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Tahirul Qadri to travel overseas on Tuesday to 'reorganise party'

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 09:58

Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri has announced an overseas visit to reorganise his party, Express News reported.

While briefing the media on Monday evening, Qadri said that he was leaving the country on an Emirates Airlines flight at 3.30am early Tuesday.

He said PAT’s strength was his workers who lived in foreign countries.

“PAT was dissolved in 2004, and we will reorganise it again,” he said.

He said PAT had entered the political arena to play the role of a real opposition, adding that a schedule of protests and sit-ins had already been announced.

“Reshuffling in the federal Cabinet is a result of our struggle of over 70 days in Islamabad,” he claimed.

The PAT chief censured the incumbent government, claiming that the United Kingdom was a “real democracy” as it did not subject the protesters of ‘Kashmir Million March’ in London to police brutality or blockades.

Qadri added that since there were reports of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif leaving for London, he had changed his schedule.

“I will not land in London because of Shahbaz Sharif,” he said. “Most of my time will be spent in the US.”

Categories: Pakistan & World News

University in Islamabad suspends staff over Israel stall at mock UN debate

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 09:24

ISLAMABAD: A university has suspended three staff after students created a stall to showcase Israeli customs and traditions as part of a mock UN debating contest, officials said Monday.

Students at the International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI) set up the stall, which featured Israeli flags and pictures of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as part of their “model UN” exercise at the weekend.

The display, which also included a banner saying “Welcome to the land of peace and prosperity”, triggered a furious response from right-wing student groups who smashed its contents.

Pakistan and Israel have no diplomatic relations and the Jewish state is widely disliked in the Islamic republic.

The university said the dean of the faculty of management sciences, a student affairs adviser and a female lecturer had all been suspended over the incident.

An IIUI spokesman said the university “strongly condemns” the hosting of the Israel stall and stressed that “a number of resolutions were passed against the Israeli brutalities in Palestine” at the mock UN event.

A female student said the stalls were intended to showcase the religion and culture of various countries alongside a mock UN debate about the situation in Middle East.

“Students were coming to our (Israeli) stall, they were talking to us, discussing the cultural things that were on display,” the student told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“Everything was normal until students of the female wing of IJT came to our stall and accused us of supporting Zionism.”

Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) is a conservative student organisation allied to Jamaat-e-Islami.

“They attacked the Israel stall and smashed everything, everybody was running out of the hall, it was so scary,” the student said.

The university administration immediately cancelled the event and formed a three-member committee to investigate the incident.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

ANP's Asfandyar criticises govt for inaction over IDPs

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 08:14

PESHAWAR: As the plight of  internally displaced persons (IDPs) grows, Awami National Party’s (ANP) president Asfandyar Wali Khan criticised both the federal and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governments for neglecting the issue.

Addressing a tribal jirga in Peshawar on Monday, the ANP chief warned that if the problem is not given attention now, the repercussions could be as terrible as Bangladesh’s war of liberation 1971 which pitted East Pakistan against West Pakistan.

Speaking of the areas cleared by the Pakistan army, Khan emphasised that the army should order repatriation of the IDPs to these areas.

“The government should analyse the failures that took place during the period when IDPs came out of Waziristan, and work on ensuring that these do not take place again,” says Asfandyar.

He went on to add that when IDP’s came to Buner and Swat, they were also repatriated by the government, and the current government needs to follow this example.

Further, he said, the students of Fata are deprived as there is no university in that region.

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Woman poisons husband, two children before committing suicide

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 04:10

RAWALPINDI: A woman poisoned to death her two children and husband before committing suicide in Rawalpindi on Monday, Express News reported.

According to initial reports, Shahida Bibi and her husband, Shahid Abbas, were in constant dispute following Abbas’s decision to marry for the third time. Unable to deal with the situation any longer, Shahida resorted to poisoning her husband as well as her six-month-old daughter and six-year-old son from her previous marriage.

