Saturday, September 24, 2011

DWS, Sunday 18 September to Saturday 24 September

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                    D A W N W I R E S E R V I C E
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                Sunday 18 September to Saturday 24 September
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The DAWN Wire Service (DWS) is a free weekly news-service from Pakistan's largest English language newspaper, the daily DAWN. DWS offers news, analysis and features of particular interest to the Pakistani Community on the Internet. DWS is sent by e-mail every Saturday.

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(c) Pakistan Herald Publications (Pvt.) Ltd., Pakistan - 2011
DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS
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                          C O N T E N T S
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N A T I O N A L N E W S
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+ Munter hurls fresh charge: US can prove Pakistan's ties with Haqqanis
+ Five more fall prey to dengue in Lahore
+ SC reply to ICJ: rules exist for suo motu cases
+ Rain-hit man shot dead at MPA's factory
+ Network moved to Afghanistan, says Sirajuddin
+ FIA chief's resignation not to be accepted
+ Key chapters missing from new edition of Press in Chains
+ Islamabad, Moscow set sights on new era in relations
+ Relief for rain-, flood-affected people: Rs5bn raised last year still lying unused
+ Troops and Taliban clash over US drone debris
+ Production drops to 18pc of capacity: Pakistan Steel in dire straits; liability Rs110bn
+ Gilani declares Tharparkar calamity-hit district
+ India, US urged to prepare for 'worst case Pakistan scenarios'
+ Pepco failed to recover Rs63bn dues
+ Eight private bills on Senate agenda
+ Eight killed in Karachi explosion: Taliban target top officer of anti-terror squad
+ Bomb attack in Peshawar claims five lives
+ Zardari sets up cell to monitor relief
+ Clinton focuses on Haqqani network in talks with Khar
+ Gilani sets up cell to curb infectious diseases
+ Court orders curb on sites spreading hatred
+ No 'serious shortage' of essential items
+ Altaf retracts allegations
+ Senators criticise govt's flood response
+ Water shortage for Rabi despite rains
+ 26 shot dead in Mastung sectarian attack
+ Seven sentenced to death for Sialkot lynching
+ 'Accord on limiting US troops in Pakistan'
+ 29 militants die in Orakzai operation after attack
+ Nawaz meets business leaders: Poll bar for parties with militant wings urged
+ Karachi law-enforcement report displeases SC bench
+ Incentives for gas, oil producers
+ Self-determination for Kashmiris stressed
+ Cabinet okays talks with India on customs accord
+ Focus on Haqqani network: ISI chief meets Petraeus amid US pressure
+ Army wants Rangers' operation to continue
+ Pakistan, US to work for trade liberalization
+ Minister orders 'mass disconnections'
+ Foreign investors push KSE up over 300 points
+ MPs submit motions for debate on Mastung attack
+ Swat GOC injured in attack on helicopter
+ Zardari calls Afghan president, offers condolences
+ Rift widens with new US allegations, blunt threat
+ FO stresses respect for sovereignty
+ Iran closes trade gate at border with Pakistan
+ Zardari, Gilani discuss 'tense' ties with US
+ Kayani's meeting with Karachi business leaders: Rangers asked to protect trade, industries
+ SC sends judges' rejection case to high court
+ PPP members not to quit PAC
+ WHO dengue expert due on 26th
+ 2m fell sick due to floods, says NDMA
+ BHC takes suo motu notice of Mastung killing of Hazaras
+ US Senate warns of stopping all aid
+ Senate seat by-election on Oct 18
+ US boots in Pakistan not to be tolerated: Malik
+ Zardari wants power projects launched in Sindh
+ 15,000MW dam project shelved by Wapda
+ Mullen's statement not based on facts: Kayani: Several countries in touch with Haqqanis
+ US outreach to Pakistan continues: Pentagon
+ Joint action by all parties urged to meet challenge
+ Karachi will not be left at mercy of mafias: Gilani
+ White House backs Mullen allegations
+ Wasim Akram criticised in autobiography: Shoaib bounces back into limelight
+ Zardari calls for plans to cope with calamities
+ Security of N-installations enhanced, Khar tells UN meeting
+ No inquiry into past institutional lapse: Pakistan to keep watch on India's future water moves
 
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E D I T O R I A L
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+ Bold statements
+ Corruption in cricket
+ Non-payment dispute
+ IMF programme
+ Invoking the divine
+ PM's welcome decision
+ Steel Mills decline
+ US ambassador's remarks
+ Karachi blast
+ Karachi terrorism
+ Voter verification
+ Sectarian killings
+ Sound and fury
+ Ignoring terror
+ Rangers' presence
+ Maqbool Ahmed Sabri
+ US allegations
+ Disaster management
+ 'Vulgar' videos
 
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C O L U M N S / A R T I C L E S
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+ 'Rain, rain, go away…'
+ Look back in dismay
+ The transformed private sphere
+ Cutting the UN down to size
+ Not by invective alone
+ Sociology of a shaping tsunami
+ The (un)manageable crisis
+ Terror, tradition and good taste
 

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N A T I O N A L N E W S
 
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18, September 2011
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Munter hurls fresh charge: US can prove Pakistan's ties with Haqqanis
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ISLAMABAD, Sept 17: The United States accused Pakistan on Saturday of having ties with the Haqqani network, a group which Washington held responsible for an assault earlier this week on the US embassy in Kabul and also for attacks on Nato troops across Afghanistan.
"The attack that took place in Kabul a few days ago, that was the work of the Haqqani network," Cameron Munter, the US ambassador to Islamabad, told Radio Pakistan in an interview aired on Saturday.
"There is evidence linking the Haqqani network to the Pakistan government. This is something that must stop." 
Militants in a bomb-laden truck occupied a building in Kabul on Tuesday, raining rockets and gunfire on the US embassy and other targets in the diplomatic quarter of the Afghan capital, and battled police during a 20 hour siege. 
Five Afghan policemen and 11 civilians were killed in the multi-pronged attacks, which also included three suicide bombings at police compounds. 
Cameron Munter suggested ties with Pakistan were still heavily strained, despite recent comments from both sides on strong counter-terrorism cooperation. 
"These relations today need a lot of work," he said. 
Observers in Washington interpreted the interview as supporting speculations that the US had now decided to take direct military action against the Haqqani network with or without Pakistan's support.
Washington has long accused Islamabad of sheltering militants who carry out attacks inside Afghanistan. Islamabad says its forces are taking high casualties fighting militants, and dismisses any allegation it provides support for fighters. 
Defence Secretary Leon Panetta warned Pakistan on Wednesday the United States would "do everything we can" to defend US forces from Pakistan-based militants staging attacks in Afghanistan. 
The Haqqani network is perhaps the most divisive issue between the two allies. The United States has repeatedly pressed Pakistan to go after the network, which it believes is based in North Waziristan.
Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani virtually ruled out a full-scale operation against the Haqqani network on Friday. At a meeting of Nato's defence chiefs in Seville, Spain, he reiterated Pakistan's "resolve and commitment" in the struggle against terrorism, but at the same time stressed that Islamabad had the "sovereign right to formulate policy in accordance with its national interests".—Reuters
Anwar Iqbal adds from Washington: The United States has been quietly taking legal action to link the Haqqani network of terrorists to Pakistan long before the US ambassador went public with the allegation.
The US State Department took first such legal action on March 25, 2009. In a recently released joint article, Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairperson of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, also blamed Pakistan for backing the Haqqani network and other militant groups.
"Most disturbing are Pakistan's continuing ties to extremist militant groups, particularly the Haqqani group in North Waziristan and the Afghan Taliban shura in and around Quetta," they wrote.
"Pakistan provides safe harbor to the Haqqani insurgent group responsible for attacks against US and coalition forces across the border in Afghanistan. Regardless of what Pakistan knew about Bin Laden's whereabouts, the Haqqani sanctuaries are well-known."
Senator Feinstein told a recent congressional hearing that the Pakistani army resisted attacking North Waziristan and the Haqqanis because it wanted to use the group to influence future political changes in Afghanistan.
But long before US officials and lawmakers went public with their complaints, the US State Department had been quietly highlighting Pakistan's alleged link to the network. In its March 25, 2009, executive order, which offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the location, arrest, or conviction of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the State Department clearly said that the terrorist leader was "located in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan". The department also claimed that Sirajuddin Haqqani used his sanctuaries inside Pakistan to coordinate cross-border attacks on US and coalition forces in Afghanistan and also had participated in some of these attacks.
On July 23, 2010, the then State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, noted that all UN members must implement a travel ban restriction, asset freeze and arms embargo against leaders of the Haqqani network. "Pakistan, as a UN member, must implement this international action," he added.
On May 11, 2011, the State Department designated another network leader Badruddin Haqqani, a foreign terrorist commander who "operates from North Waziristan Agency" in Fata. "Badruddin sits on the Miramshah Shura, which has command and control over all Haqqani network activities, and helps lead insurgents and foreign fighters in attacks against targets in southeastern Afghanistan," the announcement said.
"In Nov 2008, Badruddin accepted responsibility for keeping New York Times reporter David Rohde" who also was kept in Fata, the State Department said.
On Aug 16 this year, the State Department designated Sangeen Zadran, the shadow governor for Paktika province, a foreign terrorist associated with the Haqqani network.
Sangeen is accused of bringing the network's fighters from Fata for carrying out attacks inside Afghanistan and also of kidnapping Afghans and foreigners in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The annual US State Department report on terrorism in South Asia, released on Aug 18 this year, claimed that groups such as the Taliban's Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network were using "western Pakistan to plan attacks against American interests in Afghanistan".
The groups had increased their use of improvised explosive devices and coordinated attacks using multiple suicide bombers in Afghanistan, "while their leadership remained hiding in their safe havens in Pakistan", the report said. 
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18, September 2011
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Five more fall prey to dengue in Lahore
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By Khalid Hasnain
 
LAHORE, Sept 17: Five more people died of dengue virus in hospitals here on Saturday, raising the official death toll to 19 in Punjab. And 423 new dengue patients were admitted to public and private hospitals in Lahore alone during the day.
According to hospital sources, Mohammad Jamil (42) died of dengue fever in Shalimar Hospital, Maimoona (72) in Fauji Foundation Hospital, Kajal Anwar (18) in Services Hospital, Mahmood Anwar (65) in Kot Khawaja Saeed Hospital and Mohammad Mutahir (55) in a private hospital.
They were stated to be in a critical condition when admitted to hospitals over the past three days.
However, a senior Punjab government official said a preliminary investigation was yet to ascertain the cause of Saturday's deaths.
"Only one of the five patients has been confirmed dead because of dengue fever. Two were received dead by hospitals and their cause of death is yet to be confirmed by doctors. The two others were suspected dengue patients and their death and disease confirmation reports are awaited," Punjab health department's director Dr Mubashir told Dawn.
However, he confirmed that till Sept 16 (Friday) 14 people had died of dengue fever. He said an emergency had been declared by the provincial government in all public and private hospitals because of the rising number of dengue patients.
Meanwhile, a team of doctors and dengue experts from Sri Lanka visited Jinnah Hospital and held discussions with doctors and paramedical staff on issues relating to treatment of dengue patients. They briefed doctors and paramedics on latest curative and preventive measures which could avoid further deaths.
The team also met Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and officials of the health department and city district government and briefed them on their activities and efforts to curb the spread of dengue virus.
They advised people to keep their homes, streets and open areas clean, instead of visiting hospitals to get their blood tested again and again.
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18, September 2011
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Rain-hit man shot dead at MPA's factory
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By H.M. Mangi
SANGHAR, Sept 17: An MPA and member of the district relief committee was booked along with his two guards for murder after a youth was shot dead on Saturday outside his factory where relief goods to be distributed among rain-affected people had been stored.
A large number of the rain-hit people had gathered outside the Al-Rehmat Cotton Factory in Jhol town and started taking away the relief goods stored in a godown of the factory.
The guards tried to stop them but failed. The guards then allegedly opened fire, killing a youth. The 15-year-old deceased was identified as Ghulam Hussain, son of Sain Bux Shar, a resident of Jhol's Ward No 3.
MPA Rana Abdul Sattar, of the PML-Functional, owns the factory. He is a member of the district relief committee organised by the Sindh government to ensure distribution of relief through elected representatives in a fair and transparent manner.
The Jhol police registered an FIR against Rana Sattar and guards Yar Mohammad Kharal and Ali Jan under sections 302, 147, 148 and 114 of the PPC.
Complainant Moula Bukhsh Shar, an uncle of the slain youth, said in the FIR that the rain-affected people had gathered around the MPA when he came out of his factory. They were demanding relief goods, apparently angering the MPA who asked his guards to open fire. The guards did so, leading to the death of Ghulam Hussain.
No arrest was made till late on Saturday.
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18, September 2011
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SC reply to ICJ: rules exist for suo motu cases
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By Our Staff Reporter
 
ISLAMABAD, Sept 17:  The Supreme Court on Saturday said Article 184(3) of the Constitution mandated it to take up cases of violation of fundamental rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution — a jurisdiction which it enjoyed along with the high courts.
In response to a statement issued by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Supreme Court Registrar Dr Faqir Hussain explained that the press conference by the member of the ICJ appeared to be based on some miscomprehension, perhaps ignorance, of the constitutional provisions and case law developed on the issue.
On Friday Mr Stefan Trechsel, the visiting ICJ head, had in a news conference urged the Supreme Court to exercise restraint in taking up cases suo motu because overuse of this procedure could endanger the rule of law. He had stressed that there was a need for transparency in allocation of such cases to different benches.
The statement issued by the Supreme Court registrar recalled that the procedure for processing suo motu cases was prescribed in Order XXV of the Supreme Court Rules, 1980; besides, he added, the issue had long been settled by the Supreme Court in successive judgments, including in the case of Ms Benazir Bhutto versus Federation of Pakistan (PLD 1988 SC 416). In that judgment, the statement said, the apex court while interpreting Articles 184(3) and 199 of the Constitution had observed that the procedural trappings and limitations of Article 199 (1)(a) and (1)(c) (meaning requirements of aggrieved party, locus standi, etc) did not apply to the Supreme Court, while exercising powers under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.
Thus, the court has entertained petitions, complaints and had taken up matters of suo motu, in cases of violation of fundamental rights, the statement said. The constitutional provision and the case law on the subject are very clear and categoric, therefore, when a fit case is filed or comes to the court notice, the court cannot abdicate its constitutional obligation; it has to entertain the case.
After registration of the case, it is fixed before benches of the court for decision and the parties to the case and other persons involved/ interested in the matter can appear before it, the statement said. At times, the court also appoints amicus curie for its assistance or a committee or a commission can also be set up for inquiry and report.
The people of Pakistan are generally appreciative of the exercise of such jurisdiction by the Supreme Court because it grants relief to aggrieved parties, especially poor and underprivileged sections of society, executive's wrongs are corrected and billions of rupees of misappropriated are recovered from the corrupt, the Supreme Court statement said.
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18, September 2011
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Network moved to Afghanistan, says Sirajuddin
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ISLAMABAD, Sept 17: The Haqqani network, one of the most feared militant groups in Afghanistan, would take part in peace talks with the Kabul government and the United States only if the Taliban did, its leader Sirajuddin Haqqani told Reuters on Saturday.
The Haqqanis technically fall under the command of the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, although US officials believe they can act independently. 
The group has become so confident after battlefield gains, that it no longer has sanctuaries in Pakistan, and instead felt secure inside Afghanistan, said Sirajuddin Haqqani in the interview by telephone from an undisclosed location. 
In what Sirajuddin described as a further sign of strength, the Haqqanis are also consolidating their hold on eastern Afghanistan, forcing rival groups out of territory they have claimed.  
The militant leader is described by US forces in Afghanistan as one of their most lethal enemies. The United States has posted a bounty of up to $5 million for him.
The Haqqanis rejected several peace gestures from the United States and President Hamid Karzai's government in the past because they were an attempt to "create divisions" between militant groups, he said. Any further efforts to do so would fail, added Sirajuddin, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani.
Although he is still revered by militants, ill health forced Jalaluddin to pass on leadership of the group to Sirajuddin, who is seen as far more ruthless.,   "They offered us very very important positions but we rejected and told them they would not succeed in their nefarious designs. They wanted to divide us," said Sirajuddin.
"We would support whatever solution our Shura members suggest for the future of Afghanistan," he said, referring to the Afghan Taliban leadership. 
Security analyst Ejaz Haider described Sirajuddin's comments as a shift.
"Sirajuddin's statement now is significant as a signal to the United States. That 'we are prepared to talk if you want to talk seriously and as part of the larger dialogue with the Taliban'," he said.
Despite hopes that talks with the Taliban could provide the political underpinning for a US staged withdrawal from Afghanistan, the discussions are still not at the stage where they can be a deciding factor. 
Months of talks between the two sides — a crucial building block in any eventual political solution — have yet to develop into serious negotiations. 
Washington has repeatedly pressed Pakistan to go after the Haqqani network it believes is based in North Waziristan.
'SAFE IN AFGHANISTAN': "Gone are the days when we were hiding in the mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Now we consider ourselves more secure in Afghanistan besides the Afghan people. Senior military and police officials are with us," said Sirajuddin, believed to be in his late 30s.
"There are sincere people in the Afghan government who are loyal to the Taliban as they know our goal is the liberation of our homeland from the clutches of occupying forces."
US officials have played down the significance of Tuesday's attack on Kabul's diplomatic enclave, which showered rockets on Western embassies.
It was the longest and most audacious militant attack in the Afghan capital in the decade since the Taliban was ousted from power, and a stark reminder of militants' reach as Western forces start to return home. 
Asked if the Haqqani network was behind the assault, Sirajuddin said: "For some reasons, I would not like to claim that fighters of our group had carried out the recent attack on US embassy and Nato headquarters. Our central leadership, particularly senior members of the Shura, suggested I should keep quiet if the US and its allies suffer in future."
Asked whether there are 10,000 Haqqani fighters as some media reports have suggested, Sirajuddin laughed and said: "That figure is actually less than the actual number."
Sirajuddin said fighters from a group led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had tried to take on US troops in Haqqani territory. 
"I spoke to the Shura ... whether I should allow them to operate in my area of control. They did not allow me and then I ordered Hekmatyar's fighters to either join the Taliban or leave Khost and they left the area," he said.
The Haqqanis are thought to have introduced suicide bombing to Afghanistan, and are believed to have been behind high-profile attacks there, including a raid on Kabul's top hotel, an assassination attempt on the president, and a suicide attack on the Indian embassy.
In one example of the Haqqani group's effectiveness, they are believed to have helped an Al Qaeda suicide bomber who killed seven CIA agents at a US base in eastern Afghanistan last year, the deadliest strike on the agency in decades.
US drone aircraft have tried to eliminate senior figures of the group in North Waziristan. Sirajuddin's younger brother was killed by a drone missile strike. 
ANTI-SOVIET ALLIES: Washington has not always regarded the Haqqanis as enemies. 
Former US Congressman Charlie Wilson, who raised money for the Afghan anti-Soviet resistance, once called Jalaluddin "goodness personified". The warrior was held in such high esteem he visited the White House when Ronald Reagan was president (1981-89).
Nowadays, the United states spends a great deal of time trying to persuade the Pakistanis it is in their interest to eliminate the Haqqanis, for the sake of regional stability. 
"We've seen in the past what happens when terrorists are given a de facto safe haven, as the Haqqanis have in parts of Pakistan - it doesn't turn out well for either Pakistan or the United States," said a US official in Washington. 
"The open question is whether Pakistan has the will — or the ability – to crack down on the Haqqani network. The US has done its part to degrade the group's capabilities but can't do it entirely on its own." —Reuters
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18, September 2011
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FIA chief's resignation not to be accepted
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By Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD, Sept 17: The government has decided not to accept the resignation of FIA director general Syed Tehsin Anwar Shah, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Saturday.
Talking to reporters after chairing a meeting at the FIA headquarters on Saturday, Mr Malik said the government would obey the Supreme Court orders and the FIA chief would provide every kind of assistance to the NICL investigation team.
The declaration by the minister, one month after the DG sent his resignation to the interior ministry, made many to believe that tendering of resignation was a tactical move meant to make the probe controversial.
The FIA chief had resigned in protest after he had been ordered by the Supreme Court to work under his subordinate, Additional Director General Zafar Qureshi, in the NICL corruption probe.
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18, September 2011
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Key chapters missing from new edition of Press in Chains
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By Idrees Bakhtiar
 
KARACHI, Sept 17: Those planning to read the recently published version of respected journalist Zamir Niazi's trailblazing account of the state of press freedom in Pakistan might have to wait for the next edition. In its latest form, Press in Chains leaves out some important periods of repression in the history of the Pakistani press.
The book's second edition has been published by Oxford University Press six years after the death of Mr Niazi, who revised it during the last days of his life at a time when he was seriously ill.
Although the introduction to this
edition claims it is "an expanded, revised and updated version of the original book," leafing through its pages is
astonishing for those who have read the earlier version.
Two key chapters, Age of Iconoclasm and Dark Tunnel, are missing. The first records the repression of the press at the hands of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the second discusses / chronicles the anti-press actions of the Gen Ziaul Haq regime, two of the most damaging periods for press freedom in Pakistan.
Gone are accounts of the closures of a large number of newspapers, the imprisonment of journalists and other restrictions imposed on the press from 1971 to 1977, and of the arrests and flogging of journalists, censorship, and newspaper closures during the Zia regime.
Ameena Saiyid, the OUP director, denies that there was pressure from any quarter to omit the section on the Bhutto era or that the publishing house has made an error in leaving out the chapters.
"It is not our fault. The family provided us the manuscript — it was not a proper manuscript, but rather a number of documents — and we published what we got. It's possible that Niazi Sahib did not want to include these chapters in the revised version," she says.
This does not, however, seem plausible given Mr Niazi's preface to the first edition, which forms part of the revised edition as well. Since 1965 he had been meticulously collecting data on the repression of the press by various governments.
"In the early days of the first People's Martial Law, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto … did not leave the press to its own devices," he wrote in the preface. "It was then that the idea of compiling this book started haunting the mind of the writer." But given events during subsequent years, he "decided to cover the entire span from 1947 to the Zia regime."
Zubeida Mustafa, the editor of the revised version, said in an e-mail reply from Canada that "the manuscript I received from the publisher …did not have the Bhutto chapter … which OUP did not receive either. You would recall that the book was published six years after Zamir Sahib's death and he did not leave the manuscript in a finished form ready for the publisher. So I cannot solve the mystery of the missing chapter.
"But you will be pleased to know that OUP has decided with the agreement of the family to include the missing Bhutto chapter in a new impression to be published soon," she added.
Ms Saiyid is unwilling to withdraw the current edition from the market as "it would cause a huge loss" and says that OUP will include the missing chapters in the next edition.
Haris Zamir, Mr Niazi's son, feels OUP should withdraw the copies that have already reached the market. According to him, the publisher and the editor should have compared the manuscript they received with the first edition and included the missing chapters.
"Niazi Sahib was taking pains even during his illness to revise the book. Then his condition worsened and he died," Mr Zamir explains. "Otherwise he would have revised the whole book."
Without these chapters, he adds, the current generation of readers will be deprived of an account of two crucial periods in the history of the Pakistani press.
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18, September 2011
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Islamabad, Moscow set sights on new era in relations
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By Baqir Sajjad Syed
ISLAMABAD, Sept 17: With the trough in Pakistan-US ties experiencing an extended run this year, Islamabad and Moscow have quietly been busy in trying to reinvent their relations. The two are currently readying to hold the second session of their inter-governmental commission, constituted to promote bilateral cooperation.
The minister-level commission is expected to meet in November in Islamabad for the second consecutive year, indicating that the two countries are attaching considerable importance to the initiative.
The focus of the meeting will be on economic cooperation, but both sides also want to forge a strategic partnership.
Recent regional developments have forced Pakistan and Russia to cosy up to each other. Russia wants to get more involved in regional affairs as it is wary of the growing influence of the US and Nato in the region. It also knows that Pakistan can play a key role in the Afghan endgame.
Better relations with Moscow suit Islamabad's long-term strategic interests as it seeks to diversify resources needed for meeting its economic, energy and defence requirements, particularly in view of continuing problems with Washington that has hitherto been its biggest supplier.
"Both Pakistan and Russia want to seize the window of opportunity and make a new beginning in their relations," a senior Pakistani diplomat told Dawn.
Russia has offered Pakistan a wide range of counter-terrorism equipment. The package on offer includes 10 MI-17 helicopters of unarmed configuration.
Mindful of reluctance in Moscow to sell arms to it, Pakistan is said to be considering the offer for helicopters even though it is not too interested in the unarmed transport version.
When Russian military chief Col-Gen Alexander Postnikov visited Pakistan in May he discussed with Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani the possibility of expanding defence ties by holding joint military exercises, exchanging trainees and trainers and selling and buying weapons. The Russians have also offered to sell Sukhoi Superjet 100, a modern aircraft with a capacity of up to 95 passengers. Pakistan, which has traditionally been purchasing Boeing and Airbus aircraft, may purchase a couple of the Russian jets on an experimental basis.
Moscow has shown special interest in energy projects. A working group of both countries met last month to explore cooperation in this sector.
A source privy to the discussions said Russia had agreed to invest $500 million in CASA-1,000 (Central Asia-South Asia) electricity transmission project.
At the same time, details for upgradation of Pakistan Steel Mills in two phases by Russia are being finalised. The upgradation would increase PSM's production capacity from 1.1 million tons to 3 million tons per year. Pakistan has also sought import concessions for 200 tariff lines.
The ties have been pushed by President Asif Ali Zardari and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, who are said to have developed a rapport. The two presidents have met six times in the past three years.
 
