Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mehdi Hassan: Ranjish hi sahi dil hi

Valerie Trierweiler: French first lady is keeping her day job

Balochistan: the FC and missing persons

Daily Times
BY:Dr Qaisar Rashid
The case of the missing Baloch is reverberating throughout the country. The sympathies of all Pakistanis are with the Baloch One wonders if the Frontier Constabulary (FC) deployed in Balochistan is above the law of the state. At least the demeanour of the FC speaks of its haughtiness. It is shocking to note that the Inspector General (IG) of the FC Obaidullah Khattak did not comply with the orders of the Supreme Court (SC) to appear in person and explain the position of the FC on the missing persons’ case until repeated notices. His act is tantamount to ridiculing the court and is a breach of the constitution. The hearing took place at the Quetta Registry of the SC on May 11. After more than 60 years of its formation, Pakistan has entered the phase of mastering the strategy of abducting its citizens to ensure the state’s survival. If this is not decadence, what is? Instead of listening to the voice of citizens, the state is bent on muffling it, and strangulating the necks producing the voice. This attitude falls in the category of a welfare state or a state calling itself an Islamic Republic? By the way, on non-compliance with the court orders, if the prime minister of this country can be convicted, why can’t the IG FC? By his deed of disobedience, the IG FC tries to convince all that the concept of the state’s security is different from the notion of upholding the constitution. That is, he is serving in the khaki uniform to ensure the integrity of the state but not of the constitution. This is the problem with those donning the khaki uniform. The military deems itself a custodian of the integrity of the state but not of the constitution, which actually makes the military a type of the executive supposed to adhere to the court’s orders. What is the meaning of the statement of Major Sohail representing the FC at the court that the IG FC was busy elsewhere? Was he busy in abducting more people? The IG FC deliberately violated the court’s orders and should be held accountable for that. The SC is also relying on the police to implement its orders. It is heartening to note that the DIG Operations Balochistan Police, Hamid Shakeel is ready to obey. He has informed the SC that the police possessed CCTV footage of a private hotel showing an FC vehicle picking up three persons who went missing afterwards. The statement of Hamid Shakeel indicates that the police are handicapped owing to the overbearing role of the FC, which needs be curtailed. Secondly, his point shows that the police are ready to obey the orders of the SC and are capable of maintaining law and order in Balochistan if given a free hand. The police, weaker at the core, can neither comply fully with the orders of the SC nor jettison the FC from the governance equation. If the SC is making the police answerable, it should also issue orders to strengthen the role of the police in Balochistan. The SC has made an apt observation that the Centre is not taking any interest in resolving the Balochistan issue. There are three plausible reasons for that. First, the regime in the Centre is mired in issues of its own survival. Second, the regime in the Centre is annoyed with the SC and would be keen to witness a spate of confrontation taking place between the SC and the FC (or the military). Third, the Centre is reluctant to retrieve Balochistan from the military (which is being controlled through the FC) because the military wants to have its sway over the province. As per the constitution, the FC should be at the beck and call of the chief minister of Balochistan but on the ground, the FC is independent in its actions and dictates its terms to him. Perceivably, the IG FC does not take orders from the chief minister of Balochistan but from GHQ. That is the paradox engulfing Balochistan. The same absurdity is a hindrance to an early resolution of the Balochistan crisis. It seems that the military is not realising the fact that by its actions, it is being demeaned in society. The case of the missing Baloch is reverberating throughout the country. The sympathies of all Pakistanis are with the Baloch. In any developed country, by delivering good governance, the state makes itself noticeable in the sight of its citizens. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, the state makes itself palpable through its coercive arms such as the FC in Balochistan. In this way, the state fails to project its soft image in the eyes of people. Despite the presence of a democratic dispensation at the Centre, Balochistan is still experiencing the problems characteristic of the military era. Across the country, there is not a single Pakistani who does not sympathise with the Baloch and who does not criticise the highhandedness of the military in Balochistan. The Lahore High Court Bar is in the process of passing a resolution on Balochistan to express its solidarity with the Baloch and strengthen the hands of the SC in its decisions on Balochistan. Making the Baloch go missing is not a solution, the military should understand. The Balochistan crisis is in need of a dialogue. The military should leave space open for that. Gagging the media with one PEMRA Ordinance or another may keep the voice of the Baloch dissidents off the air but cannot solve the Balochistan problem. What is missing in Pakistan is that the state does not understand its limits vis-à-vis the rights of people. The state cannot pick up a citizen and make him disappear, notwithstanding the nature of allegations. The citizens abducted by the state have to be produced before a court. The state is a creation of citizens and not vice versa. Thus, a state should stay subservient to its citizens and avoid dictating to them.

