Monday, April 23, 2012

U.S. Gas prices finally stop their steep climb
Rising gas prices are like a gun aimed at the heart of the economic recovery. You've been paying more and at this time of year; you'd expect them to rise even further. But, all of the sudden, the pressure on the trigger is easing. The average price is $3.86 per gallon. That's down a nickel in just the past week. A year ago today, we were paying that same: $3.86 per gallon. This is the first time prices haven't risen year to year in two-and-a-half years. CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason looked into whether or not gas prices keep dropping, and whether the danger is over for the economy. The price of crude has been slipping in the trading pits; oil fell again Monday. As tensions with Iran have eased, some of the speculators who helped push up the price have been driven away. "There is a little bit of fear in speculators now. They realize there's not just upside potential, but there's downside risk as well," said Tom Kloza, who works with the Oil Price Information Service.Since April 6th, the average price of a gallon of gas has fallen by 8 cents from $3.94 to $3.86. "It's not gonna be enough to buy a boat, but you're gonna save a little bit of money. You're certainly not gonna pay some of those $4.50 and $5 numbers that were talked about awhile ago," Kloza said. That's finally broken a streak of 910 straight days, during which gas was more expensive than it was one year earlier; 17 states have now broken below their year ago average. But Kloza does not see a continuing downward trend, and he warns: be careful what you wish for. "It's kind of like rooting for a recession. If you really want sharply lower prices you need to root for a recession or you need to root for a technological breakthrough, which isn't out there right now," Kloza said. Kloza sees price lingering about where they are now until the summer. The good news: you can forget all those highest-price-ever predictions, at least for awhile. Economists look at gas prices as the biggest threat to the economy; if prices hit $5 per gallon, than a recession will be likely to hit. Higher gas prices are considered a tax taking money out of people's pockets, but these lower prices should mean the recovery is okay for now.

Sick Chavez phones TV show to disprove death rumours

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
telephoned state TV on Monday following a nine day silence that triggered rumours he had died while undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba. He attributed the rumours to "dirty war."“It seems we will have to become accustomed to live with these rumors, because it is part of the laboratories of psychological war, of dirty war,” the 57-year-old socialist leader said in the phone call from Havana where he is undergoing radiation therapy.

Pakistan to launch missile; alert forces India to rejig flights to Gulf

Days after India conducted its Agni-V test, Pakistan has informed India it too is conducting a 'long-range missile test in the Indian Ocean' anytime from April 24 to 29 (from 8.30 to 11 am IST), and asked the Indian civil aviation authorities Monday evening to issue a NOTAM (notice to airmen) to warn commercial airlines and pilots to steer clear of the area. Flights heading to the Gulf from India in that specific time-period will have to be rescheduled or rerouted, sources said. Pakistan informed the Indian authorities Monday evening it was waiting for India to issue the NOTAM and asked it to communicate the NOTAM number to the Pakistan civil aviation authority swiftly. Pakistan also said that Oman and Yemen had already issued NOTAMs ahead of the Pakistani long-range missile test. Sources said Pakistan conducts its missile tests over the Indian Ocean in the southern direction due to which flights from India to the Gulf and Africa have to be rescheduled or rerouted. "The communications from Pakistan always come in the last minute, mostly just a day in advance. Airlines have to be informed immediately," sources said. Pakistan is developing its 'Shaheen' long-range missiles that it hopes can eventually clock a range of 4,000-4,500 kms. Pakistan’s entire nuclear-capable missile arsenal is India-specific and is trying to develop long-range missiles that has strike capacity to destruct whole of India.

Afghan-US Pact Will Not Apply Until Parliament Approves

The Afghanistan-US long-term strategic agreement will not be upheld if the Afghan Parliament does not approve it, officials said Monday. Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul and National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta went before the Afghan Senate and Parliament respectively to discuss the agreement, and both stressed that the country's lawmakers would have the final say. Speaking before the Senate, Rassoul said the agreement will be valid for ten years and is not applicable unless approved by the parliament. "The agreement is valid for ten years and it is extendable for another ten years if we want," Rassoul said. "But it's not applicable unless [Parliament] approve it." Some members of Parliament (MPs) asked the government officials to provide a copy of the draft in order to discuss it within parliament. "We have the right to see the draft - we need two or three months to discuss it," MP Daoud Kalakani said. However, Spanta said the draft will be provided to the MPs only after it is signed by the both presidents, adding that this was also the case in the US. When asked to explain this, he said the signing of the agreement by both countries' presidents was conditional on the agreement of their respective governments. "When its signed by the US President, then we can provide the draft to you," he told the MPs. Officials told TOLOnews that the Afghan-US strategic pact was rewritten 23 times during its 18 month-long negotiation period. Rassoul told the Senate that the agreement acknowledged both countries as independent and equal, and it respected the sovereignty of Afghanistan. "As per the United Nations mandate, Afghanistan and US will be considered as independent and equal countries after signing the agreement," he said. "US will respect the national sovereignty and independence of Afghanistan and is committed to transferring security responsibility to the Afghan forces," he told the senators. The agreement also says that Afghanistan should be named an "important Nato ally" and that the US is committed to training and equipping Afghan security forces for a decade after 2014. It does not contain any dollar amount for how much the US will commit each year, despite earlier calls from President Hamid Karzai for this to be included in the agreement. While the document does not specify what the US will provide in terms of ongoing security support, notably, there will be no permanent military bases, Rassoul said. "The US has once again emphasised that it is not interested in having military bases in Afghanistan which might be seen as a threat to our neighbors," he told the Senate. However, Spanta meanwhile told parliamentarians that talks about US permanent military bases were not off the agenda, and that this issue will be revisited a year after the strategic agreement is signed. "After signing the strategic pact, a separate security agreement which will allow or not allow the existence of US permanent bases in Afghanistan will be signed after one year if agreed," Spanta said. Afghan and US officials finalised the Afghan-US strategic pact on Sunday which is expected to be signed at the Chicago summit in May. The agreement titled "Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States" was initialed "final" by Spanta and the US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker during a ceremony at the National Security Council.

