety and security of NATO members,” Obama said at a press conference in Newport, Wales. “We have a critical role to play in rolling back this savage organization.”

Watch more news videos | Latest world news The president advocated systematically “taking the fight to” ISIS in much the same way the U.S. combated al Qaeda.
“You initially push them back, you systematically degrade their capabilities, you narrow their scope of action, you slowly shrink the space, the territory that they control, you take out their leadership, and over time, they are not able to conduct the same kinds of terrorist attacks that they once could,” Obama said, adding that U.S. combat troops would not be deployed to the region.
“I don’t think that’s necessary for us to accomplish our goal,” he said. Instead, the American military will work to strengthen Iraqi and Syrian forces already on the ground.
Obama also called for a “strategic communications effort so that we are discouraging people from thinking that [ISIS] represents a state, much less a caliphate.”
“That’s not what Islam is about,” he added.
Obama, in Wales for a NATO summit, joined British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday in pressing the alliance to stand firm against ISIS’ “brutal and poisonous extremism.”
In a London Times Op-Ed, the leaders panned an “isolationist approach” and vowed that America and Britain “will not be cowed” by ISIS.
“Whether it is regional aggression going unchecked or the prospect that foreign fighters could return from Iraq and Syria to pose a threat in our countries, the problems we face today threaten the security of British and American people,” they wrote.
Obama, who has authorized over 100 airstrikes to aid Iraqi and Kurdish forces combating ISIS in Iraq, last week acknowledged “we don’t have a strategy yet” to confront the militant group in neighboring Syria.

Video: President Obama Visits Stonehenge

Army chief holds off generals seeking Pakistan PM's ouster

By Mehreen Zahra-Malik
Weeks of mounting anti-government protests in Pakistan had been enough to convince five of the powerful army's 11 Corps Commanders that it was time for them to step in and force embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign.
According to a minister close to military circles, top generals met in the garrison city of Rawalpindi at the end of August as demonstrations raged in nearby Islamabad. Thousands of protesters had just tried to storm Sharif's residence.
At the tense, four-hour conclave, Pakistan's democratic process was once again in peril, with the military pondering another intervention in a country that has seen power change hands more often through coups than elections.
But army chief Raheel Sharif decided the time was not right to overthrow the civilian leadership, and moved to quell any disagreement in his ranks by overruling the hawks and declaring the crisis must be solved through politics, not force. Soon afterwards, the army issued a brief statement, reaffirming its commitment to democracy, and the threat of a coup, at least for now, had passed.
The minister, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of discussing the inner workings of the military, said at least five generals had been pushing for weeks for the army to take a more "active role" in defusing the crisis.
"The time for the army to be neutral is over," was how the minister summed up the message from dissenters around the table.
Two military sources confirmed this version of events. They, like the minister, spoke on condition of anonymity.
A senior security source added: "Raheel Sharif is not interested in direct intervention. The tanks aren't going to come rolling in. This army believes in compromise."
The army's media wing confirmed Sunday's meeting but declined to share details. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told Reuters the army was a "monolithic institution".
"What comes out from the army is ultimately one opinion," he said. "And ... they have supported democracy."
