Pakistan in Media

Opinionated Media Coverage

Zardari’s anger

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The feeling of instability shaking the country has developed into what seems like a full-fledged quake. President Asif Ali Zardari’s extraordinary address at his wife’s death anniversary has left all of us wondering what lies ahead – and quite what Mr Zardari meant in the first place. His fiery attack on forces who he alleged were conspiring against the country and its institutions echoes the words used previously by lawyer Kamal Azfar before the Supreme Court. It is hard to say if this is the result of pre-planning or simply chance. The fact that Mr Zardari chose not to spell out who these forces may be simply adds to the mystery behind his rant. Many of those who witnessed it now must be wondering with more gravity as to the ability of Mr Zardari to head the state. Certainly, the paranoia many close to him say he suffers from seems to be growing by the day. What is more, he appears to be unable to handle the running of the state with anything resembling the poise or maturity expected of the president. His latest outburst will only add to the growing unease with his presence in the highest office of state. Pakistan faces enough problems as it is without complications being created by ramblings that in many ways make very little sense.

We do not quite know who the president’s closest advisers are. But certainly his aides have been unable to offer him wise advice. A major issue for Mr Zardari has been that of his image. His performance at Garhi Khuda Bux did nothing to add positively to it. Indeed the speech may raise more questions than it answers about quite what the president is trying to achieve. What we do know is that new national divisions have been opened up; fingers have been quite unnecessarily pointed and the possibility of all the components making up the system being able to work smoothly together has been further reduced. Yet, the fact is that today Pakistan needs all its institutions to work in harmony. At the moment, as furious debate rages over the contents of the unexpected address we seem to have moved even further away than before from any possibility of smooth sailing. The question that needs to be asked now is if there is any possibility at all of salvaging the situation and avoiding the upheaval that appears to loom ever closer. There have been suggestions that the president, the prime minister, the army chief and perhaps other key players should sit together and thrash out matters. The proposal is a sound one but such a scenario seems unlikely. The wisdom from the presidency that could have brought this about seems missing and this brings us perilously close to calamity with each passing day.
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posted @ 7:19 PM, ,

Zardari’s attack on his unnamed enemies

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President Asif Ali Zardari’s speech in Naudero on the second death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto has stirred a countrywide debate over the targets of his hostility. He did not mention in clear words whether it was the Army, the media or the opposition that was threatening democracy. Many, however, see it as a subtle attack on the Army after the reports pouring out of the Presidency suggest Zardari’s growing negativity about the establishment.

In a situation when the Army as an institution has regained its respect and there is absolutely no sign of the military’s attempt to destabilise the democratic set-up, any effort by the president to make key changes in the Army top command would be extremely dangerous for the system. Last year, the government’s abrupt shifting of the ISI under the Interior Ministry was unacceptable to all and sundry, including the media, which resulted into the immediate cancellation of the government’s notification.

Perhaps foreseeing the dangers ahead, different views were being expressed in the media as a reaction to the president’s speech such as, “There are only so many possibilities about where the threat Mr Zardari keeps referring to can come from. With his public comments, Mr Zardari may in fact be alarming the persons in those institutions that they could be the target of impending attacks themselves and, therefore, need to strike before they are struck against. Our advice: put up or shut up. The president is supposed to be a symbol of the federation, a unifying force rather than a hyper-partisan figure fuelling conspiracy theories. More presidential, less political - that’s what the county needs from Mr Zardari.”
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posted @ 7:13 PM, ,

Five Americans detained in Pakistan

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Police are trying to determine whether five Americans detained in Pakistan had planned to attack a complex that houses nuclear power facilities.

The young Muslim men, who are from the Washington DC area, were arrested in Pakistan earlier this month. Pakistani police and government officials have made a series of escalating and, at times, seemingly contradictory claims about the men's intentions. US officials have been far more cautious, but they, too, are looking at charging the men.

A Pakistani government official alleged on Saturday that the men had established contact with Taliban commanders and had planned to attack sites in Pakistan. Earlier, however, local police accused the five of intending to fight in Afghanistan after meeting militant leaders.

The men allegedly had a map of Chashma Barrage, a complex that along with nuclear power facilities houses a water reservoir and other structures, said Javed Islam, a senior police official in the Sargodha area of Punjab province where the men were arrested.

