Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Afghanistan opium production set to rise 61%: UN


Opium production in Afghanistan is set to rise by nearly two-thirds this year, with farmers' revenues from the crop set to soar compared to last year's disease-hit harvest, the UN said Tuesday.
Afghanistan produces more than 90 percent of the world's illegal opiates from its mammoth crop that continues despite an internationally-funded eradication drive and funds much of the Taliban's insurgent activity.
The UN said that cultivation of the poppy crop reached 131,000 hectares in 2011, seven percent higher than in 2010 "due to insecurity and high prices", in its annual opium survey released by the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
And with the crop yield per hectare up markedly from last year's blight-hit harvest, overall production would potentially rise by 61 percent on last year, the report said.
The price of dry opium rose 43 percent this year compared to 2010 and total farm-gate income is set to increase by 133 percent to reach $1,407 million in 2011, the report added.
"Buoyed by higher speculative prices arising from volatile security conditions, the farm-gate income of opium farmers rose markedly," it said.
"We cannot afford to ignore the record profits for non-farmers, such as traders and insurgents, which in turn fuel corruption, criminality and instability. This is a distressing situation," UNODC country head Jean-Luc Lemahieu was quoted as saying in the report.
About 78 percent of cultivation was concentrated in southern Afghan provinces, the heartland of the Taliban-led insurgency.
Another 17 percent was produced in the lawless and remote southwest regions also under the influence of the insurgency and beyond the reach of central government, the report said.
"This confirms the link between insecurity and opium cultivation observed since 2007," the report said.
Afghanistan authorities have been trying to rid the country of illicit opium production with help from its international allies since the Taliban were ousted from power in a US-led invasion in late 2001.

8600 pregnant women die in Balochistan every year

About 8600 women during delivery die in Balochistan province every year due to non-availability of Labor Room and heath facilities.

According to a statement issued here on Tuesday, Regional Director Rahnuma Family Planning Association Mushtaq Ali and Medical Superintendent Saiban Family Health Hospital Noor Muhammad said that maternal mortality ratio was highest in Balochistan in comparison with other provinces.

They said that about 8600 women during delivery died in Balochistan annually as there was acute lack of availability of labor room and other health facilities to pregnant women in the province.

Referring to a report of World Health Organization (WHO), they said that women died during delivery because of bleeding, unsafe abortion, infection, suffering from coma during delivery, non-availability of health care, HIV/Aids, Malaria and other diseases.

Women inspired to protest in Yemen

Just two days after Yemeni rights activist Tawakkul Karman became the first Arab woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, massive crowds of fearless women flooded streets in Yemen to join anti-government demonstrations.

Anti-Wall St. rallies reach 1,306 cities

The anti-corporatism campaign, which began in New York's financial district under the name Occupy Wall Street, has now spread to 1,306 cities across the United States.
The website of Occupy Together, an umbrella group for the national movement, reported the new figure on Tuesday.

Local police forces, in several of the cities which have been the scene of protests, have both attacked and arrested the anti-Wall Street protesters.

The latest violence took place in Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle and Boston on Tuesday, when the police began removing demonstrators from the protest sites with the use of force.

Some 200 peaceful protesters were arrested in Boston.

Moreover, 27 activists were arrested in Chicago on Tuesday when some 3,000 protesters took to the street in a demonstration organized by the Stand Up Chicago coalition.

Demonstrators in Washington announced earlier that they would remain in the Freedom Plaza near the White House for another four months.

The movement emerged on September 17 when a group of people began rallying in New York's financial district, under the name Occupy Wall Street, to protest against top-level corruption, poverty as well as social inequality in the US.

They blame Wall Street for the economic problems faced by many in the US and have repeatedly called for an end to the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

According to a report recently published by The New York Times, the average household income in the US after the recession has dropped even more than during the economic downturn.

The decline was described by the report as “a significant reduction in the American standard of living.”

It further suggested that the new findings could help clarify the growing mistrust that exists among US citizens towards their political system and the economic policies of authorities.

Yemeni protesters call for trial of President Saleh ahead of U.N. vote

Thousands of Yemenis on Tuesday rallied in the capital Sanaa, demanding the United Nations to take President Saleh to the International Criminal Court as Western allies prepare a U.N. Security Council resolution on Yemen.

Britain has been drafting a resolution on Yemen in consultation with France and the United States and intends to circulate it to the full 15-nation Security Council shortly after a closed-door meeting on Tuesday.

