Thursday, April 23, 2015

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The Pakistani Pivot from Saudi Arabia to China

Saudi Arabia’s decision to launch a military intervention into Yemen represents a break with its past practice. Brushing aside the need for U.S. leadership or even participation, Saudi Arabia pushed it ahead with forming its own coalition from among its Arab and Muslim allies. But in dealing with Pakistan, traditionally one of its closest allies, Saudi Arabia is discovering that even close allies often have other priorities.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff Rahel Sharif travel to Saudi Arabia again Thursday to explain why Pakistan won't join the war in Yemen. Saudi pressure has been behind the scenes but intense to get Pakistani troops into the war. Nawaz's brother Shabaz was pressed during a visit to Riyadh a week ago. The end of the air campaign may ease the pressure but that remains to be seen.
Meanwhile Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan this week with $46 billion in investment to build an economic corridor from Western China to the Persian Gulf. The Sharifs promised Xi that Pakistan will create a new special division of the Pakistani Army to protect Chinese workers in Pakistan. The "Special Security Division" will total 10,000 troops and be commanded by a two star. Half the men will come from the Special Services Group, Pakistan's elite commando force. The force will have its own organic air support.
So no troops for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; 10,000 troops for the People’s Republic of China. There are major differences in the specifics of course: troops for a foreign war versus troops at home; compensation for past payment versus securing future investment; Islamic unity versus Pakistan's all-weather ally since 1962.
But don’t focus on the details. It is clear Sharif has made his pivot. And like the United States, Pakistan would like to move away from the Middle East and toward East Asia.

Pentagon can’t account for $1 billion in Afghanistan emergency reconstruction aid


