Pakistan in Media

Opinionated Media Coverage

US planning air strikes in Quetta, Pakistan

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The News International, Pakistan writes in its issue of Monday, September 28, 2009:

RAWAPINDI: The United States is threatening to launch air strikes on Mullah Omar and the Taliban leadership in Quetta as frustration mounts about the ease with which they (allegedly) find sanctuary across the border from Afghanistan, reports The Sunday Times.

The Biden camp argues that attacks by unmanned drones on Pakistan’s tribal areas, where al-Qaeda’s leaders are (believed to be) hiding, have been successful. Sending more troops to Afghanistan has only inflamed tensions.
That's the advantage of acquiring advanced technology. Why should America and NATO get their soldiers killed once they can use drones. Whether it suits Pakistan or not and how many innocent civilians get killed in the process is none of their concern. And, can Pakistan do something about it? I doubt it, certainly not, with present mindset of its rulers. Might is right!

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posted @ 2:19 PM, ,

World democracies to do more for Pakistan

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President Asif Ali Zardari seems to have registered well at home after his Friday address at the UN General Assembly. His strong point was democracy “which has begun to deliver” and the success a democratic Pakistan had achieved in its struggle against the Taliban. He wanted the world to help bail Pakistan out of the crisis it was faced with: “We are doing more in our self-interest. We urge the world democracies to do more for peace and for the development of people affected by militancy and terror. Surgery alone will not be enough. We need to build immunity to contain, reverse and cure the disease”. In addition to asking for help in the removal of deprivation, poverty and illiteracy in Pakistan, he sought mediation from the world to promote the peace dialogue between India and Pakistan and referred to the Kashmir dispute where India has been found wanting despite Pakistan’s flexibility and a number of proposals on the table.
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posted @ 9:10 PM, ,

Taliban Still in business

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Sunday, September 27, 2009
Anybody who thought that the Taliban were close to defeat or on the run had better think again. Saturday saw attacks on Peshawar and Bannu. At the time of writing five people are reported dead and fifty injured when a police station was destroyed in Bannu. In the heart of Peshawar, in an area normally regarded as well-guarded and secure, a car bomb containing an estimated 100kg of explosives was detonated killing at least 10 and injuring 70 – both figures are likely to rise. The TTP has claimed responsibility for the Bannu blast, but nobody as yet owns the Peshawar bomb. Both atrocities need to be seen in the context of a statement issued by Qari Hussain Mehsud, a Taliban commander in North Waziristan who said to an AP reporter last Friday that their movement had gained more strength after Baitullah Mehsud and that a group of suicide bombers would be activated if the army launched another offensive against the Taliban.
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posted @ 9:05 PM, ,

The Economy Blog

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Have a look at the new blog Corporate Finance and Accounting and see which side economy is turning to. This is particularly good resource for students of economy, Chartered Accountants, Cost and Management Accountants.

posted @ 8:29 PM, ,

Join Blog Action Day

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Thanks to Light Within for reminding that Blog Action Day 2009 is coming up (October 15, 2009) and the theme this time is Climate Change. Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day on their own blogs with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. Join the movement.

International climate negotiations are occurring in Copenhagen this December, and this Blog Action day aims to to mobilize millions of people across the world for finding a sustainable solution to the climate crisis. On October 15, take time to blog about climate change and help raise awareness about the issue. Register your blog today {#}.

posted @ 9:54 AM, ,

Pictorial health warnings ignored

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Once again the profit motive may trump the government in its efforts to improve the general health of the nation. The government had announced the introduction of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs and had given the industry a six-month deadline to print them as from January 1st 2010; thus joining 30 other countries having similar warnings. We are a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which requires more than 160 countries to use large, clear, visible and legible warnings on cigarette packs and other tobacco products. There have been written warnings on cigarette packs for years, but in a country where a majority are illiterate the tobacco industry were sanguine about printing warnings that most if its customers could not read anyway. Pictures, so the saying goes, are worth more than a thousand words – indeed they are, and graphic depictions of what is going on inside your body whilst smoking a cigarette may just cut into the (un)healthy profit margins of the tobacco barons.
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posted @ 8:18 PM, ,

US approved aid of $2.3 billion for Pakistan

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The US Congress has approved aid of $2.3 billion for Pakistan. This obviously means President Zardari, leading a team which held meetings with top economic advisers in Washington, can count the visit as a success. This is all the more so as approval has also been sought for an aid package for the coming fiscal year. The aid offer, however, will bring with it issues. One of these is the question of how the aid will be disbursed. The US wishes to do so through non-government organizations of various kinds. The government would much rather have direct access to the funds. But it will have to live with a much closer monitoring of the use of aid than it has been accustomed to in the past. The US has made it clear it will be bringing in expanded staff to supervise the process. The suspicion that funds given in the past have not always been used for the purposes they were intended for has of course been confirmed by recent comments from former president Pervez Musharraf about military equipment moving with units to the Indian border. This deviation from a focus of the war on terror is quite obviously not something Washington wishes to see.

The new US administration has also made it clear it wishes to see investment in education and the social sector. Pakistan has also been asked to draw up clear projects for this. For the people of Pakistan, the change in emphasis from military aid alone to a more mixed package is probably good news. It reflects too a recognition that to a very large extent militancy is bred by the devastating lack of social equity. But recent US comments and the embassy expansion on in Islamabad makes it quite apparent Washington intends to remain engaged in Pakistan for a considerable period of time. There must be a big question mark over the issue of whether this is good news or the opposite – given the resentment that exists over the US role in Pakistan and its exploitation of the country to further its own interests. This is an equation Islamabad will need to juggle carefully. In the immediate future, it obviously needs aid. There is much urgent work to be done in Swat and other conflict-zones which simply cannot be delayed. In the longer-term, Pakistan needs to carefully assess its relationship with the US and find a way to set it out on a more equal footing, so that Washington acts as a friend rather than as a master.
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posted @ 8:16 PM, ,

Pakistan amongst the most corrupt nations

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ISLAMABAD: In an obvious rebuke to President Asif Zardari’s efforts to seek massive aid from the world community, the global anti-corruption watchdog, the Transparency International, issued a stinging indictment on the eve of a high-profile New York meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan, saying: “How can one expect from any donor to come forward to assist Pakistan from its current financial crisis, when there exist no law against corruption.”

President Zardari is to meet US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other world leaders at the Friends of Democratic Pakistan meeting in New York on Thursday but in its 2009 Global Corruption Report, released on Wednesday, Transparency International portrays Pakistan amongst the most corrupt nations in the world.
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posted @ 8:08 PM, ,

Human smuggling

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ISLAMABAD: It was a shameful Wednesday for Pakistan, first for being dubbed as one of the most corrupt nations by the Transparency International and then on the same day to be put on the State Department watch list for failing to curb human smuggling.

The government’s failure to provide the required information to the State Department on the former’s efforts to curb human trafficking has led to the Islamabad’s inclusion in the State Department’s Tier 2 Watch List.

Much to the embarrassment of President Zardari, the State Department report said parents in Pakistan sell their daughters into domestic servitude, prostitution, or forced marriages, and women are traded between tribal groups to settle disputes or as payment for debts whereas NGOs contend that Pakistani girls are trafficked to the Middle East for sexual exploitation.
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posted @ 8:05 PM, ,

Saudi government releases Pakistani family implicated in a narcotics smuggling

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ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Monday said the Saudi government has released five-member Pakistani family implicated in a narcotics smuggling case.

Talking to media men here at his residence, the minister expressed his gratitude to the Saudi royal family, especially Interior Minister Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz, for his unconditional support to the innocent Pakistanis.
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posted @ 7:59 PM, ,

Exodus from S Waziristan continues

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MIRAMSHAH: Scores of families continued shifting to safer places due to the ongoing clashes between the militants and security forces in Mahsud-inhabited areas of South Waziristan Agency.

Tribal sources said that 450 families started shifting to safer locations via Mir Ali and Razmak routes from Makeen, Ladha and others areas in South Waziristan after militants fired several rockets on these places during Eidul Fitr.

They said the security forces also continued artillery shelling on these areas and the residents, including men, women and children, were compelled to leave their homes and migrate to safer places.

Eyewitnesses said that people in Razmak area were providing shelter and food to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the tribal agency while the political administration had been registering the dislocated at Kajori checkpoint.

