Tuesday, December 18, 2012
http://www.scmp.comPolice are to question action movie star Jackie Chan over his claim that he once used "guns and grenades" to fend off triad members.
AL ARABIYA NEWSEgypt’s opposition launched fresh protests on Tuesday in a last-ditch bid to scuttle a draft constitution pushed by President Mohammed Mursi and his Islamist backers ahead of a second round of voting.
We analyse the failure of US gun control laws in preventing recurring mass shootings.Barack Obama, the US president, has had to make speeches like this three times already during his tenure, consoling communities where mass killings had taken place. The said mass murders took place in Tucson in Arizona, Fort Hood in Texas and Aurora in Colorado.But it was only after last week's killing of 20 children aged six and seven in Connecticut that Obama said it was time for action. "Can we say that we're truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose? I've been reflecting on this the last few days and if we're honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We're not doing enough, and we'll have to change," he said. While Obama did not use the word "gun" in his speech to members of the Newtown, Massachusetts community, gun control has now become the focus of discussion. The US has the highest gun ownership per capita in the world – nine guns for every 10 Americans.On Friday morning, 26 people were killed after a gunman carrying a high-powered military-style rifle and other guns stormed Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The gunman, identified as Adam Lanza, was armed with four weapons and a semi-automatic rifle with dozens of high-velocity rounds – all of which were obtained legally by his mother. Lanza also killed his mother and took his own life.An investigation by Mother Jones into US mass shootings over the last 30 years found that in 80 per cent of 62 incidents, the guns were obtained legally; while in 11 incidents they were obtained illegally. As for the type of guns, the investigation found 66 semi-automatic handguns were used in the shootings, 35 assault weapons, 20 revolvers and 17 shotguns. Gun control opponents say guns should not be blamed for the actions of a person. While acknowledging there was no one answer to ending this type of violence, Obama said more had to be done. Is more stringent gun control the answer to preventing mass shootings in the US? Joining the discussion with presenter Shihab Rattansi on Inside Story Americas are guests: Adam Winkler, a specialist in US constitutional law and author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America; Mark Follman, a senior editor at Mother Jones which has done a special report on mass shootings in the US; and Christian Heyne, a grassroots coordinator for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. The National Rifle Association (NRA), the main gun lobby in the US, declined Al Jazeera's invitation to join the discussion. "We have to be happy that a conversation is taking place. So many times when these shootings take place, for some reason there's this push to take guns off the table, we can't talk about the mechanism in which these mass shootings take place [but] that's not happening this time maybe because of the horrific nature of [this crime]."
Opposition groups holding multiple marches in Cairo on Tuesday to condemn polling violation during first phase of constitutional poll, rejecting draft charterHundreds of protesters march in Cairo on Tuesday to condemn violations during the first phase of the constitutional referendum and to reject the draft charter. A few hundred protesters kicked off the march at 4pm from El-Nour and Rabaa El-Adawya mosque in Nasr City, heading to the presidential palace in Heliopolis.