Initial investigations reveal that the woman poisoned her children and husband in the late hours of Sunday. Shahida then called her brother-in-law at around 5am to inform him of what had happened and her decision to commit suicide.

Upon hearing the news, he informed all family members to rush to Shahida’s home, but they were unable to reach her in time as she had already committed suicide.

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PM Nawaz took six months to appoint official responsible for polio

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 03:03

KARACHI: Despite an alarming rise in the number of polio cases reported in Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took six months to appoint an official responsible for the epidemic while a funding plan for the eradication was only approved last month.

Protests in the capital city in recent months have kept the PM consumed resulting in his government delaying the reconstitution of the polio cell which was disbanded during the 2013 elections.

That meant provinces did not pay workers their stipends of $2.50 a day on time, said Shahnaz Wazir Ali, a polio adviser to Sindh province.

“We had a loss of about nine to 10 months, which is a very big setback,” Ali said.

Ayesha Farooq, the prime minister’s appointee on polio, admitted there were problems, but said that payment arrears were down to provincial, not central government.

Most new cases were in areas where security was poor so children had not been vaccinated, she said, and denied that PM Nawaz was not taking the issue seriously.

“We have got to take responsibility for our weaknesses,” Farooq told Reuters. “The quality of campaigns is something we will be paying close attention to.”

Polio: A thing of the past?

“It’s frustrating. Eradicating polio is not rocket science,” said Elias Durry, head of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) polio campaign in Pakistan.

“If we could have three to five months to have really good campaigns, then we could get rid of this disease,” he said. “We have been doing half-baked campaigns in high risk areas,” he said.

Polio was meant be a thing of the past. A global campaign came tantalizingly close to wiping out the disease altogether.

Now polio, which can kill or paralyse a child in hours, is endemic only in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. So far this year, Pakistan has had 217 polio cases, a 14-year high accounting for 85 percent of instances around the world.

The disease spreads easily from person to person, and Pakistan has already exported the virus to Syria, China, Israel and Egypt. Experts say complacency is not an option and the government has called the situation an “emergency”.

Yet as the latest vaccination campaign kicked off this week in the broiling, garbage-strewn alleys of Karachi, vaccination workers said they had not received stipends from the provincial government for months.

Some have dropped out of the campaign in Karachi, where the disease is entrenched.

As teams prepared to venture out on vaccination missions into some of Karachi’s most dangerous streets, police deployed to protect them showed up late.

Vaccinators must wait, meaning they miss children. Sometimes only a third of children in an area are vaccinated, the WHO said, and low coverage fuels new outbreaks.

Police protection 

Militants have also long been the scourge of polio vaccination campaign, attacking aid workers and the police who protect them as they distribute doses to children.

For frontline polio workers, late pay is less worrying than lack of protection. Sixty-four people have been killed in attacks on polio teams and their security escorts since 2012, when the Taliban banned vaccinations in areas they controlled.

Their targets are women like 19-year-old medical student Asma Nizam, who received a death threat for taking part in the program.

“A man came on a motorbike and said, ‘if you want to save your life, you should go from here’,” she said.

The next day, militants killed five of her colleagues.

As she prepared to visit Karachi slums on a vaccination mission last Monday, police sent to protect Nizam were three hours late.

Police are thinly spread, especially in crime-ridden Karachi where only 26,000 police watch over the huge city. Some are seconded as bodyguards for politicians.

“I have seen six police taking a VIP’s teenager to the salon but they cannot spare any officers to protect the poor children of Pakistan,” one health official burst out in exasperation.

Karachi police spokesperson Atiq Shaikh said the force was severely understaffed.

“Polio campaigns take 2,000 officers. But we always provide them with security even though we have some time constraints,” he said.

A further hurdle is caution among families offered the treatment. Some believe militant propaganda that says vaccinations are a Western plot to sterilize children.

Aiding polio’s spread has been this year’s military offensive in the tribal region of North Waziristan, which drove nearly a million people out of the conflict zone.

