Wednesday, October 15, 2014

President Obama cancels political trip to deal with Ebola threat
Instead of traveling to New Jersey and Connecticut, Obama summoned Cabinet officials to the White House to discuss the federal response to the deadly disease
President Obama abruptly canceled a political trip to New Jersey and Connecticut on Wednesday to remain in Washington to meet with members of his Cabinet about the Ebola threat.
The change came as a second health worker in Dallas tested positive for the disease.
Obama was supposed to headline an event in Union, N.J. to raise money for Senate Democrats, and campaign in Bridgeport, Conn., on behalf of Gov. Daniel Molloy.
The cancellation of the trip follows criticism that the health care system in the U.S. is not adequately prepared to deal with Ebola patients.
The change in plans also attempts to prevent the kind to criticism Obama endured over the summer for fund-raising activities amid heightened concerns over the threat posed by Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria.
Instead of traveling Wednesday, Obama "will convene a meeting at the White House of cabinet agencies coordinating the government's Ebola response" the White House said.
The President was to address reporters following the afternoon meeting.
Obama on Wednesday also participated in a video conference with British, French, German, and Italian counterparts to discuss the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and other matters, according to the White House.

Video - Ukraine: Thousands demand higher wages at Kiev trade union rally

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Music Video - Ahmad Zahir ( Obe derta Rawrlem)

Afghanistan first lady Rula Ghani moves into the limelight

Afghanistan's new first lady Rula Ghani looks set to challenge the tradition of leaders' wives staying out of the public eye.
In an interview with the BBC just days after moving into her new office in the presidential palace, Mrs Ghani said she hopes to encourage greater respect for women.
"I would like to give women out there the courage and the possibility to do something about improving their lives," she said.
Mrs Ghani has already begun to break the mould.
During the election campaign of her husband, Ashraf Ghani - the eventual winner of the 2014 presidential race - Rula Ghani was the only candidate's wife to appear in public.
And when the new leader paid an emotional tribute to his wife in his inauguration speech, it became a talking point for the whole country. Mrs Ghani says it was a revealing gesture which summed up her vision of how attitudes to women could change. "By mentioning me the way he did, my husband really showed exactly what I mean by helping Afghan women be more assertive, more conscious of their role, more respected."
Mrs Ghani is clearly aware of the sensitivities in Afghanistan's conservative society and says that her vision doesn't contradict traditional values which are a keystone of Afghan life.
"I am not looking to change the existing social structure," she said. "Having lived in the West, I have suffered from not having an extended family around me. And I think the fact that in Afghanistan the social fabric is still there despite 25 years of civil war, I think it is a big plus."
Meeting of minds
What makes Mrs Ghani stand out even more is the fact that she was born and brought up in a Maronite-Christian family in Lebanon. She met Ashraf Ghani in the 1970s when they were both studying political science at the American university in Beirut. Rula Ghani had just returned from a year's study at the prestigious Sciences Po institute in Paris where she was caught up in the 1968 student protests.
Her brother Riad Saade says the experience helped shape her social conscience.
"When she came back to Lebanon she went down south with a group of volunteers, building schools," her brother recalls, speaking to the BBC in Beirut.
Mr Saade says his sister and Ashraf Ghani were a natural match and shared common ideals.
"They have been fighting together all through their life in a very beautiful way. Whether it would be in their student days or his academic life, or at the World Bank or later in Kabul."
But their parents were nervous about Rula's choice so her father accompanied her to Afghanistan to meet her future husband's family.
"It was in winter. We stayed at the InterContinental hotel for a day, and Ashraf came and took us by car because the family was in Jalalabad," Mrs Ghani remembers.
The families got on and Rula's father was happy to give his consent.
"He was a very traditional person, yet had a very open mind," Mrs Ghani says. "And I would love for all Afghan men to become like my father or like my husband."
'Listening mode'
Visiting Afghanistan during the following years, Mrs Ghani remembers a very different place from now.
"Women were much more empowered. They were able to go to school, to think about careers. The educational system was extremely strong. So I think that there were many more things that women were able to do at that time."
In the late 1970s the couple moved to the United States where Ashraf Ghani completed his PhD and began a career at the World Bank, while Rula raised their two children.
The daughter, Mariam is a video artist and Tarek, the son, works on development issues.
"They are very proud of their heritage. They very clearly say that they are Lebanese-Afghan-American," Mrs Ghani says. "They do come often [to Afghanistan]. My daughter has done several workshops for artists and my son has worked on corruption issues. So they have contributed in their own way."
Mrs Ghani's own contribution will come from her newly established office in the presidential palace and she says for the first three months she will be in "listening mode" finding out what's important for Afghans. "I don't necessarily see myself as an activist, running down the street and knocking at every door," she says. "Besides I have reached a certain age where ladies stay at home more. I'm in my sixties and I see myself much more as a facilitator."
Mrs Ghani's cosmopolitan background seems a world away from the reality of many Afghan women in a country where domestic abuse is rife and women fleeing violence at home can end up in jail.
Rula Ghani is aware of the problems, saying they need to come out into the open.
"The women of Afghanistan must have the courage to talk about it. They should raise their voice to say, they don't like it and they won't accept it."
Mrs Ghani clearly realises that there are limits to what she can hope to achieve.
"There is a saying in Arabic meaning that every situation must be considered based on the realities on the ground," she says. "I can talk in some places freely, but not in others."
But she has a clear goal ahead.
"If I've achieved a higher respect for women and for their role in society then I would be very happy. That would really be my greatest wish."

