Thursday, March 10, 2011

China is definitely not Middle East

Turmoil in Libya had at least left more than 1,000 people dead, about 600 in the capital of Tripoli alone till February 26, according to conservative United Nations estimates, with one million people fleeing and inside country need humanitarian aid, said Valerie Amos, Secretary General for UN Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Television images of waves after wave of Libyan refugees are seen fleeing their homeland to lead a vagrant life, without knowing "what could happen to them" and when they would return home. This has saddened us with a deep sign to indicate the truth that national turmoil has made ordinary locals true victims eventually.

Since the end of 2010, unrest has spread a swath of the North Africa and the Middle East, where the situation has turned fiercely chaotic, and people there suffered an immense loss. At the time when people around the world mulled the solution to conflicts in the Middle East countries, some people with sinister ulterior motives both inside and outside China attempt to divert troubled water to China and "fan flames" via the Internet in a hope also to "provoke street corner politics", so as to make China chaotic. But the country is definitely not the Middle East anyhow.

The Chinese people, like the people of other countries, yearn for the lasting peace and stability. People in China, now better fed and better clothed, are striving to pursue their still better living standards; they are fully aware that the premise for the auspicious days is precisely the national stability and a harmonious society. Over the past 60 years after the birth of new China, especially in the last 30 years of reform and opening up, the Chinese nation has initially been thriving with a remarkable rise in its overall national might and brought substantial benefits to its people.

Chinese people fear turbulence and worry about being led into troubles and so they ardently hope for stability, harmony and peace. They exert themselves to seek development wholeheartedly and still better livelihoods, and most of them long for a better quality of life. Hence, the only very few trouble makers cannot randomly make a crack up in the country even if they vainly attempt to make trouble.

The leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is laid on a very solid foundation in recent years. China held the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, all performed with flying colors. And the relief work in the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake and the ensuing Yushu Quake rescue work, as well as the efforts to cope with the impact of the global financial crisis, and the latest Libya evacuation of more than Chinese 30,000 nationals -- All these difficult matters were done so well.

A formerly backward and impoverished nation has been turned into the second biggest economy in term of gross economic output, and the whole world holds it in high esteem. All these feats are owed to the wise leadership and scientific guidance of the CPC. Steady progress in the reform of political arrangements has inspired the standardization and institutionalization of the Party's leadership setup, from the abolition of life-long tenure of leading officials to the establishment of a national civil service...

Last year, a unique poll had been measuring the view of people around the world since 2002, and the project was conducted by Pew Research Center in 22 countries to track trends in value, political and social attitudes of their people. "Only in China," the survey reported, "does an overwhelming portion of the population (87 percent) express satisfaction with national conditions. So, "China is clearly the most self-satisfied country in the survey."

The U.S. "Time" magazine reported on March 7: "But there is a crucial difference -- and this is why expectations of a so-called 'Beijing Spring' are premature. In the Middle East and North Africa, even in countries with decent economic growth, governments are seen as the problem. In China... the 'regime' is regarded by its people as the engineer of the most spectacular economic expansion the world has even seen. Even the rest of the globe suffered during the financial crisis, China kept chugging along. Why throw the bums out when the bums keep delivering? Few Chinese, schooled as they are in the perils of revolution, would want to risk Arab-style chaos."

China has already abolished the life-long tenure of leading officials as a matter of course, and the change of leadership has become a conventional practice. There is no such phenomena that China is led by a leader entrenched for a decade, two decades, three decades or even four decades... In the meanwhile, China has set up a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics and keeps consummating its socialist democracy system.

Furthermore, people in China enjoy freedom of participating in the practice of governance and deliberating over government affairs under the existing legal framework and democratic system. Under no circumstances should China allow "street corner politics" to incite unrest to attain the political objectives.

Chinese leaders have always complied with public will and are bent on tackling social problems emerged in the course of reform by means of development and reform. For instance, one college student used to be selected among some 100 college-aged people and, to date, the college recruit to college aged people ratio has come to 1:4. Consequently, there are some problems facing college graduates, including unemployment. And there are also issues regarding high house prices, a rise in food and other commodities prices and a gap between the rich and the poor.