 A total of $1.3 billion that the Pentagon shipped to its force commanders in Afghanistan between 2004 and 2014 for the most critical reconstruction projects can’t be accounted for by the Defense Department, 60 percent of all such spending under an emergency program, an internal report released Thursday shows.
Most of the $100 billion the United States has spent to rebuild Afghanistan during 13 1/2 years of war has gone through the U.S. Agency for International Development and other civilian departments, but a small portion of that money went through the Pentagon and directly to American military officers there in a bid to bypass bureaucracy and rush the aid to urgently needed roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, water-treatment plants and other essential infrastructure.
A yearlong investigation by John F. Sopko, the U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, or SIGAR, found that the Pentagon could not -- or would not -- provide basic information about what happened to six in 10 dollars of $2.26 billion it spent over the course of a decade on the Commander’s Emergency Response Program, which goes by its acronym CERP in military circles.
“In reviewing this data, SIGAR found that the Department of Defense could only provide financial information relating to the disbursement of funds for CERP projects totaling $890 million (40 percent) of the approximately $2.2 billion in obligated funds at that time,” Sopko’s report said.
When Sopko’s staff divided the Pentagon expenditures into 20 categories set under the emergency program, from transportation and education to healthcare, agriculture, water and sanitation, by far the largest category was in a 21st category that the inspector general termed “Unknown.”
That category applied to 5,163 projects, compared with 4,494 projects in all of the 20 defined areas put together.
The Pentagon did not respond directly to Sopko’s main findings in comment he sought while conducting the probe, and which he released along with his report on the investigation.
In one somewhat cryptic comment, the U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in Afghanistan and 19 other countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, suggested that some of the CERP money was redirected from reconstruction aid to more direct war needs.
“Although the (SIGAR) report is technically accurate, it did not discuss the Counter Insurgency strategies in relationship to CERP,” the Central Command stated in a Feb. 25, 2015, email to Sopko’s office. “In addition (to) the 20 uses of CERP funds, it was also used as a tool for Counter Insurgency.”
However, with the bulk of the Afghanistan war’s $800 billion price tag for the United States having gone to battlefield needs, it is not clear why money set aside for urgent reconstruction needs would need to pay for counterinsurgency, which has been a core part of the U.S. military campaign there since the October 2001 invasion following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Brief descriptions of the 20 categories defined by Pentagon regulation under the emergency-response program, also included in Sopko’s report, do not mention counterinsurgency.
The closest categories to anything battle-related are “condolence payments” to Afghan civilians, or their families, who die or are injured because of the war and “hero payments” to the surviving spouses or next of kin of Afghan soldiers or police killed in the conflict.
The SIGAR report suggests how intertwined U.S. military and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan became, and how difficult it is to separate the two.
While Sopko found that the CERP money was disbursed for projects throughout virtually all of Afghanistan’s 35 provinces, almost half of it went to the two -- Kandahar and Helmand -- that have seen the most Taliban activity and the war’s bloodiest battles.
A total of 1,507 American service members have perished in Kandahar and Helmand provinces, almost two-thirds of all 2,357 U.S. fatalities in the war.
Kandahar, dominated by ethnic Pashtuns on the Pakistan border in southern Afghanistan, has been a Taliban hub since the insurgents took it over in 1994 during the civil war that followed Soviet occupation of the Central Asia country.
About $289 million, almost one-third of the CERP money that the Pentagon could account for, was spent in Kandahar, according to the new SIGAR report.
The Pentagon may have good reason to redirect money away from reconstruction projects: SIGAR, which Congress established in 2008 to track U.S. nonmilitary aid to Afghanistan, has issued dozens of reports documenting billions of dollars lost to waste or corruption.
Sopko, however, has broadened his focus to examine what happened to some U.S. funds for Afghan soldiers and police.
In a report released last July, Sopko and his staff found that the Pentagon had shipped Afghan security forces tens of thousands of excessive AK-47 assault rifles and other weapons since 2004, and that many had gone missing, raising concerns that they’d fallen into the hands of Taliban or other insurgent rebels.
An earlier report, released in October 2013, concluded that the United States was continuing to give Afghan security forces a planned $1.4 billion to buy gasoline through 2018 despite evidence that some of the money had been siphoned off for other, unexplained, uses.
Annual spending on the Commander’s Emergency Response Program peaked in 2009 at $500 million, or 23 percent of its total disbursements over the decade. It was in that year that then newly elected President Barack Obama surged additional troops to Afghanistan, fulfilling a 2008 campaign promise.
The end of 2009 was also when CERP’s operating procedures were brought into alignment with a broader U.S. program called Afghanistan First, which “encourages the use of Afghan contractors to the greatest extent possible,” according to the new SIGAR report.
The number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan reached its highest level at 100,000 in August 2010. Only 9,800 remain, although Obama has slowed his withdrawal plan, promising the Afghan government to keep that number there through this year and delaying the final exit to 2017.