Pakistan Flooding Hits Millions, Christians Severely Affected

By Michael Ireland
During the monsoon season this year, torrential rains have caused widespread destruction throughout Pakistan. This year's flooding has affected in excess of 11.4 million men, women and children.
According to a media update from the British Pakistani Christian Association - BPCA, many villages were simply washed away and people have been left without shelter simply seeking help and support. Rescue operations are still under-way, however, relief will take years to fully rehabilitate affected communities and infrastructure will need to start from the beginning.
People need food, safe drinking water, shelter and healthcare to survive from the catastrophic effects of this flood," the association said in its news report .
"On behalf of British Pakistani Christian Association - BPCA, I went to help directly affected Christians in Islamabad. With the small funds that were donated to us, we helped 15 families providing them providing them food packages with rice, cooking oil, sugar, tea packets, milk, biscuits, vermicelli, and pulses. We also provided medicines to those suffering from flu and dengue fever. There is a greater need for the restoration of homes and unless we obtain larger donations many families will soon be very prone to the adverse weather conditions that winter brings," said Wilson Chowdhry, Chair of the BPCA, speaking in the news release.
Chowdhry said: "In this city alone there are at least another fifty families seeking assistance. They are in desperate need of clothing, home repairs and basic foods. We intend to reach them with any further aid as soon as donations make this possible. "
Chowdhry continued: "Many Christian families live alongside the Korang Nala or Korang River. During the recent inundation, approximately one hundred and fifty families were affected and fifty houses have been destroyed. Many other homes have been seriously damaged."
Chowdhry added: "It is disappointing that despite our email distribution of 19,000, we were only able to secure £200GBP for this year's flood relief. We hope that evidence of the need for more aid will trigger a greater response. We are aware that money going to Pakistani aid groups has gone amiss, however we have an unblemished record. Moreover, the suffering Christians of Pakistan are so often overlooked by Islamic aid groups unless they choose to convert, and the government rarely provides help. The cumulative effect is that Christians in Pakistan are the biggest losers in all of this. We pray that our regular readers choose to support these disenfranchised communities more wholeheartedly. Prayer provides an opening, active labor is an outreach."
Chowdhry concluded: "With your support we hope to change the lives of millions of Christians in Pakistan."
The BPCA is continuing its disaster recovery fund for victims of the flood. If you would like to contribute to their relief work, please send an immediate donation. Simply send a cheque made payable to the 'BPCA' to: 57 Green Lane, Ilford, Essex, United Kingdom, IG1 1XG.

In Pakistan, 'Blasphemers' Like Me Receive Militant ‘Justice’