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19 September, 2011
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Relief for rain-, flood-affected people: Rs5bn raised last year still lying unused
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By Syed Irfan Raza
 
ISLAMABAD, Sept 18: The government, through the United Nations, has launched an appeal for $356 million international assistance for the people of rain- and flood-affected areas despite the fact that it has not utilised Rs5 billion collected for flood victims last year.
According to sources, the fund set up for collecting donations last year still has Rs5 billion and despite efforts made by the National Disaster Management Authority the government is reluctant to release the amount for relief and rescue operation.
Bureaucratic hitches are said to be the main reason behind non-utilisation of the funds.
When contacted, former NDMA chairman Gen (retd) Nadeem Ahmed confirmed that an amount of Rs5 billion not used so far was lying with the government and because of bureaucratic hitches it was not being provided to the authority to expedite its operation in the affected areas.
"I brought the issue to the knowledge of decision-makers but the funds were not released," he said.
The government, the NDMA and the UN launched an appeal to the international community, on Sunday, seeking $33.2 million as rapid response to the disaster so that the money could be spent on water and sanitation, food and shelter.
An official said the funds collected earlier had not been released because disaster management had become a provincial subject after the 18th Amendment.
According to official figures, more than eight million people have been affected by the heavy monsoon rains and the death toll has reached 250.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the National Assembly has written a letter to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani suggesting that the NDMA should be wrapped up because of what she called its 'poor response' to rescue and rehabilitation needs in Sindh.
Dr Fehmida Mirza said the NDMA had not reached the flood-hit areas even a month after the disaster. "The NDMA is earning a bad name for the government and, therefore, it should be wrapped up," she said.
She said people in the affected areas were not blaming the NDMA but the political leaders for their plight.
Mr Gilani also expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the NDMA and lashed out at its chief during a visit to Nawabshah on Friday.
However, a source in the NDMA said Gen (retd) Nadeem had told the speaker during a meeting last year that funds were available with the government and should be spent to provide relief to people.
NDMA spokesman Irshad Bhatti said the authority was not ready to cope with the disaster this year because the meteorological department had forecast 10 per cent less rains in Sindh. "And some of the districts hit by the floods were not mentioned in the forecast."
The spokesman agreed that the government had made a delayed call to the international community for help and said the NDMA had provided the help it could. "We have provided 150,000 tents, 150,000 water treatment tablets, 60,000 mosquito tents and two water treatment plants to each affected district," he said.
He said it was not the responsibility of the provincial governments and PDMAs to provide rescue and relief goods to the affected people.
"The basic duty of the NDMA is to coordinate among different stakeholders like NGOs, philanthropists and foreign donors to generate funds and their utilisation is the responsibility of the PDMAs," the spokesman said.
Another NDMA official said that after last year's floods some protection measures had been suggested, including raising the canal embankments at an estimated cost of Rs48 million but it had not been done and now the government had spent over Rs2 billion on rescue and relief work.
Had the suggested measures been taken, the destruction caused by the current floods could have been minimised, he said.
The official said a fund set up by Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority for the victims of the 2005 earthquake also had Rs800 million which is not being used to help the flood-affected people.       
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19, September, 2011
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Troops and Taliban clash over US drone debris
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By Sailab Mehsud
LADHA, Sept 18: A fierce gunbattle between troops and militants took place here on Sunday as both tried to seize the debris of a US drone that crashed in Zangara area of South Waziristan in the morning.
According to official sources, Capt Rizwan and a soldier of Punjab Regiment were injured and three militants were killed in the clash.
Local Taliban 'commander' Azmatullah Dewana claimed his group had downed the unmanned plane with an anti-aircraft gun.
"We have shot down a plane loaded with two missiles and our fighters have got hold of its wreckage," he told this correspondent by phone. He denied reports about the death of three Taliban fighters in a clash.
The sources said that the drone had crashed at about 8am and heavy firing took place in the area. They said messages intercepted in the area indicated that militants had been discussing their plan to fire at the plane.
However, officials said a technical fault had caused the crash of the drone.
Assistant Political Agent Nawab Khan confirmed that the incident triggered a clash between security forces and militants. The sources said troops rushed towards the place to seize the plane's wreckage and clashed with militants in a bid to secure the area. They said that Cobra helicopters were also sent from Miramshah in North Waziristan to help ground forces.
The banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan's chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed in the same area in a missile attack on Aug 5, 2009.
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19, September, 2011
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Production drops to 18pc of capacity: Pakistan Steel in dire straits; liability Rs110bn
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By Khaleeq Kiani
ISLAMABAD, Sept 18: The Pakistan Steel Mills is facing a severe financial crisis with its liabilities exceeding Rs110 billion and production dropping to 18 per cent of its capacity owing to shortage of raw material and running finances.
Informed sources told Dawn that the shortage of raw material had reached a point where the PSM might have to stop production soon.
The chairman of the Mills' board of directors, Mr Fazlullah Qureshi, has requested the federal government for an emergency injection of Rs12 billion to stave off imminent closure of the country's largest public sector industrial unit.
Officials said the PSM was in fact struggling to pay salary to its staff. After a lot of efforts, the company was able to start paying salary for the month of August on September 17. But all officers and many employees are yet to be paid.
When contacted, Mr Qureshi confirmed that he had written to the federal government some days back for Rs12 billion assistance.
He said the situation at the Pakistan Steel was almost the same as it was when he had sought the government's help as it was operating at 25-30 per cent capacity utilisation and was running short of funds to procure raw material.
Mr Qureshi declined to discuss details of the PSM affairs, saying it was functioning like many other public sector corporations like Pakistan International Airlines and power sector.
During the eight-year period between 2000 and 2008, the PSM remained in profit and paid off all its previous debts, but since then it has been incurring losses.
The sources said that the PSM, which had attained 88-90 per cent capacity utilisation in 2007-8 and 2008-09, had been on a slide for two years and reached a 25 per cent capacity utilisation in July this year. It plummeted further to 18 per cent in first 15 days of the current month. The company which has a capacity to produce about 3,000 tons of various products is now producing only 450-500 tons.
Its sales' revenue which had been hovering around Rs5 billion a month in 2007-8 dropped to Rs2.5 billion in July this year, Rs1.3 billion in August and Rs750 million by Sept 15, mainly because of shortage of raw material which includes iron ore and coal. 
On top of that almost the entire management cadre, including the chief executive officer, are working as acting in charge.
Besides, the PSM's immediate liability stands at Rs60 billion and its financial losses have exceeded Rs50 billion – taking the total payables to a whopping Rs110 billion as of Sept 15.
The raw material — mainly coal required to keep its batteries in operation — has reached a stage where the running cycle of coke batteries has been enhanced to 28 hours and then to 40 hours, instead of 16 hours to avoid closure. But, insiders said, extending the running cycle to such a high level was playing havoc with plants. This is despite the fact that a $30 million (Rs2.5 billion) amount has been spent on revamping the batteries over the last three years, without an investigation into the outcome of the revamped plan.
"This is criminal negligence," said an officer concerned of the PSM who said even the board of directors reconstituted almost one and half a years ago had failed to give clear policy guidelines to save the deteriorating organisation.
He said the Steel Mills did not get electricity from the national grid owing to financial problems and it had to operate on internal turbo thermal generators that had the power generating capacity of 165MW. And most of these generators had also gone out of order. With a capacity of 165MW, the turbo generators are producing only 20MW for lack of proper repairs and maintenance.
Since September 6, this year, the rolling mills of the PSM are closed and iron making plants (IMPs) and steel-making plants (SMPs) are functioning at 18 per cent of their capacity.
When the Supreme Court of Pakistan took a suo motu notice of the corruption and mismanagement in the PSM in Sept 2010, the sources said, its total losses stood at Rs22 billion which had now increased to Rs110 billion, but the government was yet to submit a report to the court about the losses.
Under the court's directive, the government was required to fix responsibility for PSM's losses and submit a report to the court by June 6 this year.
An initial report was submitted to the ministry of industries and production in July, but it was disputed by the PSM officials who said the probe had exceeded its terms of reference.
The report has since been forwarded to the federal investigation agency, but without any tangible progress.
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19 September, 2011
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Gilani declares Tharparkar calamity-hit district
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Dawn Report
 
UMERKOT, Sept 18: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani declared Tharparkar as a calamity-hit district on Sunday and appealed to the international community and political parties of the country to extend assistance for relief and rehabilitation of the rain- and flood-affected people.
Speaking to people during a visit to relief and medical camps in Naukot Fort, he said each affected family would be given Rs20,000 through Watan Card. Members of the Hindu community also lived in Naukot and were like brothers and equal citizens of the country, he added.
Talking to journalists at Nabisar in Umerkot, Mr Gilani directed the Sindh government to remove encroachments from the river bed.
He directed the Finance Ministry to release Rs1.53 billion immediately to provide relief to flood-affected people. Presiding over a meeting in Hyderabad late on Saturday night, he said the amount was in addition to Rs500 million that had already been released.
HEALTH CONFERENCE: While addressing flood-affected people in Umerkot and Mirpurkhas, Prime Minister Gilani announced convening a National Health Conference in Lahore on Monday to discuss and formulate a national plan for combating dengue virus which claimed another six lives on Sunday.
Chief ministers of the four provinces will attend the meeting. Sri Lankan health experts already in Lahore have been invited to the conference. Dengue-related death toll reached 34 on Sunday, a source said. The official toll stands at 23.
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19 September, 2011
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India, US urged to prepare for 'worst case Pakistan scenarios'
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By Anwar Iqbal
WASHINGTON, Sept 18: The United States and India should begin classified exchanges on multiple Pakistan contingencies, including the collapse of the Pakistan state and the spectre of the Pakistani military losing control of its nuclear arsenal, says a joint US-India study.
The 53-page report, co-sponsored by the US Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Institute India, urges New Delhi to open channels of communication with the Pakistan military while advising the United States to do everything possible to assist Pakistan in protecting its nuclear arsenal.
The study group, which aims to promote America's relations with India, includes key US and Indian scholars and former officials such as Dennis C. Blair, former director of the US national intelligence; Richard Haas, CFR president and former director of policy planning at the State Department; Robert Blackwill, former US Ambassador to India; Brajesh Mishra, India's former national security adviser; and principal secretary to Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and former Indian Ambassador to the US Naresh Chandra.
The report released this weekend, stresses the need for cooperation between the US and India on Pakistan and Afghanistan and underlines their concerns on Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
"We developed … possible contingencies regarding developments in Pakistan," the group's co-chair, Ambassador Blackwill told the Foreign Policy magazine. "The report says the US strategy (of) using military and civilian assistance to try to persuade the Pakistan military to cease its support for terrorist groups that kill Indians and kill Americans in Afghanistan has failed."
The report recommends that the United States "heavily condition, from now forward, military aid to Pakistan on the basis of Pakistan moving against these terrorist groups that target Americans and Indians."
The study claims that Pakistan faces a systemic decline and that makes it very hard for either the United States or India to have an effective policy.
The report says that while the Pakistani military assures the world that its nuclear weapons are in safe hand, there are concerns that cannot be ignored.
"If the society at large becomes more chaotic, more violent, if Islamic extremists have more influence inside the country, then one has to worry whether at some point in which the Pakistan nuclear complex has been penetrated by terrorists or Islamic extremists of other persuasion," says Mr Blackwill.
"The United States and India should be talking in a contingency way about what one country or the other might try to do in those circumstances. And what the two of them could try to do to prevent that from happening."
Such discussions would be at a very high level between the United States and India and it would be absolutely crucial that they remained secret, Mr Blackwill adds.
On Afghanistan, the report recommends: "The United States and India should discuss whether large-scale Indian training of Afghan security forces, whether in Afghanistan or in India, would be beneficial."
The study stresses that the United States should not permit Pakistan to have a de facto veto over the Indian relationship with Afghanistan. "We shouldn't excite the Pakistani concerns unnecessarily, but we shouldn't allow those concerns to veto Indian involvement in Afghanistan," Mr Blackwill says. The report advises both the US and India to "assess very carefully" Pakistan's possible reaction to India's involvement in training Afghan security forces but it should not be ruled out prima facie simply because Pakistan wouldn't like it.
The report suggests that "India's leadership should develop channels, including military-to-military, to talk with the Pakistan military".
Ambassador Chandra, the group's other co-chair, backs the suggestion, noting that India is already dealing with the military in Myanmar while China too has a 'heavy dose of military' in the communist leadership. Another Indian member of the group, Raja Mohan, says that wisdom demands India's engagement with the Pakistani military as the country's civilian leadership is not in a position to deliver.
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19 September, 2011
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Pepco failed to recover Rs63bn dues
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By Ahmad Fraz Khan
LAHORE, Sept 18: Recoveries made by Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) declined to only 89.8 per cent during 2010-11, creating a deficit of Rs63 billion in its revenues and adding to the burden of power sector circular debt.
According to financial records of the company, it was able to collect only Rs556 billion against bills of Rs618.9 billion, a loss of Rs62.9 billion. The company had made a recovery of 104.7 per cent the previous year as it had also recovered some old debts.
Even the recovery rate of 89.8 per cent was made possible through gross over-billing in June, according to sources. During the month, the company charged its consumers a staggering Rs65.5 billion against an 11-month average figure of Rs50.3 billion.
Interestingly, in June it recovered Rs77.2 billion against the bills of Rs65.5 billion.
The Pepco's failure to recover its bills and other dues has served to increase its receivables to a whopping Rs285.846 billion (almost equal to its current circular debt) over the last one year.
The company started the year with carryover dues of Rs204.189 billion, which by the end of the year had swelled to Rs285.846 billion, an increase of Rs81.657 billion.
In 2010-11 the company burdened taxpayers with more than Rs290 billion in subsidies and failed to recover bills and other dues of Rs81 billion.
It received Rs150 billion in tariff differential subsidy during the year — Rs120 billion in previous subsidy and Rs20 billion in advance subsidy. The failure to recover dues will surely increase the subsidy bill this year.
The power sector circular debt is currently increasing by almost Rs1 billion a day. Last year, the government had absorbed over Rs301 billion in circular debt, which has again swelled beyond the Rs300 billion mark.
"The problem with Pepco is that no one is in-charge of its finances," says a former finance officer. A former chief finance officer of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company is looking after its affairs.
According to the sources, the water and power ministry is indulging in criminal negligence by keeping the important post vacant. The official in this position controls a revolving account of some Rs1.2 trillion (Rs600 billion in income and a matching amount in expenditure) and yet a part-timer has been asked to "just look after it".
When contacted, Abdul Majid Alvi, who is looking after the Pepco accounts, said: "Target-oriented efforts are being made to recover outstanding amount, which includes severing connections of government offices as well as individual connections. However, due to the law and order situation in different parts of the country and non-paying habit of consumers results are not up to the mark."
About higher billing in June, he said: "Discos consumption in June was 13 per cent higher than in May. It is due to high summer season."
"Recovery of 2009-10 year includes Rs85 billion received from Government of Pakistan against Fata arrears. Actual recovery during 2009-10 was 88.6 per cent, which shows that recovery in 2010-11 increased by 1.2 per cent as compared to the previous year."
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19 September, 2011
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Eight private bills on Senate agenda
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By Amir Wasim
 
ISLAMABAD, Sept 18: There are eight private members' bills on the agenda for the Senate's Monday session. Included are two constitution amendments seeking an end to immunity enjoyed by elected representatives and simplification of the process for creating new provinces in the country.
The 32-point 'Orders of the day' list issued for the private members' day contains seven motions and eight resolutions — most of which have been on the house agenda for more than a year.
The amendment bills seeking abolition of Article 248 regarding immunity to elected representatives, particularly the president and governors, and the simplification of the process of creating new provinces by amending Articles 1 and 239 have been submitted by Senator Salim Saifullah Khan of the breakaway Likeminded faction of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q.
Under Clause 2 of Article 248 "no criminal proceedings" can be "instituted or continued against the president or a governor in any court of law during term of office".
Similarly, under Clause 3 no court can initiate or issue any "process for the arrest or imprisonment of the president or a governor during the term of office".
Talking to Dawn on Sunday, Senator Khan said he had moved the bill seeking an end to the immunity being enjoyed by the president, governors, prime minister and federal and provincial ministers from appearing before any court because he believed that this article was against the basic teachings of Islam regarding equality.
Moreover, he said, to ensure justice in society each law should be applicable to every citizen irrespective of his or her position or status.
Through the bill seeking amendments to Articles 1 and 239, Mr Khan seeks an end to the condition of a two-thirds majority vote for creation of a province.
The PML-Q senator said that like India the process for creating a new province should be simplified and there should be a provision in the Constitution for creating provinces through a piece of legislation requiring a simple majority vote.
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20 September, 2011
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Eight killed in Karachi explosion: Taliban target top officer of anti-terror squad
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By Imran Ayub
 
KARACHI, Sept 19: A suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden car into the home of a senior anti-terror police officer in Defence area here on Monday, killing eight people, including a woman and her eight-year-old son, in what appeared to be the scariest experience for the quiet neighbourhood.
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack.
Although investigators were not sure about the way the attack was carried out on the residence of SP Muhammad Aslam Khan, better known as Chaudhry Aslam, who heads the anti-extremist cell of Sindh police's Crime Investigation Department (CID), they insisted that the attacker driving a double-cabin pick-up packed with over 300kg of explosives hit the entrance gate of the residence in Street 32, off Saba Avenue, DHA Phase VIII.
They have yet to determine whether the attacker rammed the pick-up into the home or detonated it after pulling up outside the residential facility.
"It's quite obvious after initial investigations that it was a suicide attack," Additional IG Saud Mirza told Dawn. "We already had advisories about terror attacks in the city and all senior officers discussed security plans at a meeting late last night. We took several measures and the city was already under high alert, but the attack took us by surprise. We couldn't assess that they (militants) would go to such extent."
The blast, which took place at about 7.25am, rocked the peaceful DHA. Three policemen, Zakir Khan, Zunaid Khan and Sohail Moin guarding the SP's house, and his cook Nizamuddin, died on the spot. A driver of the neighboring bungalow, Muhammad Anwar, and his son Muhammad Asif, also became the victims with fatal wounds of bomb splinters.
Mumtaz Niazi, a widow in her mid-30s, and her eight-year-old son Mohid Khan were also killed in the bombing. She was taking her only son to a nearby school for a sports day festival. She was a teacher in another school of the area which houses the city's several renowned educational institutions.
It was a scene that few in the peaceful DHA neighbourhood would have ever witnessed. With shock and horror quite visible on their faces, a number of people came out of their homes -- some of them bleeding after having been hit by glass shards, rocks or shrapnel.
"The entire house shook and the wood and glass came rolling down on my children who were getting ready for school," Dr Tabassum, one of the neighbours of SP Khan, said. "Then we saw plumes of smoke billowing out in the air. The whole area was shrouded in smoke. Our furniture, doors, windows… everything has been damaged. To be honest, it's been three or four hours and we haven't recovered from the shock yet."
The TTP said it had carried out the attack because SP Khan had arrested and killed many of its fighters. "We will attack other police officials and those who are taking action against our people," TTP's spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan reporters on phone from an unspecified place.
SP Khan said he had little doubt about the TTP's claims, adding that he already believed that the 'cowardly attack' was their job. "I was under threat from them (Taliban). But they will regret their cowardly attack that targeted school-going children and innocent people sleeping in their homes," he told reporters outside his ruined home.
The additional IG said he did not see any particular case being handled by SP Khan which had led to the deadly attack, but a series of "successful raids which resulted in the arrest of a number of militants".
IG Mirza said that a number of other senior officers were still under threat and adequate measures would be taken for their security. "Everybody who watch television channels and read newspapers must be aware of Chaudhry Aslam's performances. He actively supervised several operations which led to arrest of dozens of militants in Karachi," the city police chief said.
The funeral prayers of the policemen killed in the attack were offered at the police headquarters in Garden. Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Hussain Wasan announced a compensation of two million rupees each to the heirs of deceased policemen.
Earlier, the minister visited the blast site and reiterated the provincial government's resolve to fight terrorism. "The Sindh police lost 64 of its men this year in the line of duty," he told reporters. "It's an attempt to sabotage the improved law and order situation and growing confidence of people. We will, however, counter such attempts as successfully as we did against target killings."
AFP adds: SP Aslam Khan escaped unhurt, but his home was destroyed. He said he knew he was the target, adding that he had been threatened by the Taliban.
It was the worst militant attack in Karachi for months. But it was the fourth attack since April in the Defence Society.  "It was a car bomb attack on my house," SP Khan said. "I was receiving threats from Taliban, who are involved in this attack."
Neighbouring houses were also wrecked and four cars badly damaged. The explosion created a six-foot deep crater in front of Khan's home. Rubble, mud and pieces of glass were scattered over a large area.
Speaking to reporters outside the remains of his bungalow, SP Khan said: "I woke up from sleep and saw fire around. I ran towards other rooms of the house and saw my family safe but bewildered.
"This was a cowardly act of Taliban. I am not scared of Taliban. Let me tell you that I will not spare them in future."
Karachi police chief Saud Mirza confirmed that Mr Khan had received TTP threats, including one recent written threat.  "We claim responsibility for the attack. Aslam Khan has killed a number of our colleagues and also arrested and tortured many more," TTP spokesman Ehsan said. "He (SP Khan) was on our hit list and he is still on our hit list," he said, giving names of several other police and crime investigation department officials also targeted. "They will be killed soon," he vowed.
Witness Naeem Shaikh said he was taking his children to school when he heard a huge explosion. "I went across a lane and saw this house destroyed and huge flames around it," said Shaikh, who lives nearby.
He said he had seen the bodies of a schoolboy and his mother lying near the house. "The boy's schoolbag was lying abandoned nearby," Mr Shaikh said, choking.
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20, September, 2011
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Bomb attack in Peshawar claims five lives
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PESHAWAR, Sept 19: At least five people were killed and 33 injured when a powerful bomb exploded in the busy commercial area of Nishtarabad Chowk along the GT Road in Peshawar on Monday night.
Capital City Police Officer Imtiaz Altaf told Dawn that explosives attached to a motorcycle had been detonated through a remote control.
He said police had information about a possible motorcycle bomb attack at another place, but terrorists failed to reach there and exploded the bomb at the CD Centre in Nishtarabad Chowk.The CCPO said there was no high-profile target, but terrorists wanted to create panic among people.
"We have taken all possible steps to protect people and set up checkpoints at several places, but it is impossible to deploy policemen at all places in the entire district," he said.
The incharge of the bomb disposal unit, AIG Shafqat Malik, told Dawn that about 8-10 kilograms of explosives had been used in the blast.
Police cordoned off the entire area after the blast and rescuers took the injured to the Lady Reading Hospital.
Lady Reading Hospital's Chief Executive Dr Rahim Jan Afridi said five bodies and 30 injured people had been brought there. One woman was among the dead and five were women and two children among the injured.
"The death toll may go up because condition of some of the injured is critical," a hospital source said.
A police official of the area said the main target of terrorists was the CD-cum-music centre, adding that the blast damaged 25 shops. The bombing also destroyed several cars and motorcycles parked in the area.
In the heavily-populated area of Nishtarabad, people faced hardship in searching for their relatives and loved-ones after the bombing. After the bombing, the main GT Road was closed for some time for movement of fire engines, ambulances and security vehicles.—Ali Hazrat Bacha
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20, September, 2011
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Zardari sets up cell to monitor relief
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By A Reporter
KARACHI, Sept 19: President Asif Ali Zardari directed the provincial government on Monday to focus its efforts on saving human lives in rain- and flood-affected areas by ensuring an uninterrupted supply of food and safe drinking water to the flood-affected people till their rehabilitation.
At a briefing on the flood situation and relief and rehabilitation activities in Sindh, at the Bilawal House here, Mr Zardari said that no excuse would be tolerated for any slackness by top government officials in the supply of food and water to rain and flood victims.
The briefing was attended by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, National Assemly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Nazar Mohammad Gondal, provincial ministers Pir Mazhar, Murad Ali Shah, Agha Siraj Durrani, Nadir Magsi, Sharjeel Memon and Sassui Palejo and senior officials of federal and provincial governments.
Briefing journalists about the meeting, president's spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the president had directed senior government officials in each affected district to supervise and coordinate distribution of relief goods received from the government, international agencies, local and foreign NGOs and philanthropists.
For the purpose, 15 senior officers of the provincial government were designated for the most-affected districts with a directive that these officers would be personally responsible for ensuring smooth operation of rescue, relief and rehabilitation of flood-hit people in respective districts assigned to them.
A special control room has been also set up in the Bilawal House to keep a watch on relief activities.
The room has been linked to all DCOs and the president will be able to hold video conferences with provincial government officials and DCOs and personally monitor relief and rehabilitation activities. "I will be monitoring the monitors," the president was quoted as saying.
Mr Babar said the president had planned to stay in Karachi for some days to personally monitor flood relief activities.
Stressing the need for saving lives by ensuring food and water availability, the president said that if needed, helicopters and boats might be leased from other countries for the purpose.
The president said the next priority should be draining out stagnant water and ordered that discharge capacity of existing drains and nullahs be enhanced and all obstructions removed by deploying heavy machinery already available with different departments.
The president was informed that more than 7.5 million people had been affected by rain and floods and standing crops on over 2 million acres had been damaged.
About 74 per cent of cotton crop and 26 per cent of rice crop and overall 47 per cent of major crops have been destroyed. The damage to cotton, rice and sugarcane crops has been estimated at Rs156 billion.
The president ordered that a permanent solution be found for draining out water from Badin which had been experiencing the problem for a long time.
He also stressed the need for drawing up alternative plans for draining out water from lower areas of the province to prevent its accumulation.
The meeting was informed that a relief package had been prepared by the provincial government which had sought 50 per cent contribution from the federal government to cope with the disaster.  
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20 September, 2011
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Clinton focuses on Haqqani network in talks with Khar
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By Masood Haider
and Anwar Iqbal
 
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, Sept 19: "The first and the last thing" on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's agenda for her three-and-a-half-hour meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar was counter-terrorism, particularly the issue of the Haqqani network, says the US State Department.
Secretary Clinton met Ms Khar in New York on Sunday evening and were "fully up to date" on the meetings between US and Pakistani military leaders in Spain two days ago, US officials said.
Later, the State Department released an unusually candid account of the meeting, with two senior officials telling reporters how the meeting was planned, how it proceeded and what subjects were discussed.
The two officials explained that when Secretary Clinton was given the schedule of her meetings during the current UN General Assembly, she said she did not just want 20 or 30 minutes with the Pakistani foreign minister, but wanted to "really sit down and talk and have a conversation about where Pakistan and the United States were headed".
Secretary Clinton wanted to make sure that she was given "the time and respect to hear Pakistan's views, and we hope that they would similarly listen to ours", one of the officials said.
But the Sept 13 attacks on the US Embassy and Nato headquarters in Kabul changed the nature of the meeting.
"And although it still lasted a good long time and we did review the whole nature of our relationship, the issue of counter-terrorism and particularly the issue of the Haqqani network was, as you can imagine, the first thing on the secretary's agenda and also the last," the official said.
"The Secretary's message was that given the efforts of the Haqqani network on the 13th of September, that this was an issue that we had to deal with and that this is a threat to both Pakistan and the United States."
The Pakistani foreign minister was quite clear in return that "they couldn't condemn more" the Sept 13 attacks and that this kind of terrorism was a threat to Pakistan and to Pakistanis as well.
"That part of the conversation concluded that joint efforts need to be made to end this threat from the Haqqanis, and that Pakistan and the United States ought to be working together on this and not separately," said the US official. "And I thought it was important that both ministers committed themselves to working on this as a matter of priority."
The rest of the conversation focused on three issues: the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process, the regional aspects of bringing peace to Afghanistan and bringing prosperity to the South Asian region.
Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir briefed the US side on last week's meeting of the Pak-Afghan commission and the two sides discussed their joint goals for reconciliation in Afghanistan.
While discussing a regional approach for bringing peace to Afghanistan, the two sides also reviewed the upcoming meetings in Istanbul on Nov 2 and in Bonn on Dec 5 and the role that Pakistan was interested in and could play to support that regional effort.
Secretary Clinton talked about the idea of the New Silk Road, her vision of an economic space between Central Asia and India that she proposed in Chennai earlier this year.
Foreign Minister Khar raised economic issues that were important to Pakistan, like market access and the reconstruction opportunity zones.
"Can you say whether the secretary requested and whether the minister agreed to for Pakistan to take additional action against the Haqqani network?" the two officials were asked.
"Well, there are two things. One is that there are clearly actions that the Pakistanis could take to go after the Haqqani network, and I thought the minister was quite clear in saying that those were the kinds of things that the Pakistani government would look at and would take action on. And then secondly, there are those things that it might be possible to do jointly. And so there was a conversation about what those kinds of things might entail as well," one of the officials replied.
"The secretary did suggest specific things that Pakistan could do to go after them more strongly?" a journalist asked.
"What we said was that this is a huge problem and that Pakistan's got to deal with it," the official replied.
"Was the Haqqani network literally the first and the last thing that they talked about in this meeting?" asked another journalist.
"Yes is the answer to your question, but I want to be clear that when I use the word counter-terrorism, there are lots of other counter-terrorism issues as well. So LeT, for example, was part of this conversation. The Pakistani side talked to us about the continuing threat from the TTP on Pakistanis. We talked also about the Taliban, safe havens and enablers that allow them to attack inside of Afghanistan," the official said.
One journalist referred to US Ambassador Cameron Munter's statement last week, claiming that the US had evidence to prove Pakistan's link to the Haqqani network and asked if Secretary Clinton also discussed the evidence with her Pakistani counterpart.
"I would say first that we were quite specific. And other than that, you won't be surprised that it's not for me to talk, even on background, about that kind of intelligence, the official said.
A Pakistani journalist explained that many in Pakistan believe that while the Americans directly spoke with the Taliban whenever they felt the need to do so, they were not willing to give any "choice or safeguard" to Pakistan.
"We recognise that there's some work to do on America's image in Pakistan, absolutely," said the official who explained that some US demands would also help Pakistan as the IEDs used to kill American soldiers and also killed thousands of Pakistanis.
The US, he said, also helped repair Tarbela Dam, which will bring electricity to a million more Pakistanis and was bringing help to the victims of this summer's floods as well.
"Did the Pakistani foreign minister make any pledge to actually do anything about the Haqqani network?" asked a journalist.
"They understand the threat that the Haqqanis pose to them, and I think they recognise it's time for them to take action," said the US official.
Reuters adds: In Islamabad, Pakistani officials said the US should focus on defeating militant enemies inside Afghanistan instead of blaming Pakistan for its failure.
"Whenever big attacks in Kabul or elsewhere in Afghanistan take place this blame game starts," a senior military official, who requested anonymity, said.
"Instead of blaming us, they should take action against terrorists on their side of the border.
They (the Americans) say militants come from Pakistan but they travel up to Kabul and no one arrests them all the way to Kabul. It is their responsibility (to arrest them there) not ours," said the military official.
 
