Friday, November 2, 2012
Saudi Arabia's political parties called for nationwide demonstrations early next month to demand release of political prisoners in the country. The Saudi parties are preparing for several protest rallies on November 2 concurrent with the demonstration in Kuwait. Founder of Saudi Arabia's Islamic Ummah (nation) Party Sheikh Mohammad bin Saad Al-Mofarrah has called on the public throughout the country to stage nationwide demonstrations to call for political prisoners, including those detained during the recent protest rallies in the country. Salafi figures in Kuwait plan to stage a demonstration codenamed 'Keramat al-Vatan 2 (Homeland Dignity 2)' in a bid to reject a revision of electoral laws ordered by Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al- Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah. Salafi opposition figures have already declared that they would hold protest rallies after Muslims' Eid al-Adha to oppose against reforms in electoral laws. Over 100 Salafis and 11 police forces were injured during conflicts last Sunday in Kuwait. The clashes came after Kuwaiti Emir ordered the revision in the laws ahead of snap parliamentary scheduled for early December. The Kuwaiti Emir has recently dissolved the parliament formed in 2009 and paved the way for snap elections for the second time in 2012 and 5th time over last 6 years.
http://www.rttnews.comUnited Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday expressed concerns over the recent restrictions imposed on public demonstrations and other public gatherings in Bahrain and urged authorities in the Gulf Kingdom to lift those restrictions without delay. "The Secretary-General believes these restrictions could aggravate the situation in the country and urges the Government of Bahrain to lift them without delay," Ban's spokesperson was quoted as saying in a news release issued on Thursday. The spokesperson said the U.N. chief also called on protesters in Bahrain to "ensure that any demonstrations are, in fact, peaceful," and stressd that "recent violence that reportedly killed two police officers is unacceptable." Further, he reiterated his earlier appeal to the Bahraini authorities to "abide fully by international human rights standards, including respect for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association." The Secretary-General "reaffirms his belief that there needs to be an all inclusive and meaningful national dialogue that addresses the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis, as this is the only way towards greater stability and prosperity for all Bahrainis," the spokesperson noted. Ban also called on the Bahraini government to "complete the full implementation" of recommendations contained in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, which the King of Bahrain established in June 2011 to investigate incidents that occurred during unrest in the tiny Middle-East State that year. The Commission reportedly found that government forces had used excessive force during the protests in February and March 2011, which left at least 35 people dead, including five police officers, reports said. The Commission also found evidences of torturing some detainees.The Commission's 17 recommendations included creation of independent bodies to investigate claims of human rights violations, review of convictions and sentences of individuals detained during the unrest, and avoidance of detention without prompt access to lawyers and without access to the outside world, with all cases of detention subject to effective monitoring by an independent body. On October 30, Bahrain banned all protest gatherings and threatened legal action against groups encouraging demonstrations and clashes. The move is believed to be aimed at crushing the oil-rich Kingdom's anti-government uprising spearheaded by the majority Shia population, who have been complaining about discrimination by the ruling Sunni royal family. It is estimated that at least 60 people have been killed since pro-democracy protests broke out in Bahrain in February 2011 as a fallout of the 'Arab Spring' that saw the toppling of entrenched rulers in North Africa and the Middle East. The Bahraini government had suppressed last year's unrest with the help of troops from other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) States. Nevertheless, the country continues to witness frequent protests staged by the Opposition and Bahrain's Shia majority, who have long been complaining about discrimination in housing and government jobs. They have been demanding greater political rights and want the Sunni monarchy to hand over most of its powers to the elected Parliament.
A Bahraini political activist says the United Nations must suspend the membership of the Persian Gulf kingdom due to Manama regime’s human rights violations, Press TV reports. “They have to tell the Bahraini government we are going to suspend your membership because you violated all these human rights and the freedom of assembly, [and] the right to expression, and for this reason people were killed, people were tortured, people were jailed, opposition leaders are still in jail, teachers, physicians are in jail,” President of the Bahraini Medical Association Osama Alaradi said in an interview with Press TV on Friday. The Bahraini revolution began in mid-February 2011, when the people started holding mass demonstrations. The Bahraini government promptly launched a brutal crackdown on the peaceful protests and called in Saudi-led Arab forces from neighboring Persian Gulf littoral states. Dozens of people have been killed in the crackdown, and security forces have arrested hundreds, including doctors and nurses accused of treating injured revolutionaries. “They had been trying to suppress the Bahraini people for the past actually two or three decades but they were not able to, because Bahraini people are determined to achieve their rights, their basic rights,” Alaradi said. He further argued that, expressing concern over the situation in Bahrain is not enough and as an international organization, the UN, should take action with regards to the violations taking place in the kingdom. “I know they are admitting that the Bahraini government is violating the basic rights of assembly, [and] freedom of expression, but just to say that we are really concerned about that and this may aggravate the situation is really not enough at all.”