By Raza Rumi
Like so many others, I was recently targeted in a cold-blooded assassination for speaking out against extremism.
Pakistan has acquired a strong reputation of imprisoning a large number of men and women accused of “blasphemy.” Far from a fair trial, most of the accused are not even safe from mobs and vigilantes who assume the powers of both judge and jury. For a country that is ostensibly governed by a written constitution, this is extremely worrying. More so, when the state as an arbiter of human rights is silent, or even complicit in such human rights abuses.
The latest victim of the zealots’ ire is Mohammed Asghar, a 70-year-old man who also happens to be mentally ill. It is not surprising that there are some in Pakistan who want to see him dead. Asghar has been sentenced to death for blasphemy for various acts which, given his mental condition, he may not be aware of.
Asghar was formally sentenced to death in 2014. Despite his diagnosis in the U.K., of suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, the court chose to declare that he was competent to stand trial. However, late last month, a prison guard driven by self-styled zealotry burst into Asghar’s cell, and shot him in the back. The guard fired a second shot, narrowly missing. Restrained by others, the assailant nevertheless managed to get a good kick in as Asghar was taken to the hospital. Eyewitnesses have revealed that the guard chanted, “Death to the blasphemer!” as he swung his boot at the old man.
Asghar, I am told, is on the road to physical recovery. Nonetheless, I would not rate very highly his chances of surviving. Prison officials briefed the media that Asghar would return this week to the same prison where he was lynched and almost died. Also being held in the same prison is Zaffar Bhatti, a Christian pastor who has been on trial for blasphemy since 2012, and whose life is also in danger.
For me, all of this is rather personal. In March, I was targeted in a cold-blooded assassination attempt. My views on the persecution of minorities, and opposing the interpretations of Islam by extremists, were not acceptable to the armed militias; and they used violence to try and silence me. A few assassins shot at least a dozen bullets at my car. I was lucky enough to be able to duck under the car, where I lay motionless pretending I was dead. My driver, Mustafa, was not as lucky and was brutally killed in the attack. A human life was lost and another fellow traveler in the ambushed car was seriously injured. Asghar’s plight is mine too. Beyond the threat of violence, militants receive impunity for their crimes, and the state refuses to protect their victims. I was fortunate to survive but hundreds of Pakistanis have been targeted by ideologues, who think the world has to be purified of those who are “infidels,” “blasphemers” or their “sympathizers.”
The only thing necessary for evil to succeed in the world – said a wiser person than me – is for us to remain silent. For this reason, even though I do not know Mohammed Asghar, and I may never meet him, it would be wrong for me to remain silent today.
The government of Pakistan is running scared of extremists. There is good reason – I am just one of several people whose deaths were meant to promote a skewed interpretation of Islam. In 2011, the world witnessed how Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was shot by his own guard for opposing the misuse of the blasphemy law. Other victims have been burnt alive. A Christian minister was gunned down later and another politician was hounded in the courts for having the gall to question the very questionable blasphemy laws on television! Earlier this year, a lawyer was killed for taking up the case of a bright young man languishing in jail due to allegations of blasphemy. Deaths in prisons have occurred with no accountability or punishment. And yet, if politicians, policymakers, judges and lawyers tremble in fear, we may as well surrender our birthright to those who would deny us it. This culture of fear, orchestrated by powerful clerics and frenzied mobs, has paralyzed the criminal justice system. Those enjoying positions of power appear helpless. And there is no counter-narrative to oppose the spread of extremist ideology. At least three generations since the era of Pakistan’s Islamist dictator General Zia ul Haq’s rule (1977-1988) have been indoctrinated to accept violence in the name of religion as legitimate.
It is the duty of Pakistan’s parliament to put a stop to this madness. It should begin by initiating a debate about the growing number of blasphemy cases in the country, and how the legal provisions are being abused to settle personal scores. It is ironic that witch-hunting is carried out in the name of a faith that promotes peace and equality among human beings.
Pakistan is fighting an ideological battle against itself. It was created to safeguard the economic and political rights of the Muslim minority in 1947. In his first policy speech as the country’s founder, MA Jinnah assured Pakistanis that their state would not have a religious preference. But the course adopted by successive military and elected regimes betrayed Jinnah’s ideal. Over time the state has chosen to decide who is a Muslim and who is not; displayed an unequal acknowledgment of citizen rights, and enabled ungoverned spaces spelling chaos. Tackling the discriminatory laws may be the first step to restoring the kind of sane society we have a responsibility to bequeath to the next generation.
Mohammad Asghar, wounded at the hands of a state official, represents all that has gone wrong in Pakistan. It must be corrected immediately. Releasing an old, infirm person would be the right way to start what will be a long journey to saving Pakistan’s failing legal and social systems.

