Saturday, July 28, 2012
Editorial:THE BALOCH HALWhile Sunday’s kidnapping of Bolan Medical College (B.M.C.) associate professor Dr. Din Mohammad Baloch has triggered a fresh wave of insecurity among Balochistan’s doctors, the ensuing strike called by physicians across the province has caused enormous suffering for the common citizens. On Friday, almost all hospitals in Quetta did not admit patients for regular treatment. Only the emergency wards functioned while sick women and children were heard crying for help in futile attempts to gain medical attention. Doctors went on a strike after the government’s failure to comply with an earlier demand that their colleague, who was kidnapped in Mastung district on July 22, should be recovered within 24 hours. Dr. Sultan Tareen, Balochistan president of the Pakistan Medical Association (P.M.A), had announced the ultimatum during a press conference at the Quetta Press Club on Thursday where he was also accompanied by Dr. Shahnaz Baloch, the B.M.C. Principal. Dr. Baloch’s is a case of kidnapping for ransom. The kidnappers initially asked for Rs. 50 million for his release but eventually agreed to bring down the demand to Rs. 8 million. Yet, the saga does not seem to end any time soon as there are no signs of willingness, or maybe the ability, on the part of the victim’s family to pay ransom to the kidnappers. Three things should worry us about this kidnapping. Firstly, it took place in the electoral constituency of Balochistan’s Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani. The P.M.A says it suspects some elements in the government are responsible for the kidnapping. The doctors are raising fingers at the government either for its alleged involvement in the kidnapping or for the “mild attitude” of authorities in terms of their lack of action against elements responsible for this event. Mustung has become the kidnapping and car-snatching capital of Balochistan. The district would not have turned into the hub of crimes if Mr. Raisani had taken personal ownership and responsibility of the issue in the first place. Secondly, the kidnappers are demonstrating brazen bravery by using regular cell phones to communicate with the abducted doctor’s family. This indicates that the confidence level of criminals has significantly risen. In the past, criminals, insurgents and other groups used to use satellite phones to communicate with the media and other relevant people. Now, they are so much convinced of the police system’s weaknesses that they are fully confident that their whereabouts will not still be located even if they make phone calls via local cell phone connections. It shows an abysmal level of crime investigation mechanism available in Balochistan’s policing institutions. Granting so much space to criminals implicitly translates into inviting dire trouble for citizens. Thirdly, Dr. Baloch’s kidnappers have reportedly asked the family to pay them the ransom in Jacobabad, a town in Sindh province bordering Balochistan. This shows that kidnappers and criminals in one province are also connected with their counterparts in other provinces of Pakistan. It is a pity that criminals from Balochistan are connected and facilitated by similar groups in the Sindh province but we see no signs of cooperation between the police forces in various provinces, including Balochistan. Once a kidnapped person is taken to another province, it becomes much more difficult to find their whereabouts in another province where one would require a totally different set of skills and expertise (such as knowledge of the local geography, language and demography) to access the safe houses of the criminals and secure the release of a kidnapped citizen. These are extremely hot summer days in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan which coincide with Ramzan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. Several patients, who were not attended at Quetta hospitals on Sunday fainted. There were large queues of sick and, worst of all, helpless people who were not being attended. Such strike calls are essential to draw the attention of the government but they come up with a heavy price for the ailing citizens. People in need of urgent medical assistance are very likely to go to less qualified doctors or those who apply traditional methods of treatment. Thus, the cost of this strike is too high which may lead to the death of many innocent people. The government of Balochistan should expedite efforts to locate Dr. Din Mohammad Baloch and make sure that doctors are provided full protection. While the government endeavors to release Dr. Baloch, we strongly urge the government and public representatives to simultaneously continue discussions to explore options that will soften the terms and conditions of the ongoing strike. Common people should not be compelled to pay the price of criminals’ actions and government’s failures.
The Express Tribune News Network.
http://www.rt.comTurkey is directing the rebel fight against Bashar Assad, after setting up a secret base on its border with Syria, with help from Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It devises tactics and supplies weapons for the uprising, according to Reuters sources. It is unclear how long the base, described as the “nerve center” of the anti-Assad campaign has existed, and its location is given only as Adana, a city some 100 kilometers away from the border. Adana is home to Incirlik, a huge air base run jointly by Turkey and the United States, though it is not clear whether it was used for this operation. "Three governments are supplying weapons: Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia," said the source, reportedly based in Doha, the capital of Qatar. The source claims the base was set up at the request of Saudi deputy foreign minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud during his visit to Turkey, which was open to the idea. Turkey then took control of operations once the base was established. “It's the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main coordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom." Disunited and badly trained when the uprising against President Assad began 18 months ago, recently Syrian rebels have had a string of successes against the supposedly better-trained and better-equipped regular soldiers. They have held down large parts of the country and advanced on the capital Damascus earlier in July. An audacious suicide attack last week took out four of the most senior security officials in the Assad circle. These successes may have been made possible by the steady flow of arms from the Adana location, most of which appear to have been purchased illegally to cover the sponsors’ trails. "All weaponry is Russian. The obvious reason is that the Syrian rebels are trained to use Russian weapons, also because the Americans don't want their hands on it. All weapons are from the black market,” claims the source, which says arms are also obtained by looting loyalist weapons stores. Ankara has enjoyed a difficult diplomatic relationship with Assad, whose family has been in charge in Syria for 40 years, and so immediately backed the uprising. At the same time, Ankara has staunchly denied arming the rebels. It has also condemned the suicide attack on ministers as an act of terrorism. Meanwhile, the small but wealthy state of Qatar has already played a key part in helping topple the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya last year, and was widely suspected of being involved in the Syrian civil war. Although the three countries involved have long been accused of arming the rebels, this is the first time specific information has emerged about a concrete center of operations. Turkey has also stepped up the war-mongering rhetoric against Syria, threatening to strike across the border. Ankara says it is alarmed by what it calls Kurdish terrorists who have established a foothold in northern Syria with a view to declaring autonomy. Dr. Ali Mohamad, editor-in-chief of the Syria Tribune blog, believes Turkey and the Gulf States are acting far beyond international law. “Saudi Arabia and Turkey seem to like the idea of the Middle East being controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, which they can control easily,” he told RT. “Thinking that this is their battle, it seems, gives them the privilege – that’s what they think. Nothing allows them to do so. This is against international law… And the question is, are they going to get away with this?”
