Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Music Video - Wiz Khalifa - See You Again ft. Charlie Puth

Saudi Bombing Only Fans Yemen’s Flames

For nearly three months, Saudi Arabia, along with its allies, has been bombing Yemen, its southern neighbor, hoping to force the retreat of Shiite rebels who have seized major cities and to return the country’s president from the Saudi guest mansion where he lives to the presidential palace.
So far, it has not worked. The rebels, known as the Houthis, have gained ground, more than 2,600 people have been killed and aid groups have blamed the Saudi-led bombing and limits on maritime traffic for exacerbating a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country.
With the failure of talks last week in Geneva to establish even a short-term cease-fire, it increasingly appears that Saudi Arabia lacks a realistic strategy to end the war, according to analysts and Yemenis interviewed in different parts of the country. In fact, many of them said Saudi intervention had made matters worse, expanding the violence while making resolution even harder to achieve.
“It is very clear that the Saudis did not do their homework before they went into Yemen,” said Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemeni visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon. “They thought it would be really easy, but it has not turned out that way.”
Instead, Saudi Arabia and the coalition it is leading have added an international dimension to what analysts said had essentially been a domestic conflict, while also prompting frequent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s southern border and creating space for extremists to expand.
There is much riding on the outcome for the United States, which has provided the Saudis with advice on targets and has watched with dismay as the number of civilian casualties has risen. Yemen is home to the branch of Al Qaeda long considered the most dangerous to the West, and the jihadists of the Islamic State, new to the country, claimed a number of deadly attacks last week in Sana, the capital.
But the stakes are higher for Saudi Arabia, which must defend a long and rugged border with Yemen and could find itself embroiled in a protracted, costly war at a time when falling oil prices have strained the country’s finances.
In an interview on Monday, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, defended its progress, saying that the bombing had degraded the Houthis’ military strength and destroyed many of their heavy weapons while helping Yemen’s president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, build a government in exile.
“We shouldn’t be in a hurry,” General Asiri said, adding that the United States, NATO and others had worked for more than a decade to try to set up a stable government in Afghanistan.
He also blamed the Houthis for the country’s civilian deaths.
“The Houthis are controlling the ground,” he said, “and if you are fighting among civilians, having your checkpoints everywhere, you will come up with this kind of casualties.”
Since the Saudi-led bombing campaign began on March 25, Saudi leaders have stated many objectives, including weakening the Houthis, forcing them to withdraw from captured territory and re-establishing the government of Mr. Hadi, who fled the country by boat in March. But the complex mix of fighters on the ground has stymied those goals.
The conflict began with the collapse of a transition plan put in place after an Arab Spring uprising led to the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012.
Opposed to parts of the plan, the Houthis pushed out of their strongholds in the northwest and seized territory including Sana, reaching Aden in the south before Saudi bombs slowed their progress. The Houthis adhere to an offshoot of Shiite Islam known as Zaydism and had battled the Yemeni state off and on for years.
While some Houthis seek to participate in the political process, others are driven by a messianic zeal and speak of sacking Jerusalem and Mecca, Saudi Arabia, exacerbating fears in that country. Their fighters often chant, “Death to Israel, death to America,” sometimes also cursing Jews and Saudi Arabia. Speaking from a hospital bed in Sana where he was recovering from wounds sustained during an airstrike, Ahmad Haza, a Houthi fighter, described all of his group’s enemies as terrorists who needed to be defeated by his group, also known as Ansar Allah, or Supporters of God. He expressed no regret about the group’s siege of Aden, nor its shelling of civilian neighborhoods. “Moving forward, moving forward,” he said. “Ansar Allah never backs off.”
Fighting alongside the Houthis and essential to their military progress are large parts of the Yemeni Army loyal to Mr. Saleh, who seek to regain power.
The anti-Houthi forces are even more diverse, containing Yemeni Army units, armed tribes, secessionists seeking independence for southern Yemen and Islamic hard-liners, including Al Qaeda, which has embedded itself in the militant landscape. Many share nothing other than their hatred of the Houthis. Few are loyal to Mr. Hadi, and some even oppose Saudi Arabia, despite its air support against their enemies.
“I was happy at the beginning because they would strike the Houthis on the front lines,” said Mohammed al-Zuari, a southern separatist fighter. But then, he said, a Saudi airstrike killed 16 of his men. Mr. Zuari did not care for Mr. Hadi, he said, but he was fighting to defend his region against “invaders.”
Saudi leaders have portrayed the Houthis as an Iranian proxy force similar to Hezbollah in Lebanon and have presented their campaign as a strike against Iranian influence in the Middle East.
That has become, in some ways, a self-fulfilling prophecy, analysts said.
Mr. Muslimi, the Yemeni scholar, said Iran had not originally invested much in the Houthis, but considered them “the cheapest middle finger it could give to Saudi Arabia.”
Since the campaign began, however, Iran has increased its support and Shiite movements in Lebanon and Iraq have adopted the Houthis as brothers in arms.
“I believe that if the Yemenis are left to their own devices, they can negotiate a way out of this,” said Stephen A. Seche, a former American ambassador to Yemen. “But with all these other powers mucking about, that becomes very difficult.”
The Houthis, too, have contributed to the humanitarian crisis. They have besieged civilian areas, and their advance caused the collapse of government services many Yemenis depend on.
But in choosing to fight the Houthis with air power alone, the Saudis may have picked an unwinnable fight while drawing the ire of suffering Yemenis.
“In some ways, all the Houthis have to do is survive to win,” said April Longley Alley, an analyst with the International Crisis Group. “And they are not only surviving, they are expanding.”
Since destroying many of the Houthis’ obvious military targets, coalition jets have begun bombing their enemies’ homes, and near daily airstrikes for weeks on end have caused widespread destruction in the Houthis’ homeland in Saada Province.
“We often have mass casualties,” said Hassan Boucenine, the head of mission for Doctors Without Borders in Yemen, which supports medical facilities in the area. “The airstrikes are terrifying the population.”
Coalition controls on maritime traffic have kept most commercial goods out of Yemen, causing spikes in food prices and fuel shortages that have shut down hospitals and stranded ambulances. Malnutrition is spreading, as are outbreaks of malaria and dengue fever, with fewer international organizations operating in the country to help local medics.
“We need more humanitarian actors to come in,” Mr. Boucenine said. If the fighting does not stop, he added, the humanitarian crisis “is not going to be manageable by anyone.”
The daily deprivations in Yemen were shared with Security Council diplomats by the special United Nations mediator, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, at a briefing on Wednesday in New York. He said that the country was bordering on famine and that polio could make a comeback. Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed also said he continued to push for a truce.
But he said the Saudi-led coalition insisted on two things first: the withdrawal of Houthis from strategic cities and monitors on the ground, to ensure that a truce is not broken. The Houthis, he said, have not agreed to withdraw, arguing that extremists would step into the breach.
The war has turned many Yemenis against their northern neighbors.
Fatoom Anam was at a celebration with other women last month in Sana when a Saudi strike on a munitions dump in the Mount Nuqum neighborhood caused an enormous blast.
“We heard explosions and looked out the window to see Nuqum bursting with fire,” she said from a hospital bed in Sana.
A living room wall soon collapsed on her, causing her to miscarry and killing four children and one woman in the building.
“God will sort it out with whoever is responsible,” she said.