Russia and China were not likely to block a resolution on Yemen, diplomats in New York said.

“We would ideally like to vote on the resolution this week,” a Western diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Another diplomat said the vote would most likely take place late this week or early next week.

U.N. special envoy Jamal Benomar, who left Yemen earlier this month after a fruitless two weeks trying to mediate between the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the opposition, is scheduled to brief the council on Tuesday.

The council meeting on Yemen comes after Saleh suggested on Saturday he would step down within days, a promise he has made three times already this year.

Analysts and U.N. diplomats said they suspect it is yet another stalling tactic by Saleh.

The resolution, diplomats said, would voice support for a Gulf Arab peace initiative that Saleh has already pulled back from three times. That plan calls for him to form an opposition-led cabinet and then hand power to his deputy before early parliamentary and presidential elections.

The wily Saleh, who came to power in 1978, is under pressure from international allies and an array of street activists, armed opponents and opposition parties to make good on promises to hand over power and end a crisis that has raised the specter of a failed Arab state overrun by militants.

Confusion over Saleh’s intent is standard fare in a conflict that has dragged on since January when protesters first took to the streets to demand reform and an end to the grip on power that Saleh and his family have had for 33 years.

Russia and China last week vetoed a resolution condemning Syria’s government for its crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, which the United Nations says has killed more than 2,900 civilians.

Russia and China, supported by skeptical Brazil, India and South Africa, justified their Syria vetoes with concerns the Security Council might end up backing a Libya-style military intervention to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

But the situation appears to be different with Yemen.

“Both Russia and China support council action on Yemen,” a diplomat said. “The role played by an armed opposition in Yemen changes things as well. Russia and China want stability. They see the situation in Yemen differently from Syria.”

The Security Council issued a statement on Yemen in late June that voiced “grave concern” about the situation there and welcomed “the ongoing mediation efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council to help the parties find agreement on a way forward.”

That statement came after months of disagreement due to Russian and Chinese objections about what they saw as interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state, council diplomats said.

Boston police arrest 50 from Occupy Boston


More than 50 protesters from the Occupy Boston movement were arrested early Tuesday after they ignored warnings to move from a downtown greenway near where they have been camped out for more than a week, police said.

Police spokesman Jamie Kenneally said the arrests began about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday and were mostly for trespassing.

The protesters, part of the national Occupy Wall Street movement, had tried to expand from their original site in Dewey Square to a second site across the street, along the Rose Kennedy Greenway. A local conservancy group recently planted $150,000 worth of shrubs along the greenway and officials said they were concerned about damage.Boston police had warned protesters for several hours that they would have to return to Dewey Square, where a tent city has been steadily growing, and issued leaflets saying protesters could not occupy the greenway.

Early Tuesday, about 10 police officers patrolled the greenway, some with dogs. Protesters who went to a nearby police station to bail people out did not find anyone there, and by 4 a.m. they had returned to their encampment to discuss how to raise $4,000 in bail money.

Boston resident Matt Hollander, 25, said a group of veterans carrying American flags were standing in between police and the protesters when officers advanced on them. One veteran, he said, was pushed to the ground and a group of protesters fell in a heap.

"If they wanted to arrest us they could have done that without pushing us...without tramping the flag," Hollander said.

Another protester, Shawdeen Vatan, 21, of Arlington, Mass., said she was not surprised at what happened.

"We’re being seen as a legitimate organization," she said. "People are panicking and trying to get us out of here."

Police did not report any arrests from an earlier standoff, where hundreds of students from 10 area colleges marched through downtown Monday, briefly confronting police while attempting to hang a banner on a Boston bridge.

The protesters gathered on Boston Common and marched in front of the Massachusetts Statehouse carrying signs that read "Apathy isn’t working, Raise your voice," and chanting slogans like "Fund education, not corporations" and "We got sold out. Rich got bailed out.

They later marched to a Charlestown bridge near the city’s North End neighborhood hoping to hang a banner.

Police blocked the bridge, which was closed for about an hour before the protesters dispersed. Two demonstrators appeared to scuffle with officers during the standoff. Police did not immediately report any arrests.

The protesters on Wall Street and in Boston and other cities have described themselves at the "99 percent" — referring to what they say are the vast number of Americans struggling to pay their bills while the income gap between the rich and middle class widens.

In Seattle, participants in a protest in downtown Westlake Park said late Monday that they were told the park is closed and they may be arrested if they remain.

