Wednesday, October 3, 2012
RADIO PAKISTANThe Russian Foreign Minister will hold talks with the Pakistani leadership on promotion of cooperation in diverse fields Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday evening on a two day visit to Pakistan. He was greeted at the airport by senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Russian Foreign Minister will hold formal talks with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on different aspects of bilateral relations with focus on strengthening economic ties. Both the foreign ministers will address a joint news conference after their talks tomorrow. He is also expected to call on Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf.
In the US, the race for the White House is heating up and President Barack Obama and Republican opponent Mitt Romney are all set to spar with each other in a debate over domestic and foreign policies on Wednesday. While Obama is likely to lead on issues of healthcare, Romney would renew his attack on Obama's economic policies and outsourcing jobs.
The major US presidential candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, will hold their first campaign debate on Wednesday evening in Denver, Colorado. Carolyn Presutti reviews the history of U.S. presidential debates and explains how some may have changed the course of the election.
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will on Wednesday clash head-to-head for the first time, in a high-stakes live televised debate that could transform the US presidential election campaign.From a stage in Colorado, the President and his Republican challenger will each tell tens of millions of viewers that he is the man who can revive the stagnant American economy. For Mr Romney, a former Massachusetts governor who trails in polls with just 34 days remaining until election day, the debate may mark the last opportunity to dramatically alter his prospects. For Mr Obama, amid a relentless jobs crisis and a Washington in gridlock, it offers a late chance to promise struggling voters that he still embodies hope and can deliver change. As the first public meeting of two men who are known to personally dislike one another, and who have each spent hundreds of millions of dollars to destroy the other's career, the debate is the most tensely-anticipated moment of the campaign for the White House so far. Arriving in Denver, Mr Romney said that at stake was the future of a country still reeling from the effects of a financial crisis that struck amid the last presidential campaign in 2008."In my view it's not so much winning and losing or even the people themselves, the president and myself," he told supporters. "It's about something bigger than that." With 23 million people jobless or seeking more work, Mr Romney attacked Mr Obama for prioritising health care reform, adding: "Jobs is job one under my administration." The Republican vice-presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, told a radio interview: "We're entering the phase where we get to frame the choice of this election." The debate, the first of three over the coming three weeks, centres on the economy – the issue to which Mr Romney had pledged to devote his entire campaign before his ailing ratings forced him to reach elsewhere. In an interview with Colorado's main regional newspaper yesterday, he announced that as president he would honour the temporary work permits granted to young illegal immigrants under a controversial action by Mr Obama earlier this year. The western state is one of 10 key battlegrounds in which Mr Romney is behind, according to RealClearPolitics. Its large Hispanic population sharply favours Mr Obama after Mr Romney took hard-line stances on immigration during his party primary contest. Moving to protect Mr Obama's 35-point lead among Latinos, the White House said he would make the home of the late labour leader Cesar Chavez a national monument next week. The president enjoys an average national lead of three points. Mr Romney is expected to stress in the debate that as president he would represent "100 per cent of Americans", in an effort to reduce the damage caused by secretly-recorded footage of him telling wealthy donors that 47 per cent of people were feckless "victims". While he was yesterday locked in a hotel outside Denver for last-minute coaching from top aides, Mr Obama was holed up in a resort in neighbouring Nevada making up the "debate prep" he claims to have skipped due to the middle-east crisis. Both camps have sought to lower expectations of their candidates' performances, in a ritual dance repeated every four years. Aides to Mr Obama have claimed he is "familiar with his own loquaciousness and his tendency to give long, substantive answers" and is working on seeming less professorial. "We expect Mitt Romney to be a prepared, disciplined and aggressive debater," said David Axelrod, the President's top strategist. Advisers to Mr Romney, meanwhile, stress that he is facing one of the "most talented political communicators in modern history" and that a draw would effectively be a win. Yet Chris Christie, the straight-talking Republican New Jersey governor, gave an unvarnished view of what he and other Romney allies are hoping for. "Mitt Romney is going to be standing on the same stage as the president of the United States," he told NBC. "Come Thursday morning, the entire narrative of this race is going to change". Polls show that only about 30 per cent of Americans expect a Romney win.
