Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Attacks on schools prompted search operations in Peshawar

PESHAWAR: At least three schools located in separate parts of Peshawar were bombed with explosives by unidentified miscreants late on Wednesday night, prompting the security agencies to kick off search operation all across provincial capital, Geo news reported.

According to details media obtained from police, unknown miscreants planted explosives in a girls school in a Landi Arbab area while another two primary schools were blown up by firing rockets on buildings in Paja Garhi area of Regi locality.

Police said the bombings and rocket onslaughts partially damaged the school buildings, however, security forces have commenced search operations in adjoining areas to round up militants.

A boys’ middle schools was also came under fierce attack as explosives plants near school building went off causing havoc with a school wall but building’s key parts received no damages, police told media

ANP asks judiciary to keep out of parliament’s affairs

ISLAMABAD: The Awami National Party (ANP) on Wednesday called on the judiciary not to interfere in the affairs of parliament in the future, and said the institution’s respect for parliament will be reciprocated.

ANP leader Ghulam Ahmad Bilour – participating in the debate on the 18th Amendment Bill in the National Assembly – said parliament was “the supreme institution ... the judiciary will not be allowed to interfere in its affairs”.

Bilour thanked the prime minister, the chairman of the reforms committee and all political parties for supporting provincial autonomy and accepting Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as NWFP’s new name. While parliamentarians tabled various proposals seeking further amendments before final approval for the 18th Amendment Bill, they expressed confidence in the document. The PML-N fully supported the proposed bill, and asked President Asif Ali Zardari to fulfil his promise of handing over powers to the prime minister and parliament.

About provincial autonomy, the PML-N’s Abdul Qair Baloch said Balochistan must be given its due rights over the seashore and natural resources. “The Balochistan issue was not presented to the constitutional committee in its true spirit.”

Syed Nisar Ali Shah of the PML-N congratulated parliament and the nation over the tabling of the bill. Asfandyar Wali said provincial autonomy was the basis of the 18th Amendment.

Farooq Sattar of the MQM said provincial autonomy was incomplete if provinces were not given financial authority in running their affairs. The MQM also criticised the quota system, saying it was not in line with the system of merit in place in the rest of the world.

While the ANP thanked the constitutional reforms committee “for renaming NWFP”, the PML-Q criticised the committee’s choice of the new name. A PML-Q lawmaker even walked out of the House in protest at the decision to rename NWFP.

Riaz Pirzada, chief whip of the former ruling party, proposed that Hazara division be named as a new province because of “locals’ strike against the decision to rename NWFP”. “The amendments are the result of collective wisdom and it is good that a consensus was developed on all the amendments, but the government should hear the locals of Hazara,” he said.

Marvi Memon also opposed the decision to rename the province, and demanded that Gilgit-Baltistan be given the status of a province. She also sought seats for Gilgit-Baltistan representatives in the Senate and the National Assembly.

Zardari........ With clipped wings

Editorial:The News
The man who has borne the brunt of media and public attack as one who may have been involved in massive corruption, and as a controversial figure bent upon running most matters of state with his close aides, has made it clear he hopes to walk into history as a hero. In his third address to a joint session of parliament, Asif Ali Zardari called on it to undo the 17th Amendment – and by doing so restore democracy in its true spirit. The sight of a man calling for his own powers to be taken away is a rare one indeed. Whatever else one may say, Mr Zardari deserves credit for magnanimously relinquishing the extraordinary powers handed over to one man by distorting the Constitution. It is also true though that he did so under some pressure. The situation that will arise now will not be welcomed by all. Persuading parliament to act in a particular way is far harder than making one individual do so. There are elements who opposed the idea of powers being stripped from the president. Tampering with democracy becomes a far harder task in the future.

