Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pashto Song Laila Laila

Rights Groups Fears for Hunger Strikers in Bahrain

Thirteen pro-democracy activists were sentenced to 10 years in jail Tuesday in Bahrain over allegations they attacked police officers in the latest fallout from protests that rocked the country more than two years ago. Meanwhile, a rights group has expressed fears about a father and daughter who have been on hunger strike since March 17 to protest their detention in the Gulf nation. They had stopped taking water Sunday but resumed late Tuesday. More than 60 people have been killed in more than two years of unrest inspired by the Arab Spring. Bahrain's Shiite majority is seeking a greater political voice in the strategic Sunni-ruled kingdom, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.An attorney Jassim Sarhan confirmed the 13 were sentenced Tuesday over charges they attacked two police officers and set fire to a police car. They are among dozens convicted of playing a role in the uprising. In the case of the hunger strikers, Freedom House said in a statement it was "deeply concerned" for Zainab al-Khawaja and her father Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. It also called for authorities all political prisoners. They went on "dry hunger strike" on Sunday after being denied a family visit in prison, it said. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights said doctors warned Zainab al-Khawaja that she risks "organ failure, cardiac arrest or coma" if she continues. Al-Khawaja was sentenced to three months for insulting a public employee related to her calls for the release of her father, eight opposition figures given life sentences. Last year, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja went on a three-month hunger strike.

PAKISTAN: The houses of Ahmadis are under attack and the police are providing protection to the attackers

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the attacks on the houses belonging to Ahmadis. The attackers were from two religious organizations, the Sipah-e-Sahaba (SP) and Khatm-e-Nabowat (KN) and were provided with protection by the police during the attack. The local in-charge of the Ahmadiya Jamat was seriously injured when he was beaten by the crowd and dumped on the street as if he was dead. The members of the Ahmadiya community are virtually under house arrest and the police have warned them to vacate the houses. The member of the national assembly from the ruling party of Punjab province and the highest police officer from the district have extended their support to the attackers in order to get votes in the coming elections. CASE NARRATIVE: Yesterday, (March 25), a crowd of more than 60 persons attacked the house of Mr. Malik Maqsood Ahmed Anjum, a resident of Shamsabad, sub district, Choonia, district Qasoor, Punjab. The family members including women and children locked themselves inside for their protection but the crowd broke open the doors and dragged all of them out. Anjum was beaten by the crowd with iron rods, sticks and fists and kicked before the family, forced to convert to “Islam” and leave the Ahmadi sect. When he fell unconscious the attackers left him on the road thinking that he was dead. When the attack was conducted there were 10 policemen present at the scene but they did not intervene to prevent the violence. After the incident the police party from Chooni police station arrived and rather than providing medical assistance to the victim threw him in a police jeep thinking that he was dead. The police took him to the district hospital of Choonia and when Anjum was found to be still alive the police left him and ran away. They have announced in the Shamsabad village that all the Ahmadis should immediately leave their houses and vacate the village as the local people do not want Ahmadis in their village. It was also announced that the attackers were from a banned organization, the Sipah-e-Sahaba (SP) and also from Khatm-e-Nabowat (KN) and they will no longer tolerate Ahmadis, not only in the village but in the entire province of Punjab. The attackers have told the Ahmadis that they should learn a lesson from the death of the former governor of Punjab, Mr. Salman Taseer, who was killed by his police guard. The attack on the Ahmadis in Shamsabad village has been in preparation since the month of January as the general elections were foreseen in the month of May. At the start of the New Year, four Ahmadis houses were attacked and the residents were beaten and taken to the police station at Choonia. At the station they were asked to take the compensation for the wreckage of their buildings as they would not be paid the actual prices of the house. When Station House Officer (SHO) Inspector Tariq Awan, forced and threatened them they agreed to take a meager amount and left the houses. During these incidents the elder brother of Anjum was also forced to take out his son from the government degree college. To force their demand the crowd from the banned organization, the SP, took out a procession and attacked his house and the principal of the college was forced to rusticate the student, Ahmad Jamal. In the month of February members and representatives of the Ahmadiyya community met with district police officer (DPO) and informed him of the situation. The DPO, Mr. Syed Khurram Ali, assured them that for the protection of the Ahmadis he will construct a police kiosk. But when construction of the kiosk started the local people with the help of one Inspector of Police, Asghar, stopped the construction. They also got help from Mr. Rana Ishaque, the member of the national assembly (MNA) from the ruling party of the Punjab province. Mr. Rana also threatened the DPO for providing protection to Ahmadis. Due to the nexus between the police and banned religious organizations, Mr. Malik Hayat, Mr. Malik Mehmood, Mr. Nasir Kumhar, Mr. Mistri Muhammad Hussain and Iftekhar Ahmed were forced to leave their houses. The Ahmadis remaining in the village are under house arrest and might be attached at any time if not provided with protection by the government. SUGGESTED ACTION: Please write letters to the following authorities calling upon them to stop the forced eviction of the Ahmadis from Shamsabad, sub district, Choonia, district Qasoor, Punjab. Please urge them to take strong action against the police and the banned religious organisations who want to rouse the people for sectarian riots before the general election. Please also urge them to re-house the Ahmadis and provide full protection so as to ensure their safety. The member of the national assembly must be taken to task for his involvement in the attacks on the Ahmadis. The AHRC is writing separate letters to the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Latest Tourist Sex Attack In India