Sharla Laurin, an Occupy Seattle peace and safety facilitator, says that announcement was made over a loudspeaker. Protesters heard from the mayor’s office that there weren’t supposed to be any arrests but from Seattle police on the scene that there might be.Police spokesman Detective Mark Jamieson said he had no information about any arrests.

Boston police arrest 50 from Occupy Boston

More than 50 protesters from the Occupy Boston movement were arrested early Tuesday after they ignored warnings to move from a downtown greenway near where they have been camped out for more than a week, police said.

Police spokesman Jamie Kenneally said the arrests began about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday and were mostly for trespassing.

The protesters, part of the national Occupy Wall Street movement, had tried to expand from their original site in Dewey Square to a second site across the street, along the Rose Kennedy Greenway. A local conservancy group recently planted $150,000 worth of shrubs along the greenway and officials said they were concerned about damage.

Rockets fired at KP governor’s rally

Suspected militants fired two rockets at a rally led by the governor of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province on Tuesday, killing one person and wounding four, but the governor was unhurt, security officials said.

Governor Masood Kasur was to address the tribesmen when the rally was attacked in Kalaya, a large town in the Pashtun tribal region of Orakzai, the officials said.

“The governor is safe,” one security official said.

Pakistan has seen a wave of violence over the past years but militants have stepped up attacks since the death of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in a secret US raid in a Pakistani town in May.

Russian PM Putin starts official visit to China

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing Tuesday noon and started a two-day official visit to China.

During the visit at the invitation of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Putin will attend the 16th regular meeting between the two countries' premiers.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC) Wu Bangguo will meet with Putin.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin will meet Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and exchange views on Sino-Russian bilateral energy cooperation.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov will meet Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong at the 12th meeting of the China-Russia people-to-people cooperation committee.

The regular meetings between Chinese and Russian prime ministers, first established in 1996, have become an important platform for guiding and coordinating bilateral cooperation.

Prior to his trip to China, Putin said the two countries "have enjoyed an unparalleled partnership" and that he believes the meetings with the Chinese leaders will see "a positive development" in bilateral relations.

Putin's official visit will be another significant event in the development of bilateral relations following the exchange of visits between Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui told Xinhua on Sunday.

Thanks to the efforts from both sides, recent years have seen China-Russia relations reach unprecedentedly high levels, Li said, adding that the relationship between China and Russia has set a good example for international relations, especially relations between big powers.

Wall Street protests: U.S. version of Arab Spring?

A series of demonstrations dubbed "Occupy Wall Street" began in the United States in mid-September, with hundreds of people gathering in Manhattan's financial district to protest against the greed and corruption of Wall Street financial institutions and to accuse the U.S. government of bailing out the financial institutions at the expense of the majority of the country.

"The one thing we all have in common is that we are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent," protesters said on a website named "Occupy Wall Street." The protest movement has the following characteristics:

First, it is spreading rapidly. The movement has grown from a few hundred people to more than 10,000 people and has gained the support of certain influential labor unions and many college students.

Second, the movement has a significant "butterfly effect," which is the favorite term of the United States for the "color revolutions" worldwide. The movement, which began in New York City, has spread to more than 10 major U.S. cities, including Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco in less than three weeks and it is still spreading like wildfire.

Third, the movement has amazing sustainability. Although it has lasted nearly three weeks, protesters have not lost any passion for the movement and are still determined to achieve their pre-set goals.

The U.S. media is worried that riots similar to the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa may occur in the United States. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently warned that the country's ongoing struggles with unemployment could lead to riots in the streets

The movement has shaken the United States as well as the world. The U.S. government has expressed understanding of the people’s frustration and seems to be working hard to develop appropriate measures for easing the protests.

Recently, some mainstream U.S. media said that the background of the "Occupy Wall Street" activity was the persistent decline of the U.S. economy and the U.S. people's dissatisfaction with the Wall Street. Some analyses also believe that the activity is turning into a punching bag for the U.S. public to abreact their dissatisfaction with the current situation, is a mirror of the current social contradictions of the United States and is also a big explosion of the economic, social and political contradictions of the United States accumulated in the past years.

Meanwhile, an article published on the New American newspaper warned that the demonstration on Wall Street that started on Sept. 17 was launched by extreme activists, left-wing organizations, self-proclaimed revolutionists and anti-capitalism agitators, and may lead to a severe riot.