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By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) ‘commander’ and alleged mastermind of the November 26, 2008, Mumbai (Maharashtra, India) terror attacks (also known as 26/11), was released from Adiyala Jail in Rawalpindi, in the Punjab Province of Pakistan, in the night of April 9, 2015. He furnished a PKR two million in surety bonds. According to Jail authorities, following his release, he was picked up by members of Jama’at-ud-Dawa (JuD), the LeT front organization amid ‘tight security’. His current location is not known. Earlier in the day, the Lahore High Court had dismissed the order of detention issued against him by the Okara District Coordination Officer (DCO) on March 14, 2014.
Lakhvi was arrested on December 7, 2008, along with six others allegedly involved in the Mumbai attack, and challenged his indictment in the Lahore High Court on December 5, 2009. A bail plea filed by him was dismissed in August 2010, and he continued in Jail – albeit, according to reports, in extraordinary comfort and with a range of perks and privileges that provided him unprecedented access to cadres of his ostensibly banned terrorist group, the LeT. He was granted bail by the Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court, citing ‘lack of evidence’ on December 18, 2014. Ironically, this was just two days after the December 16, 2014, Army Public School (APS) attack, in which 148 persons, including 135 children were killed, and in the wake of numerous declarations by the country’s political and military leadership that all forms of terrorism would be suppressed in Pakistan. A succession of maneuvers, thereafter, under intense pressure from India and the international community, has kept Lakhvi behind bars since then.
Meanwhile, the LeT founder and JuD ‘chief’ Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, also a close relative of Lakhvi, has roamed free across the country all these years under direct state patronage. Saeed, who has a USD 10 million US Government bounty on his head, is, according to Pakistani authorities, a “philanthropist”. Pakistan’s Minister for Defence Production, Rana Tanveer Hussain, on January 16, 2015, declared that Pakistan could not ban the JuD led by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed because it is a charitable and not a terrorist organisation.
Unsurprisingly, despite several reports and claims of a ban on the ‘charitable’ JuD and the Haqqani Network (which operates under Pakistani state support against the Kabul regime in Afghanistan) in the aftermath of the Peshawar APS attack, it was subsequently confirmed that these outfits remained ‘legal’. Federal Minister of Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, while clarifying that the Government had not outlawed any group after the APS attack, declared, on February 11, 2015, “Yes we are a signatory to the United Nations (UN) Charter and we will devise a policy on this topic [but] so far, we have only added 10 organisations – proscribed by the UN – to our watch list.” Interestingly, the Supreme Court on January 22, 2015, had directed the Federal Government to upload on its websites, details pertaining to terrorist outfits banned by the Government. The Court observed that no such record was available and friendly countries should also be informed in this regard. The Government had earlier claimed that it had banned 63 terrorist outfits, but no record or notification of such a list is in the public domain. It is, however, a fact that similar lists consisting of varying numbers of ‘banned’ terror groups had been released by the National Assembly in the past. It now emerges that all but 10 of these organizations are not banned but merely on a ‘watch list’ which places them under no legal restraint.
Amidst these developments, Islamabad continues with its deceptive posturing. Between December 17, 2014, a day after the APS attack, when the moratorium on execution of death penalties in terrorism-related cases was lifted, and March 10, 2015, when the Government decided to implement the death penalty in all cases, a total of 24 persons were executed. Of these, however, only eight have been involved in terror cases. Between March 10 and till April 10, 2015, another 46 prisoners were executed, of which none were terrorists. The eight terrorists who have been hanged include:
  • Niaz Mohammad, who was executed on December 31, 2014, in Peshawar Central Prison for his involvement in the assassination attempt on the life of then President General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf, on December 25, 2003. Niaz was a close aide of Adnan Rasheed, the chief ‘operational commander’ of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)-linked Ansarul Aseer (Helpers of the Prisoners) – a unit which was founded to secure freedom for the imprisoned jihadis by conducting jail-break operations.
  • Ahmed Ali, who belonged to the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), was hanged at the New Central Jail of Multan in Punjab in the early morning of January 7, 2015. A resident of Shorkot, Jhang District, he was handed capital punishment for killing three men in an act of sectarian killing on January 7, 1998.
  • Ghulam Shabbir, also of SSP, was hanged at the New Central Jail of Multan in Punjab in the early morning of January 7, 2015. A resident of the Talamba area of Khanewal District, he had killed Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Anwar Khan and his driver Ghulam Murtaza on the Bohar Gate Road in Multan on August 4, 2000. Charges of sectarian violence were also proved against him.
  • Zulfikar Ali, who was convicted of killing two Policemen near the US Consulate General in Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh, was hanged at Adiala jail in Rawalpindi on January 13, 2015. Ali, a resident of Naval Colony, Hub Road, in Karachi, was associated with al Qaeda.
  • Mohammad Saeed alias Maulvi was hanged at Karachi Central Jail in the morning of January 14, 2015. Saeed who was associated with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) was awarded the death sentence by Karachi ATC in April 2001 for the killing of DSP (Retd) Syed Sabir Hussain Shah and his son Syed Abid Hussain Shah on sectarian ground in an ambush near the Malir City Railway crossing in 2000.
  • Ikramul Haq of SSP was hanged at Kot Lakhpat Central Jail, Lahore, in the morning of January 17, 2015. In 2004 an anti-terrorism court in Faisalabad had given him the death sentence in connection with the killing of a man, Nayyar Abbas, at Shorkot area of Jhang District on July 9, 2001. Abbas was a guard of Altaf Shah of the banned Sipah-i-Muhammad at an Imambargah (Shia place of worship) in Shorkot.
  • Mohammad Azam alias Sharif and Attaullah alias Qasim, who belonged to the LeJ, were hanged at the Karachi central prison in the early hours of February 3, 2015. Both Attaullah and Azam were sentenced to death by an ATC in July 2004 for their involvement in the killing of Dr. Ali Raza Peerani on sectarian grounds on June 26, 2001 in the Soldier Bazaar area of Karachi.
None of the terrorists hanged were from leadership ranks.
According to officials of the Ministries of Interior and Law and Justice and Human Rights there were around 8,261 prisoners on death row in more than five dozen jails of the country as of on December 17, 2014. Around 30 per cent of them were believed to be convicted under the Anti-terrorism Act by Special Courts after 2003-04.
Meanwhile, in response to hangings and executions of terrorists in Pakistan, domestically oriented terrorist groups, primarily the TTP and its splinters, such as Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, have intensified their operations. According to partial data compile by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), since the hanging of Aqeel alias Dr. Usman, the first terrorist to be hanged (on December 19, 2014) after the APS attack, at least 1,485 persons, including 354 civilians, 115 SF personnel and 1016 terrorists, have been killed in just 114 days (data till April 12, 2015). Overall fatalities in Pakistan in terrorism-related violence in the current year (2015) have already crossed at least 1,263 – 339 civilians, 103 SF personnel and 821 terrorists.
Pakistan continues with a two faced strategy of arbitrary and sporadic ruthlessness against domestic terrorists, on the one hand, and sustained support to externally directed terrorism, particularly in Afghanistan and India, on the other. In this, it has occasionally succeeded in deceiving elements within the international community into believing that it is acting against ‘terrorism’, and in turn securing the release of fairly regular doses of economic and military aid. In the process, it has created a domestic environment of extremism and endemic violence, within which all forms of terrorism continue to flourish. Pakistan has done grievous harm to its neighbourhood, and to the world, by long and continued support to Islamist extremism and terrorism, but it appears to have inflicted the greatest injury on itself.

