Saturday, January 5, 2013
http://www.startribune.comA trove of ancient manuscripts in Hebrew characters rescued from caves in a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan is providing the first physical evidence of a Jewish community that thrived there a thousand years ago.
The Express TribuneThe National Institute of Health in Islamabad confirmed a fresh case of polio in an 11-month-old child, increasing the number of cases in the country to 58. The report issued from the Prime Minister’s Polio Monitoring and Coordination Cell said that the virus has been found in an infant, Muhammad Shehzad, resident of Mohallah Michan Khel, union council City-2, Lakki Marwat. This is the third case to be reported in the district. According to the report, the stool sample of the child was collected on November 30, 2012 and the diagnosis made on January 3. Therefore, this case will be recorded in last year’s data and not as the first case of this year. The report further states that the child only received one polio vaccine dose through Short Interval Activities (SIA) as he had missed vaccination during the earlier campaign. SIA is an approach to administer two successive doses within a period of two weeks and is usually carried out later, for children who missed the earlier campaigns. “All the vaccination rounds were conducted using vaccine containing component against type-1 poliovirus” the report says. It adds that Independent Monitoring Board of Global Polio Eradication assessed 95% of the Union Councils as vaccinated; however, evaluation by the local cell records a higher percentage. Technical focal person for Polio Eradication Cell at the Chief Minister Secretariat, Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah told The Express Tribune, “The affected child has received seven doses, not in routine campaigns but in SIAs and the area where he lives is not included in the high-risk councils but there are other reasons of contracting the virus.” He added there was a chance that the child was malnourished, had diarrhoea and low immunity levels and the water in his area is contaminated. “In these conditions the vaccine will not save the child from contracting the crippling disease” Dr Shah said. There are now 58 cases in the country, 27 are from K-P, 20 from FATA, four each in Balochistan and Sindh, two in Punjab and one in Gilgit-Baltistan. KP govt to set up Polio Control Room in PDMA office The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to establish a Chief Secretary Polio Control Room in the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) office to provide information and monitor related activities. According to an official notification, Mohammad Zubair will be the designated in-charge of the newly created control room. The office will collect data from all districts during the preparatory phase of polio campaigns and record its activities. The post-campaign assessment result of the entire province will be relayed to the chief secretary and secretary health of K-P.
http://www.rferl.orgReports from northwestern Pakistan say unknown gunmen have shot dead two charity workers involved in an education project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Police said Zakir Hussain, head of the education wing of the Al-Khidmat Foundation in Charsadda district, was attacked with his driver Khadim Shah in the Utmanzai area on January 4. The two gunmen escaped on a motorcycle after the attack. The Al-Khidmat Foundation is the welfare wing of the hard-line Jamaat-e Islami party. On January 1, gunmen shot dead seven Pakistani aid workers in the northwestern Swabi district. Those killings were believed to be linked to the recent killings of polio vaccination workers. Pakistan has been battling a homegrown Taliban militancy for years. It also suffers from routine attacks blamed on various hardline Islamist factions. Meanwhile, reports say seven unidentified, bullet-riddled bodies have been found near the village of Sarobi in North Waziristan, one of seven tribal districts and a known base for Al-Qaeda-linked militants. Residents reportedly found the bodies dumped near a highway. Officials were still trying to confirm the reports. This is the second time in a week that bodies have reportedly been dumped in the same district. On December 31, nine bodies were recovered in the Mir Ali area. No one has claimed responsibility for the killings. A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban claimed those bodies were Taliban fighters who had recently been captured by security forces fighting militants in the area.