In fact, the so-called Arab Spring is objectively inexistent. It is just a beautiful name given by the Untied States based on its own wishful thinking. The Untied States has been fostering pro-America forces in the Middle East for a long time and meanwhile has also been trying to implement the Greater Middle East Initiative.

When the two options conflict with each other, the Untied States always chooses the first one. Except for Syria and Libya, the "political earthquake" that occurred in West Asia and North Africa in 2011 was mainly aimed at the mild pro-United States administrations, and the United States was caught by it unprepared. Since the United States had landed itself in a passive position, it should reflect on itself. But instead, the Untied States, due to its hegemonic thinking, adopted the trick of grafting flowers on a tree and tried to connect it with the Greater Middle East Initiative to spread it to Libya, Syria and even Iran and other Asian countries. Unfortunately, cleverness may overreach itself. The god did not help the U.S. administration, but instead inspired the youths of the "Occupy the Wall Street" activity. That is really an irony.

Occupy Wall Street movement seems to be spreading into the suburbs

Having spread to major cities such as Philadelphia, the Occupy Wall Street movement appears to be opening suburban branches.

For local evidence, look no farther than Doylestown, where a two-hour mini-occupation is planned for 4 p.m. Thursday.

Demonstrators will gather at the town's busiest intersection - State and Main Streets - "to show solidarity for all the other protesters around the country," said Marlene Pray, a local activist and Borough Council candidate.

Organizers tout the Doylestown event as part of a week of widespread protests "to show the human impact of the economic crisis."

Pray said Monday that almost 1,400 separate events tied to Occupy Wall Street are planned or taking place around the country.

The movement, which began Sept. 17 in a park near Manhattan's financial district, is described by its backers as an expression of frustration over corporate power, Wall Street greed, the widening gap between rich and poor Americans, and other class-related issues.

Asked why such a protest is being held in an upscale community such as Doylestown, Pray listed a string of statistics about the number of people who are jobless, without health insurance, or in need of government assistance to eat.

"All of those numbers have faces of people in Doylestown," Pray said. A local food bank that once drew 50 people per month served 1,000 last month, she added.

"So this is a local issue involving suburban people," she said. "We want to hold both political parties, and Wall Street, accountable."

Similar events are being planned in Quakertown, Sellersville, Perkasie, New Hope, and Trenton, Pray said.

Another rally is planned for 4 p.m. Wednesday outside the Middletown Township office of U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R., Bucks). Penn Action, an advocacy group, is soliciting letters urging job creation measures that will be delivered to Fitzpatrick.

Doylestown Borough Manager John Davis said organizers have cleared the event with borough police, who expect no problems.

"It's basically a free-speech thing," Davis said. "They just need to not block pedestrians on the sidewalk, and not stop traffic from passing by."

Tense night at Occupy Boston protest site

Tension mounted between protesters and police on Monday night after Occupy Boston members expanded their footprint in downtown Boston, then said they were being pressed by police to backtrack.
A few hundred police were on the scene, and protesters said authorities had given participants at the rally an ultimatum to return to their original encampment or be moved along.
"The BPD respects your right to protest peacefully. We ask for your ongoing cooperation," the Boston Police Department said in a tweet to @Occupy_Boston, but did not mention any ultimatum.
Protesters' tents have been set up in Dewey Square Park in downtown Boston all month, but on Monday expanded to a larger section of the nearby Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. Many linked arms Monday evening in a show of solidarity on their expanded turf.
Boston earlier saw one of its biggest rallies so far in a movement that began in New York last month to protest against perceived Wall Street excesses and other social issues and has spread to cities across the nation. Hundreds of protesters, including many college students, marched in support of Occupy Boston.
Protests across the country have objected to what they see as an unacceptable income gap between rich and poor. They also have complained about the Wall Street bailout in 2008, which they say aided banks while average Americans suffered under high unemployment and job insecurity.
In fliers handed out on site in Boston, and in a press release, the police told protesters: "if asked to leave an area, please do so peacefully."
Police said officers would arrest those knowingly in violation of the law "if necessary." They also warned protesters they would use video cameras to record any disorderly behavior.
In return, protesters urged their followers to call police and the fire department to express support for Occupy Boston and "come down to Dewey Square right now!"

Badar Munir, The legendary hero of Pashto movies

Third death anniversary of Badar Munir, the legendary hero of Pashto movies, is being observed today (Tuesday).

Born in 1942 in Shagram, a small village of Madyan area in Swat district, he was the son of Maulvi Yaqoot Khan, a prayer leader of his village.