Mehdi Hassan in critical condition

Ghazal maestro, playback singer was Tuesday admitted to Karachi hospital in a critical condition. Renowned Pakistani singer Mehdi Hassan is in a critical condition and has been admitted to ICU of a Karachi hospital. According to Mehdi Hassan’s son Arif Mehdi, his health deteriorated Tuesday morning and he was taken to the hospital where doctors shifted him to the ICU where he is reported to be in a better condition than in the morning. The family of the star singer informed that he was to be taken to India for treatment but now it has been postponed.

Hosting Dalai Lama must come at a high price

Britain has claimed that Prime Minister David Cameron's meeting with the Dalai Lama was a private one and that Cameron was free to meet anyone. But one is the British Prime Minister, the other is the "spiritual leader" of "Tibet independence." Does anyone really believe the meeting was "private?" "Private" is becoming a funny word now. The meeting was deliberately arranged by Britain. The Cameron government clearly knows it could bring damning risks to Sino-British relations. China must take corresponding punitive actions against Britain. China's stand against foreign leaders meeting the Dalai Lama is clear. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy met Dalai respectively in 2007 and 2008, which strongly shocked bilateral relations. US President Barack Obama's Dalai meeting also created a diplomatic storm. Apparently, Cameron deliberately followed in their footsteps. The Chinese don't care whom foreign leaders meet, but as Dalai is the symbol of "Tibet independence," Cameron knows fully well what China is opposed to. There is already a routine reaction after foreign leaders' meeting with Dalai. China will protest strongly, putting trade and political ties on hold for a certain time. China has become proficient in dealing with these issues and can handle the damage better. China should suspend high-level communications with Britain for a certain time and also some cooperative projects that China is in no hurry to carry out. It's not difficult for China to do so. This may not have a great effect on Britain, but could add negative points to Cameron's political reputation, which will overwhelm the positive points earned by his "courage" in meeting Dalai. Reducing economic cooperation will bring damage to both sides, but for China, it's necessary to safeguard national unification. China has become accustomed to paying the price for safeguarding its core interests. Now it should let Western countries make the choice: pay the price for meeting Dalai or avoid showing off their nobility of freedom. The emphasis on the fact it was a private meeting appears to be a subtle form of conciliation compared with the German and French leaders' meetings with Dalai in the past. But still, the matter should not be settled by just a verbal protest from China. France has just elected a new president and many other countries are changing leadership. All eyes are on China and how it will react to Cameron's decision to host the Dalai Lama. Hesitation is not a suitable response. China favors peace, but that does not mean China's national security is cheap. Though it is not involved in military actions like other big powers, it has to spend the money fighting provocations against its security. Dalai should not overestimate his personal value. He is only a tool in the competition between major powers.

Hollande and Merkel hold euro talks in Berlin

Newly inaugurated French President Francois Hollande has pledged to work with Germany to resolve the EU's economic crisis. He was speaking in Berlin following talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hours after being sworn in. Both leaders said they wanted to keep debt-stricken Greece in the euro. They will hold an informal summit on 23 May. Mr Hollande said "everything must be put on the table by everyone" that could promote growth. He included the possibility of eurobonds, which would pool the debts of eurozone nations, backed by all 17 member governments. Germany has always rejected the idea of eurobonds. 'Dimension of growth' During his election campaign, Mr Hollande said he wanted to renegotiate the EU's fiscal pact, which will require its signatories to balance their budgets. Mrs Merkel has said the terms of the agreement cannot be changed. "As president of the [French] republic, I want to renegotiate what was accepted at a certain stage to give it the dimension of growth," he said, standing alongside Mrs Merkel at a news conference in the German capital. For her part, Mrs Merkel said France and Germany were willing to "study the possibility of additional growth measures in Greece". Greece is struggling to enact the austerity measures required by the EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return for a bailout of 130bn euros ($170bn; £105bn). Both Mr Hollande and Mrs Merkel said they wanted Greece to stay in the euro. "We wish to have Greece within the euro and we know that the majority of the Greek population agrees with us," Mrs Merkel said. As the eurozone's two biggest economies - and biggest contributors to its bailout funds - Germany and France are key decision-makers over the strategy supposed to pull Europe out of crisis. According to official figures released on Tuesday morning, the French economy showed no growth in the first quarter of 2012. Growth in the final quarter of 2011 was also revised down to 0.1% from 0.2%. However, Germany's economy grew by a stronger than expected 0.5% in the first three months of the year.