General Sharif, who is not related to the prime minister, may simply be biding his time.
If, with the help of tacit military support, Nawaz Sharif does manage to ride out twin protest movements led by cricketer-turned-opposition leader Imran Khan and activist cleric Tahir ul-Qadri, he is expected to emerge a diminished figure.
It would allow the armed forces to assume greater control of policy areas they most covet - security and foreign policy - and leave it to civilians to face public anger over internal problems such as a faltering economy and widespread power cuts.
A government insider told Reuters in August that Sharif had been assured by the military he would not be asked to step down and that there would be no coup. But in return his government would have to "share space" with the army.
Under the agreement, Sharif would be subservient to generals on issues he had wanted to handle himself - the fight against Taliban militants, relations with arch-foe India and Pakistan's role in neighbouring Afghanistan after NATO combat troops withdraw at the end of 2014.
The army chief's cautious stance may have been linked to the strong show of support for the prime minister this month in parliament, where politicians lined up to back him.
General Sharif also inherited the current team of commanders from his predecessor when he took over the top job last year, making him less secure of his position, insiders said. But with five top security officials due to retire next month, he has a chance to appoint his own men.
"It's hard to imagine an army chief trying to actively intervene or do something drastic when he isn't 100 percent sure his team will back him," said a defence ministry source.
"Next month ... he will have four of his own Corps Commanders. He'll have his own intelligence chief. Then he'll be a man to watch out for." Spy chief Zaheer-ul-Islam, one of the five departing officers, was among those pushing for the prime minister's ouster, according to three senior government sources.
"It is not the army but elements within the ISI that have been backing Imran to get rid of Nawaz," said one of the sources, referring to Pakistan's most powerful security body, the military's Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
A senior ISI official said: "It is baseless to say the ISI is involved, but the fact is that this government has not delivered. No one will support it unconditionally."
Khan, who like Qadri accuses the prime minister of rigging the 2013 election and demands that he steps down, denies acting on anyone's orders.
A year ago, few would have predicted that Nawaz Sharif would be in such trouble. Back then, he had just swept to power for a third time in a milestone poll that marked nuclear-armed Pakistan's first transition from one elected government to another.
But in the months that followed, Sharif, who crossed swords with the army in the past, moved to enhance the influence of the civilian government in a country ruled by the military for more than half of its brief and turbulent history.
Sharif further irked the generals by putting former military head and president Pervez Musharraf, who ended Sharif's last stint in power in a 1999 coup, on trial for treason.
His principle goals were to improve trade relations with India, convince Afghanistan that Pakistan would not meddle in its affairs and find a negotiated peace settlement with Islamist Taliban insurgents fighting against his rule.
But with the more conservative-minded military back in the driving seat, it would be much harder for Sharif to deliver on the rapprochement with India that he promised Indian officials when he won the election.
It could also affect how Pakistan emerges from a regional tussle for influence in Afghanistan once the majority of foreign soldiers serving there return home.
"Nawaz is the biggest loser here," said a government official. "Coup or no coup, the democratic transition has been badly disrupted."
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Nuclear Pakistan’s Spies Target India—and Their Own Prime Minister

