Saturday, June 16, 2012

China launches spaceship with first female astronaut
China launched Saturday Shenzhou-9 spacecraft with the country's first female astronaut aboard. Shenzhou-9, atop an upgraded Long March-2F carrier rocket, blast off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China at 6:37 p.m. Saturday. A see-off ceremony was held at the center hours before the launch. Wu Bangguo, the country's top legislator, attended the ceremony and extended wishes to the three astronauts. "The country and the people are looking forward to your successful return," he said. The first Chinese woman in space Liu Yang, 33, is joined by commanding officer Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang, who has been selected as an astronaut trainee since January 1998. Main tasks of the Shenzhou-9 mission include the manual docking procedure conducted between the Shenzhou-9 and the orbiting space lab module Tiangong-1. China succeeded in the automated rendezvous and docking between unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft and Tiangong-1 last year. A successful manual docking will demonstrate a grasp of essential space rendezvous and docking know-how, a big step in the country's manned space program to build a space station around 2020. Liu, a People's Liberation Army (PLA) major, was a PLA Air Force pilot with 1,680 hours of flying experience and deputy head of a military flight unit before being recruited as an astronaut candidate in May 2010. After two years of training, which shored up her astronautic skills and adaptability to space environment, Liu excelled in testing and was selected in March this year as a candidate for the Shenzhou-9 manned space mission. "Female astronauts generally have better durability, psychological stability and ability to deal with loneliness," Wu Ping, spokeswoman for China's manned space program, said. More than 50 female astronauts from seven countries have gone into space to date. The longest space flight by female astronauts lasted 188 days.


The Provincial Government has presented it last budget of its five-year tenure pending general elections sometime next year. The budget is generally welcomed as a good budget for the province with some reservation about the leakages of funds and misuse of official powers by some sections of the ruling coalition. Again it is record development budget with the commitment from the Minister in-charge to monopolize the development spending and not to disclose to the media about the details or reviews of the past development spending. It is good news that the Provincial Government had proposed massive spending on solar power meeting the growing energy needs of Balochistan. Some Rs 888 millions had been allocated for solar homes and Rs 3.5 billion allocated for this sector. The Chief Minister Secretariat and the Governor’s House will be switched over to solar system ensuring round the clock power supply to import centres of power in Balochistan. It is far better to provide solar system to the entire provincial secretariat, the real centre of administrative power in this province. Special funds should allocate for providing solar system for the Civil Secretary ensuring round-the-clock power supply to the Secretariat. We had earlier suggested in these columns that the entire village electrification programme of the Government should be converted and solar system be used as it is more feasible for this vast province of Pakistan. The Grind system is a failure and every village should have small power house based on solar energy instead of taking costly and lengthy transmission line to all corners of Balochistan. For this simple reason, the village electrification system has failed and now a day there is no electricity thus Government is resorting to massive load shedding of 22 hours a day in major parts of Balochistan. The second import decision is to allocate fund for making Reko Dik Project operational at the earliest since there is no chance that the consortium of two international firms are unable to make it function following a dispute with the provincial Government. Reko Dik is the most prestigious project and it remain corruption and scandal free in the interest of poor people of Balochistan. All corrupt, vested interests and dishonest people should be kept far away from the project so that it is implemented at the earliest. Reko Dik will guarantee a sizeable income to Balochistan taking it out from the perennial financial and economic crisis, once its start production. The project had been delayed for more than two decades as vested interests were involved and corrupt and dishonest people in the Government did not implement it on priority basis. Now time has come that the Government should not delay it further. Help from brotherly Iran can be sought in establishing a refinery for separation of copper from gold disallowing the import of blister copper to outside world. Finally, the subsidy on agriculture tube wells is totally misplaced keeping in view the depleting water table in areas from owners are given subsidy for indiscriminate withdrawal of sub soil water. There is no justification for subsidy to a small area of Balochistan and denying to the rest of Balochistan. It is discriminatory and uncalled for. In total, the Government is providing a subsidy of Rs seven billion while the entire product of fruits, including apple value less than Rs One billion, to say the least. The Government should stop this subsidy as it was stopped to wheat subsidy for the last couple of year. Let the growers make their own economics viable with subsidy and plan their agriculture land on this basis. No public money should be provided for a man made disaster for drying up the subsoil water making whole of Balochistan a huge desert sooner or later. We hope that the Government will end the shortsighted policy of subsidy to agriculture tube wells merely because the owners had a political clout in the present Government.