Anti-polio campaign kicks off in KP

The three days anti-polio campaign kicked off in Khyber Pahtunkhwa and FATA on Monday wherein 6.1 million children under five years of age would be administered Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). Khyber Pakthunkhwa Minister for Health Syed Zahir Shah and Deputy Director EPI, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Dr Jan Baz Afridi formally inaugurated the campaign by administering anti polio drops to children during a function here Monday. Speaking on the occasion, the Health Minister said polio is a crippling disease that could only be eradicated by making joint efforts and supporting each other for this national obligation. He said the cases of polio were reducing considerably in the country owing to the government's successful strategies, advocacy and National Immunization Campaigns (NIC). He expressed the hope that polio would soon be eradicated from the country with the support of all segments of society. The Minister lauded the efforts of Health and EPI staff for their improved performance and reaching out to all children in the province. Deputy Director EPI, Dr Jan Baz said that as many as 6.1million children would be given Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) in Khyber Pakthunkhwa and FATA during this campaign. He said 16,600 teams for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 3000 for Fata have been formed for door to door campaign to make Pakistan Polio free country. These teams are being assisted by area in-charges, Lady Health Workers (LHWs) and officials of Health Department . In case of non arrival of the teams, he held an appeal to parents and guardians to bring their children to nearest hospitals and BHUs for vaccination. He informed that Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Mardan, Lakki Marwat, DI Khan, Tank, Kohat and Fata are still vulnerable and high risk areas. The official said that significantly decrease in refusal cases have been reported in recent past owing to effective advocacy campaigns and holding of vigorous immunization drives. Dr Jan Baz said DCOs and Political Agents have been directed to supervise and monitors the campaigns on grounds and if necessary take strict action against parents refusing to vaccinate children. He held out an appeal to parents to vaccinate their children against polio and protect them from permanent disability and urged media and religious scholars to support the national cause and play its constructive role in raising awareness among the masses about polio that could be protected merely by administering two drops to their children.

Bahraini forces attack mourners

Press TV
Saudi-backed forces in Bahrain have attacked mourners holding a funeral for a protester killed by regime forces. Activists said on Monday that the police quickly attacked the mourners after they started calling for the downfall of the regime. Thousands of Bahrainis took to the streets in the Manama suburb of Bilad al-Qadim for the funeral procession for 36-year-old Salah Abbas Habib, who was found dead on a rooftop in the village of Shakhoura, southwest of Manama, on Saturday shortly after regime forces attacked an anti-government demonstration in the area the day before the Formula One Grand Prix. Hussein Abbas Habib, the victim's brother, said, “We just got the body back now. He had birdshot wounds in his chest and abdomen.” He added that his brother was also badly beaten on his hands, back, and legs. According to the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, Habib was shot while running away from police. Activists say authorities kept Habib's body for two days and handed it over to his family on Monday to prevent the funeral from being held during the Bahrain Grand Prix. Bahrain's main opposition group, al-Wefaq, has confirmed that Saudi-backed forces killed Habib and said that the conflict will grow more violent if the regime does not engage in political reforms. Al-Wefaq Leader Sheikh Ali Salman said the regime refuses to talk or listen to the demands of the people and the situation has reached an impasse because the Saudi-backed regime is not keen on implementing real reforms. The Bahraini revolution began in February 2011. Since then dozens have been killed and thousands more injured and arrested. Anti-regime demonstrators hold King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa responsible for the death of protesters during the popular uprising.

Commission formed to probe Bhoja plane crash not to convince PML (N)

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira on Monday said the judicial commission has been constituted to probe the Bhoja Airplane crash and not to convince or satisfy the leadership of Pakistan Muslim League (PML)-N. He said the basic objective of announcing the Commission by Prime Minister, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani was to conduct a thorough probe of Friday's incident and to reach out actual facts of the crash. All passengers including crew members lost their lives in the crash. In an exclusive talk with mediapersons here, the Minister said the government as well as the entire nation felt grieved over the tragic incident in which precious human lives were lost, but it is regrettable that (PML)-N leadership has adopted an inappropriate and irresponsible tone and attitude over the Commission. Qamar Zaman Kaira said, "Basically we want to have a better and comprehensive investigation of Bhoja air crash and to express solidarity with family of the victims." Talking about the investigation process, Kaira said Boeing Company has offered its assistance, the Black Box has been recovered and it would be decoded and some other technical matters would also be thoroughly considered to get better results in the investigation process. The Minister while lamenting attitude and unnecessary criticism of the opposition leader, said the investigation, being conducted by the Commission would be made public. Qamar Zaman Kaira said the Opposition leader in National Assembly should have known that the owner of Air Blue Company is leader of PML (N) whose plane also crashed last year in Margalla Hills, adding that if PML (N) desires the government can re-investigate the incident of air crash. "We condemn their thinking, attitude and unnecessary criticism over the investigation process of Bhoja air crash initiated by the government," he said. The Minister also rejected PML (N)'s criticism over formation of the Judicial Commission and said PCO judges are respectable as we all who had issued reasonable verdicts during their service. "It is really unfair that PCO judges, who have tremendous service record were being defamed. Now they are not part of judiciary but we must give them the due respect. There is no Judge without PCO in Pakistan," he added.