The mass movement allowed workers to vaccinate children previously unreachable. But families also moved to areas where vaccination coverage was patchy, allowing polio to reestablish itself in cities where it had been eradicated, experts say.

Children may need the oral vaccine up to 10 times for it to be effective. Many children are malnourished or have diarrhea so the vaccine is not absorbed.

The unlucky ones may end up like Rafia, a chubby two-year-old with kohl-rimmed eyes. Her legs were partially paralyzed after contracting polio this summer.

“She was vaccinated whenever they came,” said her father Ghulam Isaq, a shopkeeper. He massaged her tiny toes as a group of black-robed polio vaccinators looked on, only their eyes visible above black niqabs covering their faces.

“We need help even if we are poor,” Isaq said. “We are Pakistanis too.”

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Xi Jinping's visit: PM Nawaz blames Imran's 'immature politics' for delay

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 02:50

ISLAMABAD: Censuring Imran Khan for staging anti-government protests in Islamabad, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping was postponed because of the ‘immature’ politics of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief. 

The premier made these comments after addressing participants of “Invest Pakistan” – an international investment conference held in Islamabad.

Speaking to the media, PM Nawaz said Pakistan will continue to progress despite these sit-ins in the federal capital.

‘Invest in Pakistan’

In his speech, the prime minister said he has mandated the board of investment (BoI) to facilitate investors in planning and implementing their ventures.

Nawaz added the booming stock markets of Pakistan were vindicating progressive economic initiatives taken by the government.

“We plan to privatise power and its distribution network along with rationalisation of tariff to make investment in the power sector very attractive.” Nawaz said.

“Numerous projects are in the pipeline. The production of these projects will soon outstrip demand,” Nawaz emphasised.

Further, Nawaz said the government had planned the installation of numerous power generation units to boost energy production.

Nawaz also clarified that the projected GDP growth rate of the country ranged between four and six percent, considerably higher than the growth recorded during previous governments, where it consistently failed to cross the three percent barrier.

The premier welcomed international investors to invest in Pakistan and pointed out the various investment opportunities available in the country.

The story was transcribed by Mehak Ameer. 

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Tall claims: 134 mobile schools for Pakistani IDPs in Afghanistan

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 02:29

ISLAMABAD: Afghan officials claimed on Sunday that they have established 134 mobile schools for children of displaced tribesmen who have migrated to Afghanistan following military operations in Waziristan tribal regions.

Thousands of families from North and South Waziristan agencies have crossed into eastern Afghanistan and most of them now live in parts of Khost and Paktika provinces. Most of the tribesmen fled North Waziristan after the security forces launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb against local and foreign militants in mid-June.

Muhammad Kabir Haqmal, the spokesman for Afghanistan’s Education Ministry, told The Express Tribune by the phone from Kabul that 54 schools started functioning in Paktika this week which accommodate 3,500 Pakistani children, while 2,000 children study in schools in Khost province. “We have recruited 54 teachers from the Pakistani refugees,” he added.

The UN Children Fund Unicef and the Norwegian Refugee Council have helped the Afghan government in the establishment of these schools. Haqmal said 93 more mobile schools will be set up in the next few days. He claimed that there were nearly 25,000 Pakistani families in Khost and 21,000 in Paktika.

Afghan officials earlier put the number of displaced Pakistani tribesmen at 100,000 – a claim disputed by Pakistani officials who say that many of those who had crossed into Afghanistan are now returning to the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2014.

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New initiative: Mehsud elders to mediate between govt, breakaway TTP faction

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 02:15

PESHAWAR: Leading elders from the Mehsud tribe of South Waziristan Agency have decided to mediate between a breakaway faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the government, The Express Tribune has learnt.

The decision was taken at a secret meeting held in Tank on Saturday. Though Tank city has historically been dominated by Mehsud and Ahmadzai Wazir tribesmen, thousands of more tribesmen had shifted here in 2009 when the military launched Operation Rah-i-Nijat against the TTP in South Waziristan.