http://www.thehindu.comPerhaps the real tragedy we must contemplate, as we consider the story of the young woman who now lies in a Delhi hospital bed battling for her life after being brutally beaten and gang-raped Sunday night, is this: in six months or less, she will have been forgotten. There will, by then, have been the next victim, and the one after — and absolutely nothing will have changed. Ever since Sunday’s savage crime, India’s political leadership has been loudly engaged in what it appears to believe is advocacy of women’s rights — in the main, dramatic but meaningless calls for summary trials, castration and mandatory death penalties. The same leaders will, if past record proves a guide, do absolutely nothing to actually address the problem. For all the noise that each gang-rape has provoked, Parliament has made no worthwhile progress towards desperately-needed legal reforms. Even nuts-and-bolts measures, like enhanced funding for forensic investigations, upgrading training of police to deal with sexual crimes, and making expert post-trauma support available to victims, are conspicuous by their absence. How does one account for the strange contrast between our outrage about rape — and our remarkable unwillingness, as a society, to actually do anything about it? For one, we are far more widely complicit in crimes against women than we care to acknowledge. The hideous gang-rape in Delhi is part of the continuum of violence millions of Indian women face every single day; a continuum that stretches from sexual harassment in public spaces and the workplace to physical abuse that plays itself out in the privacy of our homes far more often than on the street. Nor is it true, secondly, that Delhi is India’s “rape capital.” There are plenty of other places in India with a higher incidence of reported rape, in population adjusted terms — and Delhi’s record on convicting perpetrators is far higher than the national average. Third, this is not a problem of policing alone. As Professor Ratna Kapur argues in an op-ed article in this newspaper today, there is something profoundly wrong in the values young men are taught in our society — values which bind the parental preference for a male child to the gang of feral youth who carried out Sunday’s outrage or the hundreds of thousands of husbands who were battering their wives that same night. Finally, India’s society rails against rape, in the main, not out of concern for victims but because of the despicable notion that a woman’s body is the repository of family honour. It is this honour our society seeks to protect, not individual women. It is time for us as a people to feel the searing shame our society has until now only imposed on its female victims.
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/US President Barack Obama is backing a new bill to revive an assault weapons ban and other new gun laws, the White House says.
Saudi Arabia has no plans to allow its women to work as stewardesses on its passenger aircraft because of social barriers, its aviation chief has said. “There are no plans for the time being to allow Saudi women to work as stewardesses or take up other flight jobs because of social and legal reasons,” said Prince Fahd bin Abdullah bin Mohammed, head of the Saudi Aviation Authority. Quoted by the London-based Saudi Arabic language daily Alhayat, he said Saudi women had been allowed to work at flight ground services and airports through the Gulf Kingdom, the world’s largest oil exporter with a population of 28 million. “We are undertaking efforts to allow Saudi women to get new jobs that will fulfill their ambitions,” said Prince Fahd, also chairman of Saudia Airlines. Women cannot drive cars and are still banned from many jobs in Saudi Arabia, one of the most conservative Moslem nations.
White House says Republican John Boehner's "Plan B" proposal does not put enough tax burden on wealthiest Americans.
REUTERS.COMOpponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi staged protests in Cairo on Tuesday against an Islamist-backed draft constitution that has divided Egypt but looks set to be approved in the second half of a referendum this weekend. Several hundred protesters outside the presidential palace chanted "Revolution, revolution, for the sake of the constitution" and called on Mursi to "Leave, leave, you coward!". While the protest was noisy, numbers were down on previous demonstrations. Mursi obtained a 57 percent "yes" vote for the constitution in the first part of the referendum last weekend, state media said, less than he had hoped for. The opposition, which says the law is too Islamist, will be encouraged by the result but is unlikely to win the second part this Saturday, which is to be held in districts seen as even more sympathetic towards Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood. The National Salvation Front opposition coalition said there were widespread voting violations last Saturday and called for protests to "bring down the invalid draft constitution". The Ministry of Justice said it was appointing judges to investigate complaints of voting irregularities. Opposition marchers converged on