The truth about Arizona's immigration law

With the Supreme Court poised this week to hear arguments in the legal challenge to Arizona's immigration law, it's a good time to explain what this law and the ruckus surrounding it are really about. The left says it's about racism and political extremism; the right claims the issues are border security and public safety. Wrong. In the two years since Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law, it's become clear that this law, and the debate over it, are really about three things: fear, power, and freedom. It's about fear. As someone who lived in Phoenix and wrote for the Arizona Republic in the late 1990s, I can tell you that Arizonans only recently reached the conclusion that they wanted to get rid of illegal immigrants. The 'Zonies I knew couldn't live without them.Not a lot of U.S. citizens were lining up to do the hard and dirty jobs that the undocumented were doing. That includes landscaping or other jobs that require you to work outdoors in 115-degree weather. In 1994, when Californians passed Proposition 187 -- an anti-illegal immigration ballot initiative that intended to deny public services to illegal immigrants but was ultimately struck down by the courts -- and when President Bill Clinton launched "Operation Gatekeeper" to beef up enforcement on the U.S.-Mexico border south of San Diego, hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who had been headed to California took a detour through Arizona.Those who crusade against illegal immigration in the Grand Canyon State will say that this is when the "invasion" began. In truth, it was more like a gigantic job fair where employers eagerly gobbled up illegal immigrants to do everything from cleaning houses to raising children to cooking in restaurants. At the time, few people seemed concerned about verifying legal status. I once asked the crew washing my car at a popular Phoenix carwash if they had fake green cards, and one of the young men chuckled and said there was no need, since the employer never asked if they were legally eligible to work. Fueled by illegal immigrant labor, cities like Phoenix boomed, and this was fine by the Phoenicians -- many of whom envisioned their city growing into a desert metropolis with all the amenities. But the problem was that they weren't prepared for the demographic side effect: the fear that they were losing control, and the realization that whites would soon become a statistical minority in Arizona just as they are in California, Texas and New Mexico. Something had to be done to readjust the ethnic balance. And that something was SB 1070, or as local activists have dubbed it: "The Mexican Removal Act." It's about power. One of the main things that makes the law so controversial is also one of the things that the lower federal courts have said makes it unconstitutional -- that it essentially deputizes local and state police, who typically haven't been trained to enforce immigration law, and gives them the power to act as surrogates for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Constitution is pretty clear that regulating immigration policy is exclusively a federal responsibility, which is the reason that Proposition 187 was struck down. And the scores of police chiefs who resist enforcing federal immigration law are correct that it erodes the trust between law enforcement and local communities. But perhaps the best argument against giving local and state police this power is that they almost always misuse it. You see, this job is tougher than it looks, if you want to surgically remove illegal immigrants without harassing or disrupting the lives of U.S.-born Latinos, including some whose families have been in the Southwest for nearly 500 years. That is especially true in the place that used to be called the Arizona Territory. For those of us who support the role of federal agents to enforce immigration law, including deporting people when appropriate, the problem isn't that the law is being enforced. By all means, the law should be enforced. The problem is who is doing the enforcing. If the dirty work of asking people for birth certificates and other forms of identification to prove they have a legal right to be in this country is being done by amateurs, it is more likely that there will be mistakes. People will be profiled. Dark skins and accents will take the place of hard evidence and probable cause. Civil rights will be trampled upon. That's the concern in Arizona, where state lawmakers made a power grab and foolishly gave local and state police officers something that most of them never wanted: the authority to enforce federal immigration law. That authority has to be held in check and closely monitored, and that is where the courts come in. This is the role that U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton fulfilled when, in July 2010, she struck down some of the most grotesque parts of the law -- a requirement that local police determine the immigration status of individuals they suspect of being in the country illegally, a mandate that people carry documents that prove they have a legal right to be in the United States, and a provision making it a crime for laborers to solicit work. And it's about freedom, because U.S.-born Latinos should be free from harassment. They shouldn't have to prove they belong in their own country. In this case, they should be spared the additional humiliation of having to prove they have the legal right to be in a region to which they are indigenous. They have the right to be left alone without mischief-making bureaucrats or lawmakers calling their "American-ness" into question. They and their families have earned it the hard way -- by answering this nation's call, enlisting in the military, and often making the ultimate sacrifice dating back to the days of the American Revolution. Conservatives get worked up over perceived threats to freedom all the time. Whether it's a smoking ban or a government mandate to buy health insurance, those on the right know how to raise a fuss over big government. What could be worse that police agencies using the blunt instrument of racial and ethnic profiling to ferret out suspected illegal immigrants? How does government get any "bigger" than that? This debate was never about the rights of illegal immigrants. It's about the rights of those U.S. citizens and legal residents whom the untrained and uninformed might mistake for illegal immigrants. It's about the kind of country we've always been, and the kind that we want to remain. We sometimes forget that personal liberty is the cornerstone of the United States of America. Once again, it's up to the Supreme Court to remind us.

Bollywood Song: Dan Dan Cheeni

Pakistan is in denial over spreading sectarian violence

BY:Mustafa Qadri After decades of turning a blind eye, the government seems helpless in the face of attacks on Shias and other minorities
While banned political groups preach hatred towards religious minorities
in Pakistan's major cities, a conflict along sectarian lines is spreading across the country, even to areas not previously associated with violence. Having spent decades turning a blind eye to the calculated violence of groups with a clear agenda based on hatred and intolerance, Pakistan's government appears helpless in the face of continuous attacks on Shia Muslims and other minorities.
Sectarian attacks are not new in Pakistan, but there has been an upsurge, especially in Balochistan since at least 2010, in the Khurram and Orakzai tribal agencies bordering Afghanistan, the port city of Karachi and across the Punjab. Now the frosty, picturesque mountain ranges of Gilgit-Baltistan, on the northern border with China, are seeing an increasingly violent sectarian conflict pitting Muslim Sunnis against Shias.
On 3 April nine Shia passengers were taken off a bus in Gilgit and executed, after a grenade attack on an anti-Shia rally in the same area killed four and injured close to 50. In the two weeks since these incidents occurred, a string of tit-for-tat attacks by Sunni and Shia groups has led to at least 69 deaths. The army has been called in, phone signals jammed and a curfew ordered which has brought life in the area to a total standstill. Markets became ghost towns, children could not enter their schools, and expectant mothers and patients were told to stay at home. Communities complained that the measures, while well-intentioned, could make things worse by preventing people from receiving urgent supplies and carrying on with much-needed employment. But the measures were a sticking-plaster solution to a much deeper, festering wound on Pakistan society.
In February an armed group boarded a bus in the north-western Kohistan region and asked to see the ID of every passenger. Noting they were Shias, the assailants, picked 25 passengers out and shot them execution-style, killing 18 including three children, and injuring another seven. Similar targeted killings of Shia Muslims have occurred in Balochistan and Gilgit while in years past Christian and Ahmadi communities have also been attacked by angry mobs often on the pretext of alleged blasphemy.
This demonstrates a systematic and deliberate pattern of targeting minority Shia Muslims by militant groups including Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, formerly known as Sipa-e-Sahaba. Both are technically banned, but have been allowed to promote their intolerant, xenophobic views openly in prominent rallies in every major city of Pakistan. Sunni religious leaders and activists, most, if not all, belonging to these and other anti-Shia groups, have also been killed in reprisal attacks implicating Shia religious groups, while many have been caught up in bombings targeting Shia processions, especially in Quetta, capital of Balochistan, and Karachi. Sadly, the Shia community is not the only religious minority facing violence. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, more than 50 Hindus have been abducted from Balochistan, mostly for ransom, in the past four years. The province's predominantly Shia Hazara community, recognisable by their Asiatic features, have faced a brutal campaign of targeted killings by Lashkar-e-Janghvi, while the government promises greater help but with no on-the-ground impact. The practice of forced conversions and marriages of Hindu girls in Sindh province, typically to justify their kidnap and rape, got rare public attention after the media highlighted the case of Rinkle Kumar. But such abuses show no sign of ending soon because police are easily bought off or the perpetrators have influence within the government.
There are two broad reasons for this violence. First, discrimination has been institutionalised to such an extent that it has become normalised. The syllabus in our public schools and the discourse in our media describes non-Muslims as enemies of Islam, while our passports require us to affirm that members of the Ahmedi religious sect are not Muslim. Groups preaching violence have been allowed to exploit legitimate grievances. The line between religious welfare work and the activities of violent extremists has also been blurred. Many, if not most, religious welfare organisations are not fronts for radicalisation. But so many groups mix their vitriol with legitimate charity, like shelter, food and medical camps for the poor, occupying the space left by government neglect and corruption. Groups that on paper have been banned by the government and the international community brazenly parade on prominent squares, are given air time on television, and even sometimes co-opt the police into preventing minorities from observing their faith. Lawyers and judges involved in blasphemy cases, for example, have told Amnesty International of scenes of extreme intimidation in courts that virtually guarantee they will not get a fair trial. In recent years Pakistan's parliament has made several welcome amendments to the constitution, such as reserving seats for women and religious minorities in the federal and provincial parliaments, a right to a fair trial, freedom of speech, a right to information and freedom of expression. Yet non-Muslims are still forbidden from being elected president or prime minister. And in practice there are severe failings in the implementation of enshrined protections thanks to the impunity enjoyed by powerful state and non-state actors, under-resourcing of the justice system and endemic corruption. People are not inherently intolerant in Pakistan. For generations religious communities generally lived in harmony with each other and intermarriage is still not unheard of. Activists from all walks of life continue to challenge received wisdom on matters of faith, national security and identity too. But when those resisting the challenge are free to use violence without any risks of being brought to justice, exercising basic freedoms, or fighting to uphold the rights of others, becomes a deadly pursuit. Who can blame ordinary citizens from avoiding the debate in such a toxic environment? Amnesty International urges the Pakistan government to challenge the systematic campaign of vilification and attacks on minorities in the country. Violence targeting people on the basis of their religion should be an urgent concern for everyone who cares for Pakistan and the region. The failure to address these abuses will only exacerbate the general breakdown in law and order in the country by sending the signal that there is total impunity for any abuse justified as a protection of religious sentiments.

