Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pakistan's Blasphemy: Mob burns man alive for burning Holy Quran

The Express Tribune News Network
An angry mob lynched a man accused of burning the Holy Quran in the Chanighot area of Bahawalpur, burning him to death after pouring petrol on him on Wednesday. The police reached the spot to control the matter but the mob refused to hand over the accused and continued to torture him. DSP Ahmadpur Rana Naveed Mumtaz, SHO Chanighot Ghulam Muhaudin Gujjar and seven constables were also injured by the mob. The protesters also set a DSP jeep and three police mobiles on fire. DPO Bahawalpur Ishaq Jahangir told The Express Tribune that it was “crystal clear” that the man who set the Holy Quran on fire was mentally unstable. He added that a police force was sent from Bahawalpur to control the situation and the police are trying to investigate the matter. He added that all those involved in the incident will be arrested, and an extra force has been deployed at the Chanighot Police Station to avoid any untoward incident. The person killed has not been identified as yet, and his body has been shifted to a hospital for an autopsy, the DPO said. The controversial blasphemy laws in Pakistan have resulted in incarceration and the death penalty being handed to scores of people. Former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer was also shot down by his personal guard for supporting a Christian woman Aasia Bibi accused of blasphemy.

Two plots are kosher but only for Pakistan’s Supreme Court judges

Let Us Build Pakistan
While one residential plot may be an elitist entitlement for top serving bureaucrats and judges in Pakistan, it is commonly known that the allotment of two residential plots is an act of institutional bribery. In the past military generals (e.g. General Zia-ul-Haq, General Musharraf) and political governments (e.g. Nawaz Sharif) have given away two residential plots to top bureaucrats and judges in order to win illegal favours from them. Well, the following news report published in various media outlets shows that the so called champions of Jihad against corruption in Pakistan, the holiest of holies, honrouable judges of country’s apex court are not any different. According to a report submitted to to a Pakistan parliamentary panel (Public Accounts Committee PAC), fifteen serving and retired judges of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, including several confidants of present Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, received two residential plots each worth millions of rupees under a government scheme which was specially designed in relaxation of existing rules. The plots in some of the most expensive sectors of Islamabad were provided to three serving and 12 retired judges of the apex court during the regime of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, said the report submitted by the Housing Ministry to the Public Accounts Committee. According to the report these plots were allotted during the tenure of former President General Pervez Musharraf. Justice Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tasadduqe Jilani, Justice Nasirul Mulk are included among the existing judges. All three of them are considered to be very close to the Chief Justice, were among those who were provided plots. Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk headed the bench that convicted former Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani of contempt after he refused to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. Gilani was subsequently disqualified by another bench headed by the Chief Justice. Several retired judges who were considered close to the Chief Justice, including Khalil-ur-Rahman Ramday and Javed Iqbal, too were among the beneficiaries. Acting Chief Election Commissioner Justice Shakirullah Jan and SC Registrar Dr Faqeer Hussain too are among the beneficiaries. In the judges recently retired, Justice Khalilur Rahman Ramday, former chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, Justice Javed Batar, Justice Saeed Ashhad, Justice Sardar Raza, Justice Nawaz Abbasi, Justice Faquir Khokhar, Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Falak Sher, Justice Jamshed Ali, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Zahid Hussain are included among the beneficiaries. Chief Justice Chaudhry is no exception A few months ago, the accountability body of the Parliament, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), received an official report from the Housing Ministry that shattered an eight-year-old perception that the incumbent Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) has never been given a piece of land by the government. A list compiled by the housing ministry of plot allotments to bureaucrats, judges and journalists spread over hundreds of pages, available with The Express Tribune, shows that Justice Chaudhry, then a Supreme Court judge, was given a one kanal plot on Dec 18, 2002 – six days after his 54th birthday. CJ Chaudhry was allotted a one-kanal plot during former President General Pervez Musharraf’s reign – which he owns to date in Islamabad’s residential sector G-14/4. Pakistan’s CJ Iftikahr Chaudhry (who is known on Twitter as #IftikharMental because of doubts about his mental stability) is also implicated in a million dollar scam involving his son and other family members. We are not accountable to anyone: Supreme Court’s response In a written reply submitted to the Public Accounts Committee, the Supreme Court refused to provide audit reports sought by the panel, saying parliament could not review the conduct of judges. The reply was submitted by the Registrar of the Supreme Court with the consent of full bench of the apex court. It said that the Constitution prohibits the Public Accounts Committee from calling any official of the superior judiciary, including the Registrar. The court, in its letter, told the committee that only the president can decide upon the court’s consultative ambit. Judges’ conduct also covers judiciary’s administrative and financial matters, it added. The PAC, during the chairmanship of Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had sent a letter to the SC asking for the audit report. The NA body, under the instruction of present Chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan made the letter public it received recently that had been issued by the SC’s Full Court. The letter also stated that according to various constitutional provisions the PAC cannot summon any official of the superior judiciary including the Registrar. ‘If the committee is interested in a formal court order, it should approach the president.’ The letter referred to Article 68 which said: “No discussion shall take place in [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] with respect to the conduct of any Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court in the discharge of his duties”. We wonder why doesn’t CJ Iftikhar Mental refer to the holy Quran and Rashidun Caliphs to present himself and his colleague judges for transparent accountability as per Islamic traditions and ideals? Sources:

President Zardari terms July 5 black day of history

JULY 5TH BLACK DAY OF PAKISTAN,WHEN DEMOCRACY WAS CRUSHED AND RELIGIOUS FANATICISM WAS INTRODUCED BY ONE ARMY GENERAL. PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has said July 5 would always be remembered as dark day of tyranny and oppression in the history of Pakistan. “July 5, 1977 and its aftermath starkly reminds us how one military dictator spawned extremists for his political survival and how another exploited the same extremists for promoting his political agenda,” Zardari said in a statement issued here on Friday. “This realization will help us understand better how to check militancy and terrorism,” he added. Thirty-one years ago, on this day, an unfortunate tale of destruction was unleashed on the democratic institutions; judiciary was decimated, fundamental rights usurped and innocent people were flogged and hanged merely for political dissent. Menace of sectarianism, religious extremism and private Jihad were deliberately promoted by the usurper to create an artificial constituency for perpetuating his rule as a reign of terror was let loose, PPP co-chairman said. Terming the period as brutal and barbaric, he said, “The dictatorship promoted and patronized the extremist groups, who went on to form Taliban and Al-Qaeda.” The president said if today Pakistan was the Petrie dish of international terrorism it was the product of failed international politics on the one hand and the machinations of our own dictators on the other. “Let us resolve to banish dictatorship from Pakistan forever and restore law and order. Also pledge to confront fanaticism, terrorism and militancy wherever it rears its ugly head and not permit any dictator to use them as tools for advancing his personal political agenda,” he added.

Pakistani Film ‘Lamha’ Gets a Spot at New York Film Festival
Lamha, a Pakistani feature film is going to be screened at the New York City International Film Festival (NYCIFF). The entire cast and production is excited and hopeful for its chances to win awards at the event. The Film Producer and CEO of Bodhicitta Works, Meher Jaffri said that out of some 3,000 film entries, Lamha is one of 100 films short-listed for the festival. Besides, the film has also been nominated in Best Producer, Best Director, Best Writer and Best Actors Awards categories. NYCIFF is an annual event held at Times Square, New York and runs alongside NY Film Market, the only film market in the US East Coast. Jaffri said, “The Festival Director, Roberto Rizzo has written good comments for the film which is not only encouraging but also increases the chances of film getting good response.” Lamha (publicized as Seedlings in English internationally), starring Mohib Mirza, Amina Sheikh and Gohar Rasheed, is a production of Meher Jaffri and Summer Nicks. The film has been directed by a new talent Mansoor Mujahid. Jaffri told the media that the story penned by Producer Nicks, “is a Pakistan-based story, encompassing human interests and does not carry any political or social agenda. However, some upcoming projects by the company would be based on current affairs.” The musical score of the film has been composed by Usman Riaz, a young musical prodigy and 2012 TEDGlobal Fellow while Zoe Viccaji has given vocals for the music. Other songs comprise of classical songs of Mehdi Hassan that have been used in their original form. It is to note that Riaz and Viccaji have also been nominated for Lux Style Awards in their respective categories this year. The NYCIFF will take place from August 9 to August 16 this year. The film is scheduled to be released in Pakistan by late fall.