In deliberating the targets of the draft 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) and the government work report, NPC deputies and members of the CPPCC National Committee have been mulling ways toward resolving problems emerged during their panel discussions. Only development and reform is the only correct way to solve problems.

Of course, when the existing problems are resolved, new ones will come to the fore, and society keep advancing in the process of overcoming problems. But "street corner politics" can only result in social chaos, make a mess of things, and could only stagnate Chinese society in steady advance.

In a nutshell, China is definitely not the Middle East, and any vain scheme to diver Middle East turmoil to China is doomed to fail.

By People's Daily

The women of Benghazi


Shahbaz Sharif’s wrong call

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s recent statement about involving the army and the judiciary to “discuss a strategy to steer the country out of the current situation” has come in for a lot of criticism. Mr Sharif had apparently suggested this to Prime Minister Gilani on PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif’s advice. Mr Shahbaz Sharif said, “The need for unity, solidarity and national harmony in the current situation is greater than ever before. Collective efforts are needed to resolve the problems faced by the country.” PPP members like federal Law Minister Babar Awan and Punjab Assembly’s Opposition leader Raja Riaz have said that Mr Sharif wants a judicial martial law in the country. As far as reports suggest, dubbing Mr Sharif’s remarks as asking for a judicial martial law is a non sequitur. After the military coup by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999 against the PML-N’s government, it is highly unlikely that the PML-N would want the khakis back in power. Mr Sharif might have been implying that since the crisis in Pakistan is so severe, all the stakeholders need to sit down and sort it out. What Mr Sharif did not take into cognizance is that neither the army nor the judiciary have any role whatsoever in a meeting of political parties. “There can be two sessions of (proposed) conference and the army chief and the chief justice could be asked to brief the political leadership in an in-camera session,” PML-N’s Siddiqul Farooque elaborated on the idea. Now this, too, is a questionable idea at the very least.

Mr Shahbaz Sharif’s ‘invitation’ may have been well-intentioned and may not be the same as the MQM chief’s call to ‘patriotic generals’, but his proposal is not constitutional. The army’s role is to safeguard our borders and protect the country from attacks. Constitutionally, it has no role whatsoever to meddle in the political domain. Our history shows us that our military has been anything but non-political. Thus to ‘invite’ it again, even at a political conference, is asking for trouble. As far as the security situation is concerned, what with the war on terror and the ever-increasing terrorist attacks, the executive is already discussing the security situation with the military on an ongoing basis. Such consultations are a norm given the circumstances but this does not mean that the military has any role to play at a political convention. As per our constitution, the judiciary is independent but its role is to dispense justice. The judiciary should remain unbiased and apolitical instead of being involved in politics. We have seen an executive-judiciary clash many a time and should not be advocating a role for the judiciary that is not within its constitutional purview. It is out of the judiciary’s writ to join politicians at a conference that is meant solely for the political class. Pakistan has a democratic government in place. At the proposed all-parties conference, the political parties should join hands and come up with solutions to address the crises our country is facing.

Given our history, if the judiciary and military are indeed invited to an all-parties conference, it would give out a wrong message. We need to avoid this at all costs. The democratic government and all political parties need to address the grievances of the nation. It is also imperative that civilian supremacy be asserted and established.

Veena Malik threatened by the Taliban

Actress Veena Malik on Thursday claimed she had been threatened by the Taliban.

Malik, who is currently in India appearing on television shows for the cricket World Cup, told Express 24/7 that she had received a letter from the Taliban four days ago via a media house in Pakistan. On the authentication of the letter, Malik said she had spoken to representatives of the media house, who confirmed its legitimacy.
Malik says the letter has been sent from a Ahmed Masood of the Taliban. The contents of the letter threaten to give Malik ‘exemplary punishment for her work in India’, she claims. Malik said that the letter also threatens her family and that if anything happened to them she would hold the government responsible.
She said that she will not seek asylum in India, stating that running away was not an option and that she would return to Pakistan. Malik said that the Indian authorities had provided her with security and she was getting in touch with Pakistani authorities to inform them of the situation.
Malik had recently participated in the fourth season of the Indian reality show Bigg Boss.