Pakistan: The menace in media

Editorial:Daily Times
The events of the last week that have come to be known as ‘FamilyGate’ and ‘BahriaGate’ have given rise to a new gate yesterday: MediaGate. In a document printed on a Bahria Town letterhead, 19 journalists and media personnel have allegedly received kickbacks and bribes from Malik Riaz. On the heels of that startling but so far unsubstantiated document, the latest storm on social, print and electronic media unleashed after behind the scenes footage of a private TV channel found its way to YouTube. All hell broke loose as the ‘friendly’, personal talk/arguments between the interviewee and the interviewers were caught on tape and leaked on the internet. As the drama takes a public shape, the ‘tarnished’ channel in order to clear its name as two of its most prominent anchors face public and media condemnation, the response as expected is allegations of the unsavoury manipulation by a rival TV channel. There are a few things to be said about this. These allegations are a slap in the face of journalism in Pakistan and an insult to the 65-year struggle it took for good people to establish a free media in Pakistan. It wasn’t always like this: personal. As the latest media scandal upset the public’s sensibilities who hold certain individuals as a beacon of hope for Pakistan’s media as perpetrators of truth, it has also tarnished the country’s image abroad, making a spectacle of itself. The phenomenon of a ‘planted’ interview as it hollows out the credibility of the media, coupled with the allegation that certain prominent journalists are on the payroll of a certain businessman is a very serious development. It is now the duty of these 19 journalists to come clean on these allegations. For the most part, the media has never been subjected to accountability — whether it comes to incorrect facts or journalistic ethics. The owners and PEMRA turn a blind eye. Owners are driven by profits, swept up in a rat race of ratings. Most anchors and journalists have received no formal training and have a non- professional attitude. Their shooting to fame overnight empowers them, thus becoming a double-edged sword when they use it for ‘illicit’ acts, based on greed and an ugly rush to make professional advances. Started by TV anchors hurling allegations at each other on air, is this what airtime is meant to be used for? The CJP’s son’s alleged corruption charges are revealed by some anchors from a major media house; then it escalates and engulfs many, snowballing into the revelation of the list of 19 journalists, including the ones who presented the scoop. Why is this happening? Generally speaking, society has thrown all codes of ethics and morality out of the window. The clamour about alleged corruption in the media is the latest reflection of this virtually universal affliction in society. Journalists do not descend from the heavens, they are products of this very society, hence exhibiting a reckless behaviour that has become so commonplace it is considered a norm. Professionalism was to be the bedrock of the free media, but unfortunately not so anymore apparently if the example of the black sheep in the field is anything to go by . A multitude of inexperienced or unscrupulous journalists, after overnight excessive importance, have made a mess of a hitherto respectable profession. In the age of social media, whose power is an unfiltered double-edged sword, unsavoury results are sometimes produced as a result of an unlimited capacity to express yourself without fear or favour. It is some kind of accountability in itself, going into areas that old media could not venture into as easily. The latest development should serve as an example: it is time to look inwards. Breaking news is a tricky business; the ratings’ race is unchartered territory, which could lead to conscious and tacit victimisation of individuals and organisations. It is time journalists accepted responsibility for the huge task resting on their shoulders vis-à-vis the authenticity and veracity of what they present. A culture of corrections, explanations, and apologies must be incorporated. The ability to accept an error has been thrown out of the window in today’s rat race of ratings. A system of concrete reprimands and censure must be implemented. In that regard, the suo motu notice taken by the Supreme Court could apply a corrective, emhasising the importance of a proper system of veracity checks and balances.