Video - Kerry: U.S., China committed to cyber code of conduct

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Video - Obama Tells Off White House Heckler During LGBT Pride Reception

Don’t mess with President Barack Obama, especially not while in his house. On June 24, the leader of the free world wasn’t amused when a heckler interrupted his speech during an event honoring LGBT Pride Month. ‘Shame on you!’ he yelled. Watch the video here!

When you’re in President Barack Obama‘s house — also known as The White House — don’t interrupt him. Unless, of course, you want to be berated for being disrespectful. That’s what happened to one obnoxious heckler during an event honoring LGBT Pride Month on June 24.

During Obama’s speech at the event, a protester’s voice can be heard interrupting him. And as seen in the video above, the POTUS wasn’t happy. “Shame on you,” Obama told the heckler, who according to CNN was protesting deportations under the Obama administration.
“Listen you’re in my house … it’s not respectful,” he added, but the heckler persisted. And that’s when Obama asked security to remove this person from his house.
“As a general rule I am just fine with a few hecklers. But not when I’m up here in the house,” the President said before Vice President Joe Biden patted him on the back. Obama then added that if guests are “eating the hors d’oeuvres and drinking the booze” at the event, they are expected to act appropriately and respectfully listen.
Apparently, the heckler was an undocumented immigrant named Jennicet Gutiérrez, who is transgender. CNN claims Jennicet “was a founding member of FAMILIA TQLM, established to advocate for LGBTQ immigrants who the group says are often excluded in the immigration debate.”