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20, September, 2011
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Gilani sets up cell to curb infectious diseases
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By Zulqernain Tahir
LAHORE, Sept 19: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced here on Monday formation of a 'coordination and strategy cell' to help control infectious diseases and vectors.
"Although health is not a federal subject after the passage of 18th Amendment, the centre will continue to extend its cooperation to the provinces in combating diseases and epidemics," the prime minister said while addressing a national conference held at the State Guest House here on the outbreak of dengue fever.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, however, complained that his province was not getting full cooperation from the centre. "After the 18th Amendment, the federal government did not fully cooperate (with the Punjab government)," he said.
Punjab Governor Latif Khosa, federal Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan, senior officials, health experts and visiting Sri Lankan doctors also attended the conference convened to give a message that the federal and provincial governments are together to fight dengue virus which has claimed over two dozen lives in Lahore alone.
Governor Khosa, who had earlier accused the Punjab government of having failed to take concrete measures to deal with the disease, changed his tone at the conference and praised the chief minister for his efforts to cope with the problem. "I appreciate the chief minister's efforts. Now we have launched joint efforts to curb the virus," he said.
The information minister, however, criticised Mr Sharif for keeping the all-important portfolio of health ministry with himself.
"The chief minister should now appoint a full-time health minister," said Ms Awan whose briefing to the media mainly focussed on the prime minister's speech in the conference.
Prime Minister Gilani said there was an urgent need to evolve a national coordination mechanism to curb diseases and epidemics. He said the coordination and strategy cell would be instrumental in resource mobilisation and harmonisation of all efforts by the federal government, provincial health departments and international partners.
"Relevant departments should strengthen the disease early warning system to meet the challenges posed by epidemics like dengue," he said, adding that under an arrangement with the Global Fund for Aids, TB and malaria, a support of $21.2 million was available for vector control, early diagnosis, prompt treatment and multiple prevention strategies. 
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20, September, 2011
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Court orders curb on sites spreading hatred
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By Our Staff Reporter
LAHORE, Sept 19: The Lahore High Court asked the Ministry of Information Technology on Monday to block access to all websites involved in spreading
religious hatred in the country.
The court, however, said that access to Google and any other search engine should not be denied.
Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed sought a compliance report from the ministry by Oct 6.
The judge was hearing a petition seeking a permanent ban on access to US-origin social networking website Facebook for hosting a contest of blasphemous caricatures and other websites involved in blasphemous activities.
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20, September, 2011
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No 'serious shortage' of essential items
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By A Reporter
ISLAMABAD, Sept 19: The National Price Monitoring Committee said on Monday that food prices in Pakistan were largely lower than other countries in the region and there was no serious shortage of essential items in the country.
A meeting of the committee presided over by Finance Secretary Dr Waqar Masood, however, did not rule out the possibility of importing items of daily use from neighbouring countries because of the damage caused to crops in rain- and flood-affected areas of Sindh.
The meeting was attended by representatives from Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan and ministries of planning and development and industries and Federal Bureau of Statistics and Competition Commission of Pakistan.
The committee reviewed the price trend of essential items and the current stock position of sugar and observed that sufficient stock was available till the end of December. It noted that prices of essential items had declined after Ramazan and the Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) for the week ending Sept 18 decreased by 0.11 per cent. The committee noted that there had been a decline in prices since June and out of 53 items, prices of 11 items increased, those of 13 decreased and of 20 remained unchanged.
An official of the ministry of industries pointed out that sugarcane crops in Sindh had been damaged by floods. The committee called for a timely decision to import sugar for strategic reserves and meeting the demand of the Utility Stores Corporation.
It noted that prices of wheat, flour, rice, gram, mutton, beef, chicken, onion and garlic in the country were lower than India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. However, prices of other items recently saw a nominal increase.
The committee noted that there was a yearly increase in prices of wheat, crude oil, palm oil, sugar, tea, rice, DAP fertiliser, etc., in the international market, but their decline on a monthly basis brought some relief to the domestic market.
Representatives of Punjab, KP and Balochistan informed the meeting that there was no major impact on prices in their provinces.
The committee said that commodities like red chilly, tomato and onion came from Sindh and their impact on prices might be visible in coming weeks.
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20, September 2011
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Altaf retracts allegations
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By Our Staff Reporter
 
KARACHI, Sept 19: Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has retracted allegations he levelled earlier this month against Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali Khan.
At a press conference on Sept 9, Mr Hussain had alleged that the United States had given millions of dollars to Mr Khan to contest the 2008 general election.
The allegation triggered a war of words between the MQM and ANP with each party calling upon the government to ban the other.
In a statement issued from London on Monday, the MQM leader recalled that in his press conference he had said he had no proof but heard that the ANP chief had accepted millions of dollars from the US.
"I take back my words and express sorrow for hurting the sentiments of Asfandyar Wali and leaders and workers of the ANP," he said. "I want to end bitterness because peace and stability, needed by Pakistan at this juncture, can be only appreciated by those who are giving sacrifices for security of the country."
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20, September, 2011
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Senators criticise govt's flood response
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By Amir Wasim
ISLAMABAD, Sept 19: A number of senators, including some from the ruling coalition, criticised the government on Monday for having been caught unprepared despite forecasts of above-normal monsoon rains.
Taking part in a debate on devastations caused by rains in Sindh on a private members' day, the senators questioned the role of the National Disaster Management Authority in dealing with the catastrophe.
They were of the view that because of last year's mismanagement and corruption, the international community this time was reluctant to provide help for the affected people.
The house witnessed an argument among PPP members when party's stalwart Raza Rabbani criticised Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for convening a national conference on dengue fever in Lahore and said it was against the spirit of the 18th Amendment.
When Senate Chairman Farooq H. Naek announced that besides finalising a plan to provide relief to the flood-affected people, the legislators should also discuss a national plan on dengue, Mr Rabbani said on a point of order the senators should keep in mind that health was a provincial subject.
Mr Rabbani, who had earlier criticised Mr Gilani at a seminar for convening a national conference on education in Islamabad, said bureaucracy was against devolution of ministries to the provinces and was wrongly advising the prime minister to hold such conferences "in violation of the Constitution".
"In my opinion, holding of the conference (on dengue) by the prime minister is an inappropriate act and it is against the spirit of the Constitution," Mr Rabbani said. He advised the prime minister to use the constitutional forum of the Council of Common Interests if he wanted to help the provinces on provincial issues.
When Mr Rabbani took his seat, PPP's Sabir Baloch stood up and said: "We felicitate the prime minister for showing concern over the national problem of dengue."
"What is the connection between dengue and the 18th Amendment?," he asked.
Abdul Rahim Mandokhel of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party said he appreciated the prime minister's concern over the outbreak of dengue fever, but he should have followed the Constitution.
The chairman intervened and stopped the members from speaking further on the issue and said that under the Constitution health was a provincial subject.
Winding up the debate on the flood situation, Leader of the House Nayyar Bokhari clarified that the purpose of convening the national conference was only to discuss causes and remedies of the dengue fever. He assured the house that there would be no interference in the affairs of the provinces.
Earlier, Haji Adeel of the Awami National Party stressed the need for building small water reservoirs not only to prevent floods but also to provide water for irrigation.
He alleged that most government officials were corrupt who waited for a disaster in order to get an opportunity to make money. Citing the example of dengue fever, he said the officials did not take timely preventive measures and now they were minting money by supplying spurious drugs and substandard anti-mosquito spray.
Naeem Chattha of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q said the government's failure on every front was creating hatred for democracy amongst people. He advised the government to give serious consideration to Kalabagh Dam and suggested that the project be initiated in consultation with engineers from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
He asked the prime minister to provide at least Rs5 billion to 6 billion from his discretionary fund of Rs29 billion for flood relief.
PPP's Saeeda Iqbal said the NDMA officials in a briefing last week failed to provide complete information about the flood situation in Sindh.
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20, September, 2011
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Water shortage for Rabi despite rains
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By Khaleeq Kiani
ISLAMABAD, Sept 19: Despite prolonged and still continuing monsoon this year, the Indus River System Authority has forecast a 10 per cent water shortage for the upcoming Rabi season starting on Oct 1.
Sources told Dawn on Monday that a meeting of the water regulator's technical committee has been convened on Sept 23 in Islamabad to prepare estimates of water availability during the Rabi season and to determine water shares of the provinces for irrigation.
Officials said representatives of provincial irrigation departments, Wapda, Irsa and Pakistan Meteorological Department would attend the meeting.
Irsa's advisory committee would meet next week to finalise a water distribution plan for Rabi on the basis of provincial irrigation schedules, they added.
The sources said Irsa had estimated river inflows of 23 million acres feet (MAF) during Rabi – till March 31 – with carryover storage of about 11.914 MAF. Therefore, the total water availability during the entire season would be about 34.9 MAF. At this stage last year, the carryover storage in reservoirs stood at 11.753 MAF.
Under the 1991 water apportionment accord, provincial shares are based on total water availability of 38.21 MAF, including already sanctioned urban and industrial uses for Karachi.
The sources said Irsa had estimated zero losses during the season because of the impact of recent floods that had recharged the canals and raised the overall water table. Irsa has, therefore, proposed to exempt Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan from sharing the water shortage owing to their infrastructure constraints.
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21, September, 2011
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26 shot dead in Mastung sectarian attack
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By Saleem Shahid & Amanullah Kasi
 
QUETTA, Sept 20: Twenty-six pilgrims going to Iran were shot dead in cold blood in Mastung on Tuesday.
Three other people who were going in an ambulance to bring the injured to a hospital in Quetta were killed.
The pilgrims were on their way to the border town of Taftan in a bus when armed men intercepted them, entered the vehicle, ordered them to disembark, lined them up after checking their identity cards and opened fire on them, killing 26 people and injuring eight others. Four of the injured are in a critical condition.
Most of the dead and injured belonged to the Hazara tribe.
"Twenty-six people died on the spot as assailants opened fire from a close range," Assistant Commissioner of Mastung Shah Nawaz said. It was a seatrain attack, he added.
The banned outfit, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, claimed responsibility for both the attacks.
Sources said the bus carrying about 50 passengers, most of them pilgrims, was intercepted near Gangi-Dori area on the Quetta-Taftan Road, some 50km from here, by armed men on motorcycles.
"They entered the bus, took passengers out and killed many of them," said Khushhal Khan, the driver of the bus.
After that, the assailants asked him and the cleaner to leave the bus.
Reuters quoted the driver as saying: "Two vehicles intercepted the bus. Forced all the passengers off and opened fire. Many of them fled."
He said: "They were eight to 10 men and they were carrying rocket-launchers and Kalashnikovs."
Levies and Frontier Corps personnel rushed to the site of the incident and took the injured and the dead to Bolan Medical College Hospital in Quetta.
"Most of the bodies were lying outside the bus while some of the injured were inside," said Dr Mohammad Ismail, who reached the place half an hour after the incident.
"I dispatched 26 bodies and three injured to the hospital," he said.
He said most of the victims had received multiple injuries in the head and chest.
"The assailants used weapons of different calibres, including TT pistols, AK-47 rifle and 9mm pistols," he said.
Levies sources said eight armed men, who were on four motorcycles, had carried out the attack. They said the injured were taken to the Combined Military Hospital in Quetta.
Later, armed men killed the other three people who were going in an ambulance to Mastung to bring the injured to Quetta.
All the three men in the ambulance died on the spot. The attackers escaped after the killing.
A spokesman of the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, who claimed responsibility for the attacks, identified himself as Ali Sher Haideri. He said: "Our organisation carried out both the attacks."
Balochistan Governor Zulfiqar Magsi and Chief Minister Aslam Raisani condemned the attacks and directed the Inspector General of Police and other officials to arrest the culprits as soon as possible.
The Hazara Democratic Party and other organisations have given a call for a strike on Wednesday in protest against the killings. They also announced seven-day mourning.
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21, September, 2011
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Seven sentenced to death for Sialkot lynching
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By Akram Malik
GUJRANWALA, Sept 20: A local anti-terrorism court convicted on Tuesday night 22 people, nine policemen among them, in a case relating to the lynching of two brothers in Sialkot.
The court sentenced seven of the convicts to death on four counts, gave life-term on four counts to six of them and jailed nine policemen, including a former district police officer, for three years.
The court acquitted five co-accused on grounds of insufficient evidence.
The brothers, Hafiz Muneeb and Hafiz Mughees, were lynched by a violent mob on Aug 15 last year outside the office of Rescue-1122 in Buttar village, near Sialkot, in the presence of police.
Police registered an FIR the same day in which the two brothers had been accused of committing murder and robbery. A second FIR was registered after a video of the lynching was aired on different TV channels.
The Supreme Court had also taken notice of the incident.
ATC judge Chaudhry Mushtaq Ahmad sentenced to death on four counts Ali Raza alias Peter, Muhammad Iqbal, Jameel alias Jeela, Shafeeq alias Foji, Sarfraz Ahmad, Rashid and Muhammad Amin under section 302 of the PPC and 7ATA. They were also fined Rs500,000 each.
Life-term on four counts with a fine of Rs300,000 each was given to Muhammad Waris, Jamshed alias Sheeda, Hassan Raza, Qaiser alias Mooda, Ateeb alias Nosha and Asgher Ali.
Three years imprisonment under section 155C with a fine of Rs50,000 each was awarded to former Sialkot DPO Waqar Ahmad Chohan, former SHO Inspector Rana Ilyas, ASI Waris and constables Mubarak Ali, Tariq Mahmood, Muhammad Akram, Naseer Ahmed, Muhammad Yasin, and Muhammad Bashir.
Another accused in the case, Constable Nazir Hussain, died of heart attack three days ago.
The court acquitted Muhammad Awais, Asgher, Shammas, Nadeem and Ikram.
The judge completed the hearing at 1pm, reserved its judgment and announced the verdict at about 11pm. The accused were locked up before the announcement of the verdict.
Talking to Dawn, the family of Mughees and Muneeb said they were satisfied with the verdict.  
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21, September, 2011
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'Accord on limiting US troops in Pakistan'
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WASHINGTON, Sept 20: Pakistan and the United States have agreed to limit the number of American troops in the country, US officials have disclosed.
According to the officials, the compromise pact slashes the number of US forces' personnel allowed in Pakistan to between 100 and 150, nearly half of what it had been in the past.
The number of special operations trainers would fall from 140 to fewer than 10, they said.
Allowing any elite trainers to stay suggests a bit of a thaw in the icy relationship between the two countries. Only a few months ago Pakistan demanded that all the trainers as well as other US forces leave the country.
The officials described the agreement on condition of anonymity and said there could be changes to the totals over time.
The pact reflects the volatile nature of the Pakistan-US relationship over the past several years, as Islamabad expresses its ongoing anger with American drone strikes into the country and fury over the special operations raid that killed Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in May.
Over the past years, the US has steadily increased funding for its programme to train members of Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps.—AP
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21 September, 2011
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29 militants die in Orakzai operation after attack
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By Our Correspondent
 
KALAYA, Sept 20: Security forces claimed on Tuesday to have killed 29 militants during a search operation in Dabori area of Orakzai agency. The operation was carried out after an attack on a checkpost in Arhang village of Dabori by militants in which one hawaldar was killed and nine security personnel were injured.
Officials said the militants had launched a two-pronged attack on the post early on Tuesday morning. They identified the dead as hawaldar Hidayatullah Jan.
After the attack, security forces launched the operation and destroyed several militant hideouts and advanced to Gall and Gandi Tall areas.
During the operation, security forces killed 29 militants and injured 72 others. They also claimed capturing over a dozen insurgents.
However, TTP spokesman for Orakzai agency Hafiz Saeed called journalists from an undisclosed location and claimed that not a single Taliban had been killed or injured in the security forces' attack.
According to him, TTP had launched a successful attack on the checkpoint, killing 15 and injuring 30 security personnel.
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21, September, 2011
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Nawaz meets business leaders: Poll bar for parties with militant wings urged
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By Our Staff Reporter
 
KARACHI, Sept 20: Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif has called for a constitutional amendment to bar political parties having militant wings from taking part in elections.
Talking to reporters after a breakfast meeting with business leaders here on Tuesday, he said the Supreme Court which recently held suo motu hearing of the spate of target killings and breakdown of law and order in Karachi should take notice of the existence of militant wings in political parties and restrict them from participating in elections.
He said links between the parties and the militant wings should be curbed in order to restore law and order and peace in the city.
The former prime minister said Karachi did not belong to any particular group because it had people from all over Pakistan with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Mr Sharif said restoring peace in Karachi was crucial for taking the city and national economy forward.
Replying to a question, he supported the grant of police powers to Rangers and said the force had done a good job over the past few days in restoring law and order.
Mr Sharif said PML-N's economic team would visit Karachi soon to discuss with the business community their issues in detail and he would again come to the city for consulting them to sort out their problems.
The business leaders, including Siraj Qasim Teli, Arif Habib and Naveed Khan, informed Mr Sharif of the difficulties being faced by them and the economy in Karachi with particular reference to the law and order situation, loadshedding, increased interest rate and inflation.
After brief introductory remarks, Mr Sharif asked the business leaders to spell out their problems and give suggestions for their remedy.
According to sources, some of them suggested bringing all political parties on a platform to evolve a 'charter of economy and a policy programme' for implementation by the government.
Expressing concern over the devastation caused by recent heavy rains and floods in Sindh, they said the province had suffered a loss of over Rs3.5 billion. They also expressed their apprehension that the GDP growth this year would further drop from three to less than one per cent.
PML-N leader Khwaja Asif said the party had received a booklet prepared by the Pakistan Business Council a few months ago. He said the suggestions put forward in the booklet had been included in his party's programme.
Replying to a question, Mr Sharif said the health of institutions incurring loss should be improved before privatising them. He said he did not want to politicise the devastation caused by the floods because it was a national crisis and not an issue of Sindh that required relief efforts at the countrywide level.
He said his only contention was that the measures being taken by the government now ought to have been taken over a month ago.
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21, September, 2011
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Karachi law-enforcement report displeases SC bench
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By Khawar Ghumman
 
ISLAMABAD, Sept 20: The Supreme Court Karachi bench tasked to monitor investigations into criminal activities carried out in the city after July 24 has expressed dissatisfaction over a progress report submitted by law-enforcement agencies.
The apex court had on Sept 15 ordered Sindh Advocate General Abdul Fattah Malik to ensure that police informed the court in writing about the progress in cases against criminals on a daily basis.
The Karachi bench comprising Justice Anwer Zaheer Jamali and Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany wrote a letter to the Supreme Court on Tuesday and said: "The first report (on investigations into criminal cases) submitted through the advocate general of Sindh is zero."
The judges said copies of the letter should be sent to the agencies concerned to convey "our displeasure with directions". This may force the agencies to "improve their performance and make it (progress report) result-oriented".
The judges said: "It seems that the true objective and purpose behind the court order has not been understood by the officials concerned.
The order was not passed by the court merely to make the record of suo motu proceedings bulky by collecting daily reports of investigations, particularly regarding the crimes committed from July 24, 2011, onwards, but to evaluate the performance of the agencies on a regular basis to ensure rapid progress in investigations of these crimes till the accused are sent for trial."
Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry had taken notice of the security situation in Karachi on Aug 22 and constituted a five-judge special bench to hear the case.
The bench headed by the chief justice comprised Justices Anwer Zaheer Jamali, Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Amir Hani Muslim and Ghulam Rabbani. The court concluded the hearing on Sept 15 and issued an interim order.
Marked as "urgent", the agencies' progress report was addressed to all
11 presiding officers of anti-terrorism courts in Sindh -- three in Karachi and one each in Hyderabad, Badin, Mirpurkhas, Benazirabad, Khairpur, Sukkur, Larkana and Jacobabad.
Meanwhile, Justice Anwer Zaheer Jamali will preside over a meeting on Thursday to review the progress on proceedings of criminal cases in anti-terrorism courts.
According to private TV channels, the Karachi registry of Supreme Court has summoned the inspector general, additional inspector general and deputy inspector generals of Sindh police on Wednesday to seek their explanation about the lack of implementation of the court's interim order.  
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21, September 2011
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Incentives for gas, oil producers
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By Khaleeq Kiani
 