Badar Munir died after a protracted illness in Lahore at the age of 68 on October 11, 2008.

The legend in Pashto cinema had suffered paralysis attack and was admitted to a hospital in a precarious condition, but the heart attack later proved fatal for him.

The Culture Directorate Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Cultural Journalists Forum have arranged a programme at Nishtar Hall today to pay tribute to the late legendary artiste.

Beginning his career as a rickshaw driver, Badar Munir ended up as lights-man with Waheed Murad, the chocolate hero of Urdu films in Karachi, way back in the early 70s.

He played a minor character in Waheed Murad s Urdu film Jahan Tum Wahan Hum from which he developed a taste for acting and shot to an unprecedented fame when he was cast in the first Pashto movie Yousaf Khan Sher Bano based on a folk tale.

The 70s and early 80s are considered the golden era of Pashto cinema.

Badar Munir scaled the heights of success through his natural way of expression and produced a large number of quality films that helped promote the Pakhtun culture to a great extent. Many Pashto movies, having come out in that Black & White era when Badar played lead roles, are still fondly remembered by the Pashto movie buffs as it portrays a real picture of the Pakhtun society.

Badar Munir, though not well educated, could display difficult moves, dialogue delivery and beautiful facial expression with great ease and natural bend. He acted in more than 675 films, including 31 Urdu and Punjabi movies, during his 35-year film industry career and gained a widespread popularity among cinegoers for his natural style and simple Pakhtun stunt.

Khayal Mohammad s voice as play singer would rightly fit to Badar Munir on the silver screen.

His hits Pashto films include Adam Khan Durkhanai, Orbal, Deedan, Dehkaan, Topak Zama Qanoon, Darra Khyber, Kochwaan, Khana Badosh and Mairanai Ror.

Two of his sons, Dilbar Munir and Aqal Munir, tried their luck on the big screen but could not carve a niche for themselves like their legendary father.

Badar Munir passed away on October 11, 2008 at a local hospital in Lahore after a protracted illness and was laid to rest there. Due to his long and unmatched contribution, he was decorated with the Pride of Performance award. He will always be remembered as a great icon of Pashto cinema.

Sharif brothers are hungry for pelf power

Provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon has said that Sharif Brothers are following the policy to loot the country and they are using politics as business, while they ran away from the country after begging and touching the feet of a dictator.
This he said in a statement, issued here on Monday. He said that they (Sharif Brethren) had business abroad, did part time politics in Pakistan and made the people of the country fool, and used the masses for grabbing power.
He said that he felt pity for Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif because both were hungry for pelf and power. He suggested if JIT was conducted for them, then billions rupees, looted by Sharif brothers, could be brought to Pakistan.
Sharjeel Memon said, ‘Since 1985, Sharif brothers have been plundering the wealth of Pakistan, considering it as Ittefaq Foundry’. He added that Sharif brothers and their front man Hamza Shahbaz were looting billions rupees in the name of ‘Sasti Roti’. They were also collecting countless wealth in the name of Dengue Spray and from other departments of Punjab as well’.

MQM submits resolution against Hamza Shahbaz

Muttahida Qaumi Movement MNAs have filed a resolution against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MNA and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s son, Hamza Shahbaz, in the Sindh Assembly Secretariat, a private TV channel reported on Monday.
Zareen Majeed, Naheed Begum, Heer Sosho, Khalid Ahmed and Azhar-ul-Hassan were amongst those who signed the resolution which demanded of the federal government to take an action against Hamza Shahbaz for implicating his self-proclaimed wife Ayesha in fake cases through the use of power, adding that Ayesha had been detained for the last 10 days illegally. MQM Deputy Parliamentary Leader Faisal Sabzwari said, “we have not raised our voice against Muslim League for anyone but because it was the right thing to do.”

Ayesha Malik was tortured by police

The family of Ayesha Malik says that it is receiving threats from the Punjab government for not withdrawing the claim that she (Ayesha) has a “matrimonial relation” with a scion of the Sharif family.

Khwaja Imran Nazir, spokesman for Hamza Shahbaz, dismissed the claim saying if Ms Malik has any proof (of her marriage with Hamza) she may bring it forth.

“Severe torture has been inflicted on my daughter (Ayesha) and grand daughter (Mahnoor) on the order of the chief minister secretariat. Investigation Officer Zulifqar Cheema kept torturing Ms Ayesha for hours, pressing her to write it down that she has no relation with Mr Hamza and that she will not talk about it before media,” Rifat Ahad told Dawn on Monday.