Francois Hollande visits Germany hours after inauguration

President Obama on ABC's "The View"

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In the recent years, the Ministers had emerged more powerful and they are dictating the terms and order in violation of laws of the land and the constitution. There is no check to the highhandedness of the Ministers misusing official and administrative powers for their personal advantage. There is no institutional check on this administrative anarchy which may lead the Province to a great disaster sooner or later. Even senior most officials were found helpless as the Ministers are enjoying the support from the Chief Executives for the past two decades of more. The Chief Minister had granted complete autonomy to the Ministers to do whatever they want to do or deal with the administration or even with their own electorate. Since the Chief Minister needs the support of the parliamentary groups, all pressure groups of vested interests, they are dictating their terms and playing havoc with the economy and the administration. This trend had started following the partyless elections of General Ziaul Haq who allowed loot and plunder in return for political support to his highly personality rule over Pakistan. During this period, the funds were allocated to the Members of the Parliament and the Provincial Assemblies to win their support in forming the Government at the Centre and also in the provinces. From that period, the politics of PSDP had started and planning had gone to vultures and MPs resorted to day-to-day planning instead of long term planning for development meeting the basic economic needs of the people and the country. To this date, this policy is continuing. Every year Balochistan is wasting Rs 36 billions of its development funds as all the schemes included in the Provincial PSDP are worthless and having no economic impact. There is no intention to increase the revenue of the Provincial Government by spending money on development schemes generating revenue for the state. There is no intention to reduce poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy in Balochistan. Similarly, the Provincial PSDP has no option to create more jobs for the army of jobless people. Every year, more than 20 graduates and highly qualified people are passing out from the Universities of Balochistan and there is no plan to provide jobs for the qualified educated people by the elected representatives. In recent years, the Ministers were found involved in auctioning or selling Government jobs to the highest bidders or to their political constituents. Even small jobs reserved for local people at the local level had been transferred illegally to their own constituency through a manipulated administrative order and recruitment of their own political constituent is made without any fear that tomorrow they can be made accountable in courts of law when a more responsible Government takes over. In the recent past, a score of Ministers were caught, tried and convicted for such irregularities and massive embezzlement of public money. They remained in jail for long. Two of them were rescued by their party leaders by blackmailing the majority leader at the time of ministry formation. Both the detained and convicted Ministers were released from jail following a bargaining in ministry making. There must be a check on transfer of posts, mainly posts of low paid public servants, from one region to another only for the purpose of illegal recruitment of their own political constituents, close relatives are auctioning the posts to the highest bidders. This practice should be stopped and economic interests of local people and their right on post reserved for lowest paid employees are defended and Ministers are barred from committing any irregularity. Secretaries of the Administrative Departments should take a firm stand for not being part and parcel of the irregularities committed by their concerned Ministers. Let the Ministers take the legal responsibilities as the coming days will be very hard for the Ministers in which they will be made accountable. All the Ministers cannot escape to Dubai or to any safe haven after committing irregularities.

QUETTA: Target killings: 2 Shia Hazaras killed, 1 injured in Quetta attack

The Express Tribune News Network.
Target killings continue in Quetta as two Hazaras were killed and another was injured when unidentified gunmen on motorcycles opened fire at them on the Joint Road on Tuesday. According to a senior police officer, Mohammad Tahir and Mohmmad Qadir had come to the office for passport-related work and were attacked outside the main gate of the office at around 7:15am. The assailants immediately fled the scene. “Both the brothers were killed on the spot and another man of the Hazara community received bullet wounds,” the police confirmed. The bodies and injured were taken to the provincial Sandeman Hospital, where stringent security measures were adopted to thwart possible attempt of terrorism. The injured Manzoor Ali was later referred to the Combine Military Hospital (CMH) due to security reasons, sources at the hospital said. “It was a sectarian killing,” another senior investigation officer added. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the killings till the filing of this report. It is pertinent to mention here that around 28 people of Hazara community were killed this year. Some police officers investigating the sectarian killings were also killed in Quetta during the past week. On the other hand, some Sunni religious scholars have also fallen victim to targeted attacks in the provincial capital and religious parties believe that some elements are trying to instigate sectarian violence in Balochistan.

INDIA: The Republic Of Hunger

Al Jazeera World
Every third malnourished child in the world is from India, so what is the government doing to feed its millions?
More than 40 per cent of India's 61 million children are malnourished, prompting the prime minister to declare the problem a "national shame". A recent report reveals that levels are twice that of sub-Saharan Africa, making every third malnourished child in the world an Indian.India has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and runs one of the largest child feeding programmes.But critics say only a fraction of aid reaches the needy. 101 East travels to India and asks what the country is doing to feed its millions.