French vote shows cracks in democracy

The French presidential election will hold a run-off in May to pick its final winner. Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande and incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy, leading the first round, received 28.63 and 27.08 percent of votes respectively. The next French president will have to come from these two candidates despite their small shows of support. Policy differences between France's left and right-wing parties are too close to discern today. Instead, candidates' personalities, their wives, and their ability to please the public have become more important. The input of political capital and the following consequences are much more important than any competition. The election of a top leader has become a rivalry between the incumbent and challenger. This zero-sum game is turned on every five years, attracting nearly the entire political resources of the country. Democratic elections, an important part of European politics, used to help screen batches of politicians with vision and courage. The public decided who to elect. And the system contributed to the prosperity of Europe today. But this system is evolving quickly. Policies have gradually lost focus, giving way to campaigns full of gossip. Candidates sling mud at each other. The election season has changed into a lengthy party, paid for by the country's politics. A democratic election system has become party of doctrines. To be elected is the only goal, and every possible means is used to win. There is almost no bottom line for the purpose of beating the opponent. The Western-style democratic system needs reform. It has played a crucial role in preventing autocracy in history. But autocracy is no longer a real threat in Western politics. The democratic system has lost its sense of purpose, swinging toward commercialism. The flaws of the system are worrying. Politics in the West lack focus today. Social reform is mired in different opinions, and the state leaders are haunted by low support rates. Campaign strategy and election results weigh far more importantly than serious policy research. Chinese society is sincere in learning the essence of democracy. But the problems embedded in the system are apparent. A few diehard Chinese followers of the system refuse to admit them, even against rational discussion of these problems. Democracy is not to be worshipped. Meanwhile, collectiveness and cultural unity are vital to political efficiency in a country like China. Those are treasures that should not be denied easily.

Suu Kyi party refuses Myanmar seats over oath row

Democracy icon
Aung San Suu Kyi and the rest of her party’s newly elected lawmakers will not attend Monday’s opening session of parliament because they object to wording in their oath of office which says they must “safeguard” the constitution, party officials said Sunday. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party wants to see the constitution changed because it enshrines military power and came into force in 2008 during an era of iron-fisted army rule. The absence from parliament of Suu Kyi and 42 other elected lawmakers who won historic April 1 by-elections was expected. The party had already said it would not attend the assembly session until the issue is resolved. Suu Kyi’s party wants phrasing in the lawmakers’ oath changed from “safeguard the constitution” to “respect the constitution.” Opposition lawmaker Ohn Kyaing confirmed the opposition’s refusal to attend. But he said he believed the issue would be overcome quickly because there was support within President Thein Sein’s administration to change the oath. Party officials have played down the problem, saying they still expect the lawmakers to attend the assembly, possibly this week or next. The oath is in an appendix to the constitution, and it is unclear whether it can be changed without the approval of 75 percent of parliament. The constitution automatically allocates 25 percent of the parliamentary seats to unelected representatives of the military, and Suu Kyi’s party maintains that is undemocratic. The document also bars people from the nation’s presidency if they or any of their relatives are foreign citizens; that effectively prevents Suu Kyi from ascending to the presidency because she married a British national, Michael Aris, who died in 1999, and their two children were born abroad and do not live in Myanmar. Thein Sein has overseen a wave of political reforms since taking office a year ago, and analysts say his administration needs the opposition in parliament to gain international legitimacy. The by-election’s outcome, in which the opposition won almost all of the 45 seats up for grabs, was considered a major step toward reconciliation after decades of military rule in Myanmar. Wooing Suu Kyi’s party to rejoin politics after it boycotted the 2010 election was a key turning point in the government’s campaign for Western economic sanctions imposed during military rule to be lifted.

