The Tokyo TimesA teacup that was used by pop star Lady Gaga
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
By E.J. Dionne Jr.We expect some hypocrisy in politics, but it was still jaw-dropping to behold Republicans accusing President Obama of politicizing the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Wasn’t it just eight years ago that the GOP organized an entire presidential campaign — including the choreography of its 2004 national convention — around the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and George W. Bush’s response to them? Obama’s opponents don’t just think we have short attention spans. They imagine we have no memories whatsoever. Yet very quickly, Mitt Romney and the rest of his party began slinking away from their offensive. It’s true, of course, that Obama played the ultimate presidential trump card. He visited our troops in Afghanistan on Tuesday, the anniversary of the bin Laden raid, and, with military vehicles serving as a rough-hewn backdrop, addressed the nation from the scene of our longest war. But the GOP retreat reflected something else as well. For the first time since the early 1960s, the Republican Party enters a presidential campaign at a decided disadvantage on foreign policy. Republicans find it hard to get accustomed to the fact that when they pull their favorite political levers — accusations that Democrats are “weak” or Romney’s persistent and false claims that Obama “apologizes” for America — nothing happens. The polls could hardly be clearer. In early April, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 53 percent of Americans trusted Obama over Romney to handle international affairs. Only 36 percent trusted Romney more. On a list of 12 matters that a president would deal with, Obama enjoyed a larger advantage on only one other question, the handling of women’s issues. And on coping with terrorism, the topic on which Republicans once enjoyed a near-monopoly, Obama led Romney by seven points.
http://news.yahoo.comPresident Barack Obama
Source:Let Us Build Pakistan.by Shiraz Paracha
http://news.nationalpost.comA Canadian man, who says he was jailed and tortured in Bahrain for taking part in pro-democracy protests, has arrived in Montreal, his wife told Postmedia News late Tuesday evening. “I have talked to two of Naser’s sisters [who] confirmed that Naser has arrived home. I didn’t talk to him yet. He is out now. I’m waiting for his call,” Zainab Ahmed said in an email. Naser Al-Raas was freed in February after lobbying from the Canadian Consulate and various international rights agencies. The Kuwaiti-born Canadian citizen says he was then stranded in the country after Bahraini authorities refused to return any of his ID or belongings and the company charged with delivering a new passport to him lost it. He left Egypt on Sunday and flew out of Amsterdam early Tuesday morning.Al-Raas had been convicted of breaking Bahrain’s illegal-assembly laws after taking part in pro-democracy protests and was facing a five-year prison sentence. His detention began on March 20, 2011, when Bahraini authorities arrested him at the airport. Al-Raas, 29, described his detention as a “continuous horror dream, where you cannot wake up.” “I was electrocuted six or seven times, but I was beaten every day. … Those were the worst days of my life,’” he told Postmedia News in a previous interview. Al-Raas also has an underlying heart condition — a chronic pulmonary embolism — according to a report from his doctor. His case drew international attention, with supporters using social media and online campaigns to call for his release. Amnesty International also took up his cause. Ahmed, who married Al-Raas after he was released from prison on Feb. 6, said she and Al-Raas are trying to keep their attitude positive, but are distraught that Ahmed had to remain in Egypt because the couple doesn’t have a marriage certificate. “My situation is complicated. I am in Egypt now and Naser will be in Canada in hours,” Ahmed said in an email earlier in the day. “I can’t go back to Bahrain; it’s too dangerous for me now and I can’t enter Canada. It will take a long time before I can join my husband,” Ahmed said. “I feel like all the doors are closed in my face. Our last hope was to have a marriage certificate from Egypt, but the Bahraini Embassy refused to give me the permission to marry Naser. So, we couldn’t make it. Wherever I go, I will need that permission from them. I feel like I’m restricted. I can’t do anything.” Still, Ahmed said, she’s hoping for the best, and will remain in Egypt until she’s able to come to Canada to be with Al-Raas.
Clashes have erupted between assailants and supporters of Egypt's Islamist political parties who had gathered near the defence ministry in Cairo, leaving 11 people dead and nearly 50 wounded, security and hospital officials said. The violence on Wednesday is the latest episode in more than a year of turmoil in Egypt following the toppling of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak and will likely fuel more tensions just three weeks ahead of presidential elections. The military generals who took over from Mubarak in February last year have promised to hand over power to a civilian administration by July 1, but that has not stopped rallies demanding the generals leave immediately. The security officials said the clashes broke out at dawn when the assailants set upon several hundred protesters who had camped out in the area since early Saturday to press their demand for the military to go. Hospital officials said nine of the 11 died of gunshot wounds to the head while two people were stabbed to death. The health ministry only confirmed nine were killed and 49 were injured.
