Sunday, October 12, 2014

US President Obama Orders Rapid Investigation of Ebola Infection Case in Texas

US President Barack Obama has instructed US Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell to conduct an investigation into the case of Ebola virus infection in Texas, the White House press service said in a Sunday statement.
“The President during the conversation [with Secretary Burwell] directed that … The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s [CDC] investigation into the apparent breach in infection control protocols at the Dallas hospital move as expeditiously as possible,” the press release read.
Obama also stressed the importance for the additional personnel CDC to be sent to the area to work closely with state and local authorities to review infection control procedures, adding that the lessons learned from the inquiry must be shared quickly and broadly.
The US President also ordered at a federal level to ensure the readiness of hospitals to follow protocols should they encounter an Ebola patient. A Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola on the US territory, died on Wednesday. A health worker, who helped to care for Duncan has been tested positive for the deadly virus on Sunday.
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa broke out in southern Guinea in February, and later spread across Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the death toll from the epidemic has surpassed 4,000. There is currently no officially approved cure for Ebola, however, several nations, including Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan are working on a vaccine.

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Obama hangs tough on migrant detention despite slowing influx

The surge in child migration from Central America is receding but the United States is aggressively pushing ahead with plans to expand detentions, a little-publicized part of a broader campaign to deter illegal migrants.
Under pressure from opposition Republicans to stem the unprecedented flow of children earlier this year, the Obama administration beginning in June pledged to speedily return them to their home countries and help better secure borders in Mexico and Central America.
But a third leg of that strategy has quietly created a network of family detention centers to lock up some children and their parents rather than freeing them pending deportation hearings.
The centers, which were opened this summer to receive families with children, are in Artesia, New Mexico and Karnes, Texas. Another one in Texas is scheduled to open in coming months. With little public debate, they have effectively become flagships of the Obama administration's "get tough" campaign to discourage future border crossings.
These augment a Pennsylvania facility that has been in operation since 2001, but holds only small numbers of people.
It represents a U-turn for the Obama administration, which for five years favored less restrictive programs, such as ankle bracelets and telephone check-ins, for keeping tabs on families while they awaited court decisions on whether or not they would be deported.
In 2012, the administration noted these programs saved "many millions of dollars."
"The Obama administration in 2009 decided that it was going to turn away from family detention ... the turn back is really alarming," said Carl Takei of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The White House referred briefly to "increased detainment" in a fact sheet it issued on July 8 on an emergency funding request to Congress. But the policy change, which immigration groups characterize as a major shift for the administration, has not been laid out in detail.
The big expansion of detention beds, from only 90 last year to about 3,700 by the end of this year, comes amid data showing that the seasonal migration wave has receded. The number of families coming over the border declined to 3,295 in August, from 16,329 in June.
"These (family detention) facilities will help ensure more timely and effective removals that comply with our legal and international obligations, while deterring others from taking the dangerous journey and illegally crossing into the United States," a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman said.
Human rights groups counter that the new policy is badly misguided. Michelle Brane, director of a migrant rights program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, said children, some of them infants and toddlers, cannot be properly cared for in large detention centers.
The policy shift on detention centers, which has not been debated much in Congress, follows President Barack Obama's warning last summer to illegal migrants from Central America that they would be detained and promptly shipped back home if they attempted to make the dangerous journey.
Immigration advocates argue that many of these children have valid claims for asylum and flee to the United States because their governments cannot protect them from both gang and domestic violence. The detention centers are intended to discourage another migrant wave that some fear will start early next year, said Marshall Fitz, an immigration specialist at the Center for American Progress, which has close ties to the White House.
March to June, when it is neither dangerously cold nor hot, have been peak months for children, either traveling alone or with their parents, to brave the journey to the U.S. border by foot and atop trains.
"We could see the same thing come back again and I want to build against that," Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Thursday.
Advocacy groups and defense lawyers donating their services to detainees complain of unsafe conditions, poor medical care and inadequate access to lawyers at the government-run center in Artesia and the Karnes facility, which is operated by the GEO Group, a for-profit operator of prisons. Responding to allegations of sexual assault at Karnes, ICE said the agency was "committed to ensuring all individuals in our custody are held and treated in a safe, secure and humane manner" and that it has a "zero-tolerance policy for all forms of sexual abuse or assault." GEO has denied the allegations.
A Department of Homeland Security inspector general report this month said that while conditions in Artesia were improving, more progress was needed.
Congress could weigh in on the new detention policy later this year when it debates a bill to fund agencies administering the program.

