Friday, November 16, 2012
Malala Yousufzai remains stable and comfortable at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. A total of £9,982.13 has now been donated to a dedicated fund within the QEHB Charity. The fund was set up soon after Malala arrived in Birmingham on 15 October, in response to the outpouring of concern from around the world and people wanting to make a donation to show their support. The QEHB Charity is independent to the hospital. It provides funding for facilities and equipment not normally available on the NHS, such as patient and family welfare, educational projects and research. Once Malala is well enough, the charity will ask her how she would like the money to be spent.
By:AHMAD ZIA TULLA"Nero fiddled while Rome burned" is an old adage but in Pakistan, in reality, we can claim that this is happening. While Karachi and Balochistan are burning, our government and its different parts are sitting calmly giving TV interviews and suggestions and slanders about the culprit or culprits. But the question is who is looking out for Pakistan? The people are burning in the fire of misery, of devastation and continuous bombings. Others are burning in the furnace of prejudices, hatred and apartheid. Whether it is news channels showing 'breaking news' or the front page of daily newspapers, both speaks at length about Karachi situation. This situation is nothing new but of grave concern. So many questions and no answers, and whenever asked a direct question, our politicians start spinning a web of deceit or a yarn or fairy tales such as "Once upon a time there was Musharraf…" We all would like to know who are the ruthless killers? Where do they plan such unholy actions? What is their motive behind such callous acts? How they are able to escape despite police and civilians around? Why is the government and concerned agencies showing apathy towards the situation? And most importantly when will this violence be over and we could all go back to a normal life? The states foremost responsibility is the security of life and property of its subjects, whether it is a house, a school or a business. More than eighty people have been killed in the last ten days, and there is no hope of any improvement in the coming days. We need a collective effort on the part of political parties, Ulemas, civil society, government, judiciary and all other concerned authorities to join hands to overcome this catastrophe. We as public should become vigilantes and point out any criminal we see among us. We should be on high alert.
Radio Free EuropeA Pakistani court has sentenced a man to death for blasphemy.
Editorial: Daily TimesIn his address at an ‘Eid Milan Party’ the other day, President Asif Ali Zardari ranged over a wide exposition on the present state of democracy and politics. The main points elucidated by the president included an assurance that there would be no delay in the elections since steps had already been taken, including updated voters’ lists, to hold fair, free and transparent elections on the scheduled date. This appeared to be the president’s answer to some conspiracy theory reports in the media that the government may be contemplating postponing the elections on one pretext or the other. The president underlined the PPP’s perception that democracy was the only way forward. He offered an olive branch to the estranged PML-N by arguing that although the two mainstream parties had parted ways, this did not mean that they were enemies. Differences should not be stretched too far, he argued, and tolerance and accommodation should be the operative watchwords. Zardari admitted our nascent democracy still had many shortcomings, but said he would welcome inputs from all the political forces to overcome these and frame a 25-year or even 50-year plan as traditional five-year plans could not steer the country out of the current situation. Political parties needed to be strengthened to consolidate democracy. The PPP, he asserted, was working to turn Pakistan into a state that can meet the challenges of the 21st century. In a reiteration of his presidency’s achievements, he reminded his audience that he had delegated his inherited powers to parliament, before which now every power was bowing (although some would argue to the contrary!). The Asghar Khan case verdict had vindicated the late Benazir Bhutto’s accusation at the time that the 1990 election was snatched from her. Today, the president asserted, conspiracies against democracy would not succeed. He celebrated the fact that for the first time since the 1970s, parliament was about to complete its five-year term. Turning to Karachi, the president refuted the argument that the state had failed in the city, countering by pointing to the elements under attack in the war on terror, who were attempting to destabilise Karachi to distract the government’s attention from the ongoing campaign against them. Last but not least, President Zardari positioned himself squarely as carrying forward the ideology of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) and the mission of Benazir Bhutto. While there is much that is of value and unassailable in the president’s remarks, some areas of concern remain. It is heartening to note, despite our litany of discontent at the shortcomings of the democratic system ushered in in 2008, that despite political rivalries and differences, there are hardly any takers in the country for authoritarian or dictatorial dispensations. In this regard, the main opposition leader, Mian Nawaz Sharif, has shown a maturity that is all too rare in our polity and refused to go along with any scheme to upset the democratic system through any extra-constitutional intervention. Despite his complaints and critique of the PPP, this statesmanlike attitude has lent stability and longevity to the democratic system and is a reminder of the continuing influence of the ideas enshrined in the Charter of Democracy. A country that is a stranger to peaceful transfer of power through the ballot stands poised on the brink of the first such transition in our history. Surely the import of this turn cannot escape anyone familiar with the chequered history of Pakistan. While the president and co-chairperson of the PPP has adhered to the reconciliation philosophy Benazir Bhutto left behind as a legacy, it must also be admitted that he has not always lived up to the promise of carrying all political forces along. Nevertheless, this being often an intrinsic part of political rivalry, we should be grateful for the not so small mercies of the record of the last five years: no political prisoners, freedoms across the board that have allowed virtually every group in society to peacefully agitate its demands, and haltingly but surely, a political culture groping its way towards civilised conduct in public life. This is not to say all is hunky dory, only to mark whatever progress is visible. President Zardari spoke in the same breath of the ideology of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his own desire to see a just society in which the child of a poor person would be on an equal footing with a child of the rich and powerful. With the greatest respect, the PPP is widely seen now as detached from its early socialist moorings and merely paying lip service to the founding ideas of the party. This is not just the president’s doing. It is something he has inherited from the trajectory of the party after ZAB’s hanging. The PPP retreated after that tragedy into a mode resembling nothing more than appeasing the powerful state and non-state forces inherently hostile to the party because precisely of its earlier élan. Whether that has worked as a strategy or brought the party closer to the goal of a more just society must be left open as a question and await the verdict of history.