They said the security forces based in Dosali and Razmak areas of North Waziristan were targeting the militants’ positions in South Waziristan with artillery. They said the members of Torikhel and Borakhel tribes in Razmak had left the area and shifted to safer places due to artillery shelling by security forces and firing of rockets by the militants. Meanwhile, the displaced people were being fleeced by transporters with both hands as Rs25,000 was charged for the journey for Mir Ali town from Makeen.
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posted @ 7:50 PM, ,

Pakistan urges U.S. to reimburse $1.6b

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NEW YORK: President Asif Ali Zardari called upon the US to fast track reimbursement of outstanding Coalition Support Fund of $1.6 billion and early realization of the Tokyo pledges to ensure economic stability of Pakistan.

The President said this while talking to the US President Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, who called on him here Tuesday afternoon and discussed a wide range of issues concerning the two countries.

Briefing the media persons after the meeting, spokesman to the President former Senator Farhatullah Babar said that President Zardari also emphasized the fast tracking of the enactment of the Biden-Lugar Bill as well as the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Bill.

The President said that these measures were necessary to expedite the country’s development program and rebuild the infrastructure as peace dividend to the people gravely affected by the huge damage caused to infrastructure due to fight against militancy.

The spokesman further said the President also impressed upon the US interlocutor the need for channeling assistance through existing institutions and budgetary mechanism which will strengthen their capacity on the one hand and also avoid overlap and duplication on the other.

Farhatullah Babar quoted the president as saying that Pakistan needed increased market access to the US markets and called upon the US to create special category for conflict- affected countries under its GSP plus program in addition to RoZs.

The President also made out a case for fast tracking the delivery of counter insurgency technology and equipment and investment in education sector being vital for challenging and changing the militant mindset.
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posted @ 2:49 PM, ,

Pak-Afghan border focal point of terrorism

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WASHINGTON: U. S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has said that Pak-Afghan bordering areas were the focal point of terrorism and added that if Taliban again gets control over Afghanistan, then Al-Qaeda outfit will stage a come back.

In a TV interview, Hillary Clinton said that U. S. government aims at ensuring protection to the U.S. and its allied countries from the terrorists holed up in Pak-Afghan bordering areas.

U. S. Secretary of State referring to some saying that Al Qaeda has been wiped out of Afghanistan, said that if Taliban again gets control over Afghanistan, then one could not imagine how swiftly Al Qaeda would be back.

Hillary Clinton said that Obama Administration on the basis of best available information striving for comprehending all the factors related to Afghan issue and its resolution.
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posted @ 2:17 PM, ,

Minorities in Pakistan

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The ultimate conundrum is that if a Christian is asked the question, do you believe that the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) was a Prophet and the Quran is the word of God, the believing Christians must say no, and if they say that, under the law are they not guilty of blasphemy and have committed a capital offence

Last week I had hinted that I might write about how Muslim Americans have become discriminated pariahs in the US after 9/11. But then something at home forced me to concentrate on what is happening to minorities in Pakistan. Indeed in comparison it almost made me feel better about how we as Muslims are being treated in the US.
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posted @ 5:35 PM, ,

Musharraf and Zardari lecturing in US

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Currently we have one ex-president working the lucrative lecture circuit in the US, whilst the incumbent president is doing the rounds of a less lucrative but perhaps more important set of venues. His latest foray into public speaking was at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London, where it is reported that his prepared and scripted speech went well but that the question and answer session was a little less than informative. Much has been made in recent days of the fact that our president has been out of the country for one hundred days out of the last year – which also means that he was in-country for 265 of them. He will doubtless argue that his globetrotting is to chase down the billions that we need to sustain us as a nation; and that it is the job of the prime minister to run the show day-to-day. He would also argue that engagements such as that at the IISS enable him to put our point of view more effectively.

Both arguments hold water. We have what may charitably be described as ‘an image problem’ outside our coterie of very close friends. There is little by way of good news coming out of Pakistan these days and the ‘talking up’ of the win in Swat is dangerously close to the famous – and very premature – George Bush ‘victory’ speech after the fall of Saddam. In a world where communication everywhere is instant our follies, foibles and failings are all too easily paraded, and we need to work hard to counter the largely negative view that much of the rest of the world has of us. We need to promote trade – and Mr Zardari pointed to a need for us to access European markets in his speech – and ‘trade not aid’ is a useful positive headline. He has what is arguably one of the world’s least enviable jobs, and it is unreasonable to expect any government of Pakistan to ‘fix’ its burden of problems within a year or two – or ten. He has put our case to a sceptical audience in London, and there will be other difficult engagements with thorny questions lying in wait wherever he goes, so we wish him well. But we would also add a note of caution – a hundred days out of country may have been productively spent, but how well-spent were the days spent on home soil?
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posted @ 4:30 PM, ,

Eid and the poor

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Eidul Fitr will be marked today with all the joy associated with it. Families will gather to mark this most important of celebrations on the religious calendar. Special dishes will be prepared, mosques will fill up as prayers are offered to mark the event, children will show off new clothes and shoes, ‘Eidee’ will be joyfully collected and presents will be exchanged. This after all is what Eid is all about. But it is also important to remember there are many different kinds of Eid in our country. While some will hand out new mobile phones and other swish gifts to mark what has become an increasingly ostentatious event and lavish feasts will adorn tables, for other families the day will be no different than the other 364 days of the year. Indeed for some it could be worse. In the run-up to Eid, at least one man shot his wife, daughter and then himself. Press reports stated that he was depressed over his inability to buy new clothes for his family. A different news story spoke of a father who, denied an Eid bonus or advance salary, crept home regularly late at night to avoid gazing into the eyes of his children for whom he could buy nothing. There have been accounts too appearing at frighteningly regular intervals of parents forced by poverty to sell children.

These saddening reminders of the injustices of our society are something we need to address. All of us need to work towards a future in which every citizen can enjoy Eid. We must also consider whether it is right to have turned Eid from a relatively simple event focused on family to something that involves the most blatant consumerism and display of wealth. We need to rediscover the simpler joys of Eid. We must also find ways to share them out. This would bring for many far more pleasure than that can be bought by any amount of wealth and also act to bring people together across society.
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posted @ 4:30 PM, ,

Urban environments are eating the people

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Urban environments across the country are eating the people that live in them. Every day there are reports of people falling into open sewers, down manholes, being electrocuted by wires trailing from live poles or simply dying of diseases they have picked up from contaminated water. The numbers of people who die in this manner is uncounted, and press reports of their demise are almost certainly the tip of a large iceberg. The responsibility for these deaths, most of them accidents rather than deliberate attempts to harm, is often difficult to apportion. Ours is a culture where nobody is ever responsible for anything anyway, but there are clearly instances where fault can and should be apportioned and the guilty parties taken to task. A spate of deaths of children in Karachi, drowned in undrained rainwater ponds, is a case in point.

The most recent is of a six-year and an eight-year old who died in a rainwater pond close to the Super Highway where, according to local sources, at least five other children have died in the last month. There are several similar ponds in the same area, others in Korangi and Surjani. These are not ‘hidden threats’, they are there for all to see. Children are naturally inquisitive and often unaware of the risks presented by stretches of open water. They have no depth-perception as the water is clouded and it is all too easy for them to slip or fall and quickly get into difficulty. Whilst parents have a primary duty of care to ensure that their children come to no harm, it is unrealistic to expect every child to be watched every minute of every day. At some point children have to go out into the world, at which point the responsibility of those who manage the world these children come out into becomes more important. Where there is such an obvious hazard as the rainwater ponds, with an established and well-documented record of taking young lives, it amounts to criminal negligence on the part of the city authorities not to drain them and level the land.
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posted @ 4:27 PM, ,

Sighting of moon-EidulFitr

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EVEN four decades after man landed on the moon, this celestial body has not failed to stir controversy in the Muslim world. In Pakistan it acquires an intensity beyond comprehension. With Islamic religious festivals linked to the lunar calendar and no consensus on the criteria to be adopted in determining the start of a new month, confusion reigns supreme on the occasion of Eid and Ramazan. This year matters have reached new extremes. NWFP’s local and zonal Ruet-i-Hilal committees have decided to strike out on their own to meet on Saturday — a day before the central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee is to convene — to give a ruling on the sighting of the Shawwal moon. A proposal that Pakistan should follow Saudi Arabia so that the entire Muslim world observes Eid on the same day has also received a nod of approval from the provincial government.