Obama says JPMorgan loss proves reform needed

US President says even Wall Street's "smartest" need regulating, as bank boss admits $2bn trading loss was "stupid".
US President Barack Obama has said that the huge trading loss at JPMorgan Chase, the country's biggest bank, has demonstrated the need for Wall Street reform. "JPMorgan is one of the best managed banks there is. Jamie Dimon, the head of it, is one of the smartest bankers we got and they still lost $2 billion and counting," Obama said on ABC's "The View," according to a transcript released by the US network on Monday. "We don't know all the details. It's going to be investigated, but this is why we passed Wall Street reform," Obama said, adding that the same kind of error at a less stable bank could have required government intervention. Dimon has led US banks in fighting the proposed Volcker Rule, which would ban so-called proprietary trading, when banks trade on their own accounts. Banks are also resisting curbs on their hedging activities. Dimon told US network NBC's "Meet the Press" programme that the big loss incurred by the New York-based bank, which triggered a slide in banking shares on Friday, was "stupid" and damaging, but not bad enough to stop the company from making a profit this quarter. Asked if JPMorgan's losses had given regulators new ammunition to clamp down on Wall Street after the US government spent billions to bail out financial institutions during the 2008 crisis, Dimon replied: "Yes, absolutely. This is a very unfortunate and inopportune time to have had this kind of mistake." Martin Hennecke, associate director at Hong Kong-based financial advisory firm Tyche Group, told Al Jazeera that JPMorgan's loss was another indictment of the US banking system. "We are particularly not fond of the US banking industry, which is like a casino gambling industry, especially since the Glass-Steagall Act was repudiated," he said, referring to the 1933 legislation established to regulate and limit speculation by banks which was repealed in 1999. "The Glass-Steagall Act needs to be implemented again, otherwise it seems the banks pretty much do what they want. "If they mess it up they get a bailout and if they do it right they don't care about what limits were broken, and so they would all be heroes and get huge payouts and bonuses." Hennecke said: "So, we don't think the US banking industry is safe or stable to invest in. The much chastised Chinese banks that everybody loves to hate are much safer to invest in than banks in the US and Europe as well for that matter." Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey, reporting from New York, said the JPMorgan's trading loss had reignited the debate in the US on regulating financial instutions. "It [JPMorgan] is the largest bank in the US and it weathered the financial crisis in 2008 better than other financial institutions in the country," she said. "And since then Dimon has been one of the most outspoken critics of efforts to regulate the finance industry, precisely the kind of risky trades that led to this huge loss. He has been quoted as describing efforts to regulate the market as infantile. He ridiculed the notion of banks being too big to fail. "Now we are hearing calls for new congressional hearings on what went wrong with JPMorgan and renewed calls for tougher regulation to prevent it from happening again and putting the US and world economy at risk." Top officer quits Meanwhile, Ina Drew, JPMorgan Chase's chief investment officer, has announced her retirement in the wake of the loss, with two more senior execuitves expected to quit the company. Drew is "retiring" after more than 30 years at the bank, JPMorgan said, but her departure came days after the bank reported a huge "egregious" loss that came under her responsibility at the bank's chief investment officer (CIO). Our correspondent said that Drew's departure was an effort by JPMorgan to limit the fallout ahead of a shareholders' meeting on Tuesday. "This is a woman who was considered one of the most powerful women in Wall Street. Someone who was a top earner for the company," she said. "But these massive losses happened on her watch. So the company in an effort to limit the fallout from these huge losses is now taking steps to cleanhouse. The shares for the company plummeted on Friday by 9.3 per cent. "Clearly this is an effort to stabilise things ahead of a shareholders meeting that is expected on Tuesday." The Wall Street Journal said two other high-ranking executives were set to leave during the week: Achilles Macris, who heads the London-based desk that placed the trades, and trader Javier Martin-Artajo, a managing director on Macris' team. London-based trader Bruno Michel Iksil, nicknamed the "London Whale" for the large positions he took in credit markets, is also likely to leave though it remains uncertain when he will do so, the Journal said.

