Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pakistan needs aid for development of tribal areas

ISLAMABAD, June 8 (APP): Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said Pakistan needs aid from the international community to carry out its social and economic development programme for tribal areas. In an interview to a Belgian newspaper Le Soir, the Prime Minister said, “after the successful military operations, we now need a social and economic development programme.” He said the government has already measured local needs and damages done by the insurgents and schools, bridges and public buildings have to be constructed and it is now that they have to win the hearts and minds of the people.
He said, “We have told the European Union that we will need its aid.”
“We are looking beyond terrorism. We are going for a long run relationship with Europe. For the tribal zones, where we are militarily involved, we don’t only need Europe, but the whole world,” he added.
The Prime Minister said the present military efforts weigh on the economy and “we need an exit strategy: the military is not a solution”.
“The army shouldn’t stay longer than necessary in these zones ·
unless to install the authority,” he added.
To a question, he said, “We control the strongholds of the insurgents of South Waziristan, Orakzai, Malakand and Swat.”
The militants are in retreat, looking for places to establish themselves, territories where they could demoralize the Pakistani security forces, he added.
He pointed out the reaction of terrorists is to attack civil populations - weak targets, but the government is certainly not losing the control of the territory.
“We can find them for example in Sindh or Punjab. But that doesn’t mean that they control Punjab.”
To a question about the attack in Lahore on the Ahmadi community, the Prime Minister said Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) took protection of the minorities to the heart.
“For the first time we have appointed a minister from a minority - a Christian - who is in charge of minorities. After the attack took place, I sent him together with the Minister of Home Affairs to Lahore,” he added.
He said the government had condemned the attacks. The terrorists have no religion, no frontiers, their only agenda is to destabilize the country and that is why they want to provoke sectarian violence, he remarked.
Prime Minister Gilani said the attacks did not have a religious significance as the terrorists want to use sectarian conflicts as aninstrument.
“Besides, we are tackling the laws that are discriminatory against minorities,” he added.
He said during the previous Musharraf government he was in 1prison. “I even heard on the television during my detention that we are a country with an energy excess.”

He said in 1994 Benazir Bhutto had introduced a programme of IPPs, independent electrical power plants, that were strongly criticized by the opposition.

“But without these IPPs, the situation would be even more serious. Yes, we have problems of energy supply caused by a bad planning, inherited from the previous regime.”

The Prime Minister said to have new power projects, the government needs a time of three years, even in short term.

“In the medium term we have planned at five years and the long term at more than twenty years. We have explored everything: coal, water, thermo, solar, nuclear energy and windmills. It will take time. But we don’t have a deficit of more than 2000 MW,” he added.

How the iPhone 4's super-LCD works

Once he got his demo working, Steve Jobs dazzled the crowd Monday with one of the iPhone 4’s snazziest features: an ultra-high-resolution display that puts to shame any other cell phone on the market.

With a resolution of 960 x 640 pixels, the iPhone 4 crams more graphical ability into a 3.5-inch diagonal space than any other gizmo on earth (at least that anyone is aware of). With a density of 326 pixels per inch, Jobs claims it's better than the human eye can even detect at a standard viewing distance. In other words, if Jobs is correct, you’ll have to hold the phone right up to your face to see the iPhone 4's pixels at all.
Jobs called it the Retina display, but that’s not a technical term, just a snazzy marketing name for the screen.
What’s really behind the technology?
For starters, it’s a simple function of shrinking pixel size, something that engineers have been working on since the dawn of LCD technology. By shrinking pixels down smaller than ever, more can be packed onto a surface, and as long as the gadget has the video processing capability to support all those pixels, you’re going to get an awesome-looking experience.
But iPhone 4 has more than just raw pixels. Apple is also touting its optical lamination process, which basically adheres the glass directly on top of the LCD so there’s no gap between the two. As Displayblog explains, this "improves sharpness and clarity of the display by eliminating light refraction, which is caused by the small distance between the glass surface and the LCD that exists on pre-4 iPhones."
Finally there’s IPS, an acronym Jobs threw out but didn’t really explain. IPS stands for in-plane switching, and it’s an older technology dating to 1996 that was designed to allow for wider viewing angles on LCD devices. IPS was pricey, so it didn’t really catch on back in the day, but Apple brought IPS back with the iPad and is now extending it to the iPhone 4. It works by arranging the crystal structure within the LCD such that the crystals are parallel with the glass screen above. Traditional LCD screens have crystals at odd angles, which decreases brightness and makes viewing at odd angles difficult, but IPS corrects that problem by creating order from the chaos. You can dig deep into the technical details of IPS with PCTechGuide.

Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey agree to enhance cooperation against terror

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey on Monday reiterated that terrorism is a crime against humanity and agreed on various steps to decisively counter the lethal nexus of terrorism, extremism and narcotics.The understanding was reached at a trilateral meeting of the three countries in Turkey, which was attended by Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Afghan Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Zalmai Rassoul and Foreign Minister Mahkdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi.The ministers of Afghanistan and Pakistan also condemned the Israeli aggression on the Freedom Flotilla, and underlined their solidarity with the government and people of Turkey. They also paid their condolences to the people of Turkey and families of the victims.The three ministers also condemned the terrorist attacks in their countries resulting in the loss of lives, and paid tribute to sacrifices made by the security forces in defending their citizens.The meeting took place on the basis of the decision taken at the Third Trilateral Summit held in Ankara on 1st April, 2009 to supplement the trilateral summit process.Referring to the decisions taken at the fourth trilateral summit held in Istanbul on 25 January 2010, the ministers underlined the importance to improve relations among their respective countries at all levels.The three leaders also discussed the implementation of the decisions taken at the previous summit.

Peace in Swat

Dawn Editorial
On Thursday, a statement released by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan welcomed the restoration of peace in Swat, citing the reports of a fact-finding team. This is encouraging and testifies to the Pakistan Army’s efforts since the military operation was launched last year. However, lasting stability hinges on several factors and requires more than the efforts of the army alone.
First, the security forces must refrain from adopting a ham-fisted approach. No illegal practices should be associated with the army. Yet the HRCP fact-finding team says that the security forces were in some areas committing human rights violations. These include extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions and the forced displacement of families of suspected militants. This is counterproductive and must cease since it tarnishes the image of the army while alienating the local people.
Secondly, the role played by the army in maintaining peace must slowly but surely be handed over to non- military agencies such as the police. The task of infrastructure development and rehabilitation must also be entrusted to civi- lian bodies. That the army repaired and rebuilt over 200 schools is praiseworthy, for instance, but sends the signal that civilian organisations are not in charge. The confidence of the people will not be restored unless the region appears safe enough for the army to be seen to be taking a back seat.
Third, the region needs a more efficient justice system. This will not only restore confidence in the state but also reduce the need for illegalities such as arbi-trary detention and extrajudicial killings. Only 57 of the nearly 3,000 cases registered against suspected militants since May 2009 have so far been decided, and there have been three convictions. This is unsurprising since there is only one anti-terrorism judge for the seven districts of Malakand division. Such deficiencies must be addressed if peace in Swat is to be sustainable.