Tahrir Square, cradle of the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak almost two years ago, and Mursi's presidential palace, still ringed with tanks after earlier protests. A protester at the presidential palace, Mohamed Adel, 30, said: "I have been camping here for weeks and will continue to do so until the constitution that divided the nation, and for which people died, gets scrapped." The build up to the first day of voting saw clashes between supporters and opponents of Mursi in which eight people died. Recent demonstrations in Cairo have been more peaceful, although rival factions clashed on Friday in Alexandria, Egypt's second biggest city. RESIGNATION Egypt's public prosecutor resigned under pressure from his opponents in the judiciary, dealing a blow to Mursi and drawing an angry response from his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood. In a statement on its Facebook page, the Islamist group that propelled Mursi to power in an election in June, said the enforced departure of public prosecutor Talaat Ibrahim was a "crime" and authorities should not accept the resignation. Further signs of opposition to Mursi emerged when a judges' club urged its members not to supervise Saturday's vote. But the call is not binding and balloting is expected to go ahead. If the constitution is passed, national elections can take place early next year, something many hope will help end the turmoil that has gripped Egypt since the fall of Mubarak. The closeness of the first referendum vote and low turnout give Mursi scant comfort as he seeks to assemble support for difficult economic reforms. "This percentage ... will strengthen the hand of the National Salvation Front and the leaders of this Front have declared they are going to continue this fight to discredit the constitution," said Mustapha Kamal Al-Sayyid, a professor of political science at Cairo University. Mursi is likely to become more unpopular with the introduction of planned austerity measures, Sayyid told Reuters. To tackle the budget deficit, the government needs to raise taxes and cut fuel subsidies. Uncertainty surrounding economic reform plans has already forced the postponement of a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. The Egyptian pound has fallen to eight-year lows against the dollar. Mursi and his backers say the constitution is needed to move Egypt's democratic transition forward. Opponents say the document is too Islamist and ignores the rights of women and of minorities, including Christians who make up 10 percent of the population. Demonstrations erupted when Mursi awarded himself extra powers on November 22 and then fast-tracked the constitution through an assembly dominated by his Islamist allies and boycotted by many liberals. The referendum has had to be held over two days because many of the judges needed to oversee polling staged a boycott in protest. In order to pass, the constitution must be approved by more than 50 percent of those voting.
http://www.khaleejtimes.comThe year 2012 is likely to be one of the deadliest for journalists around the world, with at least 67 killed while doing their jobs, a US-based media rights group said on Tuesday. The Committee to Protect Journalists said the number of deaths is up 42 percent from last year, due in large part to the Syria conflict, shootings in Somalia, violence in Pakistan and killings of reporters in Brazil. “With 67 journalists killed in direct relation to their work by mid-December, 2012 is on track to become one of the deadliest years since CPJ began keeping detailed records in 1992,” the New York-based committee said. The worst year on record for journalist killings was 2009, when 74 individuals were confirmed dead because of their work, nearly half of them slain in a massacre in Maguindanao province, Philippines, according to CPJ. CPJ also said it was investigating the deaths of 30 additional journalists in 2012 to establish whether they were work-related. “Internet journalists were hit harder than ever, while the proportion of freelancers was again higher than the historical average,” the group said in its yearly report. Syria was by far the deadliest country in 2012, with 28 journalists killed in combat or targeted for murder by government or opposition forces, CPJ said. In addition, one journalist covering the Syrian conflict was killed just over the border in Lebanon. Worldwide, the vast majority of victims, 94 percent, were local journalists covering events in their own countries, a proportion roughly in line with historical figures. Four international journalists were killed in 2012, all of them in Syria: Marie Colvin, an American who wrote for the Sunday Times of London; French freelance photographer Remi Ochlik; France 2 reporter Gilles Jacquier; and Japan Press journalist Mika Yamamoto. Other organizations do separate calculations of journalist deaths. Last year, Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign said at least 106 journalists were killed in 2011, among them 20 who reported on the Arab spring uprising.
Pakistan and 5 Female Polio Workers killed is the Legacy of Saudi Arabia, UK and US: Now Aimed at Syria.
By Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay WalkerIn any nation where you have radical Sunni Islamists intent on killing, then barbarity is only around the corner. This applies to killing minority Muslim groups, persecuting non-Muslims, attacking women and a host of unsavory factors which bind Islamic jihadists together. Therefore, the murder of five female polio workers and one male worker in Pakistan isn’t a surprise. After all, this is the typical Islamist mindset which only knows how to butcher and to turn the clock back to “year zero.” Given this reality, then the criminal act in killing health workers on the grounds of jihad, sums up the warped logic of a religious movement which is intent on crushing all alternative thought patterns. In a world based on logic, then these health workers would be praised for dedicating their lives for the good of humanity. Yet logic within the mindset of Islamic jihadists is not only thin on the ground but it is equally neo-primitive to an extreme. However, if we turn the clock back to the early 1980s then nations like America, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom supported radical Sunni Islamists against communist Afghanistan. This meant that special operatives from within the CIA representing America and the ISI from Pakistan, and other operatives from nations like the United Kingdom, enabled international Islamists to get a foothold in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The upshot of all this was that a nightmare was created and today the world is witnessing this ongoing nightmare. It is abundantly clear that the roots of September 11 are connected with the political naivety and crassness of nations like America and the United Kingdom. After all, it is clear that Saudi Arabia and the elites within Pakistan in the 1980s were intent on spreading Islamism based on religious and political factors. Yet for America and the United Kingdom it was about “turning the Islamist clock on and off” to when it suited. Of course, the events of September 11 woke America up briefly but under the Obama administration it is clear that the “Islamist clock is being turned on” once more. The same now applies to nations like France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. After all, these nations are now behind many atrocities in Syria. This applies to killing religious minorities, killing pro-Sunni supporters of the government, beheading people, daily car bombings, torturing Syrian soldiers and a plethora of crimes against humanity. Indeed, in the last few weeks many images coming out of Syria highlight the fact that children are now being indoctrinated just like in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Yet, just like the crisis in Afghanistan in the 1980s it is major Western nations, along with powerful Middle Eastern countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are funding this hatred in Syria. The upshot of all this, is that now small children are being taught by various Islamist terrorist groups and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to behead and torture pro-government individuals and Syrian soldiers. Alongside this, children in Syria under the control of the FSA and various Islamist factions are being taught to hate mainstream Sunni Muslims, Alawites, the Shia, Christians and members of the Druze community. Turning back to the recent brutal murder of five female polio workers and one male member, then this hatred was ignited by the deeds of outside nations and the political elites in Pakistan in the 1980s and 1990s. This was supported by Islamist indoctrination which spread sectarianism, terrorism and the persecution of women. However, this was tolerated and supported by America, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and other nations, because of various factors in the past. Yet, you can’t “switch off radical Islamism” to suit the agenda of the day and September 11 was further evidence of this. Despite this, political elites in Ankara, Doha, London, Paris, Riyadh and Washington are now working together alongside international jihadists and Islamist indoctrination in Syria. This means that the secular government of Syria is fighting for its survival and the same applies to mainstream Sunni Islam and all minority faiths, which are deemed to be infidels in the eyes of Salafi Islamists. If individuals want to see the consequences of supporting such a brutal policy, then one only needs to look at Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to see the future. Therefore, while the five Pakistan polio health workers were killed in late 2012 in and around Karachi, it is abundantly clear that the evil forces unleashed in the 1980s by outside nations and elites within Pakistan, are equally to blame for unleashing radical Islamism. In this sense, the brutal murder of these health workers ties in with the unfolding events of the last 40 years in this part of Asia. Similarly, the brutal video of a child hacking at the head of a captured Syrian soldier would have been unimaginable until recent times in this country. Yet, once more, outside nations like America, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Qatar are all “switching on the Islamist clock” in order to crush secular Syria. This reality means that the madness of Afghanistan and Pakistan is now being replicated in Syria by the usual players.