Peshawar children deprived of polio drops due to terror, fear

Several children couldn’t receive polio drops in Peshawar due to wave of terror, fear and negligence of teams.After the end of Polio campaign, several kids haven’t received polio drops in Yousafabad, Ameen Colony, District Colony, GharibAbad and several other areas of Peshawar. It happened because newly trained teams and students didn’t have proper information about the areas and were scared of terror incidents.The children having ages less than five are more than four thousand whereas around 170 schools didn’t receive polio drops.The residents of these areas have appealed to the government to take action against those who didn’t administer polio drops.

Protests called Friday in Saudi Arabia

Protesters in Saudi Arabia called for a "day of rage" Friday, though longtime observers of the kingdom remained skeptical that it would make a major impact.
"I don't think any protests that happen tomorrow will be destabilizing to the country," said Christopher Boucek, a Saudi expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Prominent blogger Ahmed Al-Omran said the Saudi government remains unresponsive to the streets.
"I don't think they're really in touch with the people," he said.
Still, he said, Friday's planned protests could set the tone in Saudi Arabia for the next few months.Get up,Stand up,For Your Rights

The Saudi government prohibits all kinds of public demonstrations.
But more than 100 Shiite demonstrators defied that ban and rallied Wednesday in the eastern city of Qatif, calling on authorities to release Shiite prisoners.
A sprinkling of women were among the protesters, said Ibrahim Al-Mugaiteeb, president of the Human Rights First Society.

Police kept a watchful eye but did not intervene, he said. Earlier, Saudi authorities had authorized its security forces to "take all measures against anyone who tries to break the law and cause disorder."
Last week, about 24 protesters were detained in Qatif as they denounced "the prolonged detention" of nine Shiite prisoners held without trial for more than 14 years, Amnesty International said.
Police kicked and used batons to beat three protesters in what was an apparent peaceful demonstration, Amnesty said in a statement.
"The Saudi Arabian authorities have a duty to ensure freedom of assembly and are obliged under international law to allow peaceful protests to take place," said Philip Luther, deputy director of the human rights group's Middle East and North Africa program.
"They must act immediately to end this outrageous restriction on the right to legitimate protest."
There was no immediate reaction from the Saudi government to the Amnesty statement.
The protests in the majority Sunni kingdom have followed similar demands across the Arab world for more freedom and democracy.
Rights activists have been advocating the right to protest for months in the kingdom but they have been denied permission to assemble.
Lately, grass-roots ferment mirroring the unrest across the Middle East and North Africa has emerged, with a Facebook group calling for days of rage and Shiites taking to the streets. Activists have been calling for reform and the release of people jailed without charge or trial.
Amnesty said the recent detentions came a week after a prominent Shiite cleric, Sheikh Tawfiq Jaber Ibrahim al-'Amr was arrested after a sermon calling for reforms in Saudi Arabia. He was released without charge Sunday.
Most of the protesters are believed to be held in a police station in Dhahran, an eastern city. Among them are activists who have protested arrests and discrimination against the minority Shiites.
"The Saudi authorities must investigate reports of beatings of protesters by security forces. They should also ensure that those detained are either charged with recognizable offences and tried fairly or released," Luther said.
"While in detention they must be protected from torture and other ill-treatment and given regular access to their family, lawyers and medical staff."
The Shiite activists in "prolonged detention" have been held in connection with the deadly 1996 bombing of a U.S. military complex in Khobar in which 20 people were killed and hundreds injured.
"According to reports, they were interrogated, tortured and denied access to lawyers together with the opportunity to challenge the legality of their detention," Amnesty said

Saudi protest dispersed by police, shots heard

Saudi police dispersed a protest by a Shi'ite minority in the OPEC member's oil-producing Eastern province on Thursday with one to four people wounded as shots were heard, witnesses said.
One witness said police fired percussion bombs to disperse the crowd of around 200 people, while a witness and Shi'ite activist said shots were fired.
"There was firing, it was sporadic," the witness said.
The witness said he could not see where the firing was directed. Witnesses and activists said between one and four people were wounded.
Brent oil prices jumped by $3 a barrel on the Saudi report, fully erasing earlier losses to trade close to $116 a barrel at 1900 GMT. Earlier in the day, oil was falling on the back of Europe's debt woes.
More than 32,000 people have backed a call on social networking site Facebook to hold two protests in the world's top oil exporter this month. The first is planned for Friday.
A loose coalition of liberals, rights activists, moderate Sunni Islamists and Shi'ite Muslims has called for political reform. Saudi rulers say the country has no need for protests or parties as an Islamic state applying sharia (Islamic law).
In oil-rich Eastern Province, Shi'ites have long complained of marginalization and have staged small demonstrations for almost three weeks.

