Saturday, August 25, 2012
The 16th Non-Aligned Movement summit will start in the Iranian capital Tehran on Sunday. According to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, nuclear disarmament, human rights and regional issues will be the main topics. During the summit, Iran may draw up a new peace resolution aiming to resolve the Syrian crisis. And Iran will take over the leadership role for three years from Egypt. The summit will last for 6 days. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will attend the summit. Founded in 1961, the Non-Aligned Movement now has 120 members, most of which are developing countries from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Some observer countries and organizations are also included. The movement, which represents nearly two-thirds of UN member countries focuses on striving for interests of developing countries around the world.
THE ECONOMIC TIMESA "deeply saddened" President Barack Obama on Saturday hailed late US space pioneer Neil Armstrong as one of the nation's greatest ever heroes, for having inspired a generation to reach for the stars. Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the moon, died after suffering complications from cardiovascular surgery, his family said earlier. He was 82. "When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation," Obama said in a statement. "They set out to show the world that the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable -- that with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible. And when Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time, he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten." Armstrong and fellow Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, with an estimated 500 million television viewers looking on in astonishment worldwide. Armstrong's first words upon stepping on the lunar surface have since been etched in history: "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind." Obama, who was just under eight years old at the time of the historic Apollo 11 mission, said: "Neil was among the greatest of American heroes -- not just of his time, but of all time. "Today, Neil's spirit of discovery lives on in all the men and women who have devoted their lives to exploring the unknown -- including those who are ensuring that we reach higher and go further in space. "That legacy will endure -- sparked by a man who taught us the enormous power of one small step." Obama's Republican challenger for the White House, Mitt Romney, said Armstrong now "takes his place in the hall of heroes." "With courage unmeasured and unbounded love for his country, he walked where man had never walked before," Romney said. "The moon will miss its first son of Earth." The former Massachusetts governor, who spoke with Armstrong just a few weeks ago, said the astronaut's patriotism and passion for space, science and discovery "will inspire me through my lifetime." Republican House Speaker John Boehner paid tribute to one of Ohio's "proudest sons." "A true hero has returned to the heavens to which he once flew," Boehner said. "Neil Armstrong blazed trails not just for America, but for all of mankind. He inspired generations of boys and girls worldwide not just through his monumental feat, but with the humility and grace with which he carried himself to the end. "Ohio has lost one of her proudest sons. Humanity has gained a legend." And Pentagon chief Leon Panetta bid farewell on behalf of the US military to one of its own. "As a decorated Korean War veteran, as an astronaut for NASA, and as the first man to walk on the moon, Neil inspired generations of Americans to believe that as a nation we are capable of achieving greatness that only comes with determination, perseverance and hard work," the US defense secretary said. "As a true pioneer, his one small step showed all mankind the great feats we can accomplish when we set ourselves to the task."
Dubbing Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf leader as “Establishment Khan” Provincial Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Rana Sanaullah Khan Saturday said that Imran Khan’s declaration of assets was just a mockery.
Al JazeeraFor many Afghans, the fall of the Taliban meant a return home away from the hardships of life as a refugee. Yet the vast majority have returned to live in poverty in isolated parts of the Afghan capital with only basic services. Now, with Pakistan threatening not to renew the refugee status of 1.7 million Afghan refugees living within their borders, many Afghans from Pakistan have returned home to find hardship. In many cases, the food, shelter and money promised to them by Pakistani authorities were not waiting for them in their homeland. Al Jazeera's Jennifer Glasse reports from Kabul.
