Monday, September 17, 2012
A suicide car bomb went off in early Tuesday morning in Afghan capital of Kabul, leaving casualties, the police said. "A suicide bomber targeted a minibus carrying foreign nationals along a main road from Kabul airport to Kabul inter- continental hotel, leaving at least nine foreigners dead," a police official told Xinhua anonymously. The blast occurred at around 6:45 a.m. local time Tuesday morning. Meantime, a local TV channel Tolo News also reported that nine foreigners were killed in the suicide bombing that went off near an Afghan intelligence agency building in airport road. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.
During a telephone conversation on Sunday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari held talks on bilateral cooperation and regional issues, including the Syrian crisis. Ahmadinejad said that a group should be established to contact the Syrian government and the opposition in order to help restore calm and peace in the crisis-hit country. In reference to the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which was held in Tehran from August 26 to 31, the Iranian president said that NAM is an independent movement and has enormous potential. He added, “But the organization and bodies needed to pursue and implement agreements have not been formed.” He also underlined the need for making the preparations necessary to implement the agreements made during the NAM summit in Tehran and hold a consultative meeting between the member states of the movement on the sidelines of the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, which will open at the UN Headquarters in New York on September 18. The Pakistani president also called for the establishment of a group to contact the conflicting sides in Syria. Elsewhere in his remarks, Zardari praised Iran for its successful hosting of the NAM summit and called for the establishment of executive structures for the movement.
THE BALOCH HAL
Differences came to the fore in Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as rival groups in the party chanted slogans against each other on the arrival of its Chairman Imran Khan here on Sunday. Supporters of Asad Qaiser and Pervez Khattak chanted slogans against each other at the residence of the local PTI leader Haji Saleem Khan.Sources said that both Asad Qaiser and Pervez Khattak were present on the occasion but they didn’t try to calm down their supporters. The two PTI leaders are contesting election for the provincial president of the party. Asad Qaiser represents the old guard in the PTI and was its former provincial president while Pervez Khattak is a newcomer in the party. There are other candidates also for the office of the provincial president. Imran Khan, who was invited to attend a luncheon arranged by Haji Saleem Khan, appeared uneasy on the occasion, but he didn’t say anything publicly. The PTI chief attended the luncheon and left the venue without addressing the gathering.
Only one-third of the 90 tonnes of garbage produced in Peshawar is disposed every day, while the rest accumulates in 140 dumps around the city, spreading fumes and increasing disease. Residents of Peshawar are facing awful civic conditions due to a lack of water and a proper sanitation system. Urban areas also lack the necessary mechanism of disposing waste material. The situation worsens when it rains, clogging the faulty sewerage and turning roads into rivers. Peshawar is administratively divided into 92 union councils and four towns. Officials complained about insufficient funding, understaffing and outdated machinery. Corruption within the staff also contributes to the lack of cleanliness in the city. Some of the worse affected areas where garbage and sanitation issues exist includes Shaikabad, Gulbhar, Ganggate, Kohati, Bhanamari, Kakshal, Tehkal and Charsadda road. The Express Tribune found in its investigation that the state of corruption in the civic body, often referred to as Dabba Mulazimeen or proxy attendance, is widespread. The practice involves the clerk or the municipal inspector registering a staffer’s attendance, allowing the employee to collect a salary without actually showing up for work. In return, the clerk or the inspector gets a share of the employee’s salary. The district coordination officer froze the salaries of 189 staffers because of their absence from work. However, hundreds of other employees engaged in the practice remain on the government payroll. The previous government had imported machinery from China but they remain out of service due to lack of maintenance. The situation is worst in Town-I, which covers the walled city and the adjacent low-lying areas. The town consists of 25 union councils and is the most populated area. More than 3,000 employees, including 758 cleaners, 215 sewerage line workers, and more than 46 garbage collectors work in the town. It also suffers from corruption due to high absentee rates among staffers. Out of the 85 dumps installed, 15 are broken while the rest lack maintenance. Large piles of filth remain there for weeks, and residents add to the garbage by disposing it in public spaces. Government position The provincial government claims it is pursuing multimillion projects to resolve sanitation issues, including the Municipal Service Delivery Project with the assistance of USAID. An official familiar with the matter said that USAID has provided $86 million. Sutra Juwand (clean life), another similar project, also awaits for final approval by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief minister. Sources said that the commissioner of Peshawar, Tariq Jamil, would be the acting managing director of the project. However, little has been done in the past four and half years by the Awami National Party-led government.
http://www.brecorder.comA press report points out that as many as 45 organisations, a large majority of them sectarian outfits, have been banned since 2001. Anyone familiar with the activities of extremist groups spewing hate propaganda and killing innocent people knows that the actual number of those engaged in the activity is much smaller - not more than a handful. After every ban, the same people reinvented their identities under new names. Which explains why there is such a large list of organisations proscribed during the last 11 years; and also the reason violence perpetrated by sectarian extremists has continued to increase rather than decrease during this time. Such bans clearly are useless unless accompanied by effective curbs on the concerned organisations' activities and freezing of their assets. So far there is no evidence of that happening. In fact, in some instances provincial and federal government leaders have been accusing one another of hobnobbing with sectarian extremists. The truth of the matter is that the big mainstream parties have been reluctant to take on these elements choosing instead, in some instances, to elicit their support to make electoral gains. The consequences have been disastrous vis-a-vis peace and security of ordinary citizens. No one is safe in any part of the country. It is about time federal and provincial governments put their heads together to formulate a joint strategy aimed at banishing the menace of sectarian terrorism. The present report makes it abundantly clear that merely banning a militant organisation will not help; it must be backed by a well thought-out policy to eliminate the sources that nourish violent extremism.