US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher denied Afghan entry

Dana Rohrabacher ,A senior US Congressman who is highly critical of the Afghan government has been prevented from entering the country, Afghan officials say. Officials told the BBC that Dana Rohrabacher had been refused a visa and was prevented from boarding a flight to Afghanistan from Dubai. Analysts say the incident highlights the volatility of US-Afghan relations. The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul says this comes at a particularly sensitive time, ahead of a summit in Chicago next month on the future of the country. He has criticised alleged government corruption and Afghan officials accuse him of undermining national unity.The Congressman was stopped in Dubai on Friday as he was leading a delegation to Kabul. Officials say that while the other members of the delegation had visas for Afghanistan, Mr Rohrabacher did not.US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was reported to have conveyed a message from President Karzai to the congressman that he would not be welcome in the country. Mr Rohrabacher, who is also the chairman of the House foreign affairs subcommittee, has frequently called for a more decentralised form of government for Afghanistan as well as a US investigation into alleged government corruption. Afghan officials told the BBC that in addition to his criticisms of the president, Mr Rohrabacher was being shunned because of meetings he had held in Berlin with Afghan politicians about the creation of a decentralised form of government. According to our correspondent, Afghan officials view that as tantamount to interference in the country's internal affairs. "Anyone who speaks against the good of Afghanistan and tries to interfere in our internal affairs is ineligible for an Afghan visa," one official told our correspondent. The US embassy in Kabul has been quick to distance the US government from Mr Rohrabacher, whose involvement in Afghanistan goes back to the 1980s during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, our correspondent reports. At the time he often accompanied mujahideen forces fighting the Russians. On Sunday US and Afghan negotiators finalised a partnership agreement for the US role in Afghanistan after its forces withdraw at the end of 2014. The draft agreement on their long-term relationship was signed in Kabul after months of talks. No details were released, with the deal to be reviewed by both presidents.

Euro crisis, NATO troops: Why French vote matters

France's presidential campaign has largely focused on pleasing voters at home, not the rest of the world. But whoever wins the May 6 runoff — conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy or Socialist Francois Hollande — will have a major global economy and nuclear-armed nation to run. Here's why the race should matter to people outside French borders: EUROPE'S DEBT CRISIS France has one of the world's top 10 economies and is an engine of the eurozone, which is struggling to climb out of a debt crisis rattling markets worldwide. Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed for a pact to tie European economies closer and force them to reduce their debts. Hollande wants to rethink that pact, saying it should focus more on state-sponsored growth. That could set up a collision course with Germany and European partners who have fought hard to restore confidence in the euro. Markets wobbled after Hollande won Sunday's first round of France's elections. FOREIGN AFFAIRS A permanent, veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, France is a player in all major world diplomatic talks. Sarkozy doesn't hesitate to press allies in the West and the Arab world to sign on to French-led causes. Under Sarkozy, France improved relations with the U.S. and Israel, fired the first airstrikes in the international campaign against Libya's Moammar Gadhafi and helped oust Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo last year. Sarkozy also has championed diplomatic efforts to stop the Syrian regime's crackdown on anti-government forces. Hollande has virtually no diplomatic experience and experts predict that, if elected, he would initially focus more on European affairs than on making major commitments farther afield. NATO AND AFGHANISTAN France is a major contributor to the international force in Afghanistan but is eager to get out. After French troops were killed by Afghans they had trained, Sarkozy promised to speed up France's withdrawal of its nearly 4,000 troops by the end of next year. Hollande wants to pull everyone out this year. Hollande is also unhappy with Sarkozy's decision to bring France back into NATO's military command after more than 40 years of a more independent policy, and he wants to cut defense budgets. A Hollande victory could significantly alter military relations with European allies and the U.S. AND EVEN TOURISM France's next president inherits one of the world's top tourist destinations, a capital of world fashion and cuisine and home to premier museums and chateaus. Will more shops be able to open Sundays? Sarkozy says yes, Hollande says maybe — and only if workers remain protected. Will sales taxes be hiked? These, too, are questions that lie in the next president's hands.

Shocking French Election

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Punjab Doctors on strike, patient sufferings pile up

The Young Doctors Association of Punjab continued to strike for the eight day adding to the sufferings of patients across the province, Aaj news reported. According to our correspondent, the patients coming from parts of Punjab as well as KP, Balochistan are complaining since doctors are not even attending the emergency patients which come to hospital with the last hope to save their lives. The patients continued to suffer on Thursday, the eight day of the OPD strike in Lahore, with paramedical staff also absent from teaching hospitals. “This is the third day that I am coming to the hospital for the treatment of my daughter,” said Muhammad Irfan, who was waiting outside Services Hospital “She isn’t well and the doctors aren’t admitting her. Who will be responsible if something happens to her?” A senior doctor at Lahore General Hospital said that there should be an inquiry into whether private hospitals were supporting the YDA strike, as they were benefitting from the closure of public hospitals. Meanwhile, YDA leaders said that the strike would continue till the withdrawal of transfer orders of the doctors who were transferred by the health department. Talking to APP, YDA spokesman Dr Nasir Abbas said that the association would stage sit-in in front of public sector hospitals on April 25 for withdrawal of transfer orders of doctors. The YDA leader also demanded to grant autonomy to all the public sector health institutions across the province.

Bannu jail prisoner reaches Aaj news office

An escaped prisoner from the biggest jail break this country has ever witnessed, When 398 prisoners escaped from Bannu Jail, has produced himself at Aaj News office, in Islamabad. The escapee who calls himself Muhammad Hanif came to Aaj News head office and declared himself to the authorities. He was later, taken under custody by the police amid his interview with our team. In his interview, the escaped prisoner revealed that he fled the prison only in fear of his life. The prisoner said that Taliban forcibly took him out of the jail and he had no choice but to flee the prison. Hanif said that he feared for his life in Bannu Jail and other prisons in the KP province and asked to be moved to Adiala prison instead. He revealed that he was on death row inside Bannu Jail after being convicted in a drug case. The SSP Islamabad told Aaj News that Mohammad Hanif’s security will be ensured by the Police and that he is presented in court too. He further said, that it is a good sign that the prisoners are choosing to return and that in Mohammad Hanif’s case he will urge the court to reconsider the charges pressed against him or revisit his term in jail.

Dempsey Visits Afghanistan

The US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Marin Dempsey arrived late Sunday in Afghanistan to discuss with the Isaf commander General John Allen plans to draw down the number of US troops in the country. "Gen. Martin E. Dempsey arrived April 22, and after a private dinner with a small group of field grade officers, met for about an hour with Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, Isaf commander in Afghanistan," Isaf said in a statement on Monday. Dempsey and Allen met to discuss the plan to draw down the US presence in Afghanistan to 68,000 troops by the end of September, Isaf said. There are currently around 90,000 US troops in Afghanistan. "The key for military leaders is to work along with their Afghan partners to ensure Afghanistan's national security forces continue their progress toward full security responsibility and to work together in addressing the challenges that lie ahead in that effort," Dempsey said. Earlier, Dempsey met in Amman with Lieutenant General Mashal al-Zaben, Jordan's defense chief. They discussed the long-standing US-Jordanian partnership and regional security issues, including Jordan's perspective on the situation in neighbouring Syria. The visit comes as the Afghanistan-US long-term strategic agreement was finalised and is ready to be signed by the presidents of both countries. Afghanistan's National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta and US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker finalised the agreement in a ceremony on Sunday, and it is expected to be signed at the Nato summit in four weeks.