Pakistan's heatwave and a deadly lack of energy policy

From the whitewashed mansions of Clifton, Karachi, to the dusty village shacks in Gujar, Punjab, the two words heard most regularly on the lips of Pakistanis right now? Load-shedding, the political euphemism that is used by everyone – be they state official, liberal intellectual or housemaid – to discuss the country's long, daily blackouts. Power cuts and energy shortage are nothing new for the subcontinent; in six decades of being, Pakistan's infrastructure has never been able to cope with basic rate of growth and demand for energy – let alone been able to provide unlimited, uninterrupted electricity for its people. And yet, the country's current energy crisis is unprecedented: in the last two years it has become nothing short of a national disaster.
Just over a week since I arrived back in London – having spent six days criss-crossing the Punjabi province – and Pakistan is being held hostage to the most punishing heatwave in living memory. Record-breaking temperatures of 53C were recorded across the country last week, the death toll is consequentially rising even faster than the mercury. The heat is brutal, penetrative and unbearable to be caught outside in, but the real killer seems to be Pakistan's energy policy. Or, as it might be more accurately defined, the distinct lack of one.
Up to 12 hours of the day are routinely being endured without electricity across the country. Cities and villages take it in turns to have the lights turned out … to keep them on. Tolerating the current heat without power, without working fans, fridges, air conditioning (for those lucky enough to have afforded installation in the first place) and light, is not just a matter of inconvenience though: heatstroke, food poisoning and dehydration are killing in their hundreds while the death of livestock, paralysis of small and large business and the real threat to livelihoods and families is hurting further. The wealthy will switch on their generators to keep a running supply of power every time the electricity trips; the poor are simply left to swelter and suffer.
Foresight has rarely been a historic strength of Pakistani administrations, the last government failed to add a single megawatt of new power to the national grid under almost a decade of rule. The farcical current regime, led by Asif Ali Zardari, has been forced to scramble for a solution only to land itself between a rock and a nuclear place. An energy programme to tackle the problem long term, facilitated by the actual building of power plants and coal-mining projects (rather than through the financial aid pledged by Obama's administration), has been laid on the table by the Chinese government.
Given that the two countries would be co-operating in a civil nuclear programme to build several new nuclear power plants, the project has been met with the wholesale disapproval of the US government. China has cited the rules under its membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which make it clear that no nuclear trade can be entered into with a country that has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. This, despite legislation being passed to enable similar nuclear trade between the US and India. Hypocritical twitchiness from the White House is nothing new. In this case, it does the US little favours in terms of its public perception from the region. Any attempt to block an essential power-generation deal between China and Pakistan will only be viewed with the same bitter contempt the public have for the daily US drone attacks to the country's tribal regions.
Pakistan consumed just 0.39% of the world's total electricity consumption last year, but energy providers such as Pepco (a nationalised company) are still unable to cope and meet the 4,000-5,000 megawatt shortfall in electricity needed to keep powering the country. No new dams have been built or planned for, although almost a third of the country's electricity is generated through hydropower. Meanwhile, the Thar coalfield in Sindh (the second largest province in Pakistan) contains an estimated 175 billion tonnes of deposits. If a Chinese-funded coal-mining power project is to go ahead, this could provide decades of cheap (albeit highly polluting) power. The country also has vast reserves of natural gas. And yet, with 65% of the country's supply delivered by thermal power – mostly generated through costly imported oil – no steps have been taken to switch to natural gas power production.
There is little doubt that Pakistan's ruling elite are to blame for short-sightedness, for being too greedily corrupt to install basic, decent utilities for the country's people. Now that moves could be made to correct this can only be a hopeful sign for the future. The Chinese policy, to offer trade and build projects rather than cash aid, is a sound one that further cements the historic relationship between the two countries. Unless the US has firm plans to propose a similar project, its intervention as a "special ally" is not only unwelcome but entirely unnecessary.