Music Video - Tajik song

Pashto Music- Samir Yawar - Zema Janana

Afghanistan: Bar Rights Abusers From Top Posts

The new Afghan government should carefully vet appointments to national security positions to ensure they are not linked to human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. The co-leadership should select individuals with strong human rights records for the ministers of interior and justice, director of the National Directorate of Security, and attorney general, Human Rights Watch said.
Human Rights Watch also called on the government to bring officials in Afghan security forces who are responsible for torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions to justice. Human Rights Watch urged the government to establish an independent oversight mechanism empowered to probe alleged torture and other mistreatment in custody, and a national civilian complaints mechanism covering all security forces, including government-backed militias.
“The new government should signal its commitment to ending Afghanistan’s culture of impunity by appointing people to key posts who will advance human rights rather than abuse them,” said Patricia Gossman, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. “By rejecting rights violators from consideration for key positions, the new government will send a strong message it is serious about reforming the justice system, professionalizing the security forces, and ending impunity for abuses.”
The new government is expected to announce key ministerial appointments in the coming weeks. During his election campaign, President Ghani pledged to ensure that members of the Afghan security forces who have been responsible for torture and other human rights violations would be prosecuted. Chief Executive Abdullah had similarly pledged to strengthen accountability in the security forces.
Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission have documented serious and widespread human rights violations by members of the security forces, including systematic torture of detainees, forced disappearance, and extrajudicial executions. Despite a February 2013 decree calling for specific anti-torture measures including prosecutions, no member of the security forces has ever been prosecuted.
Afghan security forces, particularly the national police, have suffered heavy losses and are under great pressure due to a rise in insurgent attacks. However, those conditions do not allow security forces to violate Afghan and international law protecting human rights on security grounds, Human Rights Watch said.
“Afghanistan’s new leadership has correctly identified the need for accountability to bring human rights abusers to heel,” Gossman said. “That accountability needs to start at the top with the government appointing ministers who will work to end impunity – not those who have benefitted from it.”