Deobandi militants slaughter 17 soldiers of Pakistan Army in N. Waziristan. Will Gen Kayani wake up now?

Deobandi militants of ASWJ-Taliban slaughtered 17 soldiers of Pakistan Army in North Waziristan. The news report, including identification of culprits, was largely ignored or obfuscated by right-wing dominated Urdu media and fake liberals dominated English media. In recent past, both right-wing Jamaat Islami and fake liberal Jinnah Insitute (ironically both are JI) have campaigned for dialogue with the Deobandi militants, humanizing the terrorists and their mentors. Will Pakistani generals wake up now and recognize the real enemy of Pakistan and Pakistan army? The death toll from Saturday night’s suicide attack on a security checkpost in North Waziristan’s Miramshah area reached 17, the military said. North Waziristan is perhaps the most notorious of Pakistan’s tribal districts on the Afghan border, a known stronghold of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked Deobandi operatives belonging to Taliban (TTP) and Sipah-e-Sahaba (ASWJ-LeJ). The deaths were a reminder of the serious security threat in the country by the Deobandi militants. “In last night’s attack on a security forces’ checkpost in North Waziristan, 17 security forces personnel embraced shahadat (martyrdom),” the military said. Security officials explained the sudden increase in the death toll after it jumped from six by saying that many of the dead had been trapped under the rubble following the blast. Another 10 soldiers were also wounded in the attack on a checkpost operated jointly by the regular army and the Frontier Corps paramilitary. Troops have fought for years against Saudi-funded homegrown Deobandi insurgents in the tribal belt on the Afghan border. A car packed with explosives had exploded next to a pair of fuel tankers at an army checkpost in North Waziristan, killing 17 soldiers and wounding dozens, officials said Sunday. Most of the security personnel killed belonged to the Tochi scouts who were deployed for the security of FWO officials. The FWO is engaged in several development projects in the area. The blast set the fuel tankers on fire and destroyed two residential army barracks, said intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Janan Dawar, who lives about 14 kilometers away from the attack site in the town of Mir Ali, said he heard a huge explosion and saw flames leap into the air. The blast killed 17 soldiers and wounded 34, said the intelligence officials. Three civilians were also wounded. The area has become a greater problem for the Pakistani military because domestic Deobandi ASWJ-Taliban militants have increasingly used it as a base of operations and conduct periodic attack against soldiers based in the area. Apparently, the advice “You can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbours. Eventually those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard” given by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Pakistan, is proven correct yet again. Having sown the wind of Jihadi-Deobandi terrorism to target Afghanistan, India and others, Pakistan army and nation is currently facing a blowback which will further intensify in the next few years, unless Pakistan army generals take a U-turn and stop humanizing and supporting Deobandi militants ASWJ, Taliban etc. Also, given that these poor soldiers were not killed by drones, so there ain’t much evidence of condemnation of the attack by fake liberals Mosharraf Zaidi, Ejaz Haider, Najam Sethi or right wingers Ansar Abbasi, Hamid Mir, Umer Cheema etc.

Teenage Girls Face Another Body Image Obsession

"Thigh gap" refers to the space in between one's thighs when standing with your feet together.