A Pakistani Christian goes in hiding after attacks by Muslim extremists

Farid Jani is on run to save his life after attack by Muslim extremists and threats to kill him and his family. He is in hiding with his family away from his native city.

According to information’s of Pakistan Christian Post, Farid Jani was distributing Christian religious books in front of gate of St. Augustine’s Church in city of Kohat city after Sunday Services on April 19, 2015, when some Muslim bearded men approached him and started beating him. The attackers shouted “Why you spreading teachings of infidel Christians to Muslims” “You infidels are liable to beheading” on which Farid Jani ran in Church compound to save his life and escaped from climbing back wall of Church compound while Muslim attackers set on fire Christian religious tracts and books snatched from him.

The Muslim attackers gathered more people and mob reached my home but when found that Farid Jani has not reached home, they looted and destroyed furniture in rooms and books. Before leaving they threatened parents of Farid Jani that if he did not stop my religious activities they would burn whole house and kill all members of family.

City of Kohat is bordering Waziristan and Afghanistan where Tehreek Talban Pakistan TTP has strong presence and religious elements commit violence against other religions except Islam. 

Farid Jani is in hiding away from his home in other city of Pakistan for safety of his life after threats by Islamic extremists on his evangelism and religious activities.

Christians of Pakistan May Face New Threats

International media is eyeing the Christians of Pakistan and have predicted that Pakistani Christians are likely to face a new wave of violence in times to come.
The Christian community in Pakistan itself feels exposed to radical Islamist ideologies that are prevailing in the nation. These reports are surfacing after the recent death of Nauman Masih and a fresh wave of violence targeting Christian children by Muslim hardliners.
Ranked third on the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) by the Institute for Economics and Peace, Pakistan is a known hub of extremism. More often than not, Christ-followers and other religious minorities serve as an easy target for jihadist wrath.
However, terrorists are not the only ones are attacking the Christians living in Pakistan but, mainstream residents, as well as the police, are taking an attitude against Christians that is full of animosity and hostility,” says Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI) Executive International Director, Bruce Allen.
Senior CBN blogger Gary Lane also expressed his fears by saying, “More acts of violence and intimidation against Pakistan’s small Christian minority are expected in the days ahead. Keep praying that God will protect them, and give them the courage and strength to endure this recent wave of persecution.”
In a few months we the wrath of Muslim hardliners has been seen. The burning of Joseph colony, death of Shama and Shahzad who were thrown into a brick kiln alive, the lynching of Sunny Masih, who was attacked by a Muslim mob who threw him into a flaming kiln because he was a Christian. The victim sustained extensive burns but miraculously escaped the incident alive, according to The Daily Mail. Youahanbad attacks and lynching of Nouman Masih are just a few cases that made headlines.
Followers of Christ have been long persecuted in Pakistan but the ride still remains bumpy for them.
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Riyadh- Saudi Arabian Defence Minister Muhammad Bin Suleman Alesaud has used insulting words for Pakistan and its armed forces, saying that Pakistanis are frauds.
Talking to the Egyptian news resources, the Saudi minister used these words in response to the national assembly’s decision to keep Pakistan neutral in the ongoing Yemen crisis.
He said that Pakistan was proud of its armed forces who have simply failed to handle their internal affairs related to the activities of takfiri terrorists funded by Saudi Arabia.
He criticized Pakistani government for its tall claims about democracy, and said that they were dependant on our Khairat and Sadqat (Charity funds) but talked about dignity and sovereignty. He said Saudi Arabia always supported Pakistan.
“We do not need any help from Pakistan; we do not want assistance from those people who are inferior working in Saudi Arabia. They always tried to appease us for their economical needs. They are liars trying to convince us toward peace and negotiation; this is disgusting,” he said.
It is pertinent to mention here that UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash has also rejected Saudi demands for Islamabad to join its military coalition against Houthi rebels.
Gargash said Pakistan is required to show a clear stand in favour of its strategic relations with the six-nation Arab Gulf cooperation Council, as contradictory and ambiguous views on this serious matter will have a heavy price to pay.
“This is nothing but another chapter of laggard impartial stand,” Gargash said, criticising identical views held by Turkey and Iran about the armed conflict in Yemen, as affirmed by the Turkish foreign minister, who had said a political way out of the crisis is the responsibility of Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan - Breeding hate against the Ahmedis

Zeeba T. Hashmi

A local Urdu newspaper in Lahore has been printing an advertisement for the Khatam-e-Nabuwat Conference that was to be held on March 22. The sponsors of the advertisement and the organisers of the event are all revealed in it yet no one from the authorities is willing to take note of the conference
Persecution in Pakistan is the culmination of stewing hate speech that has been growing unchecked in our society. Religious minorities here are the worst ones anywhere in the world to suffer the brunt of hate crimes. But what makes the persecution of Ahmedis unique is that they consider themselves Muslim but are made to sign a statement that they are non-Muslims before taking up their citizenship. This was defined in the Constitution when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in 1974, declared Ahmedis to be non-Muslims, a move demanded and hailed by the orthodox clergy. This was further strengthened and enacted into an Ordinance later by General Ziaul Haq, which criminalised Ahmedis for practicing normal rituals that ordinary Muslims would do like greeting each other with the term “Asaalamualaikum”. Ridiculous laws set precedents for general intolerance and hate crimes. Politically, Ahmedis are unrepresented and denounced in public. The chairman of the PTI, Imran Khan, during his election campaign in 2013, alienated himself from the Ahmedis, who had initially been supporting him for change. The ‘honourable’ Khan had to make a special television appearance to clarify his stance on the issue on how the laws that are discriminatory to this particular segment of the population are synchronised with his beliefs.