The wife of ailing PML-Q leader Ahad Malik said the PML-N people, including an MNA, an MPA, a former prosecution secretary, a senior official of the Punjab government and a journalist, were on forefront in ensuring that she (Ayesha) must ‘cooperate’ when she was in police custody.

“We are receiving threats from the chief minister to ‘shut up’ otherwise get ready to face the music,” she said and further alleged that Hamza contracted marriage with Ayesha one-and-a-half years ago. “We have proof and will present before the media shortly.” She said the way Ayesha had been brutally tortured clearly showed the ‘guilt’ of the Sharifs. “Now they are creating hurdles in getting Ayesha’s medico-legal. Thanks God the court has directed the government to get it done,” she said.

Ms Rifat asked the Sharifs to accept her daughter in the family respectfully. Mahnoor (Ayesha’s teenaged daughter from her first husband) told Dawn that Zulfiqar Cheema even did not spare her.

“Cheema told me that he would stop hitting me if my mother (Ayesha) cooperates with him,” she said and urged the chief justice of Pakistan to take action against all those responsible for severe torture on her and her mother. She said the phone calls record of the police officials should be checked to ascertain from where they were receiving ‘directions’.

MPA Khawaja Imran Nazir said that Ayesha Malik and her family were trying to defame the PML-N leadership which “we strongly condemn”. “If she had contracted marriage with Mr Hamza she should present the proof. But in fact there has been no such thing and the family has some vested interest,” he said. He also denied that the Punjab government or PML-N had influenced her case in the police station.

A Lahore High Court division bench on Friday released Ayesha Malik on bail and ordered an inquiry against the anti-terrorism court judge who had remanded her in 10-day police custody for her alleged involvement in the kidnap of a Filipino maid’s son.

Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry suspended the remand order by ATC judge Tahir Pervaiz and directed LHC’s human rights and vigilance cell director general Kazim Ali Malik to probe into the conduct and integrity of the judge (Pervaiz) and submit a report by the next hearing on Oct 13.

The CJ also took notice of the insertion of Section 365-A of PPC in the FIR and ordered the inspector general of Punjab police to take action against the Defence-A station house officer and the in-charge investigation. He directed the IG to ask DIG Maj Mubasharullah (retired) to hold an inquiry against both policemen.

DIG Mubasharullah told Dawn on Monday that he had not yet received any order from the IGP to conduct an inquiry against the police officials in the case.

PML-N’s political rivals –PPP, PML-Q and MQM – have meanwhile contacted Ayesha and extended their help in getting her justice. Sources said the presidency has also approached the family.

Zardari puts own house in order

In what appears to be a message to all militant groups and their political patrons, the Sindh government on Monday night banned the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-affiliated Amn (peace) committee for its involvement in criminal activities and acts of militancy in pursuance of the Supreme Court judgement.
The Sindh government issued the notification to ban the Amn committee after the approval of President Asif Ali Zardari, who while taking an initiative to first put his own house in order before initiating any “action” against militant groups operating in Karachi, had directed the party’s top tier to immediately disband the Amn committee in the provincial capital.
The president had taken this decision at a meeting of the PPP’s core committee also co-chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. “The president gave clear instruction to disband the Amn committee,” a source privy to the meeting told Pakistan Today.
Former home minister of Sindh and the president’s close aide Dr Zulfiqar Mirza had formed the Amn committee in Karachi as a parallel force of the PPP to take on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which, he believed, had been involved in various crimes in the city for years and patronised its own militant wing.
“If we want to deal with militancy in Karachi, we have to disband the Amn committee and dissociate the party from it,” the president was quoted as saying. The source said the president was visibly upset when he referred to Dr Zulfiqar Mirza while discussing the Karachi situation. “He (Dr Mirza) was my friend. accept all his resignations immediately,” the president was quoted as saying, unambiguously suggesting that the former Sindh minister, a childhood friend, was no more with him and the party.
The president discussed the Supreme Court’s judgement on the Karachi situation with his core group and indicated that he would ensure implementation of the verdict. “The court has given us the responsibility and with it comes the authority as well,” the president said. Though he tried to remove doubts that he lacked will to go after criminals associated with political parties in Karachi, his action would, however, speak for his intention.
When the president speaks to his confidants, it is generally a monologue and he touches upon every issue under the sun. While he was discussing the political situation, the source said, the president tacitly indicated his plan of dividing the province of Punjab into two units when he directed the participants to reorganise the party in two provincial setups - one for the south and the rest for the central and northern part. As the president referred to creation of a new province on administrative basis, Raza Rabbani disagreed with him and said the provinces were created on the linguistic, ethnic and cultural basis. “Well, Raza we agree to disagree,” the source quoted the president as telling his party’s constitutional expert, whose shirt he had buttoned up while shaking hands when he had come to chair the meeting.
When a suggestion came to also consider creation of a Hazara province, the president did not agree and said: “Don’t compare South Punjab with Hazara. We can’t say that Hazara is a deprived area and had a similar history of struggle.”
Like an elder, the president also keeps grooming his team and an example of this characteristic is that he categorically told the participants not to make any comment on the Hamza Shahbaz-Ayesha Malik issue. “No politics on personal issues,” he was quoted as saying when his coalition partner, the MQM, had already gone berserk to attack the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in retaliation to Nawaz Sharif’s proposal of proscribing the political parties which sponsored or patronised militancy. The president also focused on the energy situation and an official statement quoted him as emphasising the need to solve this problem on a permanent basis. “The power situation in the country must be improved and not allowed to degenerate into an issue of power politics,” his spokesman Farhatullah Babar quoted him as saying.
The meeting also took stock of the overall political situation with a specific emphasis on the availability of power, economic, and law and order issues with coalition partners and the recent anti-government campaign by the PML-N leadership. It was with reference to the PML-N campaign that the president directed the ministers concerned to solve the energy crisis before it assumes a political crisis.

