Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

During the last few days, the country has been through almost all kinds of man-made and natural disasters.

As if target killing on the streets of Karachi in the name of ethnic, political or personal rivalries and the military operation in the northern areas to wipe off the militants form the land of pure was not enough for the nation, nature unleashed at its worst upon the nation.

On Wednesday 28th July, a Pakistani Airbus passenger plane of Airblue crashed in densely wooded Margalla hills of the capital Islamabad, killing up to 152 people on board, making it one of the country’s worst air crashes ever.

On Thursday 29th July, Pakistani government declared a day of mourning and on that very day when the nation was offering silent prayers to the 152 ill-fated passengers of the Airblue flight ABQ-202, nature played havoc upon us, heavy rain and floods.

The death toll from flash floods and landslides triggered by torrential monsoon rains in Pakistan rose to nearly 1600 on as officials reported thousands more displaced.
Hundreds of homes and thousands of hectares (acres) of cultivated land have been destroyed in the northwest region. Entire villages have been wiped out and infrastructure severely damaged in different parts of the country. Rising water flow in rivers has broken the more than 100-year old record as the flood wave moves towards Sindh.
Malakand Division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been worst affected, closely followed by the districts of southern Punjab. In just five days, more than 1,300 people have lost their lives and the number is rapidly rising.

Amidst all this crisis scene, Mr. President went ahead with his scheduled visit to France and UK in spite of widespread anger among country’s leadership about remarks by David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, accusing Pakistan of “looking both ways” on exporting terror.

And while the rest of the citizens of the country are struggling to cope with the country’s worst flooding in 80 years, the Karachi city is literally burning. The murder of MQM leader and member of Sindh Assembly, Raza Haider, on Monday triggered violent tensions across Karachi claiming 73 lives till date and leaving around 150 people wounded. The Karachi city was already going through a dilemma named as ‘target killing’ and it seems that the death of Mr. Raza only proved to be the push of a finger on a weaken wall.

With plane crash, floods, runaway leadership, ethnic clashes & killing, the thought of what awaits us next is something that disturbs my mind.

“A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is statistic.”

Here are the statistics:

Cost to Agriculture:
US$1,000,000,000
(US$ 1 Billion in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa only)

Pakistanis Affected:
2,500,000
(including incidents of disease and displacement and with rising threats of epidemics)

Households needing help:
100,000
(Mostly in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa)

People still waiting to be evacuated:
27,000
(Including 1500 tourists)

International Relief Pledged so far:
US$30,000,000+
(Including US$10 million from the United States, another US$10 million from the United Nations and US$8 million from United Kingdom)

Death Toll:
1650+
(Estimate of 1500+ in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa only)

A Pakistani villager with his daughter moves wades to safety.

(more…)

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced on Thursday that General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will be military chief till 2013.

PM made the announcement in a three-minute televised address to the nation in which he showered praise on Kayani and termed him a respected person both nationally and internationally.

Gilani said that Kayani’s extension was necessary for continuity in Pakistan’s fight against terrorism and said,
“He was a key designer of the strategy for the war on terror and it is progressing well under him. The war is going through a critical stage… continuity is needed at the moment and we are sure that the war on terror, under Kayani, will reach its logical conclusion successfully.”

2013 is also the year both the incumbent government as well as Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s tenures end.
In March, the government had also given a one-year extension to Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha for similar reasons.

Kayani, arguably Pakistan’s most powerful man, had been due to retire in November. He had replaced former president General Pervez Musharraf on November 29, 2007. Before that, Kayani has also held the key position of ISI chief.
He also officiated as the director general of military operations and held that slot when the Pakistan Army first moved into the country’s tribal areas to flush out al Qaeda affiliates.
Kayani was also the man who reportedly brokered a power-sharing deal between Musharraf and slain former premier Benazir Bhutto – an accord that led to the issuance of the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in October 2007.
(more…)

‘Lahore is under siege! We are under attack!’ read the text message on a certain person’s phone. The phone owner hurriedly switched on the television, clicked the remote a few times to find his favourite news channel and seated himself on a comfy couch all set to watch some distressing scenes taking place in his city.