Music Video - مقدر کا سکندر - Salaam-E-ishq Meri Jaan

Afghanistan says Pakistani intelligence officer helped in parliament attack

Afghanistan's intelligence service on Wednesday said a Pakistani intelligence officer helped the Taliban carry out an attack on the parliament in Kabul earlier this week.

Afghan intelligence services spokesman Hassib Sediqqi said the officer in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence helped the Haqqani network carry out the attack outside parliament, which killed two people and wounded more than 30 as lawmakers were meeting inside. He identified the officer as Bilal, without providing his full name.

Sediqqi says the suicide car bomb used in Monday's attack was manufactured in Peshawar, Pakistan, just across the border. He says Afghan authorities were made aware of the attack on June 10 and had deployed extra security.

Pakistani officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Afghan-Pakistani relations have improved in recent months following years of tensions, during which each had accused the other of supporting militants operating along their porous border.

Afghan security forces have struggled to combat the Taliban following the conclusion of the U.S. and NATO combat mission at the end of last year. The Taliban launched their annual spring offensive in April with an assault on the provincial capital of the northern Kunduz province, nearly capturing the city as Kabul rushed in reinforcements.

Earlier this week, the Taliban captured two districts in Kunduz province in as many days.

On Wednesday a remotely detonated bomb killed a district governor in Badakhshan province, also in the north. Abdul Jabhar Froutan was killed when the bomb went off in the district compound after a meeting, said Ahmad Naweid Froutan, the provincial governor's spokesman. Another person was wounded in the blast, he said.

Pakistan targets 3 Catholic nuns as part of campaign against foreigners

By Tim Craig

First, Pakistan nearly forced one of the world’s most recognized charities, Save the Children, to stop doing business in the country. Then, it announced that thousands of charities and international aid groups would have to follow strict new licensing procedures. Now, it has canceled the visas of three Philippine nuns, prompting a lawsuit from the Catholic Church.
In a case that highlights the Pakistani government’s growing suspicion of foreigners, the nuns were ordered last week to leave. They were accused of "engaging in employment in violation of their visa category,” the Express Tribune newspaper reported Wednesday.
The nuns, who have been working in Pakistan for about a decade, were told they must leave by the end of the month. One of them is the principal of Islamabad Convent School, one of 42 private schools operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi.
But the nuns and church officials are fighting back, a rare public stance by the Catholic Church in this overwhelmingly Muslim country. On Wednesday, the diocese filed a motion asking an Islamabad judge to block the expulsion.
Abid Nazir, an attorney for the church, said in an interview all the three nuns are “missionary workers” who have devoted their lives to educating and helping impoverished children in Pakistan. Nazir added that he fears Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has a personal vendetta against them and the school.
Nazir said Khan’s wife used to work as a teacher at the school but resigned in 2011 after a dispute with the principal.
“More than 4,000 students of Islamabad Convent School, who are Pakistani Nationals are made the scapegoat, just because of (a) personal liking or disliking,” the court filing states.  “If the missionary workers will be sent back then no proper replacement will be available for the proper taking care of the 4,000 children/students of our nation.”
The Interior Ministry did not return calls seeking comments. A judge has yet to rule on the case.
Still, the controversy is another example of how Pakistan is again taking a more aggressive stance toward some foreigners trying to work here.
Earlier this month, The Washington Post and other news outlets reported that Pakistan was not renewing the permits of nearly two dozen international aid organizations. On June 10, Pakistan announced the expulsion of Save the Children over what it called “anti-Pakistan activities.”
The State Department condemned the move, as did many local commentators, who noted that Save the Children employs about 2,000 Pakistanis. Last week, the government reversed its decision and said Save the Children could continue its operations.
But Khan announced Monday that thousands of international aid groups had six months to re-register with the government.
He also said that the government’s Economic Affairs Division would no longer oversee the groups. Instead, he said, the Interior Ministry would be tasked with it. That will put the charitable organizations under the same umbrella as police, which could result in even more scrutiny of humanitarian efforts.   Aid groups also are prohibited from working in certain areas of the country.
There has also been a sudden, noticeable shift in the government’s oversight of Western journalists and other foreign visitors. It’s now harder for foreigners to renew visas or get permission slips to travel outside the major cities of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
When The Post recently inquired about a months-old travel request, a communications officer said the matter was being held up by the Interior Ministry.
Over the past decade, there have been other times when Pakistan has adopted a stringent posture toward foreigners. After a U.S. military raid killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad in 2011, Pakistan effectively closed its door to American visitors for several months.
But what makes the latest crackdown so surprising is that there has been no known trigger for it.
Over the past year, both Pakistani and U.S. officials have been stressing that relations between their  countries have greatly improved. Pakistani political and military leaders also have been touting their country’s relationship with Russia, China and a host of European countries, which they hope to leverage into increased foreign investment to bolster the economy.
And with civilian deaths from terrorist attacks at an eight-year low, this year could have provided Pakistani leaders a real opportunity to pitch the country to outsiders. Instead, many Pakistani analysts worry that the government is harming the country’s reputation by getting into high-profile spats with groups such as Save the Children and the Catholic Church.
“All this brings is a bad name to the country,” Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Lahore-based political analyst, said in an interview.
Analysts note that Interior Ministry officials never explained what sort of “anti-Pakistan activities” Save the Children was alleged to have been a part of. But there is speculation that the order may have been linked to accusations — which Save the Children strongly denies — that the group had ties to a Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA track bin Laden in 2011.
As for the three nuns, Nazir said their pending expulsion is particularly alarming because it comes one month after immigration authorities approved a two-year extension of their visas. But when they arrived at the school on June 17, they found a letter with the heading “cancellation of visas of Philippines missionary workers," Nazir said.
“They were just condemned and no explanation has ever been given,” he said. “What we are now trying to do is say, ‘No one should ever be condemned unheard’... and the church is very concerned by it.”