In 2014, 11 members belonging to the Ahmedi sect were killed for their faith. The increase in crimes against Ahmedis is becoming a reason behind why many of them are opting to leave Pakistan for the sake of living dignified lives in countries that ensure religious freedom and security. There are about three million Ahmedis residing in Pakistan at present and most of them are resiliently living here despite the fact that the authorities deliberately ignore the many dangers and threats they face here. Many perpetrators are set free whereas the Ahmedis, by the discretion of the law, are taken in and persecuted at the smallest instance of practicing their beliefs in public. This not only gives a negative image of Pakistan to the world, it is shameful on every level of humanism of how the state has given in to the whims of the extremist mullahs here.

There is a plethora of hate speech against the Ahmedis that often incites violence against them. There are no background checks or investigative and forensic measures taken against the publication of such pamphlets that call for vicious action against our religious minorities. There have often been reports of the circulation of pamphlets considering it a religious responsibility to kill Ahmedis, whom they consider to be murtids (apostates). There is a 720-page book titled Tohfa Qadianiat, written by Muhammad Yousaf Ludhianvi of Khatam-e-Nabuwat, which openly calls for the murder of Ahmedis. This book is making the rounds in the residential areas of Lahore without any government intervention to stop it or to prosecute its author for inciting murder. A well-known television celebrity, Amir Liaqat Hussain, has twice named Ahmedis as wajib ul qatal (justifiably to be murdered) on television, which has been followed by the murders of Ahmedis and not once has he been indicted for inciting violence against them. He unabashedly keeps running his show on television, which is viewed by millions across Pakistan.

A local Urdu newspaper in Lahore has been printing an advertisement for the Khatam-e-Nabuwat Conference that was to be held on March 22. The sponsors of the advertisement and the organisers of the event are all revealed in it yet no one from the authorities is willing to take note of the conference. In the months of February and March 2015, there have been six such conferences that took place under the nose of the government. These conferences were held by the Khatam-e-Nabuwat, Majlis Ahrar Islam, Tahafuze Namoose Risalat Committee and other elements that preach the killing of Ahmedis, limiting their movements, restricting them and obscuring their rights to assess education, health and other services. It is also important to note that a meeting organised by the Tahafuze Namoose Risalat Committee was presided over by Liaqat Baloch of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and it was attended by the federal minister for railways, Khawaja Saad Rafique of the PML-N and Mehmood ur Rasheed of the PTI. In February this year, a similar conference was held at the Aiwan-e-Iqbal, a government cultural facility in Lahore. Such conferences insist their communities excommunicate the Ahmedis. This is ironic as freedom of speech for alternate voices is quashed while abettors to murder are given open and free spaces to actually propagate their mission to persecute religious minorities. Moreover, this is a contradictory resolve of the state to end religious extremism in the country. However, actions like these are not even discouraged, let alone eradicated from the roots. The police are also notorious for picking up Ahmedis in fabricated crimes and physically torturing them at the behest of the mullahs.

Why is it that the state is helpless in safeguarding the Ahmedis from mullah persecution? Last year, an Ahmedi woman and her two minor granddaughters were attacked and killed by an angry mob over an allegedly blasphemous post on Facebook made by another Ahmedi. The killers of the woman and two minors are still roaming free. Is it because of fear of the mobs that the state feels absolutely unable to take up responsibility for the protection of a persecuted community? There are reports that the extremist mindset has also seeped into the state machinery (many were seen attending the Khatam-e-Nabuwat conferences) making it impossible to secure Ahmedis their rights on an equal footing with other citizens. It is a tragedy for Pakistan that, despite knowing the grudge and religious hatred for people choosing and practicing their faith, the government has failed to protect and safeguard its citizens.