By ALISSA J. RUBINThe moment that President Obama chose to visit Afghanistan for the first time in 17 months was a rare chance for him to make the most of a brief window when relations between the two governments are improving after months of crisis, and when the likely fallout of the coming NATO withdrawal is still months away. In the background, however, lurk a host of concerns about how things could go once the bulk of American troops leave and the pipeline of foreign aid slows to a trickle, which is expected to happen by the end of 2014. Both will increase the country’s already deep sense of precariousness. And there is concern, too, about whether what once were cornerstone American goals in Afghanistan — establishing reliable security forces, hobbling the insurgency, curbing endemic corruption, securing enduring rights for women and minorities — are now unrealistic given the looming deadline. “None of the tensions between the United States and the Karzai government have gone away,” said Anthony H. Cordesman, a strategic analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, in an essay published Tuesday on the center’s Web site. “The broader problems with Afghan governance and corruption are not diminishing. Progress in creating effective Afghan forces is increasingly questionable, the insurgents are clearly committed to going on with the fight, and relations with Pakistan seem to take two steps backward for every apparent step forward.” Mr. Cordesman continued, “As for American domestic politics, there seems to be growing, tacit, bipartisan agreement to drift toward an exit strategy without really admitting it.” Even now, months before any substantial drawdown, there are growing concerns about whether the Haqqani militant network, fresh off a blitz of attacks that paralyzed the capital for a day last month, poses a growing long-term threat. And mainstream Taliban leaders have yet to embrace talks, seemingly willing to bet that they can secure both influence and territory on their own terms. The American military drawdown is scheduled to come as Afghanistan turns to electing a new president, compounding fears that there will not be a peaceful transition of power. In its absence, there could be “a political meltdown,” wrote Haroun Mir, the director of Afghanistan’s Center for Research and Policy Studies, in a recent Op-Ed article in The New York Times. On at least one front, however, the trip communicated something of vital importance to the Afghans: reassurance that the United States is not in an all-out scramble to get away. Trust has been in short supply between the countries this year, reeling from crises including the burning of Korans at Bagram Air Base in February and the murder of 16 men, women and children purportedly by an American sergeant in southern Afghanistan in March. Meanwhile, the number of killings of Westerners by rogue Afghan security forces and Taliban infiltrators is rising sharply, now accounting for 20 percent of all NATO casualties this year. So it was not a minor point for the Afghans that Mr. Obama came here to celebrate the completion of a 10-year Strategic Partnership Agreement between the two countries, which guaranteed America’s continued economic and development aid as well as the promise of a future security arrangement. “His trip shows that the United States will stay in the region and will not repeat the mistake that the Americans made after communist regime was toppled in Afghanistan,” said Mirdad Nejrab, the chairman of the Afghan Parliament’s Internal Security Committee. “It is a good answer to our neighbors and regional countries, which thought that the Americans were leaving the region.” The moment was one when President Hamid Karzai, often a harsh critic of the United States, was feeling generous, having reached three agreements with the Americans that he could present to his country as the re-emergence of a sovereign Afghanistan. The two other deals recently signed by the countries gave the Afghan government authority over detentions and transferred primary authority over special operations raids, including the night raids that have outraged both Mr. Karzai and the Afghan public. “It’s a very good time for him to come here, there’s not too much controversial news right now and he can project some level of stability and smoothness in the relations,” said Waheed Omar, a former spokesman for Mr. Karzai, adding that the visit allows Mr. Obama to go to the May 20 NATO meeting in Chicago on Afghanistan in a strong position. That narrative could be far harder to sustain six months from now as 23,000 American troops withdraw. The jury is out on whether Afghan forces will be able stave off the Taliban, keep warlords and their militias under control and play a neutral role as political forces struggle for power in the next election.
