http://www.sananews.netForeign Minister Hina Rabbani khar
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Pakistan’s foreign minister has been forced to deny she is having an affair with Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the son of President Asif Ali Zardari.Claims of an affair between Hina Rabbani Khar,
Associated PressMonsoon rains and flooding killed more than 400 people across Pakistan during the rainy season this year, authorities said Friday. Pakistan suffers every year from flooding caused by massive monsoon rains that sweep across the country late in the summer and cause rivers and streams to overflow. The National Disaster Management Authority said 422 people have been killed and nearly 3,000 have been injured during the season of heavy rains. About five million people have been affected by the resulting floods, according to statistics that were posted on the authority's website. Sindh province in southeastern Pakistan was the hardest hit with 239 deaths. An official with the authority, Maj. Iftikhar Ahmed, told The Associated Press that the rainfall this year was significantly less than in 2010, when catastrophic floods put one-fifth of the country under water and killed 1,985 people. Last year 443 people were killed in flood-related incidents. Pakistan has in recent years struggled to cope with the chaos, caused by the rains and flooding around the country. Authorities have often relied on international help to provide those affected by the floods with food, water and housing. UNICEF called on international donors to provide $15.4 million to help protect people affected by the flooding over the next three to six months. In a statement Friday, the UN agency said it has been helping with supplies of drinking water to people affected by floods in the provinces of Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh. "Some of the affected children are living in areas that are experiencing devastating flooding for the second or third time over the past three years, and these new floods have disrupted their recovery," said UNICEF Pakistan Deputy Representative, Karen Allen. As Pakistan struggles with another natural disaster, the country is also trying to suppress a violent insurgency in the northwest. A senior police officer died Friday while defusing a roadside bomb in Peshawar, a city that is considered the gateway to Pakistan's volatile tribal regions, from which violence often spills over into its streets. Hakam Khan rushed to the city's Matni neighborhood after being alerted that insurgents had planted two bombs near a road, which is used by security convoys, traveling to the Khyber tribal region, said senior police officer Fazal Mola Dad. Khan successfully defused one bomb, but while he was working on the second one, it exploded. Khan had played a key role in battling militants and defused dozens of bombs in recent years, Dad said. __
EDITORIAL:DAILY TIMESIt had taken 65 years for any Russian President to decide to visit Pakistan. However, for ostensibly some pressing issues at home, President Vladimir Putin wrote to President Zardari that he could not attend the quadrilateral summit scheduled to be held in Pakistan amongst Russia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan on October 2-3. That the summit to discuss Afghanistan in the backdrop of the US’s withdrawal by 2014 stands cancelled has set off an array of speculations about the actual reasons that may have made the Russian President change his mind. Soon after independence, Pakistan allied itself with the US-led west, leading to the visit to the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) of Liaquat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, being cancelled. This preference to the west’s friendship over the USSR soured relations between the two countries over time, especially when India and the USSR closed ranks and the latter was on the receiving end of the decade-long resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Things have changed radically since the end of the Cold War. The retreat of the US-led west from this region is increasingly persuading regional countries to look to each other for handling problems and enhancing economic, political and security cooperation as can be seen in the developing SCO bloc. President Zardari has taken relations between Russia and Pakistan forward. Realising that Pakistan’s energy requirements can be addressed with the assistance of Russia, which is one of the largest producers of oil and gas in the world, Pakistan reached out to its giant northern neighbour, with the result that Russia has shown interest in projects like the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, apart from involvement in the project to export electricity from Tajikistan to Pakistan. The IP gas pipeline is still subject to delay due to US hostility towards Iran. However, Russia is undeterred and is ready to offer financial and technical support to the project. Russia’s only caveat is that it be awarded the contract without international tendering. Russia is also willing to assist Pakistan in oil and gas exploration and the modernisation and expansion of the Steel Mills originally set up by the USSR. It is being speculated that Putin might have decided to postpone his visit to let the issue of the blasphemous film run out of steam. Some believe that Putin wants Mr Zardari to first visit Russia in order to clarify that it is not Russia but Pakistan that is seeking economic cooperation between the two. Whatever the cause of the visit’s cancellation, in the aftermath of US forces withdrawing from Afghanistan, the region’s countries are groping their way to a new closeness to effectively tackle common problems such as terrorism, poverty alleviation through mutual economic cooperation, and maintaining peace after the scars of the conflicts afflicting the region heal. Though Putin’s visit would have been a game changer in the region vis-à-vis Pakistan’s image, one setback should not discourage Islamabad from continuing to pursue a new and beneficial architecture of cooperation with Russia and the region as a whole.
THE FRONTIER POSTThe application filed by the National Accountability Bureau calls for the reopening of three corruption references relating to Hudabiya Paper Mills, Ittefaq Foundries and Raiwind assets in which members of the Sharif family are allegedly involved. Today’s proceedings over the NAB chief’s application were carried out in the accountability court of judge Chaudhry Abdul Haq. During the proceedings, an assistant of Khawaja Harris Ahmed, a senior counsel for Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif, apprised the court that a hearing over the quashing of an FIR over the references was to be held at the LHC’s Rawalpindi bench on Oct 1. The counsel’s assistant requested the judge to postpone the hearing until the said date. The judge subsequently adjourned the case’s hearing to Oct 10. Earlier on Sept 15, the same court had stopped its proceedings on the corruption references after the Sharifs’ counsel submitted a restraining order of the Lahore High Court to it. Barrister Maqsooma Bokhari, representing the Sharif family, had informed the court that a division bench of the LHC had in its order restrained the accountability court from proceeding till the matter was adjudicated by it. In October last year, the LHC acting on a petition by the Sharifs had stopped the federal government from going ahead with the matter. The order, however, had not issued any such directive for the accountability court at the time. NAB references against Sharifs The NAB had prepared the references during the Musharraf regime in the year 2000 when the Sharif brothers were detained in the Attock Fort. On April 4, 2001, the references were adjourned sine die. On Aug 8, 2007, the NAB filed an application for revival of the references. But the court did not proceed with the matter which was again adjourned sine die in Aug 2008 because it was not routed through the NAB chairman. Another application filed by the NAB in Feb 2010 was rejected on the same grounds. In its references, the NAB accused the Sharifs of committing Rs642.743 million worth of corruption in the Paper Mills case. The second reference – the state versus Nawaz Sharif, etc. – relates to the Raiwind assets. The main allegation is that the accused had acquired vast tracts of land upon which palatial houses and mansions were built with resources which appeared to be grossly disproportionate to their known sources of income. Apart from Nawaz Sharif, his mother is an accused in this case. In the state versus Ittefaq Foundries case, Nawaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif and Kamal Qureshi are accused of committing corruption of Rs1,063 million. The main allegation in the case is that Ittefaq Foundries Ltd obtained cash finance from the National Bank. According to the NAB, the company wilfully defaulted on the amount in 1994.