How Pakistan Fails Its Children

TO truly understand Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person ever to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, we need to understand the place she comes from. Ms. Yousafzai is from Pakistan. The day Taliban terrorists shot her in the head she was on her way to school. Pakistan’s schools, its teachers and its education system are in such a desperate state of rot that the mere act of making one’s way to school, especially for young girls, is an extraordinary act of courage and faith.
Pakistan has a population of nearly 200 million people, of whom roughly one-fourth, or 52 million, are between the ages of 5 and 16. Pakistan’s Constitution guarantees all of these children a free and compulsory education. While statistics for this age group are difficult to come by, the number of Pakistani children between 5 and 16 who are not attending school is close to 25 million; most of them are girls.
While Ms. Yousafzai’s ordeal has brought global attention to the crisis of girls’ education in Pakistan, her admirable efforts are unlikely to succeed in improving the quality of schools across the country. That’s because the barriers to quality education in Pakistan are far greater than a few chauvinist Taliban extremists.
While we should all be disgusted by the violence, misogyny and extremism of Ms. Yousafzai’s attackers, that outrage must not prevent us from recognizing the true villains.
After all, it wasn’t the Taliban that laced the school curriculum with material that suffocates numeracy and reason — and with them the prospects for pluralism in the country. It wasn’t the Taliban that built schools without walls, without running water and without bathrooms. These are a legacy of a corrupt bureaucracy and patronage politics — during both democratic and military regimes.
And it wasn’t the Taliban that hired thousands of unqualified teachers. That is a legacy of the en masse distribution of political favors by political parties.
The Taliban did shoot Ms. Yousafzai, but there was enormous state failure before that shot was fired.
Pakistan’s educational failings go back to independence in 1947, but they were exacerbated in the 1970s and then only got worse. Different governments were like different cancers. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto nationalized education in the mid-1970s, putting all teachers on the same salary scale and tenure. Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq “Islamized” the curriculum and textbooks in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, during their respective terms as prime minister between 1988 and 1999, built thoughtlessly and hired even more thoughtlessly. Gen. Pervez Musharraf simply continued things as they were.
Sadly, even if Pakistan were miraculously able to get 25 million children into school buildings that were not a hazard to the lives of their young occupants, we would still be a long way from solving the country’s huge education crisis. Education is treated by the Pakistani state as a series of inputs: dysfunctional school buildings, and underqualified and disinterested teachers. This should not be a surprise. Building schools and hiring teachers afford politicians the opportunity to distribute patronage through jobs and contracts. The victims are our kids.
Pakistan’s only instrument to measure education quality at the national level is a study called the Annual Status of Education Report. The most recent report paints a grim picture. Roughly half of 10-year-olds demonstrate the competence expected of 6-year-olds in their mother tongues, or in Urdu, the national language. The number is lower for English. Arithmetic scores for 10-year-olds, when tested for the competence level expected of 7-year-olds, also hover near 50 percent.
The children who do manage to go to school do so against incredible odds. The conditions at government schools, which account for about two-thirds of all enrollment, beggar belief. The government’s own annual survey of state school facilities has documented these conditions. Last year’s survey revealed that 51 percent of all government primary schools didn’t have working electricity; 36 percent didn’t have drinking water on the school premises; and 42 percent didn’t have working toilets.
Public education is under incredible strain even in the world’s most educated and most powerful countries. But there are few places in the world where girls and boys have to take such huge risks merely to attend school.
Pakistan’s fitful cycle of military and civilian rule has produced a national discourse in which there are disagreements about many things, but there has been one constant throughout. Pakistan’s government and society deny a decent education to millions of children.
Pakistani leaders are all too happy to celebrate young Ms. Yousafzai’s accomplishment, and they all recognize that the country faces an education crisis, but they don’t plan on doing anything about it.
Ms. Yousafzai’s prize should ignite revolutionary change in the fate of Pakistan’s younger generation. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to change much. This means that educating Pakistan’s children will remain a low priority for this country’s leaders. And that, sadly, will represent nothing new for Pakistan.