Syria welcomes Geneva final communique

Syria welcomed Wednesday the final communique issued Saturday by the action group meeting on Syria, Syrian foreign ministry said. Syria welcomes the final communique, particularly the " essential points that talked about committing to Syria's sovereignty and independence... in addition to calling for halting the violence... and not militarize the crisis," the ministry said in a statement Wednesday. The Syrian ministry, however, said there are a few vague points in the statement that need clarification, stopping short of specifying those points. The ministry renewed the country's commitment to the six-point peace plan of UN-Arab League joint special envoy Kofi Annan. It noted that Syria is ready to embark on a national dialogue with all parties in order to reach a consensus on a program to end the crisis, emanating from the concept that the Syrian people make the decisions to build its future. An action group comprising of some world powers met Saturday in Geneva and agreed that a transitional government should be set up in Syria to end the 16-month-long conflict but did not stipulate the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad. The meeting marks the first consensus among super powers regarding the Syrian issue, despite under-the-hood differences that were leaked to the media such as how Russia managed to make the new approach more balanced after the United States had stipulated the ouster of Assad as a common ground for the Geneva talks.

Video: Pervez Musharraf talks to Reuters

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf tells Reuters’ Op-ed Editor James Ledbetter that the reason for the change in his country’s relationship with the U.S. lies in America's deep ties with India.

Obama to sign student loan, transportation legislation Friday

President Barack Obama, eager to show voters he is pushing federal action to spur job creation and support education, will sign into law on Friday recently passed legislation on transportation investment and student loans, officials said. The Democratic president will use the event at the White House with construction workers and college students to highlight his campaign of pressing lawmakers to bolster the fragile U.S. economic recovery. Republicans accuse Obama of election-year posturing. Congress last week approved a massive job-creating U.S. transportation bill that, under a rare bipartisan deal, will also keep interest rates low for millions of federal student loans and maintain federal flood insurance. Democrats and Republicans embraced the measure, which will provide $105 billion in transportation spending over the next 27 months intended to create or save about 3 million jobs. Job creation is a key issue ahead of the November 6 congressional and presidential elections. Obama, faced with public concern over high U.S. unemployment, had urged Congress to approve the transportation bill and take steps to prevent interest rates from doubling on federal college loans for 7.4 million students. Republicans had sought to tie the transportation bill to an accelerated approval of TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone oil pipeline, which the White House opposed doing, but dropped the demand last week

Obama hosts new US citizens at White House

President Obama greets U.S. service members while hosting a naturalization ceremony to declare them American citizens.