With eyes glued on the screen and hands with a firm hold on the mobile phone, he typed in to his friend who had informed him about this devastating terror attack, ‘Oh look! How the devil did that terrorist got up there!’

The first person who was in his office, and has been watching the terror scenes since long was getting frustrated now, ‘what the hell is the police doing!’ he texted.

The second person, sitting at home could not type anything but, ‘I just don’t know what is wrong with this country!’

The television was now repeating the same images revealed an hour go which showed the terrorist firing from a top building, people screaming and running away on the streets, police taking its position to counter the terrorist.

..

Few minutes passed and both friends were quiet for sometime as if waiting for the next move of the terrorist so that they have something to write to each other.

Soon the television screens were broadcasting some new images of the terrorist blazing bullets at the naive people who were trying to hide, trying to run away in an attempt to save their lives from a monstrous being that was destined to kill them all without any seemingly possible reason.

The person at office who was fond of watching national geographic documentaries started comparing the current scene on television with another scene on another channel. He thought, the scene is quite similar, for there also someone was running, hiding, trying hard to save his life from a beast, just like this scene on the news channel.

But the only difference was, the earlier channel was showing a human in action while the latter channel was capturing a scene from wildlife where an innocent deer was trying to save his life from a lethal leopard destined to kill him.

Few moments passed away, the terrorist got in full action, and the text message discussion also got in full swing.

Both friends sitting in a fully air-conditioned room were trying to analyze the thoughts, emotions and fear of the people under attack. Both were eager to share each and every move of attack and give their viewpoints on the scene as if the lives of those unlucky beings depended on this discussion or as if it was doing any good to those people who were the target of this ruthless act.
..

After a long discussion, the two people witnessing the scenes of chaos on the television screen seemed to be running short of words to discuss the scene with each other, and the person at office typed in: ‘May God have mercy!’
The person at home said with a deep sigh: ‘He better have mercy!’

But in fact they were not short of words they were simply getting bored of the repetitive images on the screen.

..

‘What if I was among them?’, thought one of the friend disturbed by the incident.

‘We live and we die, after all life is the name of moving on,’ other friend at home came to this conclusion in his mind.

‘Oh God! I have already wasted so much time worrying about those people who I don’t even know, I really should focus on work now’, the friend at office thought and got busy in work.

‘This is getting too much bloody! I can’t watch this anymore!’ thought the friend at home and switched the channel.

As the desperate conversation between the two friends came to a dead-end, so did the dreams and lives of many people who became an object of the fatal attack without any cause.

But of course why should the living spare many a thoughts on dead?
Even this thought seems really absurd that some lifeless and ghostly figures lying on the streets now were as real and alive just few moments ago as these two friends..

Israeli attack on Freedom Flotilla has very well proved that Israel does not value human lives let alone international laws but the well-wishers of Israel are silent on this issue as Israel undertakes another act of barbarism and continues to show its real face to the world.

Israel Navy troops opened fire on pro-Palestinian activists aboard a six-ship flotilla carrying aid destined for the Gaza Strip before dawn Monday, killing at least 16 people and wounding several others, after the convoy ignored orders to turn back.

The ships, carrying more than 700 passengers also included three Pakistanis namely, Talat Hussain, Agha Raza (Both of Aaj TV) and Mr. Nadeem(of an NGO, Khubaib, Islamabad) , along with representatives of 40 other countries, taking 10,000 tonnes of food, medicine and other goods to Gaza, which has been completely blocked by the Israelis since 2007.

About six hours after the flotilla left waters off the Cyprus coast, three Israeli missile boats left their base in the northern coastal city of Haifa on a mission to intercept the ships.

Television showed footage of black-clad Israeli commandos descending from helicopters and attacking the activists, as well as several wounded people lying on the deck of the ship.