Pakistan faces a long-term challenge from Talibanisation, which is, in fact, a gift from Afghanistan that spread from Fata along the Afghan border deeper into the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and mainland with Swat becoming a major stronghold for the Pakistani Taliban. Militancy is bolstered by religious, social, and political networks in Pakistan by the spread of conservative nationalist politics. Religious divide and intolerance have increased so much in our society that each religious group is adamant on the righteousness of one’s own religion while interpreting others’ religious views as shrouded in ignorance fraught with the wrath of Allah. Taliban militants wanted to enforce their own brand of laws in the region and started challenging the writ of the government by attacking government buildings, courts and security forces in Buner, Dir and Shangla. The orthodox right-wing political groups support Taliban style of thinking. The Taliban and hard-line political groups in Pakistan are also against those who support the American policies. They want the Pakistan government to change its policies and adopt a friendly attitude towards the Taliban. The leaning of Islamic parties towards the Taliban has emboldened them to attack on national strategic installations as well as resorting to intimidate those who publicly criticize their doctrine. As in the case of Lal Masjid-2007 episode, the two Maulana brothers Abdul Rashid Ghazi and Abdul Aziz, tried to impose an extremist view in the name of propagation of virtue and preventing vice from the society by kidnapping Chinese women they thought to be prostitutes, denying women to drive a car, forcing women to wear veil and forcing the owners of CDs shops to shut their businesses. These acts were not only un-Islamic but also against the spirit of Islam, which teaches humility and tolerance. It was simply a blatant attempt at Talibanisation, which would push the people back into the dark ages in the name of Islam. This scenario necessitates to quell militancy from Pakistan. In order to accomplish the objective, Pakistan armed forces carried out successful operations in Swat, Malakand, South Waziristan, Mohmand and Bajaur agencies against terrorists and militants, with full support of the nation articulated by the parliament of Pakistan. The Swat de-radicalisation Programme was a model for other relevant organizations to learn from and replicate. Equally worth mentioning is the efforts of our intelligence agencies that have led to apprehensions of hundreds of al-Qaeda operatives and targeting of their leadership. Pakistani counter-terrorism intelligence efforts at national level have become quite effective in the recent years, but politicians having vested interests are reluctant to muster public support for the war. Owing to brave resistance by Pakistan’s armed forces coupled with effective internal counter-insurgency strategy, the TTP umbrella organization has splintered into smaller factions that often rival one another. In the same milieu, Pakistan has banned 38 organisations that fomented terrorism and sectarianism in the society. The attack on journalists by a Taliban group has given an opportunity for how the de-radicalisation process is to be further embarked upon. Needless to say, there is no military solution to terrorism since military strategy can only provide enabling environment. The menace has to be tackled which warrants a comprehensive response entailing synergy by all elements of national power. Some of the essential features to counter it are: i) Pakistan must keep the Western powers at bay and never allow them any role in this de-radicalisation process. Both the government and the people should be determined to go without it. Raymond Davis’ role in Pakistan is a point in case. ii) “Political will” is a must to defeat terrorism. All political parties must have unflinching commitment to stamp out extremism in national interest of Pakistan. The Islamic parties should convince the Taliban to moderate their behaviour and work within the framework of Pakistan’s Constitution and law. This will be their major positive contribution towards promoting societal harmony and stability in Pakistan. iii) Pakistan Army derives its strength from the people of Pakistan and is answerable to the people and their representatives in parliament, therefore, public support/awareness is a must. Public should be made aware of sacrifices they have to offer in men and material during the course of security forces’ operations. The nation must be prepared to endure the fallout of a counter-insurgency campaign, iv) Armed forces must be provided with every essential weapon/equipment to meet growing threat, v) Intelligence agencies should proactively identify suicide sleeper cadres/cells before initiate any untoward incident of terrorism. More importantly, long-term pathway to address radicalisation process is linked to the process of character-building. One does not require any law to offer five times prayers, behave honestly, speak truthfully, treat others fairly and be morally upright. A particular society through its socialising agents like parents, teachers etc, inculcates these worthy attributes in the individuals. The environmental influences nurture these values and encourage conducive environment for personality progression and growth. ‘Social education’ is instrumental in ‘character building’ which means a bundle of virtues, the highest sense of honour and integrity, and that you will not sell your principles for anything in the world, however tempting it may be. These are the characteristics, which go to make a healthy community. When a crisis arises, if you live up to these virtues, no one on the surface of the earth can defeat you. Coming generations must be developed, and renewal must occur naturally, from within and by democratic means against extremist religious bigoted forces to secure the future of Pakistan.
http://www.calgaryherald.comIf you were looking to name a school in someone’s honour, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone more deserving than Malala Yousufzai.