VOA NEWSU.S. President Barack Obama
EDITORIAL:THE FRONTIER POSTWhat great sin is it that the 180 million, mostly deprived, denied and downtrodden, people of this unfortunate nation have committed that their miniscule motley crowd of fat bellies and nouveaux riches posing to be their political leaders are so insanely out to punish them for so vengefully? What indeed is the harm that these wretched people have done them that they are so madly hell-bent on throwing them on the saddest times of their lives? Couldn't the prime minister spare them a constitutional crisis when his watch has been such an era of endless turbulence and turmoil for them? Instead of hairsplitting, he could have exercised high moral choice, stood down and sought legal remedies to his court conviction on contempt. That indeed would have lent him a bit of respectability to his otherwise deeply tarnished repute. Yet he preferred hanging on to his job, even as his incumbency had become so compellingly untenable, morally if not legally. But what glorious track record for respect to judiciary does Mian Nawaz Sharif carry that he is striking such strident postures of piety, accosting Yousuf Raza Gilani either to quit or face the fury of his street agitation? Although till now he has deluded himself into believing, no lesser helped in this self-centred conceit by the coteries of fawning party acolytes and fondling media lackeys, that it was his long march that had resulted into the dysfunctional judiciary's restoration, the bland fact is that he has been living on borrowed laurels. That feat had actually come about from the dysfunctional judges' own unflinching steadfastness and the unrelenting campaign of the corps of Black Coats. Together, the judges and the lawyers had braved, unbendingly, the atrocious strike of a haughty willful despot, determined to cow down an independent judiciary and subjugate it into his handmaiden. They won; he lost. And MNS was nowhere on the scene when the lawyers and the judges threw the challenge to the despot. He was then cooling his heels in the cool climes of his London redoubt, cobbling up such contrivances as the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) with other politicians like him in political wilderness, all of whom he later betrayed remorselessly, ditching them to participate in the 2008 election under the dictator, contrary to the vow of his own London-convened conclave. He had only conveniently hopped on to the bandwagon of the campaigning true champions of independent judiciary. This was, anyway, when he was not in power. The real test for his new professions of being an ardent reinvented believer in the independence of judiciary is still to come. For, when in power he had had the singular honour of commandeering a squad of party storm-troopers to invade and ransack the nation's highest seat of judicial power, the Supreme Court of Pakistan, to set a record which one fervently hopes and prays would go unbroken in all times to come. But both Gilani and Nawaz can do a favour to the deeply-distressed nation and mercifully save it the atrocity of a confrontation that it would do without. Already, it is going through the worst-ever harrowing times of its lifetime. With a sagging economy showing no sign of reviving and throwing no jobs, no opportunities and no livelihoods over these past four years, they have virtually been consigned to a perpetual state of abject poverty and penury, utter want and squalor, and rampant hunger and malnutrition. Terribly, the bulk of the 180 million people stay wholly deprived of basic needs like healthcare, education, drinking waters, sanitation and public services, unrelievedly. And living amid unremittingly-prowling extremism, terrorism and criminality, they have lost all their sense of safety and security. Worse, the nation's cohesion, solidarity and unity are under the dire battering assailments of a variety of vicious inimical forces. Yet none of this is coming perturbedly to Gilani or Nawaz; indeed, for that matter, to any of the eminences strutting on the nation's political landscape, flaunting themselves up as its political leaders. Undistracted, they stay engrossed in their self-centred petty politics. Indeed, the way things are going on in the country is coming gleefully to this nation's inveterate enemies. They are gloating that their sinister job is being done very well for them by these insane politicos. And this nation's well-wishers are horrified with creeping fears that with their shenanigans these senseless politicos are dragging the country on to a perilous precipice dangerously. Yet those who should be deeply concerned over this are least pushed about it: our politicos across the spectrum. Coming uppermost to them is not the nation's and the country's well being but their own dirty politics. At least now, both Gilani and Nawaz must take mercy on the nation and spare it from their stridencies. Pull back they must. Gilani must bow down humbly to the apex court's verdict. And Nawaz must put off his pretences of love for judiciary for some better times. The nation would be well off without their stupid battles. After all, this country is nobody's political battlefield; and its people are not the playthings of anybody.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday dismissed a petition seeking removal of Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani from his office as chief executive of the country and dissolution of the federal cabinet in the wake of Supreme Court’s order of April 26 in contempt issue.The single-Judge bench of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui in its order observed that the petition was premature as it could not proceed without a detailed judgment of the Supreme Court. “The petition is premature, wait for the detailed verdict,” observed Justice Siddiqui.During proceedings, advocate GM Chaudhry contended that under the provisions of Section (g) of clause (1) of Article 63 of the constitution, the PM stood disqualified from being a member of the National Assembly after the apex Court’s orders in the contempt issue.