reutersFirst lady Michelle Obama rallied supporters to back her husband as early voting began on Tuesday in the key electoral swing state of Ohio where the Democrats hope to take advantage of a lead in opinion polls. "Are we going to just sit back and watch everything we worked for and fought for just slip away?" she asked a boisterous crowd of 6,800 in downtown Cincinnati. With President Barack Obama focused on Wednesday's debate against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the first lady led the Democrats' charge in Ohio, directing supporters to march to a local election office and cast ballots 35 days before the main voting day of November 6. "All of our hard work, all the progress that we made, it is all on the line this November," she said. "Here in Ohio, it is already Election Day." Urging voters to cast their ballots early in person or through mailed-in absentee forms has become a major part of the Obama campaign's strategy in Ohio and other swing states. People who vote early tend to rally friends and relatives among groups that are less frequent voters such as the young, low-income people and ethnic minorities. Those groups are generally more likely to vote Democrat. The Obama campaign is peppering less enthusiastic supporters with phone calls, home visits, and direct mail pleas. In 2008, roughly 30 percent of all ballots cast were early. Of those, nearly 60 percent favored Obama. The Obama campaign seeks to persuade at least half of likely supporters to cast early ballots in Ohio and elsewhere, a campaign official said. Voters backing both campaigns streamed into polling locations on Tuesday across 88 counties and requested more than 920,000 absentee ballots, election officials said. After months essentially tied with Romney in Ohio, Obama is now leading by roughly 5 percentage points in Ohio, according to aggregator RealClearPolitics. Some 7.8 million Ohioans are registered to vote in the state, compared with 8.2 million at this point in 2008, according to an election official. Daunte Thomas, 18, walked with fellow students from Cleveland State University to cast their first votes for Obama. "I didn't know today was the first day to vote before but we got (campaign) emails and there were people ... this week on campus and they told us," Thomas said. HURDLES FOR OBAMA The Obama team's Ohio infrastructure faces hurdles. An appeals court could overturn a judge's decision to keep polling places open the three days before Election Day, a window during which some 105,000 ballots were cast in 2008, a campaign spokeswoman said. But perhaps its biggest obstacle is the Romney team, which has some 40 offices in the state and is fortified by powerful "Super PAC" allies paying for negative television advertisements that hammered Obama's stewardship of a frail economic recovery and his healthcare law. Romney's team will have knocked on one million doors by the end of the week and it has made three million phone calls since May - more than in any other swing state, Romney officials said. An early voting event for the former Massachusetts governor on Tuesday in downtown Cincinnati drew roughly 45 supporters, among them was John McHugh, a 60-year-old former auto worker. McHugh, who joined other volunteers distributing campaign fliers at the voting location, said Obama is "tone deaf" on the economy and "a failure" on lowering joblessness. "I don't think he is working towards the same America I am."
Four Chinese marine surveillance ships patrolled in the waters off the Diaoyu Islands on Tuesday after the Japanese right-winger's intrusion, the Foreign Ministry confirmed. China is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposes the Japanese right-wingers' illegal entrance into the waters off the Diaoyu Islands and is keeping high vigilance to their intention and purpose, FM spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday at a regular press briefing. The provocation of this kind will make the situation more complicated if not stopped, said Hong Lei. The patrol team -- composed of Haijian 50, Haijian 15, Haijian 26 and Haijian 27 -- are carrying out normal rights-safeguarding activities around the Diaoyu Islands, according to a statement from the State Oceanic Administration.
http://rt.comThe Foreign Ministry has called on NATO and Middle East countries not to devise pretexts for military intervention in Syria. Russia has expressed concern that some provocation could occur at the Turkish-Syrian border that may give NATO the green light to intervene in Syria. "In our contacts with our partners both in NATO and in the region, including on international forums, we have called on them not to look for pretexts in order to carry out a [military] operation," Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told reporters on Tuesday in Moscow. In such a scenario, NATO would be obliged to intervene in the conflict to defend Turkey, a NATO member. Gatilov said Russia is equally wary of establishing any sort of “humanitarian corridors or buffer zones,” which may be used to draw NATO and other regional powers into the conflict. The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been struggling to maintain its grip on power amid a militant challenge by the political opposition. While many Western countries have disavowed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and taken sides with the rebels, Moscow is calling for both sides of the conflict to accept the Kofi Annan Plan, recognize a ceasefire and enter into peace talks. This is not the first time Moscow has warned its NATO partners against interfering militarily in the affairs of sovereign states. Last year, Russia, which was among five countries that abstained from a UN Security Council vote for the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Libya. Moscow said such action would lead to large-scale military involvement in the country. These concerns were eventually validated when it became obvious that NATO was targeting forces loyal to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was murdered at the hands of a mob immediately after being found. Last month, the violence returned full circle to Libya when the US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens was killed following a wave of anti-American protests triggered by the release of an anti-Islam film. Russia is concerned that by interfering in the affairs of foreign states, NATO is forced to build alliances with motley groups whose affiliation is largely unknown. In Syria, there is evidence that Al-Qaeda has hijacked the opposition movement, and this is a scenario that could lead to disastrous consequences in the event of a NATO military operation.
