Monday, September 29, 2014
By Sarmad Palijo
For the last few days, we’ve been reading much about Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s trip to South Punjab’s flood affected areas. This, after the announcement of his plans to contest the 2018 general elections from his family constituency in Larkana, is seen by many as the launch of his own political career.Seeing Bilawal walk among the people (as against his previous public appearances, which saw him sitting on top of distant stages), was indeed heart warming and a welcome sign during the increasingly partisan polarisation in national politics. A few weeks ago, I wrote on these pages about Thar’s disastrous famine and voiced the people's desire to see Bilawal personally going to them to bring them hope and support. Surely, now, the trip to Multan and Chiniot has corrected the balance lost in Thar. This increased interaction in Punjab between the people and the Chairman of the PPP feels like a breath of fresh air amidst the stale politics of Right vs Right that has been playing out in Islamabad. Bilawal’s move in Punjab will give life to the diminishing Left and also allow Punjab, and in extension, the whole country to have a more vibrant and pluralistic political landscape.
Bilawal visits Chiniot flood-hit areas by dawn-news Indeed, while the Right, including PML-N and PTI, was pushing for dialogue with the Taliban, it was young Bilawal who, stood on the historic Makli Hills, and called for national action against unrelenting extremist militancy. One hopes that Bilawal's foray into Punjab is not as calculated as PPP’s critics allege and that his interaction with the people of South Punjab was not a stage managed photo op; because only a genuine connection with the public who have been left at the mercy of old feudal politics can save PPP from a complete rout in the region.
Polls rigged from Karachi to Khyber, says Bilawal by dawn-news The road to political glory for Bilawal in Pakistan’s complex and dangerous politics lies not only in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar, but also through the old broken mud houses and flooded fields of Sindh, Punjab, KPK and Balochistan; for Bilawal, it lies not through the high walls of the big houses of Defence and Bahria Town, but through the broken hearts of unfortunate millions of brick kiln workers and fishermen of the Ravi and Keti Bandar. It was they who carried Benazir in their hearts through hell and high water, and it is them who will follow Bilawal to all ends if he chooses to follow them too, through their miserable existence and be with them in person and heart. Roman emperor Julius Caesar once famously sat under a towering statue of Alexander the Great, in Spain, and cried because at 35 years of age, Caesar thought, he had not achieved anything compared to Alexander, who had conquered the known world at a younger age. Similarly, at 26 years of age, expecting Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to fix our problems is a deeply flawed aspiration. But then, logic dictates that those with the best of opportunities must be expected to present the best results. Unlike Caesar’s conquests, we need Bilawal to conquer the hearts and minds of Pakistan. We need a Bilawal who is more Soreh Badshah, (Sibghatullah Shah Rashdi, who challenged the British during the famous Hur uprising at a very young age) and less Rahul Gandhi, who has failed to inspire India. And we also need a Bilawal who, despite the huge burden of expectations, builds his political career brick by brick, mile by mile, by visiting all corners of Pakistan and listening to the people he wants to serve; and also by distancing himself from advisors who themselves stay behind high walls and armoured vehicles. While Bilawal wears the golden handcuffs of privilege and position that don’t allow him easy access to the common man, he must know that in Sindh, under the PPP government, development has been dismal; that sometimes, up to 80% of development funds are distributed among the corrupt bureaucrats, politicians and contractors; that even the remaining 20% funds, at times, are misused to satisfy a stakeholder in some form and shape. Sindh is fast losing infrastructure and hope. If the PPP is to impress Punjab, which has seen better development under the Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif, it must drastically change its public development policy and curtail massive corruption within its ranks.
Pakistan has completely failed to curb the menace of polio virus in the country as 10 new cases of the deadly epidemic have emerged in the country. So far 184 kids have been affected by the virus this year in Pakistan. According to Ministry of Health, Polio virus has been detected in 10 more kids. 2 of the kids belong to Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KPK), 2 from FR Bannu, 2 from Karachi while 4 belong to Khyber Agency. In Gadap Town Karachi, polio virus has been found in a 12-month-old boy and 2-year-old girl while the kids belonging to Khyber Agency are aged 6, 7, 12 and 15 months. In 2000, 200 cases of polio were registered in Pakistan. Pakistan is just 16 cases short of breaking its 14-year old record.