By Bruce Riedel
Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence directorate is using terrorist brinkmanship to threaten India and undermine Nawaz Sharif. It’s time to stop this dangerous game.
Just when you thought the world was dangerous enough, another crisis between nuclear-weapons-armed India and Pakistan is brewing, and now al Qaeda is adding fuel to the fire by calling for jihad in the subcontinent.
Tensions have been growing all summer long, even though, ironically, things began on a positive high note: in June, newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who swept into power on a landslide, invited his Pakistan counterpart, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to his inauguration.
Behind this unprecedented gesture, however, darker forces were planning a different sort of event. A squad of heavily armed terrorists attacked the Indian consulate in Herat, Afghanistan, right on the eve of the inauguration. They planned to take Indian diplomats hostage and then execute them as Modi was took office. Fortunately the Indian security guards at the consulate killed all the attackers.
The U.S. State Department publicly blamed Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the group which attacked Mumbai in 2008. LeT is very close to the Pakistani military’s Inter Services Intelligence Directorate or ISI. LeT would not have taken such a highly provocative action without at least some advance nod from the Pakistani spies in the ISI and the generals who command them. LeT’s leader, Hafeez Saeed, lives openly in Pakistan, frequently appears on television denouncing the United States, and is the darling of the ISI.
If there is another LeT attack like the one in Mumbai or the one in Herat, it will provoke the most serious crisis in years between India and Pakistan, and the more that can be done by the United States and other to prevent such a disaster the better. But it won’t be easy.
On Wednesday, to complicate the situation further, Al Qaeda released a new videotape of its leader Ayman Zawahiri announcing the creation of a an al Qaeda franchise in India. Zawahiri made the tape in his hideout in Pakistan, no doubt, and many Indians suspect the ISI is helping to protect him. Zawahiri has longstanding links to LeT and to Saeed. The 55-minute video is Zawahiri’s first this year and threatens jihadist attacks across India.
The domestic politics of Pakistan are central to this drama, and to this threat.
One of the goals of the Herat operation was to discredit Sharif, who has no control over the ISI or the Pakistani army. Since he was elected in his own landslide victory last year, the army has become increasingly unhappy with Sharif. They are very upset that he has put the former army dictator Pervez Musharraf on trial for treason and did not just let him leave the country quietly. Musharraf ousted Sharif in a coup in 1999, and while the army doesn’t care that much for Musharraf, it does not like the judicial system holding a general accountable for coups. For them that sets a bad precedent.
The army also was unhappy with Sharif’s reluctance to take on Pakistan’s own militant extremists, the Pakistan Taliban. Sharif wanted to talk to the Taliban, the army for once wanted to fight. Sharif ultimately gave in.
Meanwhile, violence has surged along the line of control in Kashmir, the province disputed by India and Pakistan since 1947 and the cause of several wars. This week the Indian army discovered a tunnel built under the line to infiltrate terrorists into Kashmir. Routine diplomatic talks between India and Pakistan have been suspended because Modi called them off when Pakistani diplomats met with Kashmiri leaders, a practice previously tolerated by New Delhi. Sharif had been urging deescalating the Indo-Pakistan rivalry and cutting back on the arms race, positions the army hardliners find threatening.
Sharif has been under siege—literally—in his office in Islamabad for the last couple of weeks, surrounded by an angry mob led by Pakistan’s famous photogenic cricket star and politician Imran Khan. Allied with a Canadian-Pakistani Islamic preacher, Khan has called for Sharif to resign. His movement has little nationwide popular support and there have been no demonstrations in other Pakistani cities backing his call, but it has kept Sharif preoccupied for weeks. Khan’s critics say he is being manipulated by the ISI to try to bring down Sharif or at least to neuter him. The army and the ISI were effective in neutering Sharif’s predecessor Asif Zardari. In fact that was a key goal achieved by the Mumbai attack in 2008. They want to neutralize Sharif by any means possible.
In short, the Pakistani army and its ISI spies are once again playing with fire—with India, the LeT and Kashmir—in order to secure domestic gains against their civilian leaders. Sharif is a weak prime minister today, just as he was the last two times he held that position in the 1990s, but he is the elected leader of the country. He should be allowed to finish his time in office.
The US should step up intelligence cooperation with India to prevent and deter attacks such as the ones in Mumbai and Herat. Even if a terrorist action cannot be foiled, the more information exchanged about Pakistani ISI involvement with LeT, the more likely the US will have credibility with New Delhi if a crisis does occur.
The United States should also consider a unilateral step if another attack occurs, threatening to place Pakistan on the State Department list of states sponsoring terrorism. America would treat Pakistan as a pariah like North Korea. It certainly meets the criteria and has for decades. The first Bush administration seriously considered this measure in 1992, although such a step obviously would have immense consequences for U.S.-Pakistan relations.
A more limited option would be to target specific sanctions against individual Pakistani officials involved in supporting terrorism, like members of ISI’s “S” branch that handles liaison with LeT, the Haqqani network and others. A targeted sanctions move against specific Pakistani military officials would send a strong deterrent message to the Pakistani army and could be a warning shot before putting Pakistan on the list of terror patrons.
Finally there should be contingency planning between Washington and New Delhi about managing a future Indo-Pakistan crisis like the Mumbai crisis. This would be intended to create dialogue, not creat a platform to gang up on Pakistan. But in any case it would be prudent to plan for the worst.