President Obama Names Julia Pierson as First Female Secret Service Director

President Obama is appointing veteran Secret Service agent Julia Pierson as the agency’s first female director. Pierson will take over the helm from Mark Sullivan, whose leadership came under intense scrutiny after the agency became mired in a prostitution scandal last year. During preparations for a presidential visit to Cartagena, Colombia, last April, more than a dozen agents and officers allegedly solicited prostitutes, raising serious questions about the agency’s male-dominated culture. “Julia is eminently qualified to lead the agency that not only safeguards Americans at major events and secures our financial system, but also protects our leaders and our first families, including my own,” President Obama said in a written statement. “Julia has had an exemplary career, and I know these experiences will guide her as she takes on this new challenge to lead the impressive men and women of this important agency.” Pierson has held an array of positions during her 30 years at the agency, working in training, management, fraud investigations and protection of the president. She currently serves as chief of staff. Sullivan announced his retirement last month.

Obama shows off soccer talent

President Obama celebrated with the champion Los Angeles Kings and the Galaxy in the White House on Tuesday and then looped some of the players into an event for First Lady Michelle Obama’s favorite cause: her campaign against childhood obesity. Obama praised the hockey and soccer teams for their 2012 championship seasons, noting that, besides sharing a hometown, “they share a pretty good comeback story.” The president noted that the Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday, but pointed out that Coach Darryl Sutter “got good training” when he was playing for and later coaching Obama’s hometown hockey team. The teams and their coaches stood behind Obama in the East Room and smiled as the president accepted jerseys from both -- #1 from the Galaxy and #44 for the Kings (Obama is the nation’s 44th president) – and then tossed and headed a soccer ball handed to him by Landon Donovan. Hosting winning sports teams is one of Obama’s favorite pastimes as president. The events rarely turn political, with the exception of last year’s visit by the Stanley Cup-winning Boston Bruins. Goaltender Tim Thomas refused to make the trip, explaining it was because the “government has grown out of control.” Sutter, however, had planned to press Obama to allow the construction of the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada through the U.S. The owner of a ranch in Alberta, Sutter told the paper he supports the controversial project to transport oil to the Gulf Coast. The Obama administration so far has withheld approval of the project. It was unclear whether the coach brought the issue up with the president. He did not speak to the media and the White House was not saying. But the two made nice, at least during the public ceremony. After meeting with the president, a handful of players talked fitness, sports and food with some Washington schoolchildren at a forum hosted by Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass, who is the director of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program to promote exercise and healthy eating. Donovan revealed that his favorite healthy snack is avocado and his favorite exercise is running. Midfielder Mike Magee emphasized the importance of training and practice to winning games. Defender Todd Dunivant put it plainly, if team members get out of shape, “We lose our jobs and that’s not a good thing.” Kings players were put on the spot when asked by the one child if they’d ever been in a fight. “I have,” admitted right wing Dustin Brown sheepishly. “It happens.” “But they regret every second of it,” Kass interjected.

U.S. special envoy underlines Pakistan's role in Afghan peace

Visiting U.S. Acting Special Representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador David Pearce, met Pakistani foreign secretary and underlined Islamabad' s importance in the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan on Tuesday. Ambassador David Pearce met Pakistani Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani at Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and discussed bilateral relations and regional situation including latest the developments in Afghanistan, the foreign ministry said. Both sides exchanged views on furthering bilateral relations under the strategic dialogue process in the coming months, a statement said. Ambassador Pearce briefed the foreign secretary about his recent visit to Afghanistan and appreciated Pakistan's role in supporting peace and stability in Afghanistan. The foreign secretary in his remarks reiterated Pakistan's commitment to remain positively engaged in supporting peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan. The meeting comes a day after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Pakistan's army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met in Jordan and discussed "reconciliation process in Afghanistan." The army said Monday that Kayani and Kerry discussed Afghan peace process ahead of Kerry's visit to Kabul. The role of Pakistan and the United States is considered important to peace process in war-torn Afghanistan at a time when the NATO forces are packing up. Pakistan is believed to have deep influence on the Afghan Taliban and can play a key role to encourage the Taliban to enter peace process. The Taliban have so far refused to talk to the Afghan government on the plea that it does not have powers to make decisions.