Afghanistan - First Lady Rula Ghani aims to elevate Afghanistan's women

As the wife of the newly elected president, Rula Ghani stands to be the first publicly visible wife of an Afghan leader in nearly a century.
But unlike her most direct antecedent — Queen Soraya, who along with her husband, King Amanullah, ruled Afghanistan from 1919 to 1929 — she has no intention of drastically upending Afghan social norms.
Instead, Rula Ghani, a Lebanese Maronite Christian in a predominantly Muslim nation, wants to provide support for every "woman who wants to better herself and improve her standard of living within the [societal] context she is living now."
Though Afghan women have regained many rights since the fall of the religiously extremist Taliban — 28% of the parliament is made up of female representatives — women, particularly in rural areas, must still contend with cultural objections to working outside the home and getting an education.
Last year, the United Nations documented 650 cases of violence and abuse against women, the majority of which went unpunished.
"My aim is not to revolutionize the situation but to improve the situation for women within the existing structures.... I'm here to help women establish their own importance within the family," the wife of President Ashraf Ghani said in an interview at the presidential palace.
Rula Ghani — who first lived as part of an Afghan family in the Kabul home of her in-laws for three years in the mid-1970s — says she wants to use her role as bano aval, or first lady, to strengthen the position of Afghan women within the "close networks" of Afghan families.
Throughout her husband's presidential campaign, high-profile critics, including Mohammad Mohaqeq — deputy to rival candidate Abdullah Abdullah — sought to paint Rula as a foreigner out of touch with a Muslim society. Atta Mohammad Noor, governor of the northern province of Balkh, said Ashraf Ghani didn't "know about religion" and said his "children and wife are not Afghans."
She counters that she has never felt out of place in Afghanistan. From the outset, she has said that her upbringing in a Lebanese family fluent in Arabic, French and English helped her to adjust quickly to Afghan ways.
"I was immediately accepted by the family. When people realized I spoke Arabic they thought I spoke the language of the Koran," the first lady said.
This helped her to quickly learn Dari, one of the nation's two most prominent languages.
In the late '70s, the couple went to New York for Ashraf's doctoral studies at Columbia University. Like many Afghans, the Ghanis found their lives upended by the 1978 coup that led to the Soviet occupation.
With two of Ashraf's uncles imprisoned and tortured by the communist government of Hafizullah Amin, the two were warned not to return.
"The family told us there was nothing left for us in Afghanistan, so we had to settle in the United States," she said. While in America, Rula Ghani, a journalist by training, focused mainly on raising her children, Tarek and Mariam.
When she returned to Kabul after the fall of the Taliban, she was shocked by the living conditions of many children, and went to work for Aschiana, a local organization that helps feed and educate street children.
It was this work, along with raising their children and running the household, that Ashraf Ghani referred to when he mentioned his wife at the inauguration.
She said the mention took her by surprise.
"I think it was wonderful that my husband took advantage of the public space to recognize what I have been doing in my life through now and to acknowledge that I have been an important contributor to his own life," the first lady said.
"This is precisely what I would like other husbands and men in Afghanistan to do, recognize the importance of the women — wives, mothers and daughters — around them and what they contribute to their lives."
The brief reference was also a way for the president to dispel news reports that his wife described as being like "reading fiction."
Aside from a brief speech at a March 9 event to honor women, she had purposely kept out of both of her husband's presidential campaigns. "I decided the best way to not having deeds or words attributed to me was to not give any interview."
Though she laughed at unattributed allegations that she would convert the nation's women to Christianity, it was the accusations that her husband had helped orchestrate widespread, government-assisted fraud to secure the presidency that hurt her.
"I know my husband; I thought people did too. If they know him they know he would never commit fraud," she said.
Now that the campaign is over, Rula Ghani said, she is willing to take some steps into the limelight. "All I want is to let women know that I will be there to support and encourage them when they set out to do something."
This, she said, will require "participation and teamwork of people to stand up for their place within the family."
But stepping into the spotlight could prove to be a precarious move.
Already, news reports have cast her as a "Lebanese Christian with U.S. citizenship," an outsider who is being forced onto the Afghan public.
"Why is he trying to pass her off as Afghan to us as if we wouldn't notice," one Kabul resident said during a debate about the president's mention of his wife during the inauguration.
For her part, the first lady has little fear that her presence will be used to help bring down her husband.
"I have noticed that with some people I speak to progress is [seen as] 'becoming liberated from the family,' and that's not progress, that's actually creating a lot of dislocation of the social fabric."
When women take jobs, she said, "they're not doing that to 'liberate' themselves, they're doing that because they need to, to contribute to their family."
Her religious background, she added, also is irrelevant. "My husband stands on his own two feet; my religion is not a factor."
"God created and decided for me to be born in a Christian family. It's not every day that a Lebanese marries an Afghan. I think God's hand is also in there."