U.S. 4TH OF JULY: US power outages put damper on July 4th celebrations
Hundreds of thousands of people from the U.S. Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic were preparing to spend the Fourth of July like America's founders did in 1776, without the conveniences of electricity and air conditioning. Power outages from Friday's storm altered planned celebrations in a host of ways and left powerless residents grumbling that America's birthday would hardly be a party. Cookouts were cancelled or moved to homes with power. Vacation plans were altered. Some residents without power said they weren't in a holiday mood. And even some whose power had been restored said they had run out of steam to celebrate in the way they had planned. Friday's storm arrived with little warning and knocked out power to 3 million homes and businesses in states from West Virginia to Ohio and Illinois. Officials blamed 24 deaths on the storm and its aftermath, and power companies in some places estimated it could be the weekend before everyone's power is restored. More than 900,000 homes and businesses remained without power early Wednesday.As a result, power repairs were taking priority over parties in many parts. At least four planned fireworks displays were cancelled in Maryland because of the outages, with officials saying they couldn't spare police and fire resources for the festivities. In Rockville, Md., officials called off their celebration because trees and wires were blocking two of the three entrances to the college campus where fireworks were planned. In Gaithersburg, Md., Acting City Manager Tony Tomasello said his city, about 30 minutes north of Washington, cancelled its display because a power company is using its planned celebration location, a fairgrounds, as a staging area for repairs. Hundreds of bucket trucks park there when crews finish their 16-hour shifts, and transformers, gravel and poles are being stored there too. "Everyone's disappointed. We're disappointed," Tomasello said of cancelling the celebration, adding that it would be rescheduled. In West Virginia, meanwhile, officials urged people to resist the temptation to set off fireworks at home because the risk of fire is too high. Many brown, crunchy lawns were already potential fuel, but the trees and limbs that fell during the storm have added even more tinder. Cleanup continues Some people affected by the storm were too tired or frustrated to think about fireworks, parties or planned holiday travel. Dennis Andrews, 62, of Ellicott City, Md., had planned to go to Myrtle Beach, S.C. But after spending 14 hours cutting trees that fell on his property, Andrews, who runs a construction equipment rental company, said he was ready to relax by the pool instead. Other parties were toned down, cancelled or moved. LaJuan Barnett, 44, who runs a daycare in Waldorf, Md., planned a more modest celebration with hot dogs and hamburgers after throwing out at least $350 in spoiled food and spending another $200 on groceries Tuesday. "We're on a budget," said Barnett, who got her power back on Monday night, after nearly 72 hours. Power outages and spoiled food also changed the plans of Sharvey Smith, 39, of Baltimore. Smith had begun preparing for an Independence Day party before the storm hit, buying chicken and spare ribs and planning a small gathering on her back porch. But that food spoiled when her power went out, so her party is off. She planned to spend Wednesday's holiday at her parents' house 10 minutes away, which has electricity, and where she and her family have been staying. But her patience is wearing thin. "I want to go back home," said Smith, adding that she calls the power company number three or four times a day to check on her power. So far, the estimated time it will be back on is no earlier than Thursday.

Too Quiet, Again, on Health Care

Nearly two dozen Pennsylvania residents, interviewed recently by Abby Goodnough of The Times, said they were opposed to President Obama’s health care reform law. Though almost all of them would benefit from it, they expressed fears about a loss of control over their health care that is nowhere in the law. There are two reasons for this situation, which is repeated around the country. Business groups allied with Republicans have spent $235 million on television ads attacking the law with false accusations, with the vigorous aid of Mitt Romney and his campaign. Meanwhile, Democrats and the Obama campaign have been amazingly reluctant to speak up for the president’s biggest accomplishment and tell voters what’s in it. The president has not even capitalized on his victory in the Supreme Court last week over his opponents’ attempt to dismantle the law on constitutional grounds. He listed some of its benefits in a low-key East Room speech after the ruling, and the campaign has sent out several direct-mail fliers on the subject to women. But the campaign has broadcast no television ads about health care, except for one in Spanish. Jack Lew, the White House chief of staff, said on “Fox News Sunday” that it was time “for the divisive debate on health care to stop,” suggesting Democrats want to move on. Mr. Lew might consider going to a swing state and turning on the television because the debate isn’t going to stop. Republicans are happy to continue it with obvious propaganda like “Obamacare is the largest tax increase in U.S. history.” Countering this attack and, more important, building a foundation of support for a vastly important social change, will require the president and other Democrats to spend more time and more money explaining the law’s benefits, and pointing out that Republicans have no useful ideas to replace it. The White House has been halfhearted in its sales pitch almost from the beginning of Mr. Obama’s administration. Polls showed that many middle-class voters, comfortable with their own insurance, weren’t particularly interested in a new social program that extended coverage to 30 million uninsured people, many of them poor. Beyond simple decency, that’s a huge benefit to society as a whole, improving public health and reducing expensive emergency care that everyone pays for. In uncertain times, as well, anyone can suddenly lose health insurance. But that case was never forcefully made, and Republicans exploited the complexity of the law to persuade casual listeners that, as the House speaker, John Boehner, claimed on Sunday, “this is government taking over the entire health insurance industry.” Expanding coverage is an idea worth defending, particularly when Republican leaders acknowledge that they have little interest in doing so, as Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, did on Sunday. And there many other aspects of the law for which Democrats should use a megaphone: an end to the Medicare “doughnut hole”; a huge expansion of coverage for mental health; an end to lifetime and annual limits on coverage and of rejection because of a pre-existing condition; a requirement that medium and large businesses provide essential coverage and pay for 60 percent of it; free access to preventive care like immunizations and mammograms. The campaign committee for House Democrats, with little money, is making telephone calls going after Republicans for their votes to repeal the law and loosen the reins on insurance companies. It’s past time for the White House and the Obama campaign to set aside their diffidence and begin playing an equally aggressive offense.

