Monday, July 20, 2015

Pakistan: Objective Resolution dividing people on basis of faith, says Asma Jahangir

Counsel for Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir argued before the apex court on Thursday that the Objective resolution had divided the people of Pakistan on the basis of faith and ideology.

The Objectives Resolution, passed by the first Constituent Assembly in 1949 under the rule of Liaquat Ali Khan, is believed to be objectives on which the future constitution of the country was to be based.

However, opposing the idea that the Objective Resolution was the basic structure of Pakistan’s Constitution, Jahangir noted that it contributed to dividing people and was even used against the people of Pakistan prior to the establishment of Bangladesh.

She further added that it is the people who have ‘faith’, not the State.

Although the counsel opposed the ‘striking down’ of the 21st Constitutional amendment by the apex court, she recommended the Supreme Court interpret it in view of Articles 4 and 8 of the Constitution.

Jahangir went on to say that if the court were to strike down the 21st Constitutional amendment on the basis of the basic structure, then the petitioner would examine the previous Constitutional amendment, wherein, the Objective Resolution was declared a preamble of the Constitution.

She further stated that people’s rights were more important that the independence of the judiciary and that the SC was the only institution which protected the rights of the citizens.

Referring to Article 63 of the Constitution, Justice Qazi Faez Isah remarked that the new concept of a democratic system which has emerged in Pakistan was ‘unfortunate’ for the country.