Doctors treating Malala Yousufzai said she continues to make good progress and remains in a stable condition at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.
The Express Tribune News Network
At least 13 people were killed and several sustained injuries when their van caught fire after a shoot-out at a small petrol pump in Khuzdar, Express News reported on Friday. According to initial details, the van was parked at the petrol pump when unknown armed men opened fire on the vehicle. Express News correspondent Irfan Rana said that petrol drums at the pump caught fire because of the shooting, and as a result, burnt the van. The injured have been taken to a nearby hospital.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.comPakistan's top anti-corruption agency has summoned three retired generals, who were allegedly involved in the lease of railway land to a golf club at a throwaway price resulting in the loss of over Rs 16 billion. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has summoned former Lieutenant Generals Javed Ashraf Qazi and Saeeduz Zafar and former Maj Gen Hamid Hassan Butt in connection with the lease of land to the Royal Palm Golf Club in Lahore, a media report said today. The retired army officers have been asked to appear before an investigation team at the NAB headquarters in Islamabad, The News quoted its sources as saying. Their case is likely to be referred to the courts for a decision. According to NAB officials, the Generals caused a loss of over Rs 16 billion to Pakistan Railways by leasing its lands at a throwaway price. The Standing Committee on Railways of the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament recently issued directions to the NAB to conduct an inquiry into the alleged involvement of the Generals in the case. NAB officials informed the Parliamentary panel that the lease of the railways land to the golf club lacked transparency. The panel was further informed that the Generals were allegedly involved in the controversial lease process. Initially, 103 acres were leased and this was later extended to 140 acres while ignoring the highest bid. NAB officials informed the Parliamentary panel that the Royal Palm Golf Club had agreed to raise the lease amount. The NAB is likely to recover Rs 16.18 billion from the contractor of Royal Palm Golf Club for Pakistan Railways.
DAILY TIMESTeachers, students, their parents and residents of Ravi Road area on Thursday condemned the attack on Farooqi Girls High School and termed allegations of blasphemy against the school a “controversy”. Carrying placards and shouting slogans against violence, hundreds of girl students protested outside Lahore Press Club against Tuesday’s mob attack on the school. They urged government high-ups, clerics and residents of the area to let their school reopen. The placards read “Release Principal Sir Asim”, “Release our spiritual father”, “CJ take suo motu notice”, “Attack on our school is a conspiracy”, “We have the right to education” and “We are also lovers of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)”. The students also showed the torn book which their teacher had used while preparing the content in question. Famous for producing good results in matriculation examinations, Farooqi Girls High School was caught in a controversy after its teacher of class 6 handed out an assignment to students carrying “blasphemous” content. An angry mob attacked and set the school on fire on Tuesday while an FIR was also registered against Asim Farooqi, owner and principal of the school. However, the protesting students claimed that a conspiracy had been hatched against the school for its excellent performance and progress. Talking to Daily Times, they said they had been given Islamic teachings at the school and its administration had nothing to do with blasphemy. They requested the chief justice of Pakistan to take suo motu of the controversy and order steps for early reopening of their school. Fatima, mother of a student, said the mob attacked the school without probing the blasphemy allegations. “Had the protesters let police complete investigation, things would have been different,” Fatima said. “I myself was shocked when I read the content in question. But I calmed down after I came to know that the torn page of the book led the teacher to write wrong lines,” she said. Another student said that girls in Pakistan would suffer due to this incident. She compared the ransacking of school with the last month’s attack on education icon Malala Yousufzai.
THE FRONTIER POSTUS Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador Hoagland Thursday told the KP government officials that the United States was committed to improving infrastructure and expanding economic opportunities in KP and Fata. Ambassador Richard Hoagland in his day long visit to the provincial capital on Thursday held meetings with Governor Khyber Pakhunkwa Barrister Masood Kausar and Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti wherein he affirmed the importance of the US-Pakistan relationship and highlighted US assistance to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, including projects to rebuild infrastructure and livelihoods in the region during his recent visit to Peshawar. Ambassador Hoagland told KP Governor Masud Kausar and Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, that the United States is committed "to helping Pakistan become a secure, economically vibrant and stable democracy and looks forward, with Pakistan, to the day that assistance is no longer needed." Ambassador Hoagland also detailed US assistance to the region, which has built more than 470 kilometers of roads, launched more than 2,000 community-based projects, provided clean drinking water for more than two million residents in the FATA, and pledged to help local officials increase educational and economic opportunities and reconnect the region to the rest of Pakistan. During brief chat with local newsmen Ambassador Hoagland highlighted the on-going cooperation between the two countries in combating terrorism: "We are working together with your leadership to realize this vision, and we are grateful for the partnership we share with the government at the national, provincial, and city level. It truly is an enduring relationship that we are building here in the Fata and KP."