Saudis pessimistic about 'Day of rage'

Online activists have vowed to hold a "Day of Rage" in Saudi Arabia, similar to those seen throughout the Arab world. But a number of Saudis say there is more to lose than gain in protesting.

Mohammed, a 32-year-old resident of Jeddah who wished to use his first name only, said that the demands of the protesters for greater government accountability and transparency are "perfectly legitimate."

A Facebook group calling for a Saudi "Day of Rage" has nearly 33,000 followers. The group said the protest is mostly aimed at demanding political reforms, the release of political prisoners, more employment opportunities, and greater freedoms.

"A sense of frustration is pervasive," said Mohamed.

Saudi Arabia, which is home to Islam's holiest site in Mecca, is the world's largest crude oil exporter.

However, nearly 40 per cent of Saudis aged 20 to 24 are unemployed and many have argued that the kingdom's expansive oil wealth has remained concentrated in the hands of the royal circle.

Just last month, King King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz looked to woo Saudis with a promise of 36 billion dollars in benefits, which included a 15-per-cent salary raise for public employees and financial aid for students and the unemployed.

Heavy hand feared

Despite the financial handout and signs that the government may be subtly trying to win over frustrated youth, Mohammed told the German Press Agency dpa that he will not protest, because he believes the government's response will be heavy-handed.

"The government sees this as a direct threat to its rule and I will not risk everything to protest for a thing like ending corruption, for example, when they see me as a threat worthy of murder," he said.

"I think most people feel they have too much to lose in a highly rigged fight," he added.

The Interior Ministry posted on its website that "security forces are lawfully authorized to take all necessary actions against whoever tries to violate the law in any way and will be subject to the full force of the relevant regulations."

Sultan, a Saudi graduate student in the United States who also wished not to be named in full, told dpa he doubts there will be a large turnout in Friday's protests because people are expecting the government to respond "harshly."

"They already started to investigate bloggers, social and political activists, and some people who signed petitions addressed to the king," said Sultan.


Recently, Saudi women who were protesting in the eastern part of the kingdom were arrested after a ban was issued on all kinds of demonstrations.

They were reportedly beaten before they were detained.

The women were part of a series of protests that have taken place in recent weeks by the kingdom's Shiite minority calling for equal rights.

Shiite cleric Tawfiq al-Amer was himself briefly detained after calling for a constitutional monarchy and equal rights for minority Shiites, who make up between 10 and 15 percent of the Saudi population and are concentrated in the Eastern Province.

Revolts by Shiites in neighbouring Bahrain have unnerved the conservative Sunni authorities in Saudi Arabia, who warned that foreign interference from Shiite-led Iran would not be tolerated.

Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said this week that the kingdom would "cut off the fingers of those who try to interfere in our internal matters and we reject dictates from any foreign party," suggesting that calls for protests were being dictated externally.

"Saudi Arabia has prohibited demonstrations as it goes against the country's law," added al-Faisal in his remarks to the press.

Bad faith

To support its ban on protests, the government recently obtained a religious edict, or fatwa, saying that protests are prohibited in Islam.

"So long as the religious institutions continue to contribute to the public dogmatic understanding about basic rights by their religious edicts and the Ministry of Interior keeps violating (the rights of) anyone who talks about political reform loudly by jail or constraints, it will be difficult to achieve a radical change that assert people's demands," said Sultan.

A 2010 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report found that vested interests by power groups, such as the business community and the religious establishment, weigh heavily on both judicial and educational matters.

Moreover, the feeling among several young, educated Saudis interviewed in recent days is that there is a very high possibility that the country could regress into a system of more tribalism and fewer personal freedoms if a truly representative political system were in place.

The reason, some argue, is that King Abdullah himself has faced opposition from the religious establishment and leading opinion makers to incremental, marginal reforms aimed at liberalizing society in recent years.

According to the HRW report, King Abdullah has succeeded in promoting the acceptance of reforms that would modernize Saudi Arabia's state apparatus, making it more efficient and somewhat more transparent and has encouraged respectful dissent, but within limits.

