Thursday, May 17, 2012
By Nasim Zehra
Nasim Zehra is the host of "Policy Matters" and the Director of Current Affairs on Dunya TV, Pakistan. She is the author of the book, From Kargil to the Coup (forthcoming).
Two police personnel, belonging to Shia sect, were shot dead and another two were injured in a targeted attack in the Sardar Karez area on Thursday. Police said a police van was on a routine patrol when unidentified men opened fire on the vehicle in the Sardar Karez area of Eastern Bypass. Two officials, belonging to Hazara community, were killed on the spot and another two sustained injuries. Heavy contingents of police and FC rushed to the spot and cordoned off the area. The bodies were shifted to the Bolan Hospital. The deceased were identified as constable Ghulam Murtaza and constable Sanaullah and those injured were ASI Muhammad Hussain and Constable Deen Muhammad. “It could be a case of sectarian killing,” a police official said. No group has claimed responsibility so far. Balochistan Governor Zulfiqar Magsi and Chief Minister Aslam Raisani condemned the attack. A case has been registered against unidentified assailants.
http://rt.comBahraini security forces have once again used tear-gas on peaceful protesters in the country’s capital, Manama. While the mainstream media remains silent, Bahrain’s government has been suppressing anti-regime demonstrations for over a year now. A video posted on YouTube on Thursday shows security forces using tear-gas against people quietly strolling in the Bilad Al Qadeem district of Manama. There have been no reports of injuries or casualties. The incident continues a week of violent government crackdowns on protesters.
The Express TribuneIn yet another attempt of targeting the girls educational institutions, unidentified militants blew up Jamrud Degree College for Girls in Khyber Agency on Wednesday, an official said. The official of the Jamrud political administration said that the students decorated the building for the upcoming sports gala. “Militants have blown up the college damaging its boundary wall badly,” he said. Official said that Jamrud is a peaceful area as compared to other areas of Khyber Agency but militants were targeting the educational institutes unabated in the area. “Security forces cordoned off the area, however no loss of life was reported,” Political Tehsildar of Jamrud, Asmatullah Wazir, said. An education officer of Khyber Agency, Ashraf Afridi told The Express Tribune that the number of destroyed educational institutions has risen to 65. “We don’t know why militants are targeting schools and not letting the students to participate in the healthy activities and acquire education,” he said. He said that the same college was targeted by militants in 2010 as well two days before the annual sports week damaging three classrooms. Likewise, the Government Girls’ High School Ghundai Jamrud was also destroyed when three students won prizes for showing outstanding performance in athletics in the same year. He went on to add that whenever the students intend to hold a sports week or any other activity especially in the girls schools the militants target them. “The sports event would now be held in the nearby sports complex after three days,” he said.
daily timesThe National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday said it has started investigations against the Sahrif brothers in a $32 million money laundering scandal. “The reference against Sharif brothers was sent by Interior Minister Rehman Malik and it will be decided on merit,” NAB spokesman Zafar Iqbal said while addressing a media briefing at the NAB headquarters. Replying to a question about the reports that President Asif Ali Zardari has directed the NAB chairman to initiate an inquiry against the Sharifs and reopen pending cases against them, the spokesman said the president had only directed the NAB chairman to ensure that there was no political victimisation. Malik had earlier claimed he had evidence to prove that the PML-N leaders were involved in laundering $32 million. Iqbal said NAB has so far recovered Rs 2.012 billion from Rental Power Plants (RPPs) on the directives of the Supreme Court (SC). Giving details, he said Rs 109 million were recovered from Pakistan Power House and Walter International, Rs 546 million from Techno Engineering, Rs 50 million from Young Generation, Rs 225 million from Gulf company and Rs 100 million from Reshma company. The bureau has recorded the statements of former power minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Shaukat Tareen and Liaquat Jatoi, but no money has been recovered from them, he said, adding the three will be summoned again if needed. The NAB spokesman said the Interior Ministry has not yet put the names of ministers involved in RPPs’ case on the Exit Control List (ECL) despite a request by NAB. Responding to a question, he said that nobody has been given clean chit in the case, rather NAB is in the process of recovery from the RPPs. Moreover, the bureau has also sent its teams to inspect the sites of RPPs and teams are busy finalising their reports. Iqbal said NAB was in contact with an army team questioning generals named in NLC corruption reference.