However the Israeli army said the activists attacked soldiers with knifes, clubs and a rifle snatched from an Israeli commando, injuring four Israeli servicemen. Israel also termed the humanitarian aid by peace activists, a violent media provocation against the government of Israel.

There were unconfirmed rumors that Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, had been killed during the Israeli takeover of the boats.

Reaction in Pakistan:

In Islamabad, politicians, lawmakers and journalists staged a peaceful protest against Israel, denouncing the killings and calling on the United Nations and the United States to intervene. Countrywide rallies were also held where common people also participated with the journalists, condemning the Israeli attack and demanding the release Pakistani journalists.

The fate of three Pakistanis, Talat Hussain, Agha Raza (Both of Aaj TV) and Mr. Nadeem is still uncertain after a Gaza-bound aid flotilla they were travelling on was attacked by the Israeli Navy.

Pakistan on Monday condemned an Israeli commando attack on a flotilla of aid ships bound for the Gaza Strip, describing the killings of up to 19 activists as “brutal and inhuman.”

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani “strongly condemned” the attack on the “peaceful flotilla,” his office said. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan was trying to find out whether any of the Pakistanis who were with the flotilla had been affected. The government said, it was “seriously concerned over the well-being and whereabouts” of Pakistani citizens and media personnel on board.

Owing to no diplomatic relations between Israel and Pakistan, Pakistan has started contacting OIC, UN and International Red Cross to lodge protests against Israeli attack and to inquire the whereabouts of three Pakistanis on the freedom flotilla.

Reaction in Turkey:

The Turkish government “strongly protested” against the military action in international waters, calling the interception unacceptable. “Israel will have to endure the consequences of this behaviour, “a Turkish foreign ministry statement said.
Turkey has also reportedly recalled his ambassador to Israel and has demanded to hold emergency meeting of UN Security Council.

Around 10,000 Turkish protestors marched from the Israeli consulate in Istanbul towards the city’s main square on Monday, shouting slogans and waving banners saying “Killer Israel”.


World reaction to Israel’s deadly attack

World seems to be in a state of shock on Israel’s storming of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla which set off an international furor, also drawing criticism from friends and enemies alike.

– Turkey, Germany, France Lead Condemnation of Israeli ship raid.

– Turkey warned Israel of ‘irreparable consequences’ to bilateral ties and has recalled his ambassador to Israel and demands to hold emergency meeting of UN Security Council.

– France’s foreign minister said he was “profoundly shocked” by the violence.

– Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described the killings as a massacre.

– Iran, one of Israel’s biggest foes in the Muslim world, said the killings were “inhuman” and would help lead to the Jewish state’s demise.

– Arab League calls Israel’s raid a “Terrorist Act” and called for an emergency meeting on Israel’s attack on aid flotilla.

– Greece’s National Defense Ministry called off a joint air force exercise with Israel after the news.

– Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri condemned the Israeli action as “a dangerous and crazy step that would inflame the struggle in the region.”

Enough has been said and expressed through the use of words but it is high time now to take some timely action to save the rest of the lives for the sake of each country’s own honour and integrity if not humanity.

Frustrated with Facebook’s lack of  privacy and biased policies, few techies have launched Pakistan’s first social network, MillatFacebook.

A group of six young IT professionals from Lahore, the cultural and entertainment capital of Pakistan, Launched www.millatfacebook.com on Tuesday for Muslims to interact online and protest against blasphemy.

The private venture came after a Pakistani court ordered a block on Facebook until May 31, following deep offence over an “Everyone Draw Mohammed Day” page considered “blasphemous” and “sacrilegious”.

“Millatfacebook is Pakistan’s very own, first social networking site. A site for Muslims by Muslims where sweet people of other religions are also welcome,” the website tells people interested in signing up.

The Urdu word “Millat” is used by Muslims to refer to their nation. The website claims to have attracted 4,300 members in the last three days — mostly English-speaking Pakistanis in their 20s.