He stressed that they were not carrying a specific map of a nuclear power plant, but a map of the whole Chashma Barrage. The detained men had also exchanged emails about the area, Islam claimed. "We are also working to retrieve the deleted material in their computers," he said.

Pakistan has an arsenal of nuclear weapons, but also has nuclear power plants for civilian purposes.

Any nuclear activity in Pakistan tends to come under US scrutiny after the main architect of its atomic weapons programme, Abdul Qadeer Khan, was accused of leaking sensitive nuclear secrets. But, as militancy has spread in Pakistan, officials have repeatedly insisted that the nuclear weapons programme is secure.

A Pakistani police official, Nazir Ahmad, told the Associated Press that the force would ask the courts to charge the five men with collecting and attempting to collect material to carry out terrorist activities in the country. If convicted, the charges carry a sentence of from seven years to life in prison, he said.

Officials in Pakistan and America say they expect the suspects eventually to be deported back to the US, but charging the men in Pakistan could delay that process. The country's legal system can be slow and opaque.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Saturday, Punjab province's law minister, Rana Sanaullah, claimed the men had established contact with Taliban commanders. He said they planned to meet the Pakistani Taliban chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, and his deputy, Qari Hussain, in the tribal region before going on to attack sites inside Pakistan. The nuclear power plant "might have been" one of the targets, Sanaullah alleged.

FBI agents have been granted some access to the men, who are being held in Lahore, capital of Punjab province, and are looking into what potential charges they could face in the US. Possibilities include conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist group.

The five were arrested in Sargodha earlier this month, but are being held in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province.
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posted @ 12:19 PM, ,

Two years since Benazir Bhutto's assassination

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Two years on from Benazir Bhutto’s tragic assassination, the country still awaits closure on the case. No doubt, the transition from Musharraf’s dictatorship to the democratic dispensation created difficulties in investigating the murder, persuading the government to rely on a UN commission to look into the incident. But the mandate of this inquiry is unlikely to answer the crucial question of who was responsible, and therefore delay, if not thwart, the ends of justice. In our culture, speaking ill of the dead is frowned upon, but the unenviable task of objective analysis of a leader such as Benazir Bhutto’s political career cannot be avoided.
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posted @ 11:26 AM, ,

Eunuchs to collect taxes!

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Rare it is for the Supreme Court of the nation to bring a hint of a smile to our faces, but the suggestion that eunuchs be appointed as collectors of taxes and of loans from defaulters is worthy of our consideration. The court has advised that the government devise a strategy which would enable the eunuch community to earn an honest living rather than engaging in begging or prostitution or dancing at weddings. It would appear that in parts of India this strategy is employed with some success, and there is no reason to believe that we could not match India’s achievements in this respect. The court heard that the social welfare and health departments of Sindh were already involving the eunuch community in the polio vaccination programme and it would be but a small step to see them engaged in loan and debt recovery.

Unsurprisingly the eunuch community has greeted the court’s suggestion with some delight. They would seek to replicate the model used in India, where eunuchs are paid a percentage, 4 per cent, of whatever is recovered. The eunuch group is given the address of the defaulter or debtor and then proceeds to sing, dance and bang drums outside his house until he pays up. Bona-fide tax collectors accompany the eunuchs to ensure that fiscal proprieties are strictly observed and that the exchequer benefits appropriately. Such is the fear of the eunuchs that they are finding considerable success in this new line of work. Our own eunuchs may be attracted by the thought of the sums they may be helping to recover – and 4 per cent of a billion rupees is enough to guarantee some much-extended singing, dancing and general raising of an embarrassing ruckus. Levity aside, this is an eminently sensible and humane suggestion coming down from the legal heights and we see no reason why this marginalised community should be denied an opportunity to turn their skills to good and profitable purpose. It may stretch credulity to imagine that they would be employed to recover defaulted loans valued in billions of rupees, but there are other more modest sums which could be pried from the pockets of defaulters. There is no reason either why they should not deploy their charms in an attempt to net some of the bigger fish – as no man is completely above embarrassment.
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posted @ 11:22 AM, ,