Torture rife in Afghan detention facilities: U.N.

Afghanistan's intelligence agency and police force have been "systematically" torturing detainees including children at a number of jails, in breach of local and international laws, a United Nations report said on Monday.
Scores of people told the U.N. that the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the Afghan National Police had physically or mentally abused them, using beatings, electrocution and toenail removal, according to the report.
But the head of the U.N. in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, said that torture was neither institutional nor government policy, and praised the ministry and intelligence agency for allowing access to their prisons for research.
The Afghan government rejected many of the allegations, but conceded there may have been some abuse, and added that steps were being taken to prevent further problems.
Interviews with 379 pre-trial detainees and convicted prisoners were conducted at 47 different facilities by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) from October 2010 to August 2011.
The report said 324 of the detainees were accused of crimes related to the war.
There was systematic torture found at five NDS "facilities," the report said, and "multiple, credible allegations" of torture at two others. There were also some allegations from 17 other facilities that the U.N. said it was still investigating.
Almost half of those interviewed were suspected insurgents, 20 percent were arrested while carrying explosives and 11 percent were failed suicide bombers.
UNAMA said almost half of those it interviewed at NDS facilities experienced interrogation techniques that constituted torture. Of those in police facilities, more than a third of the 117 suspected insurgents or those believed to be assisting militants told UNAMA they had been subjected to torture or inhumane treatment.
Beyond physical mistreatment, which included sexual humiliation, many prisoners also said they had been held beyond the maximum duration allowed by law and denied family visits.
The United Nations said Afghanistan's difficult security situation did not justify any mistreatment.
The intelligence agency said in an official response that "reference has been made to some issues that are not in conformity with work principles of the NDS," and specifically rejected some allegations of mistreatment.
"Torture methods such as electric shock, threat of rape, twisting of sexual organs etc. are methods that are absolutely non-existent in the NDS," an official government response said.
The statement suggested some insurgent prisoners might be making false claims to discredit the government. However it also said several officials had recently been dismissed or suspended, and the agency was "keen for reform and improvement in the field of interrogation."
UNAMA said it had designed its study to take into account concerns from the Afghan authorities that detainees might give false accounts to discredit security agencies and further insurgent propaganda.
The Interior Ministry accepted there were cases of poor treatment of detainees in police custody, but said they were in the minority and it was committed to punishing violators and ensuring police were trained to protect human rights.
"It is evident ... that the outcome of the report cannot be totally rejected/denied due to some existing problems," it said.
The report follows a similar U.N. investigation into alleged torture that prompted NATO to halt transfers of prisoners to several southern Afghan jails in July.
Those findings raised questions about the capacity of Afghan security forces at a time when they are meant to be taking on greater security responsibilities ahead of a planned withdrawal of all foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it was made aware of UNAMA's findings last month and has since helped the Afghan government develop a six-stage plan to tackle torture, which included inspections, monitoring, training in human rights protection, and formal certification procedures.
"Initiatives being implemented will help strengthen rule of law, continue to enhance government credibility, and limit the appeal of the insurgency," ISAF said in a statement.

