Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bilawal Bhutto's speech in New York

Bismillah Rehman Raheem Assalom-O-Alaikum Jiyay Bhutto
It is truly a pleasure for me to be here today to address our patriotic Pakistanis living abroad. I know how you feel, being so far from our country, having been forced to live in exile myself along with my mother Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. I know you can force me out of Pakistan but you can never take the passion for Pakistan out of me. Most of you were first forced into exile during our country’s darkest dictatorship in the 1980s. Even though the dictator’s state had given up on you, you never gave up on Pakistan, and now have become the life blood of the Pakistani economy. In fact, it is under this PPP government that overseas remittances have increased from $6 billion, from when we replaced Musharraff’s dictatorship, to almost $13 billion under our democratic government. The PPP has always, and will always, stand by our oversees Pakistanis. We are committed to insuring your right to vote in elections. We are committed to the idea that dual-nationals should be able to participate in all our country’s civic matters, and that includes the right to contest elections. No unelected people have the right to question the loyalty of anyone elected by the people of Pakistan. You must have your voices heard in the next election. If they don’t let you run, if they don’t let you vote, speak to your family and friends in Pakistan, come back to Pakistan yourselves, and support the Party that has not given up on your voice and your vote. Ladies and gentlemen, some just talk change. Others actually cause it. And I am proud that my Party is transforming Pakistan and building its future. It has been a long and difficult journey but it is still incomplete. I want you to know that once again, the Pakistan Peoples Party is making history. It may not be the story that you watch on your television screens or the news you read about in the papers, but it is the transformation of Pakistan that is taking shape on the ground beneath our feet. The ground beneath our feet is shifting. Our people are paying an enormous price, in blood, sweat and tears, sacrificing collectively to create a new, modern and equitable future for our children and the generations yet to come. Despite all the conflict and challenges, let me remind you that Pakistan is making its first constitutional and peaceful transfer of power in ALL its history. We have transformed a dictatorship into a democracy, we have restored the supremacy of parliament, we have stripped our constitution of the illegal powers usurped by military dictators, we have nourished a thriving civil society and restored one of the freest presses in the world. No one thought it could happen, but almost five years after my mother’s martyrdom and the election of a new government, democracy in Pakistan is strong, growing, and laying the groundwork for a very different nation than we have ever known. Others have promised change. Our PPP government has delivered it. We have been accused of not fulfilling any of our promises. We have achieved more than we ever have in the past. The restoration of the 1973 constitution has been part of our election manifesto since 1986 and it is not until this government that we have finally achieved this goal. We have devolved power to the provinces, thus decentralizing government and bringing it closer to the people. What this means is that the provinces have both the resources and the responsibility as key stakeholders in governmeny. This is democracy bringing the once remote state closer to your doorstep. My friends, as we meet together tonight, Pakistan is undergoing the first peaceful transition of power in its 66 year history. A powerful and independent election commission which my mother fought for, my father has delivered, to oversee free, fair and transparent elections. Roti, Kapraa, Makkan has been our slogan every since the PPP’s first election. We have done more during this government than ever before. Our government has created the first social safety net for the poor in our nation’s history, this too implementing my mother’s dream in my mothers name. Today, the women of our households are being empowered within their families, thereby improving society as a whole. We have passed more legislation for women in this parliament than in all past parliaments combined. From domestic violence to property rights, the women of Pakistan are being protected by the law, by our government. This is an enormous accomplishment that will not only take women to the path to empowerment, but will benefit their children. Some of these laws are already beginning to have effect on the ground: the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace law, for instance, has been used by victims in both the private sector as well as government departments, to stop the abuse of women at the workplace. This is no abstract law, it has started to mean something on the ground, and we need your support to make all the new laws a daily reality in people’s lives. And while we are on the subject of human rights, let me remind you that we lead by example, and have been the only government not to hold people in prison for their political allegiances. Ladies and Gentlemen, poverty in Pakistan is a stain on our collective conscience. To be a prosperous society we must seek to eliminate poverty. If we look at the history of poverty in Pakistan, we see the crushing truth that through no fault of the child, through the accident of birth, the girl born into poverty has virtually no chance to escape. This is grossly unfair, as our masses are our biggest asset. The landmark Benazir Income Support Program gives a monthly stipend to women of the households of the poorest of the poor allowing them to provide food, clothing and shelter for themselves and their families. In Pakistan the gap between rich and poor is enormous. Any successful society seeks to close this chasm, increase social mobility and sustain a strong middle class. The richest Pakistanis can take advantage of the opportunities their wealth affords them to start businesses and expand their wealth even further. But it is not just rich people who have great ideas. Our country is full of people who have great ideas and they should all be afforded the same opportunities. The Waseela-e-Haq program, started by your party’s government, helps the poorest people turn these great ideas, their dreams, into a reality. It provides micro loans to the poorest Pakistanis who want to start their own businesses. The loans are targetted not only to the poorest people but also to identifiable business lifting not only the poor people and their families but also their communities out of poverty. With Pakistan’s booming population, there’s no shortage of people ready, willing and able to work. They just lack the skills to do so. That is where the Waseela-e-Rozgar program, started by your party’s government, comes in. It aims to provide full vocational and technical training to the poorest Pakistanis, empowering them with the skills they need to find work, earn an honest wage and in doing so help themselves, their families and our economy. A healthy economy needs a healthy population. The Waseela-e-Sehet program, started by your party’s government, provides health and life insurance