Source – Dawn News

  

After years of demands and complains of the Pakhtoons, Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province is officially renamed as Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, when the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms (PCCR) signed the draft of the 18th Amendment in the first week of April 2010.The British rulers named NWFP- North Western Frontier Province, commonly as Sarhad in Urdu, for convenience after they had brought certain areas in the north-western part of their empire together as a single administrative unit.  

Pro-Pakhtoonkhwa:  

However, the name NWFP has not been acceptable to the Pushto-speaking Pakhtoons — who compose a substantial majority (about 58 per cent) of its population. People of NWFP are demanding to change the name of their province because NWFP is not a name, it is a location.
Pakhtoons demand that, “Punjabis have Punjab, Sindhis have Sindh, Balochis have Balochistan, then why Pakhtoons do not have their province name belonging to them alone!”
Pakhtoons are in the majority in this province so they demand ethnic names such as Pakhtoonkhwa, Pashtoonistan or Afghania, whereas other ethnic factions like Hazarwals and others strongly reject these names. According to statistics by NWFP government, 68% of people in the province speak Pashto. Other languages spoken are Hindko(18%), Seraiki(8%), Urdu & Punjabi(2%). It is clear from the statistics that majority of the people speak Pashto. Hence the argument is not valid that since there are different ethnic groups in the region who speak Hindko, Seraiki, Chitrali, Urdu and Punjabi, the name of the province should not be changed to Pakhtoonkhwa.   


ANP stance on the issue:
  

 Awami National Party (ANP) have long campaigned for the change to Pakhtoonkhwa and put forward the demand that since all other provinces in Pakistan have ethnolinguistic names, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan; so it is very fair for NWFP to change its name to Pakhtoonkhwa.
The issue was raised by ANP leader, late Bacha Khan with former President General Ziaul Haq, who had offered to give a name to the nameless province, but later on Zia did not accept any of the names proposed because the names were being politicized by Afghanistan. Hence the issue became controversial which compelled ANP to abandon negotiations with then martial law administrator.ANP which currently rules the NWFP province is supporting government of PPP in center on all issues on the condition that PPP would support them to change the name of NWFP to Pakhtoonkhwa.

The present government raised this issue in the parliament and opposition was faced by one of the major political party in the country, PML (N) who claimed that the new title could marginalize other ethnic groups in the province and they could lose their identity.  
Anti-Pakhtoonkhwa: 

However, renaming a province is not an easy procedure as it might seem to be since the renaming is not acceptable to the non-pashtoon population. Ever since the province has been renamed, a number of protests have been witnessed across the Hazara region, where Hindko speakers are dominant as compared to the Pashto speakers. The protests have led to death and casualties in the region which has added fuel to the fire.
Local population has condemned the renaming of the province as Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa as it wiped out the identity of the people of Hazara and demanded of the government to declare Hazara as a province.   

 

  

   

Backdrop of Hazara region:

NWFP now known as Khyber Pakhtooonkhwa province has total 7 districts and Hazara is one of its seven divisions. Five districts make up Hazara; these are Abbottabad, Battagram, Haripur, Kohistan and Mansehra.

Hazara Division is located along the famous Karakoram Highway and is bordered by the Indus River in the West, and Azad Jammu Kashmir in the East. Until the year 2000, the region was an administrative subdivision of the province known as Hazara Division, headquartered at the city of Abbottabad and Hazara Division was the biggest division of N.W.F.P. until the divisions were abolished in 2000 as part of an administrative shake up.

Hazara has the major industry of NWFP, including Telephone Industries of Pakistan, Hattar Industrial state. This region is famous for Tarbela Dam Haripur, Kakul military academy Abbottabad, tea plantation and best grade tobacco of Pakistan, in Mansehra. Karakoram highway also passes through Hazara, while not through rest of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa.

It is evident that this division is definitely an asset of the Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa region and both the pakhtoon and non-pakhtoon realize this fact. This is the main reason that Hazara people are struggling for their rights and demanding a separate province so that they can prove their worth.  

