Pakistan in Media

Opinionated Media Coverage

Corrupt Pakistani politicians and bureaucrats

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KARACHI: While the nation is mired in an unending debate over events that occurred some 20 years ago, several decisions taken in the last several days will have strong repercussions on Pakistan’s economic health and reinforce a widespread belief that corrupt Pakistani politicians and bureaucrats would always remain immune to accountability or prosecution.

An investigation by this correspondent showed that key economic decision-making is gradually moving from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (ECC) to a powerful political lobby, which has conveniently subverted and overruled the body’s decisions in the past few months.
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posted @ 6:29 PM, ,

50 measurements to gauge progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan

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WASHINGTON: The Obama Administration is devising a list of about 50 measurements to gauge progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan and to conduct a “test run” of these metrics, which includes delivery of promised US assistance, a point Islamabad has been highlighting as it forges ahead in its anti-militant drive.

The Washington Post, quoting an administration official, reported Sunday the document currently being fine-tuned and called the Strategic Implementation Plan, will include separate “indicators” of progress under nine broad “objectives” to be measured quarterly.
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posted @ 6:25 PM, ,

Jaswant’s book “Jinnah: India-Partition, Independence”

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NEW DELHI: Veteran politician Jaswant Singh on Sunday said he wants to remove negativity about Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

He said this while talking to people, who thronged a book stall at the book fair here to get the copies signed by the author himself. When asked about his future plan after expulsion from the BJP, Singh said he was concentrating at present on promoting his book in the country and the message it carried.

Jawant’s book “Jinnah: India-Partition, Independence” is selling like hot cake in India and the publishers failed to cope with the rising demand. Despite the ban by the Gujarat government and propaganda let loose in India by some think-tanks and politicians against the book and its author, the demand is constantly rising and book went out of stocks.
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posted @ 6:20 PM, ,

Pakistan rejects US accusation of modifying Harpoon missiles

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Islamabad rejects accusation as part of campaign to ‘malign it’
NEW YORK: The Obama administration has accused Pakistan of illegally modifying US-made missiles to expand its ability to hit land-based targets, which would constitute a threat to India, The New York Times reported in Sunday editions.

Citing senior administration and Congressional officials, the Times said the charge came in late June through an unpublicised diplomatic protest to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other top Pakistani officials.

The accusation, made amid growing concerns about Pakistan’s increasingly rapid conventional and nuclear weapons development, triggered a new round of US-Pakistani tensions, the report added. “There’s a concerted effort to get these guys to slow down,” the newspaper quoted a senior administration official as saying. “Their energies are misdirected,” the official added.
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posted @ 5:59 PM, ,

Mehrangate

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The national media is revisiting Mehrangate, involving bribes paid by the ISI under the then army chief, General Aslam Beg, in 1990 for the creation of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) to foreclose the possibility of the PPP again coming to power after its dismissal by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.

What has triggered this new media interest in Mehrangate is the latest statement by the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Justice (Retd) Saeeduzzaman Siddiqi that no one among the recipient politicians had denied receiving the bribe. The debate has also been given a fillip by revelations made by the ex-ISI officer and ex-IB chief, Imtiaz Ahmad, about how the army had interfered in, and damaged, the democratic process in Pakistan.
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posted @ 7:09 PM, ,

Independence of Judiciary and Politics

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In the good, traditional spirit, the PMLN, having done so much for the judiciary, wants to have its own judges. If this doesn’t sit well with the concept of independent judiciary, too bad, for law must still follow the dictates of politics

The contentious and ongoing issue of the appointment of 33 judges to the Lahore High Court has brought to the fore again, if there was further need of it, the tension between the Federal and the Punjab governments. For Federal, read the PPP; for Punjab, read the PMLN.

But does it also manifest ambiguities in the Constitution, or at least differences in interpreting the articles? If yes, are different and differing interpretations driven by politics rather than a matter of legal reading?
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posted @ 7:05 PM, ,

ISI and Politics in Pakistan

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The statement by former ISI chief Lt-Gen Asad Durrani before the Supreme Court that he had transferred large sums of money to named politicians, to bolster the IJI election campaign in 1990, is another reminder of the close nexus between agencies and political happenings. Nearly 15 years after the event, excerpts from the statement have been broadcast by Geo TV. While the involvement of the then army chief and president in the effort to weaken the PPP, ousted in 1990 and defeated in the elections that followed, is hardly news – the revelations regarding funds which went into selected accounts will embarrass a number of politicians. Most significant at this time, among the names given out by Durrani, is that of Mian Nawaz Sharif. Even if the stories that have suddenly started to emerge are motivated by an attempt to silence Sharif as he continues to demand the trial of ex-president Musharraf, they do inflict on him considerable damage. The PML-N has long been seen as the 'front' for the establishment; there are those who believe its victory in the 1996 polls was also 'assisted' to ensure for it an overwhelming majority in parliament. The role for the party in opposition to the military since 1999, when Sharif was ousted, was an unusual one – and in some ways at least remains so.

But this factor aside, the evidence emerging of the extent of agencies' involvement in political events is telling. It brings into question the very nature of our democracy; we must ask how much of the expensive electoral process we go through is in fact tampered with or manipulated. Even politicians who have repeatedly taken the moral high ground on various issues have been named on the latest list. They can attempt to justify accepting the money which, ostensibly, came from the Karachi 'business community'. But the hard fact is that bribes were accepted and there is no way of getting around this. Now that these details have begun to surface, there is a need to ponder certain issues. Somehow we need to distance the military from politics. Its involvement makes the use of money to lure politicians even more damaging then the corruption involving electoral funds that exists in so many nations. Perhaps the fact that past misdeeds have now come out into the open is also a reminder to politicians that they cannot expect to get away scot-free with wrongdoing. This may serve as some kind of lesson for the future and introduce an era of greater accountability in our politics.
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posted @ 7:02 PM, ,

Price Hike during Ramazan

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As happens every year, the advent of Ramazan has seen a hike in food prices. Many commodities, including atta and sugar, are being sold at inflated prices at most selling points. The Punjab government has indeed resorted to increasingly desperate measures to control prices in the province. Sugar millers have been warned to bring stocks to the market or face an open sale while a decision has reportedly been taken to flood the market with flour, by increasing the wheat release by up to 90 per cent, thus forcing down prices. But the situation is a rather complex one. The supply of atta by the government at cheaper rates to tandoors for the provision of roti at subsidised prices, and to Friday markets, means people have been buying sacks of the item at one point and selling them at higher rates elsewhere. Those living below the poverty line are said also to be engaged in this lucrative game, leading to suggestions that systems of checks against double and triple buying be put in place. The issuance of ration cards or of using indelible ink to mark buyers purchasing at subsidised rates is one suggestion – though this could mean other members of the same household could buy the flour, turn by turn.