to the poorest Pakistani. Our goal is to insure that no one is denied the healthcare they need just because they cannot afford it. That life and death should be a matter of fate not a matter of wealth. Our life insurance program provides a protective cushion for families at the most difficult point in their lives, so that the loss of a loved one, the loss of the breadwinner no longer means that desperate families are left alone to fend for themselves. There are heartbreaking examples of young children running the street stalls their fathers used to run, before they were killed in suicide attacks. This is a devastating reality this program will help to change. Poor children are doomed to live the same impoverished life as their parents because they don't have access to education. Their parents can’t afford to send them to school because they need them to start working as early as possible and help with the household income. The Waseela-e-Taleem program, started by your party’s government, strikes a deal with the parents of poorest Pakistanis: You commit to sending your children to school and we will help you financially. By doing so, the PPP aims to end the vicious cycle of generational poverty. On the economic front, the PPP to came into power amidst the worst global recession in recent history. It is our government’s policies that prevent certain collapse. Our economy has withstood this global economic catasrophe, natural disasters, and the menace of terrorism. Unlike even the world’s greatest economies we did not have to bail out a single bank. While Europe falls into a double dip recession with negative economic growth, despite external shocks that led to fiscal deficit, Pakistan has against all odds managed to have an annual GDP growth rate of almost 4%. Our exports crossed an historic benchmark of $25 billion this year. It is the PPP’s economic policies that helped achieve this. It is our agricultural policy that has transformed Pakistan from a wheat importer to a wheat exporter. For example, by increasing the wheat support price we empowered our farmers to grow more wheat. We have literally gone from being unable to feed ourselves, we had to import wheat, to being able to feed not only ourselves but also the world by exporting our surplus wheat. This is just one of many policies that have led to a boom in our agricultural economy. In the last 2 years our agricultural policies have enabled our farmers to earn an additional income of approximately Rs. 800 billion. The global escalation in the price of oil and food affects the daily life of the average Pakistani. The PPP has tried its best to limit the impact on the common man while at the same time maintaining our fiscal responsibilities to the economy as a whole. We see inflation as one of our most pressing issues, once again because of the effect it has on the common man. Despite the enormous economic challenges we face, your government has more than halved inflation from its peak at 25% to 11%. This means the cost of everyday goods for the average Pakistani are cheaper than they otherwise would have been. We face huge economic challenges. However, it is also time we as Pakistanis showed some economic patriotism. Especially when we have so many factors working against us from terrorism to national disasters to global economic crisis, it is our duty to point out how successful we have been. For example, I bet you have never heard this fact. Bloomberg News has recently rated the Karachi Stock Exchange the 4th best performing in the world. Not in South Asia, not in Asia, not in the East, but in the world! Can you imagine if this was any other government at any other time this fact, this indicator of the health of our economy, would be ignored by our own Pakistani media? It is time for some economic patriotism. It is time to put our differences aside. We welcome constructive criticism. However, it is also our duty as Pakistanis to unite and highlight the good, not just the bad. The PPP’s commitment to the labourers of Pakistan is second to none. We are committed to the strengthening of unions, while all others are committed to their dismemberment. We’ve regularized 12,000 contract employees, we’ve increased government employees salaries by more than 125% in the last four years. One of our proudest achievements is the Benazir Employees Stock Option scheme which gives a share of all state-owned enterprises to the employees working for these companies. This makes workers joint owners of the companies they work for. This gives them a stake in the company. Shares worth many billions of rupees have been given to more than half a million employees. We truly are the only party that is on the side of the workers and not captive to special interests who seek to profit from our national assets at the expense of the hard working people who have devoted their lives to these companies. Time and time again we have sought to do just that, give the power back to the people. This is the foundation we are laying. My mother’s policy of reconciliation gives everyone that voice in the system, gives the smaller provinces an equal stake in the federation. Some of the genuine grievances of the smaller provinces can now be addressed, and as this new structure takes root, the local needs of the people can be addressed in a real sense. As desperate as the situation in Balochistan is today, with every missing person and with every dead body, we realize a Baloch family loses hope in Pakistan. We have stopped living in denial, and we cannot let the province bleed the way it has. We have taken historic measures to address the underlying causes of the challenges in Balochistan. Where Musharraf treated the people of Balochistan as enemies of the state, we see them as an integral part of our state of Pakistan. We have a long way to go in addressing all the wrongs done to them, but at least we’ve started the process. There will be no going back. One of the first acts of our government was to apologize to the people of Balochistan for the wrongs done to them. We then passed legislation that has changed the equation, and that means instead of the federation solely benefitting from the resources, there is redistribution of the resources, where the localities, the province, and its people now have a share. In addition, the Balochistan package the government has passed addressed Balochistan’s sense of discrimination and brings it to par with the other provinces in terms of funds, employment and infrastructure. This year, the share of the Balochistan in the new NFC has been more than 95 billion rupees as opposed to less than 40 billion rupees before our government took power. There is no short term solution, but for the first time in our history, we have made the necessary structural change to address the long term challenges that is necessary for a prosperous, peaceful and stable Balochistan that plays its rightful, integral part in Pakistan. It is an immense task ahead of us, but our government is committed to seeing it through. The sense of deprivation and discrimination also exists in the minority communities of Pakistan. Pakistan itself was founded as a land where the Muslims of India could live in peace and security, free from the worry of being second-class citizens. We, in turn, must protect the minorities within our own borders. Law and order should protect the Christian, the Hindu