Daily TimesPakistan’s educational system needs to change dramatically to meet the needs of the 21st century, but any changes introduced needs to be sustainable over time. These views were expressed by experts while addressing the inaugural session of an international three-day conference on ‘In Search of Relevance and Sustainability of Educational Change’ organised by Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED) in collaboration with United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Higher Education Commission (HEC), Islamabad, held here at AKU auditorium on Thursday. Education needs to move on with the times, to be responsive to the emerging needs of present day societies. This was well illustrated by an enactment of The Saber-Tooth Curriculum, a satirical commentary explaining how unexamined traditions of schooling could result in resisting needed changes, written by an American educator and writer, Harold Raymond Wayne Benjamin. Experts further said that provincial governments would need to lead the change, as education was a provincial subject after the 18th Constitutional Amendment. Addressing the audience, a renowned educationist and the chief guest, Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy said that the 18th amendment had empowered the provinces to bring change, but they had failed to take any initiatives so far. “Pakistan presents a particularly challenging environment for affecting change, but there are some grounds for optimism. A clearer understanding of how the education environment can be better managed, both inside and outside the classroom, will doubtlessly be important in moving towards this goal,” he said. Dr Greg Moran, Provost AKU, addressing the session via a recorded video, stressed on the need to establish a link between relevance and sustainability in educational reforms if they are to have any impact on the quality of education. Earlier, Dr Muhammad Memon, Director AKU-IED, stressed on the importance of setting a firm direction for improving the quality of education and reform efforts. “The education system needs to be made responsive, resilient and agile for leading changes for sustainability. Students need education that is holistic, relevant, meaningful and enlightening”, added Dr Memon. He also emphasised on the need for preparing a policy framework that recognises teachers’ professional status and integrity. During his keynote address through a video link, Dr Andy Hargreaves, the Thomas More Brennan Chair, Lynch School of Education at Boston College, highlighted the importance of teacher quality in effective and sustainable educational change. “There is no better sign of a system, community or society than how it treats, supports and develops its teachers,” he concluded. Eminent scholars and experts in education presented papers and participated in panel discussions on the first day of the three-day conference.
Couple allegedly beat and poured acid on their 15-year-old daughter after seeing her talking to a boy.Pakistani officials say police have arrested a couple for allegedly killing their 15-year-old daughter by throwing acid on her because she was seen talking with a young man. Local government official Masood-ur-Rehman says the couple was arrested on Tuesday in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Police officer Imtiaz Ali says the parents confessed to killing the girl a day earlier because they believed she had sullied the family's honour. Local police officer Tahir Ayub told AFP news agency that the father, Mohammad Zafar, had had suspicions about his daughter Anvu Sha and became enraged when he saw her with a boy outside their home on Monday. "Zafar beat her up and then poured acid over her with the help of his wife. She was badly burnt but they did not take her to hospital until the next morning, and she died on Wednesday," Ayub said. Doctor Mohammad Jahangir of the state run Kotli hospital confirmed the death, saying the girl was brought to hospital in a "very critical condition" with almost 70 percent burns. Anvu Sha's married elder sister alerted police and demanded they investigate the incident in Khoi Ratta district, 140 kilometres north of the state capital Muzaffarabad. "The parents have confessed, saying that they suspected the girl had illicit relations with a boy," Ayub said. "We have registered a murder case against the girl's father and mother." Honor killings are widespread in Pakistan, where scores of women are murdered every year for marriages or relationships not approved by their families.
Imran Khan’s recent detention in Toronto by US authorities was used for political mileage by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief, said the US Deputy Chief of Mission Richard Hoagland in a talk with a select group of journalists on Thursday. Hoagland said, “A lot of the story that went out was not very accurate, but played up for political purposes.” He added that in principle nobody is ever stopped from entering the United States for their political beliefs. Furthermore, Hoagland said counter-terrorism was most important in US-Pak relations. “The sooner we contain terrorists the more peaceful the methods (of counter-terrorism) will become,” Hoagland said. “The Strategic Pause” an interim period of a difficult relationship between both the countries was now paving way for a “more mature but restrained relationship” based on diplomatic, military and intelligence sharing, said the US diplomat. Elections in the US The US diplomat added that no matter who won the US presidential elections, there would be “no pendulum swing in foreign policy.”