“The meeting was held with the consent of both sides [government and Khan Said, aka Sajna-led Mehsud faction of the TTP],” a Mehsud elder told The Express Tribune. “Now we are going to evolve a formula for reconciliation after holding talks with both sides,” he added.

The meeting agreed to form an 11-member Jirga for reconciliation which comprises Maulana Hisamuddin, Malik Sharang, Maulana Noor Muhammad, Malik Rapay Khan, Malik Mehtab Khan, Maulvi Abdul Rahim, Malik Haji Muhammad, Maulvi Inam Ud Din, Malik Aziz Ullah, Malik Muzzaffar and Malik Alam Shah. The Jirga will first meet Sajna group’s commanders.

The Mehsud faction split from the TTP just before the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azab in North Waziristan following bloody factional fighting in which TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah supported Sajna’s rival Shehryar Mehsud. The Sajna group also differed with the TTP strategy of carrying out attacks at public places, mosques, markets and on security forces.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2014.

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SC restores NA membership of PML-N's Dewan Ashiq

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 02:02

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court restored membership of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA  Dewan Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, Express News reported on Monday. 

His membership was suspended after Election Commission of Pakistan disqualified him for providing incorrect information in his nomination papers and possessing a fake degree.

Bukhari was elected to NA-153 constituency of Multan.

The MNA, who is known for switching political loyalties, had won last year’s polls against his arch rival Rana Muhammad Qasim Noon, who had contested on Pakistan Peoples Party’s ticket. Noon later filed an application against Bukhari.

A heavyweight in the constituency, Bukhari had won the seat for two consecutive terms in 2008 on Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) ticket, and in 2013 on PML-N’s ticket.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Eradicating polio: IMB seeks UN agency’s help on Pakistan

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 01:52


A day after releasing its scathing review of Pakistan’s polio eradication efforts, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) has asked the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) to press Islamabad into implementing all recommendations mentioned in its report.

In a letter to Unicef Executive Director Anthony Lake, IMB Chairperson Sir Liam Donaldson said Pakistan’s ‘moribund’ polio programme could not be allowed to carry on even a month longer.

“Nothing short of transformative action will do,” said the letter, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune. “We make a series of powerful recommendations to bring this about [in our report]. We hope that you [the Unicef chief] and your fellow leaders will demand that the Pakistani government acts.”

“Otherwise hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent every year solely to keep the poliovirus in Pakistan out of other countries,” the letter added.

In its report, released on Saturday, IMB described Pakistan polio eradication efforts up till now as a ‘disaster’ and advised the government to immediately hand over the task of wiping out the disease to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

When contacted, Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (NHSRC) Saira Afzal Tarar said that “since the IMB report was issued over the weekend, we have not been able to review its recommendations thoroughly.”

“In a day or two, we will call a high-level meeting for all officials working for polio eradication in the country. IMB’s recommendations will be reviewed in the meeting and we will decide which of those should be implemented,” she told The Express Tribune.

The state minister said that people working to eradicate polio from Pakistan better understood the ground realities in the country and would have a better idea on how to go about the task. Asked about IMB advice to hand over the task to NDMA, she said the authority was short of staff to begin with and lacked the capacity to carry out the initiative in an effective manner.

National manager of the Extended Programmed on Immunisation Dr Rana Safdar, meanwhile, said that one reason why IMB was advocating handing over the polio eradication job to NDMA could be because it sees the authority as very active in the country and able to expedite decisions.

“It is too early to comment on this recommendation as we have find out NDMA’s stance on this and how ready it is to take over the responsibility,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

‘Representing’ Israel: IIUI dean, student adviser face admin’s wrath

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 01:17

ISLAMABAD: A regular moot on international relations at the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) took an odd turn after a group of students, as part of their Model United Nations (MUN) activities, arranged a stall for the country they were representing — Israel.

