Monday, October 15, 2012
REUTERSPresident Barack Obama retained a slim lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll on Monday, as he appeared to have stemmed the bleeding from his poor first debate. Three weeks before the November 6 U.S. election, Obama leads Romney by 2 percentage points, with 47 percent support from likely voters in the national online poll, to 45 percent support for Romney. The margin was small enough to be a virtual tie, but Obama's slight edge broadened from Sunday, when he went ahead of Romney by 1 point after falling behind in the wake of Romney's decisive victory in their first presidential debate on October 3. "Romney received a bump from that first debate, but the very nature of a bump is it recedes again," Ipsos vice president Julia Clark said. "We're now seeing Obama regaining a little bit of a foothold as we go into the second debate. They go into the debate on equal footing." The two men meet again on Tuesday night at New York's Hofstra University in a debate that Obama needs to win to grab back the campaign momentum. The third debate is set for October 22 in Boca Raton, Florida. Obama's support in the new Reuters/Ipsos survey was particularly strong among the 10 percent of registered voters who have already cast their ballots. Fifty-five percent said they voted for the Democrat, compared to 43 percent for his Republican challenger. POLICY GAINS Romney and his fellow Republicans have been hitting Obama hard over his handling of diplomatic security, blaming his administration for attacks in Egypt and Libya on September 11. The U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in Libya. But the poll did not find a groundswell of condemnation for the White House. Forty-five percent of registered voters approved of Obama's handling of the situation in Libya and Egypt and 40 percent disapproved. Thirty-eight percent backed Romney on the issue, compared with 36 percent who did not. The incumbent also regained ground in several policy areas since the first week after his bad debate. Forty-two percent of registered voters said they thought Obama had a better plan for healthcare, compared with 35 percent who said the same of Romney. Obama's rating was up 4 points from October 10. Obama's ratings on taxes also went up by four points, as did voters' view of his plans for Social Security and Medicare by 3 points each. Romney's scores each went up by 3 points on how he would handle the war on terrorism and gay marriage, although Obama was still ahead on both. Thirty-seven percent of registered voters picked Obama as having better policies for dealing with terrorism, compared with 32 percent for Romney. And 43 percent favored Obama on gay marriage, compared with Romney's 25 percent. Romney kept a big lead of 38 percent to 29 percent on who has a better plan for handling the deficit, and a small lead of 38-37 percent on who would better handle the U.S. economy. Obama was just ahead, at 39 percent to 38 percent, on jobs and employment. The precision of Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points for registered voters and 2.6 for likely voters.
The Baloch HalIt appears that Arab princes are ruling Balochistan province instead of the people’s representatives as is proved by no other person than chief minister of the province, Nawab Aslam Raisani, who ordered the purchase of a modern and state-of-the-art jet plane for the whopping sum of Rs1.7 billion putting a huge burden on the already teetering economy of the province. According to reports, a team comprising two pilots as technical experts and two senior officials from Balochistan has recently returned home after a tour to America in this regard. It is learnt that the agreement for the purchase of the jet plane has been approved. The modern plane is being purchased from the Canadian company, Bombardier. A senior official of Balochistan revealed the details of this secret deal while talking to ‘The News’ the other day. He said that in the beginning the purchase of the jet plane was worked out at Rs1.4 billion but its cost had swelled to Rs1.7 billion. According to information, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has been sent a letter from the Balochistan government in which the provincial government requested the tax collection body to waive duty on the purchase of the jet plane. According to sources, the request from Balochistan regarding the duty waiver was not being accorded. The high cost jet plane is being purchased at a time when Balochistan is in the grip of lawlessness and target killing. This move endorses the remarks of the Chief Justice of Pakistan that nothing good is going on in the province. The province despite having the budget of Rs182 billion, has no MRI or CT scan machines except in Bolan Medical College. The provincial government, instead of paying heed to the people’s problems, is purchasing the luxurious plane. It is more pity to learn that the province already has two jet planes — one for the governor and the other for the chief minister — and now the agreement to purchase the third one has been approved. (
http://www.bakhtarnews.com.afForeign Ministry spokesperson Janan Musazai rejected and condemned the recent assertions of Emran Khan Leader of Hezbi Tehrik Insaf of Pakistan with strong words and said that his assertions indicted unawareness of the roots of terrorism, violent attacks in Afghanistan. He considered these assertions indicative of his intentions towards the people of Afghanistan and added that in the past ten years the people of Afghanistan for the reason of terrorist attacks the roots of which is outside the territory of Afghanistan have sustained vast sacrifices. He added that according to the afghan foreign ministry this irresponsible and shameless suggestion cannot justified for a person who alleges as leader of a political party. He stressed so far of the 83 Afghan prisoners in Tajikistan 15 of them have been delivered to Afghanistan on the basis of the bilateral agreement on extradition of prisoners in 1385 between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. He added that the remaining prisoners will also be delivered after accomplishing the procedures and they will pass their remaining prison terms in Afghanistan. According to Musazai three Tajikistani prisoners were delivered to Tajikistan government last months. He also touched on the strategic cooperation agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan and once again described the conditions of Afghanistan and said that so far no officials have started in respect to the signing of the security agreement between Afghanistan and the US as well.