Judging the judgement

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Those personally affected by the judgement of the Supreme Court setting aside the ignominious NRO and re-opening cases that were hushed up under it have reacted with yet more ignominy that consists of doing everything that the country has been harmed by in the sixty-three years of its existence. They have defied the court. They have tried to pit institution against institution. They have sought to fan the flames of ethnicity. They have threatened to amputate the limbs of those in the media who expose their corruption. They have done everything except the one honourable thing for them to do; to resign and face the courts. What they have done and are doing may be despicable, but it is not unexpected. It is in perfect harmony with the character shown and the deeds done by this lot for the past two years that they have been in power. The same cannot be said about some others whose integrity and commitment to the ideals of justice and good governance we do not doubt: they have been in the forefront of the struggle for human rights and for a democratic Pakistan. Some of them were vigorously active in the judiciary's struggle against a brutal dictatorship. That is exactly why we find it ironic that they now have chosen to judge the SC judgement in a manner that has little to set them apart from how Musharraf and his minions saw the present judiciary or how Zardari and his henchmen are trying to defame it. They have found the judgement biased, as targeting specific individuals, as persecuting a particular party, as going beyond the pale. And what have they to offer in the way of argument? Precious little. Having a problem with a short order and with the unanimity of the judges (or wondering why the judges were not divided on the issue?) who passed the judgement amounts to actually nothing. Asking why Musharraf was not mentioned in the judgement takes guts though. For the question is being hurled at a judiciary that made history fighting that man in uniform, while some of these critics were, at least for a while, busy trying to make people see that the struggle was one man's quest for glory and had little to do with the independence of the judiciary. This question is apparently also being posed to defend those who actually committed the affront of blocking the reinstatement of the judges, of aiding and abetting the former dictator's escape from the country after they had presented him with the guard of honour. If it is not easy today to bring Musharraf to justice, the accusing finger has to be pointed at Zardari and his men and not those who still cause Musharraf enough worry not to return to the country. And playing the Musharraf card does nothing but adds to the nervous shrieks of those who were his loyal partners then, and are in power now. How does that serve the cause of democracy?
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posted @ 8:18 PM, ,

Post-judgement (NRO) politics

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If the post-judgement political situation degenerates into a conflict between the PPP-led government and the opposition spearheaded by the PML-N, Pakistan can return to a highly dangerous internal confrontation. Such a state of affairs will turn the whole effort to check corruption and misuse of state authority into a head-on collision between the government and the opposition

Most political circles are celebrating the Supreme Court judgement on the NRO without realising that it is yet another example of the civilian-political government finding its political future in jeopardy because of extra-parliamentary developments. If the military is not the key player this time, the superior judiciary has relied on its constitutional powers to deny the moral basis to the civilian government, which could be the beginning of the end of the present political arrangements. Parliament is marginal to determining the future of the government or at least that of President Asif Ali Zardari.
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posted @ 9:19 PM, ,

Road to confrontation

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The prime minister, by coming out in support of an evidently sinking President Zardari, would seem to have put loyalty ahead of wisdom. Despite the growing signs that power is slipping away from the PPP government as NAB asserts a new-found independence and courts follow the directions chalked out by the SC in its landmark ruling on the NRO, the PM has signalled he could be opting for the path of defiance. By suspending the interior secretary for preventing the defence minister from leaving for China and by refusing to reappoint Tariq Khosa as the DG FIA, Mr Gilani has made it clear that he is not willing to accept the court’s rulings. So, we have here a script for potentially open confrontation. Aspects of this are comic. But the whole thing could end in a terrible tragedy as institutions engage in an ugly clash. We have seen this happen before. The maturity and selflessness that could have averted this is not being seen.

The way out is simple: the president must step down; others in the government who are NRO beneficiaries must follow. Most citizens would favour this approach. The widespread acclaim for the SC ruling has made this quite apparent. The court too is a powerful one and has repeatedly demonstrated that it is not ready to play the role of a rubberstamp. We have then a situation totally different to that which has existed at any time in the past. But the approach taken by the PM suggests we will have only more uncertainty. When he accuses others of acting against the interests of the state, Mr Gilani does not realize that he himself is doing so by failing to respect institutions within it and allow them to perform their role. Indeed neither he, nor the president, seem to recognize the dangers they are exposing their country too. Further instability is the last thing we need at the present time. Yet this is what could lie ahead if the present dangerous dance proceeds without check.