Political differences likely to grow in Afghanistan

Times of Oman
Afghanistan may be rejoicing with the formation of a unity government after a month of political deadlock and uncertainty, the same may not augur well for the country in the long run. That the unity government in Afghanistan will implement the decisions of the government, and fire on all cylinders, is highly improbable.
With their political ambition set to ride the 2019 presidential election it is but obvious that both the camps would like to pitch their thinking differently on every issue, to preserve their political identity, hereon.
In fact in order to safeguard their political interests they would refrain from submitting themselves completely to the decision of the unity government. They have to look different because of their political compulsion. And this political difference is likely to increase with each passing year.
It is no brainer that the growth and economy of the nation would be the final casualty.
At the outset there is likely to be a major scuffle over the appointment of key strategic positions such as peace chair, key political advisors, etc. Critical issues (such as an ailing economy, relationship with Pakistan, engagement with Taliban, poppy eradication, advancing peace process, etc.), which cry for assertive and definitive direction from the new government, will hit a deadlock every now and then because of the simmering political and ideological differences, within the new Government.
Whether, both the camps would be able to resolve these differences by showing political maturity, contrary to Afghan politics, will remain an area of acid test for this newly formed government. Whether, they would stitch up a meaningful working formula, or allow the political tension to throttle the functioning of the new government, has to be seen.
Further, for the government to prosper, the role of a strong Opposition cannot be ruled out in any democratic dispensation. The role of a constructive and objective Opposition becomes all the more important in fragile settings, where the institutions of the state are nascent and are often not neutral.
A strong opposition's demand for excellence and effectiveness of the government can hold them accountable. It also helps to balance out power and avoid the excesses, which lead to the abuse of power in such settings. By co-opting the opposition into the fabric of the unity government, the space of opposition has been completely wiped out in Afghanistan. This would severely influence the functioning of the government and undermine democracy, as a whole.
Even though the international analysts are busy fathoming the reason behind the acceptance of the unity government formulae in Afghanistan, it has a mark of US influence. It also needs to be analysed why the Abdullah Abdullah camp resorted to accepting defeat last time, after almost leveling the same set of charges against the outgoing president, Karzai.
It is true that the US was not overtly intrusive in the recent election in Afghanistan. But that is only part of their larger strategy to facilitate the transition from a democratic government to a unity government in this embattled country.
Of late think tanks in Pentagon have been working overnight to test the hypothesis if a unity government is better suited to conflict-prone countries than a democratic government. This sad realisation has kicked in after the rise of Isis and failure of the democratically elected Maliki government in Iraq.
The Pentagon strategist believes that a unity government has better chances of survival in a war-torn nation. Hence instead of rallying for a democratic government as the only solution they are indirectly influencing a unity government in such settings. By remaining silent in the entire Afghan election episode they have clearly expressed their choice to the two warring presidential candidates.
Zeroing on best solution for the country and its citizens amid diverse political ideologies and opinions remains an arduous task. Giving concessions to competing candidates in the backdrop of power sharing arrangement further requires higher degree of political understanding and ability. It would be interesting to see how the balance of power pans out and the various institutions of the unity government interact among themselves.
This arrangement couldn't have come at worse time. The US forces are packing up for an exit and the herculean task of providing security to Afghan citizens rests on the rudimentary Afghan army, in the backdrop of a resurgent Taliban.
The economy of the country is reeling under serious problems and the misery of the common man is increasing with the sky rocketing inflation. But as people in rural Afghanistan say, hope is the only way forward for this country embattled with terrorism and civil strife, for more than three decades. Let us hope that the new government sets aside its inherent differences and ego tussles in the larger interest of Afghanistan and delivers for its struggling citizens.

Pashto Music Video - Toba Toba Da Mayentoba

Pakistan - Who caused Multan tragedy? Dunya News brings facts to surface

Dunya News-Multan tragedy leaves behind... by dunyanewsDunya News on Saturday brought the facts about who caused Multan tragedy on surface through its investigative report.
The report revealed that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had turned the central gate into stage and closed it down. The second gate was reserved for the VIPs only and the third gate was reserved for families only. It further revealed that the administration did not break open the two reserve gates in time and thousands of people had to exit from only one gate which caused the stampede and the tragedy that left seven dead and several injured. The report also revealed that the stadium had the capacity of 25,000 people but it was over crowded multiple times of the original capacity.

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Pakistan Christian Congress Condemns Government For Ignoring Christian Asylum Seekers Abroad

Pakistan Christian Congress PCC has issued a press note, condemning scheme of ruling party Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz Group PML (N) targeting Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand who fled from Pakistan for safety of their lives after persecution fearing for their lives. The gathering of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Sri Lanka and their applications to UNHCR was never appreciated by government of Pakistan, PCC stated. - See more at:

Video - Bilawal Bhutto's Speech - Students’ Ceremony in the Sindh Assembly

We are the 9/11 Generation-Bilawal-12 Oct 2014 by GeoNews

Pakistan - Bilawal Bhutto stresses on resolution of Kashmir issue

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has once again stressed on the resolution of Kashmir dispute and said there is no peace in the region due to this issue, Geo News reported.

We are the 9/11 Generation-Bilawal-12 Oct 2014 by GeoNews Addressing students’ ceremony in the Sindh Assembly, Bilawal Bhutto said: “Non resolution of Kashmir issue is clear evidence of failure of United Nations.” He urged the world body to get its resolutions on Kashmir implemented.
He said Pakistan respects human rights and international law.
“We ourselves are responsible for prevailing crisis and can blame anyone else,” Bilawal said and added, “there is need to assess where we stand and it is time to be mature now.”
PPP Chairman said he did not want to be recognized by concerts and laptops.