Pakistan - Chagai: Women And Children Protest Against Shortage Of Drinking Water

Hassan Baloch
Nok Kundi – Women and children in Nok Kundi town of district Chagai protested against shortage of drinking water, on Sunday.
Nok Kundi is a border town situated adjacent to Afghanistan border in district Chagai. People of Chagai are facing shortage of drinking water for last 2 months.
Protestors chanted slogans against Public Health Engineering (PHE) department and demanded government of Balochistan to solve the problem soon.
Source of water in Nok Kundi town is the wells which are filled by the sand that comes with the summer season. Every year hundreds of thousands of rupees are spent on cleaning these wells to make the extraction of water possible.
Contractor responsible for cleaning the wells didn’t do his job properly this year and that has resulted in shortage of drinking water, local sources told The Balochistan Point.
Residents of Nok Kundi claim that Dr. Malik Baloch, Chief Minister of Balochistan, during his visit to Chagai assured the people that water shortage problem would be solved. “Now, when water shortage problem has come to light CM Balochistan is nowhere to be seen,” residents told The Balochistan Point.
Protestors threatened to intensify their protests if the issue of shortage of drinking water is not resolved soon.

Pakistan - Mian Manzoor Wattoo contacts other opposition parties to protest load shedding

Instructions have been issued to the PPP divisional, districts and tehsil levels office bearers and workers to protest the ongoing torturous load shedding of electricity and government’s inability to control it on June 26, said Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo in a statement issued from the Party Secretariat today.
He said that the protest by the PPP in Lahore would be on the pattern of the opposition parties in Islamabad on the date adding that he was contacting the leadership of the other parties to participate in the protest because the people had fed up with hollow promises of this government. Their credibility in this count is zero, he added.
He pointed out that judging from the track record of this government it was easy to draw the conclusions that this government was quick in making tall promises but no deliverance at all and as such the people had lost all hopes of better days in this count.
He observed that now the government had promised to control it by 2018 adding that would also prove wrong because they were very poor in performance but pro-active in playing with the gallery. Their game plan has exposed to the people and they are not in the mood of giving any lease of life to this government, he added.
He recalled that the chief minister of Punjab used to boast that he would control load shedding in months not in years, and could only add 100 mw in two years and that too the most expensive electricity having no parallel. The Nandipur Power Projects is not producing electricity since it inauguration and is a constant source of heap of embarrassment for the chief minister and his governance, he added.
He maintained that the PML (N) sought the votes of the electorates on the electricity issue in 2013 elections and yet they pushed the people to the shocking level of load shedding of electricity that had made their lives miserable.
He said that during the PPP government the load shedding of electricity was far less as what the people were facing now even during the holy month of Ramzan. The record will bear it out that there was never electricity load shedding during sehri and Iftar during the entire period of PPP government, he asserted.