and any minority faith. Our government stands shoulder to shoulder with all minorities. Our model of citizenship is an inclusive one. We have passed legislation, such as the Human Rights Commission, which is designed to serve as a watchdog group to protect and fight for their rights wherever they may be infringed upon. We have increased minority representation in Parliament to make their voices heard on the national stage. Our Party has always been the party for equal rights, and it our party that produces men of the caliber of Shaheed Salmaan Taseer and Shaheed Shahbaz Bhatti, men who knew the dangers and risks they faced but raised their voices and sacrificed their lives for the most vulnerable in our society, following in the footsteps of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. For in a diverse society such as ours, we cannot tolerate discrimination against ANY faith. I join the unanimous chorus of condemnation of a vile, hateful, blasphemous video that has unfortunately incited violence across the Muslim world. We know Islam teaches that murder of one innocent is the murder of all humanity. When our Prophet (peace be upon him) was the messenger of peace, love and harmony - how can we pretend to defend his honor with death and destruction? Surely those of us that protest peacefully are the true followers of Islam. The unity of all major political parties in Pakistan on this issue is inspirational. That we can stand united in our protest, united in our condemnation of violence, united in our condemnation of this hateful video - fills me with hope. I do wish this unity existed for the threats we face from within. As Muslims and Pakistanis we are often quick to unite against perceived threats to our religion from external forces but are divided when it comes to threats against our country and religion from within. I believe that all major political parties in Pakistan have called for international legislation that restricts hate speech and criminalises incitement to violence. How can we expect the world to act when we don’t act on hate speech and incitement of violence that occurs in our own country? The incitement of violence, the distortion of facts, the purely fictional interpretation of Islam used to harm innocents goes unpunished. This must end. It is my belief this environment is being created by the enemies of Pakistan to orchestrate a genocide of our fellow Shia Muslims. The whole nation must stand united against this menace. We fly the Shia Alaam above Bilawal House as a symbol of my family’s and my party’s solidarity with our Shia brothers and sisters. Our beloved founder, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a Shia himself and it is his vision for a pluralistic, peaceful society that our party wants to make reality. We are the only political party that has consistently stood on the right side of history, opposed every dictatorship and committed to democracy every step of the way, and fought for democratic rule in Pakistan. We believe a truly independent and impartial judiciary is a fundamental component to a democratic Pakistan. That is why we respect the majesty of justice and accept the rulings of our Supreme Court, despite reservations. The PPP has stood shoulder to shoulder with the lawyer community in our quest for the restoration of an independent judiciary. We did not sacrifice the lives of our workers, we did not come this far in ending military dictatorships forever only to succumb to judicial dictatorships. We will not violate the Vienna Convention and we will not violate the Constitution of Pakistan. If this Court sees it fit to do so, if the courts insist on putting the grave of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto on trial, to repeat the mistakes of history, refuse to redeem themselves from the role they have played in the judicial murder of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the ultimate decisions will lie in the court of the people and the courts of history. The Pakistan People’s Party must set the precedent for democratic governments to come and will therefore continue to follow the principles of democracy and the principles of justice, whether we agree or disagree with the Supreme Court’s decisions. While we can agree to disagree on whether justice is being done, we must all agree a basic principle of justice is that justice should not only be done but it should be seen to be done. The judiciary in Pakistan will never build its reputation as a truly independent and impartial judiciary if there are to be double standards. It is highly inappropriate, for instance, that in the case of the Chief Justice’s own son the investigator, the prosecutor and the judges who will hear the case are cherry picked by the court. My hope is that the Court will find its rightful role and carry out its duties in such a way that it restores its institutional credibility. If the Court cannot or will not, we the people must call for the judicial reforms needed in a mature democracy. Our democracy also faces the challenge of governing while combating the threat of terrorism. We lost our leader Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto to this fight, we’ve lost our party workers to this fight, we’ve lost our soldiers, our innocent men women and children but we will not lose our country to this fight. When we came into power the extremists had taken over our beautiful Swat Valley. The government’s strategy of dialogue, deterrence and development was successful and as a result, we have regained Swat from terrorists. Those planning a peace march into Waziristan should visit the now thriving marketplaces in Swat, which were once the bloody squares where the terrorists hung the bodies of innocent civilians in their hateful campaign of death and destruction. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is our war. When our soldiers are fighting and dying for our country, abducted and beheaded by the Taliban, when our people are in schools, markets, mosques, buses, going about their daily lives and being brutally killed, how then, can one say this is not our war? We too oppose drone strikes. We will fight this war on our terms and not at the dictation of any foreign power. Unlike the military dictator before us, who took orders from a single phone call, we have taken ownership of our foreign policy. Our Parliament conducted a full review of our foreign policy, giving the people’s approval to our actions. Unlike the military dictator before us, we have not been afraid to stand up to superpowers. We shut the supply routes in protest, we permanently shut Shamsi Air Base. There are politicians who now paint themselves as the guardians of our sovereignty but were the same politicians in power when the government took directions from a single phone call, opened the supply lines in the first place and granted use of Shamsi Air Base. Why do they protest now if they would not protest then? I did not come here to deliver a speech full of rhetoric and slogans. I come here to outline what your party has accomplished, against all odds and expectations, and what we have yet to do and will do inshallah. We must remain familiar with our history, sensible in our present and always hopeful for our future. I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with Pakistan that cannot be fixed by what is great about Pakistan. Pakistan Zindabad.