ISLAMABAD, Sept 20: Faced with a severe energy crisis, the government has decided to offer an additional incentive of 67 per cent higher prices on domestic oil production and up to 33 per cent on gas production to speed up exploration of oil and gas resources.
Sources told Dawn on Tuesday that the government would offer up to $2 per one million cubic feet (MMCF) for offshore and shale gas discoveries over and above the existing $6 per MMCF conventional gas producer price to encourage fresh investments in difficult gas structures.
According to the sources, the fresh incentives were cleared by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani during a meeting with Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain on Tuesday. The incentives would be announced in three weeks after formal approval by the Council of Common Interests and the federal cabinet.
Under the new policy, the government will give an additional $1 per MMCF on first three offshore discoveries in addition to the existing producer price of about $6 per MMCF. Likewise, an additional incentive of $2 per MMCF will be given on first three discoveries of shale gas over and above the price available to conventional producers.
The new policy has increased the floor on oil production from the existing $30 to $50 per barrel.
Gas utilities will be responsible for laying gas pipelines from the processing plant at the wellhead gas field to the main transmission system to reduce the investment required for work by exploration and development companies.
Currently, gas producers are required to lay gas pipeline from the wellhead to the transmission system. As a result, almost half of the investment goes to the pipeline instead of gas production. Small gas producers find it economically unviable to lay the pipeline and instead abandon their production and development plans.
Under the new policy, gas utilities — SSGCL and SNGPL — will invest in pipelines and their expenditures will be made part of tariff and recovered from consumers by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra).
The new policy also seeks to reduce appraisal period for gas discoveries from two years to one year and exploratory period from nine years to six years. It allows gas producers to sell 10 per cent of their production directly to consumers.
In yet another major decision, the government will provide free cylinders and stoves to poor people whose refilling of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) will be allowed under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). The cost of free cylinders and stoves (one each to a family) will be jointly financed by the government and gas utilities.
The petroleum minister apprised the prime minister of looming default on international payments by the country's largest fuel supplier — Pakistan State Oil — on Sept 24. According to the sources, the minister warned that PSO default would have a domino effect on the entire energy sector and lead to a number of defaults in refineries, independent power producers and gas companies.
The sources said PSO needed at least Rs24 billion before Sept 24 to avoid international default because its total receivables had once again exceeded Rs150 billion. Likewise, the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) had overdue non-payments of over Rs29 billion to Sui Southern Gas Company.
According to an official statement, Prime Minister Gilani assured the petroleum minister that circular debt crisis would be resolved within weeks, and not months.
Dr Asim informed the prime minister that a survey for laying the Iran-Pakistan pipeline in the country had been completed and financial advisers would be appointed soon to undertake responsibilities pertaining to financial aspects of the project.
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21, September 2011
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Self-determination for Kashmiris stressed
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ISLAMABAD, Sept 20: All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leader Syed Ali Gilani has said the Kashmir dispute basically involves the Kashmiris' right to self-determination that has been denied by India for over six decades in violation of UN resolutions.
He was talking at his residence in Srinagar on Tuesday to former prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry.
Mr Gilani said India had no moral justification to hold Jammu and Kashmir against the wishes of the Kashmiri people and resolution of the Kashmir dispute was imperative for the security of the region.
He appealed to the governments of Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir to raise the issue at the international level more vigorously.
Barrister Chaudhry said the people and governments of Pakistan and AJK were with their brethren in the occupied territory and would not leave them alone in this time of trial.—APP
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22, September 2011
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Cabinet okays talks with India on customs accord
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By Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD, Sept 21: The cabinet gave approval on Wednesday for starting negotiations with India for signing an agreement on customs cooperation to formalise efforts to facilitate trade.
Briefing newsmen, Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, had given a go-ahead for the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and Indian Trade Promotion Organisation worked out during the recent visit of the commerce secretary to New Delhi.
Sources told Dawn that the MoU was expected to be signed next week during Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim's visit to India.
Ms Awan said the meeting mostly focused on efforts being made to provide relief to rain- and flood-affected people.
She said each penny received for flood relief would be spent on the affected people and the cell set up at the presidency would ensure accountability and transparency. The cell, she said, would monitor the monitors.
The minister justified foreign visits of President Asif Ali Zardari and said despite his ill health the president had managed to mobilise the international community for relief aid. But, she said that instead of relying on foreign aid the government would stress self-reliance and go for social mobilisation with the help of sports legends, artistes and civil society.
She said she had been asked to lead the fund-raising campaign, adding that the business community and overseas Pakistanis would be mobilised to come to the aid of the affected people.
The cabinet welcomed the gesture of senior judiciary of donating five-day salary to the Prime Minister's relief fund. Members of the cabinet, she said, would donate their one-month salary.
Commenting on PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif's recent statements she said instead of trying to help the people of Sindh he was rubbing salt on their wounds. She advised Mr Sharif to set an example by making generous donation and his example would be followed by other people.
Ms Awan said the country might have to face torrential monsoon rains during the next 10 years because of climate change and stressed the need for a proper planning to meet the challenge.
She said tents used by the flood victims this year would be preserved by district governments for their possible use in future. Last time, she added, the people had taken tents home when they left relief camps.
She said in the first phase 91 projects had been identified for providing shelter, followed by food security and health care.
National Disaster Management Authority's Chairman Zafar Qadir said aerial anti-malaria spray had been stopped because of warnings by World Health Organisation and Unicef that it was hazardous for people and livestock. Now the focus will be on procuring spray guns.
He brushed aside a perception that the NDMA had failed to take timely steps to minimise losses and pointed out that the forecast had come just two days before the cloudburst. "It is not possible for any organisation to effectively respond to a challenge at such a short notice," he remarked.
According to latest figures, he said, 8.07 million people had been affected and 1.35 million houses damaged. He said Badin was the worst-hit district with a million people affected, followed by Khairpur, Sanghar and Umerkot.
APP adds: Prime Minister Gilani assured the cabinet that the government would do all within its means to help the affected people.
He said there was an urgent need for food, shelter and medicines.
The prime minister asked the Sindh government to make an assessment of damage to private property so that people having suffered financial losses were adequately compensated.
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22, September 2011
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Focus on Haqqani network: ISI chief meets Petraeus amid US pressure
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By Anwar Iqbal
WASHINGTON, Sept 21: The United States has increased pressure on Pakistan to take immediate military action against the Haqqani network, using a series of meetings between military and civilian leaders of the two countries to convey the message, diplomatic sources told Dawn.
The ISI chief, Gen Shuja Pasha, who left Washington for home on Tuesday night after a meeting with Gen David Petraeus, is believed to have heard directly from the CIA chief that the US wanted an immediate military operation against the network.
Gen Pasha also met another senior Obama administration official before leaving for home but both sides are declining to disclose the official's name.
"Yes, we heard their point of view but it does not mean that we are going to launch an operation tomorrow," said a senior Pakistani official aware of the proceedings of these meetings.
"The Haqqani network was one of the subjects the two sides focused on but other issues were discussed as well," the official added. "Intelligence-sharing, militant activities across both borders and better border-control were other key points."
While the US focuses on the militants who cross the Afghan border to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan says the Taliban are also crossing over into its territory, killing dozens of Pakistani troops and civilians.
The US media, however, reported that the Americans also raised their demand for an immediate military action against the Haqqani network at a meeting between US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen and Pakistan army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Madrid last week.
The American Forces Press Service reported on Wednesday that while not yet willing to blame the Haqqani network for assassinating the former Afghan president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, Pentagon leaders have emphasised that they will continue to pressure Pakistan to keep insurgents there from spilling into Afghanistan.
"Our biggest concern right now is to put as much pressure as possible on the Pakistanis to exercise control from their side of the border," US Defence Secretary Leon E. Panetta said during a Pentagon news briefing with Admiral Mullen.
"We have continued to state that this cannot happen. We cannot have the Haqqanis coming across the border attacking our forces and [Afghans] and disappearing back into a safe haven," the US defence secretary said. "That is not tolerable, and we have urged them to take steps."
Mr Panetta declined to discuss specific strategies, including whether the United States would consider unilateral action. He did say, however, "We are going to take whatever steps are necessary to protect our forces".
It's in the best interest of the Pakistanis to deal with terrorists within their borders, he said.
"Frankly, terrorism is as much a threat for them as it is for us," he said. "And we keep telling them you can't choose among terrorists. If you are against terrorism, you have to be against all forms of terrorism. And that is something we just have to continue to stress."
Admiral Mullen said he had made clear during his meeting last week with Gen Kayani that Pakistan needed to do more. Among issues he raised were the Haqqanis' proxy ties to Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence agency and their role in killing coalition troops and Afghans in Afghanistan.
"It was the heart of the discussion," Admiral Mullen added, emphasising that this activity "has to stop".
"That is not a new message, but it is one that (Gen Kayani) clearly understands," Admiral Mullen said. "And I think it is one we have to keep reiterating."
Admiral Mullen credited the strong relationship he and Gen Kayani had built with helping them work through difficult periods between their two countries. "It is going to go up and down," he said of the US-Pakistan relationship. "We have had a very tough patch here over the last several months."
Based on current information, Admiral Mullen said he could not confirm that the Haqqanis were behind the death of Prof Rabbani, the senior Afghan official in charge of negotiating with the Taliban.
Secretary Panetta called the killing of Prof Rabbani a blow to the reconciliation and reintegration process in Afghanistan.
"I regret his loss. I think he was playing an important role," Mr Panetta said. "I am hopeful that we will be able to work with others to try to continue the efforts that he was engaged in."
The assassination was among other recent high-profile attacks that Admiral Mullen said reflect an apparent shift in the Taliban's overall strategy.
"They have not succeeded on the ground this year. Their campaign has failed in that regard," he said, causing them to resort to high-profile attacks.
Admiral Mullen acknowledged, however, that such attacks had strategic significance.
"So we take it very seriously as a part of the campaign," he said. "We know that this is what the Taliban is doing, and we have got to adjust and we are doing that."
Secretary Panetta said the coalition was working with the Afghans to discuss ways to better protect against future attacks. But the Taliban's change of strategy, he added, showed that its leaders realised they were losing ground in Afghanistan.
"The bottom line still remains that that we are moving in the right direction," he said. "We have made progress against the Taliban, but we can't let some of these sporadic events deter us from the progress that we are making."
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22, September 2011
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Army wants Rangers' operation to continue
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By Shamim-ur-Rahman and Baqir Sajjad Syed
KARACHI/ISLAMABAD, Sept 21: Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was briefed on Wednesday on the overall security situation in Karachi, an ISPR press release said.
The COAS, who visited the Corps Headquarters here, was also briefed on the flood situation in Sindh and the rescue and relief efforts being undertaken by the army.
A delegation of notables from the business community of Karachi also called on Gen Kayani and apprised him of their concern over effects of the law and order situation on business and industrial activities in the city.
Corps Commander Lieutenant General Muhammad Zahir ul Islam also attended the meeting.
Anticipating an early end to Karachi operation, the army has cautioned the government that the city could once again descend into lawlessness if special powers for Rangers were withdrawn.
"Progress in Karachi is reversible and operation being conducted by Rangers must continue," a military official told Dawn on Wednesday.
He was speaking after Gen Kayani attended a briefing in Karachi on the ongoing Rangers' operation against target killers, extortionists and terrorist groups.
The government has already said it will not extend the operation beyond the mandated period. It appeared from conversation with some military officers, who attended the briefing, that the government could end the operation prematurely and again hand over the responsibility of maintaining peace in the city to police, citing improvement in situation.
The army is, however, not ready to trust the city's police, which is considered to be highly politicised and lacking the capacity to effectively act against all terrorists.
The DG Rangers of Sindh, Maj Gen Ejaz Chaudhry, had said earlier that his force needed special powers for an extended period to eliminate all terrorists and criminals from Karachi.
A large number of suspected target killers and other criminals have been arrested and weapons seized during the Rangers' operation which has been going on for almost a month now.
"The government is facing pressure from within to end the operation," a source said.
Citing examples of political pressures, the source said an effort was recently made to stop Maj Gen Chaudhry from holding press conferences on the situation in Karachi and appearing before the Supreme Court, which was holding suo motu hearing on the city situation.
Some elements within the government, the source said, were not comfortable with the independent character of the Rangers' operation in Karachi.
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22, September 2011
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Pakistan, US to work for trade liberalisation
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By Mubarak Zeb Khan
ISLAMABAD, Sept 21: At the end of two days of talks, Pakistan and the United States agreed on Wednesday to continue engagement at a higher level for further liberalisation of trade regimes between the two countries.
US Assistant Trade Representative Michael Delaney and Pakistan's Commerce Secretary Zafar Mehmood led their delegations at the fifth Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (Tifa) meeting.
The meeting took up various issues ranging from investment to establishment of reconstruction opportunity zones (ROZs).
About the outcome of the meetings, the commerce secretary said: "The trading engagement is positive between the two countries. We should continue these talks to further enhance trade relations between the two countries."
After the meetings, the US embassy in Islamabad issued a joint statement.
It said officials from both sides discussed a wide range of investment climate issues including market access, the US Generalised System of Preferences, trade promotion efforts, intellectual property rights and sector-specific investment challenges.
The two sides agreed to work together on measures that will promote private sector engagement between the two countries and create legitimate and productive enterprises for the Pakistani people. As part of that effort, the US will work with the Congress to enact ROZ legislation.
The statement said both delegations reviewed trade promotion efforts and agreed to continue collaboration, including support for Pakistani exhibitors to participate in major US trade shows.
Pakistan also asked for support of its programme to assist women-owned enterprises in rural areas of the country.
It said the US delegation agreed to follow up on the proposal once it was received. Pakistan provided an overview of its efforts to export mangoes to the US and expressed its satisfaction in the assistance they received, but mentioned that additional work must be done.
The US delegation confirmed its continued support for the ongoing Pakistan trade capacity-building programme.
In addition to the Tifa Council meeting, the US and Pakistani delegations also met on Wednesday representatives from the Pakistan Institute of Fashion & Design in Lahore. The institute works to modernise and diversify the textiles and apparel industry in Pakistan.
The delegations discussed ways to enhance its capacity, including prospects for developing linkages with similar US institutions.
The statement said the two delegations also met US and Pakistani companies to discuss their experience as investors in Pakistan and listened to their views about how to improve the trade and investment climate in both countries.
The parties expressed their desire to reach agreement in the coming weeks on dates for the next Tifa Council meeting, to be held in Washington next year.
Commerce Secretary Zafar Mehmood said that the approval of ROZs legislation was delayed because it was a unilateral concession offered by the US to Pakistan, which could take longer for Congress approval.
He said that the 'conditions are not conducive' for passing such legislation like ROZs. However, he clarified that the ROZs was not a dead issue.
The secretary informed the US delegation that under the current requirement that mangoes be irradiated at the plant in Iowa, commercial shipments in sizeable quantities were not a viable option.
"We hope the US will review this condition and allow pre-shipment irradiation in Pakistan. This is imperative for commercially feasible shipments of the fruit to the US," he added.
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22, September, 2011
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Minister orders 'mass disconnections'
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By Khaleeq Kiani
ISLAMABAD, Sept 21: The overall system losses of Wapda's distribution companies (Discos) have increased to 24 per cent — up by one per cent — from last year's 23 per cent, according to official estimates.
Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar, who chaired a meeting on Wednesday with heads of distribution companies to review progress on loss reduction and recovery of outstanding amounts, was informed that running default was increasing with every passing day owing to deferment of even current bills, instead of recovery of arrears.
The minister ordered "mass disconnections" of electricity to consumers who were in prolonged default for more than 60 days. "Disconnect their supplies to ensure that at least paying customers are provided better electricity supply. Defaulters and regularly paying consumers should not be treated equally," the minister was quoted as telling chief executives of Discos.
The minister told participants that the government had now decided to bring people from the private sector to lead distribution companies and change the existing culture.
The Pakistan Electric Power Company — the umbrella organisation of over 13 Discos — will stand dissolved on Oct 31, the minister said.
The meeting was informed that average losses in July and August this year had jumped to 23.9 per cent against 22.9 per cent during the same period last year. One per cent system loss translates into Rs6.5 billion. This meant that Wapda companies (KESC not included) were losing about Rs150 billion a year only because of system losses despite over 125 per cent increase in consumer tariff over the last 18 months, since March last year, in addition to direct transfer of fuel costs to consumers every month.
The minister viewed it as a deliberate attempt by elements within the distribution companies to defame the political government, an official who attended the meeting told Dawn. Mr Qamar warned the chief executives of stern action, including cancellation of their contracts, if they failed to ensure 100 per cent recovery of at least their running default from consumers within 30 days.
To the disappointment of the minister, the meeting was also informed that the amount of running default had also risen to Rs79 billion. The running default is defined as the amount outstanding for three to six months due to recovery of bills in installments as powerful consumers pay a paltry amount to keep electricity supplies and get remaining amounts postponed with the formal approval of distribution companies.
The meeting was also informed that total receivables of Wapda distribution companies had touched Rs300 billion. This included non-payments by provinces led by Sindh, federal government subsidies, lower tariffs in Azad Kashmir and tubewells in Balochistan and tribal region.
The sources said the minister gave a deadline of 30 days for full recovery of running defaults throughout the country except for Hyderabad and Sukkur Electric Supply Companies who will have 45 days to meet the target owing to floods.
 
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22, September 2011
 
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Foreign investors push KSE up over 300 points
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By Dilawar Hussain
KARACHI, Sept 21: Stocks at the Karachi share market got off to a storming start on Wednesday and the KSE-100 index rose by 329 points on massive foreign and institutional buying. The upward spiral of share prices which began the day earlier was effortless with volume surging to a six-and-a-half-month high at 117 million shares. The index closed at 11,852 points, a six-week high. The market capitalisation in two days shot up by Rs109 billion to Rs3.1 trillion.
Unlike Tuesday, foreign investors also entered as major participants on Wednesday to pick up blue chips in the oil & gas, fertiliser and banking stocks.
At the end of the day, foreign gross buy amounted to $7.12 million and net buy at $3.9 million.
Almost everyone at the market attributed the bull run to inflation numbers at 11.56 per cent for August, announced on Tuesday, which were low by a surprisingly wide margin over the market consensus of 13.2 per cent. Investors believe it paves way for a generous discount rate cut by the State Bank in the Monetary Policy Statement to be released on Oct 8. Optimists were looking at rate cut of up to 100 basis points (bps).
Nadeem Naqvi, managing director at KSE, said the low Consumer Price Index (CPI) numbers had raised perception that the overall inflationary pressure in the economy had subsided. Given that oil prices were also receding, he said, the imported inflationary pressure was also expected to be low.
On top of that, he said, private sector credit to the tune of Rs90 billion was retired in the first quarter of the fiscal year.
All of that suggested that the market was expecting a 25 to 50bps cut in discount rate in the upcoming Monetary Policy, said the KSE MD, adding that the low inflation and possible discount rate cut had rejuvenated investor interest in stocks. "As a result of downward rate revision, the present valuation of future cash flows would improve, which would increase market valuation of stocks", Mr Naqvi said.
Former KSE chairman Arif Habib endorsed low inflation numbers as the trigger that had awakened the bulls at the equity market, for it signalled an upcoming interest rate cut. He also pointed to record corporate earnings in the last results reporting season; the improved law and order situation in Karachi and finally the attractive valuations of KSE stocks at 6.5 times the price-to-earnings ratio. He said that historically the Pakistani equities were given to trade at a long-term sustainable level of 10 times the earnings, which left a lot of room for further upward movement.
He contended that the dividend yield of Pakistan equities at seven per cent was the highest among all markets in the region. Aside from that, the former top broker recalled that the government and the FBR had promised a review of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) in September. "There is a possibility that the collection method of CGT would be revised, which would go to improve government revenue as well as increase stock market volumes," he said.
While the market is confident of a discount rate cut in the coming Monetary Policy, the rate predicted by analysts varies. Sayam Ali, the country economist at Standard Chartered Bank, said he looked to a downward revision by 50 basis points. He reasoned that since 2009, the central bank had raised or lowered the rate by 50 bps, which some people had started to see almost as a benchmark.
He observed that rate cut was an easing of monetary policy which helped flow of higher money supply and more liquidity in the market. "It in turn supports increase in demand for all investment and consumer assets."
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22, September 2011
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MPs submit motions for debate on Mastung attack
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By Amir Wasim
ISLAMABAD, Sept 21: Legislators belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-N and Jamaat-i-Islami submitted adjournment motions to the National Assembly and Senate secretariats on Wednesday seeking debates on the killing of 29 people in Tuesday's sectarian attack in Balochistan.
The motions filed by nine PML-N MNAs and three JI senators regretted the
poor law and order situation in Balochistan and termed the Mastung incident a failure of the provincial government.
"It is the responsibility of the state to provide protection to life and property of every citizen.
''However, today the state has failed to fulfil its constitutional responsibility," the motion submitted by the MNAs said.
They expressed concern over an increase in incidents of target killing in Balochistan which, they said, had already been facing a critical situation.
They alleged that both the federal and provincial governments were playing the role of silent spectators while the sense of deprivation was increasing among the people of the province.
They called for a comprehensive policy to deal with the law and order situation in Balochistan after a thorough debate in parliament.
The PML-N MNAs who have filed the motion are Pervez Malik, Rana Mehmoodul Hassan, Raja Mohammad Asad, Tahira Aurangzeb, Waseem Akhtar Sheikh, Nuzhat Sadiq, Malik Shakir Bashir Awan, Nighat Perveen and Nisar Tanveer.
Prof Khurshid Ahmed, Prof Mohammad Ibrahim and Afia Zia of the JI have submitted the motion to the Senate secretariat. 
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22 September, 2011
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Swat GOC injured in attack on helicopter
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By Syed Zahid Jan
UPPER DIR, Sept 21: General Officer Commanding Swat Maj-Gen Javed Iqbal was injured when his helicopter came under attack near the Afghan border in Upper Dir on Wednesday, sources said.
The GOC was taken to Rawalpindi with a minor leg injury. 
Local people said they saw the helicopter flying over Nusrat Darra village and heard gunshots.
It could not be ascertained whether bullets hit the helicopter.
After the incident, the area residents said, security personnel clashed with militants and shelled their suspected hideouts.
Agencies add: Military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas said Maj-Gen Iqbal was shot in the leg but the helicopter was able to keep flying.
The Taliban insurgents were driven out of Swat by armed forces in 2009.
Officials said the general was taking an aerial view of the troop deployment.
There was no claim of responsibility for Wednesday's incident.
 
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22 September, 2011
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Zardari calls Afghan president, offers condolences
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By Our Reporter
KARACHI, Sept 21: President Asif Ali Zardari telephoned his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai on Wednesday to express condolences over the assassination of former president of Afghanistan Burhanuddin Rabbani.
President's spokesman Farhatullah Babar quoted Mr Zardari as telling Mr Karzai: "I am deeply grieved over the tragic assassination of Prof Burhanuddin Rabbani who was personally known to me as I met him several times."
Describing the assassination as a "senseless and despicable act", Mr Zardari said all peace-loving people were shocked over the incident.
He said Prof Rabbani was a friend of Pakistan and that the government and people of Pakistan sympathised with the people of Afghanistan in this hour of distress and agony.
Prof Rabbani laid down his life for peace and reconciliation, Mr Zardari said and added that the late leader's sacrifices would not go in vain.
He said the assassination would not deter the peace-loving people from pursuing the path of peace and reconciliation. "If anything, it should strengthen our common resolve to pursue the path of peace and to not let the extremists prevail," said Mr Zardari.
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22 September, 2011
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Rift widens with new US allegations, blunt threat
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By Anwar Iqbal
WASHINGTON, Sept 22: Gloves are off as US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta threatened to take "operational steps" against Pakistan while the American military chief Admiral Mike Mullen accused the ISI of having used its "veritable arm" for attacking the US Embassy in Kabul.
Weeks of incessant pressure on Pakistan to undo the Haqqani network, which also brought the ISI chief to Washington on Tuesday, led to the final showdown on Thursday at a Senate hearing where Admiral Mullen also blamed Islamabad for jeopardising a strategic partnership with the United States.
"I don't think it would be helpful to describe what those options would look like and talk about what operational steps we may or may not take," Secretary Panetta told the Senate Committee on Armed Services when asked what actions could the US take against Pakistan if it failed to curb the Haqqani network."Are Pakistani leaders aware of what options are open to us so that they're not caught by any surprise if in fact we take steps against that network?" asked the committee's chairman Senator Carl Levin.
"I don't think they would be surprised by the actions that we might or might not take," said Mr Panetta while noting that US leaders had recently had a series of meetings with Pakistani leaders on the issue.
Admiral Mullen, who in previous congressional hearings had defended Pakistan, joined Mr Panetta, indicating that all US leaders were united in backing a possible punitive action against the country should it fail to act against the Haqqani network.
"The Haqqani network, for one, acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan's internal services intelligence agency. With ISI support, the Haqqani operatives planned and conducted that truck bomb attack, as well as the assault on our embassy," he told the committee.
"We also have credible intelligence that they were behind the June 28th attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul and a host of other smaller, but effective operations."
The scene for the showdown was set by Senator Levin who, in his opening remarks, described cross-border attacks from Fata as "the foremost threat" to the US and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
The Haqqani group, he said, was operating from North Waziristan and the Afghan Taliban Shura from Quetta.
"I was glad to read a few days ago that Pakistan's leaders have been personally informed that we are in fact going to… act more directly," he said, informing the committee that he had repeatedly written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to have the Haqqani group added to the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organisations.
Senator Levin visited Pakistan in August with a Senate delegation for talks on this and other issues.
"In our discussions with Pakistani officials, we heard the same excuses that we've heard before about why Pakistan forces are unable, for whatever reason, to go after the Haqqanis in Northern Waziristan," he said.
He said that when I pressed Prime Minister Gilani on why Pakistan had not publicly condemned the deadly cross-border attack on US troops by the Haqqanis and by the Afghan Taliban, he was unable to provide an answer.
"And it is simply unacceptable … because of providing that safe haven and because of connections between Pakistan intelligence and the Haqqanis; Pakistan bears some responsibility for the attacks on us."
Senator John McCain, the senior Republican member of the committee, said described the Haqqani network's attacks into Afghanistan as "the fundamental reality from which we must proceed in re-evaluating our policy towards Pakistan".
But Senator McCain also urged US lawmakers to recognise that abandoning Pakistan was not the answer.
"We tried that once. We cut off US assistance to Pakistan in the past and the problem got worse, not better. I say this with all humility, not recognising just yet what a better alternative approach would be," he said.
In his opening statement, Secretary Panetta said the continuing presence of safe havens in Pakistan gave the insurgents advantages they had lost elsewhere in Afghanistan.
But the biggest shock – at least for Pakistani journalists covering the proceedings – came when Admiral Mullen directly blamed the ISI for orchestrating attacks on US targets inside Afghanistan.
"No less worrisome challenge we face is the impunity with which certain extremist groups are allowed to operate from Pakistani soil," he said.
"In choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan and most especially the Pakistani Army and ISI, jeopardises not only the prospect of our strategic partnership, but Pakistan's opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate, regional influence," he said.
"They may believe that by using these proxies they are hedging their bets, or redressing what they feel is an imbalance in regional power. But in reality they have already lost that bet," said the admiral.
"By exporting violence, they have eroded their internal security and their position in the region. They have undermined their international credibility and threatened their economic wellbeing."
The US military advised Pakistani leaders that only a decision to break with this policy can pave the road to a positive future for Pakistan.
"I've expended enormous energy on this relationship. I've met with Gen Kayani more than two-dozen times, including a two and a half hour meeting last weekend in Spain," he recalled.
"I've done this because I believe in the importance of Pakistan to the region. Because I believe that we share a common interest against terrorism and because I recognise the great political and economic difficulties Pakistan faces."
Admiral Mullen said he had also done this because he believed a flawed and difficult relationship was better than no relationship at all.
"Some may argue I've wasted my time, that Pakistan is no closer to us than before and may now have drifted even further away. I disagree. Military cooperation again is warming. Information flow between us and across the border is quickening. Transparency is returning, slowly," said the US military chief while defending his contacts with his Pakistani counterpart.
"Indeed I think we would be in a far tougher situation in the wake of the frostiness which fell over us after the Bin Laden raid, where it not for the ground work Gen Kayani and I have laid," he said. "Were it not for the fact that we could at least have a conversation about the way ahead, however difficult that conversation might be."
Admiral Mullen urged US lawmakers to help create more stakeholders in Pakistan's prosperity, help the Pakistani people address their economic, political and internal security challenges and promote Indian-Pakistani cooperation on the basis of true sovereign equality.
"It can't just always be about counter-terrorism, not in the long run. Success in the region will require effort outside the realm of security."
He also urged the US to help establish a reconciliation process internal to Afghanistan that provides for a redress of grievances and a state-to-state interaction between Afghanistan and Pakistan to resolve matters of mutual concern.
"And we must make clear to friends and enemies alike, that American presence and interest and commitment, are not defined by boots on the ground, but rather by persistent open and mutually beneficial engagement," said the admiral.
When Senator Levin asked Secretary Panetta to underline the options the US had for dealing with Pakistan, the US defence chief said "I think the first order of business right now is to frankly put as much pressure on Pakistan as we can to deal with this issue from their side."
Referring to Admiral Mullen's meeting with General Kayani in Spain last week and Director CIA David Piraeus's meeting with Gen. Shuja Pasha in Washington on Tuesday, Secretary Panetta said: "There has been a very clear message to them and to others that they must take steps to prevent this safe haven that the Haqqanis are using. We simply cannot allow these kinds of terrorists to be able to go into Afghanistan, attack our forces and then return to Pakistan for safe haven and not face any kind of pressure from the Pakistanis, for that that to stop."
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23, September, 2011
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FO stresses respect for sovereignty
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By Baqir Sajjad Syed
ISLAMABAD: As the military maintained a studied silence over US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mullen's latest rant accusing Pakistan of waging a proxy war in Afghanistan through the Haqqani network, the Foreign Office rejected the allegations on Thursday and said 'perceptional' matters were being discussed with Washington.
"I would say a categorical no," Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said at her weekly media briefing while responding to Admiral Mullen's allegations.
She stressed that "the government of Pakistan is committed to peace, reconciliation, stability and development in Afghanistan and the region".
Ms Janjua appeared to take heart from the fact that despite the widening gulf between the US and Pakistan over the Haqqani network and intensifying allegations, both countries kept their channels of communication open.
"We have had political discussions. We have had intelligence-to-intelligence discussions. Therefore, all issues, including perceptional issues, are being discussed in these meetings."
Over the past week, Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met Admiral Mullen in Seville (Spain), Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar had lengthy discussions with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir held an exhaustive session with US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Marc Grossman and, more importantly, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt-Gen Shuja Pasha met CIA Director Petraeus and a key member of Obama administration's national security team in Washington.
The spokesperson noted that during the meeting between Ms Khar and Secretary Clinton it was agreed that perceptional issues could be addressed through 'deeper engagement' and that both sides would prepare a work plan for addressing each other's concerns.
Ms Janjua pointed out that dealing with complicated issues of terrorism and militancy needed cooperation between Pakistan and the US, which they had been doing.
However, the spokesperson cautioned that "Pakistan's cooperation is premised on respect for Pakistan's sovereignty".
It was evident from her comments that Islamabad was sitting uncomfortably over inaction by the US and Afghan security forces against sanctuaries of Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan's Kunar and Nuristan provinces.
She at least twice spoke about Pakistani protests over attacks launched from Afghan territory on Pakistan's border areas by militants who had fled military operations in Swat, Dir and Bajaur and found safe havens in the eastern Afghan provinces.
"We have always said that given the complexity of issues involved, a whole of government approach is required by both Pakistan and the US. We have been trying to do this from our side."
The military, however, did not respond to the allegations made by Admiral Mullen.
"We have noted the statements and are discussing them," a military official said when asked about army's silence over the blistering attacks from top US defence and intelligence officials.
Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, in a statement carried by DawnNews TV, rubbished the allegations and said that Pakistan could not be bullied by such criticism.
ASSASSINATION: While talking about the impact of Afghan High Peace Council Chairman Prof Burhanuddin Rabbani's assassination, Ms Janjua expressed the hope that the process of reconciliation remained unaffected.
"Such acts of terrorism and violence only reinforce the resolve of the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat and eliminate terrorism and to continue to work for reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan."
She said members of the broad-based peace council had shown commitment to reconciliation and peace.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani briefly visited Kabul on Thursday along with a delegation for offering condolences to Prof Rabbani's family and the Afghan leadership.
A federal minister will represent Pakistan at the funeral on Friday.
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23, September, 2011
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Iran closes trade gate at border with Pakistan
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By Saleem Shahid
QUETTA, Sept 22: Iran closed the trade gate at its border with Pakistan on Thursday because of security concerns in the aftermath of the killing of 26 pilgrims in Mastung on Tuesday.
The Iranian authorities first closed the gate and then informed the Pakistani border officials about their action. They did not indicate how long they planned to keep the gate closed but said that the passengers visiting Iran legally would be allowed to do so.
It is the third time this year that Iran has closed the gate, leading to suspension of all kinds of trade through the border.
Official sources said the decision would render thousands of labourers unemployed.
They also said that Iran had deployed more security personnel at the border after the Mastung incident.
Pakistan has also taken measures to ensure security of people crossing the border legally.
Meanwhile, 20 people were arrested near Mastung on Thursday because they were going to Iran without informing the authorities concerned.
Police sources said the detained men belonged to the Hazara community and they had hidden themselves on the roof of a Taftan-bound bus.
They were brought to Quetta for investigation.
The Balochistan government has restricted the movement of pilgrims to Iran and asked travel and transport companies not to take pilgrims to Taftan without permission and security.
The provincial government has assured transport companies of providing security if they inform authorities about the travel plan in advance.
Official sources said that there was no ban on the movement of pilgrims to Iran, but transporters were bound to inform the administration about their travelling programme.
Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani had taken notice of the Mastung incident that claimed 26 lives and directed law enforcement personnel to take measures for ensuring safety of pilgrims.
Meanwhile, police claimed to have arrested about 250 suspects in connection with the Mastung incident.
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23, September 2011
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Zardari, Gilani discuss 'tense' ties with US
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By Shamim-ur-Rahman
KARACHI, Sept 22: President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani reportedly discussed on Thursday tense relations between Pakistan and the United States in the aftermath of Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen's allegation that ISI continued to maintain ties with the Haqqani network. According to private TV channels, the president and the prime minister rejected the US allegation that Pakistan was using Haqqanis in its alleged proxy war in Afghanistan and reiterated their commitment to working for peace and stability in the war-ravaged country.
But presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said Prime Minister Gilani had called on President Zardari at the Bilawal House after returning from a brief visit to Kabul. The overall political and law and order situation in the country came under discussion.
According to him, Mr Gilani briefed the president on his visit to Afghanistan where he had gone to condole the death of former Afghan president and chairman of the High Peace Council Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was killed in a suicide attack in Kabul on Tuesday. 
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23, September 2011
 
