Friday, November 11, 2016

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Can the India-Pakistan Ceasefire Survive?

Opinion: Taliban no longer differentiate between diplomats and soldiers

Florian Weigand

For the first time in Afghanistan, Taliban militants have directly targeted German diplomats, attacking a consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif. This marks a turning point in the Afghan conflict, writes DW's Florian Weigand​.
Afghanistan Explosion in der Nähe des deutschen Konsulatsbüros in Mazar-i-Sharif (Reuters/A. Usyan)
Why did the Taliban attack Germans in Mazar-i-Sharif? And why did they choose to target the country's diplomats rather than its military personnel? The militants themselves answered these questions Friday morning, saying it was a "revenge attack" for a US airstrike on a village near the volatile city of Kunduz. The insurgents claimed the US carried out the raid based on the information provided by German troops.
This could well be Taliban propaganda, of course, just like a purported drone image pointing a red mark at the German consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif, which Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid shared on Twitter. Upon a closer inspection, the picture turns out to be a Google map projection. But if the Taliban claim regarding Kunduz proves to be true, this would definitely trigger a serious discussion in Germany about the Afghan situation.
Intelligence sharing with the United States has put German soldiers in harm's way in the past. In September 2009, Bundeswehr Col. Georg Klein summoned US forces to bomb a truck the Taliban had captured. Over 100 civilians, including women and children, died in the airstrike. However, the more recent US attack near Kunduz was different. Apparently, the Taliban had entrenched themselves in the houses, possibly using the villagers as human shields. But again, 30 civilians, including women and children - also an infant - were killed in the raid.
Whether these important but subtle details will play any role in the German public discourse about the Afghan conflict is yet to be seen. But the evidence available shows that for the first time in the protracted war, German civilians, and not German armed forces, have been affected. The Taliban had specifically targeted a German diplomatic mission to exact revenge for the Kunduz attack. In January 2009, a suicide bomber exploded near the German Embassy in Kabul, however, it is still not clear whether the attack was aimed at a US facility or the German diplomatic mission.
After Thursday's attack in Mazar-i-Sharif, it is clear that the Taliban no longer differentiate between international troops and foreign diplomats. The militants now consider envoys as NATO agents who are being used in military operations.
Thanks to the efforts of the security forces - and some good luck - no German diplomats were harmed on Thursday, but the attack raises some serious questions. Berlin must be clear now how the German mission in Afghanistan will be executed. After the attack on diplomats, can we rule out the fact that German development and aid organizations in Afghanistan will not be targeted by militants in the future?
Mazar has long been considered one of the safest areas in Afghanistan, a place where repatriated Afghan refugees from Germany are being sent back to. Germany has contributed a lot to the development of the city - hospitals and schools were built, German's cooperation with local authorities has also been excellent.
The victims of yesterday's attack were mostly Afghans. Up to a hundred locals suffered injuries in the attack, as it was carried out near a busy street in the city center. If the Afghans are not safe in the shadow of a heavily protected German consulate, where are they be safe?

Most child deaths concentrated in 10 Asian, African nations: study

Sixty percent of the world's 5.9 million children who died before their fifth birthday last year were in 10 countries in Asia and Africa, said a study published on Friday, prompting calls for action to reduce the mortality.
The study published in The Lancet medical journal said the latest data highlights the inequality in children's death among the 194 countries it studied, even though the number of under-five deaths has fallen by 4 million compared to 2010.
Of the 5.9 million deaths last year, 3.6 million happened in 10 Asian and African countries - India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, China, Angola, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Tanzania.
The two leading causes were complications due to premature birth and pneumonia, according to researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the World Health Organization.
The researchers said child survival has improved substantially, although countries failed to meet the U.N. Millennium Development Goal to cut the rate of under-five deaths by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.
The rate fell by 53 percent over the period.
The slow progress to reduce newborn deaths - in the first 28 days of life - hampered the MDG target, the researchers said. Of the 5.9 million under-five deaths in 2015, 2.7 million were newborns.
"The problem is that this progress is uneven across all countries, meaning a high child death rate persists in many countries," said the study's lead author Li Liu, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the U.S.
"Substantial progress is needed for countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia to achieve the child survival target of the Sustainable Development Goals," she added.
Under the Sustainable Development Goals, which replaced the MDGs last year, all countries aim to reduce under-five mortality to no more than 25 deaths per 1,000 births by 2030.
The researchers recommended breastfeeding, vaccines for pneumonia, malaria and diarrhea, as well as improving water and sanitation to help with children's survival.

Pakistan - Has load-shedding been decreased?