The three-day event was organised by the faculty of management sciences (female) and student advising office at the Quaid-e-Azam auditorium, Faisal Mosque Campus. The event was cancelled prior to its concluding day (Sunday) and instead the university management was busy taking action against the students and organisers.

Reacting to the incident, IIUI management has expelled the student affairs adviser, removed the dean of management sciences and is likely to take ‘strict disciplinary action’ against the students.

MUNs are held in almost all educational institutes an include social events, mock UN assembly and groups’ sessions and many other activities with students being assigned different countries which they represent on the ‘world stage’.

The first day of the event on Friday turned into a disaster when students started objecting over Israel’s stall at the ‘Global Village’ fair as a poster carrying a picture of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country’s flag was adorned at the stall. Students representing the country had also donned the Israeli dresses and were trying their best to represent the country’s culture — the purpose behind the event.

On Saturday, members of Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing, among others, complained against the previous day’s stall and told the varsity management to take action.

Succumbing to pressure, the management not only had the stall removed but, to avoid any uncomfortable situation, cancelled the event altogether.

According to one of the organisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the event was shut down when over 100 students reached the old campus holding batons and told others to cancel the event forthwith.

A press release issued from the varsity on Sunday stated that the stall for Israel was placed without the knowledge and permission of the university authorities.

Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba President Zubair Hafeez commented on his Facebook page that arranging an Israeli stall at the campus was unacceptable. “We demand the varsity administration to strike off the organisers and those responsible for the event,” he wrote on the social media website.

The university has constituted a committee led by vice-president Dr Tahir Mansoori to probe the issue.

Students and organizers, who number more than a dozen, were being probed till late evening.

A student involved in the affair told The Express Tribune that the university management was looking to pass the buck on to them which was unfair as every MUN conference in the country has representation for Israel.

Abdullah Umar Khalid, another student, commenting on a related Facebook page, termed the entire affair completely pointless. “A stall doesn’t necessarily mean that they support Israel, it is just a representation of a country,” he wrote.

But another student, Khawar Khan, replied that a stall of Israel inside a university meant that one accepts it as a state.

The varsity’s president, Dr Ahmad Yousif A Al-Draiweesh, who hails from Saudi Arabia, will take action after the probe body submits its report to them.

The varsity has always been at the centre of such issues — with some ‘quarters’ objecting to musical nights or fairs, even those held separately for boys and girls.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2014.


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Gullu Butt denies Model Town vandalism

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 00:58

LAHORE: Model Town vandal – Gullu Butt – on Monday denied charges of destroying public property and attacking police officials, Express News reported. 

Butt, who is allegedly a police tout and Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) supporter, was seen on TV damaging cars parked in the area where security forces and supporters of Tahirul Qadri clashed on June 17. An anti-terrorism court had indicted him for this but he pleaded not guilty to these charges and referred to them as ‘baseless.’

Speaking to the media today, Butt denied that he had broken any windows during the clashes. ”The media is my witness; police can say whatever they want to say; I have no enmity towards them,” said Butt.

On further questioning by media person, however, Butt admitted to destroying only two windows. ”The number of windows I broke has been exaggerated; I only broke two windows,” Butt said assuredly.

Commenting on his public image, Butt said that everyone ‘loved’ him. “People meet me with love and respect and it is the media who has damaged my reputation,” he said.

“I am a loving person and people meet me with respect. It is not my fault that the media is portraying me as a terrorist. I am not a terrorist,” Butt added.

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After narrow escape: JUI-F chief complains probe details not shared

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 00:32


Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Sunday complained that the authorities were not sharing details of investigations into previous terrorist attacks carried out against him or the party.

“There had been several attacks in the past but we were never informed about the investigations,” Maulana Fazlur Rahman told the media after a meeting with Adviser to Prime Minster Irfan Siddiqui.

Though the JUI-F chief expressed his concerns, he vowed to continue his political journey with the same zeal and enthusiasm.

“Talking about the interests of Pakistan was not something which would lead someone to go for murder attempt,” he questioned, adding “we never pick up arms despite several attacks.”