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Kayani's meeting with Karachi business leaders: Rangers asked to protect trade, industries
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By Amir Shafaat Khan
KARACHI, Sept 22: Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has asked the Director General of Rangers to immediately discuss a security plan with all industrial associations in Karachi under which personnel of the paramilitary force could control the exit and entry points of the industrial areas in the city.
In a meeting with industrialists and traders at the Corps Headquarters on Wednesday night, the army chief expressed concern over reports of flight of capital and closure of industries due to various reasons, including the law and order situation.
He asked the DG Rangers to finalise the security plan as soon as possible so that it could be immediately implemented.
Gen Kayani assured the industrialists and traders that every possible step would be taken to restore Karachi's industrial and trading activities back to normalcy. He said the performance of Rangers would be improved and the army would not let down their recent efforts and they would continue to work under the guidance of the army.
According to a statement issued by the All Karachi Tajir Itehad, the army chief was concerned that culprits were being apprehended but could not be punished due to lack of an appropriate system.
The business community apprised the COAS of their concern over the deteriorating law and order situation and their adverse effects on industrial and trading activities.
According to a handout of the Bin Qasim Association of Trade and Industry whose patron-in-chief and founder president Mian Mohammad Ahmed, president Usman Ahmed, vice-president Abdul Rasheed Jan Mohammad and other prominent members of the community also called on the army chief, they told the generals that they were worried about the possibility of an early end to the Karachi operation. They feared the city could once again slide into lawlessness if powers given to Rangers were withdrawn. The group said the operation being conducted by Rangers must continue for a longer period. If there is peace and stability, business and economy will grow; if the law and order situation does not improve capital will move to other countries.
Reacting to reports that the government could end the operation prematurely and again hand over the responsibility of maintaining peace in the city to police, they pointed out that political elements' infiltration into city's police raised a question mark on the force's ability to maintain law and order.
President of the All Karachi Tajir Itehad Atiq Mir said traders would welcome the army for restoring peace in the city. He added they would also support a strict army operation if it was aimed at improving the situation.
He called for some sort of a system of communication between traders and the army in order to avoid any bitterness after an operation by Rangers in the markets. However, he said traders should be taken into confidence before Rangers conducted any surgical operation.
The businessmen, when contacted, did not clearly say about the army chief's point of view about an army operation as demanded by traders.
Some businessmen said Gen Kayani did not give any indication about any army operation in Karachi and, according to him, the army's first priority was to keep a vigil at the borders.
He said that democracy should flourish and for that Rangers could be further empowered to maintain harmony in the city.
Some businessmen said the army chief was hopeful that Rangers would curb lawlessness and they were doing the best job in that regard. The option of an army operation was open if the Rangers failed to live up to the expectation was how the businessmen thought was General Kayani's point of view.
When the businessmen expressed their concern over only three months given to the Rangers for improving the city situation, Gen Kayani said positive results had already started appearing and the mandate of the paramilitary force could be extended depending on the situation.
He asked the businessmen to remain patient and keep the wheel of industries and trade rolling and maintain trust in the army which would definitely produce practical results in solving the problems being faced by the business community.
Gen Kayani agreed with the businessmen that there should be an emergency complaint call number of the Rangers, of two to three digits, on the pattern of police and other services. He asked the Rangers' officials to take steps in that regard.
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23 September, 2011
 
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SC sends judges' rejection case to high court
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By Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD, Sept 22: Hearing a plea against the Parliamentary Committee's rejection of two Sindh High Court's judges for permanent appointment, the Supreme Court remanded the matter on Thursday to the SHC saying there was no need to entertain the petition since it had already set guidelines.
"Return the petition to the counsel on his request so that he can represent it before the SHC and in view of the urgent matter the high court may entertain the same," ordered the SC's special bench.
The bench – comprising Justice Mahmood Akhtar Shahid Siddiqui, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez – had taken up the petition of Abdur Rehman Farooq Pirzada, president of the Sindh High Court Bar Association, Sukkur chapter.
The petitioner had challenged the PC's Sept 9 decision rejecting the Aug 27 recommendations of the Judicial Commission to confirm two additional judges of the SHC – Justice Ghulam Sarwar Korai and Justice Irfan Saadat Khan – whose tenure will end on Sept 24.
A panel of lawyers, including former advocate-general Sindh Dr Qazi Khalid and Dr Farogh Nasim, appeared to plead the case.
Justice Hussain asked the counsel to convince the court why it should entertain a direct petition when parameters had already been laid down leaving it for the high court to implement it.
Justice Khawaja said the same bench had earlier taken up a similar matter because by then Article 175-A of the Constitution, which speaks about the appointment of the superior court judges, had not been interpreted. Besides, the apex court had to intervene in view of the fact that varying decisions could have come since controversy had erupted in two provinces.
"Now we have enunciated a principle of law and we don't need to lay it down again," Justice Khawaja observed, adding if the PC had rejected the nominations without any reasons then it was in contempt of this court and the court would call its members but "we assume that the PC is abiding by the judgment".
Justice Hussain, however, clarified that the PC had forwarded their reasons to the prime minister though whatever the reasons 'we have no idea'.
The counsel argued that the performance of the judges remained exemplary as both worked diligently, honestly and had a number of judgments to their credit that got reported in so many law journals but till date no reasons had been disclosed for their rejection.
They alleged that the federal government and the PC were hell-bent on undermining the independence of judiciary by appointing persons who could be easily 'manoeuvred'. The PC breached the principle of natural justice by rejecting the judges, they added.
The counsel sought suspension of the PC's decision with a restraining order against the government directing them not to issue any adverse order or notification against the judges.
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23, September 2011
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PPP members not to quit PAC
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By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD, Sept 22: Members of PPP in the Public Accounts Committee have decided not to quit the committee in case its chairman and Leader of Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan decided to do so.
In a statement issued here on Thursday, PPP MNA Yasmin Rahman, a member of the committee, denied media reports that she and other members of PAC would quit if Chaudhry Nisar resigned from the position.
"The PPP will decide about the course of action in case Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan resigns from the PAC because all PPP members are bound to follow the party line on the issue," she said.
"As a member of the PPP, I will follow the party decision and there is no question of disregarding it or acting in any manner that is not consistent with the party policy."
Mr Khan, during a press conference on Sept 14, had said that he had decided to resign from the PAC, adding that an announcement would be made at another press conference soon.
According to Mr Khan, he had decided to leave the PAC in protest against the appointment of Auditor General of Pakistan Akhtar Buland Rana.
Media reports said that Mr Khan had informed PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif about the decision, but he had been asked to stay in office.
Sources told Dawn that induction of more members into PAC from the ruling coalition had perturbed Mr Khan. He feared that he might not be allowed to run proceedings of PAC smoothly in such a situation.
At present, the PAC has 23 members. Of them four members, excluding Mr Khan, belong to the opposition party. 
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23, September 2011
 
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WHO dengue expert due on 26th
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By Our Reporter
ISLAMABAD, Sept 22: A dengue fever specialist being sent by the World Health Organisation (WHO) will arrive here on Monday to join its five-member team which is helping the federal, Punjab and Sindh governments in combating the disease.
According to sources, the request for WHO's help was made by Pakistan's Permanent Mission in Geneva.
The Punjab government has already invited experts from Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
Talking to this reporter, WHO expert on dengue syndrome Dr Qutbuddin Kakar appreciated the measures taken by the Punjab government and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif's personal interest in the matter and allocation of funds.
He said 7,000 to 8,000 people had been affected by dengue in Lahore.
Dr Kakar said the most widespread mosquito-borne infection among humans was expected to subside in Lahore after Oct 15 as a result of the implementation of environmental management and chemical methods.
He warned that Karachi could be the next target of dengue fever, though noting that the Sindh government had already taken precautionary measures.
Dr Kakar said the Capital Development Authority had taken some required measures in Islamabad, but much was to be done and WHO was helping to strengthen its capacity to handle any eventuality.
The arrival of the specialist from Geneva will boost the World Health Organisation team which is focusing on surveillance, vector control measures, case management, strategic planning and monitoring and evaluation.
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23, September 2011
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2m fell sick due to floods, says NDMA
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ISLAMABAD, Sept 22: Two million people have fallen ill from diseases since monsoon rains left the southern region of Pakistan under several feet of water, the National Disaster Management Authority said on Thursday.
More than 350 people have been killed and over eight million people have been affected this year by floods that officials say are worse in parts of Sindh than last year's devastating flood.
Malaria, diarrhoea, skin disease and snake bites are among the health problems facing two million people across 23 districts of Sindh, said NDMA spokesman Irshad Bhatti.
"In some areas, diseases also spread out because of dead animals but there is no major break-out of any epidemic," Mr Bhatti said, calling for the donation of mosquito nets and medicines to help the aid effort.
Parts of Sindh are under several feet of water and the country's meteorological department says the worst-affected districts of Badin, Mirpurkhas and Thar have seen eight times the usual levels of rainwater.
—AFP 
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23, September 2011
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BHC takes suo motu notice of Mastung killing of Hazaras
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By Amanullah Kasi
QUETTA, Sept 22: Taking suo motu notice of the Ganjidori incident in which 26 Hazara tribesmen were gunned down in Mastung on Sept 20, Balochistan High Court (BHC) Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa issued on Thursday notices to several officials and fixed Sept 26 for hearing the case.
The notices were issued to the interior secretary, home secretary, inspector- general of police, Frontier Corps IG, Kalat commissioner, Mastung deputy commissioner and Levies Force DG.
DEMONSTRATION: Meanwhile, women belonging to the Hazara tribe and activists of the Hazara Students Federation held demonstrations in protest against the killings.
The protesters carrying placards and banners called upon the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of the incident. They had gathered outside the press club and raised slogans against the government and law-enforcement agencies.
The protesters said the government had failed to protect the lives of the Hazara tribe and law-enforcement personnel were least interested in arresting the killers.
They claimed that about 600 Hazara tribesmen had died over the past several years in acts of target killings in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan.
 
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23, September 2011
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US Senate warns of stopping all aid
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By Our Correspondent
WASHINGTON, Sept 22: Pakistan will have to fight the Haqqani network and other militant groups if it wants to continue to receive economic and security assistance from the United States, says the US Senate Appropriations Committee.
The restrictions are included in the US Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programmes Appropriations bill for the fiscal 2012 the Senate passed on Wednesday evening by a 28-2 vote.
The bill does not specify amounts for assistance for Pakistan but does provide $1 billion for the Pakistan Counter-insurgency Capability Fund which is $100 million below President Barack Obama's request.
The bill includes strengthened restrictions on assistance for Pakistan by conditioning all funds to the government of Pakistan on cooperation against the Haqqani network, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist organisations, with a waiver, and funding based on achieving benchmarks.
Lawmakers who participated in the debate said they were leaving it to the Obama administration to set the level of assistance to Pakistan and notify Congress – or provide nothing at all.
"If the administration wants to provide zero, that'd be OK with us," said Republican Senator Mark Kirk, one of the more vocal critics of Pakistan on the panel.
According to the original bill from the House Committee on Appropriations, and approved by the Senate, none of the funds meant for Pakistan may be made available until the secretary of state, in consultation with the secretary of defence and the director of national intelligence, certifies and reports in writing that: The government of Pakistan is continuing to cooperate with the United States in efforts to dismantle supplier networks relating to the acquisition of nuclear weapons-related materials, such as providing relevant information from or direct access to Pakistani nationals associated with such networks.
(B) Pakistan is demonstrating a sustained commitment to and is making demonstrable progress in combating terrorist groups, including the extent to which the government of Pakistan is fully assisting the United States with investigating the existence of an official or unofficial support network in Pakistan for Osama bin Laden, including by providing the United States with direct access to Osama bin Laden's relatives in Pakistan and to Osama bin Laden's former compound in Abbottabad and any materials therein; (ii) Pakistan is facilitating the issuance of entry and exit visas for official United States visitors engaged in counter-terrorism efforts and training or other cooperative programmes and projects in Pakistan. (iii) Pakistan is ceasing support, including by any elements within the Pakistan military or its intelligence agency, to extremist and terrorist groups, particularly to any group that has conducted attacks against United States or coalition forces in Afghanistan, or against the territory or people of neighbouring countries. (iv) Pakistan is preventing Al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated terrorist groups, such as the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, from operating in its territory.
This includes preventing them from carrying out cross-border attacks into neighbouring countries, closing terrorist camps in Fata and dismantling terrorist bases of operations in other parts of the country, including Quetta and Muridke.
 Pakistan is taking action when provided with intelligence about high-level terrorist targets and eliminating improvised explosive device networks; (v) Pakistan is strengthening and fully implementing counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering laws. (2) The security forces of Pakistan are not materially and substantially subverting the political or judicial processes in the country. The conditions on US aid follow months of pressure on Pakistan to act against terrorist organisations, particularly the Haqqani network.
The Congressional Research Service says that Washington has allocated about $20 billion for Pakistan over the last decade. In fiscal 2010, Congress approved $1.7 billion for economic aid for Pakistan, and $2.7 billion in security aid. Under the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, popularly known as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, Pakistan was to receive $7.5 billion in a period of five years. But so far it has only received about $360 million.
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23, September 2011
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Senate seat by-election on Oct 18
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By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD, Sept 22: The Election Commission announced on Thursday the schedule for by-election for a Senate seat from Balochistan without waiting for the judgment of the Supreme Court on an appeal filed by Balochistan National Party-A's Mir Mohammad Ali Rind against his disqualification by the provincial high court.
According to the schedule, candidates may file the nomination papers on Oct 3 and 4 and the final list will be published on Oct 11.
Polling will be held on Oct 18 in the Balochistan Assembly.
A day earlier, a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Shakirullah Jan had reserved its judgment on the appeal filed by Mr Rind against his disqualification by the Balochistan High Court (BHC) on Aug 25 on charges of committing fraud and cheating the ECP.
The BHC had disqualified Mr Rind from becoming a member of parliament under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution because he had concealed the information while filing nomination forms for the Senate elections in 2009 that he had been convicted of corruption and misappropriation by an accountability court.
The Election Commission issued a notification on Thursday declaring Mr Rind's general seat as vacant.
A source close to Mr Rind said he would consult his lawyer on Friday.
ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmed Khan said the notification had been issued on the basis of a decision taken by the commission.
 
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23, September 2011
 
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US boots in Pakistan not to be tolerated: Malik
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ISLAMABAD, Sept 22: Pakistan would not tolerate any incursion on its territory by US forces targeting militant groups, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Thursday, calling for Washington to provide the intelligence Islamabad needs to take them out itself. 
Mr Malik also rejected US allegations that Pakistan's intelligence agency aids or has ties with the Haqqani network. 
"The Pakistan nation will not allow the boots on our ground, never. Our government is already cooperating with the US ...but they also must respect our sovereignty," he told Reuters in an interview, insisting that Islamabad wanted US intelligence, not troops, to root out insurgents inside Pakistan. 
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, alleged on Thursday that the Haqqani network is a 'veritable arm' of ISI (Inter Service Intelligence), which supported the group as it launched a startling attack last week on the US Embassy in Kabul.
Mr Malik rejected the allegation. "If you say that it is ISI involved in that attack, I categorically deny it. We have no such policy to attack or aid attack through Pakistani forces or through any Pakistani assistance," he said. 
Mr Malik conceded that elements of the Haqqani network were partly based in North Waziristan along the Afghan border. 
However, he said the Americans had so far not provided Pakistan with intelligence that would help it go after them. 
"Our capacity to trace them in that area is limited. Give us the information and we will operate," he said. "Let's have information, let's have a proper investigation and if there is a requirement, let's have an operation." 
"We are fighting a common enemy but unfortunately not with a common strategy. Instead of a blame game we have to sit together. We are not part of the terrorism, we are part of the solution." 
"This is going to be very unfortunate if it happens because it's going to grow a lot of anti-US feelings," Mr Malik said of a possible US action on Pakistani territory.  
Rejecting allegations that Islamabad has ties with the Haqqani network, the minister said: "If they have some kind of proof they must come forward. For us, whether it's the Haqqanis or Tehrik-i-Taliban, or LeJ, they are all terrorist outfits and we will leave no stone unturned to go against them." 
He said there was not enough understanding that Pakistan had made huge sacrifices of blood and treasure fighting militancy on its soil since 2001, which the government this week put at 35,000 lives and $68 billion.  
"Pakistan should be given some trust, and this trust deficit should go away, because we are fighting a war," he said. "There is not a day that is not 9/11 for my country."—Reuters
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23 September, 2011
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Zardari wants power projects launched in Sindh
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By Our Reporter
KARACHI, Sept 22: President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday instructed the authorities to immediately invite bids for short-term energy projects in Sindh.
Presiding over a meeting on Sindh's electricity generation policy, President Zardari said contracts for short-term projects should be awarded after competitive bidding and involving experts for evaluation and adoption of public-private partnership model for the purpose.
He said that by providing land the provincial government could become a partner in such projects.
The meeting was also attended by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Federal Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar, Federal Minister for Petroleum Dr Asim Hussain, provincial ministers and senior officials of federal and provincial governments.
President's spokesman Farhatullah Babar told Dawn that Mr Zardari said the power projects identified under the short-term measures of the provincial power policy should be implemented without delay to provide immediate relief to the energy-starved people of the province.
He said the Sindh power policy discussed at the meeting included short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies.
The short-term projects would be completed in 12 to 18 months.
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23 September 2011
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15,000MW dam project shelved by Wapda
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By Khaleeq Kiani
ISLAMABAD, Sept 22: While confirming that the Katzarah dam site, unanimously proposed by inter-provincial and parliamentary commissions, has the capacity to store 27 million acre feet of water, the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) has reiterated its opposition to the project which can produce more than 15,000MW of electricity.
In a letter to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Wapda said: "The option of Skardu/Katzarah dam project for further planning has been dropped from Wapda's 2025 Vision programme."
The prime minister had sought a report from the ministry of water and power after a Dawn report last month pointed out that Wapda was backtracking from the commitment it had made to the two commissions to complete the dam's feasibility study by 2006.
Wapda decided to shelve the project on the basis of over a dozen negative impacts which it said made the multi-purpose dam site unfeasible in the present circumstances.
Wapda said the project site had been identified in 1960 but did not receive much attention because of access problem. At that time road to Skardu was single lane and could not be used by anything except jeeps and pack animals and used to remain closed for 6-7 months a year.
It said the pre-feasibility level studies for the project were carried out by Wapda during 2007 under its Vision 2025 confirming a potential to impound the average annual inflow of Indus at 27 MAF.
"However even an 8 MAF reservoir at this site will totally submerge the entire Skardu and Shigar valleys including the important town of Skardu."
Wapda said a fertile and productive land under agriculture with fruit orchards of about 13,363.5 hectares falling in the reservoir area will come under water and any alternate land to be provided to land owners/farmers of the displaced population was not available. Also, the whole city of Skardu with its suburbs spread over about 25 square kilometres with a population of 130,000 and about 20,000 houses; 7,000 shops, hospitals, schools, graveyard, mosques, etc., will be submerged.
A total population of 223,847 falling in the reservoir area will be displaced. From defence point of view, the strategic control of the Siachen and Kargil sectors and of the Line of Control by Pakistan Army and PAF from Skardu will be lost because the operational activities of the two institutions will be badly affected while on the other hand, a huge infrastructure developed in Skardu and Gamba costing billions of rupees will also be submerged.
Moreover, 12,000 feet runway, along with all civil engineering infrastructure controlled by the Civil Aviation Authority will come under water while a cadet college recently established with Rs300 million to impart quality education to students of Northern Areas will be submerged.
Also, the Shangrila Motel considered as a beautiful cultural and recreational resort will be submerged besides 40 kilometres of metalled road from Skardu to Shigar on the left side of Shigar river. Access to the villages outside the reservoir periphery will be disconnected while a possibility to provide an alternate access does not exist.
A new road will be constructed above the reservoir level from dam to Khaplu & to Shigar valley. The water and power system consisting of several small hydropower stations and transmission lines will come under water.
Besides, the Skardu/Katzarah dam will also have a negative effect on the Satpara dam which is currently under construction,
In Shigar area and Skardu, a number of archaeological sites consisting of buildings, mosques, graveyards, forts etc. which are more than a thousand years old, will come under water, which will be a serious cultural hazard. The Balti population which has a rich culture developed through centuries will lose its identity.
In a recent interview, former chairman of Indus River System Authority (IRSA) Eng Fatehullah Khan Gundapur had termed the proposed dam the only way to resolve the current water and power crisis in the country. A bipartisan parliamentary committee led by former Senator Nisar Memon and a technical committee led by A.N.G Abbasi – both having experts and parliamentarians from all provinces – had unanimously called for construction of the Katzarah dam as the top-most priority in 2005 to end political controversies over mega dams.
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23 September 2011
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Mullen's statement not based on facts: Kayani: Several countries in touch with Haqqanis
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By Baqir Sajjad Syed
ISLAMABAD, Sept 23: Reacting to US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen's outburst, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has not only rejected his allegations of using the Haqqani network for waging a proxy war in Afghanistan but also pointed out that several countries were engaged with the militant group.
A rejoinder issued by the ISPR on Friday quoted Gen Kayani as having said that Admiral Mullen's statement was "very unfortunate and not based on facts".
But significantly embedded within the brief rejoinder was an unspoken acknowledgment that Haqqanis were crucial for reconciliation in Afghanistan and, therefore, a number of countries, including Pakistan, maintained contact with them.
"Admiral Mullen knows fully well which countries are in contact with the Haqqanis. Singling out Pakistan is neither fair nor productive," the army chief said.
A military official disclosed in a background conversation that the United States and a number of European countries had been talking to the Haqqanis for reconciliation. During some recent contacts, he said, Pakistan had made it clear to the US that its engagement with the Haqqani network should not be misconstrued as one meant to undermine American interests in Afghanistan.
"We worked with them for positive objectives which could have been useful for all stakeholders in the Afghan end-game," he stressed.
Gen Kayani, the ISPR handout said, found Admiral Mullen's diatribe disturbing because his prolonged meeting with the latter in Spain last week was "rather constructive".
The military official said there was nothing of this sort (finger pointing) in their meeting held on the sidelines of a Nato conference, rather they had deliberated on the way forward in their soured ties, constraints in relationship, withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan and the role of various stakeholders.
Contrary to his assertion, a US official, speaking to Dawn from Washington, claimed that what was now being publicly said had been conveyed personally to Gen Kayani in Seville (Spain).
The US has been accusing Pakistan for long of supporting the Haqqani network and been exerting pressure on the government and army to act against the group.
But Admiral Mullen's latest rant was the most serious criticism of Pakistan, its army and ISI ever since Islamabad and Washington allied in the war on terror in 2001, accusing them of being complicit with the militant group in attacks on US installations in Afghanistan.
The military official said the deteriorating ties hit a low point because of lack of clarity about the roadmap for political process in Afghanistan and the roles envisaged for various stakeholders. "We kept asking them about the role for various stakeholders, but nothing was said."
And as the ISPR said that Gen Kayani had expressed the hope that "the blame game will give way to a constructive and meaningful engagement for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, an objective to which Pakistan is fully committed", the official said it was absurd and illogical to think that Pakistan was averse to peace in Afghanistan.
A source close to the army chief divulged that Gen Kayani was particularly troubled by the allegations because these came from a person (Mullen) who was thought to be a friend of Pakistan and someone who still cherished his relationship with his Pakistani interlocutors.
Admiral Mullen, who visited Pakistan 27 times over the past four years, said at a public event in Washington on Sept 21 that he had developed "a very close relationship" with Gen Kayani, which helped move Pakistan beyond its distrust of the US.
The source used a Shakespearean quote "the (most) unkindest cut of all" to express the feelings of admiral's Pakistani friends after his farewell tirade.
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24 September 2011
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US outreach to Pakistan continues: Pentagon
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WASHINGTON, Sept 23: Obama administration officials said on Friday that the US wants to continue working with Pakistan, even as they expanded on assertions that ISI supported and encouraged attacks by Haqqani network on the US Embassy in Afghanistan last week.
A military official said Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen decided to lay out accusations against Pakistan's ISI after information about the linkage became more available in recent weeks.
"It's been a very busy summer for the Haqqani network, and it's gotten worse," said Mullen spokesman Capt. John Kirby. "Their activity has become more brazen, more aggressive, more lethal, and the information has become more available, that these attacks have been supported or even encouraged by the ISI."
Pentagon press secretary George Little and Capt Kirby would not say whether the US had provided Pakistan any hard evidence about the ISI's support of the Haqqanis.
Capt. Kirby said that the US still wants to pursue a working partnership with the Pakistani military, but it depends in large measure "on their willingness and their ability to disconnect themselves from extremist groups like the Haqqanis."
Mr Little said communication lines with Pakistan's military remain open despite the fresh acrimony.
Despite serious disagreement, the US military had no intention of cutting off dialogue with Pakistan, he told reporters.—Agencies
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24 September 2011
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Joint action by all parties urged to meet challenge
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Dawn Report
KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari assured leaders of the business community on Friday that the country was in safe hands and the government was capable of handling pressures and challenges.
At a meeting with the president, the business leaders had expressed concern over the increasing US pressure on the government on a number of issues, including the Haqqani network.
According to sources, Mr Zardari said such pressures in relations with the international community could only be overcome through national unity and expressed the hope that all political parties would join hands to scuttle these.
He recalled the sacrifices rendered by the nation in the US-led war on terror and said that without Pakistan its objectives could not be achieved. The international community was not oblivious of this fact, he added.
According to the sources, the president reiterated Pakistan's commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region and said the people, the armed forces and the government of Pakistan were on the same page on the issue.
Also on Friday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the United States was an important country, but Pakistan wanted to maintain relations with it on the basis of mutual respect as a sovereign country.
Talking to reporters after inaugurating new berths at the Karachi Port, the prime minister said the US should refrain from sending wrong messages such as taking operational steps against the Haqqani network which were not acceptable to the people of Pakistan. "The sovereignty of the country cannot be compromised and it will be protected at all cost. The US should avoid threatening 180 million people of Pakistan because this will further deteriorate our mutual relations."
Mr Gilani said the US should realise that "we need political space particularly when Pakistan is not part of issue but part of solution". Both countries, he said, needed each other and, therefore, should try to avoid sending threatening messages.
Responding to a question, the prime minister said Pakistan would support any effort for stability and peace in Afghanistan based on aspirations of the Afghan people.
He said Pakistan always sought trade, and not aid, to achieve economic stability, but there had been unnecessary pressure on Pakistan to "do more in the war on terrorism".
The prime minister said Pakistan was not isolated in the world and had peaceful relations with its neighbours and countries in the region.
Later, talking to a delegation of business leaders at the Governor's House, Prime Minister Gilani said he would soon convene a meeting of leaders of all political parties to apprise them of the security situation in the country and changing environment in the region.
"The political and economic stability of the country is interlinked," he said.
Mr Gilani said that Pakistan had good relations with most countries, but would now concentrate on improving ties with countries in its vicinity. He said the country's defence was strong and the nation would not allow anyone to fiddle with its frontiers.
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who earlier in the day met US President Barack Obama in New York, said the United States risked losing an ally if it continued to publicly criticise Pakistan's performance in the war against militancy.
They would lose an ally, Ms Khar told Geo TV in response to a question about US allegations against Pakistan army and ISI and threats of direct action. "You cannot afford to alienate Pakistan; you cannot afford to alienate the Pakistani people. If you are choosing to do so and if they are choosing to do so, it will be at their (the United States') own cost," she added.
"At the operational level it will be appropriate to say that there are serious difficulties (between the two countries)."
In a separate interview to India's NDTV, Ms Khar added: "Pointing fingers at each other will not help. Finding scapegoats will not help ... We want to be a mature, responsible country that is fighting terrorism with a lot of maturity."
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24 September 2011
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Three killed in Quetta sectarian attack
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By Saleem Shahid
QUETTA, Sept 23: Four days after 26 passengers of a bus were lined up and shot dead in cold blood in Mastung, three people were killed and three others injured when armed men attacked a van in the new Sariab area of the provincial capital on Friday.
According to police sources, the attackers again targeted a group of people of Hazara community who were going to the coalmine town of Mach, some 75km from here.
Quetta DIG Hamid Shakeel told Dawn the armed men on a car intercepted the van in the new Sariab area on the Quetta-Sibi highway and opened fire on the occupants. They escaped after the attack.
FC and police personnel took the bodies to the Bolan Medical College Hospital from where they were shifted to the Quetta CMH.
The police official termed it a sectarian attack.
The deceased were identified as Ali Mohammad, Ewiz Ali and Ali Khan.
A spokesman for the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, who identified himself as Ali Sher Haidari, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The 26 people killed in Mastung also belonged to the Hazara community.
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September 24, 2011
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Karachi will not be left at mercy of mafias: Gilani
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By Shamim-ur-Rahman
 