Pakistan - Ch Nisar fighting windmills

His performance as Interior Minister can at best be described as dismal

Like Don Quixote Ch Nisar too seems to have lost his sense of reality. The country is conducting an existential struggle against the terrorists. While the army has mainly completed its task of defeating the enemy in tribal areas, the Interior Ministry has yet to carry out the duties assigned to it. Instead, Ch Nisar has trained his guns on western funded NGOs. A number of these NGOs undertake activities which are highly useful for society besides providing jobs to tens of thousands of people. It is a matter of record that while the madrassas, which also happen to be foreign funded NGOs, have produced the entire TTP leadership and a fair number of its activists, no Western funded NGO has promoted extremist thinking or produced terrorists.
There can be no two opinions vis-a-vis bringing the working of all bodies funded by foreign countries or charities under a uniform law. Initiating a smear campaign against the western funded NGOs, however, is highly regrettable. When Save the Children was told to pack up on June 11, an Interior Ministry official told the media the international aid group was “working against the country”. Ironically, within days the Interior Ministry went back on the stand. The mischief, however, was done.
Ch Nisar needs to concentrate on his duties as Interior Minister. His performance so far can only be described as dismal. Two years back the government decided to set up NACTA as a 24/7 setup where intelligence was to be collected, collated, turned into actionable information and passed on to the relevant departments in real time for swift action and with determined follow-up, but it still remains a dream. In December last year, the government and the opposition parties jointly formulated the National Action Plan. It was decided to set up 15 committees, 11 of them under Ch Nisar, to implement the plan efficiently. Pressurised by religio-political parties, Nisar failed to complete the task assigned to him. He subsequently vented his spleen on the NGOs.

Pakistan - PPP announces province-wide protest against load-shedding in Punjab

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has announced to hold protests across Punjab against load-shedding in the province, Express News reported.
“Province-wide protests will start from Friday (June 26) in which party workers will stage demonstrations outside press clubs in every district of the province,” said PPP Punjab leader Manzoor Wattoo on Wednesday.
“The government has completely failed to control the on-going power crisis in the country,” he added.
He went on to add that scores of people were killed during the current heat wave but the government was not paying serious attention to ease out the sufferings of the people.
The call of the province-wide protests was given with the approval of the party leadership, sources said.
This summer is turning out to be one of the hottest in the history of Pakistan with temperatures soaring as high as 49 °C in some parts of the country.
The heat wave has coincided with severe electricity cuts and the holy month of Ramazan, when most Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours.
The death toll has reached close to the 800 mark in the last four days as many of the deaths were caused by dehydration.
Many residents are furious with the civilian government over electricity cuts and the poor state of public hospitals.

Pakistan - Punjab education budget

The percentage share of education in Punjab’s overall budget has gone down from 26 percent in 2013-14 to 21.4 percent in 2015-16.
 The education budget for the Punjab, as a share of the total budget has declined considerably. Punjab government on Friday announced a balanced budget of Rs. 1,447.42 billion, registering an increase of 40 percent over the ongoing fiscal year’s budget. The education budget saw an increase of Rs. 50.6 billion in 2015-16, a significant rise of 19.5 per cent over the allocated budget in 2014-15. The amount of Rs. 310.2 billion earmarked for education in 2015-16 constitutes 21.4 percent of the total provincial budget for Punjab; going down from 24 percent in 2014-15. The percentage share of education in Punjab’s overall budget has gone down from 26 percent in 2013-14 to 21.4 percent in 2015-16.

According to the Budget 2015-16 White Paper issued by the Government of Punjab, major targets fixed for 2015-16 related to school education include provision of missing facilities in 7,500 schools of the province, provision of IT laboratories in 990 secondary/higher secondary schools having highest enrolment, provision of 2,500 additional classrooms in schools having highest enrollment, reconstruction of 4,727 dangerous school buildings, provision of solar solution to 5,000 off-grid and 5,000 other schools and opening of 500 new schools in Punjab.

Completion of all the above mentioned initiatives and to address other budgetary needs of the education system, the budget for school education has been increased from Rs. 48.4 billion in 2014-15 to Rs. 62.6 billion in 2015-16; anupsurge of 29 percent. The budget earmarked for school education in 2015-16 includes 47 per cent non-development budget to go with 53 per cent allocation for development budget.