http://news.yahoo.comDo you look back fondly on Bill Clinton's
A severe drought has gripped much of the nation this summer, but small-scale farmers might be feeling its effects more than anyone else, as many of them are being pushed from the only line of work they know
http://www.nydailynews.comMitt Romney outraged the Obama’s campaign on Friday by telling a Michigan crowd that “no one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate,” in what appeared to be a wink at persistent conspiracy theories about the president’s birthplace. Romney made the controversial comment as he was reminiscing about his childhood before a home-state crowd. “I love being home, in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born,” Romney said, naming the local hospitals where he and his wife were delivered. “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place where we were born and raised.” The line prompted laughter and cheers from the audience, gasps from reporters and a speedy denunciation from the Obama campaign. Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement that “Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America.” The Obama campaign then released a more succinct response by Twitter - a link to a live video of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” Romney advisers insisted that the line was nothing more than an innocent, off-the-cuff quip. "The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States," an adviser told The Washington Post. And later, on CBS News, Romney also said the line was meant as a joke. “We’ve got to have a little humor in a campaign,” he said. But Rush Limbaugh was among those who believed the “birther” line may have been a calculated effort to appeal to the chunk of Republicans who still believe Obama was not born in the U.S. and is therefore not qualified to be president. “I think this line is a test drive,” Limbaugh said on his radio show. While Romney has said he trusts that Obama was born in Hawaii, he has also embraced Donald Trump, who has been an outspoken proponent of “birther” theories.
Associated PressA NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan killed a dozen militants including a senior leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, the international military coalition said Saturday, dealing a blow to armed extremists operating on both sides of the countries' porous border. The strike in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province killed Mullah Dadullah, the self-proclaimed Taliban leader in Pakistan's Bajur tribal area that lies across the border, late Friday afternoon, coalition spokesman Maj. Martyn Crighton said. Dadullah reportedly took over after Bajur's former Pakistani Taliban leader, Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, fled to Afghanistan to avoid Pakistani army operations. He was responsible for the movement of fighters and weapons, as well as attacks against Afghan and coalition forces, a coalition statement said Saturday. It added that Dadullah's deputy, identified only as Shakir, was also killed in the strike along with 10 other militants, and that an assessment made in conjunction with Afghan security forces determined no civilians had been killed or injured. The airstrike was in Kunar's Shigal district, which lies about 15 kilometers (about nine miles) from the Pakistani border, but Crighton would not say whether an unmanned drone or manned aircraft had launched the missiles. A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, Ahsanullah Ahsan, said Dadullah was killed in a drone strike in Kunar. He said Maulana Abu Bakar has been named as the new chief of the Bajur region. Pakistani intelligence officials said Dadullah and 19 others were killed in the attack. Initially, they said the strike was on Pakistani territory, but later they conceded it was in Afghanistan. Militant hideouts along the Afghan-Pakistan border have been a source of tension for both governments as well as for the coalition, with each saying the others are not doing enough to expel the various pro-Taliban factions. The Pakistani intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, said Friday's coalition airstrike occurred after a cross-border attack by Pakistani Taliban militants who came from Afghanistan. The Pakistani intelligence officials said the militiamen and army soldiers fought the militants for hours but eventually repelled the attack. Jahangir Azam Khattak, a local Pakistani government official, said dozens of militants attacked a Pakistani post manned by anti-Taliban militiamen in the Salarzai area of Bajur. He said six militants were killed and four tribesmen were wounded. However, Crighton said there was no coordination between Pakistani and coalition military leaders on the airstrike. "This was an independent operation and not associated with any others," he said. Taliban-affiliated militants operate on both sides of the porous border, with various groups targeting both coalition forces in Afghanistan and the Pakistani military. Pakistan has complained of cross-border attacks by militants hiding out in eastern Afghanistan and has criticized Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces for not doing enough to stop them or expel them from Afghan territory. The U.S. and Afghanistan, however, have long criticized Pakistan for its failure to prevent militants from carrying out attacks in the opposite direction. A Kunar provincial government spokesman, Wasifullah Wasifi, said four wounded Pakistani citizens have been hospitalized in Kunar and will be questioned about the activities of the Taliban inside Afghan territory. "They were exactly where this incident happened yesterday, so I am sure they were with these who were killed," Wasifi said. He added, "We are trying to find out how long these people have been here and why they were here."