Conventionally, the physical visibility of the new moon has been used to chalk out the lunar calendar. But given the growth in technology this is not enough to ensure uniformity of the calendar because many astronomical factors — the age of the moon, its angle and altitude above the horizon as well as weather conditions, the height and location of the place where the ‘moonsighter’ is positioned — determine the crescent’s visibility. Since the idea of different parts of the country observing Eid on different days is not an attractive one, and quite understandably so, it is time we agreed on a single principle to determine the lunar calendar. Some have found a solution by following Saudi Arabia’s lead (as is the case for Haj) to create a sense of unity and brotherhood in the Muslim world. Others have laid down clear guidelines for the sighting of the new moon. Whatever we choose must have the weight of national consensus behind it.
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posted @ 9:32 PM, ,

PML(Q) moves NA to discuss $3 billion US aid

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Q on Saturday moved the National Assembly to discuss utilisation of some $3 billion US aid to the government of Pakistan, where it has been spent and why the finance minister had only received approximately one third of it.

PML-Q MNA Marvi Memon stated that in order to bring the real issues on the floor and resolution in the upcoming session, the PML has submitted in the National Assembly Secretariat following adjournment motions, calling attentions notices, privilege motions and matters of public importance and notices and motions.

Members, who moved the notices and motions are Faisal Saleh Hayat, Marvi Memon, Amir Muqam, Bushra Rehman and Humayun Saifullah.

The adjournment motions submitted to the House consist of the government utilisation of aid from the US as quoted by Ambassador Patterson (approximately $3bn), where it has been spent and why the finance minister had only received approximately one third of it.

Other motions seeking debate include deteriorating law and order, especially attacks on minorities and attempts at creating sectarian rift. Pre-poll rigging in Gilgit Baltistan by PPP Government.
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posted @ 8:31 PM, ,

Contempt proceedings against government functionaries

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LAHORE: Former president of Lahore Tax Bar Association Shafqat Mehmood Chohan on Saturday filed a contempt petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC), seeking contempt proceedings against government functionaries for not complying with the LHC order fixing the sugar price.

The lawyer in his petition made Minister for Industries and Production Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo, Punjab Chief Secretary Javed Mehmood, Commerce Secretary Salman Siddique, Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) Chairman Sikandar Hayat Khan and its Punjab chapter President Javed Kiyani as respondents.

The petitioner submitted that the respondents, instead of implementing the court’s orders, had uttered derogatory remarks, which was tantamount to contempt of court. He mentioned that when the LHC chief justice gave the verdict, the Punjab chief secretary was present in the courtroom, who had given assurance to comply with the order.

However, the chief secretary, along with other respondents, failed to get the LHC order implemented and joined hands with the sugar mills lobby, he said.

Manzoor had also uttered derogatory remarks in various meetings and media briefings, he added.

He said the sugar mills association also disregarded the LHC order and challenged it before the Supreme Court (SC).

The petitioner said the SC had not suspended the LHC order so far, so it should be implemented accordingly. He prayed to the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the respondents for not complying with the court’s orders to fix the sugar price at Rs 40 per kg.
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posted @ 8:24 PM, ,

Large cache of arms and ammunition

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ISLAMABAD: The capital police raided the house of the owner of a private security agency that provides security to the US embassy in Islamabad and its diplomats, and seized a large cache of arms and ammunition in the wee hours of Saturday.

Captain (retd) Syed Ali Jaffer Zaidi, who owns and runs the security agency in the name of Inter-Risk Security (Private) Limited, escaped and could not be caught during the raid on his F-6/1 residence.

The arms and ammunition were, however, dumped in the servant quarter of the official residence of an officer of a civilian led top spy agency, the sources disclosed. Meanwhile, some sources claimed that the Ministry of Interior had revoked the license of Inter-Risk.
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posted @ 8:20 PM, ,

Sugar crisis

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The federal and provincial governments have finally decided to inform the Supreme Court of the “reality” factors that have delayed the implementation of a Lahore High Court order regarding the sale of sugar at Rs 40 per kg in the country. The prime minister having failed to tactfully by-pass the High Court order, the only course left to avoid contempt of court was to engage the Supreme Court in some kind of dialogue.

We don’t know what the four governments have resolved but the argument will have to realistically describe the much curtailed capacity of the state to control a free-market situation complicated by profiteering at all levels. In India, such a situation was resolved by arranging a meeting between all the chief ministers and all the judges of the higher judiciary. The chief ministers’ bottom-line plea was: run the provinces yourself!
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posted @ 5:31 PM, ,

Feminism and Pakistan

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The ability of elite women to define whether or not Pakistan needs feminism is circumscribed by the fact that the battles feminism would have to fight have never been battles for them at all, but rather for those women who remain invisible as much because of their poverty as of their gender

Their headscarves match their outfits perfectly, often held up by jewelled pins sporting emeralds, rubies and other precious stones. Their make-up is impeccable and a cloud of perfume follows them wherever they go. In the past few weeks of Ramazan, many have been chauffeured in their shiny sedans to taraveeh services held in venues usually reserved for weddings. Many afternoons have been spent at women-only sessions of Quranic tafseer. They follow a number of leaders, from the now internationally known Farhat Hashmi to other well-known sheikhs.
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posted @ 5:28 PM, ,

More light is visible behind the looming clouds

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More light is visible behind the looming clouds than was the case during the last decade or so. Perhaps there is scope for hope; we have, at the very least, as a nation, begun to arrest the downslide.

Air Marshal Nur Khan, perhaps the only remaining icon on our horizon, does me the honour of staying in touch. It was he who posed this question to me and expressed his views on it; I thought the subject worth writing about. The views expressed here are our shared views, which I have expanded upon.

For many years now, we have had our doomsday specialists, those who warned the world that religious extremists were on the verge of taking over our nuclear assets and the country. This was pure music to the ears of the Indians and most in the West as well.
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posted @ 5:19 PM, ,

Talking to people easier than ‘shooting them’

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US general urges need to show success as quickly as possible, says talking to people easier solution than ‘shooting them’

LONDON: In the past two days, US and British generals have laid out their thinking on Afghanistan, and in doing so have revealed just how complex and even muddled the effort to defeat the Taliban has become.

The latest to speak out was Major General Nick Carter, who will shortly take over command of Britain’s 9,000 troops in south Afghanistan, where the Taliban insurgency remains fierce. Carter said on Friday the US and NATO-led coalition, with nearly 100,000 troops on the ground, most of them American, was running out of time, with the need to show success quickly after eight years of war that looks increasingly bogged down.
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posted @ 5:14 PM, ,

Indo-Pak Hydel Power Projects

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NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan are racing to complete the 330MW Kishanganga and the 960MW Neelam-Jhelum power projects, respectively, as the Indus Water Treaty does not permit for both projects to operate simultaneously.

The plans made available to Daily Times reveal the Indian project would divert the River Neelam to Wullar Lake, leaving very little water for the Pakistani project, which is a mere 70 kilometres downstream from the Indian Kishanganga project. According to the Indus Water Treaty, the project commissioned first would be accorded top priority. In the case of Pakistan, this would likely mean that the Neelam-Jhelum project would have to be abandoned, as the Kishanganga project would leave very little water for Pakistan to use.
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posted @ 5:11 PM, ,

Party rentals and inflatable games

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Partying is part of one’s life. Every now and then we either have to attend party functions or host the same. In today’s busy life, arranging such like functions is quite a hassle. However, if you can find the right people to organize it for you, it relieves you of all the worries and the event turns into a source of fun and entertainment not only for all the guests but also for the host. If you are planning to host any corporate events, company picnic games, school graduation nights, church festivals or any other function/party in Califoria, it is better that you contact Inflatable Adventures who are the largest and best service provider from planning, budgeting i.e start to finish.