Bahraini doctor: 'We became automatic witnesses'

A Bahraini doctor arrested and allegedly brutalized for treating an injured protester said he and other medical workers were targeted because of what they saw. "We became automatic witnesses. That's a problem. When we saw protesters, straightaway we became automatic witnesses. And to take our credibility away, accuse us of a crime," Nabeel Hameed told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. The doctor was arrested last year amid anti-government protests. He is expected to face trial shorty.Demonstrations in Bahrain failed to gain the traction of other Arab Spring uprisings after a crackdown by authorities in the island state. The crackdown was backed by troops from nearby Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In November, Bahrain's Independent Commission of Inquiry issued a report critical of authorities' reactions to the protests, which began in February 2011, spurred by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Hameed said he was on call, one of only three neurosurgeons at Salmaniya Hospital, on February 18, 2011, when an injured protester was brought in. The patient had been shot in the head. "For treating him and then expressing my concerns about the way he was injured, I got labeled as a traitor," he said. Two months later, Hameed was arrested. He described what happened next: "They took me into an interrogation center for about four days of torture. I was not alone. I was with other doctors. They made us stand for days together ... without sleep, without toilet privileges, without anything. And in between that you get abused, you get spat at, you got insulted ... and everybody who passes by you just beats you on the head or the back." "But the worst thing is a room, an electronically locked room ... and when the doors open, all hell breaks loose. Because you start hearing these shouts of torture. Of people inside ... Your turn is next. And my turn was next ... Somebody even took a gun to my head and threatened me with death," said Hameed. He was later released but as a changed man, he said. "We're doctors. We're never politicians. But I'm a forced activist maybe now," the doctor said. Amanpour also spoke to Sheikh Abdul-Aziz bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, a royal family member who speaks for the Bahraini government. He said the government is working toward reform and to right past wrongs, but he said the process must not be rushed. He acknowledged abuses. "We can't rush into things -- and we intend to move at a quicker pace and to achieve the goals that we have for a better future in Bahrain," said Al Khalifa. Last week, the United States said it would resume some arms sales to Bahrain after suspending them amid the country's crackdown on protesters. The small island kingdom in the Persian Gulf plays a key strategic role in the Middle East and is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Saudi woman driver: I was pressured out of my job for my activism

In May 2011,
Manal al-Sharif did something revolutionary: She drove a car. In most societies this would be far from noteworthy, but in Saudi Arabia, where women are prohibited from getting behind the wheel, it was an act of extraordinary courage. The protest, which she put on YouTube, landed al-Sharif in jail for nine days. It also made her an international figure. In the last year, she has been named one of the “Top 100 Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy magazine and one of Time magazine’s “100 most influential people of 2012.” And last week, the 32-year old Saudi was one of three people awarded the first annual Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent at the Oslo Freedom Forum. To attend the conference in Norway, al-Sharif says she was pressured out of her job at the Saudi oil company Aramco. Considering she is a working-class single mother, it couldn’t have been an easy decision to continue her human rights fight in the face of such economic pressures. But, as al-Sharif told The Daily Caller, “if you stand up for your beliefs, there is a price to pay.” “They pressured me a lot and it was like too much to take,” she said, explaining that while she was not explicitly fired, she was increasingly marginalized at the company for her activism, leading to her exit after coming into conflict again with her bosses over attending the conference. After first stating that she didn’t “want to talk about” the pressure she has suffered under since her Rosa Parks-like act of defiance, she conceded that the Saudi government does “pressure you a lot, whether directly or indirectly.” “So they can cause a lot of trouble,” she went on. “They scandalize you, they smear you … they spread all these rumors about you … But it’s up to you how to deal with that pressure. The more pressure it is, the more attacks I get, the more impact I know that I’m making.” During a presentation at the Oslo Freedom Forum, al-Sharif explained how she sympathized with Islamist radicals growing up in Saudi Arabia until two events helped change her perspective. The first, she said, was gaining access to the Internet in 2000. “It was our first window to the outside world, and I was very curious,” she said in her speech. “I started talking to other people, raising questions. I began to realize how very small the box I was living in was. I started losing my phobia of having my pure beliefs polluted.” The second major turning point in her intellectual evolution was the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “They said it was God’s punishment to America,” she said. “I was confused, and didn’t know how to feel. Then on the news, I saw this picture. It was of a man, who threw himself from the towers to escape the fire. I couldn’t sleep that night.” Ultimately, she concluded that “no religion on earth should be like this.” “When al-Qaida took responsibility for the attacks, I realized my heroes were nothing but bloody terrorists,” she said. Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2012/05/14/saudi-woman-driver-i-was-pressured-out-of-my-job-for-my-activism/#ixzz1uwst8Jkk