(People's Daily Online)On the issue of South China Sea, there are only three ways for the Philippines to choose. First, rethink profoundly and resume friendly relations with China. In other words, the Philippines should strictly observe the principles of Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and promote the strategic cooperative relations for peace and development with China. After the tensions over Huangyan Island, the Philippines has done a self-examination that the government should focus on the domestic economic development and deal with tensions over Huangyan Islands properly. The Chinese side consistently upholds that before the dispute of South China Sea is resolved some nations concerned should actively discuss how to develop the related sea areas with each other while putting controversies aside, which is in line with common interests of the nations involved. If the Philippines chooses this way, it will embrace a bright future. Second, stir up new conflicts on purpose and lead the Sino-Philippine relations to a dead end. They include sending fishing boats, administrative ships and even naval vessels and airplanes to intrude into Huangyan Island and adjacent territorial waters and air space, illegal exploration and bidding of oil and gas in Chinese waters, harassment and arrest of Chinese fishermen who operate under normal conditions, promotion of the so-called "sovereign consolidation" on the islands illegally occupied by the Philippines, as well as " ASEANize" and "internationalize" the issue of South China Sea which means siding with the U.S. against China. However, this way will be narrower and darker. Of course, it cannot be excluded that the Philippines will tend to continue the third way. It hopes to maintain the relationship with China in attempt to benefit from China's rapid economic development while nibbling China's territorial sovereignty and ocean interests in the South China Sea. Specifically speaking, the Philippines intends to not only seek economic and trading advantages from China but also gain security guarantee from America. Importance to the Sino-Philippine relations is merely attached verbally. On the surface the Philippines is willing to resolve the disputes through peaceful means while it sabotages the relations in secret. In this way, the Philippines will play so many petty tricks as to create troubles for itself. Which way will the Philippines choose after all?
Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov warns of “looming tragedy” in Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo, accusing the West and some Arab states of urging armed battle. The Syrian government says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factor behind the unrest and deadly violence while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings. Damascus also says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country.
An accountability court in Rawalpindi resumed hearing of a petition filed against Sharif family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for reopening three corruption references against them. The three references include the alleged corruption cases of Hudaibia paper mills, Ittefaq Foundry and Raiwind farm. Counsel of the Sharif Brothers‚ Akram Sheikh objected to the NAB applications saying the references cannot be reopened as long as the stay order given by the Lahore High Court is in place. On this, Prosecutor General NAB argued that in 2001 the references were adjourned for an indefinite period because the Sharifs were in exile, adding that it is NAB s discretion to submit application for reopening of the cases. Later, the accountablity court reissued summons notices to PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and their families. The court directed the counsel of the Sharif brothers to submit the reply of his clients on the next hearing. Hearing of the case has been adjourned till September 15.
Daily TimesJudiciary has become controversial because it is legislating through its verdicts, said speakers at a discussion on ‘Who is Sovereign?’ The South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) organised the event on Friday. LUMS faculty member Dr Muhammad Waseem and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary Information Shafqat Mehmood were the key speakers on the occasion. Speaking on the occasion, Waseem said the Supreme Court was doing ‘judicialisation of democracy’ as the un-elected institution ‘judiciary’ was trying to penetrate into politics by setting aside the legislature. He said the people were sovereign because they showed their will through elected representatives. He said the discussion was going on in many countries that who was sovereign. “In the UK, the politicians discussed that parliament was sovereign while in the US, the constitution was being discussed as sovereign. In Pakistan, the critics quoted the example of the US that the constitution was sovereign but originally the people’s will was sovereign,” he added. “The judiciary is legislating by giving verdicts,” he said, adding that the judiciary thought that the constitution was its last refuge so the former was using the latter as an instrument to undermine parliament. He said even the politicians have weakened the basic structure of democracy and the parliament which wanted to bring change in the society because they always looked towards the un-elected institutions like the army and the judiciary during crisis. He said the institutional imbalance had expanded in Pakistan and the independence of judiciary was made personal rather than institutional. In Pakistan, Mehmood said, every institution thought that it was sovereign but this concept or thinking was altogether wrong because they had limitations. He said some undemocratic institutions were trying to overpower the democratic institutions. He said every institution should work within its parameters.
The Express TribuneSindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon said on Friday that Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leaders are reluctant to appear on TV talk shows when there is a chance that the debate will cover the exile deal struck by the Sharifs with Pervez Musharraf. Talking to reporters in his office, Memon said that the leaders of PML-N have told TV anchors over the phone that they would not attend any programme where Sharjeel Memon is present, because he always shows up with copies of the deal signed by Nawaz Sharif. The PML-N was at first not even willing to accept that there ever was a plea bargain. But, now when the copies of the deal are being shown to the PML-N leaders, they are reluctant to face the fact that “their captain chose to desert the ship instead of facing trials and persecutions” like other party workers.