The Baloch HalWhy are there no reactions, both from the government and the civil society, to the brazen and bizarre statement of Balochistan Communication Minister Ali Madad Jattak that there is nothing wrong with indulging into corruption? A person holding a public office and defending corruption would have indeed been kicked out of the cabinet had he lived and worked in a civilized country with a functioning democracy. Mr. Jattak is going to continue to work in his office because he works under a boss who once publicly endorsed possession of fake and fraudulent degrees for the members of the Parliament. Aslam Raisani, Jattak’s boss and Balochistan’s current chief minister, told the media that a degree was a degree whether it was fake or original. This is a sickening state of affairs in Balcohistan where overt defenders of corruption and fraud hold public offices. There is no reaction on the part of the civil society ostensibly because of public sense of powerlessness and despondency. The ordinary citizen in the province is caught between rogue and repressive intelligence agencies, security forces and a bunch of crooks occupying public offices. While talking about the conflict in Balochistan, one key area that almost always remains ignored is the performance of the provincial government. One often hears about the illegal actions of the military and the intelligence agencies, flawed policies of the federal government and a growing rebellion in the province among the youth who aspire to seek independence from Pakistan. What we do sufficiently hear about is the members of the provincial government who get the least attention in the conflict. If not getting attention is a blessing then only ministers in the Balochistan government can explain its benefits. Balochistan has a group of permanent members of the Pakistani Establishment who continue to rule the province during all good or bad times. This bunch of individuals mainly comprises of tribal chiefs and the clergy. They have nominal political affiliations. They switch political loyalties with the change in the federal government. They join the Pakistan Muslim League, either Nawaz or the Quaid-e-Azam League, when this party rules the country but instantly become members or supporters of the Pakistan People’s Party when it comes into power. Thus, there is a little that changes in Balochistan’s internal politics following an electoral process. This group of people will remain in power no matter what Balochistan’s relations with the central government look like. For example, more than half of today’s provincial government comprises of the loyalists of General Musharraf. They immediately become supporters of the PPP as Musharraf lost popularity. Some of them are gradually becoming admirers of Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan keeping in view the changing politics in the country. What is missing is the clear absence of a political or civil society-driven movement in Balochistan that calls for accountability of the provincial government. The current assembly of 65 members has only one member of the opposition whereas everyone else is a part of the government as a minister or an adviser. They are corrupt to such an extent that they, just like Mr. Jattak, publicly defend corruption because they know that they are not answerable to anyone for their deeds. While being skeptical and cynical of government policies is a positive attitude in a democratic culture, pessimism and complete disassociation is catastrophic. It offers a free opportunity to politicians to misuse public office and indulge into corruption. Lack of public interest leads to lack of the primary public quest for accountability. No one can help the people of Balochistan but themselves to stand against the status quo. The youth in Balochistan, political parties and the media must play a vibrant role in holding the provincial government accountable just like the way they vigorously fight the federal government for its exploitation of the province’s mineral wealth and committing human rights abuses. The people should give up a policy of forgiving to their elected representatives for whatever nonsensical statements they make. We would also like to urge the Minister to apologize for his remarks. The PPP central leadership should take notice of his remarks and it must discourage such undemocratic attitude in the greater interest of the democracy. Democracy should not be deemed as a means to absolute authority and stark impunity. If unchecked, such arrogant (mis)use of power leads to collapse of democracy in any given society and serve as the catalyst for authoritarianism.
Source: Al Jazeera and AgenciesA general strike is under way in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, after 33 senior opposition leaders were charged with involvement in an arson attack during an anti-government strike last month. The main opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) called for Thursday's strike, which they said would take place across the nation, in response to the ruling. The BNP said the court decision was "politically motivated" aimed at crushing "legitimate protests" over the disappearance of a BNP leader. "It's totally unbelievable and a fabricated case," said BNP spokesman Nazrul Islam Khan, "We are awestruck at the court's decision not to grant bail to our top leaders." Khan added that the charges against the men were bailable offences. Following the arrests on Wednesday, there were angry scenes outside the court in Dhaka. Police baton-charged angry demonstrators and a number of vehicles were attacked and set alight in the capital and several other towns, news reports said. ATN Bangla television station said several opposition supporters were arrested. Other stations said at least two vehicles were burned in separate incidents in Dhaka immediately after the ruling. Opposition activists also smashed vehicles in protests in several other towns, news reports said. Those arrested include Mirza Fakhrul Alamgir, the acting secretary of the BNP led by Khaleda Zia, and former Dhaka mayor Sadeq Hossain. Secretary missing The BNP heads the 18-party opposition alliance that has called a series of general strikes to protest alleged government involvement in a politician's disappearance. Jebel Rahman Ghaani, chairman of the opposition Bangladesh National Awami Party, told Al Jazeera "the government has been quite incompetent in the handling of most national issues," particularly, the disappearance of an official in the BNP. The opposition also set a June 10 ultimatum for the government to restore a caretaker government system to oversee the next national elections, due in 2014. The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina scrapped the 15 year-old system last year in what the opposition says was part of a plan to rig the elections. The opposition has said it will boycott the elections if the system is not restored. Political tensions have sharply escalated since Elias Ali, an organising secretary in Zia's party, went missing along with his driver on April 17 from a street in Dhaka. Police found his car abandoned in Dhaka and his driver is also missing. The opposition says the government and its security agencies are behind his disappearance. Authorities deny the allegation. As a result of Wednesday's ruling, the 33 defendants will remain in jail until further legal proceedings.