http://www.brecorder.comFertilizer manufacturers in Pakistan faced over 2.7 million tons urea production loss in 2012 mainly due to gas curtailment, as they could only produce 4.2 million tons of urea against a total production capacity of over 6.9 million tons per annum. Industry sources told Business Recorder on Thursday that during last five year fertilizer industry invested $2.3 billion in the country based on the government approved policy designed to encourage investment in the sector. However, unprecedented gas curtailment to fertilizer plants, in violation of existing supply contract of 12 months a year, has caused significant loss to the manufacturers during the year 2012. They informed that so far the industry had suffered a production loss of over 2.7 million tons in 2012. The domestic fertilizer plants produced only 4.2 million tons of urea against a total production capacity of over 6.9 million tons per annum. Decline in domestic production of urea also compelled the government to import huge quantity of urea to meet farmers’ demand, they said and added “to meet this production loss government imported over 1.23 million tons of urea spending 566 million dollars and also paid over 24 billion rupees subsidy to keep the imported urea’s prices at par with locally produced urea.” On the other hand, sources said, cash strapped Ministry of Finance is not very happy over this situation as Pakistan has all the required production facility to meet the domestic demand and even Pakistan can export over one million ton of urea to earn hundreds of millions of dollars every year if domestic fertilizer plants are provided with uninterrupted gas. The country’s overall urea production capacity is about 6.9 million tons annually, as against the demand of some 5.8 million tons, providing an opportunity to export some one million ton of urea annually. Industry sources said that despite all the pressing problems, domestic urea price is still Rs 1331 per bag below international urea price, which is six times larger than feed gas subsidy of Rs.216 per bag. “The current domestic urea price is Rs 1,659 per bag, including company price Rs 1,422 per bag and Rs 237 per bag General Sales Tax and advanced tax, as against average international urea price of Rs 2,990 per bag inclusive of GST during 2012,” they informed. The encouragement of fertilizer industry by the government was meant to pass on benefit of domestic manufacturing to the farmer. This is evident from the fact that during 2012 domestic urea sold at $311 per ton while it received gas at $3.8 per MMBTU. In comparison Middle Eastern producers sold urea at $470 per ton while paying approximately $0.7 per MMBTU for gas. They said that over the last five years the farmers have received benefit of Rs 500 billion, of this Rs 140 billion was contributed by the government in form of feed gas subsidy and Rs 360 billion was contributed by the fertilizer manufactures by keeping urea prices significantly lower than the international prices. Sources claimed that SNGPL-based plants were facing the worst-ever crisis of their history as such gas curtailment was never witnessed before 2012. They said that the sector despite making an investment of $2.3 billion in last 4-5 years on new production capacity, making Pakistan world’s 7th largest urea manufacturer country, is sitting on an idle urea capacity of over 2.5 million tons. They also claimed that if the same gas curtailment continues during 2013, the SNGPL-based fertilizer plants may force to shut down permanently resulting in lay off of highly skilled manpower, increase in bad debts and huge burden on national exchequer, to import urea to meet the urea shortfall. A fertilizer sector official commented that it’s not just fertilizer plants that would face the burnt, the whole farmers’ community as well as the government would be the ultimate losers if fertilizer plants with over 2 million tons of capacity were shutdown due to unavailability of gas. They said that government needs to support fertilizer industry to ensure inexpensive local urea to farmers and import fuel for the power sector and the industry which is more cost effective.
The Express TribuneThe tense and entertainment-starved youth of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) recently witnessed a concert and a fashion show at Neshtar Hall, which was arranged by the Directorate of Culture. The event was aimed to be a distraction for the young people for whom security concerns have narrowed entertainment options. The event management company Globoss said that the aim was to provide entertainment and create awareness about fashion trends in the city. Globoss claims that the event was called off many times, and the situation remained uncertain until the culture directorate intervened.