No one could save Sharif brothers from money laundering case
After the suspension of his Senate membership and subsequent reassignment as Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior, Rehman Malik on Monday criticised the Sharif brothers in strong words and asked Shahbaz Sharif to keep up practice of jumping, adding that he will come in Lahore and will decide who will dance. He said that if I am IG of liars then the Shahabaz Sharif is the Super Daku, adding I advise Shahbaz to improve good governance instead of indulging in blame game. Speaking to media representatives at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport, Malik referred to the duo as backstabbers. Malik also referred to the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz’s election symbol and said that “the lion roars, it does not jump from one place to another”. He summarised Nawaz Sharif’s political history dating from the time of his allegiance with General Ziaul Haq to the time when he separated from Chaudhrys. He said that the Sharifs jumped to Junejo League after leaving General Zia and later on they stabbed in the back of Maulana Samiul Haq in IJI and later formed PML-N and stabbed the Chaudhry Shujahat. He accused the Sharif brothers of causing a political upheaval and of staging a rebellion against the federation. Rehman also accused them of financial corruption. He said that the proofs of corruption of Shahbaz Sharif are with international agencies and he could save himself at any cost, adding that still he not disclosing any new corruption scandal against Sharifs, adding that the Sharifs will have to face the case of 32 million dollars money laundering case. He said that instead of approaching anyone the Sharifs could not save themselves from this case. He said that I had not said anything about the Nawaz Sharif but he himself thought that I have said anything against him. When asked about Karachi’s law and order situation, Malik hailed the performance of the provincial government and said that how PML-N leaders hatched conspiracies against democracy while sitting in Dubai I will expose this, adding that the Punjab government did not produced a single unit of electricity during past four years, adding that billions of rupees were wasted in Rasti Roti scheme and lap top schemes. He said that Shahbaz Sharif should focus on improving the good governance in the province instead of setting up camp at the Minar-e-Pakistan. He said that why Shahbaz Sharif has not taken any notice against the MS of Services Hospital Lahore over the fire eruption incident and death of 10 children, adding that if Shahbaz would have been performing his duties rightly this incident would have not been happened, adding that due to presence of Shahbaz at Minar-e-Pakistan the administration of Punjab is not working properly, adding if Shahbaz will not take not of Services Hospital tragedy then I will exercise powers of interior advisor and would form judicial commission for the investigations of the incident. He said that he was the first man who took the notice of the rape incident of five women in Dera Ghazi Khan. Replying the question on the new spree of target killings in Karachi, Rehman Malik said that Karachi was a big city and was therefore harder to manage. He also said that in the case of Karachi, one political group was trying to suppress another which was resulting in the chaos. He said that there was good governance in Sindh, adding that the petty issues of Karachi would be solved soon. He said that according to the 18th amendment to control the law and order situation is the responsibility of the provincial government, adding that the interior ministry will provide every possible support to the provincial government.

‘Life threats to Asma curb on freedom’

The Joint Action Committee for People’s Rights has raised deep concerns over threats to noted human rights worker Asma Jahangir. “Life threats to Asma Jahangir are curbs on all those voices that are being raised for the rule of law, constitution, justice, peace and democracy in Pakistan, which is a cowardice way to oppress the truth, but such tactics could not be allowed and will be dealt boldly,” said the speaker of the moot held at Aiwan-e-Iqbal on Friday. People from different sectors of civil society, including IA Rehman, Imtiaz Alam, Khaled Ahmad, Roubeena Sahgal and Farooq Tariq, spoke on the occasion. The speakers condemned the threats to the human rights activist and former president of Supreme Court Bar Association, Asma Jahangir. On the occasion, they said such malpractices must be stopped and all the institutions must function within their limits. They questioned whether it was a crime if Asma raised her voice for people’s sufferings or talked about democracy, peace and justice. Demanding probe into the very threats and publicising the findings of the factors involved, the speakers also highlighted the various aspects of the struggle and activism of Asma Jahangir for the past four decades. A protest rally was also organised at the end of the meeting. It is pertinent to mention here that Asma Jahangir has been receiving life threats recently over some of her views in favour of democracy and real freedom of judiciary.

Khyber Agency: 14 killed in Khyber Agency explosion

At least 14 people have been killed in blast in Landi Kotal area of Khyber Agency.A bomb ripped through a market area in a northwest tribal town near the Afghan border on Saturday, killing at least 14 people and wounding more than 30, officials said. The blast took place in the main bazaar of Landi Kotal town in Khyber tribal district, local administration official Arshad Khan said. The bodies and the injured people have been taken to the nearby hospital.The law enforcement agencies have cordoned off the area and an initial investigation into the blast has also been initiated.So far, the nature of the blast is not known.