Ind vs Pak: India crush Pakistan by 8 wickets

The Times of India
Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuvraj Singh set it up with a superb display of spin bowling before Virat Kohli took centrestage with an unbeaten 78 as an inspired India thrashed arch-rivals Pakistan by eight wickets to keep their title hopes alive in the ICC World Twenty20 on Sunday. Scorecard | Match in Pics Ashwin (2/16) and Yuvraj (2/16) snapped up four wickets between themselves as Pakistan were shot out for a meagre 128 in 19.4 overs. Lakshmipathy Balaji also complemented the 'spin twins' with impressive figures of 3/22 in 3.4 overs. Kohli, who has been Pakistan's nemesis in the past, hit a scintillating unbeaten 78 off 61 balls as India won with three overs to spare. The Delhi lad hit nine boundaries and two sixes to take the team home in the high-voltage contest watched by a capacity crowd. However, Pakistan are still ahead in terms of net run rate of -0.426 which is shade better than India's -0.452. Had India won with 20 balls to spare, they would have been No. 2 in the group. India will now have to defeat South Africa in their last group-2 match on Tuesday to make it to the semifinals. India's unbeaten record against Pakistan in ICC World Cups has thus been kept intact having beaten them five times in the 50-over version and thrice in the T20 format. Kohli started with a thickish outside edge off Raza Hasan for a boundary but then played some lovely strokes. A backfoot cover drive off Saeed Ajmal and lovely cover drive off Yasir Arafat were glorious strokes. He also lofted Shahid Afridi over long-off for a six. Whether driving on the up or playing off his hips, Kohli was a treat to watch. Virender Sehwag, on the other hand, was happy to play the second fiddle during the 74-run partnership for the second wicket but did play a lovely lofted shot off Umar Gul's bowling. Pakistan captain Mohammed Hafeez's decision to bat first on a slow Premadasa track failed to produce the desired result as Ashwin and Yuvraj frustrated the opposition batsmen by maintaining superb line and length. Ashwin, who operated from round the wicket, had superb figures of two for 16 from four overs while Yuvraj also had identical figures but from three overs. The duo snapped four Pakistan wickets for only 32 runs in seven overs and it was the reason why Hafeez and Co could not reach a respectable total. Lakshmipathy Balaji also complemented the 'spin twins' with impressive figures of 3/22 in 3.4 overs. The only notable partnership was of 47 runs between Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal. Malik was the top scorer with 28 before he gave an easy catch to Rohit Sharma. Last match's hero Umar Akmal played a pull shot off an Ashwin delivery but couldn't clear Suresh Raina in the deep. India versus Pakistan matches are never short of drama and this match was also not an exception. Zaheer Khan's first over saw him bowl three wide deliveries and then being square driven by Imran Nazir for a boundary before Virender Sehwag dropped the opener at first slip. Irfan Pathan started off the collapse by removing Nazir who had shuffled a long way but the umpire thought that left-arm seamer's incoming delivery would have hit the stumps. Nazir stood his ground for a while before leaving. To everyone's disbelief, Shahid Afridi walked in at No 3 and smashed the first delivery from Pathan over his head and then another boundary off the bowler through the cover region. However, with the former Pakistan captain, opposition teams always fancy a chance and Balaji bowled a short one which Afridi tried to pull it over mid-wicket boundary but was caught by Suresh Raina at the boundary ropes. Afridi made only 14. Yuvraj then got into the act as he removed left-hander Nasir Jamshed and wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal in quick succession to reduce Pakistan to 49 for four. Both hurried onto their shots. Jamshed tried to play a slog-sweep which was smartly taken by Dhoni while Kamran tried an expansive cover drive of an arm ball only to give the Indian captain his second catch. Pakistan captain Hafeez scratched around for 28 balls for his 15 before he dragged one onto his stumps off part-timer Virat Kohli's bowling. Umar and Malik then got together to conjure a partnership but Ashwin dismissed both of them in quick succession to end Pakistan's chances of a big score.

Bahrain Faces Riots After Boy Dies in Protest

Riot police officers in Bahrain fired tear gas and stun grenades on Saturday in clashes with protesters who broke away from a funeral procession for a 17-year-old boy killed the day before during street battles with the security forces.Thousands of mourners took part in the funeral march, chanting antigovernment slogans and waving Bahraini flags. Later, smaller groups of several hundred demonstrators broke away and hurled stones at police units. There were no immediate reports of injuries. The death of the boy late Friday could stir more tensions between the forces backing the Sunni-led monarchy and groups from Bahrain’s Shiite majority who are seeking a greater voice in the country’s political affairs. More than 50 people have died, including protesters and police officers, in almost 20 months of political turmoil in Bahrain, an island nation in the Persian Gulf and the headquarters of the United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet. The Shiite-led protests are aimed at breaking the Sunni minority rulers’ monopoly on power in Bahrain. They started in February 2011 and were inspired by other Arab Spring revolts against authoritarian governments in the region. Bahrain’s largest Shiite political bloc, Al Wefaq, said the security forces killed the boy, Ali Hussein Niema, 17, when they fired birdshot — used often by the riot police in Bahrain — during street clashes on Friday in the village of Sadad, southwest of the capital, Manama. Last month, a 16-year-old boy was also shot and killed during a protest. Bahrain’s Interior Ministry confirmed that one person had been killed in what it described as a terrorist attack on a security patrol that included firebombs thrown at the police.

Bangladesh Muslims torch Buddhist shrines

Crowds of angry Muslims attacked Buddhist shrines, torching some of them, over the weekend in Bangladesh to protest after a photo of a partially burned Quran was posted on Facebook, police said Sunday. The protesters chanted anti-Buddhist slogans, blaming the burning of the Muslim holy book on a Buddhist boy, district police superintendent Saleem Jahangir said. The boy is tagged in the photo but did not post it himself, Jahangir said. The boy's account has been deleted and police are not naming him. Police sent extra officers to restore calm in Cox's Bazaar, a town south of the capital Dhaka on the coast, said Jahangir. "Now the situation is under control," he said. The south Asian nation is about 90% Muslim, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life estimated in its 2011 survey of the global Muslim population. It is less than 1% Buddhist. Actual or reported Quran burning has led to violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Relatively peaceful Bangladesh was one of many countries that saw demonstrations recently against the online video "The Innocence of Muslims," which portrays the prophet Mohammed as a womanizer and child abuser.