Irrespective of winter or summer, there seems no end in sight to the energy crisis. Despite instructions by Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif to cut load-shedding by half across the country, irregular breakdowns continue, intermittently, to hit various urban areas. Although the duration of power breakdowns is lesser this year compared to the previous year, yet the genie of load-shedding is still haunting the masses. Reportedly, Secretary Water and Power Younas Dhaga has claimed that work had been started to implement the PM’s directions to further reduce the duration of laod-shedding. It has been claimed that load-shedding in urban areas would be reduced from six hours to three hours, and in rural areas from eight hours to four hours. The PML-N government deserves appreciation for making efforts to decrease the duration of load-shedding; however, a lot more needs to be done to resolve the crisis once and for all. Ironically, in this century when the utility of electricity is easily available in most countries, Pakistanis still wait for the news about the curtailment or end of load-shedding.
Despite the fact that the use of electricity is less in winter, citizens are still facing power outages. Repeated power failures have already affected industrial and manufacturing units across the country. There are various reasons behind the less production of electricity in Pakistan, which include financial constraints, lack of new power projects, raising burden of circular debt, poor electricity production, power theft, unfair distribution of electricity, and non-payment of electricity bills. Non-recovery of bills by the power distribution companies is stated to be the root cause of the crisis. There is a need to rectify all problems one by one. Until the root causes of the crisis are removed, the situation is unlikely to improve.
Presently, the government is only focusing on increasing power generation while it is making no investment to improve the decades-old, rusty national grid and related power infrastructure, which is vulnerable to collapse at any time. The government needs to take concrete steps for the rectification of the root causes to rid the country of this energy crisis already crippling its economy. The first and foremost step that needs to be taken is efficacious and fair collection of bills from the private and public sectors without any discrimination. Government functionaries and public departments are required to act responsibly and clear all their outstanding dues related to utility bills.
It should be the government’s priority to upgrade the national grid and transmission lines. Induction of technical manpower and investment in power-related infrastructure should be ensured especially in the hydropower generation sector. At present, Pakistan’s power generation mostly relies on thermal power plants that produce almost 65 percent electricity, but the cost of that is very high because thermal power plants are run on furnace and diesel oil. Government is working on a number of projects, including coal-based, hydropower and solar, across the country with Chinese assistance, but it will take time to complete these projects. It is hoped that the incumbent government would fulfil its commitment of ridding the country of energy crisis before the end of its term. 

Chairman Bilawal Bhutto : Nawaz wants to preserve his 'monarchy'

 Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto on Friday said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had appointed a new governor in Sindh without even paying a courtesy call to chief minister Sindh or former governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, adding that PM’s move is an attempt aimed at preserving ‘monarchy’.
The PPP chairman made the comments on Twitter in a tweet.
Oath taking ceremony of the new Sindh governor Justice (R) Saeed-uz-Zaman took place on Friday at the Governor House.
Chief Justice Sindh High Court (SHC) Sajjad Ali Shah administered the oath to the newly-appointed Sindh governor, after which he would formally take charge of his responsibilities.
The decision to replace the governor for Sindh was made at a recent meeting between President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. After which, the Presidency issued a notification of Zaman's instatement as Governor on Wednesday.

Dr Ishratul Ebad vacated the Sindh Governor's official residence and flew to Dubai from Karachi airport early Friday, after being replaced by Justice (R) Saeed uz Zaman after holding the office for 14 years.

Famous Pakistani Christian film singer A. Nayyar passed away

Film, Radio and Gospel Singer Arthur Nayyar popular as A. Nayyar passed away here today after brief illness. He was born in Christian family on September 17, 1950, and splendid his childhood in Arifwala where his father was serving as government employee. 

A Nayyar,s death news was heard with grief among Muslim and Christian communities and messages of condolences were issued by Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, President of Pakistan Mamoon Hussain, prominent Poet and Singer Fr. Francis Tanveer and Christian researcher and scholar Professor Anjum James Paul.

Arthur Nayyar began his career as singer in 1974 from film named “Bahisht” with Rubina Badar in a duet song. He recorded more than 4000 songs which made him popular singer of film industry in 1980,s. He was awarded with Nigar Award for four times along with other regional awards for best singer.

According to Fr. Francis Tanveer, is serving Pakistani Christian Community in USA, by himself is poet and singer told Pakistan Christian Post that “I personally Nayyar Bhai since 1988, when I was doing recording with A Nayyar and other legendary singer Mehnaz Begum for my album Barbat aur Khushboo in which he sang four Hymns” 

“I have lost a good friend, a great and legendary singer. He had ever heavenly, magical and powerful voice. He always said to me that he likes my compositions and wishes that I compose Hymns after hymns and he keeps on singing. Nayyar Bhai with God's grace you with your melodious voice have made known to the world. I love you, love your unique voice and will miss you always. I wish you heavenly peace. Keep on singing with your impressive and amazing voice the glories of God with the heavenly and angelic Choir” said Fr. Tanveer

Scholar and intellectual Professor Anjum James Paul commenting on death of A Nayyar told Pakistan Christian Post that “I have honour to be the part of him while the member of Wave Studio Choir in 1985, were recording an audio cassette volume " Nai Nasal ke geet" Songs of New Generation prepared for the occasion National Youth Conference in 1985 in Lahore. One of the songs sung by him I still remember “Naghme Aman ke Gaeen" Sing songs of peace. I still sing this song being a peace activist. I few months back I had a detailed conversation with him” 

Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC have expressed grief and extended condolence to family of A Nayyar and urged Government of Pakistan to grant support fund for Music Academy established by legendary singer in Lahore and reward money for his family. 

Dr. Bhatti said that A Nayyar being awarded Presidential Medal needs immediate attention of government to announce financial award that his family may not face any difficulty in life. 

A Nayyar have left mourning wife and three daughters living in Gulberg Lahore. His funeral services will be performed tomorrow according to family sources. 

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