بشري حقونو سازمان د تېرا په وضع اندېښنه ښودلې

د پاكستان د انساني حقونو كميشن په خيبر اېجنسۍ تيرا کې د وسلوالو ډلو تر مينځ د جنګ له وجې د ځايي ولس په بېكوره کېدو سخت غبرګون ښودلی دی. او په دې لړ کې انساني حقونو كميشنپاکستان بېګا ماښام په یوه خبره پاڼه کې له حكومته غوښتنه كړېده چې په سيمه کې دې د ولسي وګړو د حفاظت لپاره ګامونه پورته كړي- د خيبر اېجنسۍ د تيرا د صورتحال په اړه د پاكستان د بشري حقونو د كميشن ددي تازه غبرګون په باب د دغه ياد سازمان د خېبر پښتونخوا مشر شېر محمد خان مشال ريډيو ته وويل: ((په دې باندې زموږ دا ردعمل دی چې دا تر ډيره د حكومت او پوځي قيادت د ناكامۍ غټه نښه ده، په دومره لويه سيمه کې د ګڼو خلکو حفاظت يې ونه كړو او هغوی په خپلو كورونو او وطن کې بېكوره شو، او هغوی په دومره لوی شمېر کې له خپلو کورونو کډه کولو ته اړوېسستل شول، موږ له حكومته غوښتنه كوو چې په كار ده حكومت خپل فرض تر سره كړي او كوم خلك چې حكومتي عملداري نه مني د هغوی علاج دې وكړي)) تر دې دمه د آفتونو د نظم لپاره كاركوونكو ادارو لا كره حساب نه دی لګولی چې له تيرا څومره خلك بېكوره شوي دي خو د پاكستان د بشري حقونو د كميشن د پښتونخوا د څانګي مشر شير محمد خان وايي، له تيرا تر پنځوسو زرو نه د يو لاك په مينځ کې خلك بېكوره شويدي: ((د بېكوره شويو خلكو د كره شمېرې پته ځکه نه لګېږي، چې هلته د حكومت رسايي نه شته. خو زما په خيال تر پنځوسو نه يو لاك په مينځ کې خلك بېكوره شويدي)) په تيرا کې د روانو نښتو او هلته د وسله والو ډلو په باب د دفاعي چارو د كارپوه ريټایېرډ بريګيډيېر محمود شاه وايي: ((تيرا له سلو واخلې تر دوه سوه ميله لويه دره ده، د باړي سر ته لشكر اسلام دی، او په مينځ کې دا ځای خالي وو او هغې ته د دره آدم خيل طالبان ننوتي دي، اوهغه سر ته د انصار الاسلام ډله ده چې په سره خاوره وغيره علاقو کې دي، انصار الاسلام يو پير پرست ډله ده او لشكر اسلام ديوبنديان دي)) د يادونې وړ ده، چې له دې وړاندې د خيبر اېجنسۍ د باړې په زرګونو خلك د خرابې امنيتي وضع له وجې بېكوره شول او اوس له تيرا هم په زرګونو خلكو كډې وكړي، چې له وجې یې د خيبر اېجنسۍ ولس د سيمې د امنيت په اړه انديښمن دي.

U.S: We Don’t Care Who Wins Pakistan Elections

The United States does not favor one candidate over another in Pakistan’s upcoming general elections, according to the U.S. State Department.Speaking to Pakistani journalists in Washington, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the U.S. government does not necessarily favor the incumbent Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of President Asif Ali Zardari in May parliamentary elections that will witness an aggressive campaign by opposition figures like Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan and now former President and army chief Pervez Musharraf. “We have no favorites among Pakistani politicians and we are looking forward to work with whoever is elected on May 11,” Nuland said.Dawn, an English-language Pakistani daily newspaper, reported that U.S. officials are likely eager to squelch the general perception that Washington wants to heavily influence political policy in Pakistan. Indeed, the new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry canceled a planned trip to Islamabad this past week in order to prevent any discussions that his presence was meant to interfere with May elections (such conspiracy theories of U.S. domination of their government abound in Pakistan, often encouraged by local media). When Kerry made an unannounced stop in Kabul, Afghanistan, a senior U.S. official told reporters that the secretary did not journey next door to Pakistan because the country “enters a very historic period on this electoral process and we wanted to fully respect those institutions and the on-going process.” Nuland herself noted that “the Pakistani people don’t have good information” about U.S. policies. Dawn reported that unnamed U.S. officials also want to eliminate the perception that they are hostile to Sharif and Khan and insisted that Washington would be eager to cooperate with whichever party ends up in power in Pakistan. Khan, however, is outspoken about his opposition to Pakistan’s close military ties with the U.S. and reportedly has ties to Islamic militants. Separately, the anointed future leader of Pakistan, may have his ambitions delayed. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of President Zardari and his deceased wife, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, has departed for Dubai and will not lead the PPP campaign during the May election, even though he is the PPP chairman. PPP leader Sharmila Farooqi told Dawn that “security concerns” were cited for Bilawal’s sudden absence from Pakistan’s political circus. However, the Press Trust of India reported earlier that Bilawal left Pakistan after a heated argument with his father over a number of party policy issues, including PPP’s apparent tepid response to the Malala Yousufzai shooting and the recent wave of bomb attacks on the Shia community in the cities of Karachi and Quetta. Hasham Riaz, Bilawal’s chief of staff, dismissed those rumors to Dawn.