With his foreign policy approval ratings at a historic low, Barack Obama meets furious reaction after blaming US intelligence agencies for failing to predict rise of Isil in Syria.President Barack Obama was facing a fierce political backlash on Monday night after he blamed US intelligence chiefs for being caught by surprise by the sudden rise of the Islamic State (Isil) terror movement in Iraq and Syria. In a highly unusual step, Mr Obama singled out James Clapper, his director of national intelligence, when asked by a television interviewer whether he had underestimated the threat posed by Isil after its fighters burst across the Syrian border into Iraq this summer, capturing large swathes of territory. “I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” Mr Obama told CBS News. The president’s apparent unwillingness to take responsibility for his administration’s failure to foresee the threat was met with disbelief by both policy experts and senior Republicans, who have long warned of the risks of ceding strategic space to the jihadists in Syria. “This was the ‘dog ate my homework speech’,” Senator John McCain, the former Republican presidential candidate who has long called for Mr Obama to arm moderate rebel forces in Syria, told Fox News, adding that Mr Obama should follow other presidents and admit his mistake. Every president in history had made a mistake, acknowledged it and then moved on. President Reagan with Iran contra, President Clinton in Bosnia, President George W Bush after the debacle in Iraq, when he started the surge - but it doesn’t seem to be in this president’s DNA,” he said. Mr Obama’s foreign policy approval ratings are at a historic low, with almost 60 per cent of American disapproving of his handling of foreign policy – a number that has not improved since the president began implementing his strategy to “degrade and destroy” Isil. Frederic Hof, the former State Department special adviser on Syria now with the Rafik Hariri Center in Washington, who argued for greater support for the rebels but later resigned in the face of White House opposition to the policy, said the intelligence community was not to blame. “I very much doubt that the intelligence community was asleep at the switch while Isil was gaining strength in Syria,” he told The Telegraph, “None of this was exactly hidden from view. “No doubt President Obama and his advisors were perplexed when it came to policy options, and no doubt the scope and speed of the Isil thrust into Iraq were surprising. But I doubt that the US intelligence community is to blame for any policy shortfalls." The White House denied that Mr Obama was trying to shift the blame away from himself and onto the intelligence community. “That is not what the president’s intent was,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, adding the president had “the highest degree of confidence” in the intelligence community. However Mr McCain warned of ‘blowback’ from the intelligence community which already appeared to be moving to defend itself, with a former senior Pentagon official who worked on Isil intelligence assessments telling the Daily Beast website: “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullsh------.”
The iconoclastic anthropologist is taking over Afghanistan’s presidency with high hopes and big ideas.hraf Ghani has this shtick that he performs for journalists who visit him: He opens his palms to you and says: "This hand is clean from corruption. The other is clean from blood." In Afghanistan, that is saying something. However, Ghani's reputation is no longer squeaky clean. A three-month-long election crisis sparked by widespread fraud allegations ended on Sept. 21; Ghani was officially sworn in as president on Sept. 29. But the issues that prompted the grueling gridlock in the first place have not been entirely resolved.
U.S. officials say the extended troop presence is needed to continue training Afghan’s 350,000 soldiers and police, and to conduct counter-terrorism operations.The pact – which outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused to sign in his final months in office, fueling tensions with Washington – is expected to be signed by U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham and a senior member of the Afghan government. Ashraf Ghani was inaugurated Monday as the country's new president, ending a months-long election dispute with the first democratic transfer of power in the nation’s modern history. In his inaugural speech, Ghani pledged to fight corruption and called on the Taliban and their allies to join the political process and end more than a decade of war.
But the occasion was marred by a Taliban suicide bombing elsewhere in the capital, underscoring the challenges Ghani will face. Seven people were killed in the incident, which took place at a security checkpoint near Kabul’s international airport shortly before Ghani was sworn in.
“I am your leader, but I am no better than you,” Ghani said, quoting Islam’s first caliph, Abu Bakr Seddiq. “I err; hold me to account.”Ghani, a former Afghan finance minister and World Bank official, thanked Karzai for his role in the transition -- including helping to broker a compromise after a disputed runoff election marred by fraud-- and for respecting Afghanistan’s constitution during his 13 years as president.