Balochistan - Dr. Malik Is Running A Failed Government

Interview by Shoaib Durrazai
Zahoor Buledi belongs to Buleda tehsil of District Kech. He has served as member of Provincial Assembly of Balochistan from Buleda during 2008-13. Shoaib Durrazai of Balochistan Point conducted a short interview with Zahoor Buledi.
Shoaib Durrazai: What’s the nature of your differences with Dr. Malik Baloch and National Party?
Zahoor Buledi: I have regards for Dr. Malik Baloch as I have always had good relations with him. When Dr. Malik Baloch took power as Chief Minister (CM) of Balochistan, people had a lot of expectations from him. Dr. Malik was the first CM from the Makran region and He was the first Middle Class CM as well. He was not a tribal chieftain like his predecessors and this resulted in people attaching great hopes from him. Shockingly people didn’t get the desired results and Dr. Malik Baloch has proven himself to be an uncivilized politician.
Why Dr. Malik and his government have failed to deliver?
Balochistan has multifaceted problems as it has fallen into conflict zone where lots of international agendas are being carried out. Incumbent government has created problems of scarcity of resources, rampant corruption, mismanagement and nepotism.
National Party (NP) is third largest party in Balochistan Assembly and Dr. Malik was elected CM due to special arrangements made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. National Party was waiting for government for last fifteen years and that’s why they superseded all the democratic norms and ethics and now they have become sandwich between two powerful coalition partners PML-N and Pakhthunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP).
The biggest challenge which Dr Malik is going to face is the upcoming census. The decision to hold census next year was made in Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting where Dr. Malik abstained and his crony and powerful minister Sardar Aslam Bizenjo attended the meeting without any dissent note. So Census would be suicide for Baloch, as Makran is insurgency ridden no-go area for government machinery and no census can be conducted there. PKMAP is accomplishing its long standing nefarious agenda by registering Afghan immigrants through NADRA. All these circumstances squeezed Dr. Malik’s position and He is seemingly running a failed government.
What you did for people of Buleda when you were MPA from 2008 to 2013?
Being honest, I was also a part of coalition government where we had to operate under a lot of restrictions. We made 7th NFC award possible in which Balochistan’s share in federal divisible pool was increased from 6% to 9%. We established two universities in the province and recruited 5,000 people as a part of Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package.
In my constituency, I carried out lots of development project in social sector. I established an inter-college for Hoshap which is now functional. Apart from that I also established; Rural health centre at Hoshap, 4 Basic health units, electrified more than 50 villages in the hinterland like Dander, Balgather and Kocha Buleda, provided them the sources and water supply for clean drinking water. I made 6 delay actions dams but ironically 3 of them are still incomplete due to interception of insurgents by blowing up the machinery of Construction Company. My home town is land locked and doesn’t have any all-weather road therefore I initiated a road at an estimated cost of Rs. 1 Billion. Later insurgents brutally killed 7 laborers on the site and work was stopped. Now the incumbent government has once again started the work on that road by deploying Frontier Corps.
Balochistan receives 100s of billions every year after NFC award. Why it has not changed living standards of people?
It is a good question and has a lot of dimensions, corruption and personal interest hampered increase in budgets to trickle down at the grass root level. NFC award couldn’t raise the life standard of general masses. We got the extra money but the non-development budget increased at the same time. Major chunk of non-development budget is being spent on maintaining law and order situation. Secondly the Planning and Development portfolio has always been run by those people who are considered racist and only benefit their ethnicity rather than believing in justified distribution of resources.
Balochistan is the most backward province in Pakistan and doesn’t have proper infrastructure. Social indicators are low, the terrain is too huge, population is scattered, and most of the people are living below the poverty line in rural areas. Government needs billions of dollars to bring them at par with other provinces.
I just want to give an example that once we collected the data for shelter less schools in Balochistan, we needed to have Rs. 54 billion to build schools and our total Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) was Rs. 45 billion. You can imagine that it was a small component of one social sector but we can’t relieve ourselves from the responsibility due to corruption, mismanagement, lack of priorities and so on.
Being a former MPA, how do you see the current situation of Balochistan?
As a politico, I think the situation is still worse in most of the areas. we are not only facing the insurgency but also we have sectarian issues and growing extremism  as our society once projected as liberal society is now deliberately being radicalized day by day. The insurgents are disgruntled and are divided into groups and therefore it is too much difficult for the government to bring them on the table for negotiations.
On the other side the government doesn’t have any plan or vision to solve the issues. Balochistan is virtually being managed as a federal subject. I m sorry to say this government can’t negotiate with federal government for due share in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) where China is investing 46 billion dollars. Every province is getting its share in social sector under CPEC but Balochistan has got nothing. Although Gwadar is flagship project of CPEC, only express ways and Gwadar airport are being built which are considered as components of Gwadar port.
Will there be a change of Chief Minister in Balochistan as a part of Murree Accord?
Murree accord is an itching truth for NP but they are morally bounded to give top slot of Province to PML-N for second half of the tenure. Murree Accord signing was witnessed by Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar. I don’t think Dr. Malik could be able continue as CM after disclosure of accord, it is morally binding for him to support the candidate of PML-N after completing 2 and half years in office.

In Afghanistan, more multi-million dollar buildings built and barely used by the U.S. military