Politics in Pakistan - Army in the middle

A messy stand-off between the government, protesters and the army suggests that controlling Pakistan is harder than ever
SEIZING control of the state-controlled broadcaster used to be the prelude to military dictatorship in coup-prone Pakistan. The headquarters of the Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) in the heart of Islamabad was one of the first buildings to be taken over by soldiers in 1999 when General Pervez Musharraf ousted Nawaz Sharif, the country’s then-prime minister who was re-elected in a landslide victory last year. The sight of troops piling back into that same office block on September 1st aroused feelings of déjà vu. This time the soldiers entered PTV only to remove protesters who had forced the channel off air. Even so, those who hoped Mr Sharif’s return to power would spell an end to military meddling have reason to be worried. The generals are again circling ominously around him.
The demonstrators at PTV were largely made up of supporters of Tahir ul Qadri, a Muslim cleric with a large religious support base, and of Imran Khan, a famous cricket-player-turned politician. Mr Khan and Mr Qadri have been holding supposedly separate demonstrations in the heart of the capital since mid-August in an attempt to force out the government. Mr Khan has demanded the sacking of Mr Sharif, and a rerun of last year’s election. He claims he was robbed of victory, although no independent election observers seem to agree with him.
The two men’s combined crowds have been modest by Pakistani standards. Numbers have peaked at around 50,000 on carnival-like nights of music and speeches, but fell far below that during a recent rise in tension. The aim of the assault on PTV appeared to be to stir up confrontation in the hope that this would tempt the army to step in and remove Mr Sharif. Mr Khan, with his fondness for cricketing references, had promised his supporters that a “third umpire” will come and send Mr Sharif back to the pavilion. Banners lauding the army surround Mr Qadri’s encampment. While thugs have struck police officers with bamboo staffs, soldiers have been treated respectfully.
On August 28th the army did come out to umpire: Mr Khan and Mr Qadri were invited to a midnight discussion with the army chief, Raheel Sharif, who offered to act as a mediator between them and the government. (He had also been holding talks with Mr Sharif, who is not a relative.) On August 30th Mr Khan and Mr Qadri told followers to storm the prime minister’s official residence, prompting violent clashes with police. The following day the army told the government not to use force against the protesters. When military personnel asked them to stop smashing cameras and leave the PTV building, the 200 stick-wielding rioters swiftly complied.
The generals certainly have motives to weaken or even destroy Mr Sharif, who has a big parliamentary majority. The prime minister has made no secret of his desire to impose civilian control over the army. He also wants to transform hostile relations with India, a policy the army opposes. Furthermore, a government source says that the generals are angry because Mr Sharif reneged on what they allege was a secret deal to let Mr Musharraf slip abroad to avoid being found guilty of treason in an ongoing trial. Lastly, the government has been at odds with the army over Geo, a television station. In April the army demanded that Geo be closed down after it accused the chief of its intelligence wing of ordering the assassination of one of the station’s journalists. Geo later apologised to the army for its reporting. Now come reports from some of the prime minister’s aides that the army has already made a grab for the portfolios of foreign and defence policy, and that Mr Sharif has ceded some authority in these areas.
That is an infringement of the prime minister’s power. But it is not exactly a coup. The protesters’ efforts to draw the army further in have not worked; Mr Khan has been stung by allegations he has been dancing to the army’s tune and appears to have given up his street-fighting approach. And the signs are that even the generals appear to recognise that a military takeover would be bad for the army itself. The last time around, under Mr Musharraf, it was not up to the task. That is why, since Mr Musharraf’s ousting in 2008, the army has been trying to avoid taking overt control of politics. It worries that American financial assistance would be jeopardised by a coup. It has little interest in prolonging the turmoil on the streets of Islamabad at a time when it is engaged in a long-delayed assault on the Pakistani Taliban in the tribal areas of North Waziristan.
The army also happens to support a few of Mr Sharif’s policies, including his efforts to wean the country off expensive energy imports. The generals back his efforts to boost economic growth, not just to pay the nation’s civilian bills but also its huge military ones.
It is uncertain how much of a role, if any, the army played in fomenting the recent protests. Kamran Bokhari of Stratfor, an American security-analysis company, says Pakistan has a vast number of retired generals, who claim to speak for “the army” but who are in fact far removed from the real power around General Sharif and corps commanders. “There is no one script,” says Mr Bokhari. There are still politicians who want a greater army role in politics, but those who oppose interference have grown in strength in recent years. At a special joint session of parliament on September 2nd many spoke out in defence of democracy and against the unruly demonstrators outside the building. Pro-democracy voices also include some of the private news channels that have proliferated since 2002.
The army is still by far the strongest institution that Pakistan has. But political power has become much more diffuse than it was on that night 15 years ago when the army needed only to seize control of one television station to take command of the entire country.