http://news.yahoo.comThe Pakistani rupee sank to an all-time low against the dollar Friday on high oil prices and forex reserve fears as the country repaid nearly $400 million to the International Monetary Fund. The rupee fell to 94.75 to the greenback in trading in Karachi on Friday, down from 94.70 on Thursday, and has now lost 33 percent of its value against the US currency since March 2008. "The increase in the international oil price... has affected Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves and they could suffer further with the repayment of IMF's installment due today," said analyst Mohammad Sohail of Topline Securities. "These factors have contributed to the panic in the currency market." In Asian oil markets on Friday, Brent North Sea crude for October delivery stood at $114.54 a barrel, while New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in October was at $95.68. Syed Wasimuddin, spokesman for Pakistan's central bank, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), told AFP the country had repaid $397.2 million to the IMF on Friday afternoon. He said so far Pakistan has repaid $1.3 billion to the IMF. Pakistan had already paid 901.4 million in three instalments previously. An official in the Ministry of Finance corroborated the repayment and hoped it would have a "minimal effect" on the forex reserves, which stood at $15.18 billion before the IMF payment. The Washington-based fund bailed out Pakistan with an $11.3 billion loan package launched in November 2008 as the country faced 30-year-high inflation rates and fast-depleting reserves, as well as a deadly insurgency. Sohail said the panic in the currency market may continue next week, if the international oil and commodity prices do not stabilise to a comfortable level.
http://news.yahoo.comA NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan targeting a group of insurgents near the Pakistani border killed at least 12 militants Friday, the international military coalition said. Pakistani intelligence and Afghan officials said Mullah Dadullah, the self-proclaimed leader of the Pakistani Taliban in Pakistan's Bajur tribal area was killed, although they offered conflicting reports on the exact location of the strike. NATO could not confirm that a senior militant had been killed. Coalition spokesman Maj. Adam Wojack said the attack took place late Friday afternoon in Kunar province near the Pakistan border, killing 12 militants. Conflicting reports out of the rugged and remote regions along the Afghan-Pakistan border are common shortly after an attack. Kunar provincial official Aslam Gul Mujahid said the airstrike killed 20 people, including Dadullah. Pakistani intelligence officials said Dadullah and 19 others were killed, but they said the airstrike took place in Pakistan's Bajur region, just across the border from Kunar. The Pakistani intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, said the strike occurred after a cross-border attack by Pakistani Taliban militants who came from Afghanistan. Jahangir Azam Khattak, a local Pakistani government official, said dozens of militants attacked a Pakistani post manned by anti-Taliban militiamen in the Salarzai area of Bajur. He said six militants were killed and four tribesmen were wounded. Two Pakistani militiamen also were killed, local tribesmen said on condition of anonymity out of fear for their safety. The Pakistani intelligence officials said the militiamen and army soldiers fought the militants for hours but eventually repelled the attack. Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the attack on the outpost in a telephone call to The Associated Press. It was unclear whether Pakistani and coalition officials coordinated the strike or whether NATO fired on the militants after noticing activity on the border. Pakistan has criticized Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces for not doing enough to stop cross-border attacks by Taliban militants against targets inside Pakistan. The U.S. and Afghanistan have long criticized Pakistan for its failure to prevent militants from carrying out attacks in the opposite direction. Also in the east, authorities said Friday that insurgents kidnapped three Afghan soldiers and another man from a bus in eastern Afghanistan and killed all four. Militants stopped the bus as it was traveling in Paktia province's Ahmad Khil district and forced the four men off the vehicle Thursday, provincial deputy police chief Mohammad Zaman said. Their bullet-ridden bodies were found lying on a road later in the day. Three of the men were off-duty soldiers who were traveling to see their families, and the fourth victim's identity was unclear, Zaman said. The Taliban and their allies frequently kill Afghan police and soldiers to counter the plan to strengthen national security forces. They are due to take over main responsibility for fighting militants after international combat troops leave in 2014. Elsewhere in Afghanistan, six civilians were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb as they traveled in the southern province of Kandahar, police said. The civilians were riding on a motorcycle-drawn cart when it hit the bomb Thursday in the town of Spin Boldak, provincial police chief Abdul Razaq said. Roadside bombs are a favorite Taliban weapon to target international and Afghan forces, but the explosives often kill ordinary Afghans instead. A U.N. report says 1,145 civilians were killed during the first half of the year, 80 percent of them by militants. Insurgent-placed homemade bombs continued to be the biggest killer of civilians, accounting for 29 percent of all noncombatant deaths during the first six months of 2012.