To cull housands of Australian sheep after they were found to be infected with harmful bacteria, the city's top administration official said on Sunday. "The provincial live stock ministry ordered 21,268 sheep which arrived from Bahrain to be culled after laboratory tests showed bacterial presence of salmonella and actinomyces in them," Roshan Shaikh told AFP. The animals arrived some 10 days from the Gulf state, which had in turn imported them from Australia and refused to accept them after finding they were infected, Haleem Adil Shaikh, an advisor to provincial chief minister said. "A importer brought these sheep to Pakistan but we also ordered them to be culled after receiving report based on laboratory tests," he added. Five years ago, Pakistan culled thousands of chickens after they were found infected with H5N1 (birdflu) virus.
Associated PressThe telephone call to local journalists generally comes in the late evening. The voice on the other end is harsh. He has a statement he wants printed, and he prefaces it with a terse order: "Report our messages without making any changes or we will kill you." The messages they deliver warn of upcoming violence or assassinations, sometimes naming an intended victim, or claim responsibility for atrocities already committed. The calls come from Sunni militants notorious for violence against minority Shiites or members of secessionist groups that routinely blow up police stations and attack government facilities in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan. But the late-night calls put the journalists in a bind. If they don't print the messages, they could be killed. If they do print them, they could face three years in prison under Pakistan's anti-terrorism laws. It's no surprise which risk they'd rather run. At least 20 journalists have been killed in Baluchistan the past six years, their bullet-ridden bodies sometimes found stuffed into sacks. "If you are a journalist here in Baluchistan you have a choice: Either a bullet in the head or a jail sentence," said Ashiq Butt, a stocky bureau chief with the News Network International (NNI), a Pakistani news agency that feeds its reports to newspapers. But authorities are putting pressure from their side as well, trying to stem spiraling violence in the province. Last month, the Baluchistan provincial government for the first time charged 21 news organizations, their owners and several journalists under the anti-terrorist law, which provides for three years in jail if convicted of carrying messages, reports or information supplied by outlawed militant groups. The charge sheet filed by the government accused the news organizations of "spreading panic." Pakistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world to work as a journalist, according to the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists. In the last six years 41 journalists have died violently in Pakistan, although 12 of those deaths are still under investigation to determine whether their deaths were linked to their jobs as journalists, according to the CPJ site. Many of the multiple militant groups and armed factions in Pakistan — such as Lashkar-e-Janghvi, behind many slayings of Shiites — operate with impunity, with police too weak to take much direct action against them. So they are only emboldened to threaten journalists into being their mouthpieces. "If I want to live in this city I have to write what they say," Butt said. The statements can often be cruel and explicit, detailing those who have been killed, he said. Sunni militants' messages are laced with vitriolic attacks against the minority Shiite Muslims they revile as heretics. Just last week, he was called by a member of the violent Baluchistan Liberation Army, a self-declared secessionist group fighting for an independent state for ethnic Baluchis against what they see as domination from ethnic Punjabis. The group has already claimed responsibility for the deaths of three journalists. The caller had a message and added, use it verbatim or die. Butt did exactly that, publishing the statement, "The Punjabis have captured our lands and we will kill the Frontier Corps and Police . . . We will continue our struggle until Baluchistan is liberated from Pakistan." Aryan Khan, another journalist in the Baluchistan capital Quetta, said Lashkar-e-Janghvi militants even dictate the language newspapers and broadcasters should use in their normal news reports whenever they report on the death of a Shiite, whether in an attack or from natural causes. Rather than the respectful, euphemistic terms usually used by Urdu-language press for a person's death, "they say we should use the same word we use if an animal dies," he said. In recent years Pakistan's Baluchistan province has been shattered by relentless bloodletting by the separatists and by Sunni militant killings and suicide bombings against Shiites. Human rights activists and international aid workers operating in Baluchistan have also been attacked. The international Red Cross suspended its operations in May after one of its workers was killed in Quetta. "For us Baluchistan has become a source of great concern," said Bob Dietz, Asia Program Coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "The situation in Baluchistan looks set to continue for a long time — the issues are deep seated and don't lend themselves to easy solutions. For media support groups, the region has emerged as a new front line." Escalating violence is making vast parts of Baluchistan inaccessible, said Dietz. That, he contended, seems to suit the government. "The government seems to be quite happy that there is little or no independent monitoring of the situation," he said. He also criticized the Baluchistan provincial government for laying charges against journalists and news organizations covering both sides in the conflicts ravaging the region. In an interview in Quetta, provincial police chief Omar Ibne Khitab justified the charges, saying the anti-terror law was clear. He also said his force does not have the equipment to trace the threatening telephone calls to journalists and locate the culprits. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan issued a report last month criticizing the government for inaction on what? as well as national media outlets for neglecting coverage of events in Baluchistan. The report said local journalists feel threatened from all sides and neglected by the government. "Journalists in the field felt threatened from the security forces, militants and insurgents," said the report released Aug. 30. "If they said one thing they were traitors to one side and if they did not they were traitors to the other side. From within the HRCP's heavily guarded office, Shamsul Mulk said rights workers risked their lives investigating the killings of journalists as well as the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of scores of people, many linked to the separatist movement. Many rights workers have left the organization out of fear for their lives. "I wouldn't be here if there wasn't a guard outside the door," he said. "People are afraid. They are not even attending our meetings anymore."