US and Afghan forces clash, leaving 5 dead

Associated Press
A firefight broke out between U.S. forces and their Afghan army allies in eastern Afghanistan Sunday, killing two Americans and three Afghan soldiers and pushing the number of U.S. troops killed in the long-running war 2,000. The fighting started Saturday when what is believed to have been a mortar fired by insurgents struck a checkpoint set up by U.S. forces in Wardak province, said Shahidullah Shahid, a provincial government spokesman. He said the Americans thought they were under attack from a nearby Afghan army checkpoint and fired on it, prompting the Afghan soldiers to return fire. The Afghan Defense Ministry said the gunbattle was the result of a "misunderstanding" between international forces and Afghan soldiers manning a checkpoint in the Sayd Abad district. NATO's International Security Assistance Force, commonly referred to as ISAF, provided a different account. "After a short conversation took place between (Afghan army) and ISAF personnel firing occurred which resulted in the fatal wounding of an ISAF soldier and the death of his civilian colleague," the coalition said in a statement. It said the three Afghan soldiers died "in an ensuing exchange of fire." NATO did not say whether it considered this an "insider" attack on foreign forces by Afghan allies. There has been rising tide of such attacks in which Afghan soldiers or police assault their international allies. The killings pose one of the greatest threats to NATO's mission in the country, endangering a partnership key to training up Afghan security forces and withdrawing international troops. While it may be days before it becomes clear who fired on whom first, the incident illustrates how tense relations have become between international troops and their Afghan allies. Officials on both sides went into damage control mode, arguing that Saturday's violence did not mark a new low in Afghan-U.S. relations and urging patience while investigators tried to figure out exactly what had happened. The deputy commander of NATO's military force in Afghanistan, British Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw, called a last-minute news conference in Kabul to address the incident, even though he had few details to give. He said the initial report of an insider attack should be amended to note that the incident "is now understood possibly to have involved insurgent fire," and tried to stress that relations between international troops and their Afghan allies "are very strong and very effective." A spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, Gen. Zahir Azimi, also sought to downplay the incident. "In a misunderstanding shooting broke out between Afghan army and ISAF forces. As a result of the shooting, three army soldiers were killed, three other soldiers were wounded and number of ISAF forces were killed and wounded," Azimi said in a statement. One U.S. official confirmed that the service member killed was American, while another confirmed that the civilian was also American. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the nationality of the dead had not yet been formally announced. The number of American military dead reflects an Associated Press count of those members of the armed services killed inside Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion on Oct. 7, 2001. In the south meanwhile, three Afghan police officers were killed when insurgents attacked a checkpoint in Helmand province Sunday morning, provincial police spokesman Fareed Ahmad said.

PML-N made Punjab bankrupt

Deputy Prime Minister and PML central leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi said on Saturday circumstances in Punjab would have been different if the PML-N government had concentrated more on improving the lot of poor people, control lawlessness and set the education system right instead of getting the IRI survey done in its favour. Talking to party leaders at his residence on Saturday, he said the popularity of political parties was judged by masses’ support on elections day and not by survey reports as people voted on the basis of performance and not on surveys. He said such surveys were also made before the 2008 elections but contrary to survey reports, the PML secured maximum votes in Punjab and was number two in Pakistan in terms of cotes bagged. He alleged the PML-N had made Punjab financially bankrupt and according to a report of State Bank of Pakistan, Punjab was heavily indebted despite his PML government had left the province with Rs 100 billion surplus. He said the growth rate during his tenure in 2007 was 8 per cent whereas it was only 1.8 per cent in 2012. He said another report of State bank said his government had utilised 98 per cent of development funds whereas the Shahbaz Sharif government used only 43 percent. He alleged the PML-N government had wasted billions of rupees on fake and flop schemes like Sasti roti, Tandoor, Ashiana Housing, Laptop, Danish Schools and Lahore Metro Bus. He said where one would find good performance when doctors, nurses, teachers and low-paid employees were protesting on roads for their rights while the crime rate had increased by 33 percent.

The Problem With Mengal’s Six Points

The Baloch Hal
Soon after his much-hyped return to Pakistan, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Balochistan’s former chief minister and the president of the Balochistan National Party (B.N.P.), has submitted six points before the Supreme Court as a minimum Baloch demand for deescalating tensions in his native province. Mengal has dramatized the situation by emulating Shiek Mujib-ur-Rehman, the founder of Bangladesh, whose Six Points eventually culminated in Pakistan’s dismemberment in 1971. Before we analyze Mengal’s six-point demands, the sad news is that the Pakistani security establishment categorically rejected Mengal’s proposal within 24 hours of his submission and the country’s Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, has warned Mengal not to speak against Pakistan or “defame our country’s armed forces”. The intelligence agencies told the Supreme Court that they did not run or sponsor any death squads, as pointed out by the former chief minister, nor was any missing person in their custody. A joint response submitted by Chief Secretary Balochistan at the Supreme Court on behalf of the civil and military authorities also argued, contrary to Mengal’s statement, that all political parties in Balochistan enjoyed ‘full freedom’ and did not face any kind of official restrictions. Here is what Mengal has proposed in his six points. 1. All covert and overt military operations against the Baloch should immediately be suspended. 2. All missing persons should be procured before a court of law. 3. All proxy death squads operating under the supervision of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) should be disbanded. 4. Baloch political parties should be allowed to function and resume their political activities without any interference from intelligence agencies. 5. Persons responsible for inhuman torture, killing and dumping of dead bodies of the Baloch political leaders and activists should be brought to justice. 6. Measures should be taken for the rehabilitation of thousands of displaced Baloch living in appalling condition. Almost all of the above-mentioned demands have been repeatedly made by Baloch nationalists, human rights groups such as the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and local and international media in order to build peace in Balochistan. In fact, B.N.P. had made some of these demands as early as 2005 in front of the Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan. Even the Pakistan People’s Party-led government, without consulting the B.N.P. and other Baloch nationalists, promised in the text of the Aghaz-e-Haqoo-e-Balochistan Package in November 2009 to resurface and release the missing persons. The promise was never kept. There has never been a dearth of recommendations on Balochistan nor will there ever be. What has hindered conflict resolution is the lack of political will on the part of the Pakistani security establishment, the federal and provincial governments. That situation has not changed and we do not see an atmosphere where such idealistic demands could willingly be implemented. Two of Pakistan’s top opposition leaders, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League and Imran Khan of the Pakistan Justice Movement, have publicly endorsed Mengal’s six points. Mr. Sharif and Mr. Khan have both spoken in support of Mengal’s demand not because they passionately feel for the rights of the Baloch people but because they are both staunch rivals and getting ready for upcoming general elections. We have been urging Mr. Sharif and Mr. Khan not to confine their love and concern for the Baloch people to mere media statements. They should practically launch long-marches in Punjab, as was done for the restoration of Chief Justice in 2008, to coax the army to halt its kill and dump operations in Balochistan. Only Mr. Sharif can pressurize the Pakistan army because the bulk of the army comes from the Punjab province. Likewise, Mr. Khan has passionately campaigned against drone strikes but hardly bothered to take out a march to Dera Bugti or Gwadar in support of thousands of Balochs who have been killed or disappeared during the current conflict. Mengal treats the Supreme Court as the ‘last hope’ for the Baloch people. This is a false expectation. The Supreme Court cannot resolve a dispute that requires basic constitutional changes and parliamentary protection. Pakistan’s Supreme Court has become very controversial and is believed to be a tool in the hands of the country’s army to destabilize the democratic government. Thus, a very strong Supreme Court is as dangerous for the Baloch as a strong Pakistani army. For instance, can one imagine a scenario if controversial judges like Justice (Javid Iqbal or Justice Sharif (who have respectively presented wrong statistics about the number of missing persons or settlers killed in Balochistan) are in position to hear Balochistan’s case? Given the past experiences, we do not think that Islamabad’s policies will change in near future. After all, what will convince the Chief Justice to punish security personnel responsible for whisking away young Baloch boys and killing them if video footage and testimony by members of the Balochistan Assembly and senior police officers fail to convince him? At the end, he can’t do much for himself or for Mengal because both of them do not wear a military uniform.