U.S. troops have fired from base inside Afghanistan at Pakistan 4 times

U.S. troops have fired into Pakistani territory at least four times in the last 10 months in cross-border skirmishes that they say are in response to shelling from inside Pakistan, CNN has learned. The revelation is likely to stoke already tense relations between Pakistan and the United States, which hit a new low after a NATO airstrike last year killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the volatile border. While the Taliban and Haqqani network, an Afghan militant group operating from Pakistan's Waziristan province, are generally believed responsible for cross-border attacks against troops, an Afghan army commander says Pakistani soldiers opened fire on him and his men as recently as April 14. "When we went near the border, we were attacked with an anti-aircraft gun and mortars by the Pakistani army from their checkpoints. We are not only attacked from the Pakistani soil, but we are also attacked by the Pakistani army," Masoud Karimi, an Afghan army commander, told CNN. "We just saw them with our own eyes that the Pakistani soldiers were firing at us and on the same day we reported to the Americans. But the Americans told us that it was from the other side of the border and they didn't have the permission to conduct operations ... there," he said. Army Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, confirmed Afghan soldiers were involved in a cross-border clash that day. He did not specify who opened fire upon the Afghans. U.S. troops do, however, sometimes fire back into Pakistan, as confirmed during a recent visit by CNN to Forward Operating Base Tillman in Afghanistan's rugged Paktika province. The commander at FOB Tillman, located just a few kilometers from the Pakistan border, said he has fired across the border in response to being shelled from inside Pakistan. Army Capt. Charles Seitz said he did not know the exact number of times he returned fire. But when pressed by CNN, and asked whether it was correct to say that he had fired into Pakistan more than five times, he responded: "That sounds accurate." The outpost is one of a handful along the Afghan-Pakistan border, and the captain's admission may indicate more cross-border violence than previously publicized. Cummings, the ISAF spokesman, said troops at Tillman have fired into Pakistan four times since June 2011. Pakistan is aware of the cross-border skirmishes. Gen. Athar Abbas, a spokesman for the Pakistani military, said he did not know the exact number of times FOB Tillman fired into Pakistan, but that four sounded accurate. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said they try to liaise with Pakistani military forces first. But that communication does not always happen, Abbas said. He said that most of the time U.S. officials or NATO inform Pakistan before firing across the border, but sometimes they do not and Pakistani military checkpoints are hit. Abbas said he was unaware of the April 14 cross-border clash. FOB Tillman is named for fallen Army Spec. Pat Tillman -- the Arizona Cardinals linebacker turned soldier who was killed in a friendly fire incident in 2004 in Afghanistan, near the border. Relations between the United States and Pakistan -- complicated at the best of times -- have become especially tense in the past year. The deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in November added to anger already felt by Pakistanis over the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden at a compound in Pakistan in May, and continued American drone strikes on targets in the nation. Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, accused Pakistan's intelligence service of protecting the Haqqani network, calling it a "veritable arm" of the Pakistan spy agency. As a result, he said Pakistan bore some responsibility for the attacks. The combined effect was a chilling of Pakistani cooperation with the United States.

Spring snowstorm slams Northeast

A large snowstorm came barreling through the Northeast on Monday, threatening to drop 16 inches in some areas and frustrate commuters. By Monday morning, Newfield, New York, was reporting 10 inches of snow, while Ridgebury, Pennsylvania, had 8 inches. More accumulation was expected, especially in higher elevations. The blustery blast follows a mild winter that saw little snow and the warmest March on record. "The last time we had a big snowstorm across the East Coast was back in October," when fall foliage was still on the trees, said CNN Meteorologist Rob Marciano.

US to defend Afghanistan for decade after drawdown

Washington has pledged in a newly agreed strategic pact to help defend Afghanistan militarily for at least a decade after the country formally takes control of its own security, an Afghan official said Monday. The draft agreement signed on Sunday also says the U.S. will only take such actions with Afghan agreement. The United States also pledged it will not launch attacks on other countries from Afghan soil, according to sections of the accord read out in parliament by Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta. Afghan officials had previously said that they would not allow their country to be used to launch drone attacks into Pakistan or other neighboring countries after the deadline for most foreign forces to withdraw by the end of 2014. "Considering that stability in Afghanistan would be stability for Central Asia and South Asia, the United States emphasizes that any kind of interference in Afghan affairs would be a matter of concern for the United States," he said, quoting from the Dari language version of the agreement. "If any interference occurs, the United States, with the agreement of both countries, will give a proper response, including diplomatic means, political means, economic means and even military means." He stressed that any such actions would be taken only with Afghan approval. The commitment is a reminder that while U.S. forces are drawing down in Afghanistan over the next two years, the American military will remain active in the country long after that. The draft agreement on a long-delayed strategic partnership agreement ensures Americans will provide military and financial support to the Afghan people for at least a decade beyond the 2014 deadline. The pact is key to the U.S. exit strategy in Afghanistan because it establishes guidelines for any American forces who remain after the withdrawal deadline and for financial help to the impoverished country and its security forces. The most contentious issues between the Afghan and U.S. government were resolved in separate memorandums of understanding governing the conduct of night raids and control of detainees ahead of the strategic partnership pact. The agreement as read out by Spanta is broad, addressing a mutual commitment to the stability of Afghanistan and to human rights. It does not address specific troop levels or the size or location of bases, though it does say that the U.S. has no plans to keep permanent military bases in Afghanistan. Many Afghans worry that the U.S. wants permanent bases, a setup that would make it more of an occupying force than an ally. Spanta said that specific decisions about bases will be left to a later deal. U.S. officials involved in negotiations have said that they see the strategic partnership as overarching agreement to continue to support Afghanistan, with details on troop conduct and strength to be worked out in a "technical agreement" still to come. The U.S. pledged in the agreement to continue to fund Afghan security forces after 2014. It does not say how much money this will involve, but says it should be enough to support the force. U.S. officials have said they expect to pay about $4 billion a year to fund Afghan forces, but the funding would have to be approved by Congress. The agreement also says the U.S. will help support Afghan economic development, health care programs, education and social initiatives, and stresses that the U.S. remains committed to defending human rights and the right of free speech. Afghan and American officials finalized the text of the document on Sunday after a year and a half of negotiations during which it often seemed that the deal was likely to fall apart. They went through 23 drafts before both sides were finally satisfied, Spanta said. "We have had so many difficult discussions among ourselves and also with the U.S. delegation," Spanta said. The agreement still has to go through internal reviews in both countries and to be signed by the Afghan and American presidents. The document is needed to provide U.S. forces with the authority to continue in Afghanistan after 2014, when the Afghan government is slated to take over control of security countrywide. The majority of U.S. combat troops are expected to be out of the country by that date, but some combat forces will continue to go on missions, and trainers and advisers to the Afghan security forces will also remain. The strategic partnership agreement covers the period from 2014 to 2024, Spanta said. Spanta said the part of the document that took the most debate was section three on maintaining stability and peace in Afghanistan. U.S. officials have declined to comment on the document until it is signed, or to provide the original English text.