US Ambassador To Kabul Asks Afghan Neighbors Not To Support Terrorism

Bakhtar News
The US ambassador to Afghanistan asked the neighbors of Afghanistan not to support terrorism. The ambassador who went to Nangarhar to meet the local authorities there said that support to terrorism would harm the Afghan neighbors. He added that “outside circles at the neighborhood of Afghanistan should not support the extremist groupings, the Taliban and the Haqani network; as such a support undoubtedly will harm themselves.” “Apparently this US diplomat points to the Pakistan, the country that time and again has been accused by the international community for its continued support towards extremists. He also accused the neighbors for their misunderstanding of the provision of strategic cooperation agreement between Afghanistan and the US and asked them so they should precisely study the agreement and then can show reaction. The ambassador did not name any country in his discussion, however, lately the Iranian ambassador in Kabul while showing reaction towards the strategic cooperation agreement asked the Afghan authorities including the chief of the Afghan Senate not to adopt that agreement as on his view the long-term presence of the West harms Afghanistan and the region. The ambassador in an unprecedented manner warned that those who through supporting terrorism want to continue destruction of Afghanistan, should know that the US in the struggle against others interventions in Afghanistan will be on the side of the Afghans. The US ambassador attributed signing of the strategic cooperation agreement between Afghanistan and the US for supporting reconstruction and stability of Afghanistan till 2024 and said that this period can extend on the basis of the will of Afghans. Recalling the years of former Soviet aggression to Afghanistan and the domestic wars in Afghanistan he said that the US does not want to leave Afghanistan alone any more so that once again with the support of the outside circles the terrorism and extremism invade this country.

François Hollande sworn in as French president

François Hollande was officially sworn in as the seventh president of France's Fifth Republic in a low-key ceremony at the Elysée Palace on Tuesday, where he reiterated his vow to turn the page on eurozone austerity.
Francois Hollande was sworn in as France's first Socialist president since 1995 on Tuesday at a solemn ceremony overshadowed by the debt crisis threatening to unravel the eurozone. After brief ceremonies in Paris, the 57-year-old career politician was to dash to Berlin to confront Chancellor Angela Merkel over their very different visions as to how to save the single currency bloc. "Power will be exercised at the summit of the state with dignity and simplicity," Hollande declared in an inaugural address to Socialist leaders, trade unionists, military officers, churchmen and officials. "Europe needs plans. It needs solidarity. It needs growth," he said, renewing his vow to turn the page on austerity and invest for the future, and implicitly underlining his differences with Merkel. "To our partners I will propose a new pact that links a necessary reduction in public debt with indispensable economic stimulus," he said. "And I will tell them of our continent's need in such an unstable world to protect not only its values but its interests." Hollande was also to make the much-anticipated announcement of who will lead his government as prime minister, with Jean-Marc Ayrault, the head of the Socialists' parliamentary bloc, tipped as favourite. The new president was welcomed to the Elysee Palace by his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, who led him to the presidential office for a private head-to-head and to hand over the codes to France's nuclear arsenal. Then Hollande ushered Sarkozy to his car for a final farewell, outgoing first lady Carla Bruni exchanging kisses with successor Hollande's partner Valerie Trierweiler, elegant in a dark dress and vertiginous heels. Hollande then signed the notice of formal handover of power and headed back in to the palace ballroom. No foreign heads of state were invited to what was a low-key ceremony for a post of such importance, leader of the world's fifth great power. After the swearing in, Hollande rode up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe in an open-topped Citroen DS5 hybrid, waving to the crowd. But the real work was to begin later in the afternoon, when Hollande was to fly to Berlin from an airbase north of Paris, for tense talks with Merkel, the leader of Europe's biggest economy and France's key ally. Merkel was a Sarkozy ally and the architect of the European Union's fiscal austerity drive. Hollande opposed the speed and depth of the cutbacks demanded by Berlin, and wants to renegotiate the eurozone fiscal pact. Germany is committed to budgetary discipline, and Merkel has repeatedly insisted since Hollande's election that the pact, signed by 25 of the 27 EU countries and already ratified in some, is not open to renegotiation. But observers say there is room for compromise, with Hollande likely to agree to additional stimulus measures without a rewrite of the pact. And with political paralysis in Greece raising the spectre of the country being forced from the eurozone, the heads of Europe's two largest economies will be keen to reassure worried markets they can work together. New figures released Tuesday showed France's economy still stagnant, with official statistics agency INSEE saying it recorded no growth in the first quarter of 2012. The agency also revised downward the growth figure for the fourth quarter of 2011, to 0.1% from 0.2%, while maintaining that the economy grew by 1.7 percent overall in 2011. Before he heads to Berlin, Hollande's first order of business will be to nominate a prime minister, who will be tasked with forming a government before a first cabinet session likely on Thursday. Ayrault, a 62-year-old longtime Hollande ally, is considered first in line for the job, but other names are circulating. Once the cabinet is named, the focus will move to the Socialists' campaign to win a parliamentary majority in June's legislative elections -- a key test for the party after Hollande's win. After the talks with Merkel, Hollande heads to the United States where he is to meet President Barack Obama at the White House on Friday ahead of back-to-back G8 then NATO summits.