Nawaz Sharif, brothers playing politics on dengue fever

Provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon has criticised the PML (N) leader Mian Nawaz Sharif and alleged that all his efforts were to grab power. In a statement’issued here on Monday, he alleged that the PML-N chief has already “befooled” the people of the country and that he had assets amassed abroad.He pointed out that “even the Sharifs left the country after bargaining with a ‘dictator’ to save their own skin”.

Memon alleged that Sharif brothers even established Ittefaq Foundry for “loot and plunder of the national exchequer and now are playing politics on dengue fever”.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Tribal women blamed for inducing fear among children

A University of Peshawar researcher on Monday blamed women from Khyber Agency, especially in Bara tehsil, for inducing fear among their children to teach them discipline.

“Mothers tell them to go to sleep otherwise dreaded militant commander Mangal Bagh will show up and take them away,” said Ruqayya Gul, who works with children from restive tribal areas now living in Jalozai camp, on Monday.

Talking to Dawn here on the World Mental Health Day, the researcher said fear was common among the internally displaced children from Bara, and Mohmand and Bajaur agencies.

“Most of these children fear that they`ll be suspected as militants. They can`t discriminate between the Taliban and army and show fear and passiveness,” Ms Ruqayya said, adding that children from restive tribal areas have memories of their destroyed homes and gun battles.

She also said the news about bomb blasts and adults talking in front of them about fighting in their areas flashed back violent scenes into their minds and they relapsed into the old state.

The researcher recommended recreational activities for children inside IDP camps so that they could remain busy making fun away from the terrorism related news.

Meanwhile, Dr. Irum Irshaad, provincial president of Pakistan Association of Clinical Psychologists and associate professor at Psychology Department of University of Peshawar, said over the last 10 years, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was on the rise among the people, especially women and children, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa areas adjacent to conflict-hit tribal areas.

She told Dawn on Monday that data of patients with PTSD in the province had yet not been collected but research at Jalozai Camp for internally displaced persons and her patients showed that the disorder was on the rise.

Dr Irum said terrorism and insecurity had a negative bearing on the minds of the people, especially women and children.

“Women face gender discrimination when it comes to treatment for psychological problems,” she said, adding that more men had enrolled for treatment at her private clinic in Hayatabad than women.

She said women were generally considered to be `just acting ill` in the gender-biased society ignoring treatment for serious mental illnesses, adding that economic pressure and displacement due to conflict was coming out in the form of behavioural changes.

“Economic burden and breaking up of joint family system are common causes of psychological problems,” Dr Irum said, adding that increase in intolerance in society was an outcome of such problems.

According to her, local families, which have accommodated displaced relatives from Waziristan, Bajaur, Swat and other restive areas, have shown behavioural changes.

“Hospitality, which is considered a value in Pakhtun society, is stretched with the people feeling stressed due to economic burden and insecurity,” she said.

Dr Irum said provincial government should invest in improving mental health facilities and rehabilitation centres in the province since such facilities were almost equal to none.

“One mental Hospital that is adjacent to Peshawar Prison is in such a condition that one remains depressed for days after visiting it,” she said, adding that observance of human rights and tolerance can help attend to psychological problems.

Islamabad assures Kabul of help

Pakistan is set to extend all-out assistance to Afghan government in investigations into mysterious assassination of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, sources said on Monday.
According to the informed sources Islamabad has assured Kabul of every possible help in probing the assassination of the former Afghan President. The sources said that Islamabad has already sought detailed information from Kabul to help the Afghan government in this connection. The sources further said that a team of Afghan inquiry commission investigating assassination of Chief Afghan peace negotiator is due to visit Pakistan on Wednesday to share details of its investigation with Pakistani authorities.
“We are expecting the Afghan delegation will come up with credible evidence to share with Pakistan,” a senior official said, denying that relations between Islamabad and Kabul had been stalled following the assassination.
of the head of the Afghan High Peace Council.
Rabbani was killed by a turban bomber at his residence in the upscale Wazir Akbar Khan neighbourhood of Kabul on September 20. Defence Minister General Abdul Rahim Wardak heads Afghan Inquiry Commission; which includes the interior minister, heads of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and National Security Council and the country’s attorney general as its members.