The situation points to the complexities of controlling prices. Even schemes intended to assist the poor appear to have indirectly contributed to rising market prices. Ordinary people, especially the middle-class, reluctant to accept what they see as government 'hand-outs' suffer worst. During a time of year when expenses rise in many homes, they must also keep up appearances. It is quite clear that the issue of commodity pricing and measures to enforce the rates set by the government is one that needs to be taken up as a priority, so that some rationality can be introduced and the current uncontrolled rate of inflation checked.
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posted @ 7:00 PM, ,

US image in Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: The US envoy in Pakistan Ms Anne Wood Patterson has conceded that the impression about her country in Pakistan is ‘very bad’ and it is because of the poor public relations and the undue US bashing by Washington’s critics here.

She said, “We all are responsible for this bad image and are making efforts to remove this perception.” There is a need to promote people-to-people contact to improve the trust between the two countries.

She revealed that about one thousand US Marines are providing internal security to 150 US embassies and consulates across the globe but certain people are insisting that hundreds of marines are being deployed in Islamabad in the wake of the expansion of the embassy complex.
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posted @ 6:43 PM, ,

ADT provides the best home alarm system

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Home is the fall back place of us all. It’s the center of our family and our material possessions. Naturally, we all like to protect our house from all sorts of hazards; be those fire, burglary or some other accident. To protect our house from fire hazards, we should use fire resistant material, keep the gutters clean, have the address prominently displayed for emergency staff to easily locate the house, and ensure that all possible sources of fire like switching off the electric and gas appliances etc are taken care of, particularly, while leaving the house and before going to bed. Despite all the aforementioned precautions, the vulnerability of our house to the hazard of catching fire can’t be totally eliminated. Something does go wrong and we find our house caught by fire with our near and dear ones inside the house and our belongings being burnt to ashes in seconds. Every moment is important. You ought to have an alarm system which is operational round the clock, responds promptly to alert the right agencies to enable them to be at your place without losing precious seconds.

ADT has been in business in North America for over one hundred and thirty years.
It’s the largest network which provides security to public and private sector concerns alike. Providing security services to Pentagon, White House, Fort Knox and more than 90% of fortune 500 companies bear testimony to ADT’s claims converted into deeds. Opting for ADT basic system implies being free from all worries of fire and other hazards. One touch keypad and wireless keychain remote enable you to immediately get in touch with highly trained ADT operators who promptly inform the concerned agencies to enable these agencies to reach your place without loss of time. The system can be armed or disarmed, if you so desire, using the remote. They have a user friendly web site. The moment you get in touch with ADT staff via phone or web site, you will find them at your beck and call. Given my interest, I was having a look at Best Home Security Blogs when it occurred to me that fire is one of the most dangerous hazards to residential areas. It is very important to have preventive measure installed to safeguard against fire that can cause loss of property as well as lives.

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posted @ 11:29 PM, ,

Free Downloads All-Star Rockers Christmas Music

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Listening to and watching music have become part and parcel of us all. There are some who like watching music by attending musical functions and there are others who listen to/watch music through different means like TV channels, internet, ipod, CDs, DVDs etc. Classic rock and Christmas orchestra are more known to be two different musical disciplines. Imagine, if the biggest rock stars of 1970s, 1980s and 1990s join together to celebrate Christmas story. Northern Light Orchestra is doing just about the same. After launching the CD, they are going to resume their annual Christmas touring season in October. Northern Light Orchestra is well on its way to setting a new Christmas tradition.

Northern Light Orchestra comprises of George Lynch, Bill Levererty, Lanny Cordova Doug Aldridge and Jason Hook who are but true guitar heroes. These guitarists are the life and spirit of Free Christmas Music by Northern Light Orchestra which has given a new direction to Christmas music. Their hard rock music has become famous all over with multitudes of Guitar Hero games which have been made and sold like hot cakes. Christmas Rock Downloads from Northern Light Orchestra have become indispensable without which your Christmas celebrations will remain incomplete. Their style and message are unique and distinguish them from the rest. Free Christmas Music Downloads deliver true message of worldwide peace and love regarding the spirit of Christmas. The music is simply majestic. Soaring vocals and pounding rhythms are exciting the present generation young and old alike.

As part of the project, the participating artists are:

Listening to and watching music have become part and parcel of us all. There are some who like watching music by attending musical functions and there are others who listen to/watch music through different means like TV channels, internet, ipod, CDs, DVDs etc. Classic rock and Christmas orchestra are more known to be two different musical disciplines. Imagine, if the biggest rock stars 1970s, 1980s and 1990s join together to celebrate Christmas story. Northern Light Orchestra is doing just about the same. After launching the CD, they are going to resume their annual Christmas touring season in October. Northern Light Orchestra is well on its way to setting a new Christmas tradition.

Northern Light Orchestra comprises of George Lynch, Bill Levererty, Lanny Cordova Doug Aldridge and Jason Hook who are but true guitar heroes. These guitarists are the life and spirit of Free Christmas Music by Northern Light Orchestra which has given a new direction to Christmas music. Their hard rock music has become famous all over with multitudes of Guitar Hero games which have been made and sold like hot cakes. Christmas Rock Downloads from Northern Light Orchestra have become indispensable without which your Christmas celebrations will remain incomplete. Their style and message are unique and distinguish them from the rest. Free Christmas Music Downloads deliver true message of worldwide peace and love regarding the spirit of Christmas. The music is simply majestic. Soaring vocals and pounding rhythms are exciting the present generation young and old alike.