Shahbaz responsible for load shedding in Punjab

Senior Federal Minister Pervaiz Elahi on Sunday said Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was responsible for electricity load shedding in the province, asking him why he did not endorse the formula suggested by Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) chief Shujaat Hussain to end electricity load shedding in the country. Elahi said there was not just 'bad governance' but 'mad governance' in Punjab, adding that Sharif had given people nothing but deprivation. He was speaking at a convention in Rawalpindi. The senior minister said he had made four plans for power production in Punjab but the current rulers had nothing to their credit. He said his party had told the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) that electricity crisis would have to be resolved on priority basis, adding that the PPP had given due assurances in that regard. Elahi said the present rulers of Punjab should compare their performance with the development work done in every city and district of the province by his government. He said during his tenure one million people were being employed every year and now during the government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) "12 suicides were being committed every day". The PML-Q leader said the PML-Q leadership did not make mere claims or promises as their work and facts spoke for themselves. He said the present rulers of Punjab could only hold public rallies with the help of government machinery and would not be able to win elections. Elahi said his party would field candidates in every constituency and the people would support and elect them. He said that despite hot weather, gathering of thousands of people in the convention had proved that people still remembered the work done by the PML-Q government for development of Rawalpindi and acknowledged the same with open hearts because the PML-Q had spent Rs 34 billion for the development of the city. He said a number of development projects started by his government in Rawalpindi had been stopped by the present rulers of the province out of vengeance, which was causing wastage of billions of rupees of development funds. Elahi said that through the Rescue 1122 project, his government had provided best treatment facilities to everyone, and as many as 42 colleges were established at a cost of Rs 3.75 billion by the PML-Q government. He regretted that the institutions were not functional now as the present rulers had not provided staff for those colleges. He accused the Punjab chief minister of inciting people to set blaze government properties and political parties' offices. "Offices of political parties are being burnt and lawlessness is being spread in the province. Crimes have increased by 30 percent and people from all walks of life, including doctors, teachers and farmers, are worried and on roads, protesting for their rights, employment and education, as the system in the province has completely collapsed," he said.

‘Nawaz should stop dreaming about conquering Sindh’

Daily Times
Senior Education and Literacy Minister Pir Mazharul Haq has said that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)’s recently held gathering at Kamoon Shaheed proved that PPP is the largest and most popular political party of country and millions of people were with it. He expressed these views while talking to various delegations at his office here on Monday. Congratulating Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, members of Sindh Cabinet, leaders and workers of PPP on the historic public gathering, he said that it should open Nawaz Sharif’s eyes and he should stop dreaming about conquering Sindh, the stronghold of the PPP. He said, “The present democratic government will complete its tenure. We are not afraid of Nawaz League long march. Masses have rejected Nawaz and its supporters,” adding that the government under the leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari had given many mega projects to the country. “2012-13 budget would be pro-people and they would be given maximum relief in the budget”, he added. The minister said, “It is the need of the hour that all democratic forces strengthen the hands of present government and foil the ulterior motives of undemocratic elements.” On this occasion various delegations informed the minister about their problems to which he assured urgent resolutions.

PPP believes in nation-building

PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari Monday said the PPP is an egalitarian party that believes in nation-building process. He said making South Punjab a separate province is part of its nation-building process and not a move against any specific people or geographical location. This he said during his meeting with the parliamentarians belonging to South Punjab here at Aiwan-e-Sadr Monday. Presidency Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said the president said that the party will endeavour to honour its commitment made to the people of South Punjab. He said the demand for a separate province was a legitimate one and would provide the people with the needed opportunities for their socio-economic development. The president said giving identity to the people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, implementing Aghaz-e-Haqooq-i-Balochistan Package and giving rights to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan were not just election manifesto. He said with the momentum built by the PPP for a separate province, the people of South Punjab will not allow anyone to play the politics of sloganeering. He said it was now their responsibility to chalk out future of their province and to advise the government regarding setting up Seraiki bank, industrial zones and other economic opportunities in their future province. The participants also spoke on a host of issues. The president also hosted dinner for the participants.