"However, the obstacles to reform nevertheless remain formidable," according to HRW.

A mother of three who lives in Saudi Arabia, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed a similarly pessimistic view.

"I don't think our country is ready for this type of expression and it will be squashed," she told dpa.

Libya rebels battle Gaddafi loyalists

Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Govt to install solar lights on 12 localities

KP Govt to install solar lights on 12 localities

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa government, after successful trial in Hayatabad, has now decided to install solar tube lights and bulbs on 12 important localities of Peshawar city.

KP government with assistance of center had installed solar lights in Hayatabad, an elite area of Peshawar city during the first phase. After accomplishing desired results, it has now been decided to install similar solar systems in other posh sectors of the city including Grand Trunk (GT) Road, Defense Colony and Gulbahar.

It is learnt that feasibility report including cost of the project had been submitted to concerning provincial as well as federal governments. It is also learnt that KP government is likely to expand its implementation to private plazas, buildings and markets.

Demonstrators defy Saudi ban and take to the streets

Nervous Saudis ponder whether to join protests

Sitting in front of a Bedouin-style tent in a suburb of the Saudi capital, Said ponders aloud whether to risk prison by joining mass protests on Friday in the conservative kingdom.
"I should really go but don't know," the young man said, meeting fellow pro-democracy activists at a weekly salon-style gathering where they discuss politics and reform.
"I probably won't go. Several male family members are in jail so my family needs me," he added. He was working with other activists on a petition to King Abdullah to release prisoners they say are held without trial.
Like many other Saudis he preferred to give only his first name, fearing reprisals after repeated warnings from the government of the Sunni Muslim-dominated state over the past week that protests, deemed "un-Islamic," will not be tolerated.
More than 32,000 people have backed a call on social networking site Facebook to hold two protests this month. The first is planned for Friday.
The key U.S. ally has so far avoided unrest of the kind that toppled rulers in Egypt or Tunisia and which has spread to other Gulf countries, but dissent has built up in the top oil exporter, an absolute monarchy without an elected parliament or political parties.
Whether dissent expressed via the relative anonymity of social media will translate into street protests in the Saudi capital or its second city Jeddah is unclear.
"I am not so sure much will happen Friday. We just don't know," said Mohammed al-Qahtani, head of the Saudi Civil And Political Rights Association, which meets once a week to work out opposition strategies. "It's like an experiment."
For almost two years the opposition group has been gathering up petitions and issuing anti-government statements, drawing a crowd of up to 50 people at its weekly diwan, a traditional meeting or salon.
A loose coalition of liberals, rights activists, moderate Sunni Islamists and Shi'ite Muslims has called for political reforms in a country which, its rulers claim, has no need of protests or parties, as an Islamic state applying sharia law.
In oil-rich Eastern Province, Shi'ites have long complained of marginalization and have staged small demonstrations for almost three weeks.
Now all eyes are on Riyadh, with some analysts worrying oil prices could hit $200 a barrel if large protests hit the kingdom. Current prices are around $115.
Riyadh, in the conservative heartland, has seen no protests of note in many years, and has few Shi'ite residents. But the government fears that unrest in Bahrain, where Shi'ites are in the majority will embolden not only Saudi Arabia's Shi'ite minority but its Sunnis too.
"I think it would be significant if protests hit Riyadh since Shi'ites (in the east) have often taken to the streets. Riyadh would be different," a Gulf-based diplomat said.
"But I'm rather skeptical."
The government has repeatedly warned people not to stage any protests Friday and a large security presence in the Saudi capital and authorities appear to be taking no chances. Police cars are parked at some junctions and patrolling at night.
Riyadh's expatriate community has been waiting almost as nervously as the government, with some embassies and foreign firms discussing whether staff should leave over the weekend.
"I am relaxed and will stay here but I know colleagues who booked flights just anywhere to be out of Riyadh Friday," said a banker.
Among activists, some locations of possible protest venues have been circulated by word of mouth to avoid alerting police.
But many even at the activists' meeting remained reluctant to get involved.
"I wish the protests luck. People have to express demands," said Ibrahim Natto, a retired university professor and activist. "But I won't go. I am an old man. I don't go to demonstrations."