The Express Tribune
By Feisal H NaqviTwo days after Malala Yousufzai was attacked by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Imran Khan went to the hospital in which she was being treated to show his concern regarding her condition. And yet, when asked a day earlier why he didn’t directly condemn the TTP, Mr Khan had responded as follows: ‘We have local affiliates and supporters. Sure I can give big statements against the Taliban but that would make them [supporters] Taliban targets.” Shame on you, Mr Khan. Since you have chosen to present yourself as a potential leader of this country, let me make something clear to you: leaders can’t be cowards. And for you to make that statement while also purporting to sympathise with a girl injured precisely because she stood up for principles that you don’t have the courage to defend is not just cowardice but hypocrisy of the highest order. Let me break down my last statement. Malala Yousufzai was attacked by the TTP because she stood up for things like the right of girls to a fair education. You have condemned that attack. That means you think Malala was right and her attackers were wrong. At the same time, you refuse to display the same bravery as Malala by openly condemning her attackers. What does it say about you, Mr Khan, that a 14-year-old girl has more guts than you do? Had she been awake, what would you have said to her? Would you have told her not to be so stupid next time? Would you have told her to just accept the TTP’s belief that women are inferior? Would you have told her that Pakistan needs more cowards, not people like her? Shame on you, Mr Khan. Since Mr Khan dropped his clanger, the sentient part of the PTI has attempted to cloak his cowardice with a lot of doubletalk about drones, the war in Afghanistan and the root causes of evil. None of that suffices to excuse Mr Khan’s cowardice. Let’s begin with drones. So far as I understand it, his argument is that the root cause of the evil is the US war in Afghanistan and that militants like the TTP are driven into acts of hatred by the violence unleashed by the US and now perpetuated through drone attacks. This is bullshit of a high order. The fundamental fact that Mr Khan and his cohorts either fail or deliberately refuse to appreciate is that the TTP and the Afghan Talibs are two very different groups. The Afghan Talibs consist of groups indigenous to Afghanistan whose primary aim is to overthrow the US’s supported government of Afghanistan and to take over power in Afghanistan. Afghan Talibs have a beef with the state of Pakistan only to the extent that the state of Pakistan helps the US in fighting those Talibs. Many of the leaders of the Afghan Talibs have taken up residence in Fata and Balochistan, just across the Pak-Afghan border. It is these leaders in Fata who have been targeted by the US through drone attacks. If the US was to leave Afghanistan tomorrow and if the Afghan Talibs were to retake power in Afghanistan, the Afghan Talibs would have no fundamental dispute with Pakistan. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan consists of groups indigenous to Pakistan whose primary aim is to overthrow the elected government of Pakistan and to take over power in Pakistan. The TTP does not accept the legitimacy of the Pakistani state. The TTP attacks the citizens of Pakistan through suicide bombs and kills Pakistani soldiers. Even if the US leaves Afghanistan tomorrow and even if the Afghan Talibs take over Kabul, the TTP will continue to fight in Pakistan, continue to kill Pakistani soldiers and continue to attack people like Malala Yousufzai. Conflating the TTP with the Afghan Talibs into one giant amorphous mass is not just stupid, it’s criminally stupid. It is at the same order of analysis as “two legs good, four legs bad.” The distinction between the two groups is in fact made more evident by drone attacks. The state of Pakistan does not have drones and therefore does not use drones to fight the TTP. The US does have drones and it does use them to attack the Afghan Talibs but with a few very limited exceptions such as Baitullah Mehsud, there have been no drone attacks against the TTP. Trying to justify the TTP’s actions with reference to drones is therefore idiotic. One may as well justify the TTP with reference to poverty in Swaziland or Pakistan’s failure to win a World Cup match against India. Please note that distinguishing between the TTP and the Afghan Talibs is not the same as saying that drone attacks are justified: that is an entirely different debate. It probably does not behove the sovereign state of Pakistan to meekly accept the invasion of its airspace by the US. But even if Pakistan should be aggressively acting against drones, that has nothing to do with the challenge to Pakistan’s sovereignty by the TTP. And if you, Mr Khan, cannot understand that logic, then you are unfit to lead this country. Let me make another thing clear: Mr Khan says that it is a tragedy for Pakistan to be bombing its own people. Actually, no. States use violence against their own citizens their whole time. A citizen who steals is jailed for theft. A citizen who kills another person is executed for murder. And citizens who take up arms against their own country are guilty of treason and thereby liable to be shot. The same goes for the “root cause” argument. Frankly, I couldn’t care less what inspires or motivates the TTP. I know that the TTP doesn’t accept the legitimacy of my country or my elected government. I know that they kill my fellow citizens. I know that they kill the soldiers who fight for my security. I don’t need to know the “root cause” of the TTP’s beliefs any more than I need to know about the childhood traumas of a psychopath threatening my family. Pakistan doesn’t need cowards, Mr Khan. Shame on you for adding to their number.