Pakistan - Zarb-e-Azb: 10 terrorists killed in fresh air strikes in NW

Military operation Zarb-e-Azb is continuing successfully in North Waziristan. Ten terrorists were killed and three militant hideouts were destroyed in aerial attacks by fighter jets on Sunday in Tirah valley of North Waziristan.
According to ISPR, fighter jets pounded the militant hideouts in Koki Khel area in North Waziristan early morning. Ten terrorists were killed as fighter planes attacked three militant hideouts in parts of Tirah valley.
Currently, the army is carrying out aerial strikes in neighboring areas of Tirah valley as sources have revealed about the presence of terrorists in those areas.

Peshawar - Three more polio cases reported in Peshawar, Sheikhupura

Three new polio cases were diagnosed in Peshawar and Sheikhupura on Saturday.
Two more people were tested positive for polio virus in Peshawar taking the toll in the provincial metropolis to 14 this year. As many as 42 polio cases have been reported in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in last over nine months.
Official sources in health department, confirming two new cases in Peshawar’s suburban areas, said those affected by the polio virus were -Fizza, a 22-month old girl and a seven-month old boy Yaqoob living at Urmar Miana Afghan camp.
According to provincial health department, the number of polio cases has reached 42 in KPK. As many as 208 polio cases have been reported in the country this year, the highest since 2000 when 199 cases were reported.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic. In KPK, the polio cases were reported in different districts which include Peshawar 14, Bannu 12, Tank 5, Mardan 4, Buner 3, Lakki Marwat 2 and Torghar and district Nowshera with one case each.
Meanwhile, polio virus has been detected in a nine-month-old baby boy here in village Butter near Farooqabad on Saturday.
According to details, the personnel of anti-polio immunisation team during routine visit to the village found the baby boy, identified Husnain, as having suffering from the crippling disease. The boy was brought to Children Hospital Sheikhupura where doctors also confirmed the presence of polio virus. Meanwhile, a child specialist, who requested not to be named, informed that though the child carried polio virus, it was at the early stage. He claimed that the virus could be tackled through proper treatment and good care.
It has been learnt that the baby has been shifted to a Lahore hospital.
Meanwhile, DCO Rashid Kamal has constituted a three members committee comprising District Officer Coordination Ch Ghafoor, District Officer (DO) Health Dr Nadeem Sohail and Assistant Commissioner (AC) Dr Sidra to ferret out facts.
However ‘reportedly’ the DO health was transferred and despite attempt he could not be reached. On the other hand, the DOC despite repeated attempts did not respond the call on his cellphone.

Pakistan : Imran should first build paradise in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Former president Asif Zardari on Saturday said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan was fooling the children, adding that Kaptaan should first build paradise in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) before aiming at the whole Pakistan.
Zardari announced to build Bilawal House in Peshawar.
Talking in a meeting with party leaders at Bilawal House Lahore, Zardari said that he realised that he has committed some negligence during his government.
He said he could not meet the party workers, adding that the negligence would be duly compensated.
The PPP co-chairman said that he knew Khyber Pakhtunkhwa faced threats.
He said PPP has always been wounded on the chest. Zardari said that PPP’s slain chairwoman Benazir Bhutto knew she would be murdered; even then she came out for the people.
He said that PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto made the country the nuclear power and yet he was ‘judicially murdered’.
Zardari said that Benazir Bhutto knew her life was on the stake when she brought the missile technology to the country.
He said the paradise Imran Khan wants to build in the country should first be built in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
He alleged that Imran Khan is fooling the 18-year-old ‘children’.
Zardari said the current government should be allowed to complete its tenure as it was in the best interest of the country and people.
The PPP co-chairman said that he was aware of the challenges people of Pakistan were facing. Zardari paid glowing tributes to party worker Yaqoob Pervez who sacrificed his life to arouse international conscience against General Ziaul Haq’s dictatorship.
In a message on his death anniversary observed in Yohana Abad, the former president paid rich tributes to Pervez for fighting against oppression.
He said, “Today we enjoy democratic rule in the country due to sacrifices made by workers like him.”
He said Pervez belonged to Christian community and his struggle and sacrifice was indicative of the fact that PPP has always fought for the rights of minorities in Pakistan.
All minorities considered PPP as protector of their rights, hopes and aspirations, Zardari added.