According to a joint report by two civil society organizations, nearly 70 per cent of parliamentarians, or 300 out of 446 members of the National Assembly and Senate, did not file income tax returns in 2011. The study found that only 20 of 55 cabinet ministers had filed tax returns, while 49 senators out of 104 paid any income tax. Among the leaders who did not file tax returns were President Asif Zardari and Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Among those who did, Senator Mushahid Hussain, paid a tax of only Rs 82 in 2011. Eighty members of parliament had no tax number, despite spending crores on getting elected. The report comes on the heels of another by Transparency International on corruption in Pakistan that shows that Pakistan has slipped to 139th position out of 173 countries, making it the 34th most corrupt country in the world. As if this wasn't enough, the chairman of NAB, ex-navy chief, Admiral Fasih Bukhari, has declared that Rs 7 billion is lost to corrupt practices every day in Pakistan. Understandably, the reports have infuriated parliamentarians in general and cabinet members in particular. They insist it is no big deal to file tax returns because their tax is deducted at source when they are paid their salaries. This is also the stock argument of agriculturists whose incomes from tilling the land are not subject to tax. The income tax department is also not pushed to pursue them as tax dodgers because their tax liabilities have seemingly been fulfilled. But the law is clear on the subject: income and wealth returns must be filed by those who earn Rs 42000 or more per month, failing which they are liable to a penalty of up to 25%. According to the Federal Bureau of Revenue, over 3 million people have National Tax Numbers but less than 1 million pay any tax at all. This is a shocking statistic in a country with a population of nearly 200 million. Similarly, there are nearly 80,000 listed companies with the Securities and Exchange Commission but less than 25% pay any tax. No wonder, Pakistan's tax-GDP ratio is less than 10%, and governments have to print money or borrow to stay afloat. The fiscal deficit is running at over 8% and national debt has more than doubled in the last four years. The size of the underground economy is estimated to be equal to the formal economy. Why can't we collect more taxes? Obviously, the tax collection machinery is both corrupt and inefficient. The customs and tax departments, along with the police, are hot favourites of Pakistanis sitting the superior services exams. Pakistanis are also loath to pay taxes to corrupt governments, preferring instead to fork out to private charities that run hospitals, schools, mosques and madrasahs. The cost of transforming black money into white is also low: for about 1% transaction cost, one can send Pak rupees abroad and bring back US dollars, no questions asked about the source of the inland remittance. And, since the abolition of wealth tax a couple of decades ago, there is no pressure to submit or to scrutinize wealth tax returns for consistency with income tax returns. "The problem starts at the top. Those who make revenue policies, run the government and collect taxes, have not been able to set good examples for others," the report, called Representation without Taxation, said. Various attempts have been made in the past to make people cough up taxes. Tax rates have been lowered and tax amnesty schemes floated from time to time. But lack of reliable data and political will have hampered progress. Documentation of the economy is fiercely resisted by powerful trade and business lobbies affiliated with political parties. But time is catching up with tax dodgers. The country's data base is being fine tuned, thanks to computerization of identity cards, tax numbers, bank accounts and electoral rolls, all of which can be synced. Land records are next in line. It is a good sign too that donors are tying foreign aid and grants to tax reforms, lower fiscal deficits and tight money policies. Media pressure is also building up to highlight corrupt practises and tar tax evaders. House cleaning must start from the top, with public representatives who make laws and are expected to uphold them. Next, the FBR must submit itself to accountability, so that those who are tasked with catching the thieves are not thieves themselves. A dose of privatization might also be injected into the tax collection machinery to make it competitive. It is a good idea to make the head of the FBR a constitutional post with fixed tenure so that political meddling and influence is minimized. Finally, a simple and uniform federal income tax structure must be built in order to cut down bureaucracy and overlapping, starting with a small tax on agricultural incomes and wealth so that everyone is brought into the tax net.