KARACHI, Sept 23: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has asked the Sindh government to take an across-the-board action against criminals, target killers and extortionists and bring them to justice.
"The government is aware of its responsibilities and will not leave Karachi at the mercy of gangsters and mafias," the prime minister told a delegation of business leaders who called on him at the Governor's House here on Friday.
Mr Gilani said that thousands of acres of state land in Karachi worth billions of rupees would be retrieved from land-grabbers once the deadline was over.
In reply to a question, he said a committee headed by the finance minister had been set up to prepare a restructuring plan for loss-making public sector enterprises, including PIA, Pakistan Steel and Railways.
Members of the delegation comprising Siraj Qasim Teli, S.M. Muneer, Zubair Motiwala, Saeed Shafique, Aqeel Karim Dedhi, S. Ali Habib and Majid Aziz requested the prime minister to direct the FBR and ministries of finance and commerce to simplify the procedures dealing with the business community and formulate policies on a long-term basis.
They stressed the need for restoring peace in the city and taking confidence-building measures for long-term investment in the country.
Referring to worrisome signals from the United States and IMF, they said the country could overcome the crisis on its own if the government provided a congenial environment to the business community and took pragmatic steps.
Prime Minister Gilani said there was an improvement in law and order and target killings had virtually come to an end after joint operations by Rangers, FC and police.
But business leaders said other crimes such as extortion, gun running, etc, had not ended and there was hardly any progress on the legislative side in this regard.
The prime minister said some bills were pending in the Senate and asked the FPCCI president, who is a member of the Senate standing committee, to take an initiative.
A leading businessman complained that illegal arms were being smuggled into the country through dry ports by exploiting legal channels and giving wrong inventories. It was suggested that imports through dry ports should be stopped till the installation of scanning and other facilities.
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September 24, 2011
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White House backs Mullen allegations
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By Anwar Iqbal
WASHINGTON, Sept 23: Simmering tensions between the United States and Pakistan reached a boiling point on Friday as the White House urged Islamabad to cut its ties to the Haqqani network while Pakistani leaders rejected the US claim as unfortunate and incorrect.
"It is critical that the government of Pakistan break any links they have and take strong and immediate action against this network," White House spokesman Jay Carney told a briefing in Washington. "So that they are no longer a threat to the United States or to the people of Pakistan, because this network is a threat to both."
The White House backed the allegation that Admiral Mike Mullen, the US Joint Chief of Staff Chairman, had made in the Senate on Thursday, claiming that Haqqani operatives launched an attack last week on the US embassy in Kabul with ISI's support.
Pakistan's strong reaction to the US allegations figured at the White House briefing on Friday where a reporter asked: "Any reaction from the White House to the remarks from Pakistan that the alliance is threatened by the sort of claims by Admiral Mullen in front of the Senate?"
"We believe — we know that the Haqqani network was responsible for the attacks on the Kabul embassy, our embassy in Kabul, the Isaf headquarters and a number of other recent attacks that caused death and injury not only to Afghans but to US soldiers," the White House spokesman responded.
"And we know that the Haqqani network operates from safe havens in Pakistan and that the government of Pakistan has not taken action against these safe havens."
Pakistan's failure to act against the Haqqani network had been "a long-standing concern of the United States and one that we've discussed with Pakistan in public and in private", said Mr Caney.
"Senior officials, including Chairman Mullen and Secretary Clinton, met with their Pakistani counterparts to make this point earlier in the past week or so, and we will continue these discussions and seek action on the part of Pakistan."
"Does President Obama believe that Pakistan is a reliable partner?" asked another journalist.
"Look, we have an important relationship with Pakistan. That relationship and the cooperation that we have had with Pakistan has assisted us greatly in our efforts to defeat Al Qaeda. And it is important to remember that Pakistan has suffered mightily at the hands of terrorists, and they paid a terrible price for it," said the White House official. "It is a complicated relationship, as you've heard me say before. And when we have issues that we need to discuss with the Pakistanis, we're very candid and forthright in doing so … And those continue — those conversations will continue."
Other US officials who spoke to the media claimed that growing US frustration over Pakistan's alleged collusion with Afghan militants had forced them to go public with their accusations.
The commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, US Marine Corps Gen John Allen, also turned up the heat when he revealed that he had personally given the Pakistani army chief intelligence information about a possible terror attack and Gen Kayani said he would "make a phone call" to stop it but did not.
The attack was the truck bombing two days later, said reports in the US British media which attributed the information to Gen Allen.
Meanwhile, top US lawmakers are pressing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to put the militant Haqqani network on the terror blacklist immediately, citing testimonies by officials that the outfit was an "arm" of the Pakistan's military intelligence.
"I request that the State Department list the network as a foreign terrorism organisation," said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein.
She said in a statement that the Haqqani network "met all the standards of the blacklist as it has been conducting attacks against US targets and personnel in Afghanistan and poses a continuing threat to American, Afghan and allied personnel and interests".
Another leading senator, Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked at a Congressional hearing why was there an inordinate delay in designating the network as a terrorist organisation.
"This step is long overdue," Mr Levin said. "I hope the State Department will move quickly to designate the Haqqanis as a foreign terrorist organisation," Senator Levin said as he and other lawmakers had urged Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and Admiral Mullen to take steps to ensure that the Haqqani network was not able to attack Americans.
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September 24, 2011
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Wasim Akram criticised in autobiography: Shoaib bounces back into limelight
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NEW DELHI, Sept 23: Pakistan cricket's enfant terrible Shoaib Akhtar has stirred yet another controversy, this time questioning the class and temperament of India's batting stars Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.
In his autobiography "Controversially Yours", the temperamental speedster has accused Tendulkar of being scared of his scorching pace on a slow Faisalabad track.
He also claimed that Tendulkar and Dravid were not match-winners nor did they know the art of finishing games.
"Vivian Richards, Ricky Ponting, Brian Lara and the likes of them are great batsmen who dominated with the bat and were truly match-winners. Initially, when I bowled against Sachin, I found these qualities missing. He might have had more runs and records, he lacked the ability to finish the game," he said in the book launched on Friday.
Akhtar, who announced his retirement during the World Cup this year, cited an example where he felt that Sachin was scared to face him. "We would have faced a humbling defeat in the series but for the fact that we reined in Sachin Tendulkar.
"We bounced the ball at him and were able to unnerve him…. I bowled (Sachin) a particularly fast ball which he, to my amazement didn't even touch. He walked away! That was the first time, I saw him walk away from me — that, too, on the slow track at Faisalabad. It got my hunting instincts up and in the next match I hit him on the head and he couldn't score after that."
The 36-year-old Akhtar, who played for Shahrukh Khan co-owned Kolkata Knight Riders during IPL, accused the Bollywood superstar and former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi of cheating. "Shahrukh and I talked about my not being happy with the money settled on me. Shahrukh and Modi got me to agree. I should have never listened to Modi and Shahrukh."
Akhtar also spoke at length about politics in Pakistan Cricket Board. He didn't shy away from taking a dig at former captain Wasim Akram. He wrote that Akram attempted to finish his career.
"Wasim Akram threatened to walk out with half of the team if I was included in the team." He said that former PCB chairman Gen (retd) Tauqir Zia backed him against Wasim.
He alleged that almost all fast bowlers tampered with the ball. "To be honest, every team in the world tampers with the ball. We probably started it but today no team is innocent and virtually every fast bowler does it. That is the only way to survive because the wickets are so slow."
Not only that, Akhtar was candid enough to admit that he "tampered with the ball on many occasions".
He added: "Since, we can't seem to stop doing it, it's not a bad idea to legalise it and set rules for it. After all, it's still an art to use that ball. You need the pace and skill."—Dawn/Times of India News Service
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September 24, 2011
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Zardari calls for plans to cope with calamities
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By Our Reporter
KARACHI, Sept 23: President Asif Ali Zardari said on Friday that havoc caused by floods over the past two years represented a wakeup call and there was a need to find a solution to natural disasters rooted in climate change.
He urged national and international experts and UN agencies to formulate practical plans for countering the challenge.
He said this during separate meetings with delegations of UN agencies, trade bodies and prominent businessmen and bankers at the Bilawal House. According to sources, President Zardari said he knew of the situation evolving in and around Pakistan and assured the participants of the meetings that the government was fully aware of its responsibilities.
President's spokesman Farhatullah Babar told Dawn that during one of the meetings representatives of the Unicef, WHO, FAO, UNHCR, USAID, WFP and UN Habitat, Speaker of National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza, provincial ministers and senior government officials discussed the situation arising out of the recent rains in Sindh.
Mr Zardari described providing food, shelter, water and healthcare to the flood-stricken people as tough challenges and urged UN agencies and donor bodies to coordinate with the National Disaster Management Authority for carrying out effective humanitarian work.
He said the army, navy and other national institutions were playing their role in relief work. The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and Baitul Maal had also been mobilised to provide assistance in cash and in kind to the affected. Over 5,000 'Pakistan Cards' had been issued to people in Badin alone, he said.
Mr Zardari praised the UN secretary general for launching an urgent appeal for humanitarian assistance. He said Badin and Thatta districts needed special attention because of damages caused to livestock and agriculture on a massive scale.
Mr Zardari also met heads of leading banks to discuss the role they could play in mitigating the suffering of people. Mr Babar quoted the president as saying: "Over 90 per cent of land in Sindh is owned by small farmers and banks need to devise plans to provide financial relief to them."
He asked the State Bank to work with commercial banks to urgently formulate a plan to assist the farmers who had lost their standing crops to the calamity.
The president also met businessmen and traders. He asked the businessmen, especially those belonging to pharmaceutical companies, to prepare a plan to resolve the issue of spurious drugs and pesticides which had been raised by people in some flood-affected areas. Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, heads and representatives of the FPCCI, KCCI, Pakistan Business Council, Overseas Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Karachi Stock Exchange and prominent businessmen attended the meeting.
The businessmen called for improving coordination and appointing a focal agency for distribution of relief goods. They assured the president of material and financial assistance in reaching out to the flood-affected people and rehabilitating them.
President Zardari took notice of media reports that the scheduled caste Hindus (Dalits) were being denied humanitarian assistance and entry into relief camps allegedly for being 'untouchables' and sought a report from the Sindh government in this regard. 
He ordered provision of relief to all marooned and stranded people and flood victims, including the scheduled caste Hindus, without any discrimination.
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September 24, 2011
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Security of N-installations enhanced, Khar tells UN meeting
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By Masood Haider
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 23: Pakistan has enhanced the safety and security of its nuclear installations and materials in order to provide safe energy, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said at a high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security here on Thursday.
Ms Khar told the UN meeting that "revival of economy and socio-economic development of our people is the foremost priority of the government of Pakistan and sustainable nuclear energy is essential to advance our development agenda".
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who opened the meeting, said that Fukushima nuclear plant accident along with the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago served as a wake-up call for the world's people.
"The effects of nuclear accidents respect no borders. To adequately safeguard our people, we must have strong international consensus and action. We must have strong international safety standards," the UN chief said.
Ms Khar in her speech stressed the need for taking into account the differentiated nature of countries' needs and circumstances while evolving a strengthened nuclear safety regime.
"Effective implementation of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Action Plan on Nuclear Safety would inter-alia depend in large measure on the degree of international assistance and cooperation to the developing countries.
"On our part, we have already begun a comprehensive safety review of the existing power plants in areas such as site studies, safety systems, emergency power systems, off-site emergency preparedness etc," she said.
"Such safety appraisal will also be applicable to our future nuclear power plants." Pakistan, she said, had more than three decades of experience in safe reactor operations, backed by a professional corps of experts as well as technical and engineering infrastructure to provide technical support to our power plants.
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September 27, 2011
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No inquiry into past institutional lapse: Pakistan to keep watch on India's future water moves
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By Khaleeq Kiani
ISLAMABAD, Sept 23: Without completing an inquiry into a major institutional lapse that allowed India to secure carbon credits from the United Nations on projects disputed by Pakistan, the government has finalised standard operating guidelines to keep an eye on India's violations of its trans-boundary environmental and water rights.
The guidelines, prepared by a joint ministerial committee comprising federal ministries of foreign affairs, water and power and environment besides GHQ and Pakistan Commission on Indus Waters (PCIW), have confirmed that the news of award of carbon credits to the Indian projects was a matter of great concern for Pakistan.
It said Pakistan "may take the case of Nimoo-Bazgo project to the World Bank for its resolution".
The report, first published by Dawn on July 19, last year, had disclosed that India had been awarded carbon credits by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) without mandatory trans-boundary environmental impact clearance by Pakistan for two hydropower projects – Chutak and Nimoo-Bazgo – contested by Islamabad for allegedly being constructed in violation of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty by New Delhi. The report was based on a letter by an engineer, Arshad Abbasi, to the prime minister.
The water and power ministry report, while confirming the Dawn report, said information about these projects had been given to Pakistan by India under the 1960 treaty in December 2006 and November 2007. Pakistan raised objections on the design of both projects and its concerns regarding Chutak Hydroelectric Plan were resolved at the level of Permanent Indus Commission in May-June last year. However, objections regarding Nimoo-Bazgo plant remain unresolved.
After a number of meetings attended by representatives of relevant ministries, GHQ, Wapda, PCIW and Nespak, a high-level committee decided to chalk out the future line of action regarding a number of upcoming Indian projects on the waters of western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab). Steps were also decided to monitor cases of award of carbon credits by the UN to Indian projects on western rivers, which, while being in dispute between the two countries, are placed before the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for approval.
As such, all relevant ministries and agencies have been given specific responsibilities to monitor Indian water aggression.
A special clean development mechanism will immediately be set up in the PCIW to process and circulate all information to ministries of environment, foreign affairs and water and power for review and examination and further course of action.
Besides many specific steps, Islamabad's representative at the UNFCCC will keep a regular watch on the website of the UN body to examine Indian projects coming up for carbon credit requests.
Ironically, Islamabad's representative is reported to have been a part of the UNFCCC when India had secured carbon credits on two controversial projects having cross-boundary environmental impact on the Pakistani side. It was feared that either Pakistani authorities had allowed trans-boundary environmental impact assessment for the two power projects or they remained criminally oblivious to the development, causing an irreparable loss to Islamabad's legal position despite representing Pakistan on the UN sub-committee on climate change.
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DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS
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18, September 2011
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Bold statements
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THE military press release issued on Friday was no routine update on the army chief's remarks at the ongoing Nato conference in Spain. Gen Kayani emphasised "Pakistan's sovereign right to formulate policy in accordance with its national interest". This seemingly general statement was, of course, a response to pressure to go into North Waziristan against the Haqqani network in the wake of Tuesday's attack on the US embassy and Nato headquarters in Kabul. Perhaps in tandem, the prime minister said the same day, when asked to comment on this pressure, that the US itself should 'do more'. He also cancelled, at the eleventh hour, his trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly. While this could well be due to the ongoing floods — the official reason provided — there are media reports that it may have been a response to the White House's reported refusal to schedule a meeting for the prime minister with President Obama.
The cumulative impression from these developments, then, is that Pakistan is being more assertive than usual in the face of increasing pressure from the US. Diplomatic efforts at the regional level only support this sense. Afghanistan and Pakistan announced on Friday that they had developed a blueprint for bilateral cooperation on reconciliation with the Afghan Taliban, a process in which the US is not included, with the Afghan foreign minister saying the two countries should "take our affairs into our own hands". The prime minister's recent visit to Iran and the Joint Economic Commission meeting in Islamabad that preceded it established new levels of cooperation with Tehran, and the US has reportedly expressed its disapproval.
Does all of this reflect the beginning of a new level of independence from the US, or is it simply a short-term tactic to fend off pressure? Gen Kayani told the foreign press on Friday he doesn't think Afghanistan will be ready for the withdrawal of international troops by 2014. If this is in fact his real assessment, recent moves begin to make sense. Wary of a breakdown of authority in a post-US Afghanistan, and continuing to believe that certain militants can serve as useful tools for defending the national interest, Pakistan may continue to prioritise regional relationships and resist calls to do more in North Waziristan. It also needs to take into account operational and budgetary realities that constrain its ability to open up a new and very difficult front in that agency. The risk it runs, of course, is exacerbating tensions in its already fraught relationship with the US, an ally it most likely cannot do without. 
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18, September 2011
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Corruption in cricket
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PAKISTAN'S most promising fast bowler in recent years, Mohammad Aamir, has now pleaded guilty to charges of spot-fixing after initially maintaining his innocence in a British court as well as in front of the media in Pakistan. Most observers believed from the very outset that Aamir, a young man of humble beginnings, had fallen into bad company that led him astray. This view was shared by not just Pakistani commentators but also former cricketers across the globe. Similar sentiments were not reserved for Salman Butt, the former captain, who it was alleged in News of the World had been guilty of spot-fixing or Mohammad Asif, who had earlier been charged with the use of performance-enhancing drugs and the possession of opium that landed him in detention in the Gulf. Aamir's case was always seen as somewhat different, that of a gullible boy who went along for the ride without fully knowing what he was doing. But what he did was wrong and he must now pay the price. What may be called a plea bargain by an accused turned 'approver' may lessen his sentence for fraud in England during last year's Lord's Test but it will not diminish the penalty he received from the International Cricket Council. His career is in tatters, through his own fault and possibly through that of others. One of the brightest stars to emerge on the Pakistani cricket scene has been lost to the scourge of dishonesty of the highest order.
Corruption in cricket is nothing new, as was revealed by the Justice Qayyum report. Salim Malik was banned as was Ataur Rehman, who initially pointed the finger at Wasim Akram for telling him to bowl badly but ultimately withdrew his signed affidavit. The rot in Pakistan cricket may be on the decline but it still needs to be checked.
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18, September 2011
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Non-payment dispute
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THE settlement of the dispute between the government and nine independent power producers over non-payment of the latter's outstanding dues of around Rs45bn has averted a major power crisis — but only for a short while. The government has begun releasing payment for daily power supply and agreed to clear the arrears before or on Oct 15. In return the IPPs have withdrawn notices calling their sovereign guarantees as the clearance of arrears of Rs8.5bn by the end of this month in addition to the resumption of payment for their daily power supply will put some cash in their hands to pay for future fuel supplies as well as service their bank loans.
What next? It is only a matter of a few months before the issue will reappear, just as it has done several times in the past three years. It was less than three months ago that the same IPPs had served their previous notice invoking sovereign guarantees for the recovery of their arrears of about Rs12bn at that time. The government had held back payment of power arrears in order to hold down its budgetary deficit and contain inflationary borrowings to fund the resource gap. But this isn't a permanent solution to the chronic problem of circular debt, which is stalling economic growth and investment in the power sector. Nor does the final solution lie in raising power tariff further to reduce the estimated gap of Rs250bn for the current fiscal. People are increasingly reluctant to pay for the inefficiencies of private and public power producers and distributors or the inability of Pepco to prevent electricity theft and recover its bills from powerful consumers including government departments and agencies. The government will have to do what it has to do to tackle this issue for good, perhaps even if it means, as suggested by former central bank governor Shahid Kardar, printing new money. At the same time, it will also have to implement power reforms to eliminate system inefficiencies and losses, stop electricity theft and make everyone pay for what they consume no matter how powerful they are.
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19, September, 2011
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IMF programme
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THE discontinuation of Pakistan's $11.3bn programme with the IMF has been some time in the making. Barring some flood-related funds released in autumn 2010, Pakistan has effectively been cut off from IMF and World Bank funding since May 2010. But having kept the IMF at arm's length for over a year now is anything but good news. The widespread belief is that the government has wanted to throw off the constraints that an IMF programme imposes in the run up to the next general election. The three key demands of the IMF — holding down the fiscal deficit, reforming the power sector and nudging upwards the tax-to-GDP ratio — are all politically unpopular and undermine the politics of patronage. So, free of those constraints, the government can pursue politically 
beneficial tactics like holding down electricity tariffs, suppressing the cost of fuel and go on
a spending spree for patronage purposes.
If that does happen, what will come next is almost inevitable: Pakistan will be forced back into the arms of the IMF. And the next time the IMF is unlikely to be as lenient. Indeed, even at present, if the country's economic stewards were to negotiate a fresh deal with the IMF immediately, the conditions likely to be imposed are what are causing the political bosses to baulk. But there will be a reckoning eventually and if in a post-election scenario the country is saddled with a fiscal deficit in the range of seven to eight per cent as is likely, the IMF will show little sympathy. Frontloading fiscal adjustments in a programme at that point — the IMF usually prefers budget deficits in the three to four per cent range — would mean some very painful choices. With little room on the expenditure side for cuts, rapid increases in electricity tariffs, fuel prices, etc can be expected in order to slash subsidies and raise more tax revenue quickly. There will be plenty of pain to go around.
It didn't have to be this way. But with a political leadership that is so breathtakingly indifferent to the demands of managing the economy soundly, it has become all but inevitable. Job creation, investment, growth — the drivers of economic prosperity do not appear to feature on the list of concerns. The silver lining — reasonable reserves on the back of high remittances and record exports — is also expected to diminish as new orders for cotton-based exports have already dipped. Inflation may stay manageable if cost increases of electricity and fuel are not passed through, but then those subsidies will have to be paid for somehow eventually. Any which way matters don't look good.
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19, September, 2011
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Invoking the divine
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A HOSPITAL is the last place one would imagine as a breeding ground for disease. Yet as reported in this paper, the Sri Lankan doctors' team currently visiting Lahore to help the Punjab government tackle dengue fever has found dengue-carrying mosquitoes as well as their eggs at two major public hospitals in the city. This is especially worrisome as the provincial metropolis has been the hardest hit during the current spell of the illness; out of over 600 cases reported in Punjab on Friday alone, the overwhelming majority was from Lahore. The mosquitoes and their eggs were found in flowerpots as well as water containers. Meanwhile, members of the Punjab Assembly have a novel explanation for the crisis: during Friday's session lawmakers held 'God's annoyance with Pakistanis' as the reason for the dengue outbreak and sought His forgiveness, while not bothering to discuss man's negligence, which had clearly aggravated the crisis. During the thinly attended session — barely 50 members were present as most had bolted from Lahore fearing the dengue outbreak — one member suggested that the chief justice take 'suo motu notice of dengue killings in Lahore' while lawmakers used the session to hurl barbs at each other's leaders.
All this shows a complete lack of seriousness in dealing with the dengue outbreak, which has already taken around 40 lives in Punjab. This must change if the disease's further spread is to be halted, and Punjab's lawmakers and health authorities must take concrete measures to deal with dengue. Waiting for divine help alone will do little to improve the situation. Along with measures such as draining pools of water and fumigation, the Sri Lankan experts have also highlighted the need for public awareness about dengue prevention. It is welcome that a fumigation drive, including spraying of houses where dengue cases have been reported, has been launched in Karachi, as over 200 dengue cases have been reported in the city. The anti-dengue measures should be expanded to the rest of the province as well while other parts of the country should take preventive measures now to prevent dengue from turning into a nationwide epidemic. 
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19, September, 2011
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PM's welcome decision
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NOW that the prime minister is no more going to New York, let us hope his decision will have a positive impact on the relief effort, and the government will not only be doing but will be seen to be doing all it can to alleviate the suffering of the flood-hit people. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's scheduled visit to the US to address the General Assembly at a time when, to quote Oxfam, "the clock is ticking" for the millions devastated by floods in Sindh and Balochistan aroused a lot of anger. What added fuel to the fire of the universal disapproval of his foreign visit was the inclusion in the prime minister's entourage of a large number of politicians and journalists who had no business to be there except as hangers-on. The flood situation in some respects is graver than what it was last year in Sindh and nine districts of Balochistan. Statistics show 5.4 million people have been severely hit, with cotton, sugarcane and vegetable crops spread over 1.6 million acres destroyed shortly before harvest.
The effects of the calamity can be mitigated only by the concerted efforts of civilian agencies and the armed forces to mobilise domestic resources on an emergency basis and rush food, medical supplies and tents to the millions that include at least 100,000 pregnant women. It appeared that, unlike last year, the government this time was not expecting the deluge. In 2010, the flood took about a fortnight to reach the south; this time the sudden and heavy downpours in late summer took the government by surprise. With the prime minister now choosing to take charge himself, one hopes the benefit of his personal supervision of the relief operations will be felt by the millions waiting desperately for essential supplies and shelter for mere survival.
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20, September 2011
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Steel Mills decline
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ON the verge of collapse, the Pakistan Steel Mills is looking for emergency funding to the tune of Rs12bn from the federal government, according to a report in this newspaper yesterday. If the Steel Mills were an otherwise viable entity with a professional management that had been buffeted by economic factors beyond its control, a one-time bailout may have made sense. But surely for an entity that has racked up Rs110bn in liabilities, is operating below 20 per cent of its capacity and has a senior management team populated by ad-hoc appointments, a Rs12bn rescue line would amount to the very worst example of throwing good money after bad. That reality is further underlined by the consensus among industry experts: the Steel Mills would need to treble its capacity to three million tonnes before it could take advantage of economies of scale and even at that capacity, the PSM would be overstaffed if the present employee resources of around 20,000 workers is maintained.
The unhappy reality is that while the PSM could possibly be rescued were it to be handed over to a professional management duly empowered, the present political leadership appears to have little to no regard for responsible economic management and policymaking. With an election cycle nearing, the collapse of an institution that has assumed an exaggerated importance in the national imagination would be a blow the present government is likely unwilling to suffer. Add to that the fact that the PSM has become home over the last three years to elements close to power circles and it would appear unlikely that a professional management will be installed any time. Furthermore, while spouting the necessary verbiage regarding restructuring public-sector enterprises, the present government is unlikely to countenance letting go off thousands of redundant state workers at a time that jobs are hard to come by and inflation is up.
And yet, the fiscal position is so poor that something will have to be done sooner than later to stop the haemorrhaging of public-sector enterprises. If the politicians are too weak and self-interested, perhaps their economic advisers need to take a bolder stance. Veterans like Hafeez Sheikh, the finance minister and Nadeemul Haque, the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, know full well the disastrous pantomime they are participating in. Others, like the last two State Bank governors, Salim Raza and Shahid Kardar, used the ultimate form of protest — resigning from a job whose tenure was guaranteed — to try and shake some sense into the political class. Are the ones still standing but looking the other way willing to play on endlessly?
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20, September 2011
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US ambassador's remarks
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THE US is speaking with one voice, and its message is clear. Although American officials have in the past accused Pakistan of failing to act against the Haqqani network — a concern heightened by last Tuesday's attack on the US embassy and other foreign targets in Kabul — the American ambassador in Islamabad has now entered the fray. Cameron Munter stated in a Radio Pakistan interview that "there is evidence linking the Haqqani network to the Pakistani government". Two things are interesting about this. First, the ambassador's role is quite different from that of the CIA chief, an American military commander, a congressperson in Washington or even the secretary of state. Situated as he is in Islamabad and tasked as he is with conducting diplomacy on a day-to-day basis, the statement was a surprisingly aggressive one. Second, past accusations of linkages with the Haqqani network have often referred to Pakistani intelligence or even 'elements' within Inter Services Intelligence, and the military has been accused of not taking action against the militant group. But Mr Munter's statement spoke of the Pakistani government, a broader accusation and a very serious one.
His statements follow the American defence secretary's threat that the US will take action against the Haqqani network itself if need be, and top US military commander Adm Mike Mullen asked army chief Gen Kayani for military action against the group in a meeting last week. Reports emerging from New York indicate that the Haqqani network was the main topic of discussion in the secretary of state's three-and-a-half-hour meeting with Pakistan's foreign minister on Sunday. Unlike certain instances in the past, then, the State Department and the Pentagon are speaking in a unified voice, and that is perhaps an indication of how crucial the issue has become for Washington. What remains unclear is the quality of the information officials have, including evidence that the militant group was behind last week's attack. Public statements now need to be backed up by facts.
But if it is confronted with information that supports claims of negligence or outright backing, the Pakistani state has some serious rethinking to do.
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20, September 2011
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Karachi blast
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MONDAY'S suicide attack on a top security official in Karachi should help us draw a strategic lesson: the war against the Taliban and other religious extremists is not confined to the tribal belt; it is countrywide. The blast, whose target was SSP CID Chaudhry Aslam, was in keeping with the change in Taliban tactics: to kill a security official, they would blow up his home — and it would be of no consequence if his family and neighbours were victims of such an assault. Monday's attack in the DHA area destroyed or damaged many neighbouring houses and killed a student and his mother among others. Earlier this month, militants targeting a Frontier Corps official in Quetta blew up his home. While the official survived, his wife was killed. These
acts underline how the Taliban's targets are becoming increasingly blurred as they seek to terrorise society in utter contempt of the sanctity of human life.
Monday's crime and the history of earlier suicide blasts in Karachi — including the ones on Abdullah Shah Ghazi's shrine and the CID headquarters — show that the dimensions of violence in the city are not ethnic and political alone, and that religious extremists have turned Karachi into a safe haven to raise funds, recruit and train cadres and plan their murderous war on the state and people. There are media reports that there had been a warning of the latest attack — and Chaudhry Aslam, known for his counterterrorism operations, was mentioned as a possible target; if so, what was done to make the sensitive area secure? The government must evolve security tactics that keep pace with the militants' changing methods. One measure could be to ensure that the residences of security officials are not located in ordinary residential areas. This would help protect the family of these officials as well as ordinary citizens.
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21, September, 2011
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Karachi terrorism
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BARELY had Karachi begun to recover from the ethnic and political violence of July and August when Monday's attack on the house of a senior Crime Investigation Department official, claimed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, reminded the city that it also remains vulnerable to Islamist militancy. Police officials say they had intelligence that a terrorist attack was planned for one of the city's upmarket areas around this time and that they had stepped up security in Clifton and Defence, but information at that level is far too broad to be useful in such large metropolitan areas housing hundreds of thousands of people. The incident demonstrates how the threat posed by the TTP and other external terrorist groups is of an entirely different nature than that presented by the city's indigenous ethnic and political gangs, and needs a tailored and much more robust response.
The first step is to resource and empower the police and civilian intelligence organisations to gather intelligence that is far more specific and technically advanced than what they are currently capable of acquiring. Without doing so, it will be impossible to police such a large city that is constantly expanding in an unplanned number. There is no record, for example, of the number of unregistered madressahs that exist in Karachi and provide easy safe havens for militants shuttling between Quetta and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the port city. Nor is there an organised effort aimed at infiltrating  these groups under cover through their communities in Karachi, as has been done in cities in the West. As such, Karachi police could do with a separate intelligence-gathering department geared towards this threat. In an ideal world it would work with police departments in other areas of the country where these militants travel from, although the ongoing failure to establish a national counterterrorism authority does not inspire hope of coordination. Check-posts, barriers and police presence may also have to be increased on Karachi's streets to help translate this intelligence into action on the ground. Again, however, it will be of limited use unless policemen know what they are looking for.
Monday's attack was a reminder that Islamist militant groups still have a foothold in Karachi and can organise and carry out attacks in the city. It was here that 9/11 facilitator and Al Qaeda operative Ramzih Binalsibh was captured in a shootout in 2002, and nine years later the threat has only expanded to include a host of militant groups with a pre-sence in Karachi. It is a sprawling city, one that is easy to enter and exit at will. Policing it successfully will require a much more vigorous effort.
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21, September 2011
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Voter verification
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THIS is a good time to take stock of how well-
prepared the state is to hold elections, regardless of whether polls take place in 2013 as scheduled or snap polls are held earlier. Verification of electoral rolls is currently under way across the country and there is a demand from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to extend the Sept 30 deadline for the enrolment of voters by three months. The KP assembly passed a unanimous resolution stating this on Monday, as many eligible voters in the province had yet to register. This would be a sen-sible move, as verification has also been stalled in the flood-hit areas of Sindh and an extension of the deadline may also be needed in some areas of Karachi where verification has been delayed for various reasons. According to a report in this paper, in parts of Clifton, Defence and several 'volatile' neighbourhoods across the city, less than 10 per cent of the electoral rolls have been verified as teams have been turned away from apartment complexes and bungalows by security guards.