Maulana Fazl said that he had always advocated peace and advocated an end to terrorism in the country but the national security institutions could not get tangible results.

“The country is under the attack of western culture which wants to deprive us of our tradition and history,” he said.

Talking about the resignations submitted by PTI, the JUI-F chief expressed surprise over the delayed acceptance, saying the speaker should accept the resignation without further delay.

National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq had delayed the decision after intervention of opposition leaders but the PTI recently decided to appear before him, en masse, on October 29 for verifications.

Irfan Siddiqui said that “this is regretful that a person like Maulana, who always speaks for peace and shuns sectarianism, was targeted.”

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2014.

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Revised curriculum: JI pushes through its agenda on textbooks in K-P

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 16:55

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led (PTI) government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has agreed to revisions in the curriculum for government schools here – including the removal of pictures of schoolgirls with their heads uncovered – for the new academic session commencing April 1, 2015.

The PTI’s coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) raised objections over the curriculum which was approved in 2006. The JI said Islamic chapters had been removed in 2006 syllabus; the party also wanted secular chapters removed from the textbooks. The religious party asked for the removal of “objectionable” materials and the addition of 18 Quranic verses to grade 9 Chemistry book and “Assalam-o-Alaikum” instead of “Good Morning” being taught in first graders’ textbooks.

The JI expressed reservations over images in the Science textbooks for grade 4 and demanded the exclusion of chapters on Raja Dahir and Ranjit Singh in Pakistan Studies grade 8. As per the revised curriculum earlier, verses on jihad were removed from the ninth-grade Islamiat textbook and added to the grade 11 course.

The JI had requested these changes in September and warned the PTI government that what it saw as objectionable material must be removed from the texts or “the JI would be independent to decide its future course of action.”

According to Directorate of Curricula and Teacher Education (DCTE) Director Bashir Hussain Shah, the provincial government has accepted all of JI’s demands. The education department has notified all public sector institutes to revert to the curriculum set in 2002. The government managed to convince JI leaders to leave chapters on Bacha Khan and other Pukhtun personalities in the syllabus.

Caving in?

Earlier this month, Minister for Higher Education Mushtaq Ghani told a delegation of Peshawar Textbook Board that all objectionable material had been eliminated from textbooks.

He added that ‘objectionable material’ was included in books in 2006-2007, but the PTI government took notice and after long consultations with alliance parties and educations experts, it had decided to remove such material.

“From the next academic session new books will be taught in our province’s schools which will not have any objectionable material,” said Ghani.  He added 4.5 million new books need to be printed and the government was trying to get that done as soon as possible.

A history of revisions

In 2006, the federal government wanted to remove duplication from various primary and secondary level textbooks and therefore the syllabus for all government schools was changed. However, the then MMA government in K-P condemned the centre’s decision. It formed a committee comprising leaders of various political parties and asked the federal government to refrain from making these changes; some of its demands were accepted.

In 2010, the 18th Amendment brought education under the province’s control and the ANP-led government of the time made some more changes to the syllabus.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2014.


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Operation Zarb-e-Azb: TTP sets up new sanctuaries in Afghanistan

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 16:46


Pakistani officials claim to have found evidence of ‘new sanctuaries’ set up by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliates in the Afghan territory near the border with North Waziristan Agency, where a massive military operation, codenamed Zarb-e-Azb, has been ongoing since mid-June.

A senior security official told The Express Tribune that the new sanctuaries have been established to create difficulties for Pakistan’s military and disrupt Operation Zarb-e-Azb in the troubled agency. “It is a worrying development that the TTP is regrouping close to the border right under the nose of the Afghan security forces,” said the official, who did not wish to be named.

When asked, the official did not rule out the possibility of ‘tacit support’ from Afghan security agencies for the new Taliban sanctuaries. Despite repeated requests, Afghan authorities have done little to dislodge militants from their side of the Durand Line, he added. ‘The lack of action from Afghan authorities has encouraged the terrorists to carve out new sanctuaries.”