Mengal’s Political Blunder

Editorial:The Baloch Hal
The unilateral decision of former Balochistan Chief Minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal to return to Pakistan to support the country’s Supreme Court will hurt Baloch interests. Sardar Mengal, who heads the Balochistan National Party (BNP), certainly has a democratic right to make his own decisions but his actions will tarnish the international image of the Baloch nationalist movement. At a time when the United Nations sent a Working Group in Balochistan to investigate the cases of enforced disappearances and also come up with recommendations criticizing the Pakistani military, this was not the right step for a senior Baloch leader to express faith in the Pakistani Supreme Court. Balochs have reached some steps away from a next U.N. intervention or decision on Balochistan but Sardar Mengal’s return will provide the United Nations a reason to step aside and treat Balochistan as Pakistan’s “internal issue”. At this point, the Baloch interest lies in internationalizing the issue so that more international human rights groups and representatives of the media observe transparency in resolving the Balochistan conflict according to the wishes of the Baloch people. With such a dramatic decision, one is compelled to doubt the depth and clarity of B.N.P.’s political vision for Balochistan. The B.N.P. had previously asked for provincial autonomy for Balochistan but subsequently hardened its stance and began to ask for the right to self-determination. People seek the right to self-determination when they fully lose confidence in a state. Expression of trust in the Pakistani Supreme Court completely disqualifies B.N.P.’s plea for international intervention in Balochistan. 2012 was a glorious year in Balochistan’s history when the nationalist movement made extraordinary achievements. In February, the United States Congress held a hearing on Balochistan and members of the U.S. Congress, both from the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, supported the Baloch right to self-determination. On March 27th, these congressional friends of Balochistan addressed a press conference in Washington DC’s National Press Club to once again reiterate their support for the Baloch people’s right to self-determination. As the Baloch issue gained more international attention, the United Nations also sent a Working Group to probe the cases of missing persons. With his return, Sardar Mengal has made Islamabad’s job easier: to shut down all doors for future U.N. interventions in Balochistan. Because, as understood from Sardar Mengal’s decision, Pakistani institutions can internally manage the Balochistan imbroglio. We agree with the Baloch Students Organization (BSO-Azad) that Sardar Mengal’s action amounts to joining hands with those who are responsible for killing the Baloch people. The Supreme Court has been bluffing with the Baloch people. While this court has remained in place for ages, the first disappearances (in the ongoing insurgency) began in early 2000. A decade after the initial disappearances, this Supreme Court has not been able to punish a single official for their illegal action. There is an enormous wealth of evidence that proves the security establishment’s involvement in brutal actions against the Balochs. The Chief Justice has been using the Baloch missing persons as a political card but failed to deliver. It does not make much sense when Mr. Mengal says that the Supreme Court is last hope for the Balochs. How can one trust the Pakistanis when their executive and legislative branches of government have made no confidence building measures to appease the Baloch? While the issue of the missing persons is the most sensitive and critical one, it is not the sole bone of contention between Balochistan and Islamabad. Balochistan’s problem is not as narrow as the issue of human rights. Balochistan’s is a much more complicated political vendetta which cannot be resolved only by addressing human rights issues. However, if Islamabad genuinely addresses the issue of human rights then it should be considered as a confidence building measure to start dialogue on other outstanding political issues. Balochs have been receiving bullet-riddled dead bodies even during the visit of the working group. The so-called Pakistani liberal politicians like Senator Raza Rabbani have gone public to express their anti-Baloch intentions by brazenly announcing that the United Nations would not be allowed next time to send another mission on Balochistan. When Pakistani politicians and opinion makers unite against the Baloch people, our leadership must also learn the art of putting forward Baloch demands without mincing words. We do not fully know the details of Sardar Mengal’s understanding with the Pakistani government that culminated in ending his four-year self-imposed exile. We consider it a political blunder by B.N.P. which may offer it some temporary benefits but any contacts with Pakistan at this point will harm the broader Baloch interest. While some Baloch parties criticized Sardar Mengal in 2006 for not consulting them while quitting parliamentary seats in protest against Nawab Bugti’s killing, he now deserves his share of criticism for making another decision without consulting other key stakeholders. B.N.P. is going to isolate itself and end up getting itself recognized among soft pro-Establishment parties like the National Party or the Jamori Watan Party.