Inflatable Adventures have their branches at Fresno, Sacramento and Modesto with the names of Fresno Party Rentals, Sacramento Party Rentals and Modesto Party Rentals in California. They have the biggest selection of party rentals, inflatable games, bouncers, inflatable water slides and carnival game rentals. They have over 80 party rentals from which you can choose to make your event a special one to have all the entertainment and fun. All of party rental items and inflatables are duly insured. So, the company takes care of everything seriously so that you can have the best of fun and entertainment. You think of the inflatables, games, video games or of a gaming facility and they have it all. They are but only a click away from you.

posted @ 1:54 PM, ,

Abuse of Blasphemy Law

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Sometimes we are asked to believe the truly incredible. This time we are told a young Christian man, aged 18 or 19 years, hanged himself to death in his cell using the cord of his shalwar attached to the latch of his cell door. Anyone with half an iota of common sense would realize it is extremely hard, indeed almost impossible, to accomplish such a feat. Hanging is no easy matter. Doing so from a small attachment fixed to a vertical surface even harder. We have not been told either why he should have chosen to take his own life. But the police officials who claim the teenager committed suicide, a day after being sent to the Sialkot jail on judicial remand following charges of blasphemy, obviously lack both brains and morality. It seems quite apparent that the boy was killed. The failure to penalize those responsible for the murder in their jail cells of people who may not have committed any crime has been directly responsible for this latest death, claiming the life of a youngster from an impoverished family whose sufferings will increase as a result of this tragedy. The Christian community in Sialkot, Lahore and other towns has been protesting. Shops have been burnt, property attacked. The relatives of Robert Masih say he was tortured to death. For the moment their tale, for all its horror, seems entirely plausible. The official explanation does not. The record of our police does nothing to persuade us that they are telling the truth. This is all the more true given the victim was a non-Muslim and as such, in the grotesquely distorted society we have become, more liable to suffer such abuse.

The blasphemy pretext, even though it was entirely unproven, has been used to take away another life. It is becoming hard to keep track of how many needless deaths have been caused by those bandying about the blasphemy charge and then acting as judge, jury and executioner. It has to be said, for the umpteenth time, that the simple fact that we are all humans demands that the blasphemy laws be reviewed to discourage such barbarity. The minister for minorities has promised a transparent probe into the latest death. He would do well to also set up a body to determine what can be done to prevent further mayhem. So far the government has only reacted to the spate of recent incidents that have taken place. Will this new outrage prompt the government to take more proactive measures to prevent the abuse of minorities and to tackle the bigotry that underpins it?
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posted @ 6:04 PM, ,

Punjab Governor suggests repealing of blasphemy law

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LAHORE: Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer has suggested repealing of the blasphemy law to protect the minorities.

“The blasphemy law should be repealed to protect the religious minorities, particularly in the wake of increasing incidents of Christians’ persecution by religious extremists,” he said this while replying to reporters’ queries at an Iftar-dinner hosted by PPP Lahore Information Secretary Azhar Mughal on Wednesday.

Answering a question, the governor avoided holding the Punjab government responsible for the Gojra incident, saying he would not talk about the Punjab government for obvious reasons. However, he said protecting the religious minorities was the responsibility of the state and the government. He said Gojra-like incidents were the result of growing religious extremism.
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posted @ 5:59 PM, ,

Pakistan received $970mn, not $3bn!

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ISLAMABAD: The US has provided less than one billion dollars to Pakistan since the PPP-led government came into power, out of which a major chunk, to the tune of $600 million, was in shape of reimbursement of the military bill.

The military bill was provided against the services rendered by the Pakistan Army in the fight against militants in the tribal areas, which was spent by Pakistan from borrowed money. However, the US reimbursed it without paying interest on them, paving the way for plunging budgetary side into a more stressing situation.

The statement of US Ambassador Anne Patterson about giving $3 billion assistance to the Zardari government even surprised the top economic managers of Pakistan. They were completely clueless about the figure of $3 billion floated by the US.

“Out of the total $970 million funding, a major chunk of $550 to $600 million was in shape of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) as it was the money which was spent by Pakistan on military’s movement and it took several months for clearance from the US authorities,” said a senior official of the Finance Ministry while talking to The News on Wednesday night.
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posted @ 5:49 PM, ,

US claims $3bn given to Pakistan in one year

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ISLAMABAD: “The US government has already provided $3 billion since President Zardari was elected and will continue to deliver assistance to Pakistan through a variety of longstanding vectors as required by the American law to ensure transparency and accountability, and is not depriving the Pakistani government of any degree of direct funding as a result of a lack of confidence or trust,” US Ambassador Anne W Patterson said in a long statement issued on Wednesday.

Ambassador Patterson made the comments in response to a September 13 news report headlined “US says no direct money to PPP government”, which suggested that the level of direct assistance was determined based on an assessment of the sitting government’s performance, the US embassy press release said.
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posted @ 5:44 PM, ,

SC upholds LHC decision on sugar price

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the decision of Lahore High Court fixing the sugar price at Rs40 per kg and directed the sugar mill owners to implement the LHC verdict till the decision of the apex court.

It also warned the sugar mill owners of contempt of court proceedings if they failed to implement the court’s order.The court also directed the chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to present before the court its two-year-old report about the sugar crisis besides directing the State Bank to furnish details of loans provided to the mill owners with the mode of their return.
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posted @ 5:41 PM, ,

In Case of Emergency

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We all carry our mobile phones with names and numbers stored in its memory but nobody, other than ourselves, knows which of these numbers belong to our closest family or friends.

If we were to be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people attending us would have our mobile phone but wouldn't know who to call. Yes, there are hundreds of numbers stored but which one is the contact person in case of an emergency? Hence this 'ICE' (In Case of Emergency) Campaign.

The concept of 'ICE' is catching on quickly. It is a method of contact during emergency situations. As cell phones are carried by the majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name 'ICE' (In Case Of Emergency).

The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when he went to the scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they didn't know which number to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose. In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital Staff would be able to quickly contact the right person by simply dialing the number you have stored as 'ICE.'

For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc. A great idea that will make a difference!

Let's spread the concept of ICE by storing an ICE number in our Mobile phones today! {With thanks to Brig (Retd) Muhammad Zahir Khan From Here}

posted @ 2:45 PM, ,

France and Iranian Nukes

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PARIS: France is pushing its partners to set a strict timetable leading up to sanctions if talks between Iran and world powers fail on October 1, a French official said Wednesday.

Iran and representatives of six world powers -- the United States, Britain, Russia, France, China and Germany -- are to meet on October 1, probably in Turkey, to discuss Tehran's proposals for allaying concerns over its nuclear programme.

"On the road to resolving the Iranian problem, we have asked that a timetable be set, that in the event of the Iranians' failure to respond, a warning is issued and then a deadline set," said the official, who asked not to be named.

"If there is still no response by the deadline, sanctions must be imposed," he added.

The French proposal is expected to be discussed next week when foreign ministers from the six powers hold talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

The United States, Israel, and other world powers suspect Tehran is making an atomic bomb under the guise of a civilian nuclear programme. The Islamic republic denies the charge.
source

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posted @ 11:42 PM, ,

Learning Algebra made easy

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Mathematics is the mother of all sciences and learning of Mathematics is incomplete without learning Algebra. Applications of Algebra in real life are huge. Problem solving in Physics, Chemistry and Statistics demands a thorough knowledge of Algebra. Algebra is a subject which can’t be learnt by memorization alone. One needs to understand the concepts and their applications. If you are a high school student or studying in a college, you can learn it best from Tutor Vista’s, leading tutoring company in the world. Free online algebra help offered by them includes a demo for first time users in the lesson of their choice which is very interesting and is good enough for you to subscribe to them. Paying only $99.99 and availing unlimited learning of Algebra for the entire length of a month is certainly a very good deal.

Algebra is one of those subjects which does require the help of a tutor every now and then. Algebra tutor facilitates you to get personalized attention and one-on-one tutoring to understand the concepts. With Algebra tutoring, you can get in touch with a live tutor sitting at your home without having to travel to go to a tutor at some learning center. Starting from the basics to the advanced studies of Algebra, Algebra help is only a click away from you. Algebra 2 help is always at your service every time you get stuck solving an Algebra problem whatever be its difficulty level. Their library having a vast bank of problems and their solutions, and the system of homework offered by them works perfectly fine for a student to master the subject of Algebra.

posted @ 11:24 PM, ,

Indian army occupied 2.8m kanals in IHK

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SRINAGAR: All Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC) leader Syed Ali Gilani Wednesday said Indian Army has captured 28 lakhs kanals of land in the held Kashmir.

Addressing the Central Press Club Muzaffarabad by phone, Gilani said India wants to permanently settle its army in the occupied Kashmir, adding the resolution of Kashmir dispute would help strengthen Pakistan which the US does not want.