The Express TribuneIn a first for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) since the attack on Malala Yousafzai, a grand tribal jirga condemned the murder attempt, offered prayers for the child activist, and announced support for the government in this regard on Sunday. The Haleemzai tribe’s grand tribal jirga held at Sangar Ghallanai was attended by thousands. The Taliban attack had not been condemned publicly by any prominent individual or group in Fata until now. Addressing the jirga, peace committee leader Muhammad Ali Haleemzai said that terrorists had destroyed schools and hospitals in the region and were working against their tribal customs, saying they wanted to push the people ‘back to the stone age’. Haleemzai announced an alliance under the name ‘Qaumi Aman Tarron’ (‘National Peace Alliance’) to safeguard the region against terrorists and terrorism. He said the alliance would be extended to other tribes of the Mohmand Agency and invited all peace committees to participate. Haleemzai said all those involved in anti-state activity and terrorism would be punishable by a hefty fine and expulsion from the area. Addressing the jirga, tribal leader Malik Hidayatullah emphasised that since the tribe has now announced support for the government, it is now the duty of the government to support the tribe as well. He demanded that the government work on development and provide compensation because of the troubles suffered by the militancy-hit region, including infrastructure damage and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Hidayatullah also lashed out against NGOs working in the area, alleging that vast amounts of foreign funding had been embezzled. He explained that by labelling certain regions ‘no go areas’, the NGOs could use the funds in any way without having to prove that any development has taken place in these regions with the allocated money. The tribal leader demanded an inquiry into where these funds had disappeared, and pointed out that while the government has relaxed the collective responsibility clause of the draconian Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR) law, it is yet to be implemented in spirit. Hidayatullah also called for the release of all those imprisoned in various jails without any solid evidence. At the end of the jirga, Haleemzai prayed for Malala, calling her a ‘brave Pakthun girl’. The jirga was attended by all four major sub-tribes of Haleemzai, including Wali Baig, Hamza Kheel, Kadi Kheel and Kamali Haleemzai.
World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year, the United Nations has warned. Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN. "We've not been producing as much as we are consuming. That is why stocks are being run down. Supplies are now very tight across the world and reserves are at a very low level, leaving no room for unexpected events next year," said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). With food consumption exceeding the amount grown for six of the past 11 years, countries have run down reserves from an average of 107 days of consumption 10 years ago to under 74 days recently. Prices of main food crops such as wheat and maize are now close to those that sparked riots in 25 countries in 2008. FAO figures released this week suggest that 870 million people are malnourished and the food crisis is growing in the Middle East and Africa. Wheat production this year is expected to be 5.2% below 2011, with yields of most other crops, except rice, also falling, says the UN. The figures come as one of the world's leading environmentalists issued a warning that the global food supply system could collapse at any point, leaving hundreds of millions more people hungry, sparking widespread riots and bringing down governments. In a shocking new assessment of the prospects of meeting food needs, Lester Brown, president of the Earth policy research centre in Washington, says that the climate is no longer reliable and the demands for food are growing so fast that a breakdown is inevitable, unless urgent action is taken. "Food shortages undermined earlier civilisations. We are on the same path. Each country is now fending for itself. The world is living one year to the next," he writes in a new book. According to Brown, we are seeing the start of a food supply breakdown with a dash by speculators to "grab" millions of square miles of cheap farmland, the doubling of international food prices in a decade.