Bilawal Bhutto: EC a great achievement of Govt

Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that the setting up of a non-controversial election commission was a great achievement of the government, while efforts were afoot in favour of the dual nationality holders, Geo News reported. Addressing USA International Convention here, Bilawal Bhutto condemning the anti-Islam film demanded that the strings of such hate campaign must stop. He said that Islam was a religion of peace and those protesting peacefully against the blasphemous film were the real followers. Speaking on Balochistan's situation, Bilawal Bhutto said that his party considers Baloch people part and parcel of Pakistan. He said that historic actions have been taken for meeting the challenges in Balochistan. The share of Balochistan in national resources has been doubled through the NFC Award. Bilawal Bhutto said no one has the right to doubt the patriotism of Pakistanis residing abroad. Efforts were afoot that Pakistanis holding dual nationality could participate in the country’s affairs. He said PPP believes in independent judiciary and, as such, it sacrificed in supporting the lawyers’ movement.

‘Pakistan may lose major share in textile export this year’
Pakistan may lose its major share in textile exports and suffer negative growth during the current fiscal year, as about 20-25 industries face closures or are being diverted to neighbouring countries such as India, Turkey, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Sources said on Saturday that because of sky-rocketing prices of inputs, limited availability of basic inputs of textile units such electricity and gas, inconsistent government textile policies and worsening law and order situation had forced many textile mill owners to either to close down their units or to shift their businesses to nearby countries where the cost of doing business was comparatively less than Pakistan. “During the past fiscal year, 15 percent of the total number of textile units of Pakistan shut down completely, while during 2012-13, 20-25 percent of the rest of textile mills are likely to divert to the other South Asian countries”, sources added. “You can well imagine the rapidity at which the situation is worsening…just during the past month and a half, six hosiery processing factories have shut down in Karachi while some mill owners from the Faisalabad region also shut down their factories mainly because of the energy crisis”, sources disclosed. “Unfortunately, most of the times untimely delivery of our textile products to buyers abroad due to power crisis has resulted in considerable reduction in overall textile exports. Even our old clients are now hesitant to place orders for our textile products due to delays in delivery and comparatively high costs”, sources lamented. During the last fiscal year, the textile sector added $ 12.35 billion to the national exchequer against the export target of $ 16 billion while the target set for 2012-13 is $ 12-13 billion. Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), Mohsin Aziz, while talking to the Business Recorder, said that prolonged electricity load-shedding and shortage of gas are key factors in the decline of overall productivity of textile sector , adding that the government has failed to resolve the crisis. “The Indian government’s decision to allow Pakistani investment on its soil would also trigger capital flight from Pakistan because of deteriorating law and order and energy crisis,” the APTMA chief argued. The decision by India to relax the ban on investments from Pakistan was made in April 2012 while Pakistan had never imposed restrictions on investments by Indians.

Bhagat Singh’s revolutionary legacy

Bhagat was a fervent torchbearer of the proletarian struggle. He rejected the prejudices of caste, creed, nationality, race, gender, and, of course, religion This September 28 marked the 105th birth anniversary of one of South Asia’s iconic revolutionaries, Bhagat Singh. His heroic struggle for a revolutionary change and overthrow of the British Raj through a militant struggle has been a source of inspiration for generations. Bhagat was executed by the imperialist despots in the wee hours of March 23, 1931 at the tender age of 23, but he had left a mark in the annals of history of the class struggle in the region. His urge to understand Marxist theory and passionately educate his comrades in prison and during intense activities to develop as revolutionary cadres is a hallmark of his relentless struggle. Although he has been dubbed as a nationalist and anarchist by historians and analysts of the elite and the reformists, Bhagat was none of that at the end of his short but eventful life. Even when he was called from his death cell for the gallows, he was reading Lenin’s State and Revolution. The sort of independence that was achieved after a bloody partition, in which 2.7 million innocent souls perished, would have repulsed Bhagat Singh. The independence sought by him and his comrades of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) was spelt out in one of his epic speeches during the peak of their struggle. It has been portrayed superbly in Raj Kumar Santoshi’s brilliant film, The Legend of Bhagat Singh. He says, “We don’t want independence! We don’t want independence where the English rulers are replaced by the local elites. We don’t want freedom where this wretched system of exploitation and slavery continues. We are striving for an independence that would transform the whole system thorough revolutionary socialism.” Bhagat Singh, who was initially a diehard follower of Mohandas Gandhi, had revolted against him when the latter had called off agitation against the British after the killing of some policemen in a clash with a procession of youth and workers demanding the eviction of the imperialist rulers from India. Bhagat was deeply influenced by the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 in the Soviet Union and he diligently studied the works of Marxism and contemporary revolutionaries. Through his experience, he came to the conclusion that Gandhi’s politics was to preserve the system imposed by the British colonialists rather than its overthrow. He had also read The Programme of the Communist International, which was adopted at the second congress and published in September 1920. On the Indian situation the Programme stated, “Tendencies like Gandhi’s in India, thoroughly imbued with religious conceptions, idealise the most backward and economically most reactionary forms of social life. They see the solution of the social problem not in proletarian socialism, but in a reversion to these backward forms, preaching passivity and repudiating the class struggle, and in the process of the development of the revolution, they become transformed into an openly reactionary force. Gandhi’s, more and more, is becoming an ideology directed against mass revolution. It must be strongly combated by communism.” Gandhi later came out in his true colours, revealing on the side of which class he really was. On January 15, 1948, he stressed the ownership of the capitalists and the landlords: “I will never be a participant in snatching away the properties from their owners and you should know that I will use all my influence and authority against the class war.” Bhagat, on the other hand, was a fervent torchbearer of the proletarian struggle. He rejected the prejudices of caste, creed, nationality, race, gender, and, of course, religion. One of his most celebrated works is his pamphlet: Why I am an atheist. There is an intense and controversial debate going on, especially in India, on Gandhi’s role in the conviction and execution of Bhagat Singh along with his comrades Raj Guru and Sukhdev. However, on Bhagat’s execution, Gandhi remarked in his characteristic hypocrisy, “The government certainly had the right to hang these men. However, there are some rights which do credit to those who possess them only if they are enjoyed in name only.” Gandhi and the British viceroy Lord Irwin signed the Gandhi-Irwin Pact on March 5, 1931, and yet the executions were carried out just weeks after the signing of the pact. There was immense anger and sorrow throughout the subcontinent at these executions. Just after this brutality, the annual convention of the Congress at Karachi resulted in Subhash Chandra Bose and the left taking over the leadership of the Congress despite Gandhi’s efforts. There were violent demonstrations against Gandhi at the convention. The New York Times reported at the time, “A reign of terror in the city of Cawnpore in the United Provinces and an attack on Gandhi by the youth outside Karachi was amongst the answers of the Indian extremists today to the hanging of Bhagat Singh and two fellow assassins.” Revolutionaries are always pronounced by the imperialist media as extremists and assassins. But Bhagat Singh was extremely popular in the subcontinent. Sir Horace Williamson, Director of the Intelligence Bureau, wrote about Bhagat’s popularity years after the executions, “His photograph was on sale in every city and township and for a time (Bhagat Singh) rivalled in popularity of Mr Gandhi himself.” Although the aims, objective, ideology and ideals of his struggle have been distorted, tarnished and caricatured by the intelligentsia of the capitalist status quo, the truth cannot be concealed forever. At a seminar organised by the Punjabi University Research Scholars Association (PURSA) at the Patiala University on September 25, 2012, the main speaker, Professor Balkar Singh said, “Bhagat Singh sacrificed everything for socialist revolution...His thinking was relevant today as it was during his lifetime and he qualified to be placed among people like Lenin and Che Guevara.” After 65 years of so-called independence, the masses of the subcontinent are worse off. There is excruciating misery and deprivation through which the vast majority of the population is made to suffer by capitalist exploitation and repression. The system the British Raj imposed is very much there. Without its overthrow the emancipation of the oppressed massed can never be achieved. Bhagat Singh’s revolutionary legacy is a beacon of light for the revolutionary workers and youth of the region in struggle today. This revolutionary mission can ultimately be accomplished by the creation of a voluntary socialist federation of South Asia. The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign.