Radio PakistanRussian FM Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov arrives in Islamabad this evening on a two-day visit for consultations with Pakistani leadership on various issues In an interview‚ Foreign Office Spokesperson Moazzam Khan said the visit would provide an opportunity to further expand and intensify the existing mutually beneficial bilateral ties. He said‚ the two countries also share common objective of peace and stability in the region and attach importance to regional connectivity both in terms of trade and energy cooperation. The Spokesman said Russia can cooperate in agriculture‚ energy‚ science and technology sector.
In order to extend the existent effective and mutually beneficial cooperation, and develop, academic, cultural exchange and research, University of Peshawar and the University of Erfurt Germany have reached a formal agreement for internationalisation of higher education. In this connection a formal agreement was signed between Vice Chancellor UoP Prof. Dr. Qibla Ayaz and Prof. Dr. Jamal Malik of Erfurt University, who represented Prof. Dr. Kai Brodersen, President, Erfurt University Germany the other day. The extended cooperation would include inclusion of Institute of Islamic and Arabic Studies and Regional Studies for the exchange of faculty, students, publication of researches and joint research projects with Erfurt University. It is worth mentioning that the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication and Political Science are already working with the German University under the same agreement and up till now around twenty five students and ten teachers of these departments have benefited from the exchange programme. The agreement would remain effective for a period of three years and would be valid till September 30, 2015. This will be automatically renewable on the same terms and condition for another three years, the extended MoU reveals. Meanwhile, the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication University of Peshawar is all set to establish its own television studio and from this year the students would be offered internships in Television. This was revealed by former Chairman and Executive Director of Campus Radio University of Peshawar Prof. Dr. Shahjehan Syed while addressing the inaugural ceremony of the newly refurbished studios for the Campus Radio. The studio renovated at a cost of one million rupees from the funds provided by Internews Pakistan, was jointly inaugurated by President Peshawar University Teachers Association Jamil Ahmed Chitrali and representative of Internews Gohar Ali. Dr. Shahejehan Syed said equipment for the establishment of a TV studio has been provided by Deutsche Welle Germany while GiZ is also helping us in training of faculty. We are well on our way to set up a Television Station at University of Peshawar, through their help, which will go a long way in imparting training to the students and making of quality academic programs documentaries in the future. With the inaugural ceremony, the broadcasting of Campus Radio has restarted which will send it transmission on airways from 11am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm respectively. A one thousand watt transmitter has also been installed at the channel which will enhance our broadcasting to around Peshawar City, he informed. Department of Journalism is perhaps the only one in Pakistan to have focused much on applied side of the profession, said Jamil Ahmed Chitrali. That is why you see our students in key radio channels in the country, he added. The ceremony was attended by faculty members Inam ur Rehman, Bakhtzaman, Naeem Gul and students of JMC.
Daily TimesRussian Federation to assist Pakistan for revival of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), Pakistan Railways (PR) and help in enhancing power generation, the Minister of State and Chairman Board of Investment (BoI) Saleem Mandviwalla said on Tuesday. At a joint briefing along with the Russian delegation he said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding the expansion and rehabilitation of PSM was signed. It dealt mainly the cooperation in the project of modernisation, reconstruction and expansion of the production capacity of PSM up to 1.5 million tonnes. The Russian Company Tyazhpromexport helped Pakistan to establish PSM. After the signing of MoU, the technical audit of the PSM by the Russian company Tyazhpromexport would be carried out, he informed. Another MoU was signed for the up gradation of PR. A delegation of the Transmashholding visited Pakistan and held meetings with the Secretary Railways in Islamabad on April 25-26, wherein they were informed about the upcoming tenders for supply of passenger carriages for PR and further on exploring opportunities to cooperate with Pakistani manufacturers in order to create a joint venture for passenger carriages co-production. In this regard Transmashholding had also invited PR to visit their facilities in Russia. The third MoU was signed for cooperation in the water and power sector, in which Russia was interested to invest in many projects keeping in view the power deficiency in Pakistan. Mandviwalla reiterated the signing of MoUs in PSM, PR, power and science and technology sectors would definitely be a milestone in the bilateral relations of both the countries.