Pakistan: Aitzaz Ahsan suggests PM to reshuffle his cabinet

PPP Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, while addressing from the joint session of the Parliament on Friday, expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for expressing his sympathies and tendering an apology on behalf of his minister (Chaudhry Nisar).
During the joint session of the parliament on the fourth consecutive day today, Aitzaz said he stood in the House as he has been accorded respect by the party of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.
Terming the allegations against him as pathetic, the senator said that prime minister needs to review his cabinet and the members who surround him in order to assess their loyalty.
Stating his efforts for democracy, Aitzaz Ahsan said that he had struggled for democracy during the eras of different dictators and rejected offers of employment from the governments. “I was jailed, so was my wife, my sister during the Zia era," he said.
He, then, recalled the time when he had called off the long march and told that he did not call it off over any order from Kayani, but only after the prime minister had reinstated the judges following which he consulted with Munir Malik and other lawyers to conclude the march.
Responding to the allegations leveled by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, Aitzaz Ahsan said that he had refused to go before Iftikhar Chaudhry after his reinstatement. He said that he had many channels to do business through his politics or connections, but he did not do it as he did not want to.
Addressing the PM, he questioned Nawaz Shairf as for how long he will apologise on behalf of those who have already abandoned him.
Aitzaz Ahsan said that the joint session of Parliament was called on the advice of opposition and only when the opposition stood behind him, the body language of the ministers changed. He said that before the opposition’s support, the body language of the PM and his ministers displayed disappointment and loss.
Responding to the LPG business allegations, Aitzaz admitted that his wife does LPG business and questioned about the quote. He said that LPG was deregulated in 2000. He said that his wife pays more taxes on LPG business than any minister.
Aitzaz, then pointed towards Chaudhry Nisar and said that he was still giving him eyes. He criticized Nisar and said that he should know that the government is not doing any one a favour by tolerating criticism.
He mentioned that former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and now premier Nawaz Sharif were his clients, and if Nisar was calling them land mafia.
Aitzaz said that it is the government's responsibility to remain tolerant and then mentioned about the challenges that Asif Ali Zardari had to face during his tenure.
He said that if he walks out of the House, all his supporters and brothers will walk out with him to accompany him and then the PM will be left with no support except maybe Mehmood Achakzai.
After Aitzaz Ahsan’s speech, the joint session of the parliament came to an end and will resume at 5 pm on Monday.

Pakistan: Phone record leak: Javed Hashmi, Saad Rafique deny conspiring

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) dissident president Javed Hashmi and Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique on Thursday denied rumours about establishing unwarranted contact to conspire against PTI and its chief Imran Khan prior to Hashmi’s outburst, Dunya News reported.
Talking exclusively on Dunya News’ special transmission hosted by Anchorperson Kahmran Shahid, both Hashmi and Rafique said that the contact between them was apolitical and neither leader contacted the other to influence political stances.
“No one can make Javed Hashmi say anything, he says what he believes in”, Saad Rafique said.
He said he has huge respect and devotion for the dissident PTI politician and that he often contacts Hashmi to inquire about his health. Emphasizing his stance, Javed Hashmi said that he didn’t talk politics with Saad Rafique. He said he didn’t even tell Rafique about his resignation.
“Saad Rafique is [like] my kid, I didn’t tell him because I knew he would stop me.
It merits mentioning here that a phone contact list was leaked online detailing contacts between Javed Hashmi and Khawaja Saad Rafique prior to Javed Hashmi’s outburst on September 1. It was alleged that both leaders have been conspiring against PTI and its chief Imran Khan.

Pakistan: Nisar should apologize to Aitzaz over allegations: Zardari
Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari here on Friday demanded apology from Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar over his allegations on Senator Aitzaz Ahsan.
Asif Zardari condemned allegations leveled by Chaudhry Nisar on Aitzaz Ahsan and asked for his apology immediately over his indecent selection of words.
Zardari also said that Aitzaz Ahsan is an asset of our party and we are proud of him.
“We will not let democracy to be derailed no matter what” he added