So, who can act as a voice of restraint and wisdom? We have at the helm of the state a man who himself is accused of serious crimes. The role traditionally assigned to the president, as a mediator and as an individual able to help iron out wrinkles in the system, cannot come into play this time. Those who surround him themselves seem to favour battle rather than the use of good sense. The PM too has opted to side with the president’s camp. This may be a decision he may come, in time, to regret. It is to be seen if from within the PPP any voices of wisdom will be heard. Certainly, there are people who realize where we are headed, and that to put on the brakes once the descent down a slippery slope begins is no easy matter. Only if they step in swiftly can further mayhem be warded off and the chances of the democratic order remaining intact raised.
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posted @ 9:12 PM, ,

Star alongside your favorite actors

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Ever since the advent of screen viewing, watching TV, video movies, movies on the bigger screens and now via internet like youtube have become a universal source of entertainment. Making a movie or becoming a part thereof has been my dream unfulfilled to date. This has been so for obvious reasons of being unable to financially afford it, the fear as to whether I have the talent to become a star etc etc. However, now the time has come for me and many like me to fulfill this dream. Yoostar has made it possible. Buying the Yoostar system enables you to be part of any movie. You can choose your favorite movie and your favorite star therein, choose the role of your choice, play the role and become part of that movie. You can then share the same with your friends and family.

Yoostar has taken a big leap forward in social entertainment. It's indeed a new experience of fun. The Yoostar system offers the tools with which you can turn your home into a movie studio. Specially-designed web cam, green screen and stand, remote control, and Yoostar software easily enable you to play the role of your favorite actors. All you have to do is to plug it in to the USB port of your home computer (PC). There is a set of scenes which accompany the Yoostar system. Besides, you can purchase hundreds of more well known and popular scenes and download the same from Yoostar's vast library. Having recorded your performance, you can upload it to Yoostar.com which is available online 24/7 multiplex having an audience of millions. You can share your performances with your near and dear ones and watch others' performances. You can even participate in contests. The Yoostar widget facilitates you to embed your performances on your favorite social networking sites, like Facebook and Myspace. However, if you want to retain your privacy, you can keep these performances to your self or restrict it to a few of your choice. You can buy Yoostar from any of the leading stores or buy it online. It's only a click away.

posted @ 7:44 PM, ,

Surge in troops for Pakistan, not Afghanistan!

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It is not possible for President Obama to declare a surge against Pakistan. After all, we are allies, and we are not supposed to be fighting on their soil. Why did it take so long to finally endorse the troops requested by General McChrystal?

The excuse came in the form of waiting for Afghan election results, despite the fact that the US knew well in advance that Karzai had no serious competitor. And, as reported earlier, the only possible man who could have had a chance at winning was pressured by the US to withdraw. See U.S. pressured Abdullah Abdullah to withdraw from presidential race.

This afternoon, we heard Richard Holbrooke say: 'no country is more important to our success than Pakistan', during an interview with Fareed Zakaria. He also spoke of the hostility faced by Secretary of State Clinton during her recent visit to Pakistan. We wondered about the same animus in our report: Pakistan: 'Kerry-Lugar bill is unacceptable' - who is the real enemy?

According to all indications, al-Qaeda is no longer operating in Afghanistan. And the number of 'dangerous' Taliban has been reduced to less than one hundred men. The question has already been posed: do we need another 30,000 men to take out 100 men?
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posted @ 7:58 PM, ,

Climate Change

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Today 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency.

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year’s inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world’s response has been feeble and half-hearted.

Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone.
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posted @ 7:11 PM, ,

Army’s real estate business!

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ISLAMABAD: Amongst a horde of unsavoury legacies left behind by General (retd) Musharraf is the controversial Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Ordinance that may well spark a confrontation between the PPP and the PML-N members of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defence, which is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to decide the fate of this ordinance.

Sources told The News that a fundamental difference existed between the two sides on the key issue i.e. should the Army have the right to engage in real estate business of making housing societies etc and should the elected members give a legal cover to such commercial endeavours of the military through an act of parliament.