Mr Zardari also spoke of standing in the shadows of his late father-in-law and wife and continuing their legacy. This is no small aspiration. He must remember that the success of the PPP is linked to its standing with the people. The promise made to them by the party's founders lives on. And if he is to emerge as a knight in shining armour in the eyes of the people, it is this connection with the masses that the president must strive to resurrect. For the present it stands broken. Despondency hovers everywhere; the allegations of corruption fan it on and people have increasingly lost faith in their leadership. It would also be wise for the president to remember the last year and a half, during which he has held office, has resulted in his standing tumbling in the eyes of people. Speeches to parliament alone, no matter how eloquently worded, will not restore this. We need to see action as well. Once the 18th Amendment is passed, much of the responsibility for this will rest with parliament. But in his role as head of state and of his party, the president too needs to lead the way and demonstrate that he is committed to living up to the words he delivered before a nation that hopes to see real change.

Mismanagement, chaos hit IDPs registration centre

PESHAWAR: There was a complete mismanagement and chaos at a point opened at Pajagi Road in Peshawar for the registration of displaced persons from the troubled Orakzai Agency, as the officials were invisible, forms unavailable and the process later halted.

The fresh drive for registration was launched at a time when the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from different volatile tribal areas hit 1.3 million. However, this huge displacement could not get government and international community’s attention like those from Malakand division.

The baffled and helpless IDPs protested and blocked the Pajagi Road but the locals forced them to open the road at gunpoint. A clash was narrowly averted when the displaced people returned. This risk of a clash was caused by the inability of the relevant government departments to make proper arrangements for the registration to avoid mismanagement and chaos.

There was also a complete disorder at the point, established in centre for rehabilitation of the paralysed people, as the government had not deputed police or other security officials thereof. “Police officials came here but returned after a few minutes without assigning any reason. They told us to arrange security ourselves. Now you can see the disorder. We do registration or discipline them,” said Assistant Coordinator Social Welfare Mazhar Durrani.

It was observed the registration was not taking place for one hour at the centre on Monday, the first day of registration. The people seeking registration did not know what to do. They were desperate to get enlisted but were not being registered. Some of the displaced persons went unruly and were kicking the doors to force their entry.

“Officials doing registration here told us that the weather was too hot and they couldn’t continue it,” said Muhammad Nadeem, hailing from Ferozkhel area of Orakzai “Should we arrange fans or air-conditioners for them?”

But Mazhar said it was untrue. He argued that actually they had run out of forms. “We had only 200 forms and ran out of it shortly after starting the registration. I have sent some officials who will soon bring along the forms,” he explained.

To a question, he said they were not understaffed. “I think three persons are enough to handle registration but due to the disorder you see outside, the nine staff members can’t manage it,” he argued.

An angry young man, Asghar Khan, said there was no staff and they were just wasting people’s time. He claimed most of the people — about 400,000 million — had moved out from the troubled Orakzai but complained they were running from pillar to post to get registered. “We and many more are still unregistered.”

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), the number of uprooted persons from Orakzai and the neighbouring Kurram agencies has reached 197,667. It said the uprooted people from Orakzai constituted 71 per cent of the total number.

The intensifying fighting in Orakzai Agency has escalated displacement as thousands of residents of the troubled agency continued to move to safer places. “I fled Bizot area in Orakzai four days ago due to severe shelling and am now living in Sro Killay in a rented house for Rs400,” said Ahmad Khan.

The man who said he was unemployed complained the authorities had refused to register him. Ahmad said he had old national identity card and token for a computerised one but they did not accept it. “Please ensure my registration,” the poor man said, hoping this scribe could help him enlist as IDP.

The authorities have said both new and old NIC were valid documents for the registration. The OCHA said 800 families were being registered on daily basis in Hangu and Kohat districts. There is only one camp for the IDPs in Muhammad Khwaja in Hangu, housing only 3,630 persons.