Commenting on decision of Gilgit-Baltistan, Ali Gilani said Gilgit-Baltistan is part of the occupied Kashmir, whenever, the dispute is settled, Gilgit-Baltistan would be raised as its part.
source

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posted @ 11:19 PM, ,

Gold IRA Transfer

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Gold is a great investment in the age of slow economies. Those who are interested in gold and gold coins must have a look at GoldCoinsGain.com – leading source for gold IRA and gold 401k accounts. Investors are placing physical gold in IRA's. With the global economic environment growing more and more uncertain, gold has become the #1 alternative for IRA, 401k, 403b, and Pension Plans.

The site explains gold IRA transfer. Imagine, if you had purchased $25,000 of gold bullion coins in the early 70’s and held on to it during the oil crisis, inflation, devaluation of the U.S. dollar, Savings and Loan scandal, recession, tech and internet bubble, cooked books, 911, and a real estate bubble you could sell that gold today for $524,999.00. If you had purchased $25,000 of limited mintage investor gold coins over the same time line, you could sell that gold today for $1,377,257.00.

Gold in an IRA is the ultimate asset. It is the purest form of money, and the oldest, most durable wealth-preserving asset on the planet. Governments can’t devalue it. It has no debts, no board of directors, no politicians or central bankers that can mess with its value. That’s why gold has survived every economy history has ever witnessed, and preserved investors’ purchasing power over a span of some 5000 years and will continue to for your gold IRA.

So how to put gold in an IRA? Taking possession of your IRA gold is qualified as a distribution. Under that circumstance, the IRS requires that a possible penalty and the appropriate taxes be paid. To avoid the penalty and taxes you want to have your IRA gold stored at a depository through the gold IRA custodian we provide. Investors that want to take advantage of a gold IRA use an already designated specialized precious metals depository for the storage of gold. The depository offers a secure safekeeping service and provides easy access for the physical delivery of your gold.

Explore the information and resource rich site, learn how to put gold in my IRA and also have a gold 41k account.

posted @ 6:30 PM, ,

Pitfalls Education Policy 2009

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AT long last, the National Education Policy (NEP) is out. But many education NGOs which were part of the reform process are not pleased as a number of their suggestions have not been included. It appears that the policymakers decided to adopt the political approach and worked out the draft in a way that satisfied the various partners in government rather than the professionals. The NEP can still be retrieved if it is placed before the National Assembly for an honest debate to elicit public opinion. The media should also be encouraged to take up the issue. There is no reason why changes cannot be made even now. The policy’s analysis of the education scene in Pakistan is fine. It identifies most of the ills that beset this sector — inaccessibility, disparity, quality and so on. But it is a pity that it fails to find the right solutions. Political expediency appears to have won the day.
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posted @ 10:44 PM, ,

Challenges in Afghanistan

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American press reports indicate that meetings on this question will not be held until November. Presumably the Americans would like resolution of the election issue that would be palatable before they set out to convince an increasingly disaffected American public that the war merits their support

The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan, defying directives or requests from the Electoral Complaints Commission, a UN-appointed body with a Canadian head, announced that with ballots from 91 percent of polling stations counted, Hamid Karzai had 54.1 percent of the vote, as against 28.3 percent for his main rival Abdullah Abdullah.
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posted @ 10:39 PM, ,

Rehabilitation after Swat Operation

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We are hearing increasingly encouraging reports of a marked change in mindsets and attitudes in Swat. People are quite obviously eager to banish the memories of the Taliban from their minds and have been speaking out about the atrocities committed by them. Several accounts have surfaced of the militants being asked to leave villages and there have been gun battles too between local tribal people and the Taliban. But for some categories of citizens, the shadows of the past still lurk. According to international agencies, women in Swat have still to return to work. Security concerns mean that those who had worked previously have in many cases felt unable to return. This is a particular worry given that there are more households headed by women in the area than ever before. The aftermath of war will always mean an increase in the number of widows and fatherless children. The plight of such families is currently unknown. There must be some attempt to collect data on their numbers and to ensure too that women feel able to take up work once again.

It is a fact too that in Swat the public space for women has been reduced. In the past, in the relaxed environment of the valley, women were free to visit shops, hospitals, tailors and other places on their own. They often did so without donning the 'burqas' imposed by the Taliban. The landscape over the past few years has changed for them. These liberties have been denied. Fear lingers on even after the Taliban defeat. Some report that remnants of the Taliban are still present in towns or villages. Pro-active measures are needed to alter the situation. These women must be restored to their rightful place as equal citizens. Indeed urgent schemes are needed to offer vocational training and other help to these women – and especially to those who must support families. The evil rule of the Taliban was symbolized by their grotesque mistreatment of women. The future will be marked by the degree of ability shown in rehabilitating these women, who make up half of the people of Swat.
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posted @ 10:35 PM, ,

Education Policy 2009

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The new education policy, which had been pending before the Cabinet since April this year, has finally been approved and unveiled. The ambitious policy envisages a dramatic increase in the literacy rate – and also lays out other measures. Among these is 'uniform' education in the private and public sector, the incorporation of grades XI and XII into schools, increased enrolment in higher education and better qualification for teachers. This all sounds good – at least on paper. Of course one must not be cynical, but experience makes it difficult to steer clear of this. Implementation of policies has been an immense problem in the past. One must hope though that this time the raise to seven per cent of GDP for education does happen. This alone would be a significant step in improving the situation and also raising education higher up the rung as a matter of official priority.

One of the problems we have encountered has also been frequent changes in policies. Each government that comes to office appears to find it necessary to tamper with whatever has happened before and sometimes usher in change only for the sake of change. This has proved immensely damaging in the past. The frequent alteration in when the school year is to start is just one example of this. There are many others, linked to curriculums, examination systems and strategies on madressahs. This lack of consistency has held back progress and only added to the basic issues linked to the standards of education imparted at schools. Only when this platform is set up sturdily can the improvements necessary at higher levels come about. The state of affairs Pakistan faces today makes it necessary for governments to think in terms of leaving behind legacies. Even small contributions would be remembered by people desperate for change. A system of education that can meet needs would be one legacy that would never be forgotten. This is something the government needs to keep in mind as it goes about the task of enforcing the policy it has laid out and taking it from paper to cities, towns and villages.
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posted @ 10:33 PM, ,

Renaming NWFP as Pakhunkhwa

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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Thursday said it had no objection to renaming the NWFP but asked the Awami National Party (ANP) to evolve a consensus on the issue, saying referendum could be a better option.

Speaking at a press conference here, central PML-N leader Iqbal Zafar Jhagra said his party did not reach an agreement with the ANP for renaming the NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa. He said there were some reservations over both the names proposed by the ANP — Pakhtunkhwa and Afghania.

“Afghania gives an impression as if annexation of the province with Afghanistan was the agenda,” he observed. Jhagra said the PML-N had proposed three names, including Khyber, Abasin and Neelab, and was ready to accept and support any other name on which consensus could be evolved.

He said a referendum for evolving consensus was a proposal given by the PML-N NWFP chapter. However, he said, the PML-N was ready to accept any other substitute to evolve a consensus over a proposed name of the province, saying the reaction by the ANP over the proposal of referendum was deplorable.

Jhagra said the PML-N always opposed calling the NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa on the floor of the House. He said there was a need to create consensus in view of the challenges facing the country, instead of taking steps which may lead to anarchy.
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posted @ 10:29 PM, ,

ISI Chief guest of Indian High Comissioner

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ISLAMABAD: September 10, 2009 was a milestone in the history of India-Pakistan relations. Just a day before the 8th anniversary of the Sept 11 attacks a very important development in India-Pakistan relations took place in the federal capital. It was the first time the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt-Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha, was the guest of the Indian high commissioner, Sharat Sabharwal, at an Iftar dinner at a local hotel. Gen Pasha was wearing a Jinnah style black Sherwani, which is the national dress of Pakistan.

Pasha was not the only top ISI official present at the dinner. Two other top ISI officials were also present with their staff. The ISI director-general and High Commissioner Sabharwal exchanged smiles while sitting on the same table in the presence of former National Assembly speaker Gohar Ayub Khan.
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posted @ 10:25 PM, ,

8th Anniversary of 9/11

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WASHINGTON: Nearly 3,000 people died when the four planes crashed into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. Ceremonies are to be held at these sites and all Americans have been encouraged to contribute to a national day of service.

President Barack Obama and defence secretary Robert Gates will speak at the Pentagon, where 184 people died, and meet members of the victims' family and lay a wreath.