DAILY TIMESThe Supreme Court has rejected business tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain’s plea to issue stay order against one-man commission of Dr Shoaib Suddle, which is probing an alleged business deal between Malik Riaz and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s son Dr Arsalan Iftikhar. A two-member bench consisting of Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, hearing the review petition of Malik Riaz, also issued notices to all respondents in this case. During the hearing, Malik Riaz’s counsel Zahid Bukhari contended that forming a commission for a case between two individuals was unprecedented in the judicial history. He also said his client had appealed to the apex court because he felt the court orders were not being implemented properly. Bukhari also said investigations were not changed in the case of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s son Ali Musa Gilani and others. Praying for a stay order on Dr Suddle’s appointment in the matter, Zahid Bukhari said a stay order should be issued over the commission’s proceeding as the court had stopped the National Accountability Bureau’s joint investigating team to probe the matter on the plea of Dr Arsalan Iftikhar. The apex court said it could not issue a stay order without listening to point of view of other parties to the case. Hearing of the case was adjourned until October 30. Malik Riaz Hussain on September 11, under Article 188 of the constitution read with Order XXVI of Supreme Court Rules, filed a review petition challenging the Supreme Court’s judgement of August 30 and alleged that the impugned judgement amounted to giving preferential treatment to Dr Arsalan Iftikhar. In the said judgement the court constituted a one-man commission comprising Dr Shoaib Suddle to investigate an alleged business deal worth Rs 342 million between Dr Arsalan Iftikhar and Malik Riaz Hussain. According to the review petition, the August 30 verdict had been passed without lawful authority and jurisdiction as the order does not depict under what law the one-man commission was constituted. It said Dr Shoaib Suddle and CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry enjoyed close relations as both had attended each other’s family weddings. Bukhari said Dr Shoaib Suddle’s close ties with Dr Arsalan Iftikhar and his family would be a hurdle in conducting a fair inquiry.
Associated Press Writer Donna CassataThe footage was startling: A group of what appeared to be Pakistani soldiers gunning down several blindfolded men in a forested area. As the clips circulated online and the U.S. threatened to cut aid, Pakistan's army chief promised a full investigation and punishment for any wrongdoers. Two years later: Silence. What has the inquiry found? The army won't say. Was anyone punished? Not a word. Some rights activists question whether an investigation even took place. Pakistan has spent nearly five years under civilian rule, an unusually long stretch for a 65-year-old country prone to military coups. But as the firing squad footage and several other prominent scandals suggest, the army remains largely unwilling to hold itself accountable to the public. This despite some pressure from more active media and judiciary and despite hopes that the military would rethink its ways after the humiliation it suffered following the unilateral U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The army's lack of transparency and resistance to civilian oversight could cripple Pakistan's transition to a healthy democracy, something the United States says the country needs. But the Americans can't protest too much: Washington needs the Pakistani army's cooperation as the war in Afghanistan winds down and it already struggles to balance a strained relationship as it presses the army to root out anti-U.S. insurgents hiding in Pakistan. "It's important to understand that generally the Pakistani military is very careful about not hurting its own people," especially as they fight Islamists trying to overthrow the state, said Ayesha Siddiqa, a prominent Pakistani defense analyst. Most ordinary Pakistanis feel powerless to take on the army, and when it comes to reining in the men in uniform, the still-weak civilian government "can't do anything," she said. The two video clips that spawned the supposed inquiry fueled allegations that the military carried out numerous extrajudicial killings in the Swat Valley during a major offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in 2009. Bloodied corpses of suspected militants were found dumped on the streets for months after the army retook the valley from the Taliban. The army denied those killings. The grainy footage, which came to light in September 2010, is believed to have been recorded in Swat. A nearly six-minute clip shows men in Pakistani military uniforms lining up six blindfolded men in civilian clothes, then shooting them. After a voice says "finish them one by one," one apparent soldier walks over to the men and shoots them again. The other, 53-second clip shows only the executions. On Oct. 8, 2010, army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani announced an inquiry into