Education for all: For Pakistan, still a long road ahead

A review of the six ‘Education For All’ goals from 2000 to 2015 has been disappointing on many ends and encouraging on a few notes, with Pakistan only being able to reduce the gender gap.
According to the EFA Development Index, Pakistan ranks 106 out of 113 countries only above Eritrea, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. Similarly, despite Pakistan’s annual economic growth being 4.1 per cent, growth in expenditure on education is less than 2.5 per cent.
The staggering figures released on Wednesday in Islamabad in a Global Monitoring Report 2015 by Unesco suggested that Pakistan has moved slightly ahead particularly in the early years after the goals were set — there were 68 girls enrolled for 100 boys then but by 2007 the girls’ figure reached 83, and then 87 by 2012.
“There is a need to focus on what needs to be done urgently to make sure we reach the goals as fast as possible,” Unesco Country Head Vibeke Jensen said while shared the report findings.
She stressed that plans for achieving new goals will need to ensure implementation of the government’s commitment to raise the share for education from 2 per cent to 4 per cent of the GDP.
In the first goal — expand early childhood care and education —  about 47 per cent of the countries reached the goal and another eight per cent were close, including Pakistan. However, 20 per cent failed from a huge margin.
Only 52 per cent of the countries achieved the universal primary education goal while only 10 per cent are close and the remaining 38 per cent are far from achieving it, including Pakistan.
Education ministers in the previous government (2013) and the incumbent have been of the view that “Pakistan could not achieve the EFA goals but efforts would continue”, the report said.
The third goal to ‘ensure equal access to learning and life skills for youth and adults’ was reached by 46 per cent of the countries. Less than half of adolescents are enrolled in lower secondary education in Pakistan.
Pakistan is among the 32 per cent countries which are far from achieving the fourth goal of a 50 per cent reduction in adult illiteracy levels.
The same was with the goals of achieving gender parity and equality and improving the quality of education and ensuring measurable learning outcomes for all.
Contrary to govt claims, the report states that spending on education in Pakistan fell from 2.6 per cent of GNP to 2 per cent.
The report recommends countries to complete the EFA agenda and make at least one year of pre-primary education compulsory. It also called on the international community to close the finance gap in partnership with countries and find means to bridge US$22 billion annual finance gap for quality pre-primary and basic education for all by 2030.

Pakistan - Ban On New wind, Solar project
The decision of the Energy Committee of the Federal Cabinet in its meeting of April 8TH to ban new Solar and Wind projects is condemnable, Senator Taj Haider General Secretary PPP Sindh has said in a Press Statement. The decision promotes the criminal interests of the import lobby, increases our trade gap and transfers national wealth abroad.
Senator Taj Haider said that reliance on imported fuels has been the major drawback in the development of our energy sector and our economy as a whole. It has given rise to many such scams as the present LNG import scam. The ban on wind and solar energy projects is admittedly designed to increase LNG imports and give windfall profits to importers and their commission agents.
Against the total electricity demand of 1,700 MW in Sindh excluding the demand of city of Karachi, the 32 under construction projects of wind power in Jhampir corridor will generate 1900MWs of power. While the local villages in the area are deprived of electricity 163.5MW of wind energy is already being supplied to the national grid from the Jhampir Wind corridor. The supply of clean drinking water to the population and livestock of Thar Desert and its eventual greening on Biosaline agriculture would not have been possible if we had not relied on solar energy. The ZulfiqarAbad wind energy corridor has a potential of generating 50,000 MWs.
It was the great visionary of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who had set up and put into production the Institute of Silicon Technology in Islamabad in early 70s to produce our own solar cells. While the rest of the world is concentrating on massive production of solar cells, the importers lobby of our country has succeeded in shutting down this facility.
The drop in crude oil prices has been caused by the occupation of oil fields in Iraq and Syria by ISIS. One cannot count on their perpetual occupations and increased production to finance the killing of Muslims in the Middle East. Wind and Sun are blessings of Allah to mankind at Zero Cost. The increase in our import bill and the trade gap are alarming. Why can’t the economic wizards of the Federal government guided by commission agents realize that imports have to be resorted to only as an emergency measure to overcome temporary shortages. Development of our own natural and human resources is the only viable and sustainable solution.
Senator Taj Haider said that it was noteworthy that the Peoples Government was negotiating LNG import prices per mmcft at 12% of the International Crude Oil prices per barrel. The Supreme Court had at that time thought it fit to take suo-motto notice and had stopped the deal. Can anyone in Government explain the increase of more than 40% in this pricing ratio at the current 17% of Crude Oil prices and will the Honourable Supreme Court kindly take notice of the huge scam?.