Balochistan is a province that is in constant struggle for the past 170 years or more and its national leaders remained in prisons for decades and not for years in defending the people’s inalienable rights, including the right of self rule for Balochistan and also for rest of India. They fought British colonial rulers till the Britons were forced to leave the entire region. The people had a long tradition in fighting colonial and unjust rule and the present struggle is no exception. Thus it is not easy to understand Balochistan and its politics by people who heard about Balochistan or those who served this province as public servants for a couple of years and become experts on Balochistan. Balochistan is a more complex issue where people take careful decisions and that remains valid for decades. Thus Mr. Imran Khan is a new comer in politics and he should have patience to understand the province and more importantly its people spread over to an area almost half of Pakistan. Balochistan is not confined to Quetta and its surroundings. This scribe accompanied late Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo, a former Governor of Balochistan, as his Press Secretary in his tour to Mekran, only one major region of Balochistan, for two long months visiting each and every village and interacted with the local people constantly and for months. There are seven or eight such major regions like Mekran. As long as corruption is concerned, it is common view of the people and Imran Khan shares the same opinion. However, in case of political and constitutional issues, Mr. Imran Khan had to first understand what the people want and what the Government can give or deliver within the framework of Pakistan as he is interested to make his Tehrik-i-Insaf as majority party in the Parliament and become the Prime Minister. By holding a public meeting in Quetta, he merely wanted to score a political point and not to find a solution to the Balochistan problem. He is an ambitious man and we wish him good luck in his attempt to become Prime Minister of Pakistan. There is a conflict between the Pakistani Establishment and the Baloch people and Mr. Imran Khan is totally blank on this conflict raising irrelevant issues for the public consumption. To say it more precisely that the Government, both Federal and Provincial, is not in the picture in the Baloch conflict. It is operating on the sidelines having no courage to take any stand. Leaders, particularly younger elements in politics, should have an eye on future and take bold stand on the real issue of the conflict and take a side supporting the Pakistani establishment or the Baloch people in the fight. He can’t travel on two boats simultaneously. In such a situation, he will be a loser like the other ones. However, he is a welcome addition to Pakistani politics and the people of Balochistan wish him well in his politics facing two well entrenched parties—the Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-N. Practically, there is a two-party system operating in Pakistan for the past two decades. There are regional parties forming alliance with one coalition or the other. He is trying to become the third force in Pakistani politics or third alternate in power politics. In the past, all senior leaders who made such attempts had failed to become the third force. They had to retreat and confine to it’s their political cocoons. Even his own party made an attempt to become the third force during the 2002 general elections and he won a single seats and could not dislodge the major parties from the political scene or from any region. All the known elements in politics who joined his party in the past had to resign and go back to their ‘mother’ parties to protect their political interests. Tehrik-i-Insaf had not made any inroads in Baloch politics. No important personality or “seat winner” had joined him. Most of the people attended the public meeting were onlookers or personal well wishers of Imran Khan who had a charm as a hero of this country.

82 years on: The unsung heroes of Qissa Khwani massacre

The Express Tribune
On April 23, 1930, British soldiers opened fire on unarmed protesters killing hundreds in Peshawar’s Qissa Khwani Bazaar. Few, however, are aware of the violent history witnessed by the bazaar’s chipped marble arches, at the opening of Dhaki Nalbandi Street. Now, the walls, which have long lost their lustre, are covered with another form of protest – religious political parties’ posters, each with its own outburst against America. The sacrifices made by the non-violent demonstrators remain largely confined to the footnotes of history, unlike the well-known, well-documented Jalianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar. It was barely a month after Gandhi’s Salt March that Qissa Khwani witnessed bloodshed, when Abdul Ghaffar Khan (popularly known as Bacha Khan)’s Khudai Khidmatgar movement was making its own mark on the western frontier. The anti-colonial movement at the time was sparked by a number of factors – on one hand, the more religious elements were resisting British attempts to change Muslim personal laws, as per one author. Other writers note resentment to draconian laws (still in place today) like the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). Ziauddin, a local researcher who is about to publish a book on the massacre, said that the tragedy remains one of the most neglected chapters of subcontinental history. “It is not mentioned in textbooks, nor do any dramas, books or novels credit those martyrs,” he said. In fact, the only entity that commemorates the day annually and remembers those who laid down their lives is the Gandhara Hindko Board, an organisation that aims to preserve the native language. Even at the time, the protest was hijacked by those with their own political agenda. “There was no political party involved (in the protests), but they all tried to take credit for the sacrifices of the locals,” Ziauddin told The Express Tribune. The incident itself occurred when protests by the Khilafat Committee and local religious clerics snowballed into something much bigger than had been anticipated. Mukulika Banerjee writes in her book ‘Pathan Unarmed’: “A Congress committee of enquiry was due to arrive to begin an investigation into the grievances of NWFP, in particular the FCR and other regressive measures.” Banerjee outlines how hundreds of Bacha Khan’s Red Shirts were waiting to receive the committee at the Peshawar railway station when they were told that the committee had been stopped in Punjab. Ensuing protests led to Bacha Khan being placed under house arrest on charges of sedition. It was then that people took to the streets, in hundreds, under the marble arches of the Qissa Khwani Bazaar. After local police refused to open fire on the peaceful protesters, the government called in the army. The British acknowledged around 179 casualties. The Khilafat Committee claimed that there were around 700 fatalities, Ziauddin said, adding that the committee maintained that the British threw most of the bodies in Attock River to cover up the facts. After the massacre, a Qissa Khwani trader, named Ashiq Hussain, constructed a monument to commemorate the victims at his own expense. The British, however, demolished the reminder. “After the creation of Pakistan, leaguers and nationalists tried to turn this place green and red, to claim legacy for this event. This finally came to an end in the 1980s, after which (another) monument was set up to remember the martyrs of Qissa Khwani,” Ziauddin said. While few remember the tragedy 82 years after it took place, and although it has been largely ignored in the annals of history, in 1930, the Qissa Khwani massacre was at the forefront of the nationalist consciousness: Banerjee concludes aptly: “From being a minor sideshow, the Pathans became nationalist heroes overnight.”