By Dan Lamothe

The U.S. military failed to stop construction on a $14.7 million warehouse facility in southern Afghanistan, despite delays in the project that made it clear it likely would barely be used by coalition forces, according to a new report by the top U.S. watchdog for Afghanistan reconstruction.
The facility was built at Kandahar Airfield and includes four warehouses with a combined 173,428 square feet of storage space, an administration building and other unspecified supporting facilities. It was designed for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), which supplies equipment to U.S. troops at home and overseas.
DLA did not accept delivery of the facility until Feb. 3, 2014, and never used it. “With a few minor exceptions,” the rest of the U.S. military never has, according to the report, which was issued by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
“Although the $14.7 million DLA warehouse facility was well built, lengthy construction delays led to the facility never being used for its intended purpose,” SIGAR said. “Had the facility been completed on schedule, DLA would have been able to use the warehouse facility for more than 2 years before its mission ended in Kandahar.”
It’s the latest in a series of SIGAR reports highlighting how U.S. taxpayer dollars were wasted in Afghanistan. In another case, the U.S. military failed to stop construction at a $36 million headquarters building at Camp Leatherneck, in Helmand province, despite a U.S. general saying in 2010 that it wasn’t needed.
Specifications for the warehouse project in Kandahar were first developed in 2009. The Army Corps of Engineers issued a $13.5 million contract in September 2010 to YDA AFCON Joint Venture, a collaboration between two Turkish construction firms. It was supposed to be completed by August 2011, but the firm was slow to complete work and pay subcontractors, SIGAR found.
The military partially cancelled the contract with about 92 percent of the work done in April 2013. The Army Corps of Engineers issued a $844,526 contract the following month to complete the project by that August, but eventually modified it to include clean-up services, a more expensive fire suppression system and more employees to test a fire pump system and fire pump controllers. That boosted the overall cost to $14.7 million.
The building wasn’t turned over to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) until Feb. 3, 2014. By then, the U.S. military already was well into a cutting down the number of troops and civilians deployed.SIGAR recommended that Gen. Lloyd Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), direct U.S. Forces-Afghanistan to identify who made the decision to allow contract modifications that boosted the project’s price tag after the decision was made in August 2013 to end DLA’s mission in Kandahar.
A CENTCOM official, Army Col. Scott A. Petersen, wrote in a letter to SIGAR that the organization concurred with the watchdog’s findings that the warehouses were well built, but well after deadline. Finding out why the Army Corps of Engineers modified the contract to cost more will require an investigation, but he did not indicate whether Austin will order one.
U.S. Forces-Afghanistan had no comments for the report, according to a letter it sent to SIGAR.

Video Report - Afghan Widows Build Unique Community On Kabul Hill

State of Children: Pakistani child mortality rates nearly twice as high as India’s

A Pakistani child is almost twice as likely to die before his or her fifth birthday as an Indian child. Despite significant improvements over the past two decades, Pakistan ranks towards the bottom among countries in the world when it comes to infant and neonatal mortality, according to a report issued by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
According to the 2014 State of Children in Pakistan report, one in every 14 Pakistani children (7.1%) die before their first birthday, and one in every 11 (9.1%) do not survive to their fifth birthday. In 1990, the proportion of children who died before the age of one – the infant mortality rate – was 10.6%, and those who did not make it to the age of five – the under-five mortality rate – was 13.8%. While these numbers represent a dramatic improvement over the past two decades, they are still much worse than even comparable countries around the world.
In India, for instance, the infant mortality rate in 2012 was much lower at 4.4% and even the under-five mortality rate was at 5.6%. In 1990, India did start off with lower rates for both than Pakistan – 12.6% and 8.8%, respectively – but has made more progress in reducing both numbers.
The mortality rates among children are often seen as a proxy for the level of social development in a country, since they reflect the level of nutrition, parents’ education, and access to health services. The report, the second such study on Pakistan’s children by Unicef, cites a lack of clean water and sanitation facilities as one of the biggest impediments in reducing child mortality.
Lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities has a wide range of impact on children’s health and the current status of sanitation and poor hygiene practices has led to significant public costs, such as premature deaths, economic and financial costs due to diseases attributable to poor sanitation, environmental costs, and other welfare costs.
As one of the most powerless groups in society, children often bear the physical and emotional costs of poverty. Poverty experienced by children can affect the rest of their lives, and is more often passed from generation to generation, affecting the long-term health, well-being, and productivity of families as well as society as a whole.
Low levels of education compel families to engage in labour-intensive, low-paying jobs that generate insufficient income to satisfy the needs of the family. The distress and poor health conditions that result from the imbalance between household demands and parents’ ability to satisfy those demands pushes children into work and a lifelong struggle to meet levels of even basic subsistence and robs them of their basic rights to education, good health, and safety.
The challenges to child protection as a result of poverty and inequality are more difficult to overcome when they are compounded by social exclusion and discrimination. Poverty also undermines support systems, whether these are the informal structure that would normally provide mutual support among community members in hard times, or formal structures such as economic safety nets and social services, especially where government lacks the capacity and resources to make these measures effective.
Children growing up in poverty are less likely to access basic social services of quality or to benefit from preventive initiatives or protection mechanisms.