“Our people have shown that they desire peace and order,” Karzai said at a ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul.As president, Ghani will head a government of national unity that will see Abdullah Abdullah, his election rival, take the new post of chief executive. Ghani said the unity government would be one of “representation” and thanked Abdullah for joining in the leadership. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who struck the deal to form a unity government in an urgent visit to Kabul in July, praised both men as "patriots" committed to the success of their country. “Afghans have taken a moment of challenge and turned it into a moment of real opportunity,” Kerry said in a statement. Following the oaths of office, Ghani signed an executive order naming Abdullah as chief executive and Ahmad Zia Massoud as special representative to the presidency. Massoud is the brother of slain former militia commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, who fought the Taliban and was close to Abdullah. Until Monday morning it remained unclear whether Abdullah would participate in the inauguration. Members of his team were reportedly angered by the Ghani campaign’s decision last week to release results of the runoff election, which Abdullah maintains was marred by widespread fraud. The results, following a United Nations-supervised audit of all 8 million ballots, showed Ghani winning 55% of the vote. Mohammad Khan and Mohammad Mohaqeq, who will take on the roles of deputies to the chief executive, were also sworn in by Ghani. President Obama dispatched a delegation headed by John Podesta, his special counselor, to the inauguration. Other dignitaries attending included India's foreign minister, the president of Pakistan and representatives from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the Maldives and China.
The Express Tribune
A blast in Tirah Valley in Jamrud tehsil of Khyber Agency left five people dead and three others injured, Express News reported on Monday. The explosion took place in the house of a suspected terrorist. The scenic Tirah Valley has long been plagued by a turf war between rival extremist groups. The fighting has forced thousands of tribesmen out of the valley. Many of them are now sheltering in Peshawar and other tribal regions bordering Khyber Agency. In January, ten people, including three members of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Islam, were killed when a mortar shell exploded in the the Dars Jumat area of the same valley.
http://nation.com.pk/Senior leader of Pakistan People’s Party Aitzaz Ahsan has said that the sit-ins seem to pose no threat to the government. Aitzaz, a senior lawyer, talking to newsmen outside Lahore High Court Bar office, advised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to avoid public exposure, adding that the ‘Go Nawaz Go’ slogan emerges whenever they are seen in public. Aitzaz said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had been a big business party, while People’s Party represents the working classes. He said the PML-N policies are against poor, downtrodden masses, while the PPP makes policies to protect poor countrymen. Replying a question, PPP senator said that he don’t want to respond to any utterance of Shaikh Rashid. He remained minister in each government, Aitzaz said. Imran Khan was initially saying that he would not offer even a peon’s job to Shaikh Rashid, while now he is his aide and advisor.
Ali Khan Swati had only heard of police brutality; on TV, in newspapers and from anecdotal chats with politically-inclined family members and friends.
IT’S a strange kind of impasse the country is trapped in. The PML-N government is trying to limp on from the ongoing crisis, but in a peculiar way: the government appears to think that if it ignores the PTI and PAT protesters, they will disappear in time.Meanwhile, the PTI and PAT have been busy adjusting their anti-government protest strategy, with Imran Khan switching his attention from the sit-in on Constitution Avenue to a travelling protest each week in various parts of the country. Clearly, the big loser in all of this is the country and any prospect of governance taking centre stage anytime soon. Consider that a summer of turmoil has morphed into an autumn of discord – and still there is no end in sight. Surely, this is not a sustainable scenario for a state and society contending with deep and complicated problems that only keep growing with time. Part of the problem was and remains the PML-N itself. Even when it attempts to create a veneer of semi-normality, the government seems to be undone by itself. The UN trip of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week could have been an opportunity to put forward a confident face, to show that the government is thinking long-term about economic, political and social issues back home. Instead, the trip was lacklustre with little real planning or foresight seeming to have gone into it. Perhaps that was because the trip was not a certainty until the last moment and most work at the UN General Assembly’s annual session is planned weeks and months in advance. But it does betray a larger point about the government’s performance so far: the promise and expectation has been so much higher than actual delivery. In area after area, be it the power sector or administrative reforms or parliamentary performance, the PML-N simply seems mired in old ways, unable or perhaps unwilling to forcefully move the democratic project ahead. Unhappily, the PML-N still does not appear to understand that as the chief custodian of the democratic project, the onus falls on the party to strengthen democracy and improve governance in a manner that can address the wellspring of discontent among the population. Yet, for all its shortcomings and placidity, the PML-N is in truth confronted by an opponent who is difficult to contend with. For all his claims about wanting to rewrite the social contract and to improve governance, Imran Khan’s quest comes down to a single issue: ousting the PML-N from power so that the PTI has another shot at capturing power. Raging against injustices – of which there are many, pillorying an under-delivering state – which it does, excoriating a government for not truly being democratic in spirit – which it isn’t, is all well and good, but it leaves a fundamental question unanswered: what is Mr Khan’s concrete and measurable plan for change? It’s not even that the PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s performance has been less than stellar, but that Mr Khan does not even attempt to flesh out how, on what time scale and in which areas reforms would be prioritised and delivered. Without any of that, how is the PTI any different from the status quo it lambastes?