Karzai’s Isolation Worries Afghans and the West

New York Times
KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan observers and Western officials are interpreting the forced resignations of Afghanistan’s two top security officials as another worrying sign of President Hamid Karzai’s increasingly impulsive decision making and deepening isolation from his backers, both within Afghanistan and abroad.
The two men who resigned over the weekend, Interior Minister Hanif Atmar and the intelligence director, Amrullah Saleh, had strong relationships with American and British officials and were seen as being among the most competent of his cabinet members, said several Western officials in Kabul. Mr. Saleh, in particular, had built an intelligence agency that the West had come to depend on in a region where reliable partners are hard to find, they said.
Their ready dismissals have left the sense that, in trying to ensure his own survival, Mr. Karzai will not hesitate to make decisions counter to the interests of his staunchest Western allies or the Afghan government as a whole, or even to make decisions that seem counter to his own long-term interests.
“This is the beginning of the unraveling of the Afghan government,” said Haron Meer, a political analyst and former aide to Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance, which fought the Taliban when they ruled Afghanistan.
“This is a signal that Mr. Karzai is oblivious about this situation,” he said. “Afghan people want a government where people are appointed based on merit, and instead he is doing the opposite. He is removing two of the best managers in his cabinet.”
To some, the forced departure of the two men is a troubling indication of the president’s mounting insecurity and his fear that even those closest to him are not looking out for him.
Compounding those fears is Mr. Karzai’s lack of faith in the Americans and his uncertainty about whether they will back him over the long term. That impression has been reinforced by President Obama’s pledge to start withdrawing troops in July 2011 and his administration’s arm’s-length relationship with President Karzai.
“The root of this is the perception that President Karzai got last year from the kind of cold reception that he got from the American administration, and that made him feel insecure,” said Ahmed Ali Jalali, who was Afghanistan’s interior minister from 2003 to 2005. He now teaches at the National Defense University in Washington.
The insecurity has left Mr. Karzai alternately lashing out in anger and searching for new allies, turning to Iran and elements within the Taliban. Both are antagonistic to American interests.
“He is trying to create new networks, new allies and contacts both inside the country and outside the country in case there’s a premature withdrawal, so a lot of this is more of a survival gesture,” Mr. Jalali said.
Since late March, the president has lashed out at the NATO coalition, accusing it of perpetrating fraud in the presidential election last year and for behaving in ways that made the Westerners seem almost like “invaders.” While the anger was glossed over in a visit to the United States in May, the distrust has remained, Western officials said.
At a peace convention, or jirga, last week, Mr. Karzai got an endorsement of his long-held plan to release Taliban prisoners. On Sunday, he issued a decree to release those held without enough evidence for trials, in an apparent effort to prove his bona fides to his enemies and show that he could deliver.
But such a move is highly controversial, both within the country and for the NATO coalition. Some of the Taliban held in Afghan and American detention have killed fellow Afghans; some have killed NATO troops.
Ostensibly Mr. Atmar and Mr. Saleh were forced to resign over security lapses during the jirga that allowed the Taliban to fire rockets at the opening ceremony. Beyond that, however, the two men and Mr. Karzai had a number of differences.
Mr. Saleh, whose National Directorate of Security runs detention centers that hold a number of detainees, was opposed to any casual release of Taliban fighters. In some cases his men died while capturing Taliban operatives with the assent of Mr. Karzai or his close aides, according to people close to the presidency.
Mr. Karzai appears determined to proceed anyway, without, in the view of his critics, getting anything in return. The move has heightened fears that he is grasping at straws in his effort to win political support from any quarter.
“It’s one thing if there is a grand bargain for peace that is endorsed by the Parliament, and on one side Karzai releases some Taliban and on the other side Afghanistan gets something,” said an Afghan businessman who closely watches politics, but who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he has business with Mr. Karzai’s government. “But what does he get for this? Nothing.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Karzai’s internal political support appears to be ebbing. During the election campaign, he garnered the support of Shiite Hazara leaders and the former commanders Karim Khalili and Hajji Muhammad Moheqiq, as well as the Uzbek commander Abdul Rashid Dostum.
All have since drifted away, and neither Mr. Dostum nor Mr. Moheqiq attended the peace jirga. While none of the former warlords are beloved in Afghanistan, Mr. Karzai had previously calculated that it was better to have them in the tent than outside it.
Now they are outside in any case, saying Mr. Karzai has failed to make good on promises to award their supporters powerful positions in the government in exchange for helping Mr. Karzai win re-election. While that is not Mr. Karzai’s fault — he tried, but many of his cabinet nominees were rejected — it has left him alone and reaching out to the Taliban.
“We don’t know what destination our government is going towards,” said Shukria Barakzai, a member of Parliament and a supporter of Mr. Karzai. “But unfortunately we are going backward, not forward.”