Pakistan: PTI responsible for stampede deaths, say police

As another victim of Friday’s stampede in Multan breathed his last Saturday, the local police, provincial administration, senior politicians and political observers have held the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) responsible for the deaths of eight people at Qasim Bagh Stadium, terming the event an unashamed display of a grossly mismanaged affair.
In an initial investigation report, jointly sent by the CCPO and Multan district coordination officer to the Prime Minister House Saturday, Multan Police has claimed that PTI paid no attention to the situation even after a police officer present on stage informed PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi about it.
The report also claimed that the people responsible for the event’s administration were told several times to make announcements for emergency help. The appeals, however, fell on deaf ears.
“Soon after the public meeting, people started moving out of the venue and due to congestion, two people died on the spot,” the report says, adding that there were only five exit gates which were not enough for such a large gathering. A number of people also slipped and suffered injuries due to water on the ground, it adds.
The police say that 200 policemen were posted at the venue and the arrangements were finalised by PTI just a night before the event.
Following the police report, the Punjab government Saturday formed a three-member committee to investigate the stampede incident which claimed eight lives and left 43 others injured.
The committee, headed by Environment Secretary Iqbal Muhammad and comprising DIG Ali Amir Malik and Home Department Special Secretary Dr Shoaib Akhtar, will investigate the incident and submit a report to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
In the meanwhile, Punjab Minister for Prisons Chaudhry Abdul Waheed Arrain claimed that lights were not switched off by the district administration as PTI was responsible for the arrangements inside the stadium.
Holding PTI responsible for the mismanagement, the minister said that Qasim Bagh Stadium was selected on district administration’s directions after PTI’s local leaders had moved an application to the Multan DCO for permission of a public gathering. He added that PTI leader Tariq Naeemullah put an application to MEPCO for electricity at the stadium but did not pay the demand notice.
Arrain said that five gates out of six were opened for public entry and exit while the remaining gate was closed with a container by PTI organisers. He added that 2,200 policemen, 400 personnel of traffic police and officials of other departments were deputed for the gathering.
Moreover, during a media briefing, Punjab government spokesman Zaeem Qadri claimed there had been an agreement between the Multan DCO and PTI that if any untoward incident took place, the latter would be responsible.
Expressing surprise that the PTI chief considered it appropriate to go to Islamabad instead of staying in Multan after the tragic incident, Qadri termed PTI administration incapable of making requisite arrangements for rallies.
On the other hand, PTI has blamed the police and local administration for the loss of lives, alleging that most of the gates were kept locked and lights switched off early.
Rejecting Multan Police’s report and the three-member investigation committee formed by the Punjab government, PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a press conference Saturday, “This is all just drama from the government. On Friday they said this incident was an accident, but today they have formed a committee.”
Responding to former PTI president Javed Hashmi’s statement about the party wanting an opportunity to politicise deaths, Qureshi said, “His accusations are a part of his election campaign which he is busy in. Anyways, why would we want our supporters, who love us, to die?”
Moreover, addressing the participants of the PTI sit-in at D-Chowk Islamabad, the PTI chief also expressed his mistrust in the government-formed committee. He also criticised the local administration for opening only two gates of the venue after the event concluded.
Khan also vowed that he will meet the families of the victims of Multan stampede today (Sunday) and promised that he will get justice served to them at any cost.
Sources in PTI admitted that the event had been grossly mismanaged as there was no check on participants, as some of them even managed to get on top of the container where Imran Khan was present.
They said that the event organisers had even forgotten to place a ladder besides the container, forcing the leadership, including Imran Khan to get on the container by climbing an electricity pylon.
A government source, on the condition of anonymity, said that the organisers had ill-planned the event.
“There was no exit plan for such a large number of people. The PTI leadership knows that its rallies always attract a large number of people therefore they should have planned the event keeping in mind all scenarios. Moreover, it was the senior leadership’s responsibility to oversee the arrangements but in this particular case they shifted the burden on to the event managers who failed to fathom the situation,” he said.
The PTI source acknowledged the lapse by the leadership, saying all future events would now be supervised by the senior leadership.
“We regret the loss of lives in Friday’s stampede but I hope such incidents will not recur in future,” he concluded.