As part of the project, the participating artists are:
Phil Bardowell (Beach Boy, Magdalen), Bob Carlisle (”Butterfly Kisses”), Eddie James (Gospel singer), Jon Gibson (Jon Gibson), Robin McAuley (Survivor), Debbie Sledge (Sister Sledge), Rose Stone (Sly and the Family Stone), Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake), Kendall Bechtel (Fifth Angel), Lanny Cordola (House Of Lords), Jason Hook (Alice Cooper, Mandy Moore), Bruce Kulick (KISS, Grandfunk Railroad), Bill Leverty (Firehouse), George Lynch (Dokken, Lynchmob), Elliot Randell (Steeley Dan), David Ellefson (Megadeth, F5), Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot, Vanilla Fudge), Ken Mary (Alice Cooper, House of Lords), Kip Winger (Winger, Alice Cooper), Dizzy Reed (Guns-n-Roses), Brian Stewart (Backstreet Boys, Poe).

posted @ 3:03 PM, ,

ISI and Power Politics in Pakistan

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The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) gave millions of rupees to different politicians during former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan’s regime and no one has ever denied receiving money from the agency, former chief justice of Pakistan Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui said on Wednesday.

According to the affidavit, acquired by the TV channel, former caretaker prime minister Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi received Rs 5 million, former Sindh chief minister Jam Sadiq Rs 5 million, former prime minister Muhammad Khan Junejo Rs 2.5 million, Nawaz Sharif Rs 3.5 million, senior politician Pir Pagaro Rs 2 million, the Jamaat-e-Islami Rs 5 million, Mir Afzal Khan Rs 10 million, Abida Hussain Rs 1 million, Lt Gen Rafaqat Rs 5.6 million for managing the media campaign, Humayun Marri Rs 1.5 million, former prime minister Zafarullah Jamali Rs 4 million, Kakar Rs 1 million, Jam Yousaf Rs 0.7 million, Hasil Bizenjo Rs 0.5 million, Nadir Mengal Rs 1 million, Altaf Hussain Qureshi and Mustafa Sadiq Rs 0.5 million, Salahuddin Rs 0.3 million, smaller groups Rs 5.4 million and others received Rs 3.339 million.
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posted @ 1:04 PM, ,

ISI and Pakistani Politicians

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LAHORE: I was information minister in Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi’s cabinet and received Rs 5 million from the Inter-Services Intelligence to join the IJI, Abida Hussain told a private TV channel on Thursday. Talking to the channel, Abida said she was told that Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia had sent this money through Mahmood Haroon. She also revealed that Nawaz Sharif, [Zafarullah] Jamali and Mir Afzal Khan were also beneficiaries. daily times monitor.
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posted @ 1:02 PM, ,

Baitullah Mehsud buried at last

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The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has finally decided to put an end to the lingering confusion over the death of Baitullah Mehsud. The man who seems to have emerged as the new leader of the outfit, Hakimullah Mehsud, has confirmed that the ex-amir is indeed dead. The murder of the father-in-law and other kin of Baitullah, on suspicion that they may have given him away, is proof that the group remains as ruthless as ever. But it is also true it has been weakened. The rival claims to leadership heard over the past weeks underscore this. It is indeed still not clear if Hakimullah's leadership will be challenged or indeed how he has been chosen. The question now is whether the TTP will be allowed to re-build and reassemble itself around a new leader or whether it will be delivered a death blow now that some of its weaknesses have been exposed. Naturally, we must all hope the authorities are working to a plan of action and will go after the Taliban at a time when they are vulnerable.

We must all speak with one voice against militancy. When acts of violence committed by the Taliban or other groups are covered, this must be done with responsibility. Already, in Swat and other conflict-hit zones, people have begun to speak out against the militants. These voices need to be projected more widely. Propaganda and the building of opinion is after all a potent weapon in any war. It is time these tools were used to deliver a final defeat to the Taliban and by doing so make Pakistan a safer place for everyone living within its frontiers.

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posted @ 12:55 PM, ,

Blackwater in Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: While in Pakistan there are growing reports of the presence of Blackwater personnel, at home in America the US security agency’s founder and former owner is alleged to have used the company as “merchants of death” as he views himself as a “Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe”.

Defence analysts and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf Information Secretary Dr Shireen M Mazari in her article in The News, published on Wednesday, claimed that after Peshawar now Islamabad has Blackwater (now hiding under the new label, Xe Worldwide) and the rather obvious CIA front-company Creative Associates International Inc (CAII). She cited the last week sealing off of the road in Super Market in front of a school as the endorsement of her information.

US embassy spokesman Richard W Snelsire, however, when asked about the presence of Blackwater personnel in Pakistan, said, “We don’t discuss security, issues related to the security that include the contractors, who are assigned the security tasks.” Snelsire or Rick, as he is commonly known, said that making public such details would endanger lives. He said that 95% of the security personnel doing security work with the US embassy and its officials are from the Pakistani security companies. Regarding Marines, he said that presently the US embassy has only eight Marines and when the expansion project of the embassy would complete in years to come, this strength would go up to 15-20 maximum.
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posted @ 12:52 PM, ,

Watching Football on Direct TV is great indeed

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TV has become an inevitable household item. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that it has become a family member of the house. It’s difficult to imagine a house without TV. It’s the onset of football season. Football matches, tournaments and championships are no longer sports only. These events and the exciting gossip about them have become important social and business activities. All those homes and business places become popular where friends, family, neighbors and fellow football fans can watch the football matches and other interesting activities. But for all this, you have got to have the right Satellite TV connection.

DIRECTV has been in business facilitating its growing customers o watch the best of TV channels/programs in the best possible way. It offers over 130 channels which are three times that of cable. Their high definition programming enables you to watch your favorite programs on any TV screen crystal clear and with perfect audio quality. It’s indeed very entertaining to watch football this fall. Football fans whose football team is not in the city where they live, NFL Sunday Ticket provides all the fun and flair at your home or place of business. Satellite TV Deals have everything for everyone. You can make the right choice for you and your family or business place. The deals are affordable and help you save a lot too. Place your order on online or on phone, the customer service is at your beck and call.