China asks Zardari to help defuse Islamabad crisis

Umar Cheema
China has played an important role in breaking the impasse between the government and PTI as the latest efforts by PPP in resolving this crisis have been resumed on the calling of Beijing ahead of Chinese President’s visit to Pakistan.
Zardari met Chinese Prime Minister among other leaders during his recent visit to Beijing. He was asked to play his role and convey the concerns of Chinese government over this tension that could jeopardize the visit of President Xi Jinping expected in next week who will announce a record investment of $32 billion in Pakistan, according to a PPP leader.
Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif was also in China but on a separate visit. It was in this context that PPP leadership geared up efforts and named Senator Rehman Malik as point-man to negotiate settlements with PTI and PAT. Zardari who is overseeing this process will stay in Islamabad as long as the issue is resolved, according to the sources.
As talks are in progress, China has also publicly expressed its concerns over this political tension urging Pakistan to resolve problems. “China is highly concerned about the situation in Pakistan,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular news briefing late Tuesday. “As a friendly neighbor, we sincerely hope all parties in Pakistan can proceed from the fundamental interest of the country and people, and resolve the problems through talks to maintain national stability,” he said.
As Zardari returned from China Monday, he rang to different leaders for discussing the solution of the crisis. Included among them were Sirajul Haq, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
Maulana also highlighted the importance of the visit of Chinese President during his address to joint session on Tuesday. According to the insiders, PTI is likely to take back its resignations and Parliament will be made guarantor to ensure the implementation of recommendations to be made by the judicial commission set up to investigate the charges of election rigging.
Zardari previously made headlines when went to Washington apparently on a private visit but had a ‘chance’ meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden on an Iftar dinner hosted by a Pakistani-American. As his visit started amid the brewing crisis with dates for long marches already announced with Imran Khan’s pledge not to return unless Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation, it sparked debate coupled with speculations about the purpose of visit.
Analysts thought it was aimed at seeking Washington’s intervention to save democratic dispensation. The impression was further strengthened after the disclosure of a PPP leader and Sindh Assembly’s deputy speaker Shehla Raza who said Washington was a guarantor of an agreement, part of NRO, under which army would not stage any coup for three –terms of democratic governments spanning 15-years.

Pakistan: PPP warns legislators to stay alert of conspiracies against democracy

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Thursday warned about a more fierce battle in the coming days and asked the parliamentarians not to be mistaken by the “partial victory” in the “first battle”.
The warning came from PPP’s stalwart Mian Raza Rabbani in the joint sitting of parliament in which he pointed out that this is a war of power between the state institutions. “I do not subscribe to the views expressed yesterday that parliament has emerged victorious,” Rabbani said while adding that the war would still be fought when some forces would try to create discord in the ranks of the democratic forces, an intention which he said they had exhibited in the current political crisis triggered by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT)’s protests outside the Parliament House.
He dubbed the “war of democracy” actually a “war of federation”. “If this system was disturbed and dictatorship is imposed, then not only would the constitution be violated but the whole federation would be at risk of dismemberment,” the outspoken Rabbani opined. Addressing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was present in the House, Rabbani declared that the PPP would not compromise even if he gave in to such pressures. Criticising the PTI and PAT, Rabbani said that parliament would not tolerate any assault on it. “The members of this House will lay down their lives but would not allow desecration of parliament,” he declared.
The PPP leader noted that after the abolishment of Article 58 2(B) through 18th Amendment, “hidden forces” have fielded proxies to destabilise the system. He accused the government of not taking parliament seriously. “Conspiracies will be hatched when the prime minister and ministers do not come to parliament,” he observed in reference to the propensity of PM Nawaz and his ministers to remain absent from the House. The vocal Rabbani also accused the government of conceding political space when its ministers meet the army officials in the GHQ. “It is not apparent that power rests now in Rawalpindi, not Islamabad,” he said referring to the seat of military.
Taking part in the debate Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal suggested constitution of a committee of the House to bring to task those who launched an assault on parliament premises. Commenting on the PAT and PTI sit-ins, Ahsan said that the way Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri behave shows they are the only ones who are clean in this country. ANP’s Haji Adeel called those sitting outside parliament “terrorists” and said that the members of the House had to come to parliament secretly as “terrorists” frisk everyone coming to it. He urged that government to deal with those who committed unconstitutional actions as per the law.