Following are some of the highlights of school education budget of Punjab 2015-16:

Reconstruction of Dangerous School Buildings
Recently there has been a debate around dangerous school buildings and the need of budgetary prioritization in this regard. Education budget proposals for Punjab 2015-16 developed by Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAPS) and signed by all political parties during a recent All Parties Conference (APC) held in Lahore also proposed a significant amount to be allocated for dangerous school buildings in Punjab. Punjab currently has 859 school buildings that are critically dangerous whereas 3,868 school buildings are partially dangerous in the province. For reconstruction of these 4,727 dangerous school buildings, a budget of Rs. 8.52 billion has been apportioned in 2015-16.

Programme Monitoring and Implementation Unit
A budget of Rs. 20.5 billion has been apportioned for Programme Monitoring and Implementation Unit (PMIU) in 2015-16, registering an increase of 45 per cent (Rs. 6.3 billion) over the previous year’s allocation. The budget for PMIU has been increased significantly from Rs. 8.2 billion in 2007-08 to Rs. 20.5 billion in 2015-16; an increase of 150 per cent in 9 years. The allocated amount of Rs. 20.5 billion for the upcoming fiscal year includes Rs. 14 billion block allocation for augmentation of non-salary component for School Councils (SCs) in Punjab under Non-Salary Budget (NSB) scheme, Rs. 3.6 billion for free textbooks (plus Rs. 29 million for their distribution) for students under Punjab Education Sector Reform Programme (PESRP), Rs. 1.5 billion for girls’ stipends in 16 selected districts of Punjab and Rs. 290 million for publicity and advertisement. I-SAPS in its education budget proposals for 2015-16 had also proposed Rs. 14 billion for SCs in all the districts of Punjab.
Teacher Training
With the international focus shifting towards ensuring inclusive, equitable and ‘quality’ education opportunities for all, professional development of teachers is one of the keys to success in the post MDGs period. With this in mind, the Punjab government has increased in-service teacher training budget from Rs. 2.91 billion in 2014-15 to Rs. 3.19 billion in 2015-16, marking an increase of 9.4 percent. Education budget proposals for Punjab 2015-16 by I-SAPS had proposed an increase of 15 per cent for in-service teacher training in Punjab. The budget for in-service teacher training has risen smoothly over the last 9 years showing an increase of 83 per cent, i.e., from Rs. 1.74 billion in 2007-08 to Rs. 3.19 billion in the budget for upcoming fiscal year 2015-16. Also an allocation of Rs. 1.07 billion has been made for Elementary Teachers Training Colleges in Punjab in the education budget for 2015-16.

Daanish School System
With an aim to provide quality and free education to the poorest sections of the society, Daanish schools were established in the Punjab under the Punjab Daanish Schools and Centres of Excellence Authority Act 2010. The budget for Daanish schools has almost remained consistent over the last 7 years starting from Rs. 3 billion in 2009-10 to the same amount in 2015-16; although it was reduced to Rs. 2 billion in 2012-13 and 2014-15. A separate budget of Rs. 1.8 billion has also been earmarked for establishment of Daanish schools in Punjab. Also Rs. 12 million have been allocated for covering the educational expenses of students from Balochistan who are studying in Daanish Schools in Punjab.

Punjab Examination Commission
Punjab Examination Commission (PEC) is an autonomous body set up by the Government of the Punjab to assess and examine students’ learning achievements particularly of grade 5 and 8. For the upcoming fiscal year 2015-16, an amount of Rs. 908 million has been apportioned for PEC presenting a significant increase of 15.4 per cent increasing compared with the budgetary allocation of Rs. 787 million in 2014-15.

Punjab Education Foundation
The Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) is an autonomous statutory body formed to encourage and support the efforts of the private sector in providing education to the poor, through public private partnerships. In the budget for 2015-16, PEF has been allocated an amount of Rs. 10.5 billion increasing its share from Rs. 7.5 billion in the last 2 years.

Punjab Education Assessment System
Consistent with the budgetary allocations in 2014-15, no budget has been set aside for Punjab Education Assessment System (PEAS) in 2015-16 as well.

Chief Minister’s Monitoring Force
A budget of Rs. 435 million has been earmarked for Chief Minister’s monitoring force in 2015-16, showing a decrease of Rs. 41 million compared with the allocated budget in 2014-15.