Family, PPP reject Zardari-Bilawal tiff reports

In a twitter message Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari has strongly rejected the reports published in certain circles of press as baseless and malicious. She said circulating rumours against PPP leadership was not anything new.PPP Sindh Information Secretary Sharjeel Memon also rejected the news reports about differences between Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his father Asif Ali Zardari. He said it had been decided that Bilawal would not lead the election campaign in the wake of security threats. Earlier it was reported that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had left for Dubai after a tiff with his father over the affairs of the PPP. According to reports, Bilawal developed differences with Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur, over the party s handling of key issues, including militant violence, sectarian attacks against Shias and the award of party tickets for the polls. The 24-year-old nominal chief of the PPP was angered by Faryal Talpur s refusal to award tickets to certain candidates in Sindh province that he had recommended, a source was quoted as saying.

President Zardari felicitates Najam Sethi

Radio Pakistan
President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday felicitated journalist Najam Sethi on his nomination for caretaker chief minister Punjab.In his message of congratulation‚ the president said nomination of Najam Sethi is a testimony of the confidence and support extended to him for his ideals and values.

Pakistan: Public versus vested interest

Daily Times
An unfortunate aspect of our polity as it has evolved over the years is the dominance of the ‘philosophy’ that public office is to be obtained purely for the purpose of private gain. Thus the concept of public service has been abandoned. Across the board, the suspicion of all parties pursuing this practice is not without weight. Particularly in the dying moments of an outgoing government, there is a flurry of activity in evidence to leave behind facts on the ground in the form of decisions intended to favour favourites and privilege the already privileged. Something along these lines seems to have occurred according to a story published in Daily Times yesterday. The story speaks of a number of decisions taken amidst the dying embers of the outgoing PPP-led government by the short-lived Finance Minister Salim Mandviwalla, who replaced Hafeez Sheikh. The story says that while the jury is still out on the performance of Dr Hafeez Sheikh as the Finance Minister, his successor managed to get decisions through in a hurry (time was short after all) that had been either rejected earlier or lay pending because of reservations about their impact. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources pushed through several dubious decisions for which the fertilizer industry, oil refineries, natural gas industry and oil marketing companies had been lobbying for years. The first decision related to the supply of gas to fertilizer factories in direct violation of the Gas Allocation Policy of the ECC. This gas has been diverted from power generation, which is arguably the number one problem for the economy. This decision was rushed through despite the objections of the Planning Commission on, amongst other grounds, the fact that the cost of power generation from oil is three times higher than from gas. Another decision relates to the oil refineries and marketing companies. The approval of Inland Freight Marginalisation (IFEM) for a coastal refinery, which had been twice turned down by both the ECC and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources itself, was done over the objections of OGRA and the Planning Commission. Another decision concerned deemed duty, which originally was intended as an incentive for oil refineries to carry out modernisation. Except one, none of the refineries did, but nevertheless got the benefit of deemed duty from the outgoing government. Last but not least, oil dealers’ margin was increased at the cost of the consumer without any apparent rhyme or reason. These examples, while causing concern, are perhaps only the tip of the iceberg. Government decisions favouring favourite vested interests have become a routine fact of life in Pakistan’s polity. What lends the above examples added resonance is the timing. An outgoing government uses the last possible moments of its tenure to take decisions that favour some interest at the expense of the public interest. If the petition moved in the Supreme Court by Dr Mubashir Hassan regarding last minute appointments, postings, transfers, regularisation of contract employees, development funds’ allocations to make electoral gains by the incumbents is any guide, the iceberg of this form of corruption is titanic. Over time, the country and society at large have seen the exponential growth of a culture of throwing principles, ethics, integrity out the window and replacing them with the Machiavellian approach of achieving personal ambition and aggrandizement without scruples or hesitation. While democracy is in the process of being consolidated, the thoughtful amongst us also need to reflect on the downward spiral we are caught in in terms of becoming a lawless and unprincipled society, where success has many fathers, and ‘failure’ (to achieve, get somewhere, be someone) is an orphan. A sad statement on our collective state and one that needs the most determined effort by those who see this as more destructive of state and society than any other threat it faces to start a public consciousness campaign for the elimination of this spreading evil that has us in its octopus-like grip.