Perhaps the government needs to publicise the verification process through a proper nationwide media campaign with advertisements explaining the process and advising citizens about what steps to take in order to register themselves and verify their identities. The hours when the teams will be visiting homes must be defined. As many people are away at work during the week, perhaps the weekend should be utilised for making the campaign a success. And as pointed out by the Sindh election commissioner, appropriate security must be provided to the verification teams conducting the campaign in violence-hit areas of Karachi as well as in other parts of the country where access is a problem. Ultimately, citizens also need to make the effort to get themselves registered instead of simply complaining and criticising, especially if the wobbly foundations of democracy in this country are to be supported. Exercising the right to adult franchise is an essential component of building and strengthening a democra-tic order. This is especially true in countries like Pakistan where the democratic experiment has often been derailed.
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22 September 2011
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Sectarian killings
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EVEN though it was not the first attack on Shia pilgrims in Balochistan, the modus operandi of Tuesday's cold-blooded murder of 26 bus passengers near Mastung showed a descent into new depths of savagery. The pilgrims, mostly from the Hazara community, were lined up by terrorists who checked their identity cards before mowing them down. An ambulance going to the aid of the victims in Mastung was fired at, killing three people. Lashkar-i-Jhangvi has brazenly claimed responsibility for the two heinous acts. One is appalled by not only the militants' fiendish mindset but also the authorities' failure to provide protection to buses carrying vulnerable pilgrims. What is also cause for regret is the tour operators' indifference to their clients' safety. While it is true that the terrorists are quite capable of meticulous planning and a careful choice of targets, the authorities should have had the common sense to anticipate Wednesday's killings, given that this was the third such sectarian attack in Balochistan since July. Surely, if an entire community, vulnerable to such attacks, cannot be provided security, there are ways in which safety can be assured for smaller groups, such as pilgrims, likely to be targeted. The obvious measure would be to have well-armed security escorts in vehicles forming a cordon round buses carrying pilgrims. The success of this mode of security was demonstrated in the Hub area in July 2007 when police vans were able to beat back an attack on Chinese engineers and kill many terrorists. Similarly, the tour operators and the security authorities could work out a scheme to have armed guards within the buses.
The fight against Lashkar-i-Jhangvi is part of the country's larger battle against the Taliban who have declared war on the state and people of Pakistan. The enemy is ruthless and indifferent to human suffering and innocent deaths, and targets school buses, hospitals and funerals without any qualms of conscience. While the government has to operate within the sphere of the law, these constraints should not deter the state in its resolve to stamp out terrorism in all its forms and give protection to the people.
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22 September 2011
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Sound and fury
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IN a stroke of genius, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif recommended during a trip to Karachi that political parties with militant wings should be barred from elections. Will the relevant parties now please stand up? Surely they will confess to harbouring such wings in response to his call. Meanwhile, the true complexity of the Karachi situation was reflected in the Supreme Court's observation that daily police reports submitted in response to court orders need to demonstrate much more significant progress. Mr Sharif's remarks also came on the heels of his tour to flood-hit Sindh, where victims who no doubt had more urgent concerns were made to serve as audiences for his speeches about the government's failures and his heartfelt concern for them. Both moves indicate a condition of being out of touch with reality; making political capital is clearly more important at this moment than actually solving problems.
None of this is meant to imply that the ruling party isn't begging for criticism. PPP politicians promptly condemned Mr Sharif for politicising the plight of flood victims, thus jumping into the same fray themselves. The government has allowed the floods to cause misery that is unacceptable in light of last year's disaster. As for Karachi, hundreds of lives were lost before a deal was presumably struck and the Rangers were empowered to restore peace. The list goes on; just in recent days there has been news of, among other things, continuing attacks on Shias in and around Quetta, a power sector in deep financial trouble, public-sector enterprises on the verge of collapse, continuing attacks by Taliban insurgents and a worsening bout of dengue. Such a list of problems would be enough to challenge even the most effective leaders. But Pakistan must manage with opposition and ruling politicians whose words, let alone their actions, are becoming increasingly meaningless.
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23, September 2011
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Ignoring terror
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FOR a nation as terrorised as Pakistan, it is an oddly complacent one. On Wednesday lawmakers from the PML-N and the Jamaat-i-Islami sought parliamentary debates on the execution of Shia pilgrims in Mastung. Sadly, this welcome move was also a reminder of how seldom terrorist attacks on innocent civilians receive as much attention from these and other mainstream political parties. Take just a handful of recent instances: a group of boys were kidnapped by the Taliban from Bajaur on Eid and remain missing, dozens of people attending the funeral of an anti-Taliban tribesman were blown up in Dir, children were shot dead in a school bus in Peshawar, and an eight-year-old and his mother were among the civilians killed in an attack on a law-enforcement official in Karachi. Even as the violence grows increasingly indiscriminate, government officials express formulaic condemnations while most major political parties remain silent unless asked to comment. When they do, they blame US imperialism and Pakistani government collusion with it, refusing to admit that Islamist militancy is being promoted as a jihadi ideo-logy. In a vicious cycle, even mainstream parties pander to an electorate whose mindset they themselves have helped pushed to the right by failing to take loud, firm stances against terrorism.
Nor has civil society played its role. Intense media coverage erupts when a high-profile personality is targeted, casualties are high or the nature of an attack is new or particularly disturbing. Once in a while there are protests, as in the case of the Mastung attack. But a day or two later all is forgotten, and until the next major incident NGOs, parents, journalists and other Pakistanis resign themselves to the carnage, carrying on with their lives until momentarily shaken up by an attack that hits too close to home.
Meanwhile, while it may be trying to fight terrorism on the law-enforcement and military fronts, the state seems not to have realised the need for an ideological war. This is an admittedly fuzzy concept, one that offers neither the clear-cut methods nor the tangible results of crime-fighting and brute force. Transforming mindsets and creating cultural change is a slow and difficult process. But it is every bit as important, if not more so, especially if there is to be a lasting change. Over the last 10 years, the Pakistani state has attempted to bribe, convince and attack terrorists into submission. What it has not tried to do is create a society — and hence a political system — that will not harbour them, swell their ranks or excuse or ignore their actions in the name of anti-Americanism.
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23 September, 2011
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Rangers' presence
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THE army wants the Rangers'-led operation in Karachi to continue and for the paramilitary force to keep the special powers temporarily granted to it to control violence. This emerged after the army chief's visit to Karachi on Wednesday. Although some in the federal government have stated that additional powers for the Rangers should not be extended, there has indeed been a drop in violence ever since the paramilitary began its operation about a month ago. The Supreme Court's suo motu hearings on the Karachi situation may have also had an effect, with the SC keeping the police on their toes by demanding regular reports on progress made against the criminals. Even so, we cannot be certain whether the lull in violence stems more from the Rangers' operations and the SC's involvement or the 'arrangement' supposedly reached by the city's political stakeholders.
Regardless of political deals, since the Rangers' actions appear to have produced results, their operation could be extended — but not indefinitely. What is needed is a mechanism for the Rangers to work in tandem with the police seen by many as heavily politicised. Involving the Rangers could yield positive results as paramilitaries are considered less partisan. But the police cannot be left out; proper cases need to be prepared so that the suspects are prosecuted and not out on bail once the operation winds down. At the same time, a system of checks must be in place to ensure the Rangers don't abuse their powers. What could prove a test case for the Rangers' efficacy is the paramilitary's involvement in maintaining law and order at industrial venues. After meeting business leaders, the army chief called for setting up Rangers' checkpoints in industrial areas and increased patrolling by the force. No doubt, it is a challenge to curb crime in the entire city. But if the Rangers' presence succeeds in restoring peace and the confidence of the business community as well as allowing industries to function normally, it could provide a strong basis for a more effective presence in the rest of the city until a political solution is found.
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23 September 2011
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Maqbool Ahmed Sabri
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WITH the passing of Maqbool Sabri (1941-2011), an entire era of excellence in traditional qawwali singing has come to an end. He belonged to a generation that was steeped in the Amir Khusrau tradition of music, devotion to Sufi saints and the shrine culture harking back to the 13th century. The demise earlier in 1994 of his elder brother, Ghulam Farid Sabri, who together with him formed their troupe in 1956, had left the younger Sabri as the beacon of this receding tradition — especially as the rise of a fundamentalist version of Islam redefined devotional values. The Sabris were amongst the most sought-after qawwals. They won the President's Pride of Performance Award in 1970. They also had the distinction of being the first qawwals from Pakistan to have introduced the genre to western audiences in New York in 1975. The trend they set of seeking foreign audiences was followed by Aziz Mian (d. 2000), and taken to new heights of popularity by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (d. 1997), and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan after him. Amjad Sabri, a scion of the Sabri family, today is amongst the top-notch qawwals who have stuck to rendering the genre in the traditional mode. Modern qawwali, with fusion music, remains another genre altogether.
The Sabris had opted for Pakistan at Independence leaving their ancestral home at Kalyana (now in Haryana, India), where their entire generations had been honed in classical and qawwali singing by ancestors who proudly traced their lineage to the 16th-century Mughal court's legendary singer Taan Sen. Their vast repertoire of qawwalis rendered in mystic verses in Urdu, Persian and Arabic will remain as the finest specimens of the genre as sung in the traditional mode. They contain immortal numbers like Bhar do jholi meri ya Muhammad, Sar-i-lamakaan se talab hui, and many, many more that will live on.
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24 September 2011
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US allegations
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RELATIONS between the US and Pakistan are plummeting — again. This time, the attack on the US embassy compound in Kabul and the bombing of a US base in Wardak appear to have driven American officials to a concerted verbal assault against Pakistan. What is highly unusual, though, is the directness of the accusations and the seniority of the officials making the allegations. Adm Mike Mullen may be on the verge of retirement, but he is still the senior-most armed forces official in the US. And yet, the American allegations raise at least two important questions. One, to what extent does Pakistan influence the behaviour of the Haqqani network? Two, even if Pakistan does have serious influence with the Haqqani group, why would it urge them to attack the US embassy compound? Surely, the furious response of American authorities could have been predicted and there would be little to gain by poking the Americans in the eye at this juncture.
Perhaps if the US were to bring into the public domain the 'credible intelligence' it has gathered on Haqqani involvement and Pakistani complicity, the issue could be moved forward some. As long as these issues are argued over in private, the possibility of either side accepting the other's point of view appears to be very slim. At the moment, the army here appears content to thrust the civilians into the foreground to argue Pakistan's case and the civilians are doing it in the only way they know how: matching rhetoric for rhetoric. However, the allegations are too serious to go unanswered directly and, were evidence to be brought into the public domain, the army would need to explicitly state what it will do to address the problem. Pakistan should not want to and simply cannot afford to have its territory used for attacks in this manner; the price in global and regional isolation that this country will have to pay is simply not worth it.
For now, though, the US appears to still understand the need to ultimately keep Pakistan engaged. Adm Mullen may have been direct in his criticism, but his full statement shows signs of understanding the bargain that the US must strike: remain engaged with Pakistan and the US can address some of its interests; disengage and the cost of protecting or pursuing its interests will go up significantly. For Pakistan, too, a similar realisation must come into play: if Pakistan's interests, as defined by the army, and US interests don't always mesh, a rupture in relations would leave Pakistan, as the smaller power, significantly worse off.
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24 September 2011
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Disaster management
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SEVERAL institutions have been held responsible for the level of destruction caused by this summer's rains in Sindh. One of these is the National Disaster Management Authority, an institution whose responsibilities remain the source of much confusion and misinformation. The NDMA's staff of just 22 officers should be focusing on the federal-level tasks it is responsible for, which include issues such as identifying relief and resource needs in various areas; communicating these needs to relevant government departments, the armed forces and international donors and relief agencies; and facilitating and coordinating response. Instead, according to the chairman, over half the officers are in the field in Sindh monitoring the distribution of relief goods themselves. What is lacking, and is beyond either the mandate or the capacity of the NDMA, is a disaster-management mechanism on the ground at the local level. District disaster management authorities overseen by district coordination officers were meant to be set up, but are either not functioning or have not yet been notified. The reasons for this delay are unclear, but the failure to bring DDMAs into being reflects a lack of both political and bureaucratic ownership.
This is, however, part of the preparation that should have been carried out well before the arrival of the rains, especially in light of last year's flood experience. Much attention has been paid to
the delays in removing encroachments, clearing drains and restoring flood-protection infrastructure. But also missing was compliance at the provincial and district levels in terms of setting up disaster management authorities that could have made other preparations such as collecting adequate stores of tents, blankets and non-perishable food items. Adequate funding should also have been in place for local-level authorities and the NDMA; reportedly, funds from the 2005 earthquake and the 2010 floods may still be lying unused in various relief accounts, for example, and could have been pooled together and distributed to the organisations in advance. One lesson from this and previous disasters that would be foolish to ignore is that creating and empowering the right organisational set-up at all levels will be crucial for mitigating the effects of future disasters.
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24 September 2011
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'Vulgar' videos
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ON Thursday the Peshawar city circle superintendent of police issued a statement that simply beggared belief. According to him, purveyors of 'vulgar' CDs and DVDs should end their business to avoid attacks by the Taliban. There is more than one thing to consider here. First, 'vulgar' is hard to define even after serious consideration. Still it can be acknowledged that many Pakistanis may find the kind of videos being sold in the open market to be deeply offensive and want the trade shut down. Everyone has a right to his or her own view. But if illegal commerce is going on, it is up to the police to clamp down as per the law and not out of fear of extremists.
The ongoing dread posed by the Taliban is no doubt real, especially in Peshawar. But that does not mean that the police should abdicate its responsibility. Closing down businesses that some believe supply porn or other vulgar videos should have no link to the fear of Taliban retaliation. That should be a matter of policing. Otherwise, moral matters aside, statements and gestures such as those made by the SP come across as a sign of weakness. CDs are just one aspect; the argument can be taken further. Should we shut down schools in the tribal belt just because the Taliban are opposed to their existence and close all barber shops? Must women remain indoors because fanatics don't like seeing them in the street? Caving in like this is not the solution. No doubt, the threat is dire and claiming lives by the day. Even so we must live on as best as we can and not let those who wish to enforce their ideology on others gain the upper hand. Most importantly, it is the law that must be enforced.
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DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS
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18, September, 2011
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'Rain, rain, go away…'
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By Ardeshir Cowasjee
"IF you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain," sang Dolly Parton. But that was before the days of escalating climate change.
Today, the opening up of the skies only leads to chaos and gloom the world over, especially in rapidly growing, massively crowded cities in developing countries.
Rain has been falling on what is now 3,500-plus square kilometres of Karachi ever since this planet emerged about 4.5 billion years ago. As part of this hydrologic cycle, the sun heats and evaporates water in oceans, plants and soil. The rising vapour cools and condenses into clouds. Rain and snow precipitates, falling back onto land and sea.
On land, the rainwater flows as surface runoff, eventually snaking into nallahs and rivers. Some runoff soaks into the ground and replenishes aquifers. Over time, the water returns to the ocean, where the water cycle restarts.
This repetitive action over billions of years has established paths and routes for rainfall, cutting ravines, gullies, channels and rivers which quickly drain water from the land surface.
Until 200 years ago, rainwater flooding was not a problem in Karachi. In 1800, the fishing village in Talpur jurisdiction had less than 8,000 inhabitants, increasing to around 17,000 in 1850 under the British, and then to 116,000 at the century's turn.
The emergence of Pakistan in 1947 saw Karachi with some 400,000 residents, exploding to 1.1 million by 1951 and to some 16 million today. During this period, administrators and citizens have progressively destroyed the natural storm-drain system (evolved over 4.5 billion years), creating all sorts of barriers to the established flow.
What do sane societies do? When a habitation emerges, the elders or planners are aware that the natural slope of the land must not be disturbed. Rainwater that falls on buildings is led to ground level, and then moves along the slope of the land to the road which acts as a minor collector of storm-water.
Construction is carefully controlled by establishing a convex curve (camber) across the road width (with a central high point) and shallow drains along the two sides near the pedestrian sidewalk, sloped along the length of the road in the general direction of the nearest storm-drain. The primary function of roads being traffic movement, the drainage function is subservient and cannot interfere with traffic function.
Minor roads drain into larger roads, which act as intermediate or major collectors, before emptying into storm-drains established in natural channels that have been carved out over millennia. A network of nallahs joins rivers and finally meets the sea.
To repeat, in sane societies, the use, levels and slopes of plots, roads, storm-drains and components of the layout of a city are carefully controlled by the municipality. Large swaths of land are left unpaved so that rainfall can seep into the ground. No one is allowed to raise the level of any land, erect any impediment to water flow, construct roads without camber and side drains, or obstruct a ravine or gully.
The requirements of the storm-drain master plan are strictly enforced by the building control authority, the urban-planning bureau, the road construction department, the anti-encroachment cell and other related municipal agencies. So when it rains, the water flows away and there is no flooding.
We do exactly the opposite in Pakistan's urban conglomerations. We fill and raise plot levels at will, make buildings with high plinths, erect walls, disregard natural land slopes, construct/repair roads by piling additional material on top of old surfaces (instead of removing the excess), have no camber or side drains in streets, encroach with katchi abadis on nallahs, constrict marine outfalls, and other similar lunacies.
We utilise our storm-drain channels for sewerage, thereby robbing them of the capacity to cope with rainfall. Forgetting that 'safai nisf iman hey' (cleanliness is half of faith), we clog the drains with garbage and rubbish. We do not devise storm-drain master plans, and even if we did, do not have the will to enforce them.
As a result of this gross stupidity, two inches of rain paralyses Karachi (or Hyderabad, or Lahore or Faisalabad), with residents dying in collapsing dangerous structures and many more electrocuted by fallen wires.
Low-lying areas are inundated, adding to the miseries of the poor. Traffic on arteries is clogged (affording armed muggers hapless sheep for the slaughter), and scarce electricity supply disappears for days on end; in short, mayhem reigns. To call this a 'natural disaster is a blatant untruth: it is a 'man-made disaster' orchestrated by the government and municipal authorities.
The spine of Karachi, Sharea Faisal, over the past 60 years has been raised four feet above the level of the 150-year old Christian graveyard, turning it into a quagmire. The military offices of the same era on this major artery lie some three feet below road level, all subject to flooding.
Last Tuesday, in Karachi, the chief justice of Pakistan clambered from one vehicle to another amidst floodwaters outside the Supreme Court building to get to the suo motu hearing on Karachi's violence: in his chambers he dressed down the city district coordination officer who promptly suspended the senior-most officials of the municipal services department for not cleaning up the storm-drain. Problem solved?
The recent colossal rain damage in the rural areas of Sindh, caused by defectively planned drainage systems and canal breaches merits separate, rough, treatment.
With global warming, the rainfall situation is worsening and cannot be wished away. Can we not develop — and implement — sensible storm-drain master plans in our cities? Does the stupendous cost of damage to lives, property and business not make this imperative?
arfc@cyber.net.pk
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19, September, 2011
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Look back in dismay
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By Hajrah Mumtaz
JUST over 10 years after the acts of murder that changed the trajectory of significant parts of the world's discourse, one finds many people reflecting whether a decade is time enough in which to shed the light of coherence on our days and ways.
As the US honours those that died and grieves, so do many other parts of the world grieve as much for the people killed on Sept 11, 2001, as for those killed or otherwise affected in the attacks' aftermath.
And amidst the rhetoric in certain quarters — the ostensible goal for which the 'war on terror' was launched, the killing of Osama bin Laden was achieved just months before the anniversary — there is no little amount of sombre reflection on the part of Americans and their well-wishers. For in these 10 years, while we have seen some goals achieved, certain myths have also been exposed.
Ten years have been long enough to comprehensively demonstrate that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; enough to shame America with prisoner abuse and torture scandals, as well as accusations of wanton trigger-happiness on the part of some of its troops; enough to dishonour the UK administration over the extradition and torture issue.
In 10 years, we have also learned that many of the men rounded up initially and thought by the then US administration to be high-level terrorist operatives, many of whom remain in Guantanamo, were peripheral figures.
This is not to say that Bush's war did not throw up some key peddlers of death and destruction, but merely to point out how costly these catches were in terms of the collateral damage suffered by individuals and the unhappy countries of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Pakistan has been most deeply and grievously affected by Mr Bush's war too. And while this country was not directly invaded as a result of the 9/11 attacks, perhaps more than Iraq and Afghanistan does it have reason to introspect. Given the shambles that we see around us today, the immense cost of our involvement, is Pakistan a victim or a perpetrator of terrorism?
The official line is that Pakistan is a victim. Most recently, this was repeated on the 9/11 anniversary last week in an advertisement published in the Wall Street Journal (exactly which government department or ministry is responsible for the ad is unclear).
The half-page advertisement asks Americans: "Which country can do more for your peace? Since 2001, a nation of 180 million has been fighting for the future of the world's seven billion, making sacrifices statistics cannot reflect."
It goes on to quote stats about the thousands upon thousands of civilian and military deaths since the country became an ally in Mr Bush's war, the bombings and the suicide bombings, the costs in terms of people displaced and dollars lost. A feeble attempt, as this newspaper's report on the advertisement termed it, and one that can be questioned on the basis of suitability and whether it managed to hit any right notes at all.
One can also worry about the dangers of conflating Pakistan's role with that of maintaining world peace, as the ad says. Yet the costs suffered by Pakistan are immense and undeniable. And that still doesn't answer the question: is Pakistan a victim of terrorism or a perpetrator?
The answer, as always, is a matter of gray. From the point of view of the average citizen, to take a random sampling from last year, what it looks like is this:
Oct 1: Unidentified militants kill three and injure five as they torch about 40 Nato tankers. Oct 3: Unidentified militants kill three and injure eight as they torch more than 20 Nato tankers.
Oct 5: A remote-controlled bomb strikes a military convoy killing two soldiers.
Oct 6: Unidentified militants kill a truck driver and torch some 20 Nato tankers.
Oct 7: At least nine people killed and 55 injured in two suspected suicide bombings at a Sufi shrine.
The list goes on. There is one unvarying bottom line: so many killed, so many injured, so much infrastructure and potential for the future destroyed. Day to day, it's depressing. As a whole, it's devastating. And given that this is what has been headlined day after day for the past decade, no wonder Pakistanis are unable to assimilate what is happening to them.
What happened on 9/11 was a terrible. But without wanting to detract from America's grief, for thousands of citizens not immediately affected by the attacks the suffering was first emotional and then a matter of tightening civil liberties and shouldering the burden of the cost of war — including seeing their sons and daughters being sent to fight. These are matters of significance and have a direct bearing on the national consciousness.
Life changed for the Americans. But for Pakistanis, it changed in a different way. So from the average citizen's point of view, Pakistan would be a victim of terrorism.
If, now, you're feeling resentful against the US-led war and marshalling arguments about Pakistan being more sinned against than sinning, do please stop.
The country sponsored the idea of violent jihad in Afghanistan and in Kashmir. To this day, it is believed that there are elements in the establishment that differentiate between the 'good' Taliban and the 'bad'; even now, there are people arguing about this somehow not being 'our' war.
Too many terrorists have been found to have some link with Pakistan, that militant/jihadi training camps were (many believe still are) operating from here; and here is where Bin Laden was discovered.
Pakistan has been found holding a smoking gun far too often. (And as for those who say they had no part in such decisions, well, who were the people who welcomed the coup launched in 1999 by the military man that was to lead Pakistan into the war effort? Who were the people who lionised jihad and nodded sagely while the man on the loudspeaker spewed venom?)
So while Pakistan may not exactly be a perpetrator of terrorism now, per se (and that remains for some a moot point), it is far from being in a position where it can claim injured innocence and cry foul. The chickens have been coming home to roost for a long time. It is time we reflected upon that.
The writer is a member of staff.
hajrahmumtaz@gmail.com
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21, September, 2011
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The transformed private sphere
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By Rafia Zakaria
EVERY Pakistani child hailing from a family of modest but respectable means knows that he or she must get serious about a career around the age of 11 or 12.
As these children prepare for secondary school, important decisions have to be made regarding whether they wish to be an engineer or a doctor, aim for an MBA or a degree in computer science.
At the threshold of youth, the practical must cast aside their indulgent affection for literature or art and develop an aptitude for mathematics. Memorisation must begin as they go about building the arsenal of pragmatism that will (if all goes well) enable another generation to carve out a middle-class existence.
So begins our initiation into the cold, steely world of doing the needful, a motif that is repeated with recurring regularity in life.
In 10 years, a similar selection must be made of a prospective wife or husband; a similarly careful calculation based on income potential, family support and compatibility with the rest of the household must be tabulated to ensure the desired outcome. A few years following marriage, children must appear to ensure the continuation of this cycle into the next generation. The value of marital arrangements and career choices must be based on the sensible and rational rather than the tumultuous and sensational. In the recipe book of a Pakistani middle-class existence there is little room for the vagaries of feeling.
But if the realm of the private is the arena of stoicism and compromise, where brides are selected based on their ability to tolerate a grumpy mother-in-law and careers pursued on the basis of an uncle's business contacts, no such calculations permeate the public realm.
Out in the world, a middle manager and father of four, husband of the second cousin and most favoured by his father, abandons all restraint. Again and again, he invites the young secretary into his office for cup after cup of tea steeped in leering and innuendo.
A carload of students, all studious sorts, gang up to beat a fruit vendor for brushing their car with his cart. A school teacher inexplicably fails a student because she doesn't like his mother and a group of girls organises a school-wide boycott of a classmate who refused to pitch in for a farewell present for their favourite teacher.
This random selection of unconnected incidents is culled from the everyday sagas of Pakistani life taking place in offices and streets beyond the invisibility of the home and family.
Their visible arithmetic of easy opportunism, unchecked emotion and aversion to reason reveal a public realm where restraint and logic are absent. There are no connections between them, no explanation as to why a woman feels secret gratification at dumping a bag of trash on her neighbour's doorstep, or a teacher experiences vengeful glee at punishing a child for his mother's pretensions.
There is no larger pattern, no bigger picture, no scheme of construction except their persistence, daily, weekly and visibly, and some feeble attempts to attach them to other familiar problems — sexual harassment, ignorance, illiteracy, a cornucopia of the usual suspects.
The staple of familiar ills undoubtedly contributes to random acts of public unkindness. For who can absolve those continuing curses from their part in tragedies? And yet, the dynamics between private compromises and public liberties in contemporary Pakistani society suggests a more drastic social subversion.
In most cultures, the private world of hearth, home and family is the arena of the emotional and the felt, where the intangibles of love can be negotiated and some respite provided against the demands of the public realm. In a Pakistan stuck between a patchy and haphazard modernisation this division seems to have become deeply distorted.
Duty and obligation were always the lubrication of vast families, but under the pressure of urbanisation and migration, their old offerings of security and reassurance remain no more. So even while marriages may still be arranged in keeping with old equations of family ties, the appendages of upward mobility or income potential are also piled on top.
If the choice of profession used to be based on the ability of a father or brother to initiate a novice into a profession, it now evolves from the consciousness of other paths foregone and fulfilment sacrificed.
If grandchildren are produced to please sets of eager grandparents, those same beaming elders are no longer available to babysit their children's progeny, leaving an incomplete cycle of reciprocity and much unarticulated resentment and seething tensions that are directed out of the home and into the public.
The transformed private sphere with its half-hearted dalliance with modernity has preserved old limitations and expectations and also added new burdens and constructions. The result is a dysfunctional system — a system that is no longer able to provide emotional sustenance or familial security.
The new Pakistani private sphere is thus the worst of both worlds. It combines the modern individualist baggage of having to fend for oneself and find one's own job with holding on to the traditional collectivist burdens of keeping extended families appeased, following age-old trajectories of education, marriage and child rearing — but with none of the insurance provided by a large coddling clan.
The expectations of old are in this manner combined with the challenges of the new, and digested whole simply to retain the perception that change has been avoided and tradition upheld — that no new freedoms are needed to allay the burdens of newfound pressures.
When a space of refuge becomes a wasteland of obligation and duty, it is perhaps unsurprising that its unattended cares manifest themselves in acts of random unkindness.
Orphaned emotions, homeless repositories of feeling that cannot be accommodated where they belong, emerge instead in barbs and jibes; unthinking acts of victimisation small and large bear witness to the silent transformation of the private sphere.
The writer is an attorney teaching political philosophy and constitutional law.
rafia.zakaria@gmail.com
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21, September, 2011
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Cutting the UN down to size
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By Mahir Ali
FIFTY years ago last Sunday, a plane crash in what was then Northern Rhodesia claimed the life of the only secretary general of the United Nations to have died while in office. An official inquiry blamed the tragedy on pilot error.
Not everyone accepted the verdict. Doubts have persisted ever since, and recent revelations support the suspicion that Dag Hammarskjöld's demise in the heart of Africa was a case of targeted assassination rather than death by misadventure.There are, of course, those who dismiss speculation in this regard as just another 20th-century conspiracy theory. Others concede that the facts may have been obscured, but insist that trying to pursue them half a century later is bound to be a fruitless endeavour.
A great many conspiracy theories are, no doubt, balderdash. It often isn't difficult, however, to distinguish between those that are purely the product of heated imaginations, and others based on a paucity of accepted facts — especially when it appears that the official version of events leaves plenty of inconvenient questions unanswered.
Hammarskjöld, at the time of his death, was on his fourth mission within 14 months to the profoundly troubled African state of Congo, whose formal independence from Belgium the previous year had been followed by internecine violence and a blatant attempt by the former colonial power to retain its economic interests by supporting secessionists in the country's resource-rich Katanga province.
The radical nationalist Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba was perceived as the biggest threat to the neocolonial project. Belgian fears in this respect were shared by France, Britain and the United States, and more than one assassination plot was put into action in brief interim between Lumumba's accession to power and his overthrow by Col Mobutu.
Popular support for Lumumba, not least within the army, meant, however, that the prospect of his return to power could not be written off. The Belgian government persuaded Mobutu to hand him over to Katanga, where he was brutalised and then murdered by secessionist troops and Belgian forces. It took 40 years for Brussels to acknowledge its responsibility for this travesty.
At the UN Security Council, Hammarskjöld denounced the assassination as "a revolting crime against principles for which this organisation stands", while promising to investigate whether UN forces, whose Congolese intervention had been based on a request from Lumumba's government, bore partial responsibility for his fate.
Lumumba and Hammarskjöld had not seen eye to eye on the former's insistence that the UN forces deployed in Congo should consist exclusively of African units. The UN secretary general was also disinclined, however, to ally himself with western interests.
The Swedish economist's independent streak — which Britain and France had presumably not foreseen when they recommended him for the post in 1953 — also irked Moscow, but was broadly appreciated by the smaller nations that made up the bulk of the UN's membership.
Hammarskjöld was keen for the blue berets to replace Belgian forces in Katanga, while insisting that UN troops would do nothing to prevent the province from seceding. The rebel leader, Moise Tshombe, could not have failed to realise, however, that his political survival depended on the support he received from Belgium and assorted western mercenaries (nowadays referred to as contractors).
That Tshombe and his multiple backers were implacably hostile to the UN intervention has never been a doubt. On the fateful night of Sept 17-18, Hammarskjöld was flying to Ndola in Northern Rhodesia — then a British colony — for talks with Tshombe. It was a night flight because of the risk that the plane would be too easy a target in daylight for Katangan rebels.
Last month, Göran Björkdahl — a Swedish aid worker who became interested in the Hammarskjöld saga after discovering that his father, while representing the UN in Zambia in 1975, had been handed a metal plate from the crashed plane — revealed that he had found more than one witness who recalled seeing a smaller aircraft open fire on the secretary general's transport after the latter had circled the area thrice.
Communications between Hammarskjöld's plane and the control tower remain shrouded in obscurity. And there has never been any convincing explanation for a comment by the British high commissioner to Rhodesia, Lord Alport, who was present at the airport in Ndola, that Hammarskjöld had changed his mind about landing in Ndola.
His private secretary, Brian Unwin, derided recent claims in a letter to The Guardian — but if there was a British role in the cover-up at the time, as widely suspected, its perpetuation can hardly come as a surprise.
Björkdahl's thesis appears to be broadly supported by Susan Williams, whose extensive independent investigation has yielded the book Who Killed Hammarskjöld? published earlier this month. Their call for a fresh inquiry — which is certainly feasible while there are witnesses willing to testify, and given that it may well be possible to pick out kernels of the truth from official documents that have hitherto remained secret — deserves to be taken up by the UN.
That this case does not fall into the category of garden-variety conspiracy theories is illustrated by a letter published by two of Hammarskjöld's better-known aides, Conor Cruise O'Brien and Ivan Smith, back in 1992, in which they contend that "the European industrialists who controlled Katanga" had sent two aircraft to intercept and divert the UN chief's plane because they did not want him to meet Tshombe; what was intended as a warning shot, however, triggered off the explosions that brought the plane down.
The circumstantial evidence that casts doubt on the official version of events is overwhelming.
Would discovering the whole truth at this late stage matter?
Well, given that the western quest for Third World resources remains as relentless and ruthless as ever, and given that the UN never quite regained its relative potency or independence, a complete picture of what happened 50 years ago would certainly help to fill a crucial gap in the string of events that have brought us to this stage.
mahir.dawn@gmail.com
 