A source said the PPP members were said to be backing this proposed bill to give sweeping powers to the top management of the DHA so as to please the top military command. But the PML-N MNAs were strongly opposed to this idea to give legal right to the Army to further expand its “real estate” business by getting a legal status through an act of parliament. Sources said the PML-N MPs were of the view that it made no sense to allow sweeping powers to any military-run real estate management authority without making its top management answerable to the civilian leadership and institutions.
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posted @ 7:09 PM, ,

Govt to protect the NRO beneficiaries

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ISLAMABAD: While the government may have leaked its intentions of not defending the infamous National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), it clearly has no plans to abandon the NRO beneficiaries.

An impotent and toothless new law has been hastily drafted to protect the NRO tainted, whose cases would reopen instantly if the Supreme Court strikes down the NRO, as widely expected, in the high-profile cases being taken up by the 17-member bench today (Monday).

The proposed law, planned to be introduced any day as an ordinance, has been finalised at the highest-level meetings. Sources said a copy of the proposed draft had also been handed over to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which apparently seemed to be on board.
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posted @ 7:05 PM, ,

America not to pursue Taliban leaders in Pakistan

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WASHINGTON: Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Sunday that the United States would not pursue the Taliban leaders in Pakistan and that it was up to Islamabad to address the threat posed by the militants on its territory.

His comments followed a report the White House had granted authority to the Central Intelligence Agency to expand a bombing campaign in Pakistan by unmanned aircraft to strike the Taliban and Al-Qaeda figures.

“Pakistan is a sovereign government. We are in a partnership with them. I think at this point it’s up to the Pakistani military to deal with this problem,” Gates told CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

He said the United States has helped Pakistan improve security arrangements for its nuclear arms and is “comfortable” the weapons are secure. “We are comfortable with the security of their weapons,” he said. “We have a good relationship with them. We’ve actually given them assistance in improving some of their security arrangements over the past number of years. This is not a new relationship. And I think just based on the information available to us that gives us the comfort,” he said.
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posted @ 7:01 PM, ,

1.4 million blind people in Pakistan

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Around 45,000 of the 1.4 million blind people in Pakistan are children aged under-15. Many more children suffer from 'low vision', which means a significant vision defect even with glasses. Others suffer because they do not have spectacles or the underlying error that prevents them from seeing properly has not been diagnosed. About 10,000 of the children who are blind suffer from cataracts. Simple surgery would give them the incomparable gift of sight. But with only around 4,000 such surgeries taking place annually on children the burden of blindness continues to grow. We have a number of charities engaged in wonderful work to combat blindness. Some now have clinics or hospitals in dozens of cities. Eye specialists from within the country and beyond it contribute to their efforts. But there is clearly even more to be done.

The awareness about blindness and the toll it takes on families needs to be built so that more can be done to bring light back to lives or prevent it from going out in the first place. Children who are blind and others who suffer defects in sight need to be assessed so that those who could benefit from surgery or other treatment can be identified. There is also a need for greater effort to ensure that children who suffer from blindness or low vision are not excluded from education. At present the majority of the disabled remain outside classrooms. For those with moderate vision, the government has supported suggestions that schemes be put in place to enrol them in mainstream schools. These children will after all be leading lives alongside sighted people. They need to learn to manage and develop the ability to earn. They must be able to live independently and survive as productive members of society, rather than remaining dependent into adulthood on families that are often impoverished and who struggle to support them.
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posted @ 5:38 PM, ,

The beast within

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The terrible aftermath of the Rawalpindi carnage is now before us. Among the 40 dead are children and the elderly. Devastated families organise funerals and try to find ways to cope with their grief. They will, like the thousands of other victims of terror, never fully recover from death that took place so mercilessly and with so little reason. It is of course ironic that the killing took place during Friday prayers – marring an occasion that is most sacred to Muslims. The men behind it clearly have no faith, no morals and no humanity. Yet, despite this, condemnation from our religious leaders has been muffled. We have not heard the kind of outcry that would be expected. Such acts of course can never be condoned. We should all ask ourselves what we can do to protest against them more strongly and urge all those with any kind of influence in society to do the same. We have heard too from people who insist that 'agents' linked to RAW carried out the act. They base their reasoning on the argument that no Muslim would carry out such pure evil. This thinking is flawed. The premise on which it is based has proven to be false again and again. The killers, who grabbed people by their hair, shot them at close range while they still stood on prayer-mats and hurled grenades into the rows of worshippers, come from among us. There is every reason to believe they are not Muslim – on the basis that no true believer would be capable of such brutality, for Islam preaches tolerance and peace and love for all. But they are not outsiders planted by enemies. This is a reality we need to accept so that we can combat it.