Will they ever have time for the masses? Just listen to the discourse of the politicos over these days? It is all about their petty politics; to be more precise, about their electoral politics. They are haggling over the timing of the impending general election, over its transparency, over the interim government to oversee it and what not. What is the missing outright from their discourse are the awam, the people. Then, is this whole of talk all about the change of faces, not the change of style in governance? And does this country exist only for their loathsome political games and power plays, and not for those 180 million people, mostly living in abject poverty and crying for some relief to their doleful lots? Why don’t the power contenders tell the people what have they in their plans for their betterment and uplift? Isn’t it because the masses have never ever figured any compellingly in their political calculus? Although they ostensibly do all their politics in the name of the people, the people actually are no any critical or decisive factor in their real calculations. Only capturing power is. What else could it be when a political eminence dishes out impetuously the slogan that if returned to power he would make a new Pakistan? Couldn’t it be a mere pretence, just a deceit when he doesn’t explain how would he go about his intent of remaking of Pakistan? More awfully, doesn’t it tell that the eminence doesn’t even know what he is talking? But do any of the political eminences have any idea how much people are disgusted of them, particularly for giving them such a short shrift as have they over these times? The people are going through the worst of times in their lives during these past nearly five years. Yet these grandees have on their tongues only their own politics, not the people’s woes. They talk of elections, not the people’s unenviable economic plight. They talk of transparency of elections, not of the people’s snowballing sense of insecurity. They talk of impartial interim governments, but not of the ways of addressing the people’s grievances and wants. These indeed are the times when the political eminences should have at least spoken of the people, of whom they have spoken not all through these years. Ideas should have been floating as to how to give a pushup to the nation’s sagging economy. Suggestions should have been flowing out from various political quarters on how to create jobs and opportunities for the masses and the multitudes of the educated unemployed. The political players should have been in a real competition of proposing ways and means for educating the nation’s children and providing facilities for healthcare to its citizens. And they should have been in a scramble in mooting innovative ideas to fight out extremism and intolerance that has taken away all sense of safety and security from the masses to live in constant fear and fright. But none of this is happening at all. It is the politics, not the people, that stays on the tip of the politicos’ tongue even at this point in time. Little wonder, the people have washed these political eminences off their minds as completely as have these eminence wiped out the masses from their high minds. None of the eminences comes across to the people as leaders. They all are taken by the masses as mere chicaners and charlatans. It is only the select constellation of the media, the commentariat, the chattering classes and the civil society groups that pays court them. On the street, they all have become a big, big zero. Over there, nobody takes notice of them. Nobody listens what they speak. Nobody cares what they talk. And yet these eminences behave as if they are tall figures while in the popular estimation they have become even lesser than dwarfs. Still, these eminences have a chance to rehabilitate themselves with the masses. But for that they have to become relevant to the masses. That necessarily postulates that they talk less of politics and more of people. Will they? Perhaps, they will not, simply because they are incapable of talking things serious. They know only playing to the gallery, which comes natural to the minds feeble. Anyway, let’s hope.
By:Gen Kayani’s speech at PMA Kakul on August 14 repays a close study. The war against religious extremism was our war, he said. This was the kernel of his remarks. It would have helped if this clarity had come much earlier...but better late than never. Extremism gone wild and threatening to become virulent is our most serious problem, dwarfing all others, including our economic woes. Indeed it is no exaggeration to say that this derangement of the Pakistani mind, expressed in extremism, threatens the foundations of the state. We survived the loss of East Pakistan. Germany has survived the loss of territory. Russia is still Russia despite the breakup of the Soviet Union. But Pakistan will not remain Pakistan if the havoc being wrought in the name of religion and by religious extremism is allowed to go unchecked. Pakistan was created in the name of religion. Is it to be undone in the name of religion? And we are still caught up in the debate whether this is our war or not. If this is not our war there never will be a war we can call our own. Imran Khan wouldn’t be able to survive a day in Hakimullah Mehsud’s Islamic Emirate. So what is he talking about? North Waziristan today, for all practical purposes, is an independent emirate where the Pakistan flag does not fly, where the authority