Saudis on their way to rob Punjab of its doctors

Officials from Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health and Defense and Aviation are on their way to lure doctors in Punjab on a recruitment spree, Pakistan Today has learnt. Per details, the Saudi ministries y of Health and the ministry of Defence and Aviation are going to visit Pakistan later this month to recruit doctors for various categories and specialisations including anesthesia, emergency, ICU, internal medicine, health education and pediatrics. Overseas Employment Corporation from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, government of Pakistan has notified the arrival of Saudi officials and has sought applications from interested candidates. Even last year, the Saudi government hired around 2,000 doctors from Pakistan with attractive “perks and privileges” and causing a drastic vacuum in the faculty of teaching institutions and hospitals. Various teaching hospitals in the provincial metropolitan, to date, lack crucial faculty and specialists vital to run teaching institutions and hospitals. Per further details, around 20 vacancies in the prestigious King Edward Medical University, in Children’s Hospital are empty, while the situation is worse in the periphery. Pakistan YDA General Secretary Dr Salman Kazmi said, “The only solution is to further increase the salaries of doctors and bring it at par with the government of India…otherwise the doctors will keep fleeing…without human resource hospitals cannot run…all good doctors will go abroad and only doctors with degrees from China and Russia will remain here for Pakistani public…it is the responsibility of the government to provide free education to people and hence the government should not give it as an excuse for not increasing salaries.” He further said the Saudi government offered around 45000 riyals to a senior professor with free meals and home and two yearly return tickets. “Although they work a lot, but the salary is unmatchable and hence doctors prefer to go abroad,” he added. Better salary packages has been a long standing demand of doctors and last year the doctors shut the province’s public health facilities for over a month over the contentious issue. The Punjab government finally accepted their demands and announced Rs 5 billion package for them. However, this year again doctors are all set to flee again for better packages which the Pakistani government might never become able to match. However, Allama Iqbal Medical College Principal Professor Javaid Akram dispelled the impression that it was a monitory issue. “Pay packages are a very minor issue, it is about job satisfaction and recognition which includes a service structure and other things…the government should devise a policy to consider doctors an asset and to keep them otherwise the situation will keep deteriorating…no one consulted us regarding these issue when we know the problem and we can provide with the solutions as well,” he added.

Mehran Bank scam reports misplaced

The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday was informed by the Attorney General that the reports pertaining to Mehrangate scandal have gone missing and could not be found. A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez was hearing the case. During today’s hearing, the Attorney General failed to present the inquiry commission’s reports pertaining to Mehrangate scandal and said that the missing reports could not be found. The bench expressed surprise on learning the fact and ordered the Attorney General to submit his written reply in the matter. CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry remarked that a report should be filed in case the commission’s reports had been stolen as they were very crucial. The court directed the Attorney General to summon Interior Secretary and Law Secretary in his office and obtain information on a 17-year-old report regarding Mehran Bank and Habib Bank. The court also summoned records of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases against Younus Habib, one of main characters behind the controversy and a former head of the now defunct Mehran Bank. The chief justice, in his order, again directed that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to submit its report regarding the distribution of secret funds. The IB had submitted a reply to the court on the case earlier today. Also, during the hearing, former army chief Gen (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg’s counsel, advocate Akram Sheikh, submitted his client’s reply. General Beg opposed the idea of forming a judicial commission to probe the distribution of secret funds to politicians and accused Habib for wanting to prolong the matter by forming the commission. Beg’s reply further stated that Habib was accountable to the NAB and that he had to pay 115 crore rupees to NAB. Earlier, a petition was filed by Habib to form a judicial commission to recover the money disbursed to politicians. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry remarked that a portion of the reports was published then; however, if these reports are missing, then FIRs need to be lodged against those responsible. The apex court also asked National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman to present a report on case against former Mehran bank president Younis Habib. Meanwhile, legal adviser of Intelligence Bureau (IB) produced the sealed report of DIG Aftab Sultan. The Chief Justice directed that this report be kept under wraps. It should be mentioned here that the court assigned Aftab Sultan to probe into the distribution of Rs.270 million by the IB in 2009. The court adjourned the hearing till April 25.

Khyber Pahtunkhwa : 6.1m children to be vaccinated

The government has all set to launch 3-day national immunization campaign starting from Monday (tomorrow) in Khyber Pahtunkhwa and Fata wherein 6.1 million children under five years of age would vaccinated to wipe out the crippling polio disease from the country. Deputy Director EPI, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Dr Jan Baz Afridi told on Sunday that government has completed all arrangements for successful holdings of three days anti-polio campaign starting in across the province, Federally Administered Tribal Areas including Afghan refugees' camps from Monday (April 23-25). He said 5.1 million children below five years of age would be given Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) in Khyber Pakthunkhwa while about one million kids would get the same facility in FATA. To achieve the said target, the official said 16,600 teams for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 3000 for Fata have been formed that will reach door to door and house to hours to make Pakistan Polio free country. These teams would be assisted by area in-charges and Lady Health Workers (LHWs) and officials of Health Department . In case of non arrival of the teams, he held an appeal to parents and guardians to bring their children to nearest hospitals and BHUs for vaccination.

PPP, MQM, ANP involved in extortion

Federal Interior Minister, Rahman Malik Monday said that the activists of PPP, MQM, ANP and many other parties were involved in extortions in the Orangi Town area here, Geo News reported. Talking to media at the airport here, Rahman Malik said that many groups were involved in the city deteriorating law and order situation and in Orangi Town area the activists of PPP, MQM, ANP and many other parties were involved in extortions. When quizzed, Rahman Malik said that until now it was an allegation against Moosa Gilani, who has come back and would be helping in the investigations. Rahman Malik said that licences to private airlines were issued in Muslim League-N era and asked why such soft terms were kept at that time. Rahman Malik asked for evidence relating to the allegation of taking bribe for the restoration of Bhoja airlines’ licence and assured immediate action. Malik said in my personal opinion old planes should not be included in the airline fleet besides enquiry was underway as to why old planes of only Cathy Pacific come here. Rahman Malik said that it was his appeal to Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan not to do politics on the corpses, for God sake. By expressing his reservation on Judicial Commission, he has tried to hide his own guilt, he said. It was unfair on the part of Chaudhry Nisar to say that Air Blue incident report was not made public, he wanted Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to be arrested, Malik said.