Pakistan: Christian delegation calls on Wattoo

A delegation of Christians hailing from Lahore, Gujranwala, Sialkot and Narowal called on Punjab PPP President Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo on Saturday to apprise him about the problems the community was facing in the respective regions. They however appreciated the 5 percent quota reserved for the minorities in the government services by the PPP previous government that meant for their social upward mobility.
Wattoo said that the PPP considered the minorities as Party’s natural allies because of the progressive and liberal orientation of the political philosophy of the party.
He added that the PPP declared the 11 August as the Minority Day each year according to vision of the Quaid-e-Azam who declared that the citizens of Pakistan would enjoy equal rights regardless of their creed.
Wattoo said that the PPP previous government covered a lot of groundwork to legislate for providing representation to the minorities in the Parliament in accordance with the population. He further said that PPP reserved four seats for minorities in the Senate which was a leap forward for bringing them in the mainstream politics of the country.
He also said that it was the PPP government that decided to observe two religious functions of minorities officially each year.
Later, Abdul Qadir Shaheen, the newly appointed coordinator for minorities in Punjab, urged them that they should focus to organize at the district and Tehsil levels in view of the forthcoming local bodies’ elections.
Suhail Milk, senior vice president PPP, Punjab, organized the meeting.
In another meeting of PSF and the youth wing, Wattoo said that they should work for ensuring the maximum participation of them in the October 18 rally in Karachi.
They assured the PPP president that they were already on it and the level of participation of youth in the rally would please him.
The delegation praised the PPP governments for lifting the ban on student unions.

Pakistan: Tragedy in Multan rally

It had to happen one day in the long drawn out saga that comprises of the dharnas (sit-ins) and jalsas (rallies) that first took over the capital city of Islamabad and are now becoming a prominent happening in almost every major city in Pakistan. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) rally in Multan on Friday saw a huge turnout in the number of people cheering on their leader Imran Khan. When the rally ended, however, the jubilation turned to tragedy as a stampede erupted when the crowd tried to leave the stadium in which the jalsa was being held. As many as eight people were crushed and more than 40 injured when the people tried to leave through the five exits out of the stadium. There are reports that the stairs leading to and out of the open exits were also strewn with water, leading many people to slip and be stepped on by thousands of others. As can be expected, a blame game has exploded between the PTI, district administration and federal government with no one side taking any responsibility for the human cost involved.
First let us wonder about the organisers of the rally, the PTI itself. The rally was, ultimately, one held under the banner of Imran Khan’s party and much of the arrangement must have fallen upon its shoulders. During the rally, there were reports of young people fainting due to the heat and dehydration. Add to this exasperation the fact that, once the rally ended, the people may have really wanted to go home and may have made a mad dash for the exits. Could this not have created a panic in our already panic-prone people? Maybe the attendees did not follow protocol and leave in an orderly fashion. Maybe there was too much jostling and pushing. However, one must consider that the PTI is accusing the District Coordination Officer (DCO) of Multan of being behind allegedly sealing a few exits and not letting the people use them. This may very well have contributed to the panic being felt by the people. The DCO denies this and says that all exits were very much open. The PTI is now crying itself hoarse over how this tragedy has been orchestrated by the powers that be to limit attendance at their rallies. It has also rejected a three-member investigative committee formed by the Punjab government, calling it a “drama”. It has announced a financial compensation for the victims. Who is at fault one cannot say but one can comment on the inevitability of such a sorry situation. The people of the subcontinent do not have the necessary restraint to stay safe in poorly arranged gatherings. These are haphazard, hurriedly arranged events and safety protocol does not garner much priority. Amid the charges and counter-charges, it must be made clear who is to blame for the rally that turned into misfortune.

Bilawal Bhutto invites Malala to work for Sindh education

Chairperson, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari congratulated Malala Yousafzai over telephone on winning the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize and invited her to work with him for transformation of education system in Sindh.
In a telephonic conversation, Bilawal said Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was alive in the shape of Malala and added every girl of Pakistan has the potential to become Benazir Bhutto, said a statement. He said education is the best tool to eradicate extremism from the society and Malala could play a pivotal role in this regard as the torch-bearer of education for each girl and boy movement. Bilawal said Malala Yousafzai has given hope to me and entire country and she is the voice of real youth of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Pakistan. "This daughter of Pakistan is the Ambassador of Peace and our national heroine," he stated.