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posted @ 6:08 PM, ,

Obama curtails CIA powers to interrogate

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WASHINGTON, Aug 24: President Barack Obama has approved creation of a new, special terrorism-era interrogation unit to be supervised by the White House, a top aide said on Monday, further distancing his administration from President George W. Bush’s detainee policies.

The administration has also decided that all US interrogators will follow the rules for detainees laid out by the US Army Field Manual, according to senior administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the decision. That decision aims to end years of fierce debate over how rough US personnel can get with terror suspects in custody.
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posted @ 5:52 PM, ,

Afghan War after Baitullah Mehsud

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Within days of the “taking out” of Baitullah Mehsud from his hideout in South Waziristan, the mood in the United States is turning from sanguine to gloomy. And it is unrealistic. The cause of the gloom is a Washington Post-ABC News poll in which 51 percent of the respondents said “the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting”. Are the Americans too beginning to echo the old slogan in Pakistan that it is “not our war”?

The American people must be told that the Pakistanis no longer think it is not their war or that it is not worth fighting. Pakistanis have seen relief from their army’s resolute confrontation with the Taliban, subduing them in Malakand and reducing the pressure of terrorist activities in the rest of the country. America and its NATO allies too have to hold on to the belief that getting rid of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the region will ensure global security.
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posted @ 5:48 PM, ,

Elections in Afghanistan

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There are up to 225 allegations of irregularity in the Afghan election held last week and the outcome is still unknown – but hotly contested on all sides. Some of the allegations are of sufficient substance and gravity as to have a bearing on the final result. Currently, both the incumbent Hamid Karzai and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah claim to be ahead in the vote count, and some of Karzai's supporters are saying that their candidate has had a landslide victory capturing 70 per cent of the vote. Abdullah has made claims on national and international media that the vote was rigged and that fraud was widespread. The preliminary results of the presidential election are expected in a few days, but will be subject to Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) investigation. The turnout was low, there was intimidation and violence and 'irregularities' were expected by those monitoring the process.

It is becoming clear that Hamid Karzai may have to share power. This is a less-than-ideal outcome for the sponsors of this exercise in democracy – Britain, Canada and Germany plus the US – who will view with concern a protracted post-electoral wrangle. They will want to 'move on' as swiftly as possible as uncertainty or dispute about the outcome of the lection will inevitably read across to the poor and deteriorating security situation. For the US and Britain they are facing an increasingly sceptical public, who are less and less likely to 'buy' the war as days go by. An ABC news/Washington Post poll released last week showed that US public support for the war in Afghanistan has declined sharply, with more than half the US for the first time saying the war is not worth fighting – 51 per cent say it isn't, 47 per cent say it is. For the coalition that has invested lives and treasure in the Afghan conflict; having a contested or provably corrupt election will make justification of involvement to their own electorates increasingly difficult. It is going to come down to either a 'clean' second-round victory for one of the candidates or a deal between Karzai and Abdullah. The run-off if it happens will be in October; but a deal could be struck earlier than that and perhaps be a better outcome for all – except, perhaps, Hamid Karzai.
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posted @ 5:41 PM, ,

Rights of Minorities

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A GROUP of Muslims, professedly incensed and enraged over the alleged desecration of the Quran, killed seven Christians in Gojra in Punjab. The allegation may not have been valid.

It is possible that the victims and their killers had been involved in a local quarrel. It is also possible that the victims were targeted simply because they were non-Muslim. The following presentation is based on this latter premise.
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posted @ 11:30 AM, ,

Indian Independence Day as Black Day in Kashmir

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SRINAGAR: Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) and the world over observed Indian Independence Day on Saturday as Black Day, which was marked with complete strike in occupied Kashmir and peaceful protests in the world capitals, reports KMS.

The Black Day was observed on the call of the APHC Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and illegally detained senior Kashmiri Hurriyet leader, Syed Ali Gilani.

All business establishments and shops were closed and traffic remained off the road in the occupied territory. All the towns wore a deserted look and the official functions were completely boycotted by the people.
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posted @ 11:26 AM, ,

Swatis celebrate liberation from militancy on Independence Day

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MINGORA, Aug 13: People of Swat celebrated their liberation from militancy with patriotic fervour on Thursday on the eve of the Independence Day.

Men, women and children in festive mood thronged the main bazaars of Mingora and other towns in the valley with youths waving national flags and raising ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogan.

Slogans of ‘Pakistan Fouj Zindabad’ and ‘Taliban Murdabad’ were also raised whenever people came across a convoy or passed through army posts.
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posted @ 4:38 PM, ,

Political, judicial and administrative FATA reforms

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ISLAMABAD, Aug 13: President Asif Ali Zardari announced on Thursday political, judicial and administrative reforms for the tribal areas, allowing political activities in Fata, setting up an appellate tribunal, curtailing arbitrary powers of political agents, giving people right to appeal and bail, excluding women and children from the territorial responsibility clause and envisaging audit of accounts by the auditor general.
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posted @ 4:32 PM, ,

On autonomy —Bertrand Russell

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The cure for the evils and dangers which we have been considering is a very great extension of devolution and federal government. Wherever there is a national consciousness, as in Wales and Ireland, the area in which it exists ought to be allowed to decide all purely local affairs without external interference. But there are many matters which ought to be left to the management, not of local groups, but of trade groups, or of organisations embodying some set of opinions. In the East, men are subject to different laws according to the religion they profess. Something of this kind is necessary if any semblance of liberty is to exist where there is great divergence in beliefs.
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posted @ 4:29 PM, ,