Editorial: The Frontier PostNot even had our tears dried over the holocaust the vile terrorists had wreaked just the other day in Sibi, Dera Bugti and Orakzai bazaar, the thugs struck fatally a market in Darra Adamkhel with suicide car bombing on Saturday. At least 18 innocent people lay dead on the spot while over 40 others were gored, many critically. But for how long are we to keep receiving death and destruction with abandon at the thuggish hands? How many bleeding Malalas are we to cry over? How many wounded Shazias are we to grieve over? How many injured Kaainats are we to weep for? For how many times are we to mourn the tragic demise of our toddlers, children, women and men in terrorist strikes? After every thuggish assault, the top state functionaries are all tall talk. Crush they would terrorists with an iron hand, they fume and thunder. But where is the strategy? After all, it is doing, not vowing, that really matters and makes all the difference. The one Yousuf Raza Gilani had hammered out at a high-level inter-provincial jamboree is a long forgotten counter-terrorism strategy, apparently consigned to archives to gather dust. Seemingly, none has been chalked out thereafter. Then how would these functionaries do the feat of crushing terrorists? That should be their closely-guarded official secret. There indeed is a strange hiatus to the state act to counter terrorism on their watch. They have clearly not even understood that a triumphant fight against terrorism indispensably entails combining up of the state’s military power and civil power to take on dark merchants of death and destruction in concert. The military fights them on mountains, in caves, in jungles and in deserts. The civil power confronts them on city streets and lanes and in markets and public places. But, visibly, they have shifted the entire burden of combating terrorism on the military’s shoulders, leaving the civilian security apparatus to hibernate. Why indeed are the provincial governments sitting so pretty while their domains are unexceptionably in the throes of an urban terrorism? Why have they not taken out their CID networks from barracks and put in the field to track down terrorists and their sleeper cells, lairs and hideouts? Why have they not formed up exclusive anti-terrorism squads to confront terrorism thugs? Why have they not pulled the battalions of police deployed on VIP protection duties and put them on beat patrolling that would detect any suspicious stranger’s presence in an urban neighbourhood at once? Why has it only to be ISI or MI to look for terrorists? Why not IB too? Is political monitoring more important than security monitoring even at this point in time? Is the job of civilian security apparatus only to weigh the explosives used in a terrorist attack after its perpetration and not to prevent that thuggish assault? Or, is this apparatus meant only to cordon off the struck area and go in search of perpetrators? Who is that sage that has told this apparatus after their strike the thugs keep loitering in the area for window shopping? Who has told it that once a suicide attack has occurred, the attacker’s masterminds and handlers stay put on the scene to count the casualties? The time indeed has come for all and sundry to imbibe fully the enormity of the vicious multifaceted terrorism that we are caught up in so irretrievably and act wisely, rationally and realistically to face up to this monstrosity. Even the self-styled liberals and puritanical clerical orders must get out of their conceits. One knows not wherefrom have these ‘liberals” got their bogey of good Taliban and bad Taliban to beat the military with. But has the military got its over 5,000 officers and soldiers killed and many more injured in fighting militants for this distinction? And how do these so-called liberals square up their pretentious opposition to a supposed military’s employment in quelling insurgency in Balochistan but want this very military to launch into an operation in North Waziristan? And if the liberals are being so hypocritical in their take on the military, aren’t the holy clans of clerical orders being so likewise? Don’t they contrive appalling justifications for the wickedness the vile terrorists are indulging in so horribly? If those wicked characters are angry at drone attacks and America’s Afghanistan adventurism, do they have to take out their anger by slaughtering our own children, women and men? There have to be some limits to conceits and hypocrisies; those can’t be unlimited. If, all must know, some harm comes to this country all will be hurt unsparingly. Hence, all must pull together to unitedly confront this terrorism monstrosity, irrefutably posing the biggest internal existential threat to the country.
An air ambulance left Benazir Bhutto International Airport Islamabad on Monday morning Malala Yousufzai has been sent to the UK for further treatment. According to the ISPR‚ the decision has been taken in consultation with her parents. A statement issued by the ISPR says Malala needs prolonged medical care. In order to provide continuity of care‚ an Army intensive care specialist will accompany Malala on her flight. However‚ military spokesman said her condition is stable and she is making steady and satisfactory progress. The medical team treating Malala has been reviewing her progress at regular intervals and consulting with international experts. The medical team is pleased with her present condition which has been described as optimal‚ read the statement. It said the neurosurgery performed in Peshawar was exactly right and indeed saved her life. The medical team says Malala will require prolonged care to fully recover from the physical and psychological effects of trauma she suffered. "It is expected that in due course of time she will need repair/replace of damaged bones of the skull and long term rehabilitation including intensive neuro rehabilitation‚" reads the statement. The government of Pakistan is bearing all the expenses of Malala's treatment. Special prayers were also held across the country and in abroad for her speedy recovery.