Hazara people believe that the way ANP has persuade it way to the name Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa has triggered massive protests throughout the Hazara division and even the majority Pashtun population is acknowledging that Hazara should also get the identification.
Some people are of the view that since the past of Awami National Party was anti-Pakistan, this is the reason they are planning to divide the country and people. 

Some locals argue that he name of Sindh province is because river Sindh flows through it and its civilization generated from it. Punjab is named because of five rivers flowing through the province. Hence Punabi or Sindhi is not a nation as ANP is lying to the nation.
The local leaders believe that Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa is not a fair name and it should be changed immediately and the new name should be above the ethnic differences. 

Common Solution:

Two simple solutions to this serious issue could be to change back the name of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa to NWFP or to accept the demands of non-pakhtoons and claim Hazara division as a separate province. However the creation of a new province can trigger new debates in the country as the other divisions of the country can also initiate demands of new provinces. Therefore, our attention should be focused on real issues such as water, power and gas crisis rather than getting into the controversy of claiming new provinces.

This issue calls for an immediate discussion by the politicians. A referendum most probably would be the best option in this regard so that the local people would feel their importance under a democratic government and would calm down slowly.
 

 – by Sana Jamal. (Written on 14th April 2010) 

 

It is assumed that Pakistan army and Pakistan government are inter-related or as if army works as one of the government institutions. The main reason behind this assumption is that much of Pakistan’s history has been marked with dictatorship. From self-proclaimed Field Marshall, General Ayub Khan to the so called Chief Executive, General Pervez Musharaf, the total span of military rule in Pakistan is more than 30 years.

Such long military rules in Pakistan have left a deep impact on the minds of the common people who now they have started to look upon army for hope, whenever something goes wrong with the civilian government. There is now a common perception among people who the civilian government cannot work properly without the intervention of the army in government affairs. This is why most of the people consider Chief of Army Staff as the most dominant personality in Pakistan rather than the President or Prime Minister who is the head of the state.

Part of the reason of this perception of the people is that have lost faith in the politicians and their unfulfilled promises. Whenever a new government is elected, people are made to believe by their elected representatives that things are going to change now and they will witness a brilliant future but all in vain. As soon as the new government takes an oath in the parliament, they turn into corrupt and self-serving officials who can no longer hear the hue and cry of the people.
Ever since the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the civilian government has failed to live up to the expectations of its people and the public outcry for democracy, accountability, and social justice is simply ignored by the government.

However, the government argues that democracy has never been given a fair chance to take root in the country’s political soil because of army interference in politics, but it is up to the politicians to act responsibly in order to win back the trust of the people.

But the solution certainly does not lie in army takeover of the government every now and then, besides it has been observed that years of military rule have not made the system any better in Pakistan. In fact people are so tired of the situation that when they want army rule, it is only because they want an escape from the indifferent elected government and as soon as the army takes over people want their own elected representatives.

What we need to do is to draw a clear line and re-define the powers and responsibilities of the government organizations and armed forces. Both government and army should act sensibly, respect each other’s rights and should regard the constitution as the highest authority of the state. One easier way to find our way out of this multidimensional crisis is to place the interest of the state on top priority instead of our personal interests.

 

‘Do you know why these suicide attacks are suddenly one the rise again?’ asked my friend. ‘No, but I guess you have a reason to justify them’ I replied in a cold manner, wondering when did the attacks actually slowed down. 

‘Yes I know it is because of the Kerry Lugar bill. You know, these people (read: agents) are attacking our institutions and people to prove that we are in such poor condition that we cannot survive without aid’. 

No doubt this Kerry-Lugar bill aka Killer-bill has become quite the talk of the town and people are now blaming the bill for our basic problems such as the electricity issue without realizing what the bill actually aims at. 

On Sept 24, the US Senate unanimously passed the revised version of the Kerry-Lugar Bill, titled the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act 2009. 