The election of Dr. Fozia Marri as the first ever Deputy Speaker of the Balochistan Assembly is one of the best decisions the current government has made during its five-year term. No matter how much of a cosmetic measure it may look, the appointment of a female member on such an important position holds much significance for a backward province like Balochistan. This is more important for the political empowerment of women given the current composition of the Balochistan Assembly which is dominated by conservative tribal chiefs and orthodox religious leaders. It is remarkable to see the new Speaker from the the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (J.U.I.), which has often voiced opposition to women’s participation in politics, work with a female Deputy Speaker. Expecting some immediate change in the state of women’s rights in Balochistan with the appointment of Dr. Marri as the Deputy Speaker is utterly unrealistic. Cynics may describe her election as a mere symbolic action taken by the government to pose as an advocate of women’s rights. Such “symbolic decisions” are not a bad idea as long as they inspire young girls from the backward region to have a dream to hold a high public office in a heavily male-dominated institution, province. Women’s development has not been the top priority of the Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition government in Balochistan. Women in the province enjoy less freedom and fewer opportunities than the women in the rest of Pakistan. Their issues range from access to education, health facilities to more serious challenges such as child marriages, honor killings and barter of girls among rival tribes. It is the government’s responsibility to create a climate in which women feel secure and confident to come out of their homes to attain education and opt for various career paths. This is indeed a very slow and challenging process but it is impossible to achieve equal rights for women until they, not the male members of the society, start defining women’s rights, interests and needs. Few women in Balochistan are blessed to have obtained higher education and found excellent employment opportunities. These women indeed owe a great responsibility to their compatriots elsewhere in the province. They should stand up, even more prominently than the male members of the society, for the rights of the women. It is unfortunate that the seats reserved for women in the Balochistan Assembly are often ‘distributed’ among the spouses or relatives of powerful politicians. Several members of the current assembly also represent that breed of politicians who have come out of a system hit by nepotism and favoritism. More unfortunate is the fact that these women also did not sufficiently play their role to battle for women’s rights. Either the indifferent attitude of the current female members should change or these faces have to be replaced with women who are known for their political sagacity rather than the family they come from. Dr. Marri is left with too little time to serve on his revered position as the next general elections are fast approaching. But whatever time she has to perform her duty, we truly hope that she will remain an example of a confident and committed female legislator of Balochistan. She should end her term with a note that women in Balochistan are capable of delivering on highly demanding positions. Also, with the Balochistan High Court’s rejection of former Speaker Mohammad Aslam Bhootani’s application against his removal, the constitutional crisis seems to be over. Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani says he sympathizes with Mr. Bhootani over his failure to oust the provincial government. It is too early to say that Bhootani would let his dismissal go away. He will hopefully move the Supreme Court against the no-trust motion passed against him. A new crisis will emerge only if the Supreme Court opposes the removal of the former Speaker and the appointment of a new one.The Baloch Hal
The HinduIn an innovative move towards polio eradication, the Indian and Pakistan cricket teams, though fierce rivals on the field, will be united in their mission to “bowl out polio” when they clash for the third One-Day International in New Delhi on Sunday. “We need to ensure a world free of polio paralysis for children. We need to win against polio, to ‘Bowl Out Polio’,” said Pakistani cricket stars Yonous Khan and Imran Farhat, who on Saturday administered polio drops to children in New Delhi and joined the appeal for eradication of the debilitating disease. The two teams will wear ribbons with ‘Bowl Out Polio’ when they play the One Day International on Sunday. The electronic periphery boards at the Ferozshah Kotla grounds will flash the message of “Bowl Out Polio”. A hundred children will also be at the stands wearing yellow jackets with messages against polio. The cards for ‘4s’ and ‘6s’ waved by the crowds will also have the message “Bowl Out Polio”, a Unicef statement said. The Board of Cricket Control in India and the Pakistan Cricket Board have extended full support to the polio eradication messages at the match. While Pakistan is among the remaining three countries in the world still fighting the disease, India’s battle against polio will continue until polio is eradicated globally. The event comes a week ahead of India’s polio milestone anniversary. On January 13, India completes two years without reporting any case of polio, an unprecedented progress for a country which until 2009 contributed majorly to the global polio case count. This is the third time that India and Pakistan teams have got together to advocate for polio eradication. Globally, polio cases have declined to record low levels. In 2012, as on December 26, 215 polio cases were reported compared to 605 cases in the same period 2011. Three countries remain endemic to polio — Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. Polio is a disease which cripples for life, has no cure, but can be prevented by repeatedly taking oral polio vaccine, said the statement.
The Express Tribune