of the Pakistan state, such as it is, is not recognised. And politicians of all hues, from left to right, beat their breasts and shed copious tears regarding drone strikes in this territory whose control has passed out of our hands. The comic sentimentality on which they feed, and whose flag-bearers they are ever ready to be, is equalled only by their tunnel vision. But mediocre men mouthing meaningless clichés can be forgiven their petty sins. The larger sin rests with the mighty institution now revising its doctrine and entering the realm of second thoughts. Extremism in Pakistan did not spread through the medium of the stars or the application of cosmic rays. The engine of this growth – and my heart sinks as I write this – was the Pakistan Army, from General Zia to General Beg, with ISI chiefs leading the charge. To our lasting ill luck, jihad was promoted as an instrument of national policy and extremist organisations, whose names we have come to know and dread, were encouraged to set up camp and recruit followers, and spread the message of hate and bigotry. This policy, if it can be distinguished by that name, was meant as an external instrument – jihad as an extension of foreign policy. But as happens with such things the fallout it created fell back on us, the fallout or blowback proving hotter than the original flames. But this is history and let it pass. Even if late in the day, the ideological re-emphasis – I almost said ideological turnaround – mirrored in Gen Kayani’s remarks on extremism needs to be welcomed. It should have been the task of the political leadership to voice such thoughts. Gen Kayani’s speech should have come from the president (let’s leave the prime minister alone, he is caught up in other things) or from national leaders-in-waiting. If they choose to remain silent, emphasising the intellectual vacuum that exists in Pakistan today, the army command is not to be blamed if it seeks to fill the void. And there is no use blaming American visitors for making a bee-line for General Headquarters when they come visiting Pakistan. Taking decisions is one thing. But even if the churning of ideas – or what pass for ideas in this country – is to take place there, then it is obvious that quality time they will choose to spend in Rawalpindi rather than in the vacuous corridors of Islamabad. Anyway, let’s hope the PMA speech is not just rhetoric but marks a turning point, a change of direction. Even so, we should be clear what extremism has come to mean in Pakistan. It is not just the waves of violence emanating from the independent emirate of North Waziristan. That would be no great matter. The cancer could be isolated and treated (lanced is the better word) when circumstances permitted. But the problem is more complicated than that. North Waziristan extremism has ideological sympathisers, sleeper cells and a support network, a mosque support network, running from one end of Pakistan to the other. And it is thriving in an atmosphere of radicalisation marked by such incidents as the killing of Shias in Quetta, the murder of Shias in Kohistan. When the misuse of mosque loudspeakers becomes a national pastime, and the spewing of hatred against different sects an everyday occurrence; when a poor Christian girl such as Aasia Bibi in Sheikhupura is held on a blasphemy charge, setting off a train of events leading ultimately to the murder of governor Salmaan Taseer at the hands of one of his guards, and the guard is hailed as a hero of the faith, and lawyers shower him with rose petals when he appears before a magistrate; when someone in Bahawalpur is held on a blasphemy charge and after being sprung from police lockup is set on fire by an enraged mob; when another poor Christian girl is held on a blasphemy charge near Islamabad; and the Muslim community, which should be moved to outrage at such outrages, chooses to remain silent and do nothing; and when, in a comic interlude, the highest security agencies use clerical windbags to whip up the froth of a false nationalism; then be not surprised if religious radicalisation keeps receiving shots in the arm, and extremism as an ideological force turns into a more poisonous brew. When the next bunch of Shias is murdered we read it as a newspaper item and shrug our shoulders and carry on as usual. And the call to prayers is sounded and it makes not the slightest difference to our collective conduct. The kingdom of dread which religious extremism has created is much wider than the geographic confines of North Waziristan. Has America done this to us? Is America the sole agent of our misfortunes? Or, painful thought, did we sow the dragon’s teeth ourselves? And if that was the past, are we not watering the spreading plant even now? The task at hand, it should be clear at this stage, is much larger than the necessity of any single military operation. Pakistan’s face has been distorted and it is that which must be set right if we are serious about rescuing what we like to call Iqbal and Jinnah’s Pakistan. Our minds have become twisted and a part of them are numb, incapable of feeling and thought, and that is why we choose to keep silent when our hearts should be brimming with outrage. If we want to emerge from the shadows, into the dustbin of history must be cast the shibboleths and attitudes of our eminently forgettable past. This war now upon us can be won only if the first order of business is the liberation and emancipation of the Pakistani mind.