Pakistan has long urged Afghanistan to eliminate what it calls ‘safe havens’ of the TTP in northeastern Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. Fugitive TTP chief Mullah Fazllullah is also believed to be hiding in those areas. Islamabad has sought Fazllulah’s extradition from Afghanistan, but Kabul is not forthcoming to such a demand.

The Afghan inaction stems from a trust-deficit with Pakistan. While Pakistan voiced concern over Afghanistan’s reluctance to cooperate against the TTP, Kabul continues to believe that the country’s security establishment is still supporting Afghan insurgents. Recently, an acting Afghan interior minister reiterated these allegations against Pakistan while speaking at a conference in New Delhi.

However, with the formation of the new unity government led by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Dr Abdullah Abdullah, Islamabad is hoping for a new beginning.

“I think we should give the new Afghan government a benefit of doubt. Whatever has happened at the border is due to the policies of Karzai administration,” commented another government official. He said Pakistan was looking forward to the new Afghan leadership for fresh start.

The official pointed out that Pakistan has already conveyed to the Afghan administration that it would not allow its territory to be used against any other country. “We expect the same from Kabul now,” he added.

Islamabad believes cooperation from Kabul would be crucial for eradicating the ‘terror infrastructure’ from North Waziristan.

The military on Sunday also claimed that they have killed 18 suspected terrorists during ‘precise’ aerial strikes in parts of Khyber Agency where Operation Khyber-I has been ongoing for the past few days. “A huge cache of arms and ammunition was also destroyed,” said the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police chief is said to have requested the federal government for manpower to deal with security threats emanating from Operation Khyber-I.

According to documents available with Express News, intelligence agencies have warned in a report that Khyber Agency has become a safe haven for terrorists who have fled Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan. They plan to use Khyber Agency as a springboard for launching attacks in Peshawar and elsewhere in the province.

The IG police highlighted the pressing need for deployment of 4,000 Frontier Constabulary personnel in the areas lying between Peshawar and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Provincial authorities, according to sources, have warned that if these areas were not secured, the terrorists might carry out a major attack in Peshawar.

Sources said that the authorities have also shared the reports of intelligence agencies with the federal interior ministry. They revealed that law enforcers have recently foiled three major terror plots and arrested suspected terrorists.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

PTI to hold protests against increase in electricity tariffs on Wednesday

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 12:48

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has announced to hold anti-government across Pakistan against a recent increase in electricity tariff, Express News reported.

He was addressing the ‘Azadi’ March in the federal capital on Monday.

Imran said the PTI will protest in all districts headquarters on Wednesday.

The PTI chief said the country was being ruled by just 400 families, and that he will expose all those who had looted the country.

Imran further demanded that the prime minister and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar reduce petroleum prices by at least Rs15 to reflect the fall in international prices of petroleum.

Urging both PM Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Zardari to declare their wealth, he said the sit-in could end the day that happens.

“I will end the sit-in the day both of them declare their actual assets.”

Imran also addressed Pakistan Peoples Party chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

“Bilawal, I will accept you as a leader when you ask your father Asif Zardari and your ‘uncle’ Nawaz Sharif to declare their assets,” he said. “Speeches don’t make you a leader.”

About the party’s rally in Gujrat on Friday, Imran said,
“Our Friday’s rally will be the biggest in the history of Gujrat.”

Ban on Mubashir Luqman, private TV channel

Imran condemned the 15-day ban imposed on anchor Mubasher Luqman and a private television channel by PEMRA on Monday, and invited the show host to conduct his programme from atop his container.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

NA adopts resolution congratulating Malala

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:41

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution congratulating Malala Yousafzai for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Radio Pakistan reported.

The resolution was moved by the Minister for Kashmir Affairs Barjees Tahir. The NA resolution also lauded Malala’s struggle and efforts for the promotion of girls’ education.

“This House congratulates Malala Yousafzai, the daughter of Pakistan for winning laurels for the country and the nation. This House salutes her and appreciates her services for education of girl child and courage she manifested,” reads the resolution.