Reforms Plan for FATA

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What should have happened years, possibly decades, ago has finally been done. The president has announced a far-reaching reform plan for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Befittingly enough, the plan, which aims to pull the tribal areas into the mainstream of Pakistan, was announced on the eve of Pakistan’s 63rd Independence Day. In the past, romanticised notions of tribal ‘autonomy’ and ‘honour’ have prevented the state from offering the impoverished people of these areas the rights they should enjoy as citizens. Finally, there has been a recognition that there is nothing desirable at all about relegating some 3,341,000 people to lives lived in squalor and illiteracy. Less than 35 per cent of households in the area live above the poverty level, per capita income is half the national average of US $500 and the literacy rate is still below 20 per cent. Access to even rudimentary healthcare is extremely limited. As a result maternal and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world. It is hard to see in this situation even a modicum of ‘honour’.
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posted @ 3:32 PM, ,

Mass burials in Swat

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THE unearthing of mass graves is always a grim reminder of just how ugly wars can be. The shock is even more profound when the discovery is made nearer home. A fact-finding mission of the HRCP to Swat has come across eyewitnesses who speak of mass burials in the valley which has witnessed bloody battles between security forces and Taliban militants in recent weeks. In a report released on Wednesday, the HRCP pinpoints many other aspects of the conflict to indicate just how serious matters remain in Swat. The human rights commission warns against rights violations by the security forces who are still conducting an operation against militants in the troubled parts of the Frontier. It takes note of the hardships faced by the displaced who are now returning home to resolutely resume their lives after the trauma of living in camps and other places. The key word in the HRCP media release, however, is “transparency” which underscores the importance of granting greater freedom to the media to make as complete a discovery of the facts as possible.
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posted @ 12:58 PM, ,

Pakistanis see their country in crisis

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NEW YORK, Aug 13: Pakistanis see their country in crisis and they give their national government lower ratings than at any time in this decade. And almost no one is satisfied with national conditions, according to a new survey released on Wednesday.

President Asif Zardari’s popularity is at all-time low at 32 per cent while Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Nawaz Sharif has reached a new high at 79 per cent approval ratings.
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posted @ 12:48 PM, ,

Tyranny of the majority —Bertrand Russell

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The problem of the distribution of power is a more difficult one than the problem of the distribution of wealth. The machinery of representative government has concentrated on ultimate power as the only important matter, and has ignored immediate executive power. Almost nothing has been done to democratise administration. Government officials, in virtue of their income, security, and social position, are likely to be on the side of the rich, who have been their daily associates ever since the time of school and college. And whether or not they are on the side of the rich, they are not likely, for the reasons we have been considering, to be genuinely in favour of progress.
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posted @ 2:20 PM, ,

Dominance of Sipah Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) in Jhang

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While the champions of Seraikistan and politicians of North Punjab jointly disavow any decline of South Punjab into a stronghold of religious terrorists, our National Assembly has echoed with warnings about the persistence in Jhang of the dominance of Sipah Sahaba Pakistan (SSP). In answer to an alarming report by an MNA, the interior minister, Mr Rehman Malik, told the house that the government had asked the provinces to “keep a watch over it”.
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posted @ 2:17 PM, ,

Billions made as sugar prices reach all-time high

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KARACHI: Ruthless manoeuvring by market players, actively assisted by important government personalities, has triggered a rapid escalation in sugar prices in Pakistan and if the trend continued, Pakistanis would be forced to buy sugar at a whopping price of at least Rs 60 per kilogramme in Ramazan against an already all-time high current sugar prices of Rs 52 per kg in Karachi markets, according to an investigation by this correspondent.

A calculated strategy hatched by key players of the sugar industry and trade, with secret but most effective help from important government personalities, undermined orders from the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC); manipulated decision-making at the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) over the last nine months and achieved a mischievous target of increasing the sugar prices in the country to an unimaginable level for profits in billions of rupees for some big names of sugar mills owners and traders, all tied with political families.
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posted @ 2:15 PM, ,

IMF approves more financial burden for Pakistan

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In talks with a Pakistan delegation in Washington, the IMF has approved additional financing for Pakistan which has taken the total loan up to US $11.3 billion. The new pledges are intended to bridge any gap that may arise if funds pledged to Pakistan at a donor's conference in Tokyo in April do not come in on time. The immediate problem has thus been resolved; the longer-term crisis grows. The IMF deal of course means Pakistan's debt burden continues to mount. The same holds true in the case of loans taken from other bodies. The situation is largely unsustainable. A glance at the budgetary pie shows how debt eats away at our resources. We simply cannot afford to dish out an ever-increasing slice to it year after year, decade after decade. The crisis Pakistan faces today is largely rooted in its economy. The socio-economic slide over the past decades has contributed to the immense sense of grievance and acted to fuel the militant fires. The rising rate of crime, the growing sense of insecurity, the flight of capital, for which another Forex firm, Zarco, is now being investigated, and the damaging human brain drain are all tied in to this factor.
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posted @ 10:47 PM, ,

Discriminatory legislation

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There remains an urgent yet unaddressed need for state policies to reflect the country’s diversity. Regulating madrassas, reforming the public education sector, and invoking constitutional restrictions against private armies and hate speech are essential steps to stem the tide of religious extremism

As if the militancy currently gripping the country were not enough, a mob in a remote village of Toba Tek Singh, angered by the alleged desecration of the Quran, torched 40 houses and a church, where seven people, including two children and an elderly man, were burnt to death.
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posted @ 8:33 PM, ,

Political systems —Bertrand Russell

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State socialism, even in a nation which possesses the form of political democracy, is not a truly democratic system. The way in which it fails to be democratic may be made plain by an analogy from the political sphere. Every democrat recognises that the Irish ought to have self-government for Irish affairs, and ought not to be told that they have no grievance because they share in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is essential to democracy that any group of citizens whose interests or desires separate them at all widely from the rest of the community should be free to decide their internal affairs for themselves. And what is true of national or local groups is equally true of economic groups, such as miners or railway men. The national machinery of general elections is by no means sufficient to secure for groups of this kind the freedom which they ought to have.
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posted @ 8:30 PM, ,

Are we all responsible for Gojra?