What is the Higgs boson and why is it important?

NATO Supply Trucks Head For Afghanistan
Trucks carrying NATO supplies are expected to resume trips to Afghanistan on July 4 following Pakistan's decision to end a seven-month blockade.
Islamabad agreed to lift the blockade one day earlier after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered "sincere condolences" to Pakistan over air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November. “They did the right thing to open [the route]," a truck driver in Karachi told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal. "Now they should ensure its safety, and only the army can ensure the safety. Neither the police nor the security [forces] can do that." Another driver, emphasizing the financial losses accrued during the seven-month blockade, told Mashaal that many of the hauliers didn't even have the money to return to their homes to sit out the suspension with their families. Islamabad had closed the supply routes in response to the botched strikes and made their reopening conditional on a U.S. apology. The blockade had forced NATO to rely on longer, more expensive northern routes to Afghanistan through Russia and Central Asia. U.S. officials said they expected supply trucks to begin crossing into Afghanistan within the next 24 hours. The Pakistani Taliban, meanwhile, threatened to attack NATO trucks if they tried to resume supplies to troops in Afghanistan.

Number of AIDS patients may increase in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The officials of the
AIDS Control Programme, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter, on Sunday feared that the number of AIDS and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patients might increase in the province and the adjacent tribal areas if the affected persons did not undergo medical tests to contain the spread of the fatal virus. Talking to The News, Dr Rajwal Khan, provincial head of the AIDS Control Programme said that majority of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) affected persons registered with their department were those who had returned from abroad. “Out of 997 persons with HIV positive, some 450 patients have returned from foreign countries, majority of them from the Gulf states,” he said. He said the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia had sent back 257 and 84 AIDS patients, respectively. According to information obtained from AIDS Control Programme, some 592 HIV positive patients belonging to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 243 to Fata, 88 to Afghanistan and eight to Punjab had been registered since December 2005. Those testing HIV positive include 660 men, 230 women and 44 children below 14 years of age. About 360 patients have been referred by private physicians and 139 by non-governmental organisations working against AIDS. Another 193 approached the special centre at Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) for tests. Dr Hilal at the Hayatabad Medical Complex said that almost all the district hospitals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had referred AIDS patients to the centre, adding majority of them belonged to southern districts and the adjacent tribal areas. He said the Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar had referred 86 HIV patients, Khyber Teaching Hospital 51and HMC 44. Dr Idrees at the HMC Family Care Centre said that due to the stigma related to AIDS the majority of the affected persons were reluctant to undergo tests. He feared it might lead to increase in the number of patients in the tribal areas. He said AIDS virus could transfer to a healthy person from a patient through blood transfusion and used syringes.