US audit says Afghan forces overrated: report

A US government audit has found deficiencies in the training of Afghan security forces, the Pentagon said Monday following a newspaper report that said their capabilities had been overrated.
The Financial Times said the findings of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction cast doubt on a 25 billion dollar effort to build up the country's security forces, a cornerstone of President Barack Obama's exit strategy.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman acknowledged that the audit, which has not been released yet, reviewed the adequacy of the training of the Afghan security forces and found "some shortcomings in there."
"I'm sure the command will be addressing it," he said.
General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, immediately changed the method for assessing Afghan security forces upon being briefed on the audit findings, Susan Phalen, a spokeswoman for the auditors said.
However, she declined to say whether the audit found that the previous method had inflated the capabilities of the Afghanistan security forces.
Phalen said the report was in its final phase but was still under review.
The Financial Times said the report will say the standards used to appraise the Afghan military and police from 2005 until recently were woefully inadequate.
The old rating system measured forces on factors such as equipment and training rather than anything more accurately reflecting their fighting abilities, the audit will say, according to the FT.
"It became clear to us that the assessment wasn't giving a clear picture of the actual operational readiness of Afghan National Security Forces," said Colonel Dennis Devery, deputy director of the ANSF assistance bureau.The report looked at the surge in Afghan army units considered "fully capable" for combat. None met the standard before 2008, but 22 units were considered ready by May 2009.
"The system deliberately exaggerated the combat capacity of Afghan troops, and it disguised the true level of attrition and desertion," said Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
A new assessment system is now in place, measuring troop units on their operational effectiveness.
Afghanistan's ability to take over responsibility for securing its borders and quelling the Taliban insurgency is seen as vital to Western plans to end engagement in a war NATO and its allies have been fighting since 2001.

40 closed schools made functional in Peshawar

PESHAWAR : As many as 40 primary schools (for boys and girls) located in rural areas of the capital city have been made functional after remaining closed for quite some time, Daily Times has learnt.
Around 57 schools, including 55 for girls, were closed as the teachers appointed there had got themselves transferred to urban areas, an official of the Elementary and Secondary Education Department said.
The official said teachers have been appointment at the schools located in different parts of the provincial metropolis on the directives of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Minister Sardar Hussain Babak.
He said that the remaining 17 schools would also be made functional soon.

Swat normalcy owes to sacrifices of security forces: Owais Ghani

Swat owes its normalcy to the sacrifices and professional contribution of Pakistan’s security forces that have created an example for rest of the world by ridding Swat of terrorists in a record time.This rich tribute was paid by Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Owais Ahmad Ghani after witnessing the photo exhibition ‘Swat Smiles Again’ arranged by Communication Research Strategies (CRS) at National Art Gallery of PNCA.
The Governor said it was very difficult for anyone to feel the agony and pain the people of Swat went through during the period of turmoil.
“Now Swat is back to normalcy and it was political will of the government and resolve of Pakistani forces backed by the people of Pakistan that had made this day possible,” he added.
Appreciating the effort of CRS, he said, the organizer had done a great job in bringing the true picture of Swat of today to the general public.
‘Swat Smiles Again’ was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on May 29, 2010 and the ceremony was attended by the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira and Farah Naz Ispahani besides local dignitaries and distinguished diplomats.
Speaking at the occasion, the CEO CRS Aniq Zafar said, the exhibition ‘Swat Smiles Again’ was a bid to show to the world that Pakistani nation was capable enough to unitedly handle any kind of challenge.
He hoped that the exhibition will succeed in letting people see that Swat is ready to welcome them again.
‘Swat Smiles Again’ displays about 300 masterpieces by 14 professional photographers who have visited Swat region in past few months.
From breathtaking landscapes to brilliant smiles, revival of business activity and restoration of educational infrastructure the exhibition presents the vibrant Swat as it has always been.
The major contributors to the exhibition include Tanveer Shahzad, Gulrez Ghouri, Irshad Sheikh, Azhar Hafeez, Furqan Bhatti and Rubina Bokhari.
Prime Minister gave away prizes in five categories of Best Smile, Landscape, Business, Civil Military Bond and Agriculture to Irshad Sheikh, Gulraiz Ghouri, Tanveer Shahzad (2 awards) and Azhar Hafeez respectively.
The exhibition will be open for general public on May 31, 2010 as well.

peace restored in Swat

Incharge Security Pakistan Army in Swat, Colonel Aftab has said that complete peace has been restored in the area and tourists could visit here without fear and hesitation.Addressing a seminar held in connection with tourism on Sunday, the Incharge security of Pakistan Army said that after restoring peace in the area Pak Army is taking steps to promote tourism in Swat.He said that Pak Army has given several suggestions to restore tourism and these suggestions are in the process of implementation. He said that for this purpose they will organize several tournaments, tourism festival and several other ceremonies to attract the tourists.
Pakistan Army has established check posts for the safety and protection of the masses and it has complete control over the city.
GM Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Tourism, Mushtaq Khan and other participants gave suggestion for the restoration of tourism in the area.