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The perpetrators were not just a few masked fanatics but a large crowd of ordinary people. Indeed they represented the average Pakistani. Sadly that is what we have become. And that is the real existential crisis that confronts us as a nation at this time

Just a few months ago, almost everybody was declaring that the Taliban posed an ‘existential’ threat to Pakistan. The recent massacre of Christians in Gojra has proven clearly that the real existential threat to Pakistan is and always was from the fanatics within.
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posted @ 11:35 AM, ,

One billion rupees to the PPP Senator Nawabzada Mir Lashkari Raisani

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ISLAMABAD: The outgoing Chief Justice Balochistan High Court Amanullah Khan Yasinzai is said to have ordered the provincial government to pay one billion rupees to the PPP Senator Nawabzada Mir Lashkari Raisani, the younger brother of the Chief Minister Aslam Raisani, as compensation for losses to his crops and property during the violent tribal feuds with the Rind tribe.

This unusual order had put the Balochistan bureaucracy in a fix as to how to arrange a billion rupees from the meagre resources of the cash-starved province and make this payment to an individual in the name of losses to his property during the tribal feud.
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posted @ 11:25 AM, ,

Incensed lawyers

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LAWYERS in Lahore have taken the route of hostility and violence to express their displeasure with the media. The black coats want media persons to remain silent when they lock judges inside courtrooms and thrash policemen outside. If reporters and cameramen continue to insist on their right to cover and report the news, they must also be prepared for the consequences at the hands of incensed lawyers.
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posted @ 12:05 PM, ,

Religious persecution

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The issue of religious persecution is certainly one of morality and justice. But at the end of the day it also has to do with our survival and prosperity as a nation. Whatever the basis, if a large number of citizens begin to feel vulnerable and persecuted it is not too difficult to imagine the eventual outcome

In the wake of atrocities against the Christian community in Gojra, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has announced that the government may review the country’s blasphemy laws and that a committee will soon be constituted for this purpose. This is encouraging but committees are also a way of cold-storaging issues so we will have to see if the laws introduced by a military dictator, who relentlessly invoked Islam for the purpose of prolonging his own rule, will finally be amended.
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posted @ 12:01 PM, ,

Change the controversial blasphemy law

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The prime minister, during a visit to Gojra, has indicated the government could seek to change the controversial blasphemy law. While he avoided any direct reference to sections 295 A, B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which deal with blasphemy, he said ‘discriminatory’ laws would be reviewed. Although a minor amendment in the blasphemy laws, laying down investigation at a higher police level before pressing charges, was brought in under Musharraf, more sweeping amendments were put aside after an outcry by clerics. This time there is a need to act with wisdom and good sense. The attack on the homes of Christians in Gojra has been widely condemned. There seems no reason to believe that saner religious elements at least would protest changes required to prevent such happenings in the future. They need to be brought aboard now, so that the demands by extremist forces can be countered. The Islamic Ideology Council can also play a role. This under-utilized body has made a number of incredibly sensible proposals in past years. It is a failure of governance that has resulted in many of these suggestions remaining relegated to files.
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posted @ 11:57 AM, ,

Drone attack kills Baitullah Mehsud?

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ISLAMABAD: The reported death of dreaded militant commander Baitullah Mehsud in a US drone attack will deal a major blow to the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as its division in splinter groups seems imminent.

ìA meeting of the TTP Shura (council) is being held today (Friday) to appoint the new chief of the outfit with Hakimullah Mehsud, Asmatullah Mehsud, Mufti Waliur Rehman and Maulvi Faqir Muhammad being tipped as possible candidates for the top position. There are few chances of the TTP remaining united after the death of Baitullah,î a source in the militant group told The News over telephone from an undisclosed location wishing anonymity.
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posted @ 11:53 AM, ,

Religious Clout

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THE murder in Bahawalnagar of a five-year-old boy by his own father cannot fail to shock. Accused of slitting his son’s throat, the man told the police that he committed the crime upon the command of his pir. The barbaric act is illustrative of the manner in which so-called spiritual leaders and faith-healers gain inordinate influence over a superstitious and under-educated populace. There is no dearth of cases where pirs exploit their devotees to extract livestock, goods, cash and even land. In some reported incidents, women and children are given over into the ‘care’ of pirs, condemned thereby to anything from a life of prostitution to slavery. In the Bahawalnagar case, it is difficult to immediately perceive how the pir stood to gain from instigating the crime; nevertheless, it is clear that if the pir indeed gave such instructions, his influence was unquestioned and absolute.
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posted @ 12:37 PM, ,

Graduation condition for MPs done away with

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ISLAMABAD, Aug 5: The federal cabinet decided on Wednesday to do away with the condition of bachelor’s degree for candidates for the Senate and the national and provincial assemblies, in line with the Supreme Court judgment of April 21 last year.

Briefing reporters after a cabinet meeting, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said Pakistan was the only country to have such a condition in a democratic dispensation.
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posted @ 11:42 AM, ,

International organizations leaving Pakistan

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Over the past few years, more and more international organizations have pulled out of Pakistan due to the security situation. To many it seems almost unbelievable that in the aftermath of the October 2005 earthquake, so many foreign aid workers had been able to move freely through the northern areas. For affected people this was a mercy. Things have, within a few years, changed beyond recognition. Most recently the UN has announced a scaling down of its operations in Balochistan. The organization had been receiving threats suggesting that promises made in the wake of the release of the UNHCR chief, John Solecki, abducted earlier this year and held for two months, had not been kept. A UN spokesperson has said that the pullback will affect projects in agriculture and for the uplift of women.
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posted @ 11:37 AM, ,

Abuse of Power by Worthy PM

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ISLAMABAD: While the Musharraf regime was notoriously abusing taxpayers’ money by writing off billions of bank loans to the powerful, the PPP government is not far behind. Data placed before the National Assembly reveals during PM Gilani’s short tenure, Rs 33 billion have already been written off.

Industrialists and business tycoons quietly got a mind boggling amount of Rs 119 billion of loans written off during the last five years (2004-2008), as the previous figure of Rs 54 billion written off loan placed before the National Assembly in 2007, dramatically jumped by additional Rs 65 billion within the last two years.