Former President Asif Zardari pays glowing tributes to Malala
PPP Co-Chairman former President Asif Ali Zardari has felicitated Malala Yousafzai and the people of Pakistan and said that by winning the Nobel Peace Prize Malala had made every Pakistani proud.
In a message the former President said that the award of Nobel Peace Prize is recognition of Malal’s courage in standing up to the bigot and narrow minded.
It is also a stinging rebuff to the extremists and militants who reject girls’ education and tormented Malala for seeking right to education for herself and for girls like herself.
This young, innocent, and courageous daughter of my country was attacked by forces of darkness only because she aspired for education. The people of Pakistan are grateful to God for having spared her life and also grateful to the international community for honoring her with the Nobel Peace Prize.
It demonstrates the resolve of the international community to support to the cause of education for girls everywhere particularly in Pakistan.
The award today is a reminder that the fight in Pakistan today is the battle between good and evil and between forces of light and the forces of darkness. The enlightened and the moderates are fated to win this battle against extremists, fanatics and the agents of death, destruction and ignorance.
Malala’s survival and the honor shown to her teach us that extremism can best be fought through collective action. The resolve to provide education to all, in particular to the millions of out-of-school girls is the best strategy to defeat extremism. Extremists are abusing the name of Islam in seeking to hamper our progress. They are doomed to be defeated. During the PPP government Pakistan took a giant leap when education for all girls and boys, between 5 to 16 years, was declared a fundamental right and a constitutional right. We have over 50 million school-age children but only about half of them go to school. The key challenge is access to education.
The Nobel Peace Prize to Malala strengthens national resolve to fight its battle against the bigots and fanatics with democracy, political commitment and support of the international community. It will be decisive in winning this existential war. It is a giant leap forward to put every Malala in school. Congratulations Malala Yousufzai.

Pakistan : A letter from Dr Abdus Salam to Malala

By Faraz Talat
Disclaimer: the blog post below is an imagining of what Dr Abdus Salam would convey to Malala today.
Dear Malala,
Despite all that occurred, I’d always lugged around with me a sliver of optimism. They referred to me as Pakistan’s ‘only’ Nobel laureate; I insisted on being called the “first”.
I was born in a small town called Santokh Das; arguably not as beautiful as your Swat valley, but it did have much to offer. I grew up in Jhang, a city now tainted by its name’s association with dangerous groups.
My father was an education officer working for the Punjab government. I have a feeling your father would've liked him.
Like you, I took a keen interest in my studies. I enjoyed English and Urdu literature, but excelled at mathematics. At a very young age, I scored the highest marks ever recorded then, in my matriculation exam.
My education, however, was never as politically challenging as yours.
I did not have to contend with the Taliban destroying my school, or forbidding boys from receiving education. But whatever barriers they constructed in your way, you bravely broke through them.
In fact, you continue to defy them with every breath you take.
Winning the Nobel prize has enraged your attackers, as it has annoyed many of your countrymen.
It takes courage to walk through it all, and knowing you, courage is not in short supply.
Not a lot has changed in this country. You were mocked and alienated by your countrymen, when you did nothing wrong. I know something of that.
As a nation, we do not want to be celebrated.
What we wish for, is to be pitied.
They were pleased with you as long as you were another local victim. But then, you cast off your victimhood and emerged as a hero, a beacon of hope for young girls around the world. That’s where you lost them.
We don’t like heroes, Malala.
We like battered souls that we can showcase to the world. We want to humiliate the ‘colonialists’ and the ‘imperialists’ for their crimes, real or imagined, against the Muslims of the subcontinent.
We want them to acknowledge the Iqbalian paradise we lost to the plots and schemes of the ‘outsiders’. Any mention of the incalculable harm caused by perpetrators within us, does not assist that narrative.
We do not want to acknowledge the bigotry within, of which I know something too.
This is not something I had fully realised the day I received my Nobel prize. Standing in ceremonial Punjabi garb among a group of men in tuxedos, I was proud to represent my country, though my country was far less thrilled being represented by me.
I was demonized and successfully disenfranchised for my religious beliefs; I was not allowed to offer lectures in certain universities due to threats of violence; my work was belittled by my own people.
I decided that working abroad was better than being treated as foreigner in my own homeland. That only gave further wind to the hurtful theories about me being a ‘traitor’ to my country.
Now, the mantle passes to you, dearest child.
And with it, I regret to pass onto you the heart-wrenching burden it brings.
You are the new 'traitor'.
You are presented with the dire challenge of bringing peace and pride to a country, that doesn't want your gift.
Like a mother of a particularly rebellious child, you must find a way to love them nonetheless. Eventually, I pray, they will understand.
I had the privilege of being the first to offer this country a Nobel Prize. But now there are two of us.
And, I’m still counting.
Yours truly,
Abdus Salam