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said Mr Obama would "speak about what the day means and the sacrifices of thousands, not just at the Pentagon, but in Pennsylvania and certainly and most obviously in New York".
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posted @ 10:23 PM, ,

Shopping Search Engine

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Shopping on internet is becoming more of a norm than exception. There are countless online stores selling their products and there are web sites which present a cluster of stores offering different products. The latter category of web sites mostly show only those stores which duly pay for their placement. These web sites do not present all stores, brands and products one may be searching for. This limits the scope of one’s shopping. ShopWiki is a site which presents all stores. It won’t be wrong to say that it is a shopping search engine which presents all the stores with similar products to its visitors. So, you have a wide variety of choices, deals and also possibility of savings too.

I searched for Hair Dryer and was amazed to find the vast variety in terms of price range, brands, stores and buying guide. This not only was educative for me but it also made my job of selecting the right type of hair dryer easy. In the process I also learnt about curling irons and the flat irons which are next on my shopping list. I stand wiser as to how to take good care of my hair.

ShopWiki is a shopping search engine which makes shopping a source of convenience, ease and interesting. You get educated about your shopping requirements and undertake cost effective shopping according to your needs.

posted @ 9:31 PM, ,

Pakistan rejects Obama’s Af-Pak strategy

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ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari has rejected the Obama administration’s strategy of linking policy on Pakistan and Afghanistan in an effort to end the Taliban insurgency and bring stability to the region.

US President Barack Obama earlier this year appointed senior diplomat Richard Holbrooke as his special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan in a move intended to address these two states as a single area of conflict. “Afghanistan and Pakistan are distinctly different countries and cannot be lumped together for any reason,” Zardari said in an interview with the Financial Times on the anniversary of his first year in office.

Zardari’s comments reflect Pakistan’s unwillingness to be aligned in a joint policy framework with neighbouring Afghanistan, an approach referred to as “Af-Pak”. The Pakistani leader and his senior officials draw a distinction between a Pakistan with functioning institutions, diversified economy and a powerful national army, and Afghanistan, a state shattered by decades of conflict and ethnic divisions.
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posted @ 10:48 AM, ,

Pakistan's countless anti terror sacrifices

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WASHINGTON: Pakistan has rendered countless sacrifices in fighting the scourge of terrorism and made the world a safer place with it relentless anti-terror endeavor, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani told a gathering of scholars at the Center for Empowered Living and Learning in Denver.

Haqqani highlighted Pakistan’s success in Swat operation in which the infrastructure of the militants has been completely decimated and normalcy restored in the Malakand Division.

He appreciated the United States’ support for the massive efforts Pakistan launched to address the critical humanitarian situation, erupting due to a huge influx of internally displaced persons from the northwestern Swat and other adjoining valleys.

Defeating terrorism, he pointed out, requires not only a military strategy but also policy to win hearts and minds of the local people. While condemning terrorism unequivocally, he said excessive use of force can ignite this menace, rather than eliminating it. He said a successful anti-terror strategy must combine social and political dimensions.
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posted @ 10:38 AM, ,

One Stop Shopping

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Shopping is an inevitable part of human activity. We all work hard to earn money so that we can buy things for our homes, ourselves and our near and dear ones to live a comfortable life. Ever since the advent of internet, the trend to shop online is on the increase. However, the mushroom of online web sites, increasing with everyday passing, tends to confuse the shopper more than facilitate him buying.

Most of the shopping web sites show only those stores and products that pay for their placement. So, you won’t get a chance to view what all is available. ShopWiki UK has all the shopping stores and products on its site. If you were to buy LCD TV, just visit LCD TV Buying Guide which will comprehensively educate you about LCD TV and offer you what all is available in the market in terms of brand varieties and also that of size. Not only that you will also be introduced to other LCD TV related products such as HD TV. Similarly, you will find very useful information about Home Theatre and Audio Video receivers or less heard about Blu-Ray. All this will enable you to take an informed decision, and get better deals and savings, keeping in mind your requirements and shopping perimeters.

ShopWiki.co.uk is a user friendly web site. Each page is neatly laid out and the visitor just can’t miss the essential information needed to make the right decision.

posted @ 10:13 AM, ,

World Bank ranks Pakistan 85th

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ISLAMABAD: The International Finance Corporation (IFC)-World Bank Doing Business Report 2010, on Wednesday reported no improvement in Pakistan doing business and the country continues to be ranked at 85th in the world among 131 countries.

Ease (easiness) in doing business ranking of Pakistan has been determined at 85 in the Doing Business Report 2010 where as in Doing Business Report 2009 Pakistan was also ranked at 85 in the world showing no improvement.
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posted @ 4:05 PM, ,

Clipping powers of chairman FPSC

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ISLAMABAD: When the new chairman Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) will be appointed by the government, he would find his powers massively slashed as the chairman FPSC has been completely detached from top promotions in the civil bureaucracy.

This is seen as a major jolt to the merit-based promotions in the civil bureaucracy. However, the government insists that it has revived a past practice. Secretary Establishment Ismail Qureshi told The News that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has already reconstituted the top promotion board for the civil services — Central Selection Board (CSB) — whereby he has removed the chairman FPSC as head of the CSB.
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posted @ 3:54 PM, ,

National Education Policy (NEP) 2009

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ISLAMABAD: The long awaited National Education Policy (NEP) 2009, after facing many hiccups, has been finally approved by the cabinet and formally announced by Federal Education Minister Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani here on Wednesday.

The salient features of the policy, inter alia, are that seven per cent of GDP will be spent on the education and efforts are afoot to introduce modern curricula in Madaris. There will be uniform system of education.
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posted @ 3:52 PM, ,

U.S. military equipment from Iraq to Pakistan

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WASHINGTON: The Pentagon has proposed transferring U.S. military equipment from Iraq to Pakistani security forces to help Islamabad step up its offensive against the Taliban, according to officials and government documents.

The Pentagon request for the authority to "transfer articles no longer needed in Iraq" to the army of Pakistan received a cool reception in the U.S. Congress, where some questioned what safeguards would ensure the arms would not end up being diverted to Pakistan's border with India, a nuclear-armed power like Pakistan.

The inclusion of Pakistan in the request, along with Iraq and Afghanistan, underscored the high priority the Pentagon places on freeing up equipment the Pakistani army says it needs to mount ground operations in South Waziristan and other Taliban strongholds bordering Afghanistan.

In addition to the possibility of transfers from Iraq, the Pentagon is considering expanding programs under which Washington procures equipment for Pakistani forces through third governments, or leases them U.S. equipment at nominal rates, sources briefed on the discussions said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
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posted @ 3:48 PM, ,

Liquid bombs' plot was masterminded from Pakistan

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LONDON, Sept 8: A plot to blow up at least seven transatlantic aircraft using liquid bombs was masterminded from Pakistan, intelligence services said as more details emerged on Tuesday of the complex planned attacks.

British police were forced to go to extraordinary lengths to build their case against the men who prosecutors say were hoping to cause more deaths than the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The trial, which ended in the convictions of three British Muslims on Monday, was peppered with evidence that members of the London-based gang were frequently in communication with figures linked to Al Qaeda in Pakistan.
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posted @ 8:30 PM, ,

New cantonments in Balochistan put on hold

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QUETTA, Sept 7: In a move that might lower political temperature in strife-ridden Balochistan, the government on Monday said work on setting up cantonments in the province was being put on hold.

Disclosing the major move, the Balochistan chief minister said a formal announcement about abandoning the construction of cantonments and several relief measures would soon be made by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani during his visit to the province.

The cancellation of the army’s decision, taken during General Musharraf’s days, to construct military garrisons in Bugti and Kohlu areas had been one of the principal demands of the Baloch nationalist groups, which always saw in the move an attempt to subjugate them.
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posted @ 6:48 AM, ,

Pakistan 11th on index of ‘food security risk’

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PARIS, Sept 7: Most of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are facing extreme or high risk of food shortages, according to a Food Security Risk Index ranking of 148 nations.

Pakistan, ranked 11th on the index, is at “extreme risk”, while Bangladesh and India are both at “high risk”, ranked 20th and 25th.