Malala, Salam, Faiz and Dr Khan

Harris Khalique
In Pakistan, with Malala Yousafzai winning the Nobel Peace Prize, it is proven once again that those subscribing to conservative social and political views reject new facts if they challenge their preconceived notions. They claim to have rooted their cultural orthodoxy and a myopic worldview they choose to subscribe to into the tenets of our faith. That is a refuge. An attempt not to take on the challenges posed by the modern world and to shy away from competing in the realms of arts and sciences, economics and sociology, philosophy and technology.
Even in the realms of modern theology, after invoking religious symbolism in every possible conversation or discourse, they offer nothing of substance to the modern Muslim world. It is an attempt which is proving not only futile but also inflicting incredible damage on the lives and livelihoods, intellectual health and economic interests of our people. This position causes incredible disservice to both our faith and our country. It affects our future by confusing our youth and our students.
When Malala is being celebrated across the world as a champion of girl education in hostile environments across the world, across people holding divergent political opinions – from right, left and centre – and across national and ethnic divides around the globe, we as a nation stand with a fragmented and confused narrative. I wrote a short poem when Malala was shot but was fortunate enough to survive. When many of us were rejoicing her success on receiving the news of her winning and sharing the coveted prize with an Indian girl rights activist, I reposted it on the internet. There were loads of other celebratory posts. People were sharing, cross-posting, commenting on her success and seeing her not as an individual but a symbol of unarmed struggle of the weak, the dispossessed and the disempowered.
At the same time, hate messages came pouring in – vitriolic to the hilt. Not only Malala was castigated and dismissed for being an agent of the west, those celebrating her success were called names, excommunicated from the folds of believers and termed traitors. The rage and spite was such that I requested those who disagree with me to unfriend me and block me, to use modern internet expressions, from their social media. I wouldn’t want to cause my friends and acquaintances, or even those who hold an adversarial political opinion, such anger, frustration and mental suffering.
But I have a few questions to pose for those spitting venom against Malala to mull over, whether they agree or disagree with the submissions made above.
1. Interestingly, most of you Pakistanis living here or in diaspora who hate Malala, are huge fans of Pakistan Army. When Malala was shot, you said it was a big fat lie. She was not shot. It was a conspiracy against Pakistan harboured by western agencies. Did you ever think why a Pak Army helicopter was sent to her rescue and brought her from Swat to Rawalpindi? Why was she first treated in a military hospital before being sent off to the UK for the complicated surgical treatment she needed? Just recently the army announced apprehending Malala’s attackers. No one from the anti-Malala camp cared to comment, let alone challenge the army. Is that reflective of confusion or gross hypocrisy?
2. Why have the Pakistanis like you disowned, dismissed and despised, if not hate, everyone who has brought laurels to Pakistan in shape of international recognition, fame and respectability? Leave alone international recognition, even those who have demonstrated commitment to contributing to our physical, intellectual and emotional development were shabbily treated. Jog your memory ladies and gentlemen. I give you just three examples from before Malala winning the prize.
Dr Abdus Salam was and is until now the only Pakistani scientist who won the Nobel Prize. Due to the religious beliefs he was born into, even after being acclaimed as one the greatest scientists of the world, he was not invited to speak to most universities in Pakistan. The reason cited was that his speech on his subject may cause turmoil in the ranks of students and faculty because he does not share the same faith as the majority does. His epitaph also had to be rewritten. The man who wore a sherwani, shalwar kurta and a pag while receiving the prize among suit-clad men, died unhappy because of the way he was treated by the people he thought were his own.
Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the arch poet whose poetry after his death is even read, sung and enjoyed by the next generations of those who hated him, was awarded the Lenin Prize. He was made to spend four years in prison and eight years in exile. He was called a communist who professed atheistic ideas. His books were removed from some government libraries.
Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan and seen as the father of people-centred community development in Pakistan and now Bangladesh and considered one of the visionaries and pioneers in his subject across the world, had to fight trumped-up blasphemy charges when he was more than eighty years old.
He was termed profane and misguided. Malala comes after them, much after them. She has met the same fate at your hands. You have kept the tradition of bigotry and intolerance alive. Think, my friends!
3. Why do you see people making worthwhile contribution to art, sciences, public service as villains and those providing entertainment by participating in spectator sports as heroes? Mind you, I am not just talking about Imran Khan as some of you might reckon. It is also about the Shahid Afridis and Kamran Akmals of this world. People contributing to a sport that is played in a dozen out of two hundred countries are the real heroes and those contributing to universal knowledge have to be castigated, criticised and rejected?
4. Coming to my fellow country women and men in our diaspora in the west who think Malala is working against the interests of Pakistan and Islam, may I ask them why they have not chosen to seek citizenship in a Muslim-majority country ever? Those who go abroad to study, why do they seldom consider going to a Muslim country for higher studies or specialised professional education? Their cousins here who are left behind queue up in hundreds if not thousands, outside western embassies – North American, European or Australian – to get a visa. So many of them would blatantly lie to get through and then leave no stone unturned to get the citizenship. Who gives all of you the moral authority to issue certificates of patriotism and right beliefs to those serving Pakistan?
5. It is an obligation for Muslim women and men to become literate and numerate and seek education. It is obligatory for us to learn from any possible sources of information, knowledge and wisdom. What have we done to that end as a state, society and individuals? How many world class scientists, philosophers, artists, writers, social scientists, historians, anthropologists, economists, sociologists, etc. have we produced? What contribution have we made as Muslims or as Pakistanis in the last 66 years to collective human knowledge, wisdom and technology?
I reiterate in this space once again that the power supply, computer and keyboard I am using to write this, the software for typing this up, the internet connection which will help me send this piece to my editor sitting a thousand miles away in a fraction of a second, all are someone else’s inventions. My people have not discovered or invented a fraction of what was discovered and invented over the last few centuries.
Please think and try to answer these questions. I rest my case.