the matter. He noted the probe would consider if the footage was even real, but also said, "It is not expected of a professional army to engage in excesses against the people whom it is trying to guard against the scourge of terrorism." In the two years since, The Associated Press has repeatedly asked the army about the status of the probe. At most, the answer has been that it's under way. Attempts to get army comment for this story led nowhere. Other cases further illustrate the difficulty in holding the army accountable. A year before the execution videos surfaced, a clip on YouTube and Facebook appeared to show Pakistani soldiers beating and whipping four militant suspects. The army promised to investigate but has never released any findings. In mid-September, Kayani announced that the military would take over the investigation and prosecution of three retired generals accused in a financial scam that was being probed by a parliamentary committee. The three were "recalled" into the army, apparently so they could be shielded from civilian courts. And then there's the "Abbottabad commission," the panel tasked with finding out what bin Laden was doing in Pakistan and what led to the May 2011 U.S. raid that killed him. The panel's creation was hailed because it was technically independent of the military. But its report has been repeatedly delayed, and if it is ever released, many doubt anyone in the security establishment will be held to account — at least not in public. The United States is legally bound to cut aid to foreign military units that violate human rights, and American officials have said the execution clips prompted a cutoff of funding to multiple Pakistani army units whose identities are classified. That doesn't mean net funding for Pakistan goes down, however — the money can simply be shifted to other Pakistani units. The nuclear-armed country is of such strategic importance that American leaders say it is difficult to withhold funds. In total, Pakistan receives roughly $1 billion in economic aid and $1 billion in military assistance each year. Sen. Patrick Leahy, who spearheaded the legislation that imposed the human rights requirement on foreign aid, is said to have had trouble getting answers on the execution videos. The senator "has repeatedly requested information from representatives of the Pakistani government on the status of the promised investigation of this war crime, but so far has received nothing," said his spokesman, David Carle. Ali Dayan Hasan, head of Human Rights Watch in Pakistan, is not convinced the military even pursued a proper probe. Pakistan's civilian government, led by the party of President Asif Ali Zardari, remains far too weak to take the army head on over accountability. At this point, the government is focused on surviving, and it has to tread carefully around the generals. Analysts said army leaders are reluctant to be more transparent to civilian authorities largely because of concerns about morale amid the fight against militants, who are themselves notorious for ruthless tactics. The Pakistani military says thousands of its soldiers have died in the conflict since 2001. It's entirely possible soldiers are punished in private for abuses, but to publicize that would, again, undermine morale. The army also doesn't necessarily trust the civilian institutions. The military often prefers to hold alleged insurgents indefinitely, even secretly, for fear civilian courts, which rarely convict terrorism suspects, would set them free. Still, a more assertive judiciary and a more technologically advanced media landscape are bringing signs of change. In August last year, an anti-terror court sentenced to death a soldier who shot and killed an unarmed youth as he begged for mercy in the southern port city of Karachi. The incident was caught on videotape and repeatedly broadcast by TV stations, triggering enough public anger the military could not ignore it. In January, a government-appointed commission released a report on the death of Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad, who was killed after telling friends he was threatened by the country's premier intelligence agency, the military-led Inter-Services Intelligence. The report said it did not have enough evidence to blame the ISI in the killing but that the agency should be more "law-abiding." The mere issuing of a report was seen by rights advocates as a mini-victory. The judiciary has also increasingly demanded the army and intelligence agencies account for suspects allegedly held in secret, believed to number in the thousands. Some have even been freed due to the court's demands, though no one in the security establishment is known to have been punished. Sustained protests by victims' relatives helped in pushing for the release of some of the missing, said Hasan. But so far there isn't a widespread public outcry for accountability from the military as the fight against Islamic militants continues. Even liberals "don't want too much focus on human rights in a situation like Swat," said Babar Sattar, a legal expert. "There is that sense that if you put too much focus on those issues it'll make it harder for the army to fight."