There is now a growing sense that the militants may have links to the security apparatus. There have been unconfirmed reports that former police or army personnel could be involved. This is something that needs to be examined in some depth. It is possible that the brainwashing that in the past used 'jihad' as a motive has somehow become distorted and is now being used against the state of Pakistan. Over the past years we have seen many terrible scenes of death. The time has come to contemplate what can be done to ensure a better future. We must consider a programme to de-brainwash the affected. We must reach into madressahs and consider what is happening there. The issues of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and frustration must be addressed. These are giant ones and cannot be tackled overnight. The question is whether our government has the ability, the competence and the will to chalk out a plan to solve these problems and, by doing so, raise the hope that we can escape the violence that has overwhelmed us.
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posted @ 5:36 PM, ,

Army would defend, protect and preserve Pakistan at all costs

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RAWALPINDI: Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Saturday reaffirmed that the Army would defend, protect and preserve Pakistan at all costs.

He said this while offering condolences to the bereaved families. The nation, including the Army, stands united in sharing their grief, he said. Having met and talked to these families, he praised their exemplary strength of faith at this moment of trial. ìThis intrinsic strength is a true reflection of the will and resilience of the nation, he said.

The COAS attended funerals of some of Shaheeds of the Friday's tragic terrorist attack, in which officers, soldiers, elders, children and civilians lost their lives. The COAS thanked the nation for their wholehearted support and sympathy at this hour of grief. This spontaneous and overwhelming show of solidarity by the nation with the Army is a treasure, which we deeply value and cherish,î he said.

Pakistan is our motherland. It is the bastion of Islam. We live and die for the glory of Islam and Pakistan. Our faith, resolve and pride in our religion and in our country is an asset, which is further reinforced after each terrorist incident, Gen Kayani said.

The COAS concluded by reaffirming his conviction in the will of the nation to fight all odds. He said the Army, with the help of the people of Pakistan, will Inshallah protect and preserve our core values and interests in a dignified and chivalrous manner.
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posted @ 5:31 PM, ,

Rawalpindi Carnage

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In a highly tragic incident 36 innocent people including 17 children, 10 civilian, 9 Army personnel embraced shahadat when terrorists attacked a mosque in Parade Lane, Rawalpindi. Reportedly 4 terrorists approached a mosque inside officers residential colony in Parade Lane, Rawalpindi Saddar and hurled grenades on Namazies followed by indiscriminate firing. Meanwhile two suicide bombers entered the Mosque and blew themselves killing 35 Namazies who were offering Jumma prayers. Security forces personnel in the area responded immediately and 2 other terrorists were killed in exchange of fire.

Read the names of all martyrs here.

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posted @ 6:02 PM, ,

Al Qaeda in Quetta, Pakistan

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PESHAWAR: A US diplomat said here on Friday that some al-Qaeda figures were hiding in Balochistan as the so-called Quetta shura of Afghan Taliban also included members of the Osama bin Laden-led terrorist organisation.

E Candace Putnam, the US Consul General in Peshawar, said American intelligence reports indicated al-Qaeda’s close links not only with the Afghan Taliban but increasingly also with the Pakistani Taliban. She felt all this was in the knowledge of the Pakistani authorities but they may not want to say it openly. “We have to assume that your government and security forces know this,” she told a select group of journalists at the heavily-guarded US consulate.

Putnam said al-Qaeda was working and integrating its activities with the Afghan Taliban, TTP, LeT, Jaish and other groups in the region.
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posted @ 1:11 PM, ,

Use of drones in Pakistan to be expanded: NYT

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WASHINGTON: The White House has authorised the CIA to expand the use of unmanned aerial drones in Pakistan to track down and strike the suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda members, the New York Times reported on Friday.