The United States is least at risk followed by France, Canada, Germany and the Czech Republic, according to the study by Maplecroft, a Britain-based firm that provides risk intelligence for businesses.
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posted @ 6:44 AM, ,

Magnanimous gesture from Altaf Hussain

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The MQM chief has stated that he has forgiven Mian Nawaz Sharif, army officers, intelligence outfits and anyone else involved in the 1992 operation against his party. This is in some ways at least a magnanimous gesture given that Altaf Hussain had lost close relatives in the action and had himself been forced to flee the country. The charges pertaining to the Karachi operation had been raised in a campaign that the PML-N alleges was intended to damage it. The statement from Altaf Hussain suggests we may be ready to move on and that the acrimony between the two parties could ease. At a time when many developments are unfolding all at once, it is to be seen what this leads to. There must also be some question as to whether forgiveness from an individual can wipe clean the slate as far as collective crimes committed against many go. Principle demands that those behind violence be brought to book and made to account for their misdeeds. This rule should of course apply across the board.

The MQM chief has also spoken of a truth and reconciliation commission to look into misdeeds from our past, including the martial laws that have been imposed. The idea of such a commission, borrowed from the one set up some 15 years ago as the apartheid era faded out in South Africa, is one that has taken the fancy of many of our politicians. The fact though is that our situation is quite different to that of South Africa which faced enormous challenges as it planned a collective future for a population made up of many races. It is also a fact that this commission was not entirely a success and has in the recent past received mixed reactions. What Pakistan needs most of all is adherence to our Constitution and the law. This would set in place important precedents that would serve us well in the future and prevent a descent into the kind of mayhem that struck Karachi in 1992.
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posted @ 6:35 AM, ,

US relationship with Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON: Highlighting Pakistan’s recent anti-militant success as well as the country’s intrinsic and strategic significance, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said the United States will build a long-term relationship with Pakistan independent of Afghanistan.

“I believe that the Pakistani government, both the civilian side and the military side, have performed better than almost anyone’s expectations in the region, or in this country, or elsewhere, and we are very impressed by that and we are prepared to be helpful, to help the Pakistanis in any way we can,” he told the Al-Jazeera TV channel.

Gates cited the unprecedented political consensus Islamabad had reached this summer in the fight against Taliban and the effectiveness of the operations the Pakistani forces had launched in Swat and other areas in the recent months.

“I think if you look back, 15 or 16 months, the Pakistani government has performed admirably,” he noted, according to a transcript released by the TV channel on Sunday. “No one, I think, would have predicted the political consensus that has emerged in Pakistan in terms of the effort to take on these violent extremists in the North-West Frontier Province, in Fata and in that area.”
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posted @ 9:24 AM, ,

Violation of Indo-China border

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LEH: After helicopter incursions into Indian airspace, the Chinese Army has brazenly violated the International Border in Laddakh region and painted boulders and rocks in the area red, Indian officials have claimed.

”The Chinese troops entered nearly 1.5 kilometres into the Indian territory near Mount Gya, recognised as International border by India and China, and painted the boulders and rocks with red spray paint,” official sources said.

The incursions were reported from the area, generally referred in the Chumar sector in east of Leh, and painted“China” in Cantonese with Red spray paint all over the boulders and rocks, they said.

The 22,420 ft Mount Gya, also known as “fair princess of snow” by Army is located at the tri-junction of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, and Tibet.Its boundary was marked during the British era and regarded as International border by the two countries.
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posted @ 9:18 AM, ,

Saudis bail out Musharraf

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ISLAMABAD: Former president Pervez Musharraf believes Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif would get a “strong” message from King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, during his forthcoming visit to Saudi Arabia, to change his stiff stand against the ousted leader, the retired general’s close aides feel.

They claim that Nawaz Sharif would be asked to “honour the international guarantees and commitments” clinched with the inclusion of the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia at the time of Musharraf’s resignation as the president of Pakistan and about which he was fully aware. They say a key element of these dos and don’ts was that Musharraf would be a free man, facing no embargo on his movements while going out of and coming in Pakistan and would not be prosecuted anywhere on any account.
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posted @ 6:57 AM, ,

Your TV service provider

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Watching TV is a good pass time for fun, rest, recreation, entertainment and remaining well informed. This is only possible if you have a good TV service provider. Cable companies and other TV service providers restrict one’s choices including some you like and excluding others which you want to be included. They even exclude the local channels. Directv provides TV services which surpass all other TV service providers and the cable companies. Your local TV networks are included in all packages as these are covered in the base package. Direct TV Packages meet the needs of each individual and the family members as per their tastes; be it watching movies or any of the sports.

NFL Sunday Ticket, Free DVR and Free Standard installation and a number of promotional offers are so attractive that one is left with no choice but to straight away opt for it and order Direct TV. Their customer service is prompt in response and their web site is user friendly. You can choose your packages and place your order online or do so using their toll free number. You can opt to install one TV box for the family or one each for the family members in their bedrooms; they have DIRECT TV Offers for all such like options. You can get up to 265 channels including the most national HD chanels.

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posted @ 10:22 PM, ,

Causes of suicide bombings

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The causes of suicide bombings lie not in individual psychopathology but in broader social conditions. Understanding and knowledge of these conditions is vital for developing appropriate public policies and responses to protect the public

Suicide bombing attacks have become a weapon of choice among terrorist groups because of their lethality and ability to cause mayhem and fear. Though depressing, the almost daily news reports of deaths caused by suicide attacks rarely explain what motivates the attackers. Between 1981 and 2006, 1200 suicide attacks constituted 4 percent of all terrorist attacks in the world and killed 14,599 people or 32 percent of all terrorism related deaths.
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posted @ 7:51 AM, ,

Parameters of coexistence

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Regardless of a legacy of confrontation, if the two main political forces in the country are unable to define the parameters of their coexistence, the rest will become entirely secondary

Consider this: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik was on a visit to Saudi Arabia last week followed by another visitor, Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf who arrived for his audience with King Abdullah. And now we have news reports that the PMLN chief Mian Nawaz Sharif is likely to fly to the same destination fairly soon.
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posted @ 7:40 AM, ,

Council of Churches raises issue of blasphemy law

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The World Council of Churches, which speaks on behalf of churches in 110 countries, has raised the issue of the blasphemy law in Pakistan. It is concerned that all minorities in Pakistan live in fear of persecution, discrimination, murder and, above all, prosecution on trumped-up charges of blasphemy under the 1986 blasphemy laws. The WCC has called on our legislators to change the law which among other things prescribes the death penalty for blaspheming Islam. This piece of legislation has been used time and time again to harass and intimidate members of the minorities – and cases where Muslims have been prosecuted for blaspheming against other faiths, defiling their holy books or desecrating their places of worship appear nowhere in the legal record. The blasphemy laws, it seems, work only in one direction.

Intolerance is spreading wide and deep across our society. There is no sign of the so-called 'moderate majority' either finding a voice or the political strength and influence to counter it, and we sleepwalk towards a time when extremism is the underpinning of the normative values that shape our lives. Politicians are fond of invoking this invisible 'moderate majority' from time to time, and there is an assumption which appears entirely without foundation that this group actually exists within our society. There is certainly a moderate minority, and we see and hear them in the media daily but we should not extrapolate from that a presumption that they are in any way representative. The extremists have a hand on the media as well, and have little difficulty in speaking to their constituency – one which is far more easily mobilized, has political clout and any number of mouthpieces. The WCC call for changes to the blasphemy laws will be heard by the moderate minority and ignored by everybody else; the minorities will continue to live in fear and extremism will once again have tightened its grip on the national throat.
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posted @ 6:58 AM, ,

What is Fundamentalism?

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A MAJOR difficulty that Muslims encounter in the negatively charged, media-dominated environment in the US, particularly after 9/11 is the use of loaded language to refer to the central tenets of Islam.

One word which has been used extensively to depict Islam as a religion which is narrow-minded, rigid and militant is ‘fundamentalism’. It is important to note that the word comes from the history not of Islam but American Christianity.
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posted @ 6:39 PM, ,

Military might depends on economic might

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MILITARY might depends on economic might which, in turn, is dependent on the control of global financial and physical resources. Pakistan’s economic dependence on certain nations and institutions will ensure that the plight of its people gets worse, leaving the population vulnerable to extremism of all kinds — religious, political or economic.