http://www.usatoday.com/TMZ reports that the Queen of Disco - Donna Summer - died this morning in Florida at age 63 following a battle with cancer. Summer was a 5-time Grammy winner who shot to superstardom in the '70s with iconic hits including Last Dance, Hot Stuff and Bad Girls.
President Obama and the Democrats raised $43.6 million in April, adding to the president’s edge over his rival, Mitt Romney, even as money continues to pour in to outside groups ahead of the fall campaign. Campaign Cash News and analysis on campaign fund-raising. The $43.6 million is a dip from March, when Mr. Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee raised a combined $53 million. But it does not count several large fund-raisers — including one in Hollywood that reportedly raised $15 million — that took place in early May. Mr. Obama’s campaign is also hoping to capitalize in the months ahead on increased fund-raising in the gay community after Mr. Obama’s statement this month that he supports same-sex marriage. In a video released Wednesday morning, Jim Messina, the president’s campaign manager, focused on the need to compete with the outside groups like Crossroads GPS and Restore Our Future, a “super PAC” formed to help Mr. Romney. “Oil company executives and other special interests are dumping millions of dollars in super PAC attack ads,” Mr. Messina said. “The Koch brothers-funded super PAC spent $6 million on TV ads attacking the president. Mitt Romney’s super PAC put another $4 million on the air.” The campaign is eager to light a fire under its supporters to donate money to combat those ads. But it’s also trying to show potential donors how contributions are being used to build an effective organization on the ground. In the video, Mr. Messina described how the campaign has opened dozens of field offices in swing states like Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia in the hopes of overwhelming Mr. Romney with a superior organization. Still, the campaign knows that the ability to compete with Mr. Romney and the outside groups with television advertising will be a key to winning the election. And that takes money. Just this month, Mr. Obama’s campaign announced a $25 million advertising buy in the battleground states in a largely positive effort to promote the president’s accomplishments in office. And on Wednesday, the campaign is paying for a two-minute attack ad about Mr. Romney’s time at Bain Capital. So far, Mr. Obama has easily outpaced Mr. Romney’s fund-raising. By mid-March, Mr. Obama’s campaign had amassed nearly 10 times the amount of cash on hand that Mr. Romney had collected. But that was just as Mr. Romney was wrapping up the nomination. The Republican candidate has plans to raise as much as $800 million to spend on the general election, and has increased his fund-raising since becoming the presumptive nominee.
DAWN.COM Federal Minister for Interior Rehman Malik on Wednesday said protests led by Sharif brothers are an eye opener for public as to what level they (Sharifs) can go for their personal enmity where they even do not mind using the state machinery for their protest rallies. He said law and order situation is not satisfactory, corruption and mismanagement can be seen in Punjab province as wrong and vague policies of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif have made people to suffer. The minister was responding to a question raised in a press conference regarding statements being issued by the PML-N leadership against the government. “I advise both the Sharif brothers to avoid telling lies and bring change in their attitudes. They should realise that people support Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) which is trying to bring positive change in their lives,” he said. Malik said he has evidence against Sharifs of their involvement in corruption and added he would gradually reveal their other frauds before the masses. Replying to a question, the minister said he would approach the courts regarding their (Sharifs) corruption but first he will fight against them in the “court of masses.” He said the amount embezzled and wasted in Sasti Roti Scheme and corruption in free laptops distribution is so massive that with the same amount half of the Punjab would have been self-sufficient in electric supply, he added. “If Sharifs bring only 50 per cent of their wealth from abroad laundered through various banks and stolen by Pakistani banks can make Pakistan self-sufficient in the energy supply,” he said and asked Nawaz and Shahbaz to bring back the stolen money and invest in the country instead of “talking.”