The official documents placed before the National Assembly revealed that just within a year, a huge amount of Rs 33 billion was quietly written off when Yousuf Raza Gilani was serving as the prime minister in 2008.
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posted @ 11:11 AM, ,

Credible Information about Balochistan

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KARACHI: Pakistan received credible information regarding outside interference in Balochistan and the Nato reconfirmed it and hinted that arms and ammunition were being smuggled to Balochistan from Afghanistan.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit Khan said this in a news briefing at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday.He said that the Indo-Pak dialogue was suspended after the Mumbai attacks but efforts were under way to restart confidence building measures (CBMs) between the two neighbouring countries.
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posted @ 10:50 AM, ,

PPP and Judiciary

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NEITHER President Zardari nor Prime Minister Gilani wasted any time in welcoming the Supreme Court’s short order declaring the Nov 3, 2007 emergency unconstitutional, and terming it a triumph of democratic principles.

The order was described as a negation and rejection of dictatorship and its actions, and was called a success of the principles for which the PPP had fought and its chairperson and countless workers laid down their lives. The verdict was called a good omen for the future of democracy.
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posted @ 2:44 PM, ,

Persecution in the name of religion

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THIS month we will be commemorating for the 62nd year running the carnage which engulfed the subcontinent in the name of religion — violence in the name of religion refuses to dissipate.

Yet again the land of five rivers has witnessed a spate of communal violence in which seven people were burnt alive, and much property and scores of houses ravaged. After 62 years the perpetrators and the victims have changed, but the motives and background remain the same.
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posted @ 2:40 PM, ,

All Balochistan High Court Judges Resign

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QUETTA: Balochistan High Court (BHC) Chief Justice Amanullah Khan Yasinzai and all the other four judges of the court, who had taken oath under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO), resigned from their offices to escape the references against them in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

The BHC sources, confirming the resignations of the judges, said all the five resignations had been forwarded to the president of Pakistan for approval with the request to grant them premature retirement.
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posted @ 2:36 PM, ,

Persecution of Christians in Gojra

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Dawn, Pakistan, Tuesday, 04 Aug, 2009
THE frenzied mob that hit a Christian settlement near Gojra on two consecutive days last week proves how easy it is to lose all sense of reason. Masked young men, egged on by religious leaders and actively supported by locals angry over the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran by some members of the Christian community, performed a veritable dance of death in the neighbourhood. They torched houses, smashed businesses and brought routine life to a screeching halt through their seemingly unstoppable violence — until seven Christians were burnt alive and the Rangers called in. On both days the entire area around the targeted settlement was the site of arson, interspersed with stone-throwing, baton-wielding and gunfire.
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posted @ 10:46 AM, ,

Indian army kills four in Kashmir

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Dawn, Pakistan, Monday, 03 Aug, 2009
SRINAGAR, Aug 2: A gunbattle between Indian troops and suspected militants in the forests of occupied Kashmir near the Line of Control left one soldier and four militants dead, an army spokesman said on Sunday.

The 10-hour gunbattle ended just before dawn in Bangus, 120km north of Srinagar, said Lt-Col J.S. Brar. The fighting started when an army patrol noticed a suspicious group of men and challenged them. The men opened fire, triggering the gunbattle, Col Brar said.
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posted @ 10:42 AM, ,

Pakistan a threat to Afghanistan

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Daily Times, Pakistan, Tuesday, August 04, 2009
A House of Commons report published in the United Kingdom says that “the UK faced more threat from inside Pakistan than from Afghanistan’s Helmand province”. The Labour-chaired Commons foreign affairs select committee report also raises the alarming spectre of Al Qaeda, “which has shifted its focus into Pakistan”. The committee that issued the report was told by an expert that “a direct attack on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons infrastructure could not be ruled out”.
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posted @ 10:37 AM, ,

Musharraf may be charged for high treason

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Daily Times, Pakistan, Tuesday, August 04, 2009
ISLAMABAD: Former president Pervez Musharraf can be tried on charges of high treason if parliament passes a resolution by simple majority, said Attorney General Sardar Latif Khosa on Monday.

The attorney general made the comments while addressing journalists after the oath-taking ceremony of Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali at the Supreme Court (SC). Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry swore in Justice Jamali as an SC judge.
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posted @ 10:29 AM, ,

Honeymoon of Corruption

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The News International, Tuesday, August 04, 2009
RAWALPINDI: Corruption is at its peak, as there is no real anti-corruption institution in the country. While on the other hand, handpicked people have been appointed in national organisations, who have been taking decisions at their free-will for personal gains due to which national institutions are seen at the verge of destruction, Karman Khan said.

For example, PIA was suffering Rs13 billion deficit in 2007, which surged to Rs40 billion in 2008. The balance sheet of the national airlines is in such a condition that it could be declared bankrupt. According to experts and PIA sources, PIA with current deficit and number of employees could not earn profit in next 50 years.
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posted @ 10:25 AM, ,

Public Sector Education

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Dawn, Pakistan, Monday, 03 Aug, 2009
EDUCATION has undergone a tremendous change over the last two decades. It has emerged as a plausible business venture and has thus caught the eye of the private sector.

A related aspect of contemporary education is corporatisation. The business paradigm has a different viewpoint of education in terms of its role, objectives and dynamics.