EDITORIALPrime Minister (PM) Raja Pervez Ashraf said in a speech at a rally in Kasur on Sunday that opposition parties should end the politics of confrontation and help start a new era in politics. He made mention of the events of December 16, 1971, the day Dhaka fell and East Pakistan seceded to become Bangladesh. The PM said December 16 is a constant reminder that there is no room for any future blunders in politics. Ne’er was a truer word spake. Unfortunately though, we are a society of ostriches with our heads buried in the sand. Not only have we brushed the events that led to the breakaway of East Pakistan under the carpet, we have failed to educate successive generations after 1971 about those tragic times. The 1970-71 crisis finds no mention in our curricula or textbooks. The result is that there are many among us by now who are not even aware that East Pakistan once existed as the eastern wing of the country. How then, despite the PM’s good intent, are we as a people expected to know and learn the lessons from that debacle to avoid repetition of similar mistakes when we are wholly or partially uninformed? Pakistan came into existence as a result of partition in 1947 comprising of two wings separated by 1,000 miles of Indian territory. It was an unlikely construct to begin with. Subsequently, successive regimes (largely based on West Pakistani bureaucrats, Generals and politicians) treated East Pakistan like a colony, linguistically, culturally, politically and economically. The resentment that built up against domination by West Pakistan therefore was not an overnight phenomenon but accumulated over 24 years before culminating in the inferno of 1971. As early as 1952, the people of East Pakistan rose in protest against the declaration by none other than Mr Jinnah in 1948 that Urdu, and Urdu alone, would be the official language of the new state. Although it is the student protest in East Pakistan that is best remembered as offering the first Bengali language movement martyrs (at the hands of police firing) in our history, what is often lost or forgotten is that West Pakistan comprised at least four nationalities with diverse languages, culture and historical identity dating back hundreds of years. Their linguistic and cultural rights too were violated in the 1948 declaration. After that bloody 1952 episode, the die was cast for incremental bitterness amongst the people of East Pakistan against their treatment. That treatment consisted of denying the Bengali people their political rights, reflected in the arbitrary dismissal of the united front government in East Pakistan called the Jukto Front in 1954 and the removal of Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy’s government after just 13 months in power in 1957. The 1956 constitution had imposed one unit in West Pakistan and parity of seats between the two wings in a malign effort to deny the numerically greater people of East Pakistan the democratic right of one man one vote. During the 1950s and 60s, a process of extraction of the economic surplus and foreign exchange provided by East Pakistan’s jute exports was ploughed into infrastructure and industry in West Pakistan, a process that reinforced the sense of alienation of the Bengali masses. Mujibur Rehman, once a protégé of Suhrawardy, suffered imprisonment repeatedly for voicing the demands of the people of East Pakistan and was finally arrested in the Agartala Conspiracy case in 1967, a trumped up sedition charge that did not outlast the agitation that overtook the whole country, East and West, against Ayub Khan. The aftermath of that countrywide seven month agitation resulted in the departure of Ayub, martial law under the army chief Yahya Khan, extreme repression to quell mass unrest, the undoing of one unit (a popular and much iterated demand of the progressive political forces of both wings) and the announcement of general elections in 1970. Had Yahya accepted the results of the elections, which gave Mujib a majority and the right to form the government, Pakistan may well have been intact today. Instead, Yahya, in collaboration, it must be said with regret, West Pakistani political leaders like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, launched a genocidal military crackdown in East Pakistan that finally ended, after thousands of lives lost, rapes and other atrocities, in the fall of Dhaka on December 16, 1971 to invading Indian forces. The contention that we have learnt nothing from this past and stubbornly refuse to do so is proved by the fact that Balochistan’s political problems are being dealt with today in the same fashion: repression, military operations, kill and dump atrocities. The more things change, the more, it seems, they remain the same. Time to wake up to the dangers posed to the unity of remaining Pakistan before it is too late.