Pakistan: Imran’s fifty one delusions

Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi
In a recently conducted TV programme the anchorperson asked a senior PTI leader about the probable outcome of his party’s ‘dharna’ and their future course of action. The dharna had already outlived its usefulness and indications were that the party’s leadership was looking for an exit strategy. The logic advanced for a prolonged dharna by the senior leader to the anchorperson’s question was that since about 27 percent public messages had demanded the Prime Minister’s resignation, hence the continuation of dharna until this demand was met.
Were the 27 percent messages sufficient for prolonging the dharna? Obviously not, but more importantly one wonders about the veracity of this logic. Why a perceptible change in strategy by holding public meetings when the dharna seemed to have failed, asked the anchorperson. To this question the leader came out with a rather crisp response.
Acceding to him the latest survey of the party had shown that now 51 percent respondents had demanded the PM’s resignation. Therefore, the party is changing its strategy and tactics by taking its protest in various cities to achieve its avowed objective.
While mentioning the 51 percent figure, the PTI leader didn’t say a word about the methodology and the reliability of the survey results. This 51 percent figure, if not representative of the total population, will turn out to be a delusion. Any future tactics based on this unauthentic figure will not be of much help to the PTI. If anything it may turn out to be like sour grapes. PTI, therefore, needs to sit back and think seriously of a future course of action not dictated by data whose authenticity is questionable but based on an incisive analysis of ground reality. Perhaps the results of another survey recently conducted by PILDAT may be of some value for the PTI in charting its future course of action.
According to PILDAT survey, the Federal Government’s performance leaves much to be desired doubtlessly. On almost every front it has been perceived to be negative. Therefore, it was high time that the government started to deliver as per its promises to the people. It has to move fast on different fronts, especially poverty reduction, inflation, and unemployment. The government doesn’t have the luxury of time and can ill-afford complacency.
Province-wise, according to PILDAT survey data, Punjab Govt got 68 percent approval rate in comparison to KP’s 57 percent. Voting intention-wise, PML-N got 91 percent against PTI’s 56 percent. These statistics should bring home to the PTI leadership an important lesson: don’t waste your resources on an exercise which will again be futile and might in fact create more frustration amongst your supporters. Viewed from any angle, the PM’s resignation is not forthcoming since he still enjoys higher popular support. The PTI leadership ought to register this fact. This will help it to overcome its 51 percent delusion. Therefore, PTI should conserve its energy and resources for the next elections whenever these take place.
Here PTI leaders’ rhetoric also needs a thorough dissection. Let us focus on the recently held meeting or shall we call it a rally and the kind of rhetoric that was employed by the speakers including IK. It was interesting to hear IK saying that they would learn to speak the truth. I wish he had learnt this in the speeches that he had made since the start of his dharna. It seems that he religiously believes that telling a lie again and again shall turn into a truth. Not always though! Here are a few examples of what was said in Lahore meeting by the leaders of the party.
Mr Jehangir Tareen said in his speech, “I was a servant of the old system and now I have become free from it.” The proof is in eating the pudding. For Mr Tareen to free himself from the old system he shall have to do the following: Distribute his land among his tenants and give ownership rights of his factory to the workers. Above all, instead of travelling by a privately owned jet he needs to travel by public transport. Will he be able to do it? I doubt. One then wonders who he is trying to deceive. So much for Mr Tareen’s freeing himself from the old system. IK was quite vocal in pronouncing that if returned to power the Punjab Governor House would be turned into a library. Well, a pious idea but why cannot he do the same first in KP where his party is in power? Second, he also announced his intent to create a uniform system of education. Once again it is a noble idea, but what is stopping IK to implement this idea in KP where he doesn’t face any barriers. Respect for rule of law is better left untouched as far as its application to PTI was concerned. Literally, the party had violated every law in the rules book.
A leader has to be the embodiment of what he preaches. This is the first step in building trust. The contradictions between what a leader preaches and his actions are not the characteristics of a champion of the change that IK proclaims himself to be. IK must now begin to match his words with his deeds to be perceived as the role model by the common citizens. Simply put a leader must walk the talk.
It is a rather sad commentary on IK’s leadership that he has no regard for the PM office. His calls to his supporters in the US to raise slogans like ‘Go Nawaz Go’ in front of the UN building was unbecoming of a national leader. The PM had gone there to address the General Assembly representing Pakistan and not as NS. While IK can draw pleasure out of it, he will regret this if he ever came to occupy this office. Our national leaders need to learn not to wash their dirty linens in the outside world. Otherwise it will tarnish the image of Pakistan as an uncivil and unstable state. All of us must try to protect the identity of our motherland as a civilsed country, at least, in the outside world. Pakistan needs to move forward on the economic front which had been badly bruised by the protests of PTI and PAT. The elections, based on evidence flowing from different sources, were certainly impacted by irregularities. Yet there was no evidence to suggest that these were rigged as claimed by PTI leaders. If IK has any solid proof of rigging then he should appear before the Election Commission which has asked for it. Failure to do so will only further erode his credibility.
IK needs to show the patience of a transformational leader. His impatience will hurt him more than help him. He should be delighted on having mobilised the public opinion but this public opinion now needs to be channelised to avoid any further cleavages in the society. His future course of action must be based on primary information collected through uncontaminated sources rather than on information provided by the likes of Sheikh of Pindi. Leaders who rely on unreliable single source of information such as the 51 percent delusion, are destined to stumble.