Italy foreign minister resigns over return of marines to India

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi has resigned in protest of his government's decision to send two Italian marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen, to Delhi for trial. The case sparked a major diplomatic row between India and Italy. "My reservations about sending the marines back to India were not listened to," Mr Terzi told Italian MPs. Prime Minister Mario Monti said he was "astonished" by the decision. He is due to speak in parliament on Wednesday. Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are charged with shooting the fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012. They said they mistook them for pirates. The accused were shuttled back and forth between Italy and India in recent months while the two governments argued over the legal consequences of an alleged crime committed in international waters, the BBC's David Willey, in Rome, reports. Italy then announced last week that it would send the marines back to Delhi to stand trial.
'Unheard' voice
On Tuesday, Mr Terzi said he was resigning because his voice had gone "unheard" by Prime Minister Monti and his caretaker administration. "I can no longer be part of this government," Mr Terzi said. "I am resigning because I have maintained for 40 years and I maintain more forcefully today that the honour of the country, its armed forces and the Italian diplomacy must be safeguarded. I am resigning because I support the two marines and their families." Mr Monti responded to the resignation with surprise. He said he had met Mr Terzi earlier on Tuesday and the foreign minister had not mentioned his intention to quit. Meanwhile Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola said he would not step down over the crisis because he did not want to "abandon a ship in difficulty". "I have always acted for the good of the marines and Italy. If I haven't managed that, I ask forgiveness from everyone, and first of all from both of them," he told MPs shortly after Mr Terzi's announcement. "It was me who told them about the decision to return them to India, I looked them in the eyes and told them." The marines had been guarding an Italian oil tanker when they killed the fishermen last year. The Indian government had allowed the men to return to Italy to vote in last month's election. But when they failed to return, India's Supreme Court ruled Italy's ambassador was barred from leaving the country. In response, the Italian government said last Thursday the marines had agreed to return to Delhi following a meeting with Mr Monti and other ministers. The diplomatic dispute comes as Italy battles a political crisis after last month's inconclusive election result.

Pakistan: Swat Taliban, Afghan govt nexus may give rise to terrorism

A recent nexus of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Swat militants with the Afghan government may give rise to increased terrorist incidents on Pakistan’s border areas including Mohmand, Bajaur Agencies, Dir, Swat and Chitral, said a report by Pakistan’s premier intelligence agencies. The report submitted Tuesday before the Supreme Court by Advocate Raja Mohammad Irshad on behalf of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Military Intelligence (MI) on military operations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and FATA suggested that the Swat Taliban, after being dislodged from the area, have resorted to IED (improvised explosive devices) attacks on the law enforcing agencies and Aman Lashkars (pro-government militias). A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry hearing a petition challenging the Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulations 2011 had asked for the report on the setting up of internment centers in KP. The report also carried graphic pictures of decapitated victims along with compact discs (CDs) and annexure showing statistics of casualties, suicide attacks, target killings, and schools and colleges destroyed from 2008 to 2013. The government had established internment centers near the Pak-Afghan border at Landi Kotal, Parachinar (Kurram Agency) a tribal area of the KPK which allows the civilian government to detain persons accused of terrorism. Read out by Advocate Raja Irshad in the open court, the report alleged that sectarian outfits took the leading role by victimisation of the Shia community especially in Quetta and Karachi, and the message conveyed was that the war on terror was not yet over rather the profile has changed and the TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan) has merged itself with sectarian outfits. The TTP and the allied groups, the report said, have again resorted to conventional methods of gathering funds like collection of chandah (charity), bank dacoities and abduction for ransom. Referring to the importance of the regulations in the current environment, the report explained that the regulations were enacted to provide legal umbrella to the military and to deal with the unprecedented ground realities. Furthermore, continuous stationing of armed forces in territories secured from miscreants in the FATA/PATA is necessary and therefore it is imperative that proper authorisation be given to the forces to take measures to incapacitate the miscreants by detaining them during the continuation of the Actions in Aid of Civil Power. The regulation is also necessary to ensure that the armed forces carry out operation in accordance with the law, the report said. The apprehended militants, the report explained, have been shifted to internment centers established under the FATA/PATA regulations (Actions in Aid of Civil Power Regulations 2011). On Jan 24, Attorney General Irfan Qadir had conceded for the first time before the Supreme Court that 700 suspected terrorists were in custody under the regulations. Meanwhile, the report suggested that the regulations were applicable only during the duration of the action in aid of the civil power and were not applicable once the operation was over or the notification under Article 245 of the Constitution to call the army in aid of civil power was withdrawn. Those interned, the report disclosed, include some of the most-hardened miscreants and terrorists. If released for any reason, the government is convinced that they would attack the state again and would make every effort to rejoin private armies and carry out terrorist activities and offences against the state, in particular the KP government. It will become difficult to confine them to KP and they will slip away to main cities like Lahore and Islamabad to start another wave of terrorist strikes, the report said. In these circumstances it is necessary that the detainees must be confined to the internment centers. Their internment orders document the reasons of their detention, the nature of charges and other details, the report said. Through a comprehensive de-radicalisation programme, attempts are being made to revive their loyalties towards Pakistan and its Constitution, adds the report. Advocate Ghulam Nabi, representing Prof Ibrahim of the Jamaat Islami who had assailed the regulations, told the court that he would file a reply to the report by Wednesday. The Supreme Court subsequently adjourned further hearing until Wednesday.