Daily TimesFormer prime minister and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif distributed millions of rupees of Intelligence Bureau (IB) funds among journalists and to institute cases against rival politicians, the Supreme Court was told on Monday. The court was hearing the suo motu case regarding the alleged misuse of Rs 270 million IB fund by the incumbent PPP government in 2008-09. Appearing in the court, an English daily’s reporter, Asad Kharral, submitted a fresh report regarding the misuse of public money. He told the court that the IB had provided Rs 3 million to journalist Nazir Naji who at the time was a columnist with an Urdu newspaper and also a government official in the capacity of Pakistan Academy of Letters chairman. Besides IB’s recent issue of withdrawal of Rs 270 million in 2008, Kharral’s report said it was also involved in siphoning off millions of rupees in 1998-99 (from November 1998 to October 1999) during Nawaz Sharif’s regime. He contended that millions of rupees of IB fund were not only distributed among journalists but a major chunk had been spent to institute cases against rival politicians Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari, both inside and outside the country. The report said, “According to the rules and regulations, the purpose of the secret fund is only to obtain or uncover sensitive information necessary to protect ‘national interest’ – it cannot be used for any other purpose, even emergencies or incidental expenses. All withdrawals are supposed to come under specific heads and justifications. This was not the case with this large withdrawal.” “The secret funds which IB got under different supplementary grants were supposed to be utilised for the purchase of journalists and to make comprehensive cases against the PPP’s leadership,” it further said. The objective, the report claimed, was to utilise the cash for these purposes under the umbrella of IB’s secret fund to avoid audit. This huge amount had been distributed to different persons on the special directions of the then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, through his two close aides, the then Ehtisab Cell chairman Saifur Rehman and his principal secretary, Saeed Mehdi. On the directions of the prime minister, Mehdi met the then IB DG, Col (r) Iqbal Niazi, in Prime Minister’s Secretariat and conveyed the message of his boss (Sharif) regarding provision of Rs 3 million to the said journalist. Major (r) Farid Jadoon, who was the then personal staff officer to the IB DG, delivered the said amount (Rs 3 million) to Naji’s house. The report also stated that IB also transferred about Rs 100 million abroad though illegal channels such as Hawala/Hundi after changing Pakistani currency into foreign currency. This amount received by the IB through supplementary grants for this specific purpose on the direction of the then prime minister, whose close aide conveyed the message to the then IB chief to transfer these amounts abroad to some individuals, front men, including lawyers who prosecuted the cases against Benazir and Zardari. More than Rs 100 million were spent on the materialisation and pursuance of cases against Benazir and Zardari in Swiss courts. Millions of rupees of IB secret funds were also used for accommodation and transportation of dignitaries and their relatives.
Associated PressTwo men on a motorcycle hurled hand grenades at the main gate of an army recruiting center in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, wounding 10 people, police said. The injured in the attack in the garrison town of Risalpur in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province included civilians and security personnel, said senior police official, Ghulam Mohammed. Mohammed told The Associated Press that the police have launched a manhunt to trace and arrest the attackers, he told The Associated Press. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a string of assaults in recent days that illustrate the continued challenge Pakistan faces from militants despite military operations against the Pakistani Taliban and their supporters. Tuesday's attack came a day after a car bomb exploded in a crowded market in Pakistan's northwestern town of Jamrud near the Afghan border, killing 17 people and wounding more than 40 others. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is located on the edge of Pakistan's tribal region, the main sanctuary for al-Qaida and Taliban in the country. The province has witnessed scores of attacks, most of them blamed on the Taliban. Ten Taliban fighters armed with rockets and car bombs attacked the military section of an international airport in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Saturday night, killing four people and wounding over 40 others. Five of the militants were killed during the attack and the other five died Sunday after hours-long shootout with security forces.