UN military observers in Pakistan visit border after firing

The UN Military Observers Group today began a "fact finding mission" to ascertain the Pakistani claim that India last week resorted to "unprovoked firing" on the border in Jammu and Kashmir.
"The UNMOGIP military officers visited the most effected villages today on working boundary near Sialkot due to Indian unprovoked shelling /firing," according to the Pakistan military's media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
The UNMOGIP officers based in Rawalpindi flew by helicopter into the area in Sialkot, some 100 kilometres from Lahore, and visited Saleh Pur, Chaprar and Malane in Chaprar Sector near working boundary, the ISPR statement said.
It said officials of the UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) met wounded civilians and witnessed the damage to civilian structures in the area.
Civilians of the area also narrated first hand accounts of the incidents. "The UNMOGIP observers are also offered full access in Pakistan to investigate and bring the facts in front of the world," it said.
UNMOGIP observers have been located at the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir since 1949 and supervise the truce between the two neighbours.
India has been maintaining that the UNMOGIP has outlived its utility and was irrelevant after the Simla Agreement and the consequent establishment of the Line of Control (LoC). Following heightened tension along their border resulting in casualties on both sides, India had last week warned Pakistan of an "effective and forceful" response to unprovokedfiring and cross-border terrorism.
India's blunt message followed a series of ceasefire violations along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan which resorted to mortar shelling of Indian areas over two days. India responded in kind and both sides said they had suffered casualties.

Indian Army Warns Pakistan of 'Unexpected Damages' for Ceasefire Violations

The Indian Army has warned Pakistan today of "unexpected damages" if it continues to violate the ceasefire along the border in Jammu and Kashmir.

"There are certain elements across the border who want to create trouble on the Line of Control... we have to give them certain unexpected damage to so that they don't repeat it in future," said Lieutenant General KH Singh, who commands the 16 Corps.
The senior officer said that Pakistan started shelling and firing on villages in the Poonch sector in Jammu on Saturday on Eid because India had managed to stop terrorists from crossing the border just two days before that. Five civilians were injured in the area.

"One girl was killed on the Pakistan side - we regret the incident. The Pakistani army also suffered major damages. They chose the Eid day to retaliate and targeted our civilian areas after Eid prayers," he said.

The clashes over the weekend have raised doubts about a much-discuss thaw between India and Pakistan after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, at a summit in Russia this month. They agreed that their top security officials would hold talks. But in the days since then, the ceasefire along the Line of Control and the International Border has been repeatedly violated, with one Indian killed.

The simmering tension saw Pakistan, in a break from tradition, refusing festive sweets from Indian soldiers on Eid on the border in Punjab.

Pakistan - Khurshid Shah demands PM Nawaz to summon APC over foreign policy

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Syed Khursheed Shah on Sunday said that federal institutions like the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) should not have any role to play in Sindh.
Speaking to media representatives here, he said Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain himself invited the Pak Army for the targeted operation in the metropolis. Therefore, recent ‘hue and cry’ from Mr Hussain against arrests and raids was not justified, he added.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) stalwart said he hopes that former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry play an active role in the country’s political affairs.
Declaring corruption a ‘cancer’, Shah said the ‘disease’ had spread during the 55-year-long dictatorial regimes in the country.
Talking to media after Eid Milan party in Madrasa Ghousia, Khursheed Shah said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif must have discussed regarding Indian interference in Kashmir including Baluchistan, during his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Modi.
He said that Pakistan should compile new policy after Iran agreement. He said that those leaving PPP had also come from somewhere else to us, now they are searching for new ventures, adding that Bilawal is enough for PPP.
He said that the country needs a new foreign policy at this time, adding that Pakistan should benefit from Iran’s nuclear deal with western countries to its fullest. He said Pakistan should improve relations with its neighbours.
Shah said the current government was hesitant from entering into any agreement with Iran before, he said, but this hesitation should now end.
Speaking against the likelihood of Martial Law in Sindh, he said Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain himself invited the army for operation because he didn’t trust the police.