Saudi Female Athletes Fear Crackdown After Summer Games
While Olympic leaders and human rights advocates are encouraged by signs that Saudi Arabia may bow to pressure and send female athletes to the Summer Games, women athletes in the ultraconservative kingdom are worried about a backlash at home. Under pressure from the International Olympic Committee to end the tradition of sending men-only teams to the Olympics, Saudi Arabia said on Monday it will allow women who qualify to compete at the London Games. The announcement came as the leadership’s favored candidate, equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas, was ruled out of the Olympics — sending officials on a hunt for other female athletes they could include on the Saudi team and avoid IOC sanctions a month before the start of the games. Women who play soccer and basketball in underground leagues around Saudi Arabia support those efforts, yet they also fear the hardline Muslim leaders will punish them for being pressured by the West and will crack down on women’s clandestine activities after the Olympic flame goes out in London. “We have to wait. I am afraid of their reaction, if we push too hard,” said Rawh Abdullah, a captain of a female soccer team in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. “We risk being shut down completely, and I do not want to reach a dead end because of impatience.” Also, she added, she and her teammates simply “are not ready to compete on such level” because they cannot train properly. Abdullah has given up her career as a teacher to run the all-women soccer club Al Tahaddi, Arabic for challenge. Since 2006, when the club was established, 25 team members meet four times a week to play after turning one of the players’ gardens into a field. The 28-year-old Abdullah, who serves as a coach and the captain on the team, charges each member 1,300 riyals ($350) annual fee to play. The money she gets covers players outfits, balls, makeshift goals, some fitness equipment and partly also trips to the port city of Jeddah or Dammam to play exhibition games or matches in the clandestine women’s league. There are no written laws that prohibit women from participating in sports, but women are not allowed into stadiums, and they cannot rent athletic venues. There is no physical education for girls in public schools, and no women-only hours at swimming pools. The few gyms that admit women are too expensive for most to frequent. Women cannot register sports clubs, league competitions and other female-only tournaments with the government. They are banned from entering all-male national trials, which makes it impossible for them to qualify for international competitions, including the Olympics. Female athletes like Abdullah fear that sending inadequately prepared athletes to the London Games could do more harm than good to their cause of making sports “part of our lifestyle” and achieve change for millions of women, who’s public lives are severely restricted in the kingdom. “If they do well, it will be OK, but if they have weak performance, they will turn to us, and say, ‘See, you pushed, you went, and you lost. You shamed us,’” Abdullah said. “When we are prepared in four years’ time, and they have to send us, we can say to them: ‘You want me to go and represent my country? Now train us. Give us facilities to use and coaches to work with, and we will make you proud,’” Abdullah said in an interview with The Associated Press. Saudi Arabia is the home of Islam’s holiest shrines, and women bear the brunt of their nation’s deeply conservative values. They are often the target of the unwanted attention of the kingdom’s intrusive religious police, who enforce a rigid interpretation of Islamic law and make sure that men and women do not mix in public. Besides being barred from driving, women are not allowed to vote, and they cannot be members of the Cabinet. They cannot travel either, be admitted to the hospital or take a job without permission from a male guardian. King Abdullah has taken modest steps to reform and modernize the oil-rich nation since he ascended the throne in 2005. He has faced staunch opposition from the hardline members of the royal family and the all-powerful clerics on each proposal he’s made toward easing restrictions on women. Ahmad Salem al-Marzooqi, the editor-in-chief of, an online magazine that aims to cover men’s and women’s sports events in the kingdom, said women need to obtain basic rights that are equal to those of men in Saudi Arabia before they can compete for their country abroad. “We are looking for ways to achieve rights for women inside Saudi Arabia,” al-Marzooqi said. “It’s a conflicting situation,” he said on the Olympics campaign. “If they send some to participate, it may be good for the future, but it’s definitely not good for the present situation. There will be side effects.” Rights groups claim a lot has to change for women in Saudi Arabia to convince international sporting community that the leadership in the conservative kingdom is — according to Monday’s announcement from the country’s embassy in Britain — “looking forward to its complete participation in the London 2012 Olympic Games.” Human Rights Watch said the statement is intended to appease international criticism ahead of the games as gender discrimination in Saudi Arabia remains “institutional and entrenched.” The New York-based group warned the IOC against becoming “complacent because one or two Saudi women are allowed to compete in the London Olympics.” “The fact that so few women are ‘qualified’ to compete at the Olympic level is due entirely to the country’s restrictions on women’s rights,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives for the New York-based group. Saudi officials have repeatedly suggested they’d allow Malhas, the equestrian, who won a bronze medal in showjumping at the 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore, to compete at the London Games. But the International Equestrian Federation said Monday the 20-year-old athlete has failed to qualify after her horse was sidelined by injury and missed a month’s work during the qualifying period. Female athletes in judo and in track and field are considered possibilities for the games, sports officials familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press speaking on condition of anonymity because talks on a special arrangement for the Saudis are ongoing. IOC President Jacques Rogge has said he is “optimistic” that Saudi Arabia will send women athletes, even though talks with the kingdom are “not an easy situation.” Saudi officials, who have publicly adamantly opposed sending women to London had left open a possibility that women, studying abroad would be able to compete outside of the team as independent athletes. However, that option was quashed after pressure from human rights groups and the IOC. It was also criticized by Saudi-based athletes like Abdullah. “It’s a pity for us. We play sports in Saudi Arabia, but they get to compete abroad because our country does not want to give us a chance to prove ourselves,” Abdullah said. “Do I have to leave my country to show what we can achieve?” Most Saudis cannot afford to study abroad, she added. Besides, she is convinced she needs to stay if she wants to make a difference. “If I don’t achieve our goal to play and compete at home for me and for my team, then I will for those who will play after us,” Abdullah said. Read more:

Pakistan Cabinet approves dual nationality, contempt of court law amendment bills

The Express Tribune
The federal cabinet has approved amendment bills pertaining to dual nationality and contempt of court laws on Wednesday, Express News reported. It was ordered in the cabinet session, chaired by Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, that the dual nationality amendment bill be brought before the National Assembly for discussion and approval. The federal cabinet confirmed the resumption of Nato supply routes and issued directives to Advisor to the PM on Interior Affairs Rehman Malik for making sure that the security planning done is fool-proof. The cabinet approved the decisions taken by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC). The ongoing power crisis in the country was also discussed in the meeting. The Ministry of Water and Electricity was issued directives to devise plans in order to overcome the shortage. A trade agreement between Jordan and Pakistan was also approved by the cabinet.


Young doctors in the Punjab went on an indefinite strike in support of their demand for s service structure. The strike continued for around two weeks in which poor patients suffered. Government of Punjab was unmoved. Rather it was forced to take drastic action when the doctors refused to end their unjust and anti-people strike. The provincial Government sought the services of the Army doctors and recruited fresh medical graduates and inducted them in service to break their illegal strike. The strike was not against the Government of Punjab, but the poor patients and the unjustifiably punished the poor patients. According to reports published in newspaper, eight patients died as a result of strike in one city of the Punjab. The Punjab Government came out with clear statement that the doctors in the grade 17 are getting more than double salary than other cadre of the Government. It also questioned the legality of the strike forcing the Government to come into action and make some arrest. By and large, the public servants, particularly doctors, have no right of collective bargaining and thus they have no right to strike. Public servants are barred from industrial action and resorting to strike to create problem for the common people, mainly patients coming to hospitals from far flung areas. We opposed the strike by doctors and other public servants in Balochistan and asked the Government to ban all organizations of the public servants barring them from collective bargaining and industrial action. It is an iron that mere 11 employees of WASA, Quetta, blocked the main Zarghoon Road for several hours and punished more than a million people for some hours merely they have some grievance on their internal promotion. We must condemn the police inaction not to clear the road for normal traffic by chasing the 11 WASA employees away from the main road. They should have been arrested and sent to jail so that others should not dare to block the roads on such ridiculous demands. The ban on all organizations of the Government servants is need of the hour to enforce minimum discipline or ending the administrative anarchy.