More than 9000 terrorism-linked deaths in KP, FATA since 2008

More than 9000 people including military, paramilitary and police officials along with members of government-backed tribal Aman Lashkars have been killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA during the last five years, Pakistani spy agencies told the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The agencies submitted the report to a three-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. The bench was hearing a petition challenging the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation, 2011. These regulations allow detention of arrested militants in specially built internment centres in the tribal areas near the Pak-Afghan border. Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) KP Ameer Prof Ibrahim had challenged the regulations in the court. The report also said that recent nexus of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Swat militants with the Afghan government may give rise to increased terrorist incidents on border areas including Mohmand, Bajaur Agencies, Dir, Swat and Chitral. The report said that a total of 235 suicide attacks, 9,257 rocket attacks and 4,256 bomb explosions have taken place in KP and FATA since 2008. Among the fatalities, 5,152 were civilians, 1,489 army officials, 675 Frontier Corps, while 1,717 belonged to the police force. In targeted attacks, 243 people belonging to lashkars were killed and 275 were injured, while 995 schools and 35 colleges were also destroyed in the last five years. The agencies’ report cited 475 major and 135 small raids while 6000 search operations by the security forces in which, it said, 3,051 militants were killed. Militancy in the region was at its peak during 2007 and 2008. However, actions taken by the law enforcement agencies had restrained the militants’ strength, it added. Moreover, the report predicted more attacks against the state in case the detained militants are released. It will be difficult to contain them in KP and they could start a new wave of violence in cities like Karachi and Lahore, said the report. The spy agencies claimed in the report that the militants are also being rehabilitated in the mentioned internment centres so that their allegiance with Pakistan and its constitution could be restored. The court has directed a response from the petitioner’s counsel and adjourned the hearing till Wednesday.