While the government is busy looking at how to convince the US to lend more, major resource-earning sectors in the country are still looking for a strategy to build the economy. With the economy already reeling from high debt can the solution to our economic woes be the IMF and further loans? Most certainly not; it is institutions like the IMF which have caused economic terrorism in the world.
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posted @ 6:36 PM, ,

Post Election Crisis in Afghanistan

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The fact that Abdullah Abdullah got an endorsement from an important tribe of a Kandahar district was a singular exception to the rule that votes are cast in Afghanistan on tribal and ethnic lines

In my column last week, I had expressed the fear that the allegations of election fraud would further divide Afghanistan rather than give added legitimacy to a re-elected President Karzai. Developments over the last week have only strengthened the basis for this apprehension.
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posted @ 6:32 PM, ,

We solve all our problems abroad

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As a commentator on a private TV channel said on Sept 2…"We solve all our problems abroad. We send our children abroad for their education and the same with our political problems. We never seem to sort them out ourselves here at home." Thus the sight of our previous president jetting in to Saudi Arabia on an aircraft sent by the Saudi government and then being received with full protocol should not surprise us. Neither should we be surprised at the apparently coincidental arrival of assorted government figures in Saudi Arabia at the same time as a past president and not surprised either that they did not – of course they didn't – meet or have any contact whatsoever with him. And no deal regarding his future, or any trial, was even thought about let alone agreed upon and signed with a discreet handshake. No, nothing like that at all.
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posted @ 6:24 PM, ,

Saudis certain to rescue Musharraf’

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LAHORE: The Saudi authorities have formally sent a message to the Pakistani leadership that they want stability in Pakistan, with King Abdullah urging all stakeholders to abide by an agreement that rules out any action against former president Pervez Musharraf, reported a private TV channel on Tuesday.

Saudi royal family sources said that during a meeting between Interior Minister Rehman Malik and the Saudi king, a “clear message” was given to the government that a confrontation between the PPP and the PML-N and any step against Musharraf could affect the country’s political stability.

The channel reported that the Saudi king played the role of a guarantor at the time of Musharraf’s resignation and assured the former president that no action would be taken against him. The king said if a party or an individual backed out of the agreement reached, Pak-Saudi relations would be affected.

Nawaz travels to Saudi Arabia next week to hold meetings with officials, who would “force him to abide by the agreement”, said the sources, adding that the Saudi king wanted to defuse the tensions because he had been told Musharraf was considering making important disclosures about Nawaz and President Asif Ali Zardari in London that included talk of Saudi Arabia as well.

Musharraf – who is currently in Saudi Arabia – met the Saudi intelligence chief, who was an important player in Nawaz’s return to Pakistan, and discussed issues related to his trial.
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posted @ 6:09 PM, ,

POL prices go up

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Petrol prices have gone up by Rs4.80 a litre to just over Rs65. The government says that the decision comes in response to a rise in the price of oil in global markets. The opposition has lashed out in criticism demanding the price hike be reversed. Other petroleum items have become costlier too, including kerosene oil which lights the stoves of the poor. Following the hike, the government estimates Rs8 billion will be collected in September through the petroleum levy. People everywhere are meanwhile desperately doing their household maths to see what it will mean for them. Most wonder, at a time when inflation is already rampant and wages have failed to keep pace, how they will manage and whether any corners remain to be cut.

The rise in the cost of fuel of course means that as transporters raise their rates, the price of virtually every commodity will go up. This comes at a time when consumers are already struggling to cope with the Ramazan hike that has had an impact on virtually every household. Despite attempts by provincial governments and city administrations, there has at best been only partial success in controlling profiteering. The oil price increase also revives criticism based around the perception that while gains in international markets are immediately passed on, the same principal does not apply when the global price drops. Courts too have taken note of this in the past. The latest surge will reignite the controversy, especially as it comes at a time when the opposition is searching for issues that can be used against the government, which seems just a year and a half after it came to power to be facing a growing popularity crunch.
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posted @ 6:01 PM, ,

Big business inflate sugar price

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Were the government ever to devise a heraldic coat of arms for itself it would comprise a green-and-white shield surmounted by a fat cat sitting astride a starving peasant. A report in this newspaper details the government working with big business to inflate the price of sugar and then killing off an attempt to investigate its doing so. There is to be no judicial or criminal probe into the activities of the sugar lobby that now waddles towards Eid secure in the knowledge that it has the government firmly in its pocket. A key cabinet committee has been subverted and the government's finance minister has had his arm twisted and told to 'take it easy' in respect of exposing those at the heart of the scam.

As if the sugar scandal were not enough we have another layer of the Great Power Cock-up exposed. The federal cabinet has overturned a decision by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to limit power purchases from rental power projects to 1,500 MW by upping it by 75 per cent to 2,250 MW from the rental power providers. Shaukat Tarin has again been made to look a fool as he is on recent public record as saying that he was opposed to the rental power projects and that minimal use should be made of them because of the cripplingly high cost of power produced by them – and now we are committed to purchasing their expensive volts at a time when the global oil price has peaked at a 10-month high of $75 per barrel. Just in time to feed through to our energy sector and further inflate the cost of the power we only intermittently receive. Were any of this blatant manipulation of the prices of core products and services to have been exposed in a country where ethical governance and the rule of law actually mattered, there would have been crowds outside parliament calling for an election and the prosecution of those responsible. But they were exposed here in the Land of the Pure. So nothing happens. Democracy? No thanks, it gets in the way of business.
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posted @ 5:58 PM, ,

100,000 international troops to stay on in Afghanistan,

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KABUL: The international community with more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, does not have an exit strategy and will stay committed for the long term, Sweden’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.

“There is no time line, it is clear that no one has an exit strategy, because we have a transition strategy,” Carl Bildt, whose country is currently president of the European Union, told AFP. “It is vital that the Afghans have the confidence that we will stay,” he said.

The emphasis of the foreign presence was shifting, he said, from military action against the Taliban-liked insurgents, to training the Afghan security forces and helping build a civilian governance infrastructure.

“There has to be a move from a military-heavy presence to a civilian-heavy presence,” he said. “One of the big problems in Afghanistan in the last 30 to 40 years is that there have been too many exit strategies and not enough transition strategies,” Bildt said before leaving Kabul after a two-day visit to Afghanistan.

The US and Nato commander in Afghanistan on Monday submitted a long-awaited review into the eight-year war, calling for a revised strategy to defeat the Taliban and reverse the “serious” situation in the country. Bildt said the emphasis of the new strategy was on “civilian, political, economic resources” to build “rule of law, governance and anti-corruption mechanisms”.
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posted @ 5:49 PM, ,

Restoration of normalcy in Swat

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Just as some semblance of normal life had begun to return to the battered city of Mingora, a suicide bomber has shown it is too soon for people to abandon the shroud of fear they have carried everywhere with them for months. Fourteen policemen died in Sunday’s attack on a police station. Following the blast the NWFP information minister has acknowledged that there is still some way to go before terrorism is vanquished. The suicide attack in Mingora, days after a similar attack on security forces in Khyber Agency, goes to confirm fears that the Taliban are anxious to show that they are not a defeated force. Indeed, their new young commander will be eager to demonstrate he is no less ruthless and no less effective than his predecessor. He undoubtedly realises too that the resumption of such attacks may be the only way to hold together a force in danger of fragmenting.

One question that arises is whether an important opportunity has been lost. There were analysts who suggested that the Taliban should have been gone after in Waziristan immediately after the drone attack that took out Baitullah Mehsud. Others hold that such premature action may have been unwise. It is impossible to say if there is one correct answer. But what is needed now is a serious assessment of the task that still lies ahead. The Taliban for the present remain a group that is largely intact. The recovery of pre-teen would-be suicide bombers in Swat suggests that they have planned meticulously and that dozens more boys may be preparing to carry out suicide missions in other places. If there are too many suicide bombings in the coming months, the myth that the Taliban are invincible will be resurrected and this will make the task of inflicting a final defeat on them all the harder.
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posted @ 11:18 PM, ,

Re-naming of Northern Areas as ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’

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The re-naming of Northern Areas as ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ falls short of what the people who live in the area were wanting but removes at a stroke one of their minor irritations – that of being lumped together with NWFP by the media. The tourism industry – what is left of it – has long complained that this erroneous labelling of what is generally a quiet and peaceful region has done much to damage their business. Along with a new name comes a range of other changes, some minor but some major and all of them adding up to less than provincial status. The bottom-line demand of the people for decades has been that they be a part of Pakistan as citizens rather than — as they see it — subjects. They have been ruled from the centre since partition, and moreover ruled by political appointees whose origin is from outside the pool of ethnicities that make up Gilgit-Baltistan. There have been attempts at reform of the legal status of the area before, notably in 1973-4 and in 1994, and neither did much to satisfy local demands.
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posted @ 11:15 PM, ,


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