The 17-year-old Malala along with India’s Kailash Satyarthi were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work promoting children’s rights.

Malala is the youngest person to be awarded the prestigious annual prize.

Mechanism to ensure uninterrupted CNG supply

Parliament was informed on Monday that a mechanism is under consideration to ensure uninterrupted CNG supply to consumers.

During the Question and Answer hour, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi informed the House that under a proposal, CNG dealers would be allowed to import LNG and supply it to consumers on regular basis.

Expressing the hope that after completion of LNG terminals, gas would start arriving in Pakistan within three months, Abbasi said that the government was planning to import two billion cubic feet of LNG in four years.

Responding to a question, the minister said total recoverable oil reserves in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are 126 million barrels besides 1,334 billion cubic feet of gas.

Election petitions

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed said all election petitions are expected to be disposed of by the end of the year.

Out of the 403 election petitions that were filed after the last year’s general election, 317 petitions were disposed off by the election tribunals while 86 are still pending.

The House was further informed that the Karakoram Highway damaged near Attabad village in Hunza Valley in a landslide, will be restored by the end of July next year.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

SC tells Sindh, Punjab to complete local govt legislation by Oct 30

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:29

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday gave provincial governments of Punjab and Sindh till October 30 to complete legislation to authorise the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to carry out delimitation process.

The three judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk was hearing a case relating to local government elections on Monday.

During the course of hearing, Attorney General for Pakistan Salman Asam Butt informed the court that the federal government has issued two Ordinances about the matter.

Additional Advocate General (AAG) Punjab Razaq A Mirza submitted that an ordinance has been issued which will be tabled before the Provincial Assembly on Monday.

Similarly, AAG Sindh Mir Qasim informed the court that a bill has already been tabled in the Provincial Assembly.

Later on Monday, the Sindh Assembly passed a law to handover delimitation powers of union councils to the election commission.

LG elections in K-P

The three member bench also sought reports form ECP and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government in a month regarding steps taken for holding local body elections in the province.

Muhammad Akram Sheikh, counsel for ECP submitted that the poll body would require at least five months for making the required preparation as well as arrangement for biometric systems to hold polls in K-P.

The counsel further informed the court that a meeting had been held between ECP and the provincial authorities to ensure local bodies elections in the province.

Sheikh further contended that the commission will not be able to complete the delimitation process for LG elections in Sindh and Punjab in 45 days, suggesting that the poll body would require at least six months.

The court observed that the ECP’s plea for deferment of local body polls in K-P would be heard once Sindh and Punjab completes legislation.

The hearing of the case was then adjourned until October 30.

When the bench reconvenes on October 30, it is will also take up the matter of a permanent Chief Election Commissioner being appointed.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Army chief departs for Indonesia

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 08:55

RAWALPINDI: Army chief General Raheel Sharif on Monday left for Indonesia on a three-day official visit, according to an Inter Services Public Relations statement.

The statement added that the army chief is visiting Indonesia on the special invitation of Indonesian defence authorities.

“During his visit, the COAS is scheduled to meet senior military leadership of Indonesia,” it said.

The army chief was seen off at PAF Base Nur Khan by senior military officials.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

11 dead, 31 injured as passenger coach collides with truck in Lasbela

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 06:54

QUETTA: At least 11 people were killed, while 31 sustained injuries when a passenger coach collided with a truck in the Uthal area of Lasbela district on Monday morning.

According to Uthal police, a passenger coach en route to Karachi from Quetta tried to overtake another Karachi bound coach, when it collided with a truck coming from the opposite direction.

Drivers in both vehicles died on the spot, police said.

After the accident, rescue workers also rushed to the spot and the dead and injured were shifted to the state-run hospital in Uthal. Some of the injured were also transported to Karachi as their condition was critical.

The dead have been identified as residents of Quetta, while some others are being kept at the local morgue for identification.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

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