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22, September 2011
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Not by invective alone
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By I.A. Rehman
THE thrust and counter-thrust of a rapier-like argument, the occasional exposure of a politician's malfeasance, and a whiff of scandal once in a while are like spices that make politics more delectable.
But no one can escape serious injury if they are made to dine day in and day out, like the Pakistani people, on spices alone. The pantomime that has been staged by our politicians for quite a few weeks never had any entertainment value but now it only causes pain and anger. Besides, it brings forth each day fresh evidence of the country's political bankruptcy.
First, the electronic media helped Dr Zulfiqar Mirza enthral the people with an Ojhri-like display of fireworks. Some people were reminded of Maulana Zafar Ali Khan's couplet: Nikal jati ho jis kay mun say sachi baat masti mein, faqih-i-maslehat-been say woh rind-i-baada khwar achha (the follower of Bacchus who blurts out the truth in a moment of abandon is preferable to an expediency-driven jurisconsult).
The wonder did not last even three days. One of his targets took the escape route offered by the institution of commissions of inquiry and the other one did not consider his charges worthy of reply. Hopes that the Supreme Court would offer its stage for the next act did not materialise.
Then MQM's Mustafa Kamal had his fans in the electronic media swooning over his unrecognised stature and a torrent of invective was released. Finally, Mr Altaf Hussain took the stage and displayed almost every trick in his bag of histrionics in a 200-minute solo performance. He too was not short of spite. Now he has withdrawn his words against the ANP chief regarding the allegation that the latter had been funded by the US, and one does not know who had to be placated — the ANP or the US. In any case, the ANP seemed keen to reciprocate forgiveness with forgiveness.
While some of the eminent politicians have thus been diverting themselves, the people have been battling against one misfortune after another. Several spells of heavy rains have caused havoc in large parts of Sindh. Whole villages have been wiped out and scores of lives lost. Nearly seven million people have become homeless.
Everywhere poor families are complaining of neglect or too little being done too late. At the other end, Lahore is in the grip of dengue fever that is touching epidemic scales and the authorities are covering up their negligence and incompetence by dealing with health issues through ham-handed tactics.
These matters of life and death for the people have exposed the lack of calibre of not only the occupants of official gaddis but also the various challengers. Neither Sindh's rain havoc nor dengue fever has come without a warning and the authorities have no excuse for their aimlessness and sheer mendacity.
But have the parties out of power done any better? True, all of them have not been content with castigating the administration. Some of them have visited the communities affected by floods or disease and made efforts to organise relief. Yet, the emphasis in comments on national calamities is on running down one's political adversaries as if there is nothing more to politics than the unfettered use of venom.
The non-realisation of the consequences of the present antics of the political actors and the low level of their exchanges is simply bewildering. The inevitable result of the present drift will be the people's total alienation from democratic politics. That people throughout the country are frustrated and disenchanted with their rulers is no secret. But they can effectively chase bad rulers only if better alternatives are visible.
The opposition parties do not seem to realise that they have done little to win public trust. They spare no effort at attacking the parties in power for their acts of commission and omission but they have not tried to offer alternative remedies to the causes of the people's concerns, say, energy shortage, inflation, lawlessness, militancy, poverty, unemployment, floods, epidemics, etc. It is not enough to claim possession of talismans that would be used or disclosed only when they come into power. Let all advocates of change bare their wares so that the people can judge their value.
Another blow to democracy has been struck by the wild wave of name-calling. Politicians in office and out of it have been accused of most serious crimes — gun-running, bribery, patronising killers, subverting legal processes, etc. And nothing happens. Naturally, people gradually develop a strong antipathy to a system that harbours such insufferable outlaws. When politicians appear to enjoy unrestricted immunity the system is bound to be the first casualty.
Further, since the exchanges between politicians across the power divide consist solely of accusations of wrongdoing, it is no longer possible to hope for policies and actions based on consensus. For years, democratic opinion has been suggesting that key state appointments should be made through agreement between the ruling party and the opposition. Intense mistrust of one another has made such agreement impossible.
The government has often gone to great lengths to fill a key post with its 'own man' and the opposition retaliates by sticking out for its 'own man'. The administration is completely ruined in this battle over favourites. Such a wasteful farce will continue until personalities become irrelevant in a tightly regulated order that leaves little room for discretion and nobody can benefit by planting favourites in authority.
Even if the country's political leaders cannot make their ambitions subservient to the public good they should at least begin to act in enlightened self-interest, take their calling seriously and begin doing their homework. Politics is much too sacred a game to be played by invective alone.
Tailpiece: Within minutes of the Supreme Court's order allowing the LDA to fell trees along the Lahore canal, over 150 living trees were mercilessly cut down. Never has a judicial order met with such prompt compliance. It was a sad day for the once glorious city of Lahore for it had failed to protect some of the finest feathers in its plumage and the city's seizure by vandals had been judicially legitimised. 
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22, September, 2011
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Sociology of a shaping tsunami
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By Jawed Naqvi
TSUNAMIS and earthquakes come unannounced but their apparent 'suddenness' is embedded in decades, possibly centuries, of subterranean activity.
Political tsunamis are equally hard to detect or predict. But we know that they move along societal fault lines. The world missed Iran by a long shot and it is today trying to divine a glimpse of an Arab Spring even if it all looks more of a media expediency than a movement.
India's main TV channels and through them much of the world have similarly misread recent events in the country that were and still are projected as tsunamis of sorts. These are, however, more likely to prove to be a figment of the way India's corporate elite wants to see the country developing.
For their vision not to remain a pipe dream India must first become a police state. It may be getting there but there's still some steps left to invoke complete disaster.
The media build-up of Narendra Modi's three-day fast (or fest) in Gujarat and its slightly longer version in Delhi by the quixotic anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare presented an elitist politics as popular to the exclusion of complex issues that traumatise the majority.
We now know that both events were tailor-made to impose a political choice in the Uttar Pradesh elections due early next year. A rare Dalit woman runs the state and whoever dethrones her or wins her support will be best equipped to capture power in 2014 when general elections are due.
Modi is the political mascot of India's right. Hazare has idolised him as a model for the country's economic development. Hazare's view on Modi tallies with that of business captains dominating India's economic skyline.
They all see in the Gujarat chief minister their next prime minister who would deliver them from Dr Manmohan Singh's unexpectedly curtailed zeal for unpopular and environmentally untenable prescriptions.
Delhi's Outlook magazine recently carried a cover story on how the middle class had dumped Manmohan Singh. There are warnings now that the world may be preparing to disown him. A typical column in the Indian Express advised Dr Singh to accelerate pro-market reforms or prepare for a rude regime change.
 "If the current government is not seen as a credible interlocutor, outsiders can only get impatient for the next set of rulers to take charge of the Delhi durbar." WikiLeaks has already established how the BJP has been making a beeline to the US embassy to reiterate its pro-Washington credentials. Given this, the Express columnist makes eminent sense.
When earthquakes occur they lay bare not just a people's material capacity to cope with natural disasters, they also test victims' social cohesion. The massive tremor centred in Gujarat's Bhuj district in 2001 framed not just the geological fault lines but also its victims' sociology. Upper-caste Gujaratis refused to share shelters with the lower castes.
Modi's antidote dovetailed with corporate exigencies. He fomented hatred of one community to cement his other constituents. There are no more agitating mill workers in Gujarat. They have become polarised Hindus and Muslims.
But the prospective prime minister is suddenly projecting a hitherto absent religious tolerance. His public embrace of visually identifiable Muslim clerics — replete with beards, caps and cloaks — though some reports said they were rented for publicity — indicates a political quandary.
In India, political challenges are often reflected in acronyms. The composition of Gujarat votes thus carries the sobriquet of KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslim). In Rajasthan, this takes the form of MAJGAR (Muslim, Ahir, Jat, Gujar, Adivasi and Rajput). Laloo Prasad deployed the MY factor (Muslim-Yadav) to beat the political odds for years in Bihar. There are countless such acronyms that are the building blocks of India's sociology and thus its politics.
It is this reality that constitutes India's parliament. It was this that would become an obstruction to domestic and foreign economic prescriptions. It was thus that MPs had to be bribed to pass a vote first on Dr Singh's economic agenda that did not have a popular mandate and then to push a nuclear deal with Washington that growing throngs of ordinary people (minus the televised middle class) want to shun.
Chernobyl, Fukushima and the recent disaster in France have all contributed to the coalescing of a growing resistance against a rush for energy by any means at any cost.
It was therefore tamely predictable that TV cameras and anchors that had built up Anna Hazare and Narendra Modi as messianic leaders who had shunned food for the national cause would completely ignore the 127 men and women who could perish due to their indefinite fast going on for a week now against a nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu.
There were violent protests earlier this year in Maharashtra against another nuclear project. That the new protesters are backed by hundreds of thousands of villagers in Koodunkulum is of no importance to private TV. That the very coast had suffered a tsunami havoc seven years ago is of no consequence to the televised middle classes.
Another hitherto silent political tsunami is building in the sensitive Arunachal Pradesh, bordering China, not far from the epicentre of Saturday's devastating earthquake.
Away from public gaze the government has quietly called in dozens of foreign firms to the ecologically fragile zone to build a series of dams there, a move the local tribes resent and fear. Their resistance has so far gone unnoticed in the rest of India. But already there is ferment in Assam about the consequences for its lower riparian regions.
International and domestic pressures on the government are enormous, as the Indian Express columnist has indicated, to deliver or perish on what is an obvious bonanza involving rape of the environment and uprooting of its traditional inhabitants.
Corporate greed is not abating and it could only happen in India that a ragtag army of Maoist guerrillas, whose peers didn't spare a chance to rape the ecology in China, are compelled to defend it in Chhattisgarh.
This doesn't mean that people who resist the plunder of India will win. All that they know is that there is yet a small chance of averting an unimaginable disaster.
The writer is Dawn's correspondent in Delhi.
jawednaqvi@gmail.com    
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23, September 2011
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The (un)manageable crisis
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By Cyril Almeida
COHERENCE isn't exactly something American and Pakistani policymakers excel at.
The Haqqanis are back in the news and, to hear the Americans tell it, Afghanistan would be a land of milk and honey were it not for the Haqqani thorn.
Fair enough or plain rubbish? Doesn't matter really.
It's what the Americans have decided for now and Pakistan will have to live with it until the Americans decide that the Haqqanis aren't the central problem after all.
Similarly, the official Pakistani response to American cage-rattling has been recycled, boilerplate stuff: go fix Afghanistan; interdict the Haqqanis on the Afghan side of the border if you want; we're doing enough from our side, etc.
But scratch the surface and a shift is visible: we have started to own the Haqqanis.
For years, the security establishment pretended it had nothing to do with the war in Afghanistan. We won't help them, but we won't harm them either was the official line on the Afghan Taliban.
And as the North Waziristan hub of terror grew, the security establishment even suggested it understood the necessity of an operation and that selective action in the non-Haqqani areas would begin once SWA was sorted out and the NWA environment had been 'shaped'.
But now the pretence has dropped. In private, circles close to the establishment readily admit what they used to dance around before: the Haqqanis are our assets; they are our boys; they are the ace up our sleeves.
(Of course, claiming total ownership is as much posturing as total denial once was: the Haqqanis may be amenable to listening to Pakistan, but they are no puppets on strings.)
Along with that ownership claim, there is a new willingness to sketch out a narrative of what has gone wrong in the region since 9/11, at least according to the army-led establishment.
This is the narrative.
Afghanistan is a mess, always was a mess and probably always will be a mess.
But turmoil is relative. As long as foreign forces are waging a full-blown war in Afghanistan, the turmoil will remain at its maximum.
For reasons of history and culture, the establishment narrative goes, the Afghans will never accept a massive foreign footprint on their soil.
Unhappily, the American superpower thought it could rewrite history. Its war machine felt it could defeat the Taliban and tame Afghanistan.
What was Pakistan to do as the mighty American bull snorted and dug at the ground with its hooves? Get out of the way and let it charge at the puny Talibs, that's what.
The result was always going to be the same. The cunning Afghans would dodge the charging American bull forever and plunge their rusty swords into its back whenever they could. The mightiest war machine in history would eventually be brought to its knees, exhausted and out of money and the will to fight.
But turmoil at its maximum in Afghanistan for an indefinite period isn't good for Pakistan, according to the narrative.
For one, the knock-on effects inside Pakistan would be difficult to control while jihad is going on next door.
For another, shaping an Afghanistan that is more favourable to Pakistan would prove infinitely more difficult while regional and global powers are all active in the Afghan equation.
But the Americans can be stubborn, so they needed to be encouraged to see common sense sooner than they would have of their own accord.
Hence, the helpful allies like the Haqqanis and others.
What happens to Afghanistan, and Pakistan, after the Americans respond to the only language they understand, the sting of a military defeat?
If they withdraw fully, the turmoil will subside and become more manageable for Pakistan, according to this narrative.
Factional warfare in Afghanistan wouldn't have the jihadi flavour that tends to turbo-charge turmoil. Afghanistan would still be messy — remember, it's always been, always will be a mess — but at least Pakistan could go to work then and figure out a way of managing the perma-crisis that is Afghanistan.
As for the turmoil in Pakistan, it is linked, like conducting atoms, to the jihadi turmoil in Afghanistan. Starve the fire here of the jihadi oxygen in Afghanistan and it will slowly burn itself out.
And what if the Americans opt to keep some troops back for a CT-heavy agenda, as is expected?
Well, no approach is perfect in a place like Afghanistan. With the foreign presence successfully diminished, Pakistan could recalibrate its approach to deal with the revamped American objective.
The focus, according to the establishment narrative, should be on what happens to Afghan society and its people while foreigners are stalking its land for prey: Afghan society will remain in a state of acute, though not always visible, agitation and that would have devastating consequences for Pakistan and its interests.
It's a neat narrative. An active American war machine in Afghanistan equals maximal turmoil and an unmanageable crisis. Remove the direct American element from the equation and Afghanistan would settle down to its old equilibrium: unrest and turmoil, but of the more manageable variety. Here's the problem: there's no real reason to believe that an Afghanistan in which the Taliban are ascendant, or big players at least, would be any more 'manageable' for Pakistan.
The Tailban tend to do what they like, and last time round it didn't quite work out to Pakistan's advantage.
Another problem: bringing down the jihad temperature in Afghanistan may not make it any easier for the establishment to deal with the domestic threat from militancy.
Militancy here probably no longer needs the oxygen of an Afghan jihad to sustain itself: Pakistan may continue to burn long after the second Afghan jihad is extinguished.
And yet another problem: does it make sense to count on eventual rationality from the American superpower in Afghanistan and to risk its ire for hastening what we believe is the inevitable?
The narrative may be neat, but its fallout could be anything but.
The writer is a member of staff.
cyril.a@gmail.com
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24, September 2011
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Terror, tradition and good taste
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By Irfan Husain
THE suicide bomber who murdered Burhanuddin Rabbani, head of the Afghan High Peace Council, concealed an explosive in his turban. This is not the first time the traditional head gear has been used to hide a bomb.
Similarly, terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan have carried weapons under burkas that they have used to slaughter innocent people. They were safe in the knowledge that they would not be stopped and searched by male security staff in deeply conservative societies. And, of course, it would be an insult to ask a Pakhtun to take off his turban.
These attitudes and traditions present formidable security challenges. We all remember how Maulana Abdul Aziz tried to escape arrest during the Lal Masjid episode by donning a burka. In India, robbers wore this all-concealing garb to hide their guns in a daring hold-up in a jewellery shop.
Security forces have been unable to come up with an answer to this troubling problem. There simply are not enough policewomen available to search every burka-clad woman in public places, and it would be anathema for male cops to demand that burkas be removed. So lives will continue to be lost at the altar of tradition.
In Europe, the burka and the niqab have become the focus of another kind of scrutiny. The French law barring these garments from public spaces has been hugely controversial. Widely supported by the majority, it has nevertheless divided opinion among feminists and liberals.
In a long recent article in the Guardian exploring the impact of the law, Angelique Chrisafis spoke to a number of women who continue to wear the full-face veil, despite the legal and social problems it poses. One of them, Hind Ahmas, said that on one occasion, she was attacked by a man and a woman on the street who told her "to go back to Afghanistan". She was also punched in front of her three-year old daughter. The journalist quotes Ahmas about how the law has changed her life.
"In my head, I have to prepare for war every time I step outside… The politicians claimed they were liberating us; what they've done is to exclude us from the social sphere. Before this law, I never asked myself whether I'd be able to make it to a café or collect documents from the town hall. One politician in favour of the ban said niqabs were 'walking prisons'. Well, that's exactly where we've been stuck by this law."
The fine for breaking the law is 150 euros; thus far, a judge has yet to impose it. But by the same token, only a few hundred Muslim women are estimated to wear the niqab. In most cases, they have chosen to wear the Islamic covering, rather than being forced to. One woman mentioned in the article compared herself to pre-Second World War Jews, and the persecution and attacks they suffered in France.After this article appeared, I expected a spate of letters to the editor of the Guardian from its staunchly liberal readers denouncing the French law. I saw three letters printed on the subject expressing strong views against the custom of women covering themselves. Emily Marbach wrote:
"If the Jewish women could have torn off their yellow stars and slipped into the masses to survive, they would have done it in a flash. Most Jews have integrated into the societies they have come to live in…."
Leni Gillman cites Islamic doctrine in her criticism of the practice of concealing women's faces: "Nowhere in Islamic teaching are women required to wear the burka, the niqab or any other swaths of clothing. The only injunction for both men and women is to dress modestly. These coverings are a matter of choice for Muslim women, and nothing to do with faith … Women wearing these styles of dress render their humanity invisible, which is presumably part of their purpose, so they should be prepared to accept the consequences in secular European countries. If wearing such clothes is so important to these women, perhaps they should find accommodation in one of the many countries that approve of them."
Finally, Maureen Green writes:
"How sad the Guardian should express sympathy for a custom that deprives women of sunlight and fresh air. What next? A survey of the possible benefits of stoning women to death for adultery?"
These writers — all women — reflect a widespread revulsion towards burkas and niqabs in the West. Many liberals oppose it because they think Muslim men force their wives or daughters to cover themselves. Others feel these garments prevent women from achieving their potential and limit them in every sense.
My own feelings on the subject are pretty conflicted: while I respect people's right to dress as they please, I do feel garments should not cause offence. Thus, if somebody wishes to strip in public, I would suggest they do so in the privacy of their homes. Fortunately, there are laws against public nudity that protect us from unattractive individuals exposing themselves.
Above all, I have a horror of people who try deliberately to call attention to themselves. Thus, orthodox Jews who wear skullcaps, long black coats and untrimmed beards draw curious stares wherever they go. A couple of generations ago, they would also have attracted insulting comments.
The Guardian article quotes Ahmas on the subject of finding work: "I've contacted scores of employers looking for work. I always ask them if they accept the veil. They say: "It depends what type. If it's tunic and trousers and a headscarf, that's OK, but a long robe is not."
As an experiment, I wore a burka a few years ago to see how it felt. My world shrank; it was hot and uncomfortable; and my movements were restricted. In short, I would not wish anybody to spend a lifetime in such a garment. But as I said, I respect individual choice, provided it is freely arrived at.
Having said that, the fact is that wearing it not only limits choices, but can also represent a security threat. I think the old adage 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do' pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject. Sadly, this still does not resolve the security issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan… 
irfan.husain@gmail.com
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DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS
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