Pakistan: Aitzaz thanks PM Nawaz for apologizing over Nisar remarks

Senior PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan on Friday thanked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for apologizing over Chaudhry Nisar’s remarks.
“My family has a track record of sacrifices in the Pakistan movement and politics of Pakistan, but facing allegations here… I’m thankful for Prime Minister’s apology and sympathy,” Ahsan said while recalling achievements of his forefathers and his past politics, bemoaning charges leveled by PML-N senior leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
Nisar had blamed the PPP leader for patronizing land-mafia and illegally mounting money from LPG quota.
Earlier, the PM addressed the house and apologized over his cabinet minister’s remarks against Aitzaz Ahsan.
The Parliament on Friday resumed debate on the prevailing political crisis in the joint session where lawmakers from both treasury and opposition benches addressed the house.
“Mr. PM you must see if lighters of the fire are around you, if they are among your ranks,” he criticized the PM.
“Mian sahab! Don’t take shelter of those who have betrayed you time and again. Dirty allegations were leveled against me, defending myself is my right,” said the charged Aitzaz, who is also a senior lawyer.

Pakistan-Punjab: As govt rides metro, rain sinks city

The Punjab government and the public have to suffer losses for delaying non-tangible projects like streamlining of underground drainage system every year.
Officials say the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) and the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), city’s top civic agencies, have written to the chief executive office many times to allocate massive funds for the rehabilitation of city’s sanitation system but the government did not take the issue seriously.
“The government completed the metro bus project in 2012 just in 11 months to influence the public opinion in the May 2013 elections,” says the official.
“Despite knowing well about the miseries faced by the public in the monsoon rains, the government did not take any measure to address the issue.”
Besides the metro bus project, the government also constructed underpasses, roads and overhead bridges but other civic projects are not on its menu, says the senior Wasa official.
He said the government sent a delegation to Turkey last year to study Istanbul’s water and sanitation system. The team included the Lahore commissioner and some other officials who met the officials of Istanbul municipality and its subsidiary, ISKI. In September last, Turkish experts representing ISKI visited Lahore and studied Wasa infrastructure.
“In December, Wasa sent necessary maps and drawings and data on the water and sanitation system to Turkish experts to suggest improvement in the system,” the official added.
Another official said Turkish experts Mehmet Aygun, Fatih Yildiz and Dr Ibrahim Karali had suggested Wasa to specify nullahs to drain sewage and rainwater separately so that they did not choke during rains.
They had also suggested the construction of new nullahs as per needs besides urging Wasa not to rely on the decades-old combined sewerage system. They also asked Wasa to install water treatment plants in the city, saying wastewater in the developed countries was always treated and used for irrigation rather than diverting it to the rivers. They also stressed on educating people to dispose of domestic waste properly rather than letting it flow on roads and streets. The suggestions were never taken up for consideration, he said.
The official also quoted the Punjab government’s report submitted in the Supreme Court for its efforts in improving the city’s water and sanitation system.
The Supreme Court took suo moto notice over Wasa’s failure to drain out the rainwater from its Lahore registry in November 2013.
According to the report, the government stated a phased plan worth Rs9.2 billion for rehabilitation of the city drainage system had been devised. In phase-1, the government planned to rehabilitate Birdwood drain, Central drain and Cantonment drain from Multan Road to Babu Sabu.
He said despite visits by the Turkish experts and government’s tall claims, no measure was taken to implement the plan. The official said the government had also established Lahore Water and Sanitation Company but it had yet to start working. About the losses to roads due to rains, an official of the City District Government of Lahore (CDGL) said the engineering staff repaired the roads affected due to rains and the increasing traffic loads. Last year, the CDGL carried out patchwork of 20 roads which included Main Boulevard (Gulberg, Siddiq Trade Centre to Kalma Chowk), Park Lane Road, Centre Point to Cavalry Ground, Zahoor Elahi Road, GT Road (Ik Moria Pul to Daroghawala), Shalimar Link Road, Canal Bank to Shalamar Bagh, The Mall, PGM Office to Mian Mir Pul, Edgerton Road (Shimla Pahari to Punjab Assembly), GPO Chowk to Australia Building, Pajian to Sundar Road, Sundar to Manga Road, Link Road (Raiwind) leading to the Tableeghi Ijtima site, Sundar to Raiwind, Manga to Raiwind, Barki Road and Bhani Road.
He said similarly the LDA too repaired many roads in its controlled areas. The official said unless the government rehabilitated city’s sewerage and drainage systems, the road to a beautiful Lahore would remain incomplete.