Pakistan: Putin’s visit

Islamabad has long been saying it cherishes the desire and talking a lot of making a “paradigm shift” in its foreign policy and also took a few steps to come closer to China-Russia dominated Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an associate member. But they were not sufficient enough for Russian President Vladimir Putin to pay his first official visit to Pakistan. And thus, a languid and incompetent administration has lost a rare opportunity of not only downsizing the country’s heavy reliance on the West but also getting closer to the dynamically emerging bloc which the future of the world belongs to. Pakistan’s overwhelming population, if asked, would vote for a change in foreign policy which has time and again sent shock waves to the country’s vital interests. The Russian president was due here for the first time to open the door to a new era of Pakistan and East coming closer to each other besides entering the SCO as a full member. Mr Putin’s focal person for relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov told an Indian newspaper that Islamabad talked a lot of rhetoric with little progress towards “meaningful cooperation”. Russia-Pakistan relations have been on the rise in recent years but economic ties between them have still lagged behind the desired level. The two countries finalized three memorandums of understanding at a meeting of the Pakistan-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission earlier this month and they were to be signed during President Putin’s planned trip. The MoUs relate to expansion of Pakistan Steel Mills and cooperation in energy and education sectors. Russia thinks that the MoUs are largely a reiteration of agreements signed last year during President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to Moscow. Russia’s main concern is Pakistan’s slow progress towards major projects in the energy sector, including Central Asia-South Asia electricity transmission from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan (CASA-1000), and construction of rail tracks and motor roads from Tajikistan to Pakistan to create new trade routes in the region. Russia also showed interest in the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project and Mr Putin also pledged an investment of $500 million in CASA-1000 and offered to finance and build other projects. But no headway is seen in these schemes. Another factor that might have contributed to Mr Putin “delaying” his visit to Pakistan is that Russia smells rat in its objectives in Afghanistan as Pakistan seems closer to Washington whims in the region and Moscow thinks that a sustainable resolution of Afghanistan’s issue is possible only with the active involvement and this may not be forthcoming because of Pakistan’s foreign policy which is unnecessarily aligned to the west, particularly the United States. No wonder if Washington may be influencing Islamabad not to come closer to Moscow because Pakistan has the unfortunate ability of yielding to such pressure. For how long Pakistan would want to be left high and dry in the hour of need, is a decision the political leadership has to take and transform it to the new emerging global realities?

Pakistan: 15th polio case surfaces

The total number of polio cases in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has reached 15 after the government confirmed the virus in a 15-month-old boy. Bilal, son of Adalat Khan, resides in Village Sangu on the border of Bara, Khyber Agency. His twin on the other hand is an active and healthy child. “Village Sangu borders the volatile Bara sub-division and this family had initially refused to inoculate their children. The twins were administered the drops this year on the National Immunisation Days in July,” said K-P Expanded Programme on Immunisation Deputy Director Dr Janbaz Afridi. He added that the boy was on bottle-feed and has a history of frequent chest infections. “He is a resident of an area where security problems are at their worst,” he said. This is the third case reported this year from Peshawar, while two each were reported from Charsadda, Mardan and Lakki Marwat. One case each has been confirmed in Tor Ghar, Hari Pur, Shangla, Swabi, Kohat and Karak. With the detection of this new polio case, the figure of such cases in the country has reached 38 compared to 122 that were reported until September 2011 last year. The government has decided to run a two-week anti-polio campaign in all districts for the next five months to stop the spread of polio virus. K-P Chief Minister Amir Haidar Khan Hoti and Chief Secretary Ghulam Dastagir Akhtar have shown serious concerns over emergence of new cases in a meeting held on September 16 with a World Health Organization official.