Aitzaz terms PM Gilani conviction as unconstitutional

Former Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Aitzaz Ahsan said the punishment meted out to Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani in contempt of court case, is unconstitutional. Talking to media here, the PM Gilani’s counsel said the short order cannot be delivered in criminal cases. Ahsan said the premier could not have been sentenced in the absence of a detailed verdict. He said short orders were not issued in criminal cases and that the prime minister’s sentencing was against the law. Ahsan said an appeal would be filed challenging the Supreme Court’s verdict against the premier. He further said that objections to the judgment were based on constitutional and legal grounds. Saying “we do not accept the verdict” of April 26, the counsel reiterated that President Asif Ali Zardari enjoyed immunity from prosecution in Pakistan and abroad. Ahsan moreover said that the prime minister was sentenced in violation of Article 10-A of the Constitution. The counsel urged that it was the duty of all Pakistani citizens to abide by the laws and the Constitution of the country. “The prime minister has a number of options to choose from, including one of filing an appeal challenging the verdict,” Ahsan said. Regarding the appeal, the counsel said that the judges who convicted the prime minister should not hear it. Moreover, on the role of Speaker National Assembly in the process of a possible disqualification of the premier, Ahsan said the speaker was given the authority by the Constitution and not the Supreme Court. He said it was up to the speaker’s discretion whether or not to send a reference in this case.

NATO invites President Zardari to summit in Chicago

Farhartullah Babar says decision of participation will be taken after Dfence Committee meeting.NATO has said it will invite Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to the alliance s summit in Chicago, after the country s foreign minister proposed reopening its Afghan border to NATO military supplies.Spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Tuesday the summit on May 20-21 will underline the international community s commitment to the future of Afghanistan and that Pakistan has an important role to play in that future.Supply routes through Pakistan have been closed for nearly six months in retaliation for US airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani troops. This forced NATO to reorient its entire logistics chain through Russia and Central Asia. The routes through Pakistan are seen as vital as NATO begins to pull out of Afghanistan. According to sources, Pakistani and US officials had reached a "broad agreement" on logistics for the fuel and other non-military supplies that would go overland through Pakistan to Afghanistan.

Pakistan poised to resume NATO supply lines

Pakistan on Tuesday looked poised to end a nearly six-month blockade of NATO ground supply routes
into Afghanistan, succumbing to a key demand of the West ahead of a summit in Chicago next week. Islamabad shut its Afghan border crossings to NATO supplies after US air strikes killed 24 soldiers last November, provoking a new crisis in ties on top of the outcry from the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May that year. On Tuesday, civilian and military leaders are to discuss reopening the supply route at a meeting of the defence committee of cabinet, which will be followed by a meeting of army chiefs and the regular cabinet on Wednesday. Sources familiar with the discussions told AFP the government had already effectively taken the decision to reopen the lines, probably by the beginning of next week, and hoped to be invited to the May 20-21 NATO summit in Chicago. Pakistani and US officials had reached a "broad agreement" on fees and logistics for the fuel and other non-military supplies that would go overland through Pakistan to Afghanistan, one source said. "The meetings will indicate that the decision has the backing of all the stakeholders," the source told AFP. "This should minimise the prospect for Islamist groups to exploit the situation in the hope that they'll get the backing of the military establishment." Pakistan has called in vain for an end to US drone strikes targeting Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants on its soil, and a formal apology for the November air strikes. Analysts say Pakistan has no choice but to reopen the border. Its relationship with the United States is key to maintaining ties with multilateral lending agencies needed to help boost its state coffers, at a time when major NATO discussions are under way affecting its own strategic future. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Monday that it was time to "move on", in the strongest public sign yet that Pakistan will end the blockade. "It was important to make a point, Pakistan has made a point and we now need to move on and go into a positive zone and try to conduct our relations," Khar told a news conference. "We are trying to put this relationship, you know, in a positive zone and I am quite sure that we will be successful in doing so." The Pakistani cabinet's defence committee, which includes the prime minister, army chief of staff and intelligence chief, will convene from 1430 GMT. Pakistan's involvement in the Chicago summit could minimise its international isolation and boost the country's leverage over the future of Afghanistan, as NATO countries pull out their combat forces by 2014. The US State Department said both countries had made "considerable progress" on ending the blockade, which has held up lengthy convoys of fuel and supply trucks all the way to the port city of Karachi in the south. "They are not yet finished with the Pakistanis," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters. "But we're having a full review with the government of Pakistan on how this transit system works and all of the issues are on the table in that context." The Pakistan supply routes constitute as little as 25 percent of what NATO needs to sustain itself in Afghanistan as the United States has made increasing use of more expensive routes into northern Afghanistan. Mir Mohammad Yousuf Shahwani, chairman of the All Pakistan Oil Tanker Owners Association told AFP he had been informed by a senior official in the petroleum ministry that Pakistan would reopen the supply line within days. "The petroleum official told me that they are finalising the details," he told AFP from Karachi. Islamabad reiterated Monday that it would still like an apology for the November air strikes, with the foreign minister saying it was "on the table". The United States has expressed regret for the deaths, which an American and NATO investigation said stemmed from mistakes made on both sides during fighting on the Afghan border with Pakistan.