PAKISTAN: The Supreme Court must ensure that Ahmadis should not be disfranchised

A Golden Opportunity to abolish self-contradictory Franchise System and Restore true Justice and Democracy in Pakistan
The world has strongly and repeatedly drawn the attention of Pakistan to its self-contradictory franchise system which denies the Ahmadi Muslims the fundamental right to vote. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has judiciously taken a firm action to open a petition submitted in 2007 by Kanwar Idrees, a Former Minister of the Sindh Government and a member of the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan. Kanwar Idrees argued that the law discriminated against Ahmadis in particular, while it allowed other non-Muslim Communities to be registered in the joint electoral rolls. In the hearing on Thursday 28 February 2013, Idrees maintained that as Pakistani citizens, he and other Ahmadis should be treated equally in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan. The Supreme Court three-member bench presided over by the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry directed the Attorney General and the Election Commission of Pakistan to respond to the five year old petition of Kanwar Idrees and explain the Constitutional status of Former President Pervez Musharraf's 2002 Order which inserted Articles 7 (b) and (c) in the Constitution and allowed the creation of separate electoral rolls for Ahmadis. The hearing of the petition was deferred to Monday 11 March when it is hoped that sanity and justice will prevail and justice will triumph. It is tragic that Pakistan which is now at the threshold of another General Election and takes great pride in claiming to be a democracy has completely ignored and defied the international and fundamental civic rights in ensuring that all its subjects, without any discrimination whatsoever regarding faith, belief or ethnic origin, are allowed to vote. All the major international organisations including the UN Human Rights Council, the Asian Human Rights Commission and the European Union, together with the Parliamentary Human Rights Groups of UK, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Germany, France and also the State Department of USA have been repeatedly drawing the attention of Pakistan to its failure to implement and enforce universal franchise in the country. However, the Government and the Election Committee of Pakistan have totally turned a blind eye to this gross defect in their electoral system. They have so far not grasped the significance that under the Constitution of Pakistan every citizen has the right to vote. Moreover, Article 25 of the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights states that every citizen shall have the right and opportunity to vote and be elected. Similarly, Article 19 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to vote to every citizen. This is one of the most basic fundamental rights which must be guaranteed to every citizen and without which a State cannot call itself a democracy. Internationally, a democracy is defined by a government elected by the people. However, in Pakistan there is an exception to this rule in that Ahmadis on account of their faith and belief are excluded from the electoral system. These devious and unacceptable procedures have usurped the fundamental civic rights of Ahmadis and for decades now they cannot stand as candidates for any assembly, national, provincial or even district. Ahmadis have no representation even in the town council of their own town Rabwah where they make up 95 per cent of the population. This form includes a warning that a violation will be punished with imprisonment. The irony of the matter is that Article 20 of Pakistan's Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and Pakistan is also a signatory to the UN Charter of Human Rights, which makes it obligatory upon the government to safeguard the fundamental rights of all without any discrimination whatsoever, based on religion, faith or belief. The Supreme Court of Pakistan now has a golden opportunity to prove to the world that it stands fearlessly for justice and is committed to upholding the International Conventions especially the ones that ensure the fundamental civic rights and fundamental freedoms of all especially the tragically deprived groups like the Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan.

Pakistan: Clerics attack Ahmadi house, torture family in Punjab

Local clerics attacked a house belonging to an Ahmadi family in the Kasur district of Punjab on Tuesday and subjected the family members to violence allegedly over their religious belief, The Express Tribune has learnt. A mob led by a local cleric chanted slogans against Ahmadi families, their religious beliefs and their community before breaking into Mansoor’s* house in the Shamsabad area. The five members of Mansoor’s family tried to take refuge in a room but the mob broke into the room as well. Police personnel were reportedly present at the spot but did not take any action against the mob. Mansoor was severely tortured after which he lost consciousness, while his wife and his 70-year-old uncle were also beaten. Mansoor was shifted to a hospital where authorities claimed that he is in critical condition. Sheikh Yousaf, Head of the Ahmadi community in Kasur, told The Express Tribune that he had repeatedly asked the DPO Kasur to establish a police check post in the area as they had been receiving threats since six months. He said that the DPO had agreed to his demands but the local MNA created hurdles in establishment of the check post. He claimed that the police had deliberately left the Ahmadi family at the mercy of the mob, and the clerics who attacked that threatened the family to convert to their religion or face consequences. The house was attacked when Mansoor refused to convert, Yousaf added.

Pakistan Minorities under attack: Ahmadi family tortured by mob

In a continuing vicious cycle of attacks on minorities, local clerics on Tuesday attacked a house belonging to an Ahmadi family in Kasur district. According to news reports, a mob led by a local cleric entered the house of an Ahmadi family after chanting slogans against their community and their religious beliefs. Sources said that the five members of ravaged house tried to hide in a room. However, the mob broke into that room and proceeded to torture the family members. One of the victims was beaten so badly that he fell unconscious while an elderly man and a woman were also tortured. The victims were taken to the nearest hospital where one of them was stated to be critical. Sources said that the police was present at the scene but did not take any action to prevent the mob from entering the house and torturing its occupants. Head of the Ahmadi community at Kasur Sheikh Yousaf, while talking to journalists, said he had asked Kasur DPO to establish a check post in the area since the Ahamdi community had been receiving threats over the last six months. He further accused the police of leaving the victims helpless against the mob, adding that the mob had demanded the Ahamdi family to convert or face consequences. The house was attacked when the family refused to convert, he said.