The Times, citing unnamed sources, said that authorisation to expand the CIA drone usage in Pakistan’s tribal areas came this week, coinciding with President Barack Obama’s announcement on Tuesday of sending 30,000 more US troops to Afghanistan.

Washington is also talking with Pakistani officials about using the drones to strike in Balochistan, the Times reported. Analysts, intelligence agents and foreign officials have widely reported that the Taliban fighters use Balochistan as a base.

Islamabad publicly opposes their use as a violation of its sovereignty, but analysts say that Pakistani officials give their use tacit support.

Criticism of the strikes in Pakistan has lessened in public since a US drone attack killed Pakistan’s much-feared Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud on August 5.

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posted @ 1:09 PM, ,

NRO and Swiss Accounts' Documents

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The lengths politicians will go to in order to save themselves are astonishing. Still more astounding is their lack of regard for dignity – whether their own or that of their nation. Since the NRO controversy broke out in full earnest last month, the episodes involving desperate efforts by those affected by the scuttling of the law to prevent the wheels of justice moving freely have accelerated. The latest such incident has unfolded in Geneva, where the Pakistani high commissioner to the UK, accompanied by a former deputy attorney general, took away a carton-load of documents related to cases under the NRO. The two men had flown into Switzerland for the purpose; and in scenes played out by Geo TV – which would have been comic had they not been tragic in terms of the crimes of corruption committed by the powerful – refused to answer questions about what they were doing.

However, there is nothing very mysterious about this. As this newspaper and Geo TV have reported, a visit was paid to a Swiss lawyer who held the documents pertaining to corruption cases against Pakistani politicians. These cases had been dropped from the Swiss courts on the orders of the Pakistan government under then president Pervez Musharraf when he put the NRO into effect. We all know that President Asif Ali Zardari is the key person behind all this. Quite apart from his alleged corruption – of which ample evidence is said to exist even if the Swiss documents have been destroyed – one must also wonder at his frightening lack of acumen. Evidently Mr Zardari has failed to realize that actions such as the one in Geneva mean only that he is held in still greater contempt by the people of Pakistan. More and more among us wonder how we can continue with a man around whom so much controversy swirls as our head of state. The brave efforts to defend the president, essentially on the basis of the fact that he was democratically elected, are waning in view of his total inability to change his image or to learn from past mistakes. Indeed, by misusing the powers he possesses, to dispatch government officials to seize materials from lawyers, Mr Zardari demonstrates what appears to be a complete unwillingness to change his ways. It is also obvious that the president is a scared man. Perhaps he sees the net closing in around him. He has in fact been helping to draw it tighter through antics such as the Grand Document Snatch in Geneva. One day we may laugh at these events. Today we must mourn at being governed by leaders who think only of themselves and are willing to do almost anything to save their own necks.
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posted @ 4:47 PM, ,

SC larger bench for NRO

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ISLAMABAD: The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, would take up the pending petitions challenging the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) on December 7.

A 17-member larger bench has been constituted to hear the NRO cases. The larger bench will be headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

Other members of the bench are Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan, Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tassadduq Hussain Jillani, Justice Nasirul Mulk, Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed, Justice Ch Ijaz Ahmed, Justice Muhammad Sair Ali, Justice Mahmood Akhtar Shahid Siddiqui, Justice S Khawaja, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Rahmat Husain Jafferi, Justice Tariq Parvez and Justice Ghulam Rabbani.

Former military dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf promulgated the NRO to grant amnesty in corruption cases to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari, now the President of Pakistan.
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posted @ 4:37 PM, ,

Loans worth over Rs100 billion written-off

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Chaudhrys, Saifullahs, Jatois, Legharis, Tawakals, Saigols,Jams, generals; some cases were genuine.
ISLAMABAD: In a country where over 40 per cent of the population is said to be languishing under the poverty line with families surviving on less than $2 a day, the shameful revelation of the filthy rich getting loans worth over Rs100 billion written-off owing to their formidable clout is shocking the nation. And this shameful list carries some of the biggest names of our power elite.
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posted @ 4:34 PM, ,


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