Iran warns Pakistan over militant acts at border
Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani in a meeting with Senate Chairman Nayyar Hussain Bokhari in Geneva warned against the spread of terrorism and extremism in the region.
He said that militants’ hit-and-run operations at the two countries' border had raised concerns in Tehran. “The militant acts in the region pose great threats to all countries and Pakistan has also been affected,” Larijani said during a meeting held on the sidelines of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) here.
Larijani reiterated that Pakistan plays an important role in confronting terrorism. “Iran and Pakistan are cooperating in the fight against terrorism, but some terrorist acts at (Iran's) eastern borders have caused concerns,” he said in Tehran. The senate chairman said that Tehran and Islamabad have many commonalities in regional and international arenas.
He reiterated that terrorists were threatening the entire region and said that the Pakistan government was determined to combat terrorism and it has been relatively successful. He said that Pakistan had adopted measures to confront the terrorist acts along its western borders with Iran.

Pakistan: Nawaz's “kitchen cabinet” : Punjab governor may be shown the door
The Punjab governor is likely to be replaced soon as the incumbent has reportedly developed differences with the Sharifs.
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar had quite a “debriefing” at the hands of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during the meeting of the two on Tuesday, it has been learnt. The meeting was held at the Prime Minister’s House and is a crucial development in the wake of reported differences of the governor with the Sharif brothers. According to sources, the “kitchen cabinet” of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has convinced the premier that incumbent Punjab Governor Muhammad Sarwar has close links with the protesting party Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and that he had been instrumental in setting the stage against the PML-N government. One of the top premier agencies of the country has also filed a secret report against the Punjab governor on his close links with some supporters of Tahirul-Qadri, it has been learnt.
Sources said the premier however, asked the governor to clear his position on the allegations. The governor was considered one of the closest aides of Sharifs. He helped them greatly to win the PML-N in the general elections of 2013 in some districts of central Punjab. The PML-N government is all set to bring a new face in the Governor’s House, sources said, adding that Nawaz Sharif has finalised his choice for the new governor, but it has not been revealed as yet. “Only members of the kitchen cabinet know who the future Punjab governor would be,” a senior PML-N leader said. A senior Prime Minister’s House official said there is no decision as yet on having the incumbent governor Punjab changed.
“He met the premier to discuss the official matters regarding Punjab,” the official claimed. Meanwhile, the prime minister also met MNAs Sajid Mehdi (Vehari), Muhammad Khan Daha (Khanewal) and Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk (Gujranwala), who separately called on him. Matters regarding infrastructure development and provision of clean drinking water in their constituencies came under discussion. Sarwar is a Pakistan-born British businessman/politician who surrendered his British citizenship after being nominated as the Punjab governor by PM Nawaz Sharif. Sarwar remained a British Labour Party politician who was elected Member of Parliament (MP) in Glasgow from 1997 to 2010, first for Glasgow Govan and then from 2005 for Glasgow Central. Sarwar has the distinction of being the first ever British Muslim MP. He made history in the British parliament when he became the first MP to swear the Oath of Allegiance on the holy Quran.