Pakistan Fashion Week

Models sashay down catwalks, flaunting the latest creations by designers during the first day of Fashion Pakistan week with an opulent opening ceremony in Karachi on April 5, The event is scheduled to feature 52 designers – 49 of them from Pakistan and one each from Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates – in a follow-up to a first event held in Karachi last November.–

Clinton outraged at Peshawar attack

Outraged by the attack on the American Consulate in Peshawar by the Taliban, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday said "an attack on the diplomatic mission strike at the heart of international cooperation and is unacceptable in any country at any time.""The assault this morning is part of a wave of violence perpetrated by brutal extremists who seek to undermine Pakistan's democracy and sow fear and discord," Clinton said in a statement."I am outraged and deeply saddened by the assault on our Consulate in Peshawar. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the Pakistani security personnel who were killed and all those who were injured," she said.The US Secretary of State said we condemn this attack on our mission, the recent bombings in Baghdad that targeted other diplomatic missions, and all such crimes.Noting that the US was taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of its staff -- both American and Pakistani -- as well as the security of its facilities, Clinton said: "We are coordinating closely with Pakistan authorities, who are working to bring the attackers to justice."State Department spokesman P J Crowley said the attacks were a part of a wave of violence perpetrated by brutal extremists who seek to undermine Pakistan's democracy and sow fear and discord.
"This tragedy underscores a common challenge our nations face to defeat violent extremists that threatens us both and deepens our commitment to see Pakistan prosper as a strong democracy in a stable region," he said.
Earlier, condemning the attack, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said "we strongly condemn the violence and the actions, and I would point out that extremists in Pakistan have succeeded in killing Pakistanis, which I think hardens the view that has led to gains that have been made over the course of the year against the extremism by native Pakistanis."

US team arrives in Peshawar to probe consulate bombing

Peshawar- A four-member team from the US has arrived in Peshawar to probe Monday’s terror strike on the American consulate.
The team visited the crime scene to collect ground evidence. The rubble from the adjacent buildings, damaged in the attack, has still not been cleared.
Meanwhile, North West Frontier Province (NWFP) Police chief Malik Naveed has rejected reports of there being any security failure.
“It was a great success that the attackers were not allowed to reach their target,” Naveed said.
The militants had first exploded a car bomb, then opened gun fire and hurled grenades and tried to enter the consulate, but were prevented.
Two Pakistani security officials were killed and many others were injured.

Pakistan has secured its nukes: US

NEW YORK: Underscoring the need for establishing nuclear safety around the world, US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he is confident that Pakistan has secured its atomic weapons. “I feel confident that Pakistan has secured its nuclear weapons. I am concerned about nuclear security around the world, not just in Pakistan but everywhere,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. However, Obama refused to talk about the details of Islamabad’s nuclear programme.

Pakistanis get up before sunrise

PESHAWAR: Majority rise in morning before sunrise in their daily life. According to a recent survey by Gallup Pakistan 68% of urban and 83% of rural Pakistani men and women said they generally rise in the morning before the sunrise. The survey was done when the sun rose around 7 am. For their sleeping time nearly half (47%) of urban Pakistani adults said they generally went to bed by 10 p.m, whereas in the rural areas 70% gave this answer. The survey which was conducted among more than 1500 statistically selected households all over the country showed interesting variations across gender and age in addition to the variation between the rising and retiring habits of urban and rural areas. Marketing research analysts at Gallup say a study of rising and retiring habits helps them understand the media habits of rural and urban TV viewers and radio listeners. Besides this study gives an insight into various issues relating to working hours, transportation and some key health and hygiene issues, including such basic lifestyle matters as timing and space for latrines. This is especially true for rural areas but in the crowded urban housing conditions as well. The findings of this survey further show that there are variations across age groups. Sixty-five percent (65%) of those above the age of 50 said they rose before 6 in the morning, 29% said they rose between 6 and 7 in the morning and only 6% said they rose after sunrise. Among the under 30 the comparable figures were 34% before 6, 34% between 6 and 7, 19% between 7 and 8 and 13% of the youth said they generally rose after 8 in the morning. Among women the 6 to 7 time seemed most popular: 48% of them said they woke up during that hour. Interestingly more women than men said they stayed up until after midnight: 20% of women and 8% of men gave that answer in the national sample. Gallup intends to repeat this survey in the summer months to see the seasonal variations in rising and retiring patterns of rural and urban Pakistanis. The survey was conducted by Gallup Pakistan, the Pakistani affiliate of Gallup International among more than 1500 statistically selected men and women in both urban and rural areas of all the four provinces of Pakistan. The sample comprised a cross section of various income, education and geographic segments.