On Oct. 15th President Barack Obama signed the bill into law which will triple non-military US aid to Pakistan to $7.5 billion over the next five years and hence leaving no choice for Pakistan government to request for any amendments in the bill. The only choice before us is to either fully accept it or reject it on the whole. 

Despite the efforts of the Pakistan government to prove that the act would not harm Pakistan’s sovereignty but the fact remains that US government has rejected the concerns of Pakistan and sent back our Foreign Minister with an explanatory note, attached with the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009.
 

Surprisingly, our Foreign Minister Mr. Shah Mahmood Qureshi called the explanatory statement “historic” and assured the Parliament on October 16 that no Pakistani authority had been conceded to benefit from the Kerry-Lugar bill. He extensively quoted from an explanatory statement that ‘there are no conditions on Pakistan attached to the authorisation of $7.5 billion in non-military aid’. 

Critics say that while using harsh and loud words to get the support of the fellow parliamentarians, what our foreign minister failed to realize is that action speaks louder than words and the people are well aware that he had returned empty-handed from US and thus had to put up this show to save his neck. According to Mr. Anwar Baig (former senator and senior PPP member) the much publicised speech of Mr. Qureshi in the Parliament is ‘nothing but a brilliant piece of acting for which he should be nominated for Oscars.’ 

Apart from the government appraisal of the act, the main concern of the concerned ones still remain unanswered that why the controversial sections of the act are unaddressed by the Pakistan government. 

For instance, Section 203 of the US law considers that Pakistan is involved in the proliferation of nuclear weapons-related materials although it has never been proven in a court of law. The section also presumes that Pakistan is somehow involved in sponsoring terrorism, and that Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies are involved in aiding terrorist groups, including those groups engaged in attacks against the United States or coalition forces in Afghanistan, and against the territory or the people of neighbouring countries.
 

The act specifically mentions organizations such as Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed and makes it clear that Pakistan is prohibited from letting them operate in its territory, including carrying out cross-border attacks into neighbouring countries. The law further requires the closure of terrorist camps in Fata and dismantling terrorist bases in other parts of the country, including Quetta and Muridke. 

Then the message for the security forces of Pakistan is that it must not ‘materially’ and ‘substantially’ subvert the political or judicial processes of Pakistan.
 

Some other important concerns are, placing limitations on arms transfers; requiring that all assistance can only be provided to civilian authorities of a civilian government of Pakistan; (Sec. 205). 

Other concern is regarding the submission of a Pakistan Assistance Strategy Report within 45 days of the date of enactment of the act; development of a comprehensive inter-agency regional security strategy to eliminate terrorist threats and close terrorist safe havens in Pakistan, including by working with the Government of Pakistan and other relevant governments and organisations in the region and elsewhere to implement effective counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism efforts in and near the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, including Fata, the NWFP, parts of Balochistan and parts of Punjab(Sec. 301. Strategy Reports) and the submission of monitoring reports with description of all amounts made available for assistance to Pakistan during fiscal year 2009, including a description of each program, project, and activity for which funds were made available (Sec. 302. Monitoring Reports). 

Although the above stated law may seem like a country’s internal matter but this all has been stated in the US law as if the US is dictating and teaching us the laws to run a terrorist-free country. It appears that this does not like an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty to our government.
 

In the end we must realize that it is all a game of interest and of course nobody is willing to help you for free. The US law-makers have clearly stated their policy regarding Pakistan and have laid down their interests in the form of Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act 2009. It is time now that we decide and point out our national interests loud and clear.

They say.. ‘We cannot stop time but we can atleast turn it back when DST ends.’

Finally daylight saving time(DST) ends in Pakistan after long period of 5 months.
Initially it was intriduced for aperiod of 3 months but later on exceded for 2 more months

It is said ‘Saving time = saving energy’ but this does not seem to be the case with Pakistan. Although this system was introduced few months back in the name of saving electricity for the country.. but we have encountered even long bitter days of loadshedding during this period!

And it seems as if it was introduced just for a change or to make a fool out of already befooled public.. if not anything else!