Pakistan - KP, Fata residents comprise 96pc of polio victims this year

By Zahir Shah Sherazi
As Pakistan appears to head towards the highest number of polio cases in a single year, official data shows that an overwhelming 96 per cent of polio cases so far reported are among the Pashto-speaking population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata.
Official epidemiological data recorded until October 1, 2014 reveals that the Wazir and Dawar tribes of North Waziristan have the highest ratio of the polio virus. The tribesmen on the other hand hold the government and Taliban equally responsible for the spread of polio virus in the region.
They are of the view that the militants had banned the vaccination in parts of the tribal areas affected by the virus while the government and the administration never come up to their expectations and had left them at the mercy of the militants.
According to data exclusively available with Dawn, out of these 96pc of cases, residents of North Waziristan Agency's Wazir tribe account for 34pc.
The Dawar tribe trails behind with 27pc, while the Afridi tribe accounts for 26pc of the cases so far this year.
The data further shows that out of those Pakhtuns who contracted the paralysing disease, 8pc were Banosi (Bannu residents), 4pc from Mohmand tribe and 1pc belonged to Sulemankhel tribe (one case each in Karachi and South Waziristan tribal region).
Officials however also admit that, besides the given numbers, there exist a large number of cases which still need to be analysed.
They also endorse the statistics saying the tribes living in North Waziristan, parts of South Waziristan as well as Khyber agency are among the most affected population of Fata and KP.
Refusal ratio rises to 14pc
The key social characteristics data reveals that the refusal ratio increased from last year’s 5.5pc to 14pc this year, while the percentage of insecure areas – which were 80pc last year – stands at 97pc in 2014.
The epidemiological statistics of the so far reported cases shows that 82pc cases are among children below 2 years of age, which indicates that either the parents are not willing to vaccinate their children or the teams had no access to those children who were with their mothers and could not be vaccinated outside homes.
Officials say the reason for this factor is that the health authorities are lacking female vaccinators who are more welcome to enter houses to administer polio drops.
Out of the cases found positive for the virus, 53pc are male children and 47pc female.
The data also reveals that 14pc cases are among the refusal families while 90pc have poor socio-economic background and the same percentage live in rural areas.
Among the identified cases, parents of almost all polio victims have no formal education at all.
The figures also endorsed by the officials confirms that 98pc cases among the reported did not receive routine oral polio vaccine (OPV) dose while 68pc did not even receive even a single OPV dose while 8pc children got the virus despite the fact that they had received 7 or more OPV doses.
The total number of cases reported so far this year are 207 with 136 from Fata, 43 from KP, 19 from Sindh, 6 from Balochistan, and 3 from Punjab.
The official data further reveals that among the affected districts, 23 cases are of wild polio virus cases (WPV) while 7 cases are of sewerage water.
The wild polio cases according to the official figures are reported in Buner district of KP, Khyber Agency, Bhakar District of Punjab, Killa Abdullah district of Balochistan and Gadap area of Karachi.
Last year, residents of KP and Fata represented 93 pc of the total number of polio cases.
Polio team leader for UNICEF in Fata and KP, Dr Bilal Ahmed, speaking to Dawn confirmed that the most affected areas for polio virus cases is Fata, particularly North Waziristan and South Agency while Khyber Agency and FR Bannu are next in line.
He added that in KP, the most high risk areas are Bannu and Peshawar where the number of reported cases are high.
Dr Bilal remarked that natural disasters and the law and order situation has badly affected polio vaccination in the Fata and KP region in the last decade.
To a query, he said that after 2012 the health teams had no access to North Waziristan Agency but after the launch of military operation in June, displaced people of the tribal region were being vaccinated.
The tribesmen on the other hand have not started speaking up against the Taliban who had threatened them against getting their children vaccinating, but Bilal said that locals hold the authorities responsible for the virus spread as no arrangements were made to vaccinate the hostage population of North Waziristan Agency.
Military operation proves as 'blessing in disguise'
Muhammad Aziz Wazir, who hails from Mir Ali, says his nephew contracted polio as he could not get vaccination because of threats from militants. He said that his family could not give polio drops to their kids as the militants had banned polio vaccination at all the hospitals and health centers.
“They have warned people not to take their kids to the hospitals for polio vaccination that’s why we cannot take our kids for polio vaccination but when we came here we sent our kids for the vaccine,” he said.
"I had sometimes seen polio vaccinators in Miramshah and Madakhel but when the Taliban came, they (vaccinators) totally disappeared and did not return,” he added.
To a query he added that polio drops were good for the health of the children and they should be administered the vaccine but the people had no choice when the Taliban enforced a ban.
Ziaullah Dawar said that polio vaccinators seldom came to his neighbourhood. "We used to vaccinate our children only when they used to come once a year,” he said.
“The polio vaccinators were afraid of Taliban and the people were not willing to vaccinate (their children) because of the threat...but now after coming to Bannu they are regularly vaccinating their kids,” he said.
Ibrar Dawar says he never knew about the benefits of the polio vaccination due to Taliban threat and the lack of proper education.
"After now getting awareness we have realised (vaccination) is a must for the lives of our children and saving them from getting crippled," he says.
The militants had always used religion as a means to misguide people, he says, but the government is equally to blame as it had not made much efforts to educate the people.
Samiullah Dawar says the militants both foreigners as well as locals were opposed to the vaccination and had always coerced locals not to vaccinate their children.
"The local clerics and imams had also been calling upon the people not to go for the 'un-Islamic vaccines' as they were meant to make people sterile and it contains haram (prohibited) ingredients," he says.
He says that several tribesmen feel that Operation Zarb-i-Azb has proved a blessing in disguise for North Waziristan as for the first time children are able to receive polio drops.