Asif Ali Zardari says way forward lies in continuity of economic policies

Former President Asif Ali Zardari has said that the way forward for Pakistan to make progress and join the comity of developed nations lay in continuity of economic policies. “Continuity, continuity and continuity is what is needed” he said in a media interview today in reply to a question about the visit of Chinese President and economic projects worth tens of billions of dollars signed.

We appreciate that the present government has pushed forward the agreements on economic projects with China that were entered into during the previous PPP government and hope that this trend will continue in the future as well.
We also appreciate that the present government completed the Multan airport project started by the previous government, he said. If this realism and maturity had also been shown with respect to energy projects undertaken by the ppp government in nineties had been continued and not reversed there would have been no load shedding in the country today.
The former President said that the foundations of durable and strategic relationship between China and Pakistan were laid by visionary leaders of the time namely Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan and Chairman Mao Tse Tung and Premier Chou en Lai of China which has grown and strengthened over the years and was bearing fruit.
He said that as President he undertook as many as nine visits to China visiting all their provinces and regions with a view to learning from the Chinese model of development. The currency swap agreement, the establishment of the China Bank in Pakistan and the handing over of the Gawadur port to China laid the ground work for durable economic structures to be raised, he said.
A larger economic foot print of China in Pakistan holds great promise not only for the shared prosperity of both countries but also to the prosperity and development of the entire region, he said.
When asked about reservations expressed by the PPP about the route of Economic Corridor and location of economic projects within the corridor the PPP Co chairman said that there were genuine and serious concerns that needed to be addressed. He asked the government to take the parliament and the political parties into confidence to make the Economic Corridor a real game changer in the region.
We will force the government to share the economic benefits of the projects with all provinces and regions and not just one region.
Decisions about the nature and location of various economic projects in the Corridor must be made transparently and with broad based consensus, he said. He said that the party will consult all other political parties on this issue as it is of concern to the entire nation.
About the situation in Yemen the former President said that the PPP welcomed the Saudi decision to stop aerial bombardment and expressed the hope that a peaceful negotiated settlement of the problem will be found.
Referring to the 2 million Pakistani workers in Saudi Arabia and millions in the other Gulf countries he said that Pakistan was inextricably linked with Saudi Arabia and cannot ignore the security and stability concerns of the kingdom. He said that he visited the Saudi embassy in Islamabad today (Wednesday) to express solidarity with the people and government of the Saudi Arabia in its hour of difficulty.
We should sit with the OIC to find a middle path leading to a peaceful resolution of the conflict so that war is avoided and Saudi security is not threatened in any way, he said.
About the role of China he said that the region was in ferment. Because of its size, might and credibility with countries in the region as well as its obvious security and economic interests China had a great role to play in the region. As a factor of stability in the region and the world we welcomed growing China’s role in the region.
Meanwhile Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar quoting the former President said that Mr. Zardari also welcomed Chinese assistance in the field of defence and defence production and in providing assorted defence equipment to bolster the country’s defence. The former President also expressed appreciation for the US military assistance to Pakistan and in this connection recalled the deal signed during the pppgovernment for US helicopters that strenghthened the capacity to fight militants holed up in difficult terrains, he said.

US drone strikes kill US, Italian hostages in Pakistan

The White House says that two hostages, including an American, were inadvertently killed in Pakistan earlier this year as the result of a United States-launched drone strike.
Senior administration officials told the Wall Street Journal that an attack in January against a suspected Al-Qaeda compound caused the death of American development expert Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian aid worker.
US President Barack Obama is expected to speak on the matter during an address Thursday morning.
According to the Journal’s Thursday morning report, the White House has already launched an investigation into the incident which may prompt the administration to revamp its drone program.
The deaths of the two men, the paper acknowledged, are the first known instances in which a US drone strike has accidentally caused hostage casualties. Previously, the White House has admitted that drone strikes waged by the US in 2011 had killed two suspected members of Al-Qaeda with American citizenship and one of their sons, also a US citizen.