Pakistan's Load Shedding - Poor governance

The government’s claims of no load shedding at Sehr, Iftaar and Taraveeh prayers on the eve of Ramzan have fallen spectacularly flat on their face. Despite the government's announcement that industry would have to forego electricity at these times, the citizens are being tormented by 18 hours of load shedding all over the country. Violent protests against this torture in the middle of the heatwave that is sweeping the country are spreading. Such manifestations have broken out in Peshawar, Karachi, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sahiwal, Multan and other cities. The geographical spread of these protests belies the conspiracy theory being peddled by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is being singled out to make the PTI provincial government look bad. If this theory is correct, then all the provincial governments, including the PML-N's own in Punjab, are suffering the same fate! The government stands indicted not only for the failure to fulfil the promise of no load shedding during critical timings for Ramzan, but also for the duration of power cuts, far from decreasing, have actually increased. No power also affects water supply, the absence of which in this sweltering heat is beyond the capacity of citizens to bear. The citizens' anger at the authorities has found expression in attacks on electricity distribution companies' offices, with in some instances such offices being ransacked and then burnt to a cinder. The power distribution workers in such offices have escaped the wrath of the protestors by a whisker, but some serious fallout in the shape of injuries and casualties amongst such staff could occur unless the problem is dealt with post haste.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, showing his concern over the situation and citizens' suffering, summoned the Water and Power Secretary Younas Dagha to the Prime Minister's House on Saturday to be briefed on the crisis. Dagha, in true 'Yes Prime Minister' mode, laid the blame for the situation on increased demand because of the heat and Ramzan. If so, we're these two factors not known before hand? Dagha told the prime minister that demand currently had risen to 21,000 MW, against supply of 15,500 MW, leaving a shortfall of 5,500 MW. Despite this, Dagha claimed, 75-80 percent of the country was provided uninterrupted electricity on the first day of Ramzan. This is a patently absurd statement, given that no part of the country was receiving 'uninterrupted' electricity even before Ramzan and the heatwave. Not for nothing then did the prime minister reprimand the secretary for this obviously untrue report" expressing his displeasure at the situation, the prime minister instructed the secretary to address citizens' complaints at the earliest. Dagha's absurdity was only bettered by Minister for Water and Power Khwaja Asif's tall tale that 93 percent urban and 86 percent rural areas are being supplied uninterrupted electricity. When by his ministry's own admission there is a shortfall of 5,500 MW, how can this even claimed, let alone believed? The best litmus test of these attempts to throw dust in the eyes of a suffering public is the empirical evidence on the ground itself. People, having lost patience with the authorities' dissembling are expressing themselves with unprecedented anger at their perceived tormentors. Not only are electricity distribution companies' offices being trashed and burnt, there are reports of desperate people breaking water mains in Karachi to get some relief from the heat and even drinking water, an escalation of the ongoing water crisis in the city. Khwaja Asif has also resurrected the bogey of the 650 MW being supplied to Karachi despite the agreement to do so having expired. On the one hand the minister wants to claim the credit for this act of humanitarian kindness towards the denizens of Karachi, and on the other shift the blame for load shedding in the metropolis onto the shoulders of K-Electric, which by the way has broken all records of exaggeration by claiming there is no load shedding in Karachi! Either these top officials take the people of Pakistan as dumb driven cattle who can be fed any potpourri of fabrications if not outright lies, or they are seriously delusional. One can only sympathise with the prime minister for being so poorly served by such ministers, bureaucrats and officials. 

Pakistani court dismisses plea seeking high treason trial of Asif Ali Zardari

Justice Ijazul Ahsan of the Lahore High Court on Monday dismissed as non-maintainable a petition seeking action on treason charges against former president Asif Ali Zardari and other PPP leaders.

Ilyas Gujjar, a leader of All Pakistan Muslim League, filed the petition. The petitioner’s counsel submitted that Zardari and other PPP leaders have made statements against the armed forces of the country to damage the operation Zarb-e-Azb launched to eradicate terrorism. He submitted that the statements of these PPP members were against the solidarity and respect for the country and its institutions. He said the country was in war against terrorist and such statements are aimed at strengthening the terrorist.

He said that Zardari, former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his sister Aseefa Zardari had acted irresponsibly while issuing statements against armed forces of the country. He asserted that these PPP members by making such a statement had committed treason under article 6 of the constitution. He requested that they should be tried under high treason charges for trying to destabilize the country and sentenced for their crime against the country.