The relationship between education and society should be ideally mutual so that on the one hand, the needs of society should be catered to by education and on the other hand, education should perform the role of making society a place where freedom of thought and expression can be exercised.
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posted @ 9:15 AM, ,

Mistreatment of Christians in Gojra, T.T. Singh

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Daily Times, Pakistan, Monday, August 03, 2009
After a week of simmering Muslim-Christian dispute over the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran in tehsil Gojra in Toba Tek Singh district in Punjab, violence has broken out simply because the local administration ignored orders from Lahore to control the situation. The Punjab Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif, has suspended the persons responsible for letting this very familiar type of incident get out of hand. Seven Christians have been burnt alive and their houses torched. There may be more casualties.
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posted @ 9:01 AM, ,

Recent Persecution of Christians

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The News International, Pakistan, Monday, August 03, 2009
No member of any religious or ethnic minority anywhere in the country will be feeling safe and secure today. Members of the Christian minority will be feeling particularly threatened as the details of the events at Gojra on Friday and Saturday last emerge. Seven people, possibly more, have been burned alive in their houses. As of Sunday afternoon the number of injured has risen to over 70. Almost a hundred houses have been damaged in the Christian colony. TV channels showed live pictures of wanton destruction and of a police force that beyond lobbing a few tear-gas shells at nobody in particular, was interested only in containing and not quelling the riot. The disturbances broke out after several religious parties held a public meeting to protest against an alleged desecration of the Holy Quran. Local Christians were said to be the desecrators and as has now become the norm their property was attacked, their churches desecrated, their lives and livelihoods destroyed. Unusually, the Christians fought back, and there was an exchange of fire between the attackers and their intended victims; perhaps an indication that a community which is generally peaceable and unarmed is arming itself for protection. The attack was led by masked men said to be members of a banned religious organisation who had reportedly entered the town from nearby Jhang. The violence had subsided by Sunday morning and an uneasy calm prevailed with Rangers holding the perimeter.
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posted @ 8:57 AM, ,

Zardari approves 76 judges to go home

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The News International, Pakistan, Monday, August 03, 2009
ISLAMABAD: As many as 76 judges of the Supreme Court and high courts would cease to hold their offices immediately as approved by President Zardari late Sunday night.

An official handout says: In pursuance of the judgment of the full bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan dated 31st July 2009, in constitutional petitions No 9 and 8 of 2009 (Sindh High Court Bar Association and Mr Nadeem Ahmed, Advocate vs Federation of Pakistan), the president is pleased to approve that the following judges of Supreme Court of Pakistan and High Courts shall cease to hold their offices with immediate effect:
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posted @ 8:48 AM, ,

Episode of T.T. Singh

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The News International, Pakistan, Sunday, August 02, 2009
In Toba Tek Singh in Punjab, that town immortalized by Sadaat Hassan Manto's moving story of the madness of Partition in 1947, insanity has struck once again. A mob of Muslims, following announcements on mosque loudspeakers that Christians had burned pages from the Holy Quran, attacked the homes of those they declared 'infidels'. Christian groups, who have rushed to the area following calls for help, say some 40 houses have been damaged after they were set alight, and an unknown number of people, including women and children, hurt. We have seen similar acts of mob frenzy in the past. Quite often it has been found on investigation that some issue of personal animosity has inspired it. Clerics and extremist groups have in some cases played a negative role. All this of course needs to be investigated.

The Blasphemy Law introduced by General Ziaul Haq has made it easier to persecute people on the basis of sometimes completely mala fide accusations. The law needs review and amendment. But we must also ask what local authorities were doing as people went on the rampage. It is hard to believe they could do nothing to prevent the mayhem. Their lack of action and sometimes connivance with those acting against minority groups have, in the past, made all kinds of outrages possible. Their role too needs to be inquired into and clear-cut instructions given for the future so that there is no doubt about the need to do everything possible to protect any group of citizens facing peril as a consequence of their religious beliefs.
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posted @ 9:51 AM, ,

Lining their own pockets

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The News International, Pakistan, Sunday, August 02, 2009
Our past experiences with democracy have been tangled up almost inextricably with experiences of corruption. We had hoped this time would be different. It seems though that we are not to be so fortunate. Indeed, many of Pakistan's present day problems can be linked back to the fact that successive rulers have been more concerned with lining their own pockets rather than meeting the needs of people desperate for good governance. Now, a detailed report in this paper lists the manner in which key national institutions are being destroyed by poor management, nepotism and in some cases at least the theft of wealth from them. These giants include Pakistan Steel, PIA and the National Bank of Pakistan. The tales of how these bodies have been destroyed is shocking. In many ways the stories are microcosms of the state of Pakistan as a whole. Dishonest practices have stripped it of assets, leaving behind only a hollow, brittle shell which could fall apart under any kind of pressure.
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posted @ 9:46 AM, ,

Landmark SC Verdict

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Dawn, Pakistan, Saturday, 01 Aug, 2009
• All Dogar actions, except presidential oath, declared illegal • IHC ceases to exist • Verdict leaves Musharraf unscathed • Govt asked to refer NRO to parliament

ISLAMABAD, July 31: In what has been billed as a verdict that may change the course of the country’s political and judicial history, the Supreme Court on Friday denounced successive military takeovers over the past four decades and their endorsement by the superior judiciary and then went ahead to declare Gen Pervez Musharraf’s Emergency Order of Nov 3, 2007, and most of the actions taken under it, including the appointment of over 100 superior court judges, as illegal and unconstitutional.
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posted @ 11:44 AM, ,

110 judges of superior courts to go home

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Dawn, Pakistan, Saturday, August 01, 2009
ISLAMABAD, July 31: At least 110 judges of the Supreme Court, Federal Shariat Court and high courts will retire or revert to their respective institutions after the landmark judgment of the apex court in the judges’ case.

The judgment will affect 15 judges of the Supreme Court, 41 of the Lahore High Court, 27 of the Sindh High Court, 10 from the Peshawar High Court, all five of the Balochistan High Court and eight of the Islamabad High Court and four from the Federal Shariat Court.
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posted @ 11:40 AM, ,

03 Nov '07 emergency declared “unconstitutional”

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The News International, Pakistan, Saturday, August 01, 2009
WASHINGTON: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has, as expected, set the stage for far-reaching judicial, legal and political changes in the country with its landmark judgment on Friday night in the PCO judges case.

Some parts of the judgment are clear and categorical and an attempt has been made not to rock the boat and destabilise the present set-up but the window for selective decisions later has been kept wide open.

For instance while President Zardari’s oath given by Chief Justice Dogar has been accepted as valid, because that would have caused a sudden collapse of the system, the whole career of Justice Dogar during the Nov 3 emergency has been invalidated. This could be described as a political balancing act of a very dangerous kind.
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posted @ 11:27 AM, ,


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